Choosing a controller

Posted by admin November 6th, 2008

If the blood of an electric car is the batteries, it is the controller which is the heart.  This unit controls the amount of electricity that is feed to the motor controlling how fast it will go.  Selecting the right one is important.  After carefull research I chose the Cafe Electric Zilla.  This company has been building the best controllers for years and all of the fastest electric cars on the race circuit use them.  Unfortunately the owner has decided to shut down the manufacturing of the units and only a few remain.  I have a deposit on one of the last ones.

Below are the specs from the Cafe Electric site.

Zilla Z1K

Zilla Z1K

The Zilla is by far the most powerful motor controller available for Electric Vehicles.
Exceptionally high power density has been achieved by a novel design which pays careful attention to maximizing efficiency. Many years of development, extensive testing, and using only the best parts insures reliability.
The result is a race tested reliable package like no other.

In addition, it’s a controller that can make your EV wickedly quick.

While designing the Zilla series of controllers much attention was given to safety. From carefully monitoring that the controller comes up to voltage, communicates properly and checks the integrity of the output stage before engaging the main contactor, to the dual microprocessors that cross check and each have independent means of shutting the system off, there is no other DC EV controller that approaches this level of security.

The Zilla is the only controller that allows adjustment of multiple limits on battery voltage, battery current, motor current, motor voltage, RPM and more. These are not only important for going as fast as possible without blowing up motors and batteries, but also allow adjustment of the unit to prolong motor and battery life in street applications.

The Zilla works excellently with single motor systems, but realizing that many of the quickest EVs use dual motors, the Hairball interface also has a option for safe automatic Series/Parallel shifting of dual motors for even more power and efficiency.

It is no surprise that all of the worlds quickest Electric Vehicles use Zilla controllers, but the safety features allow them to also excel in street applications. The Z1K in particular has become very popular for street conversions due to its superior feature set and low price.


Zilla Specifications

  • Maximum nominal input voltage range for Lead Acid batteries: 72 to 348 volts.
  • Absolute maximum fully loaded input voltage range: 36 to 400 volts**
  • Maximum motor current at 50°C heatsink temperature: 2000 Amps for Z2K, 1000 Amps for Z1K
  • Maximum Battery Current at 200V: 1900 Amps for Z2K, 950 Amps for Z1K
  • Maximum Battery Current at 300V: 1770 Amps for Z2K, 885 Amps for Z1K
  • Maximum Battery Current at 400V: 1600 Amps for Z2K, 800 Amps for Z1K
  • Continuous motor current @ 50°C coolant temp & 100% Duty Cycle: over 600 Amps for Z2K, 300 Amps for Z1K
  • Peak Power: 640,000 Watts for Z2K, 320,000 Watts for Z1K
  • PWM frequency 15.7 kHz
  • Power devices IGBT
  • Voltage Drop: < 1.9 volts at maximum current.

** At this time we are suggesting not exceeding 375 volts on the EHV models, we hope to bring that back up to 400 volts with further testing


Features of the Zilla controllers

  • Simply, the most powerful controller in the industry, by far.
  • Backed by over fifteen years of experience making the worlds quickest controllers, plus a factory warranty.
  • Water cooling for sustained high power operation.
  • 2000 motor Amps available with proper cooling for Z2K, 1000 Amps for Z1K.
  • Multiple Microprocessors which cross check for security and safety.
  • Full motor current limit control with smooth temperature cutback.
  • Silent high frequency operation.
  • Compact size.

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