Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

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heathyoung
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Hey all, brand new here, but I have been reading up on the vectrix with some interest - When these first came out, I thought that they were a great idea, but couldn't come at the price.

That said, I have managed to get hold of a vectrix with a dead MC card, and dead charger. And no batteries. It was very cheap though :)

I've come from an electrical engineering background, so none of this worries me excessivly - if the MC card is really toast, the hardware makes a great starting point for a home made controller - or at least a heavily modified EBike controller running some truly massive 200V MOSFETS - something like IRFP4668 TO-247 (130A each, probably 4 in parallel, each with individual drivers) - at $10 each, plasma events are not quite so costly. Only 24 to go into avalanche :) 0.008 Ohm on resistance... Nice.

If its only the IGBT block, then replacing this (or replacing it with a Mosfet bridge + drivers) is not a major issue.

The lack of current for immediate acceleration doesn't sound particularly impressive, but I'm sure this can be resolved :) Scale the current sensors output at lower speeds maybe.

I don't yet have it in my hot little hands, but its coming soon... In the meantime, does anyone have a lead on the service manual for one of these? The wiring diagrams and schematic would be very interesting to see.

Also, dead MC cards seem difficult to get your hands on in this country as well - anyone have any leads on these either?

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Mik
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Re: Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

Welcome!

That sounds most interesting, building a custom MC replacement.

What we have so far is the option to upgrade to Lithium including a different charger (Antiscab) and re-programming of the original charger software (The Laird) so that it treats the battery more gently.

There have not been many MC repairs described, yet. That makes it likely that even very simple faults will have been left unrepaired, like poor connection to the IGBTs causing smoldering. You might be lucky!

How easy or not it is to design a MC remains to be seen. Bear in mind that there is an encode disk at the rear wheel and that Canbus communication is required between that encoder and the MC board. That could be very tricky, to my knowledge no-one has so far succeeded in accessing and modifying the MC firmware.

Eyeinthesky had a MC board with failed IGBTs and ended up buying a used new board, maybe he still has the old one?

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heathyoung
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Re: Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

The lithium conversion is definitly on my mind, the bike is coming with no batteries - Still undecided on the path I am taking, but the thundersky or sky energy look OK, but with some LiPoly Nanotechs in parallel to reduce the sag under load - There is some pretty serious stuff out there - a 5AH 40C (yes, 200A) should help keep the thunderskys happy and alive for longer.

I've done some research on the encoder wheel, its pretty tricky BUT it still has hall sensor type outputs, so using these to drive a high powered controller with regen etc is not out of the question - even if they need to be advanced/retarded, this is possible to do in software.

I think if I do go this way I may have to do some sensible current limiting because I'm not sure of the strength of the gearbox - will it lift the front wheel or shatter the gearbox if the motor gets hit with 150A+ off the line? My ebike hits 55A off the line and it will flip the bike (and rider) if caution is not exercised when moving off.

The existing MC board does lend itself well to redesign, the the signals that would drive the IGBT's (via the inbuilt drivers in the block) could also quite easily drive mosfet drivers as well - there is a lot of similarity between the two, IGBT's have a 'Tail' they don't shut off as quickly as mosfets, but they have a much better SOAR (safe operating area region) than mosfets - You can basically drive them to their voltage and current limits concurrently. Do the same with a mosfet and it will die. Conversely, mosfets run much cooler, you just need more of them to make up for the poor SOAR curve. Add lots of low ESR capacitance as well, and you have a fairly robust full bridge.

The current sensors themselves may be moved off the board as well, I think some fun may be had with launch currents if these are fooled into producing a lower voltage than they actually are for the MC board.

Another spare dead board would be good, because its pretty likely I'll toast one :) Hopefully eyeinthesky didn't throw it out...

Mik
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Re: Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

The gearbox is tough as nails as far as I know.

I know of someone who has been riding a Vectrix for years with just one planetary gear installed instead of all three.

My rather uneducated guess is that this would increase the loads on the remaining parts by a factor of at least three, but maybe much more. They are straight cut gears.

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antiscab
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Re: Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

heathyoung wrote:

I've done some research on the encoder wheel, its pretty tricky BUT it still has hall sensor type outputs, so using these to drive a high powered controller with regen etc is not out of the question - even if they need to be advanced/retarded, this is possible to do in software.

yep, those hall sensors are for starting in square wave IIRC.
The stock MC switches to sine wave once the motor rpm is high enough

heathyoung wrote:

I think if I do go this way I may have to do some sensible current limiting because I'm not sure of the strength of the gearbox - will it lift the front wheel or shatter the gearbox if the motor gets hit with 150A+ off the line? My ebike hits 55A off the line and it will flip the bike (and rider) if caution is not exercised when moving off.

the stock MC gives 275A phase current.
On my bike, this peaks at 220A battery current.

The Gearbox uses (thick) single ratio gears, you will lose traction before this thing breaks.

Matt

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Daily Ride:
2007 Vectrix, modified with 42 x Thundersky 60Ah
Vectrix 60Ah Lithium Tyres Fuel Registration Insurance cycle analyst replacement TC Charger
conversion
Spent so far: $5800 + $7000 + $1720 + $960 + $320 + $720 + $140 + $600
Cost to do it again: $2500 + $5600 + $1720 + $960 + $320 + $720 + $140 + $600
Cost for a Petrol bike:$6000 + + $1440 + $6000 + $800 + $1400 + $3200 servicing
Total spent: $17260
Total to do again: $12560
Total to have used a petrol bike: $18840
Total distance travelled so far: 79'120km

heathyoung
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Re: Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

antiscab wrote:

yep, those hall sensors are for starting in square wave IIRC.
The stock MC switches to sine wave once the motor rpm is high enough

Makes sense, vector commutation (hence the name vectrix?) is pretty standard for a lot of high-end controllers, but it comes at a price, the heat that is generated on the tail (turn-off delay) of the IGBT's. I have taken delivery of the bike, the MC card is toast, the IGBT contacts have gotten so hot that one has charred the board quite badly, and there is one terminal melted off completely. Yikes. Terrible design this part, really needs not to go through the board. Everything else looks ok though, so if there is no tracks that go to the motor output terminals (doubtful that there would be) it may be a candidate for a mosfet bridge replacement. I'm not a massive fan of IGBT's...

antiscab wrote:

the stock MC gives 275A phase current.
On my bike, this peaks at 220A battery current.

The Gearbox uses (thick) single ratio gears, you will lose traction before this thing breaks.

Matt

Thats pretty impressive, no wonder it melts terminals on the MC card... Losing traction sounds like a challenge. I'll see if I can get the wheel moving with an ebike controller at some stage, could be interesting. No vector commutation, but motion would be nice. There is a lot of room for batteries in these too, I expected less room than that.

Mik
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Re: Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

heathyoung wrote:

...
...
...
I have taken delivery of the bike, the MC card is toast, the IGBT contacts have gotten so hot that one has charred the board quite badly, and there is one terminal melted off completely. Yikes. Terrible design this part, really needs not to go through the board. ...
...
...

That sounds very promising, I did repair similar damage to my Vectux MC, although much less severe by the sound of it.

But when I fixed one of the three phase posts which had burned a little bit, I checked all three by trans-illumination and I saw no internal layers. You can possibly grind the PCB material away until you reach the IGBT unit underneath it, then connect directly to that.

See this thread for details: http://visforvoltage.org/forum/3582-vectux-quotopen-source-vectrixquot

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heathyoung
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Re: Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

If only it were that simple, the IGBT itself has a terminal melted off internally. The burn marks just miss the 4 tracks that run past the terminals - I will have to post a pic, the damage is quite severe.

A bit of research turns up that this is not exactly a new phenomena with these sort of devices - the problem is called PCB creep, and its pretty common. There shouldn't have been any terminals on the PCB board, there should be holes for the risers to pass through.

So at the moment, its probably a toss up between making a replacement IGBT array out of high powered mosfets, or tossing the MC and charger, and making an interface to talk directly to the dash + a DC:DC converter + very powerful brushless motor controller, and turn the bike into what it had the potential to be...

Playing with batteries today, I pulled out one of the packs from my Ebike - (LiPoly) - it looks very small in the battery box (even though its a 100V 15AH (1.5Kwh) pack - 4S3P 6S Lipo) it measures 200 X 150 X 150 and weighs 6Kg, 10C capable (150A).

A 150V, 30AH pack would be 36S6P of lipo, 36Packs. It would measure 300 X 300 X 150 (would need to be split to fit into the vectrix battery tray) and would weigh ~20Kg. At 10C, its capable of 300A, but happier at 150A (5C). If Lipoly wasn't so bloody tempramental I would consider this as a fairly good solution, especially when compressed properly and heatsinked. It would need a good BMS as well, but this is not exactly impossible to do.

Decisions decisions...

R
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Re: Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

I know of someone who has been riding a Vectrix for years with just one planetary gear installed instead of all three.

Only one??
Mik, did he want to reduce the noise? Is the gearbox still ok?

heathyoung
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Re: Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

Well, the latest is I have found some temporary batteries.

They are not lithium, or Nicd, but instead they are sealed lead acid (groan - I know) - I managed to score 16 12V33AH SLA's from work as they were decomissioning a PABX that used them (sat on a float charge, 1 year old only). These cost $150 each new, so it was a bargain for free.

10 of them fit perfectly if you remove the ventilation fan from the battery top cover.

They won't be permanent, more for testing and 'for the moment' - They are a little heavier (12Kg each) than the original pack, and with Puekert effect probably only have about 20Ah capacity - but you get that. I was suprised that they fit like they were almost meant to go in there... Was this what they used for the SLA vectrix that was touted at one stage?

I suppose once I replece them with 32Ah of headway lithium (40Kg) - the acceleration will be noticibly improved :)

Mik
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Re: Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

R wrote:

I know of someone who has been riding a Vectrix for years with just one planetary gear installed instead of all three.

Only one??
Mik, did he want to reduce the noise? Is the gearbox still ok?

Yes, two of the three planetary gears were reportedly removed to reduce noise levels (successfully) and the Vectrix keeps running without (gearbox) problems, since several years.

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R
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Re: Buying dead vectrix for ressurection...

Yes, two of the three planetary gears were reportedly removed to reduce noise levels (successfully) and the Vectrix keeps running without (gearbox) problems, since several years.

Very interesting... My gearbox is becoming noisier, and I've been unable to find single good solution... taking two gears out is risky, but may work...

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