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CHAdeMO Adapter Tear Down

wk057

Senior Tinkerer
Feb 23, 2014
5,688
11,738
Hickory, NC, USA
Picked up a CHAdeMO adapter earlier today to tear apart for an upcoming project.

Probably one of the most annoying things I've ever taken apart. The housing was put together with the board and wiring and all, then injected with rubber potting material. So nearly 100% of the innards were imprisoned inside solid rubber. Awesome for the design, terrible for me.

Here is a shot after I finally removed some of the rubber that was on top of the PCB portion.

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Working off and on at it over several hours picking at the rubber trying not to damage the board I finally was able to free it. I caused some damage to the low voltage wiring while trying to free everything from its rubber prison, but, not an issue since I won't be using it as it is for my upcoming project.


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All of the rubber pieces I pulled out of the thing swept up... definitely a pain.


2016-01-20%2022.56.49-1920.jpg

Here are some shots of the PCB front and back. Click for very high resolution versions.







Long story short, pretty cool. It definitely seems like an overkill design for what should have just been a pretty simple device. Instead Tesla has a 32-bit processor on here, a few temperature probes, HV sensing, and a bunch of other stuff that probably could have just been handled by in-car firmware and a relatively dumb adapter. Probably wouldn't have been my design, but hey, whatever works.

The charge connector appears to use parallel #6 gauge (guestimate) conductors for each terminal, and Tesla gives it a rating of 125A continuous. That's a good 40-50kW at 85 kWh pack voltages. Assuming it's actually #6 that would be 150A combined NEC rating, or about 120A continuous, which is close enough. Interesting because this is the first Tesla charging related item that actually seems to mostly conform to NEC amperage ratings for the wire. (Obviously not completely, since parallel #6 aren't allowed per NEC, but we won't get into that here).

The charge connector is physically much larger than the HPWC or UMC connector in order to handle the higher gauge wiring.

Overall it's a pretty rugged design.

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Edit: At some point my copyrighted externally hosted images were illegally copied from my external hosting and re-hosted directly by TMC without notice or permission. TMC was NEVER given permission to host and distribute my copyrighted images. I've corrected the image references. If my images are appropriated again without my permission I will be forced to take legal action.
 
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stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,194
5,100
Long story short, pretty cool. It definitely seems like an overkill design for what should have just been a pretty simple device. Instead Tesla has a 32-bit processor on here, a few temperature probes, HV sensing, and a bunch of other stuff that probably could have just been handled by in-car firmware and a relatively dumb adapter. Probably wouldn't have been my design, but hey, whatever works.
I'm pretty sure a "dumb" adapter is not possible for CHAdeMO because they have to simulate the analog pins simultaneously (so even though superchargers use a CAN bus also, they can't just do a simple pass-through).

I do get your point that they can do most of the processing on the car irrespective of this, so I'm wondering if this is really a "full adapter," meaning the car is communicating using standard supercharger protocol to the adapter and it is actually translating to CHAdeMO (rather than using some custom communication designed for this adapter alone).
 
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wk057

Senior Tinkerer
Feb 23, 2014
5,688
11,738
Hickory, NC, USA
I'm pretty sure a "dumb" adapter is not possible for CHAdeMO because they have to simulate the analog pins simultaneously (so even though superchargers use a CAN bus also, they can't just do a simple pass-through).

I do get your point that they can do most of the processing on the car irrespective of this, so I'm wondering if this is really a "full adapter," meaning the car is communicating using standard supercharger protocol to the adapter and it is actually translating to CHAdeMO (rather than using some custom communication designed for this adapter alone).

The car definitely doesn't "talk supercharger" exactly to this adapter. There is a specific section in the charging screen of the diagnostic data screen for CHAdeMO when using the adapter, and the supercharger related CAN messages are absent when using it. I assume it uses the same method for actually communicating with the car, though, albeit a slightly different protocol.

By "dumb" I meant basically just a translator that let the car tell the adapter what to do and vice versa. Instead it seems they're doing most of the heavy lifting on the adapter.
 
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stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,194
5,100
The car definitely doesn't "talk supercharger" exactly to this adapter. There is a specific section in the charging screen of the diagnostic data screen for CHAdeMO when using the adapter, and the supercharger related CAN messages are absent when using it. I assume it uses the same method for actually communicating with the car, though, albeit a slightly different protocol.

By "dumb" I meant basically just a translator that let the car tell the adapter what to do and vice versa. Instead it seems they're doing most of the heavy lifting on the adapter.
Thanks for the clarification. I was guessing that is probably what you meant by "dumb", which is why I mentioned the protocol as a possible reason to design things this way. If not, then I'm not sure the reason to design the adapter this way.
 

pgiralt

Supporting Member
Jun 16, 2013
1,520
155
Cary, NC
With so much intelligence in the adapter, I wonder if there is a way for the car to perform a firmware update on it in case a fix or enhancement is needed.
 

mattmass

Member
Sep 1, 2014
147
25
Canada
Awesome tear down - super interesting!

It could be they just opted to use a processor they already have experience with, and software written for.
 

LuckyLuke

Model S P90DL
Dec 14, 2011
2,285
611
Eindhoven, The Netherlands
With so much intelligence in the adapter, I wonder if there is a way for the car to perform a firmware update on it in case a fix or enhancement is needed.

It can be updated. At least by a service center, mine didn't work out of the box, they took it and programmed it, received it back a few minutes later. They stated that the firmware was loaded/updated.
 

wk057

Senior Tinkerer
Feb 23, 2014
5,688
11,738
Hickory, NC, USA
With so much intelligence in the adapter, I wonder if there is a way for the car to perform a firmware update on it in case a fix or enhancement is needed.

It can be updated. At least by a service center, mine didn't work out of the box, they took it and programmed it, received it back a few minutes later. They stated that the firmware was loaded/updated.

Yeah, Tesla service has a CHAdeMO adapter programming tool that hooks into the CHAdeMO end to program the unit. They can't program it from the car side because the car doesn't provide any power for it.
 

JMG

Member
Feb 26, 2015
386
263
NE Texas
I'm assuming the overheating issues I've had (when charging on hot days) are something I'll just have to live with. Has anyone had those resolved with a firmware update?

About 3 times this summer (albeit, during 95 plus degree weather), I've had the red error message "Adapter extremely hot! Lowering voltage". So the amps drop way down and the charging rate is slowed by probably 80% to allow temps to cool down. Almost defeats the purpose of a CHAdeMO adapter if you can't charge at full speed.
 
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Ingineer

Electrical Engineer
Aug 8, 2012
1,507
3,699
Wk, Is that Switch-mode on the right side a boost supply? Looks like it takes 12v from the CAHdeMO port and boosts it up to HVDC and not the other way around. Strange.
 

wk057

Senior Tinkerer
Feb 23, 2014
5,688
11,738
Hickory, NC, USA
Wk, Is that Switch-mode on the right side a boost supply? Looks like it takes 12v from the CAHdeMO port and boosts it up to HVDC and not the other way around. Strange.

I thought that at first too. I think this might have something to do with the 500V isolation test that some stations do, but unsure. I don't know what reason it would have for generating HV...
 

Ingineer

Electrical Engineer
Aug 8, 2012
1,507
3,699
I thought that at first too. I think this might have something to do with the 500V isolation test that some stations do, but unsure. I don't know what reason it would have for generating HV...

Hard to tell conclusively from looking at the PCB, can you check the polarity of that diode? Is that allowing current flow TO the HV pins?
 

wk057

Senior Tinkerer
Feb 23, 2014
5,688
11,738
Hickory, NC, USA
Hard to tell conclusively from looking at the PCB, can you check the polarity of that diode? Is that allowing current flow TO the HV pins?

Can't really read any markings on the diodes... and the conformal coating makes testing difficult. I'll have to investigate later. J5 and J6 are the pins tied to the HVDC side of things.
 
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AWDtsla

Active Member
Mar 3, 2013
4,265
3,959
NE
The charge connector appears to use parallel #6 gauge (guestimate) conductors for each terminal, and Tesla gives it a rating of 125A continuous. That's a good 40-50kW at 85 kWh pack voltages. Assuming it's actually #6 that would be 150A combined NEC rating, or about 120A continuous, which is close enough. Interesting because this is the first Tesla charging related item that actually seems to mostly conform to NEC amperage ratings for the wire. (Obviously not completely, since parallel #6 aren't allowed per NEC, but we won't get into that here).

NEC ampacity ratings are overkill for wiring that isn't buried in a wall full of insulation.
 

Muzzman1

Member
Feb 8, 2014
576
804
Los Angeles
@wk,
My Guess is your upcoming project will be to supercharge (DC) at your house with all the infrastructure you've implemented. I'm thinking you're gonna learn the protocols and make you're own DC charger.
Which would be Bad Ass!
Am I warm?
 
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andrewket

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2012
5,704
1,525
@wk,
My Guess is your upcoming project will be to supercharge (DC) at your house with all the infrastructure you've implemented. I'm thinking you're gonna learn the protocols and make you're own DC charger.
Which would be Bad Ass!
Am I warm?

Good guess.
 

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