Manzanita Micro
Kingston, WA

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Zilla Controller Package PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 22 July 2011 14:35


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.

Hairball Interface

The Hairball interface is required to run the Zilla controller. It is included in the Zilla package. It enables many new features and safeties listed here:
  • Control connections to the Hairball are low voltage and referenced to the vehicle 12V ground for safety.
  • Controller precharge circuit is included with self resetting fuse and arc-less main contactor control.
  • Uses standard 5 K ohm potentiometer for pedal input (not supplied in package).
  • Available configured to run non contact Hall Effect accelerator pedal assembly instead of the 5K pot.
  • Unique "accelerator to amps" transfer function for smooth starts, even in high voltage systems.
  • Standard RS-232 serial port for adjusting controller parameters.
  • Programmable motor voltage and current limits.
  • Programmable battery voltage and current limits.
  • Valet mode to allow yet another set of settings on the fly with the flip of a switch.
  • Two motor speed inputs for overspeed limiting of one or two motors. (requires motor speed sensor, not included)
  • Separate voltage, current and speed limit adjustment for reverse.
  • Adjustable low battery voltage protection.
  • Additional battery voltage indicator set point for operating a dash warning light.
  • More than forty status and error codes insure easy diagnostics in case of faults.
  • No serial terminal is required to read and clear status and error codes.
  • Main contactor voltage drop and stuck contactor monitoring.
  • Pulse output for driving a standard 4 or 6 cylinder tachometer.
  • Two dash light outputs for driving a check engine light and low battery indicator.
  • Overheat indicator built into dash light output.
  • Inhibits driving when plugged in, also indicated on dash light. (Requires switch on AC inlet)
  • Stalled rotor protection to reduce the possibility of damaged commutators. (Requires motor speed sensor, not included)
  • Optionally, up to six high side contactor drivers allow arc-less control of electric reversing and series parallel switching of dual motor systems.
  • Optional Autoshift automatically shifts dual motors from series to parallel and back again at the optimum time for more power and efficiency.
  • Hairball code with new features can be downloaded as it is developed by means of the bootloader and flash memory, using your home computer.

Hairball Options

The Hairball has a few hardware options that can be configured when it is first manufactured:

  • -P: The Hall Effect Pedal input option. This option enables the Hairball to use the HEPA throttle pedal which is sold separately in the Accessories section. The Hairball with the -P option installed must use a HEPA pedal for input, it can no longer be used with a normal pot box. Please see the HEPA pedal listing for important fitting information. This option is available on the base Hairball or in combination with the -A or -S.
  • -A: The -A option adds six contactor drivers for controlling motor contactors. This is normally used if you plan to use contactor sets (such as the SW202a which we sell in the Contactors section) to electrically reverse the motor(s). If you are planning on switching two motors in series parallel arrangement (this is used in dual motor race cars) then you also will want this option. The -A option adds functionality to the standard model and so enables for future expansion in case you are not sure of your final configuration. This can be combined with a -P option.
  • -S: The Sparrow option was made for use in Sparrows but also has other applications. This option adds two contactor drivers to the standard model for forward/reverse switching of one motor. Unlike the -A option, the Sparrow option has been configured so that it can use reversing contactors that do not have built in microswitches for sensing contact position. This is good for vehicles like the Sparrow which are configured to use the Kilovac EV200 type contactors for reversing therefore it is better to use the -A option when possible. The -S option also has default settings that are reasonable for a Sparrow. Settings can be changed after setting the defaults. This can be combined with a -P option.

Zilla Models

The Zilla comes in two current ratings and up to three voltage ratings.

  • The Z1K-LV is our lowest cost unit. It can regulate up to 1000 Amps of motor current and run on lead acid battery packs of 72 to 156 volts nominal. This unit is more than twice as powerful as the common 1231C type from the competition and therefore is plenty of power for most "normal" car conversions. Since we want people who are converting the daily drivers which are saving the earth to have affordable options, we use the sales of higher voltage controllers to partially subsidize production of the Z1K-LV units. In exchange, the Z1K-LV units receive lower priority in the production queue and therefore will have longer lead times when they are on backorder.
  • The Z1K-HV can regulate up to 1000 Amps of motor current and run on lead acid battery packs of 72 to 300 volts nominal. This unit in a typical car with a shifting transmission and a powerful battery pack of at least 200 volts will result in a very quick EV. These units receive priority in production and so will be built quicker than the Z1K-LV units. If you are in a rush to get a controller, you might consider one of these even if you are running a lower voltage car.
  • The Z2K is the unit for those looking for the most power available. It regulates up to 2000 Amps of motor current while running off a lead acid battery pack of 72 to 300 volts nominal. (348V for the EHV model) This unit is oversized for most applications but is often appropriate in cars with single ratio transmissions running multiple motors. This model is used in all the world's quickest EVs. There is nothing wrong with running a Z2K in a street car, and many people do it, but be sure to turn it down first or you will just end up breaking other parts of the car.
  • Either the Z1K or Z2K HV models can be ordered as an EHV model. This gives a nominal input voltage rating of 348 volts for those truly wishing to push the limits of sanity in their EV.
  • Batteries often have trouble supplying the high currents of these controllers, and motors can be damaged by them as well, so be sure to set the current limits to reasonable values for your setup before testing.
  • Voltage ratings are for lead acid batteries that are expected to come off charge at less than 14V per 12V battery. On the EHV model which is normally only used for racing we expect voltages to be kept lower than that. Currently we are suggesting a 375 volt maximum, but we hope to be able to raise that back to 400 volts soon.


Dimensions of the Zilla Z2K 2000 Amp Controller: 
7.00" Wide, 4.63" High, 14.75" Long, Weight 29.5 lb.

Dimensions of the Zilla Z1K 1000 Amp Controller: 
7.00" Wide, 4.63" High, 9.00" Long, Weight 15.5 lb.

Dimensions of the Hairball: 
3.5" Wide, 1.75" High, 10" Long

Shipping weight of Z2K Package is 37 lb. Z1K is 21 lb.


A 12 month written warranty is described in the installation manual.

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