Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

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Joshteacher
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I've recently purchased a used 2008 VX-1 (my first EV!), and I have some questions for maintaining it:

1. I set the delay to charge in the middle of the night, and ride the bike to work. I've noticed that the voltage in the mornings is consistently 136-138V. After charging at work, the voltage is 138-142V. Any way I can kick up the voltage?

2. The battery light comes on occasionally during my morning commute (on mile 8 or 9 of a 12 mile trip). I make it there, haven't been stranded yet. Is this related to lower voltages I'm seeing in the morning? The light never comes on during my return trip.

3. I've read that I need to run the batteries down every month at least. Can I do this from a partial charge (not plugging in after work on Friday and driving it down on Sunday), or is it best starting on a full battery?

I know it's a lot of questions, but I'm committed to making this baby last as along as I possibly can. It was bought with only 800 miles, and it's in pretty great shape.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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ofx210p
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Welcome to ownership of a Vectrix.

There's a lot to learn and enjoy.

First thing is if the battery lights are coming on - ride VERY gently from then until your destination that will if nothing else prevent damaging the batteries.

Second thing is that the bike actually works better run regularly than it does being sat for days / weeks and ran occasionally. Therefore your range and also your performance MAY improve over the next 2-3 weeks.

The voltages are ok (we'll look at that another time), don't panic on that front at this moment in time.

Some of the information that is needed for us to help you and for you to learn is how many KM/Miles the bike has done with you riding it ? how long ago it got those 800 miles ? What your average riding is like (commute) for speed and terrain.

Also of course where you are in the world.

Feel free to PM Me

I am also sure there'll be many more replies from other longtermers here.

Cheers

Chris

Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

-I'm in the Los Angeles area, my commute is on city streets with lights, with speed topping out at 45mph on some stretches. I don't need to go much faster.
-The streets are fairly level: no major hills or canyons. Some unavoidably bumpy spots bc of potholes and train tracks.
-I've put on about 300 miles since I bought it in early August.
-The original owner seemed to have been babying it over the last 4 years, taking it out here and there, no signs of neglect as far as I can tell.

Thanks for the initial input!

Josh

ofx210p
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Chances are there are some battery cell issues (anti-scab and Mik both on here are the masters of all things cellular)

Best way of charging that i have found is two fold.
1. buy a cheap electronic timer plug so you can just program in the time you want it to start charging (i start mine around 2am) and the benefit of this is two fold. Firstly by not having a bike programmed delay you can program the plug to provide power at any time of day. It will also kill the power after its charged if you give it long enough. And the reason you would want to do this is because having mains power constantly running though your charger in your vectrix is (due to a poor design) a bad thing and can and does eventually kill it. Therefore having a mains timer plug you only give the systems power for approximately the amount of time it takes to charge.

2. Without a shadow of a doubt get a copy of the lairds revised charging firmware for your bike. Sadly this means you might need to borrow a can-bus cable from someone near to you if you don't have one. However people have seen improvements on range for starters and lower charging temperatures which is a known problem with the vectrix std charger algorithms (trying too hard to get as much power into the batteries as they can too fast just to make the stats look good).

Daily use is best and running it to the red light doesn't have to be done in one go and can be done over the weekend. However some here might suggest that you do it twice in succession. over sequential days Fri/Sat ?

Oh and the other advantage to the lairds revised charging firmware is the fans are on during riding (constantly ) and for an hour after riding.

Basically if you haven't gathered... heat is the Achilles heel of these batteries.

If you are good at making stuff but can't get a can-bus cable i'd recommend the ABCool adaptor cable which allows you to run the fans on the bike after riding running them off a 12v source (plug adaptor or battery) allowing the bike time to cool with care rather than just turning it off not knowing if the core temps are actually escalated.

Wow, sorry got on a soap box there............ Its a passionate subject

Cheers

Chris

kingcharles
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Can you provide some info on the battery voltage and temperatures after your ride when the red light comes on? (kill switch off, pull left brake and check left dash)
This is useful info and can provide some indication for cell imbalance or cell failures. If it is imbalance than there is hope for improvement.
If the voltage is above 120V after a ride to the red light you can do a very, very careful ride until the voltage drops to 120V. You can do this by riding really slow and often check the voltage by stopping, kill switch, left brake procedure. Did I already mention to do it very carefully? Ensure the temperature does not spike.
Also try to monitor a charge cycle and use this info to set the timer as mentioned by Chris. Set the timer in such a way that it shuts off before the last part of the charging program kicks in. This last part of the program does the most damage.

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ofx210p
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Listen to us all LOL.... poor bloke is probably Shi**ing himself now thinking its all terrible...

In reality its not all doom and gloom however we are just trying to make your vectrix the best it can be.

Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Haha.. No worries, mate, I really appreciate all the input. A couple of things:

-I haven't had the light come on this week. I'll check voltages and temps the next time it occurs. From what I remember, I don't think the voltage ever goes below 121V when the light comes on.
-I will get that electric timer plug. About how long should I leave the window open? I'm thinking 3 hrs. should get me a full charge.
-When I arrive at work or home after my commute, the fans come on anyways once I plug in the scooter. This includes when I activate the delay. I can hear them now, and I've been home for over an hour.
-As far as updating the software, I believe that was done by the original owner, but I'm not sure. That process seems a little out of my league (I'm a history teacher).
-Heat=bad. Noted.

Thanks again, I really look forward to whatever feedback I can get.

Josh

ofx210p
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

4hrs would be a complete charge so start at 3hr and see how the temps / charge goes.

Or alternatively just keep an eye on it one day by popping out every 20 mins to see what time it takes for your bike.

basically the original firmware tends to throw too much current at the batteries in the final stage and thereby heating up the pack when its already full.

This just isnt necessary or a good thing. Hence the idea to stop it before it does that.

Aircon
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

ofx210p wrote:

4hrs would be a complete charge so start at 3hr and see how the temps / charge goes.

Would I be right in my thinking that 4 hours for a full charge is only applicable if you have a battery that still has full capacity?

kingcharles
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

If the fans come on during riding it means the temperature of the batteries is above 37 deg C.
When they come on during the pre-charge delay it means they are above 27 deg C.

Please monitor a charge cycle and time how long it takes. use this info to set your timer. Set it such that you avoid the last part of the charge program.

When you finish a ride check the temperature of the batteries. If they are above 27 deg C and more than 5 deg C above ambient you can use the pre-charge timer to cool them.
Best way for this is to set the delay to 8 hours and occasionally listen if the fans still run. Because they will automatically shut down as soon as the temperature drops below 27 deg C.
At this point you can unplug the bike and connect it to your timer for overnight charging.

It seems that your batteries have regained a bit of capacity if you noticed that the red lights no longer come on. This is good news.

Oh, and from your description it is clear you have the latest official Vectrix software.

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Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Battery light came on during last 0.25 mi. of my commute home today. I pulled over and the voltage was 124V and temp was 34°C. When I arrived home, I had to turn off the scooter to rearrange parking. When I turned it back on to park, voltage was back up to 127V and temp was 35°C. The ride started at 138V and 25°C.

About "the last part of the charge program" is this when the amperage on the speedometer goes down to 30kph? What should I be looking for to know what that last part is? CC, EC, or CP? I can check this at work since it's parked nearby, and have a better clue as to the timing of the charge cycle.

Seriously, thanks for all the help, it's my understanding that Vectrix doesn't have any L.A. representation right now.

kingcharles
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

A 10 deg C temperature increase on a relatively short ride is not good news. I think some cells are damaged.
Not much you can do about this without opening the battery compartment and custom firmware.
But if you continue to ride carefully you should be able to get some more miles out of the pack in this condition.

It is indeed the 3 amp phase which is damaging. do a search on this forum because there were some excellent posts on the charge sequence.

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Mik
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Joshteacher wrote:

I've recently purchased a used 2008 VX-1 (my first EV!), and I have some questions for maintaining it:

1. I set the delay to charge in the middle of the night, and ride the bike to work. I've noticed that the voltage in the mornings is consistently 136-138V. After charging at work, the voltage is 138-142V. Any way I can kick up the voltage?

Get a timer and set it to start charging so that the charger still runs when you are getting ready to go to work. Check what is going on while you get ready, you will soon know if the battery heats up or not during the last charge part. A substantial part of the charge is lost due to self-discharge, particularly just after the charge finishes and if the battery is hot. Ideally, you want to stop charging just before the battery begins to heat up noticeably and just when you are ready to drive away.

Quote:

2. The battery light comes on occasionally during my morning commute (on mile 8 or 9 of a 12 mile trip). I make it there, haven't been stranded yet. Is this related to lower voltages I'm seeing in the morning? The light never comes on during my return trip.

This sounds as if you have a short work day....there is probably less time between the end of charging and you driving off. The voltages at the end of charging are probably very similar, but then they begin to fall immediately when charging stops. After a few hours they settle at around 138V.

Quote:

3. I've read that I need to run the batteries down every month at least. Can I do this from a partial charge (not plugging in after work on Friday and driving it down on Sunday), or is it best starting on a full battery?

I think you should only ever run down the battery after it has been fully charged and equalised, and without any delay between full EQ charge and start of riding. Otherwise any differential self-discharge rate between cells (there is always some) will cause reverse charging of the cells with higher self-discharge. However, it seems that the capacity of your battery is so close to what you need for your commute, that any deeper discharges are not needed.

Quote:

I know it's a lot of questions, but I'm committed to making this baby last as along as I possibly can. It was bought with only 800 miles, and it's in pretty great shape.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Good luck with it!

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Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Some updates:

-I think I misread the temperature at 21°C at the start of my ride home yesterday. It seems as though 21°C is the default temp and I need to wait with the brake held for another 5 seconds to get the right reading. Today before leaving work was 35°C. and 135V.

-The battery light came on again on the ride home (not on the ride to work). I pulled over and the temperature was 36°C and 124V. Temperature jump wasn't as bad as previously indicated.

-I did end the charge sequence early today before heading home from work, so we'll see if that leads to any improvements in performance. I will also try to time the charge sequence to finish up as close to before I leave work as possible. Maybe I can keep a higher voltage.

-Last question for today: how deep of a battery discharge should I go for? From a full charge until the battery light turns on, or until the scooter is dragging because it can't hit those higher speeds? Seeking clarification.

Many many thanks for all the advice and wisdom. I appeciate the community here!

kingcharles
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Consider 120V as empty tank. running any lower is bad for the low capacity cells.
Avoid hard accellerations and full regen braking too. With a battery in the state that she is now it needs gentle treatment :-)
What is the ambient temperature where you are?

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Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Today's updates:
-Living in Los Angeles, temps range from 70s-90s during day and 50s-60s at night, at least until winter.

- Good news! I'm finally getting how all the advice fits together:
1. Try to get the end of charging as close to the time of departure as possible.
2. Avoid the last step of the charging cycle.
3. By all means, keep the batteries as cool as poss.
4. Easy on acceleration, don't gun it so much.

- No battery light today, and I started with 138V on ride to work and back home! Batteries started hot on ride to work, but cooled down. Feeling like I may be able to set some good patterns now.

Very exciting!

kingcharles
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

well done! but don't forget:
5) avoid full regenerative braking.
6) enjoy the silence and the ride!

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Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

5) avoid full regenerative braking.

Could you flesh this out a little more? Does that mean using regen only 60-70%? I've been using it almost exclusively for the last few weeks. What's the reason for limited regen? How do you stay aware enough to not use it too much?

Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Ending the sequence in the morning works out ok, but I still ran out of voltage: I'm guessing I was probably going consistently above 40-45mph for a couple stretches.

The temperature seems to go up at the end of the charge sequence in the afternoon. This has left me with "batthot" and a temp of 51°C before leaving work for home. Temps come back down with riding and the fans, and I get home ok.

Is it ok to ride off with "batthot" displaying? The temperature doesn't seem to be above 52°C, and goes down during the ride. I try to keep the fans going before heading home, but I can't always get them low enough before departure.

I also have to make sure batteries don't get too hot at the end of the charge sequence in the afternoon. Any tips?

Thanks!

BigTony
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Hi
Your Battery needs attention, 50+c is permanently damaging the cell(s) and probably those around it. I'm surprised the charger got it that hot without a bathot cutout, it must be quite bad.. there are celci dots (small thermal indicator stickers) on all the cells, and that one should have tripped. But every cell that is bulged or puffed up is damaged. I would get the Lairds software into your bike ASAP, it dramatically reduces the heat and therefore the damage done during charging due to heat. If its only one bad cell you could shunt it. But I'll bet its not. You can usually find 10 or 20 bad cells in a 4 year old pack..There was a guy in this forum from the US selling packs on recovered cells, I think hes even on US Ebay..
I live in Brisbane Australia and I have two bikes, my wife and I ride them every day (30km or so each) and it gets hot here in summer (35c,95f +). I have cooked lots of cells in 4 years but I still have many (80 or so in each) of the original cells in my bikes, and the cells I have been using to replace them with are all the same age as well so I just take what I can get.. It only takes one bad cell out of 102 to do what you are experiencing (and it would have to be on, or next to a temp sense point), but the odds are there will be more..Caution but, dragging high(ish)current (40 to 45 mph) through a battery with a badly damaged cell in it can have expensive consequences as demonstrated elsewhere in these forums with a battery fire.

kingcharles
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

50+C is indeed a bad sign. your earlier reports of high 30's C with the red lights and high 20's C ambient were OK. So something probably happened to cause the spike to 50's. Do you park your bike in the sun? Otherwise it is most likely one or more cells that have failed.

The reason for the temperature to rise at the end of a charge is that the Vectrix charger is forcing current into battery cells that have already reached their capacity. Those cells can no longer convert that current into charge and will start converting it into heat. This causes them to loose even more capacity and pretty soon they will fail completely. This is why we all urge you to keep the temperature low.
The cause of some cells reaching full before others is cell imbalance which is caused by different self discharge characteristics between cells. Over time these imbalances increase because the higher self discharge cells reach empty earlier while riding and continued riding at that point will cause damage to those cells. When you charge, those damaged cells reach full earlier because they have lost some capacity and they will heat up causing even more damage. So it is a down spiral...

If you do a full regen brake it will force up to 50 amps of current into the battery! You can imagine what that will do to already weak cells. Especially when the battery is still full. If you find it difficult to control your regen braking than it is better to avoid it completely.

Two things to consider in case the situation gets worse:
1) start swapping failed cells
2) look for a lithium upgrade

Both require serious work and I would advise you to look at the youtube videos of Antiscab to get an idea of the complexity of opening up the bike etc.

If you are not bothered with some serious DIY work and are fine to use software to flash other firmware into your bike than the best first step would be to start using The Lairds firmware as mentioned in the above post. This firmware will prevent the overcharging and thus heating of the cells at the end of a charge.

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Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

I had almost made it through the whole week with no problems or lights... until Friday. The battery light came on within a quarter mile of work, I must have pushed the speeds a little more than earlier in the week. At the end of the afternoon charge, the temperature was hitting the low 40Cs, I can't remember. I unplugged and didn't let the cc 3amp phase start. When I started to get ready for home an hour and a half later, the temperature spiked to 60C! I thankfully made it home, and temperatures went down as I rode. I'm wondering if I should just prevent a full charge, and not let the last 1-2 bars fill up.

It was such a disappointment, seeing as thought the whole rest of the week had gone off well without any problems. Admittedly, Friday was a warmer day in Los Angeles, but I charge in a room that's about 28-29C and out of direct sunlight.

I really wish I had the knowledge and resources to switch out cells, but I'm a history teacher, and this is a little out of my depth. I seriously didn't think getting the EV would be this cumbersome. :(

Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Quick update: it seems like a lot of the temperature issues have been related to overcharging. I've been vigilant all week, cutting off charging once the battery is full, and I don't think it's gotten anywhere past 31°C-33°C. The plug in timer has been a big help at night to avoid going into the CC mode.

I still am trying to deal with low voltages. No matter how close to the end of charge I start riding, I'm really not getting anything above 135V-136V (the display says 141V-142V, but it drops after a few blocks of slow riding). While it is enough to get me home with slow driving (nothing past 35mph), I would like to be able to keep up with surface street traffic a little more (~45mph).

Is there just a cell(s) that needs replacing, and that's the end of it? Or is there anything else aside from charging/temp control that I could try?

ofx210p
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Almosts certainly you'll need to look in the battery pack and check the cells for swollen ones and low capacity ones (often one and the same)

Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Weird. Today I was doing the weekly full battery discharge, and I hit speeds around 45-50mph. However, the battery light came on about 16 miles into the trip. It usually doesnt make it that far (more like 11-12 mi.), even with lower speeds. Three factors that made it different than my usual commute:
1. I didn't use regen braking at all today.
2. I stopped in the middle to shop at Home Depot.
3. Riding in the middle of the day instead of morning.

Could've just been a fluke, but I'm hopeful that I'll see similar ranges on a daily basis, letting me go a little faster than 35-36mph.

kingcharles
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

There is no need to do full discharge rides if you ride the bike daily.
Full discharges are damaging due to the risk of cell reversal and will heat the cells.

That you are getting more range is because you are now using the bike daily and are getting the hang of preventing the charger to overcharge the batteries. The batteries are reconditioning a bit.

Just keep riding it daily, keep an eye on battery temperatures, prevent overcharging and avoid riding to the red light completely.
This will give you the best life out of the batteries.

How is the battery temperature these days? If they are less than 10C above ambient then you are doing fine.

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Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

The temperature has been fine overall. If I charge after getting a red light, I am pretty vigilant on stopping charging if temperatures go above 35°C. Today I went entirely without regen during commute to work and back home, and again I'm seeing I have more voltage to spare. I really don't need the regen to make it the 12 miles, what i need is the voltage to stay above 124V. If I'm a daily rider (Mon-Fri), how often should I do the full discharge rides? Ever?

Aircon
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Joshteacher wrote:

The temperature has been fine overall. If I charge after getting a red light, I am pretty vigilant on stopping charging if temperatures go above 35°C. Today I went entirely without regen during commute to work and back home, and again I'm seeing I have more voltage to spare. I really don't need the regen to make it the 12 miles, what i need is the voltage to stay above 124V. If I'm a daily rider (Mon-Fri), how often should I do the full discharge rides? Ever?

Can you explain why you're not using regen, please? I don't understand that.

ofx210p
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

I would suggest this is because it can put quite a large amperage of current back into the pack and therefore not help when you are trying to keep temperatures down.

Joshteacher
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

...and for some strange reason, I end up at a higher voltage and no battery light when I'm not using it. At least in the last two days that's been the case. I've been able to hit 40mph without the light coming on during the commute.

kingcharles
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Re: Newbie Questions for 2008 VX-1

Joshteacher wrote:

...and for some strange reason, I end up at a higher voltage and no battery light when I'm not using it. At least in the last two days that's been the case. I've been able to hit 40mph without the light coming on during the commute.

Lower temperature means less self discharge of the cells and therefore a better balanced pack. the better the pack is balanced the better the range.
If you are a daily driver, deep discharge is not nessecary. I stopped doing them 2 years ago and my original battery is still OK after 20.000 miles

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