Sudden Drop in Range

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So I have had my Vectrix for a few months and put on about 1000 miles so far. I bought the bike used but with only about 240 miles. The bike came to me with older software so I took it to my local dealer and got the newest software loaded on. With the new software I did the discharge to the low battery light once for calibration. From then on everything seemed to be working perfectly. I would consistently use about 1 battery bar for every 2.4-2.5 miles and get a total of about 40 miles. I actually never let the charge meter get below 4 bars remaining and for the past month or two everything has been fine. Last week when I was driving to work (about 6.5 miles from home) I had about 6-7 bars of the battery left on the gauge. When I was about 0.5 mile from my destination I noticed a power drop in performance and I was at 4 bars left but the battery light was on (When I got to work the odometer was at 32 miles for the current charge). I was able to cruise to work (where I have an outlet in the parking garage) and recharge a full cycle. After work the bike had completed a full charge, but when I booted up, the "estimated range" said only 30 miles (before it always said about 40-43 after a full charge). Not relying on the "estimated range" I kept tract for the next week how many miles I could go on each bar of battery power. Now I am only getting 1.6-1.7 miles per bar. The good news is that it has been consistent over the past week. Any clues as to what is going on? Is this just software reinterpreting the battery voltage?

To further confuse the issue for me, the few times I have allowed the battery light to come on came at 2 bars remaining with the original software I had on the bike, and it came at 1 bar after I got the Oct 2008 update. However, given the situation above, the low battery light came on with 4 bars left. Yesterday I thought maybe I needed to let it get back down to the low battery light level again for the software to recalibrate itself again so I took it out for a spin. I left home with about 6 bars left and about 12 miles left on the "estimated range". It seemed like the battery bars were decreasing at my new predicted level of about 1.6-1.8 miles per bar. However, I thought I was going to run out of battery power as I was approaching my home because the battery bar got down to only one bar and the range continued to read 4-5 miles left. I cruised around the block with only one bar left without seeing any drop in performance and without the low battery light on. I was afraid to push it too far (even though I know the new software does not allow the batteries to discharge too low), so after doing a few laps with only one bar and no low battery light I brought it home and did a complete recharge after a 4 hour cooldown. This morning I calculated the same thing, about 1.6-1.8 miles per bar to and from work today. What gives? It seems that ever since I got the low battery light at 4 bars remaining it reset the range meter and battery meter. The only thing I have yet to try is to actually drive it until it actually reaches the low battery light again. Possibly I may have been able to continue driving last night with only one bar remaining on the gauge for quite some time...just a thought. Any thoughts from you guys? Thanks.

Adam

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2007 Vectrix VX-1 charged with the power of the sun = zero carbon footprint

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kevin smith's picture
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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

orr . don't you worry about that as after the scooter has been charged and you reset the trip button.
what happens is the avrage range will reset / recalculate to how you was riding last time you rode .
and usually .if you ride after a mile and a 1/4 the gauge starts to show what really you can achive .
if you are going steady eddy???
1 if you rode the vectrix like an angle 3/4 part of the day and on the way home you .
pardon the pun give it sum ..... then the distance will be well down in the range . so when you come to turning the scooter on the next day
it could say hey your only gonna do 28 miles .
what a load of bolone . so after a steady ride to work the range to me is now showing 57 miles . etc etc kev

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

You are risking unbalanced cells. You must do what Vectrix recommends:
- Do a shallow discharge every week (until the battery light turns on);
- Do a deep discharge every month (max velocity in plain road <24 km/h).

Mik has more advanced recommendations but need more know how...

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

jmap - Maybe I am a bit confused but I do not understand how I could be risking unbalanced cells when I don't let the voltage get low enough. If I understand it correctly, some cells get discharged more than others, but you run into the problem when you do a deep discharge with the unbalanced cells. If you keep the batteries "topped off" and the charger does its very slow "balancing" charge every 12 hours of riding then you don't run the risk of unbalanced cells.

Mik...can you confirm this or am I way off? I was always planning on doing a discharge to the battery light every once in a while but not EVERY WEEK. That seems a bit ridiculous for a bike that is supposed to be "plug and play."

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

kevin smith wrote:

what a load of bolone

I agree!

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

I think you really need to drive till preferably a drop in performance, or at least till the battery light comes on to rule out that the bar gauge didn't get recalibrated incorrectly. Once you are sure you have less range, etc and are sure you have a battery issue than you can go from there. But to guess your batteries are giving you your trouble I think would be premature at this point.

Mik
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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

rewski wrote:

...
...
Mik...can you confirm this or am I way off? I was always planning on doing a discharge to the battery light every once in a while but not EVERY WEEK. That seems a bit ridiculous for a bike that is supposed to be "plug and play."

I cannot speak from experience here, because the Vectux is still running old firmware.

But I am firmly convinced that the majority of these recommendations are only good for the "Range-O-Meter", or random number generator or whatever you want to call it! You are not actually discussing range in this thread, but virtual range, as indicated by the "guessometer".

The requirements of NiMH batteries are quite different, and the health and capacity of the batteries determines the immediate and life time range!

To make the range-o-meter more accurate, follow Vectrix instructions. But it will in my opinion cost you dearly in real, accumulated battery lifetime range!

To increase the actual lifetime range of NiMH batteries, do the following:

A) Do not fully charge on a regular basis.
B) Do not fully discharge on a regular basis.
C) Keep them at 24degC or close to it (= lots of extra cooling needed in Summer)
D) Keep them all at the same temperature (= no parking in the sun! = extra long cooling until all cells have arrived at the ambient air temperature. Even better would be circulating air within the battery to equalize the cell temperatures.)

I just charge until about the end of CP charging. That actually cools the battery. A timer turns the charger off sometime during the 15min tr phase, and the ABCool cools before and/or after charging as desired. That also prolongs the chargers life, because it gets very hot from the 0.5A constant current which it wastes in standby mode after charging has finished. It's heat that ages the electronic components in the charger. And it saves electricity costs and CO2 emissions.

About once a week or so I let the charger finish completely, at a time when there is cool air available and the battery is cool already. I'll probably stretch this out even further as my experience with NiMH batteries grows.

I use the accurate trip meter and my knowledge of how much charge has gone into the battery, and I totally ignore the range meter these days. The 17 bar charge indicator just serves to reassure me that my own estimates are correct. That means mainly my estimates of how long I need to turn the charger on. If in doubt, I use my estimate, not the Vectux'.

I charge for 75min after 20km of hard riding, twice daily. That brings the hourglass up to 16/17th and always keeps the battery between 80% and 20% SOC, or close to it. If I go the long way home, I dial up a few more minutes on the timer. It does not matter if it is exactly right, the 15min tr phase is a nice buffer.

This also has the advantage that after a few days without riding the charger will start to charge in CP mode when I need to top the battery off (to correct for self-discharge during inactivity). That does not happen a lot these days, though! But when it happens, then I can trigger a full charge including 60min of CC equalization any time by just plugging in. So I always have a almost full Vectux ready in case I need it, and I can always achieve a really full SOC within two hours or so, even after a week of the Vectux being parked.

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

Thanks for the info and clarification. Last night I did take it out for a ride until I got a drop in performance and the battery light finally came on. The strange thing was that I drove at only one bar for quite some time. I got a total of just over 30 miles on that charge. So this confirms that since I had the episode of the low battery light/decreased performance at 4 bars last week my now total range has dropped to about 30 miles from the previous 40 miles. Pretty strange. I'll keep an eye on it. Also, on a side note when I got home from that ride I heard a hissing from the rear. Seems I ran over a nice little 1 inch wood screw :) I ran out and bought a tire plug/patch kit and fixed the little bugger. Just checked this morning and same tire pressure as last night so hopefully I saved the rear from having to be replaced prematurely.

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

Rewski, Mik knows what is talking about but you should also know the recommended procedure (by Vectrix). He has the old firmware and you have the new. He deeply understands how to give long life to the batteries but he has also knowledge to open and do some task directly to the cells if needed. You should be aware all of this before taking a decision.

I must add that I think that the shallow discharge is needed to compute better range for battery bars but the deep discharge is needed to reduce the risk of unbalanced batteries. Everybody says that the bike gets better after a deep discharge, with better autonomy and response. This is a fact, yet I don’t understand why...

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

rewski wrote:

Thanks for the info and clarification. Last night I did take it out for a ride until I got a drop in performance and the battery light finally came on. The strange thing was that I drove at only one bar for quite some time. I got a total of just over 30 miles on that charge. So this confirms that since I had the episode of the low battery light/decreased performance at 4 bars last week my now total range has dropped to about 30 miles from the previous 40 miles. Pretty strange. I'll keep an eye on it. Also, on a side note when I got home from that ride I heard a hissing from the rear. Seems I ran over a nice little 1 inch wood screw :) I ran out and bought a tire plug/patch kit and fixed the little bugger. Just checked this morning and same tire pressure as last night so hopefully I saved the rear from having to be replaced prematurely.

... And don't take too serious the bars or the distance estimation... With time you will feel when charge is near end, about 20 km before it stops completely.

Vectrix estimation is not accurate. I’ve posted an article talking about a better approach. You can see at: Advanced Display for Electric Vehicles

Mik
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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

Somthing I forgot to include above:

If our cells capacity is even, i.e they can all produce the same amount of amp-hours after a full equalization charge, then a deep discharge might help the cells.
But in addition to having the same theoretical capacity, they must all be at the same SOC when the deep discharge is done. That is something not at all guaranteed due to the large temperature gradient that can occur within the battery. This causes massive SOC imbalance within hours or days, depending on circumstances.

If you want an accurate range meter more than you want extended battery life and actual range, then do the deep discharges, but only do them when the battery is balances.

That means that any deep discharge should be done directly after one of the automatically scheduled equalization charges. Or avoid full recharges, which will possibly force the VX-1 to do an equalization charge whenever you plug it in unrestricted by an additional timer. By the time you want to do a deep discharge, and have the time, and the weather is right, and the batteries are cool enough, you will probably always have clocked up more than the 10hrs or so of riding after which an equalization charge occurs.
So when you know you will be doing a deep discharge on the next ride, you plug in without timer and let it finish the equalization charge. I would also use an ABCool to keep the battery temp as optimal as possible.

That would give you the best of both worlds, I believe. But, as the others have pointed out (and myself too), I cannot be certain because the Vectux has old firmware (and will keep it, too!)

.
If, however, the battery cells do not have fairly equal capacity any more, then even the new software will not be able to prevent severe deterioration of the already weak cells in the battery with every deep cycle and following recharge.

Deep cycling of a moderately capacity imbalanced NiMH string is a sure-fire way to destroy the battery. It will still have many good cells in it when it stops working, don't throw it away, we're all keen for spares.... ;-)

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

rewski
The calibration routine consists of two parts that must both be done to correctly calibrate the fuel gauge and charger. If the sequence is done incorrectly the first time you will have to perform the same routine multiple times to get it right. This is what happens: When the new code is loaded, the battery capacity and fuel gauge are set to a default capacity of 30 Ahrs. To begin the calibration you must discharge the scoot till the battery icon comes on (flag 1). It doesnt matter what the state of charge is before you do this, as long as the icon comes on. This discharge lets the charger routine get a fix on a known state of charge (ie. discharged, not deeply discharged). Then on the next charge the battery will charge as if it is 30 Ahrs (plus a little). You must allow the charge to complete (flag 2). On the next discharge (assuming flags 1 and 2 are set) the SW will measure the output of the battery if you discharge it till the icon appears (flag 3). This new capacity replaces the default 30Ahrs and is used to scale the gauge and to limit the subsequent charges.

What can go wrong? If you do your initial discharge, then charge, then wait too long before the next discharge (battery self discharges) you will get a too low of capacity on the discharge. Subsequent charges will not fully charge the batteries. If you get to flag 2 then do a bunch of shallow discharges/charges you will not get an accurate measurement at the next flag 3.

So, what do you do if it hasnt been done correctly? Do it again several times in a row. The capacity is averaged each time flag 2 is followed by flag 3. (flag 2 is reset whenever you plug in the charger). By doing several of these in a row you can quickly get to the actual capacity.

The battery does not require a deep discharge for the icon to appear. In fact you may still get several miles of good performance after the icon appears. The icon is programmed to come on when the battery can no longer supply 7KW w/o falling below a certain voltage. This is WAY different then on the old SW.

Things you might see on the dash occassionally when the battery and gauge are out of sync: If the battery level is higher than that indicated on the gauge, when the gauge reaches a little more than one bar it will stall until the icon appears (indicating the battery has caught up..or caught down) then it will decrease as usual. If the battery level is lower than that indicated by the gauge and the icon appears, the gauge will begin decreasing at a higher rate depending on how far off it is. If you cycle the power the gauge will clear.

OK I think this is long enough..

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

X Vectrix wrote:

rewski
The calibration routine consists of two parts that must both be done to correctly calibrate the fuel gauge and charger. If the sequence is done incorrectly the first time you will have to perform the same routine multiple times to get it right. This is what happens: When the new code is loaded, the battery capacity and fuel gauge are set to a default capacity of 30 Ahrs. To begin the calibration you must discharge the scoot till the battery icon comes on (flag 1). It doesnt matter what the state of charge is before you do this, as long as the icon comes on. This discharge lets the charger routine get a fix on a known state of charge (ie. discharged, not deeply discharged). Then on the next charge the battery will charge as if it is 30 Ahrs (plus a little). You must allow the charge to complete (flag 2). On the next discharge (assuming flags 1 and 2 are set) the SW will measure the output of the battery if you discharge it till the icon appears (flag 3). This new capacity replaces the default 30Ahrs and is used to scale the gauge and to limit the subsequent charges.

What can go wrong? If you do your initial discharge, then charge, then wait too long before the next discharge (battery self discharges) you will get a too low of capacity on the discharge. Subsequent charges will not fully charge the batteries. If you get to flag 2 then do a bunch of shallow discharges/charges you will not get an accurate measurement at the next flag 3.

So, what do you do if it hasnt been done correctly? Do it again several times in a row. The capacity is averaged each time flag 2 is followed by flag 3. (flag 2 is reset whenever you plug in the charger). By doing several of these in a row you can quickly get to the actual capacity.

The battery does not require a deep discharge for the icon to appear. In fact you may still get several miles of good performance after the icon appears. The icon is programmed to come on when the battery can no longer supply 7KW w/o falling below a certain voltage. This is WAY different then on the old SW.

Things you might see on the dash occassionally when the battery and gauge are out of sync: If the battery level is higher than that indicated on the gauge, when the gauge reaches a little more than one bar it will stall until the icon appears (indicating the battery has caught up..or caught down) then it will decrease as usual. If the battery level is lower than that indicated by the gauge and the icon appears, the gauge will begin decreasing at a higher rate depending on how far off it is. If you cycle the power the gauge will clear.

OK I think this is long enough..

X Vectrix - What you explained is exactly what I thought...and it fits my scenario exactly. I was consistently getting about 40 mile/charge after the new firmware update until I got the low battery light with about 30 miles on the current charge. So it makes sense that the software reset the charge cycle to the new "30 miles per charge" that I am getting now. Based on what you said above if I just repeat this charge/discharge cycle a few times, I should get back my "lost" capacity (even though the capacity is not truly lost, just software restricted)?

The other question I have is, shouldn't I just let it be the way it is now...effectively not charging the NIMHs to their actual full capacity? I think it is well known from all the hybrids out there that they keep their charge between 30-80% (and their batteries last a LONG time), and even if I let my Vectrix discharge to the low battery light it still has a ~20-25% charge on it? I'm just trying to piece the logic together...I'm not an engineer but am a physician, so for my patient's sake I hope my logic is good :) Thanks again for the advice...you obviously have intimate knowledge of these awesome machines!

Adam

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

I have noticed exactly the same thing - I would get 35 - 43 miles easily but recently the battery telltale has been coming on at 30 - 32 at which point performance drops off drastically. I've got the latest software. In the interests of getting the longest life out of the battery I have been riding (reasonably) conservatively and not letting the battery discharge completely, also setting a timed delay of at least 3 hours after riding before charging to allow it to cool. After reading X Vectrix's post, I decided to do a complete discharge and full re-charge and immediately the range is back up. I did 35 miles yesterday and the battery telltale still hadn't come on and the bike accelerated like there was loads of charge left right up to 62 UP A HILL on my final stretch home! I felt that there was a good 10miles left in it, if I had had the time to carry on riding. I have had my bike almost a year and have 4,100 miles on it. It is my main vehicle, the car being used for ferrying the kids around only.

Not being too techie, I'm unsure how the deep discharges will affect the overall life of the battery and, as it isn't a major problem for me, will probably limit the amount I do but the performance and range have definitely benefited.

For info, after my hard ride yesterday the battery temp was 28 (outside temp was in the low 20s). Also, the highest I've seen during overnight charging has been 25 - one of the few times I'm grateful for the English climate.

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

rewski wrote:

The other question I have is, shouldn't I just let it be the way it is now...effectively not charging the NIMHs to their actual full capacity? I think it is well known from all the hybrids out there that they keep their charge between 30-80% (and their batteries last a LONG time), and even if I let my Vectrix discharge to the low battery light it still has a ~20-25% charge on it? I'm just trying to piece the logic together...

Adam

Adam,
Don't try to out-think the engineers. The one issue that most people overlook with the Vectrix is that you own a COMPUTER DRIVEN machine. NOT a big battery, motor and pots throttle. This AIN'T a golf cart on two wheels!

If you ride your Vectrix until it will only assist you in PUSHING it, you'll still have 120 volts of juice left in the battery! That's a LONG way from being fully discharged! However, your COMPUTER says "that's enough", so the bike dies, saving the battery from over discharge. Likewise, when your charger shuts off, you'll only have a max of maybe 142 volts, which is a bit shy of the 150v maximum capacity (the battery is only rated at 125v, but from all I've read here, it seems that it has a 150v max capacity - unless I got that wrong).

Anyway, the important thing to remember is that your bike has BUILT IN protection for all that worries you.

Now, as for the extimated range indicator, you really should just lay a piece of black tape over that one, and learn to use your resettable trip meter as a guage. If you run down a long hill at coast or regen, you're range indicator is going to go sky high, and if you shut the bike down at the bottom of that hill, and recharge, there's no way you're going to have an acurate range indicator when you fire it back up.

Now, I will say that my ACTUAL range drops when I've done a couple of months of daily routine with no deep discharges. I typically ride 6 to 20 miles each day and recharge on a timer every night while it's cooler, and although I've NEVER gotten over 32 miles, sometimes I'll run out of punch at barely over 20, but a couple of deep discharge loops perks her right back up to the 30 mile range for another few months.

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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

moccasin wrote:
rewski wrote:

The other question I have is, shouldn't I just let it be the way it is now...effectively not charging the NIMHs to their actual full capacity? I think it is well known from all the hybrids out there that they keep their charge between 30-80% (and their batteries last a LONG time), and even if I let my Vectrix discharge to the low battery light it still has a ~20-25% charge on it? I'm just trying to piece the logic together...

Adam

Adam,
Don't try to out-think the engineers. The one issue that most people overlook with the Vectrix is that you own a COMPUTER DRIVEN machine. NOT a big battery, motor and pots throttle. This AIN'T a golf cart on two wheels!

If you ride your Vectrix until it will only assist you in PUSHING it, you'll still have 120 volts of juice left in the battery! That's a LONG way from being fully discharged! However, your COMPUTER says "that's enough", so the bike dies, saving the battery from over discharge. Likewise, when your charger shuts off, you'll only have a max of maybe 142 volts, which is a bit shy of the 150v maximum capacity (the battery is only rated at 125v, but from all I've read here, it seems that it has a 150v max capacity - unless I got that wrong).

Anyway, the important thing to remember is that your bike has BUILT IN protection for all that worries you.

Now, as for the extimated range indicator, you really should just lay a piece of black tape over that one, and learn to use your resettable trip meter as a guage. If you run down a long hill at coast or regen, you're range indicator is going to go sky high, and if you shut the bike down at the bottom of that hill, and recharge, there's no way you're going to have an acurate range indicator when you fire it back up.

Now, I will say that my ACTUAL range drops when I've done a couple of months of daily routine with no deep discharges. I typically ride 6 to 20 miles each day and recharge on a timer every night while it's cooler, and although I've NEVER gotten over 32 miles, sometimes I'll run out of punch at barely over 20, but a couple of deep discharge loops perks her right back up to the 30 mile range for another few months.

Thanks for the clarification. Just for the record, I was never using my "estimated range" as my indicator for miles...I always reset the trip meter after a fresh charge. This whole issue stemmed from the sudden day when the low battery light came on "prematurely", then after a complete charge and another discharge till the low battery light my range dropped 10 miles from my previous average. Now after doing a couple "complete" discharges I am already noticing the range is picking up again...I got just over 2 miles/bar on the way to work (up from the 1.5mile/bar I was getting before the last two discharge cycles.

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Mik
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Re: Sudden Drop in Range

This thread has been added to the Vectrix Collaborative Handbook, please stay on topic!

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