Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

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Paul
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It seems that Vectrix has not (or can not) come up with a viable alternative to the Nimh cells.
With many of us coming to the end of our warranty period and the reported US$5000 replacement cost of a new pack, I have been watching the posts about replacement packs. Not keen to throw money at Vectrix for poorly resolved cells/BMS in their existing catalogue.

Replacing individual dead sells with secondhand cells will only keep our bikes running so long.
I note that 40Ah Thundersky cells will be problematic to fit in the available space. I cannot get a good quote from our Australian KOKAM dealer, so where to now? A123? Too expensive. Valence? Won't fit and too expensive.

I have been in touch with and have a quote from a manufacturer called Realforce of Zaozhuang City, Shandong Province, China.
The price quoted is $3477 (I assume US dollars) for a nominal 125V LiPo4 pack of 40Ah capacity and includes BMS and charger. Postage would be extra and larger orders would attract a discount. I asked for a charger as tying in the OEM charger with a third party BMS is beyond my ability.

The pack is sized to fit a Vectrix battery bin, that is 230mm by 700mm and 330mm deep, the weight is quoted at 57kg, some 33kg less than the OEM pack and an extra 10Ah increase in capacity. I have asked for a nominal 130A constant load and a peak of 180A. The charging will take 6 hours and is a constant voltage, constant current type of 230V AC input. Size and weight of charger was not included by Realforce. Life of the pack is quoted at 1500 cycles to 80%. Pack consists of 40 cells of 10Ah in series with 4 such strings in paralell.

So, my question to the learned EV community is, does anyone out there know of Realforce and are there any other firm quotes for replacement packs?

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Mik
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Thanks for doing that research, Paul!

I have added this thread to the Vectrix Collaborative Handbook, please stay on topic!

I have so far only pondered theoretical hurdles to alternative battery pack installation, but have not looked at actually available batteries.

Some potential hurdles:

A) The replacement pack must be able to be "split" into sections of 27/102 x2 and 48/102.

Otherwise the stock BMS will always "see" a severely unbalance pack and probably cause trouble.

A solution to this might be possible by adding just the right resistor between the tabs where the S-BMS measures voltages and the PCB with the voltage divider and the temp sensor/CAN interface.

How can this be done?

.

B) On the CANBUS seem to be messages from the same ID's during charging mode and during booting up to riding mode.

This might mean that the signals from the stock charger are needed (even if a different battery pack including it's own charger has been installed). But that might not be much of a problem, maybe during riding the charger just announces that it is doing nothing and no-one else on the CANBUS cares..??

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AndY1
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Mik wrote:

A) The replacement pack must be able to be "split" into sections of 27/102 x2 and 48/102.

A 38 cell LiPo pack would be a perfect match:
10/38 + 10/38 + 18/38

I'm thinking of 38 x 40Ah Kokam LiPo cells with Vectrix charger and Schulze balancer on top of cells. Schulze balancer is powered by the cells it is equalizing, so no connection with the charger is needed.

38 LiPo cells can be charged up to 159.6 Volts (4.2V/cell), which is more than enough to be in the safe zone with Vectrix charger. In fact, not fully charging them increases their cycle life. Kokam 40Ah cells also fit pefectly in the Vectrix battery bay.

mikemitbike
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Hi there,
as I´m waiting that one lokal dealer gets his equipment from Vectrix or the main-importer of Austria to check my Vectrix again
(it has started to barbecue its batterypack during every charging reaching 40°C very fast) i did some batteryresearch and found
some interesting link: manufacturer and an interesting batterytype: GP Lifepo4 45Ah which might fit in the vectrix bay.

Don´t worry about grammar and spelling, it´s rather hot and dampy today...
greetings Mike

Anderson
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

I was planning to charge my Vectrix's battery using a Variac (not the built-in charger) at a low amperage rate to equalize it and if that's successful I then have to get the the Vectrix to update it's BMS to the batteries new state of charge, how do you plan to do that each time you charge your Vectrix ? Note ordinarily I will be charging it with it's built-in charger.

Also some questions I would like to know before ordering a LiPo replacement battery is if it fits in the Vectrix's battery box will it require cooling and will air cooling be adequate for it in a stacked configuration. The Vectrix's plastic battery container is designed for air cooling meaning there is space for air to pass around the cells. I would also want to know if the battery packs are serviceable meaning can you replace individual cells within a pack.

Paul
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

I like the links Mikemitbike, excellent info available and a preliminary price as well!
As for Anderson's concerns, yes, more info and more technical details will be required before any orders happen. Haven't been able to find any details about a specific Schulze balancer that would be applicable to the pack we need.

Maintenance of packs: well it seems to me that the hard case cells would be maintainable with bolted connections etc. Soft case cells may be dificult as these packs are well taped up in the manufacturing process and I am not sure of the connection method, but it's probably not a bolt and nut connection.
I would prefer hard case cells as spacing can be included to allow cooling air flow. Soft case cells are more prone to damage in manufacturing and shipping and end up as a solid mass, no cooling to the middle?
Interfacing any new BMS/cells/charger will be problematic and will need the CAN system to be better understood than I do at the moment. I hope some good CAN bus info turns up on one of the forums sooner or later.
I suspect this whole process will take a while and I will not be handing any hard earned cash over to anyone untill the whole problem is better understood.
It seems Realforce is a little known entity........I'll put that quote aside then.

Cheers

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mikemitbike
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Hi there,
finally i did find the missing link of a company making replacement-packs for the Vectrix [edit:SORRY MY MISTAKE THEY MADE THE BMS NOT THE PACK].
I´ve no information if it is an prototype, which kind of Lithium or the price for the pack. Enjoy the Link : Elithion

Greetings from Austria Mike

Mik
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

mikemitbike wrote:

Hi there,
finally i did find the missing link of a company making replacement-packs for the Vectrix [edit:SORRY MY MISTAKE THEY MADE THE BMS NOT THE PACK].
I´ve no information if it is an prototype, which kind of Lithium or the price for the pack. Enjoy the Link : Elithion

Greetings from Austria Mike

Very nice!

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tom5007
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

After all this company looks like a great candidate to providing battery upgrades for a Vectrix (once we run out of a Vectrix in house solution). I wonder if Elithion would be interested to "pick" up this business. I Ind of would be happy with a Lithium upgrade for my Vectrix.

RaDy
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Thanks for the link mikemitbike, now the question is the price, has anyone asked about it?
hopefully with time more and more solutions of this type will be available.With the amount of Vectrix scooters sold here in Spain i think the importer will find an alternative by itself. The Spanish importer made a big deal with Hertz, they have plenty of Vectrix to rent, they will have to find some type of replacement in a years time if the batteries fail.
Rag

DavideAndrea
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Hello,
I noticed the surge of traffic to our site (Elithion) from this page and came to investigate.

Yes, Elithion did make a BMS for a Vectrix Li-Ion pack, but it did so for K2 Energy, the maker of the LiFePO4 26650 cells used in that pack.

I will contact K2 and let you know if it is interested in offering battery packs for the Vectrix to individual owners.
Davide

Mik
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

DavideAndrea wrote:

Hello,
I noticed the surge of traffic to our site (Elithion) from this page and came to investigate.

Yes, Elithion did make a BMS for a Vectrix Li-Ion pack, but it did so for K2 Energy, the maker of the LiFePO4 26650 cells used in that pack.

I will contact K2 and let you know if it is interested in offering battery packs for the Vectrix to individual owners.
Davide

Welcome, and HIP-HIP-HURRAY for a vendor who is proactive and knows how to use their website!

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tom5007
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Yepee, Davide welcome to our page! I am confident hat many of us are desperate Vectrix owners happy to learn about possible battery upgrades.
Norman

R
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Very interesting post.. I can take for granted I'll someday need a lithium battery....
Maybe all CANBUS problems with lithium can be solved by reprogramming the Vectrix... I've read that the prius software can be customized very easely!
Has anyone tried to change Vectrix's software? (ex: change top speed, acceleration...)

Mik
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

R wrote:

Very interesting post.. I can take for granted I'll someday need a lithium battery....
Maybe all CANBUS problems with lithium can be solved by reprogramming the Vectrix... I've read that the prius software can be customized very easely!
Has anyone tried to change Vectrix's software? (ex: change top speed, acceleration...)

Slowly, slowly....

Before changing anything, we need to figure out how the CANBUS works in the Vectrix.

I am making some progress with the CANBUS, but this is going off topic here. Details at: http://www.canhack.de/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=1094&st=0&sk=t&sd=a and http://visforvoltage.org/book/ev-collaborative-hand-books/6916 ,
Last night I found the Battery Temp Sensor signals on the CANBUS! They communicate with the charger, I believe, even when not charging. Have another look at the picture of the Li-BMS posted on the ELITION website and note the CAN to USB adapter lying around in it all....You can bet your bottom dollar that a software patch and access to a special version of the Scooter Diagnostics Software is needed to install the Lithium battery pack and BMS and make it work in the Vectrix.

I would not be surprised if a battery pack and BMS is fully developed and ready, but will never be available because of all the legal hullabaloo going on around Vectrix' Corpse!

The dealers had to sign non-disclosure agreements, imagine what software and hardware developers would have had to sign. The patents might be used by someone buying Vectrix' Corpse in the future. And selling of battery upgrades to existing (and unlikely but possible future) owners would certainly be a factor in any feasibility calculations by anyone considering to buy the remains and revive it.

I believe it will take a long time before Elithion and / or K2Energy will be able to sell upgrades for the Vectrix without risk of being sued.

At this stage I will concentrate more on ironing out the bugs in the existing NiMH packs.

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DavideAndrea
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Re: Replacement Li-Ion batteries for the Vectrix

Just to let you know that I am talking to K2 about offering replacement Vectrix batteries. As you can imagine, there are multiple issues, so at this point it's hard to say. I'll keep you posted.
D'de
Davide Andrea
Elithion

Paul
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Geez I am embarrassed every time I see 'Replaing'. Should be Replacing of course.

Well I have been busy fixing up my pack by replacing a dead cell with a spare!

Firstly let me describe the symptoms of the cell failure:
The bike had been working well, good acceleration, ok range, no hot temperatures and almost 10000kM on the clock.
Over a period of a few weeks, I noticed a high rate of self discharge over the weekend, reduced range and poor acceleration.
One morning after the hill climb part of my daily ride, I heard a loud thump eminating from the bike. Thought nothing of it.
From then on, range and acceleration deteriorated, BATHOT came up at the drop of a hat and I became despondant.
The dealer suspected a dead cell and sent me some spares. Many thanks.

So to the replacement process:
I made up a battery lifter
lifting bar.jpg
First disasemble the panels and battery cover.
Disconnect the back battery management (BM) connector and remove the BM card by pushing the plastic standoff pins through.
Discommect the battery connector at the front battery pack.
Lift the thin plastic pack cover and disconnect the battery terminals to the back pack.
Ensure all connections are clear of back pack
Lift pack out- the back pack is the big big one and BEWARE, the weight is 45KG+ and if the bike is on a side stand, will have to come out at an angle.
Make sure you have somewhere to put the pack down before you start.

The front pack will come out in a similar way, but the BM card is fixed to the frame in a fiddly place, perservere!

This is where I got a white paint pen out and started marking everything: An arrow to indicate the front of bike, B for back pack, P for the front pack, T for top row, L for left side, R for right side. eg, BBL is back pack bottom left side.
Be aware, with 102 cells in 18 rows of 8 or 9 cells each, it is easy to get mixed up so mark everything!

As Mik has identified, damaged cells will be swollen on their small side, I also found my dead cell showed evidence of being very hot and had melted it's spacers. I understand that other bikes and dead cells may not be so obvious, but a methodical investigation will reveal any faulty cells.
The picture above shows good spacers to the left and melted spacers on the right.melted spacer.jpg
I also measured the voltage of each cell in the pack and found about 1.367V in all but one cell. The dead cell was 0.01V.
So, when a dead cell or cells are identified, free up the row and clear some bench space. Disconnect the cell connection links either side of the dead cells.
8 cells.jpg
BEWARE, the cells are held apart by the plastic spacers and held together by a steel strap, DO NOT CUT or BREAK THE STRAP
The target cells must be squeezed out from between all the rest in the row. The steel strap is a pain, but with care, cells can be freed from the strap's embrace.
At this point, I measured the cell voltage again and charged up the new cell to the same voltage. I have a variable voltage DC power supply and charged the new cell to 1.367V at 0.5A until it matched the original cells. I know, this is not ideal treatment and a proper equalization charge is recommended, but it's the best I could do.

When the old cell is out and a new one is in place, check the polarity of the new cell again and reasemble the row, but without the spacers for now.
Everything is a tight squeeze even without the spacers, so I made up a wooden wedge:

wedge.jpg

The wedge is gently tapped in between cells to allow a spacer to be inserted. The spacer must also be tapped in too.
When all spacers are in place, check polarity again and put the cell connection links back in place and tighten the bolts.
Measure the row voltage and compare with the row voltage in all other rows. Of course, front rows are lower voltage than back rows.

As rows and packs go together, check all bolted cell connections for tightness, but don't overtighten.

When you are happy, put it all together and beware of the last connection to the bike as 125V+ will cause a bit of a spark. The spark may or may not cause damage to the bike as has been discussed elsewhere.

If all things are equal, re-assemble and test.
Good luck!

By the way, my bike is going like a train now!

Cheers

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Mik
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Nicely flattened spacers! Did the cell explode in the end?

Do you need to break the spacers to get them out before removing the cell?

I could not figure out how to remove cells without taking the strap off, so I figured out how to fix the strap again instead! I feared that I would ding or even pierce the cell walls if I tried to lever them out or back in.

One very important addition: Disconnect the big blue Andersons connector first and reconnect it last, and use an ICL.

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Paul
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

1, I did break the strap and repaired it with a pop-rivet, but in discussions with the dealer, he assured me that dis-assembly is possible and preferred if the strap is intact.
2, I know, piercing a cell is a worry, but carefull use of a wedge prevented any damage.
3, Correct, the Anderson plug..........I had neglected to include that in my post.

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Paul
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

No, the cell didn't explode, but it was very swollen, I think the thump was the cell pressure valve going off.
Bottom spacer is melted to cell and everything came apart when I initially broke the strap.

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Mik
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Do I understand it correctly that you did not find a way to remove the cell without breaking the strap?

Pop-riveting the strap when the cells are out might be a good idea; it does not work when the cells are in, the strap is too short and the usual devices for such a job require way too much space to operate, and leave behind a clamp that is too thick. I used the wire method, so far it seems to have held up for 4000km, but I only looked at the top layer. Next time I'll consider cutting holes in the plastic container for inspection purposes.

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Paul
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Well, sort of.
I did break the strap, and repaired again prior to re-assembly. Pop rivet from inside out so flat side is to the aluminium end plate.
However, Eyeinthesky tells me he was able to do the whole job without damage to the strap. If he can do it, then we all can.

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azvectrix
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

I think I'm ready to take the leap myself. I've got the seat off, and removed the first four panel screws, and now...well, rather than removing things randomly, I thought I'd get some advice. Has anyone posted directions on which panels to remove, in which order, etc.?

Thanks,
Ron

Mik
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

azvectrix wrote:

I think I'm ready to take the leap myself. I've got the seat off, and removed the first four panel screws, and now...well, rather than removing things randomly, I thought I'd get some advice. Has anyone posted directions on which panels to remove, in which order, etc.?

Thanks,
Ron

http://visforvoltage.org/book/ev-collaborative-hand-books/7099

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azvectrix
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Thanks, Mik--it looks like that may be of great help. Is there any way to bypass the slideshow and access the grid version of your photos in Photobucket?

eyeinthesky
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

To separate the cells without breaking the strap use a screw driver to ease up the spacers one from the top then one from the bottom
repeat until cells are loose
P1090041a.jpg

To assemble! on the last few spacers wedge the cells apart, firstly with a wedge both sides to create a gap to place a screwdriver in the top to insert the last spacer, then gently and evenly knock it down
spacer lugs overlap each other, well!... you will figure that out.
P1090042a.jpg
I changed 8 cells in four pack, bike finished in 5 hours

Mik
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

eyeinthesky wrote:

I changed 8 cells in four pack, bike finished in 5 hours

How did you decide which cells to replace? Where were they located - more in bottom layer??

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eyeinthesky
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

I received cells from Vectrix measuring 1.32 volts
So I rode the scooter to 1.31v, took the covers of then charged it to 1.32v
8 cells had a lower measurement of 1.31v. of those 8, 7 were swollen when looking along the side but I decided to changed all 8
All in the rear pack, 4 in LH middle, 2 on LH top, 1 on RH middle, 1 on LH middle.
none of the 1.32v cells were swollen
Klms have increased distance and power to 2/17, and on the last 1/17 the power is reduced
At 80kph I get 40klm, before I got 25klm
I have two different cells in the original packs, 1/3 of them have twice as many strengthend sidebars
And the replacements are different again, sharper corners
What a jumble!

Mik
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

eyeinthesky wrote:

I have two different cells in the original packs, 1/3 of them have twice as many strengthend sidebars
And the replacements are different again, sharper corners
What a jumble!

It is the same with my so called "original" pack: Two different types, the type with 2 ridges on each side and then a few with 4 ridges on each side. Mixed together in some of the modules!

Makes you wonder if these batteries were new!

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Magendanz
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

Has anyone identified a source for replacement cells other than Vectrix or by scavanging them from damaged packs?

From the photos, they're clearly made in Hong Kong and I see serial numbers, but no model number or manufacturer name. If we had that info, perhaps we could track down local distributors.

israndy
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Re: Replaing the troublesome OEM batteries

I thought it had been said on other posts here that the quantity they are available in are in the thousands so no individual or even this group could buy the cells needed for all our bikes. It's probably going to be one of us buys a wrecked bike and then sells the cells to other group members that have dead cells on their bike...

-Randy

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