Sunday, December 28, 2014

Debugging the charge

I have been trying some firmware updates for the charger and had to install the slower speed motor controller firmware to allow it to work.
After some tuning of the program, the charge works but only if  the battery has been run down faily low. Topping the charge seems to take much longer and the battery light has been on since the program change.
I was hoping to get around the resetting of the fuel gauge periodically due to the BMS and Cycle analyst power draw with key off but this has not been the case.
I have been driving quite a bit untill the cold set in, getting 50 miles range is great and reduces my anxiety over running low on power.
I found a winter project for the bike, a trunk mount on Ebay and a trunk, should be installing soon.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Charging adventures

I decided to charge the bike normally with the stock firmware to see what would happen. The batteries charged ok, but fell short of a full charge.
I decided to reset the battery meter to tell the bike to keep charging, but decided to go ahead and upload the new firmware... Well, that did not go as expected. I clicked on the directory and the program crashed, I tried various things and both versions of the software. I couldn't get the bike to start charging, the charger firmware program was corrupted in the process. I pulled the cords and turned it all off, I should have left the bike on until I resolved the problem, less chance of bricking the charger.
The following day I messed around with the program without the bike connected and found if I entered the location of the file instread of the browse feature it didn't crash the program.
Back at the bike, hooked it all up, told the program where to find the file and Viola! changed the charger firmware to keep the lithium batteries happy and charged.
The new firmware changed the guages a little, no longer have the bar graph fuel guage and have a voltmeter instead of estimated range indicator, both didn't really help too much with the new batteries. The cycle analyst keeps track of amphours and voltages.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Driving tests 2

After a few drives it looks like 105WH per mile on average. I ran to 32AH 80% DOD and saw 45 miles, I did have a 3 mile stretch of 55 MPH and the balance was at 45 MPH.
The bike was running strong at zero bars on the display with a voltage of 128 at 40 amps at the 44 mile mark. Voltage was 134 volts at rest, so even under load over 3v per cell.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Better lighting

I decided to upgrade the headlight now that the bike is working better.
I was surprised at the size of the new lamp, it was huge in comparison.
It was difficult to get the spring clip on the new lamp due to the heat sink but it installed.
I left the rubber seal off so the heat sink could have air flow.

This is a shot of the beam of the old bulb in the garage with the overhead lighting on.
This is a shot with the new bulb installed, much whiter light and brighter as well
It looks like a headlight now, not nearly as dim as before, waiting for dark to give it a road test.
I bought a lamp that was supposed to be error free, but the high or low beam flashes to show a bulb error, I tried some resistance and didn't solve the problem. Not a big deal for me, I will take the better lighting.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Driving range test

It was time to give the new batteries a real world test.
I went for a bit of a drive and mostly 40-50 mph, there was a few stretches of road that were 55 mph and I blasted to 65 a few times. The course was a mix of flat and minor grades.

I returned home when I had one bar left on the "gas gauge" and had used almost 30AH. I still had no sign of low batteries, had plenty of power and speed.

I had clocked just over 42 miles, a milestone for a vectrix, I think I had previously logged 28 with a good set of NIMH batteries.
I know I could have rode another 10AH, but I was watching the voltmeter to not drop below 126V or 3V per cell and 40 amps draw.
The logging tells the story, I drove it hard and did some good regen speed reduction.
There was a lot more power going back than I ever thought, with over 23 percent from braking, I rarely use the bike brakes..

Overall, very pleased, good power and decent range.
I left with the batteries showing 21c and after riding a bit hard on the return it indicated 33c or about 91F.
So I had some heating of the batteries, about 20 degrees

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Moving forward

 I fit the upper layer of batteries to check clearances, I had to grind the battery tops a bit just like the bottom set. I made spacers and a platform for the cells to sit on the other cells.
I used a strapping tool and strapped the top batteries together as a block.

I moved on to the control box that will house the head board for the BMS and a solid state relay that will disconnect the bike if a cell goes above maximum.
I needed to mount a small power supply outside the box, I thought I could get 12v from the bike but that proved to be involved. The small supply is only in use during charging to power the BMS mater board.
I took my time mounting the 42 BMS boards and installing the jumpers, I didn't have any spares and didn't want to let the magic smoke out of anything.

The shot shows all the led's on, but after a few minutes they are all flashing at random, short flash means all ok.
 More BMS board fun, also on the left the shunt is mounted for the cycle analyst.
 The battery box is starting to get populated with all the parts, here the temperature sensors are in place and the BMS box is almost all wired
I mounted a reset switch under the seat. I changed out the bulb for an LED that indicates that the solid state relay is turned on. I wanted some feedback to indicate the bike should be charging.
I had charge indication but the bike didn't start charging, I found the solid state relay not tuned on due to reverse polarity on the input.
I corrected my wiring and it worked great.
 As typical with the modification with the Thundersky battery I had modify the battery box for the second layer
 I went for a brief ride and the Cycle Analyst gives a lot of good information, even though I am not using many of the functions.
 I felt that I had more power than before when rolling the throttle while cruising.
Here is a shot charging, nice and quiet without the noisy impellers running.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fitting the batteries

After using a grinder to remove excessive weld and some of the heat sink for the controller the batteries were installed in the bottom row.
Some of the batteries had to be ground at the top seam as they were slightly too wide at that point and wouldn't fit correctly.
I also installed a new fuse in the motor controller, from 125A to 200A as recommended. The new batteries have been know to open the stock fuse.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Pretty straight forward removed the seat to expose the battery box , just a lot of 10mm bolts to remove.
 Batteries exposed after removing battery box and cooling fans
Removing the battery packs complete with temp sensors in place, it is easier to take it out as an assembly and disassemble later to remove sensors.
They need to be reused with the new batteries
 Empty box ready for the new batteries. I will need to check and grind any welded seams that will not allow the new batteries to fit. It is a very tight fit with the new cells.
I took the cooling fans out of the battery cover, they won't be needed with the new batteries.
I also covered a few large holes in the front of the battery box and all the screw holes from fan removal with duct tape.
The Duct tape will help keep water out of the box.

I went a slightly different route with the cycle analyst mounting, Most of the conversion have the guage mounted on the dash and a hole has to be cut.
I removed the logo from the center of the steering cover and made a mount to install the meter. If I ever remove it the original logo sticker will cover the holes.

Getting things ready

I bought a bunch of 40AH lithium cells that had been lightly used, this is a shot of 42 of them on the bench.
I strapped them together in parallel to equalize them and charge all at once with a bench supply.

A full week was needed just to raise the voltage to 3.69 from 3.3V, not surpising with a combined AH of 1680 or so.
I purchased a miniBMS setup from to stop the charger if any cell gets charged above 3.8V.
The BMS will give me a method to terminate charge, as well as an alarm to indicate a low cell while driving, but I don't plan on that depth of discharge.

I also purchased a cycleanalyst to keep track of amp hours out and in. While not a real necessity, it will make tracking my charge much easier. The stock meter will go to zero and I will still have capacity, I could ride to zero and recharge and all would be fine. The stock meter is set to 32AH so I would use 80% of the 40AH battery and stay within the safe range but I like the idea that I can keep an eye on things and if I need to stretch my range I can keep track.

Vectrix intro

2007 VX-1 vectrix to be converted to lithium battery.
The original battery was NIMH type, Range was boasted as 32 miles although few of these bikes maintained that range for very long as batterys failed quickly.
The range was also speced at some low speed that was not practical, real world driving was more in the 20 mile range.

The original battery consisted of 102 cells in the lower frame, with a fan to cool them.

The second picture shows the batteries with the covers off and motor controller to the right.

This is a picture of the cells out for testing, the pack was being repaired, as cell failure was common with the charging profile used by Vectrix.