UK design house ByteSnap Design has launched a new electric vehicle (EV) smart charging division.
The Versinetic division aims to provide hardware and software for companies developing customised EV chargers in non-standard formats, from lamp posts to car park bollards.
“One of our key areas of development is EV chargers,” said Dunstan Power “We have done software updates for the chargers we developed for the 2012 Olympics and we were part of the UK’s first fully operational V2G system at Aston University.”
“Versinetic is purely focussed on EV charging,” he said. “We are not selling chargers to people, what we are doing is design and development and creation of bespoke systems. We have developed a set of hardware blocks, boards that you can build chargers around, with software to run on those blocks to allow power smart charging.”
The main focus is an embedded board called Manta Ray, a smart charging control board running Linux and OCPP on an NXP i.MX6 processor. “We’ve used this in IoT projects over the years, one of our customers in is volume production with it in home heating,” said Power.
This links to a charge controller board called Eel based around an STM32 microcontroller from STMicroelectronics. “You can use this by itself to charge a car, sensing the power coming in and out, talking to the car with PWM that allows you to back off power if you need to, locking both ends of the cable, short circuit, RCD etc,” he said.
“The Manta Ray board has a cellular modem and WiFi and Ethernet so its flexible for communications with the outside world and RS-485 to link to the Eel board and power meters and each board can talk to two Eel boards. We did a cost optimisation for testing and we’ve not been asked for more. Then we have boards for LEDs, PIR, RFID, cabling to link
“We are aiming at the customer demand for flexibility for chargers that aren’t met by the market, rather than the destination chargers at work place, home or shopping and on-route high power DC. The enquiries we have had is for chargers for example in a car park, built into a solar array, or minimalist bollards with minimal cabling,” he said.” It’s a lot of edge cases, such as off street chargers built into lamp posts or buried in the road and so on.”
“On the software side we get a lot of enquiries from people that want to save time to market, as well as existing charger manufacturers doing lower volume designs, reducing the development costs. They are already using off the shelf boards so switching to one that’s better suited to electric charging is not an issue,” he said.
These new form factors will be needed to expand the EV charging infrastructure. “You are talking tens of millions of chargers in the next two decades just in the UK let alone in the rest of Europe,” he said. “The real challenge is the 40 percent of households without off street parking. A lot of roads will have to be dug up to put chargers in and innovative solutions are needed for this.”
The boards are made by a UK contract manufacturer but can also be manufactured by customers under license, says Power.
“Some people want to manufacture under license and we are exporting to a customers, for example for a customer in Holland,” said Power. “We are using a UK CEM at the moment, particularly with Brexit round the corner, and we’ve had good pricing.”