In the late 90’s the golf car industry had access to basic golf car controllers with few offerings for increased performance. The market was looking for a solution to increase speed and performance and found few options. In 2000, Alltrax developed the Programmable AXE Series motor controller that changed the industry and the way we think about electric golf cars. Coming in a range of performance levels, it was the solution people were looking to meet their needs, whether it was a stock replacement or a monster hunting buggy. In 2004, the DCX controller was released to fill the void for performance controllers in the Regen golf car market.
Prior to Alltrax coming to the market, stock OEM controller models were suitable for only one vehicle. Golf Car dealers had to either stock upwards of 15 different controllers or have to order them as needed then wait for shipping. OEM controllers could only be adjusted for minor performance differences and the required programmers were cumbersome and expensive. The AXE and DCX controllers were flexible enough that one controller could be used on many vehicles simply by reprogramming the controller with a standard RS-232 serial cable and a PC either by the dealer or the end-user. In the case of the Regen style carts, each wire harness has a different connector, so DCX used a simple adapter board to mate up to these carts.
The venerable Alltrax AXE and DCX families of controllers have been out for over 10 years and have shown their age for a while. As times have changed, new vehicles were introduced and the AXE and DCX were not evolving fast enough to meet the changes in the market. The time had come to upgrade these controller platforms.
We learned a lot over a decade of development for performance golf cars and hunting buggy conversions. Six years ago, the Alltrax Engineering department was tasked to use that knowledge and embarked on an ambitious new project to modernize the AXE and DCX lines. These new controllers had to be easy to build, allow Alltrax to vertically integrate as many of the processes as possible and offer a platform that could easily be adapted and expanded to meet customer needs. After a few months of R&D, the concept that would become the SPM was born. The new SPM design far outperformed our AXE controllers as well as our competitors. One of the big advances came when replacing the old PIC microprocessors with a new generation of 32 bit ARM microprocessor chips. They are the size of a stamp, but pack some serious computing power and are used in everything from cars to cell phones. The extra processing power opened the doors for additional features such as a USB port replacing the old school RS-232 port, thus eliminating issues with programming and talking to the controller. The plan was to expand the SPM design to Shunt Wound motor controllers and all other future products. Unfortunately, the SPM design may be great for manufacturing, but the increased size proved too large for consumers who complained about the installation of the larger SPM footprint. Almost universally those who used an SPM loved the performance and the features but hated the size and the difficulty of installation.
Engineering went back to the drawing board to kick off “Project Tomcat”. The results are pretty impressive. They came up with new and novel approaches to design and build a cost-effective motor controller. Using highly efficient power MOSFET’s allowed for a com pact heat sink design easily manufactured at our Grants Pass facility. The heat sink design opened up some interesting avenues in packaging options for us to explore. A thermal plastic housing design was selected. Made out of a tough ABS/PC plastic it reduces weight, cost-effective, corrosion proof and eliminates the need for a bulky external heat-sink. The thermal plastic housing is the heat sink. The design now fits in the standard configurations and footprints found in most OEM vehicles.
The new 32 bit ARM microprocessor allowed for massive improvements in throttle circuit design to deal with “out of spec throttles” much more effectively than the AXE/DCX controllers ever could. The flexibility in the design and software allows for future upgrades like Bluetooth, accelerometers and more as customers’ needs evolve. The result of Project Tomcat has yielded two families of motor controllers, the XCT Shunt Wound controller and the SRX Series controller (plus a few other products we are not ready to talk about… yet).
The XCT Shunt Wound family of controllers is a next generation controller replacing the DCX family. The SRX family replaces the AXE series motor controller family. These 2 controllers will fit on all E-Z-GO, Club Car, Yamaha vehicles (Including YDRE) using the OEM connectors. No more DCX adapter boards or cutting and jumping wires to install a controller into the golf car. To deal with different footprint mounting bolt patterns among the many vehicles, we created an optional plastic Universal Fit Mounting Adapter. It bolts into the OEM mounting holes on the vehicle and the controller mounts to the UM Adapter. No fuss installation. Also eliminated are the issues with DCX control and the Club Car throttle, by using the adaptive throttle feature ported over from the SPM. The XCT also includes RPM sensor support which allows for OEM style speed control or the more desired Alltrax go fast style. For high performance applications, an optional fan shroud, for both SRX and XCT, allows for longer continuous power output for those situations that need a lot of power over a long period of time.
Alltrax was contacted by a startup Golf Car company during mid-design of the XCT product. They were looking to use our controllers in their vehicles and wanted us to help them design the electronics system. The timing of this partnership came at an opportune moment in the controller development cycle. Their requirements for the cart allowed us to adjust the XCT and SRX products to work with a completely new family of vehicles still being developed. They were the first company to commit to the XCT controller and have been test driving XCT controllers for almost a year now. Their feedback on how the controller performs on golf courses and as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle has been invaluable to us for product development.
Alltrax has come full circle with the XCT and SRX product families over the last four years of development with huge investments in tooling and production equipment. These new products will captivate the aftermarket performance arena, where we originally set the bar. It also opens up the OEM golf car market like never before. As vehicle technology changes, so will the needs of the customers. The XCT and SRX controllers allow us to meet these needs and easily adapt to changes as they come up. This new motor controller platform has positioned Alltrax to take back the leadership in innovation and stay there for years to come.