First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

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MikeB
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Ok folks, the moment we've all been waiting for: the first Current Motor Company (CuMoCo) bike has been shipped to a customer, and I'm that customer. Ok, probably this is more exciting for the CuMoCo crew and me than it is for the rest of you, but it's still a nice step forward. You can get excited when your own bike arrives. :)

Here's the catch: this isn't quite a production bike. I guess it's best identified as a Customer Acceptance Test. There's a few items incomplete, and a few items that aren't working quite right, and a few items that just need more testing and some customer abuse. The CuMoCo crew is going to keep working on the design, and we'll update my software and probably swap out some parts before we're done. But it's close enough to complete that they were willing to ship one to a customer, and get some additional testing miles on the bike. Full FTC mandated disclosure: I paid full price for my bike, CuMoCo covered shipping costs, they're going to update my bike to production parts when the time comes, and I'm not getting paid for this. I do want the company to succeed, but they'll do better if everybody knows my honest opinion than if I try to conceal any problems.

I ordered the C130 model, in green. It's listed on the CuMoCo website as the 'Deluxe', but the website is a little out of date and they're going to a numbered model system. Mine has 30 Thundersky LiFePO4 batteries, 60ah each, so it's running 96v and has a total of 5.76kWh of battery capacity. All the main components are present: BMS, Regen, BCU, even Reverse. It's based on a Chinese gas scooter body, which leaves a few oddities around, but the assembly is done in Ann Arbor, MI, and the important electronics (BCU & BMS) are built by CuMoCo.

The bike arrived yesterday, but failed my pre-ride inspection: the brake lights didn't come on. I got excellent tech support, by phone and email. I was about to do a wiring harness splice this afternoon, when a double-check revealed the problem to apparently be a loose connector plug. So first ride was this evening, and the bike is now recharging.

The bike handles well, and it's comfortable to sit on. The windshield is at a good height, just below my eye level, so it provides significant shelter from the wind. I can put my feet forward comfortably. The seat is also low, so putting feet on the ground is very easy. I had some problems getting the rear view mirrors to adjust right, but I'm going to play with them some more. I did scrape the centerstand in a turn, twice, so the bike is pretty nimble. Speed was good, probably spent much of the ride in the mid 40s around my neighborhood. I didn't check that with a GPS, and the accuracy of the speedo is one of the pending issues. There were some oddities with acceleration, which may be a software issue, so I'm going to check with the CuMoCo crew about that.

I've got some pictures to upload, and more thoughts will be posted shortly.

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MikeB
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

More pictures at Picasa:

CuMoCo C130

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marcopolo
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

MikeB wrote:

Ok folks, the moment we've all been waiting for: the first Current Motor Company (CuMoCo) bike has been shipped to a customer, and I'm that customer. Ok, probably this is more exciting for the CuMoCo crew and me than it is for the rest of you, but it's still a nice step forward. You can get excited when your own bike arrives. :)

Well done!!!

Let me be the first to congratulate you and John. I'm sure your evaluation will prove both valuable and instructive.

Just one point, could you indicate your height an weight? This would provide a sense of proportion for those readers who have not met you. Also if you could post a comparison picture with Vectrix and other competitors.

But well done, We truly life in interesting times!

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wookey
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

Shiny! It looks huge in that pic. Is the sticky-up thing the charging point cover? I look forward to more details, and congrats to those concerned for achieving this milestone. It could be a while before this is an option for us in the UK...

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MikeB
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

I'm a 'medium' sized guy: 5'8" and ~175lbs.

John has a Vectrix for a size comparison, I've got a 600cc Honda Silverwing. Both are a bit bigger than the C1x, but not by much. I'll try to set up a better side-by-side photo later. The C1x is larger than the popular Chinese body used in the EVD and XM3500, and it's a bit more comfortable to sit on because of that.

Here's the C130 in front of the Honda SilverWing (but watch out for perspective):
C130 and SilverWing

The charging port is in the scooter tunnel, where the gas cap used to be. The charger itself is mounted under the bodywork in the rear, so you just plug an extension cord directly into a 3-prong socket. The door over the port does lock, and there's a sensor to keep you from riding off with the door open.

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jdh2550_1
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

Thanks all! And especially thanks MikeB. Customer Acceptance Test is exactly the right sort of way to describe this. We'll be working with Mike to continue to iron out stuff to make the bike and the ownership experience better.

marcopolo wrote:

We truly life in interesting times!

Interesting and scary exciting. I'm like a parent watching my baby take her fist steps...

Nervous, excited, nervous, knowing there's always more to do, nervous...

You get the idea.

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Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

DaveAK
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

Congrats John and Mike! Looking forward to updates!

ErikK
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

Here are two photos of the Current bike with a Vectrix. The Current is lighter red, closer to the camera.

They are comparable in size, but the Current is more than 100lbs lighter, and the seat is lower. I'm obviously biased, so I will not make a more detailed comparison.

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dp
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

Looks good...nice lines. I can't wait to see one with a dustbin fairing.

zarlor
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

Good to hear it's a little bigger than the XM-3500s (which I should disclose I bought from John). The one I have feels a tad cramped with feet on the floorboard (although a lower seat could cause that problem for me, too, so there are some trade-offs there.) In my case I'm 6'0" at 210lbs so something a little bigger sounds good to me. Definitely keep us updated! I've been trying to keep a close eye on this venture and hopefully, if the finances work out right and can sell my 3500, I may well look at getting one of these.

One thing, can we get a close-up on the dash and the accessories port?

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turok
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

Congratulations!

and good luck!

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ElectroLex
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

This is exciting for all of us, Mike and John. We're all watching with baited breath, so to speak.

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MikeB
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

Zarlor:

Dash

Controls on the left are the horn, turn signal, and high/low headlight switch. On the right is Reverse, High/Low throttle mode, and Hazard lights. Dash indicators are State-Of-Charge (fuel guage), speed w/odometer and trip odometer, alert indicator LED, and then amperage draw meter. The fuel gauge and amp meter are not yet fully implemented, and the alert indicator is also going to be reprogrammed. I do like the easy access trip meter, since it makes it very easy to keep track of miles since last recharge. The Hazard lights are supposed to flash both sets of turn signals at once, but right now it seems to only trigger the right side.

The accessory connection is not a port, but a 2-wire SAE connector (like that used for a battery tender) under the seat. It's pretty easy to find a variety of adapters that plug into the SAE port, including the standard cigarette lighter, the BMW portlet, etc.

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jdh2550_1
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

dp wrote:

Looks good...nice lines. I can't wait to see one with a dustbin fairing.

dp,

Would you pay $1000 extra for one with a "dustbin fairing"? Something like the one Vetter designed for the Helix? While I'd like to experiment with better aerodynamics I don't think there's a market for it. I could maybe see selling an upgrade kit.

But please tell me if you think otherwise.

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Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

dp
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

jdh2550_1 wrote:
dp wrote:

Looks good...nice lines. I can't wait to see one with a dustbin fairing.

dp,

Would you pay $1000 extra for one with a "dustbin fairing"? Something like the one Vetter designed for the Helix? While I'd like to experiment with better aerodynamics I don't think there's a market for it. I could maybe see selling an upgrade kit.

But please tell me if you think otherwise.

No I probably would not pay $1000. I would fabricate something custom for cheaper. I would built an ugly test nose cone out of shaved foam for $150 in parts, just to guage the potential results.

However, $300 to $700 for an upgrade kit with proven results might produce some sales. $500 for 10 mph more and 25 miles more range sounds like something that would be sellable. I think you have to price this to beat the cost and benefits produced by a battery upgrade.

I mentioned it because you said it was something you had thought about and I really do think this is how we make the next big leap forward. I hope you find the time to do some experiments or make some sort of streamlined test/concept bike just to prove what is possible.

The TTXGP and FIM rules do allow for more streamlining now. Perhaps if we see some streamlined bikes in the winners circle, more electric motorcycle purchasers will want this on their bike too, or consider it as an option.

If I had more time I would make my scooter look like this:

jdh2550_1
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

dp wrote:

No I probably would not pay $1000. I would fabricate something custom for cheaper. I would built an ugly test nose cone out of shaved foam for $150 in parts, just to guage the potential results.

However, $300 to $700 for an upgrade kit with proven results might produce some sales. $500 for 10 mph more and 25 miles more range sounds like something that would be sellable. I think you have to price this to beat the cost and benefits produced by a battery upgrade.

I mentioned it because you said it was something you had thought about and I really do think this is how we make the next big leap forward. I hope you find the time to do some experiments or make some sort of streamlined test/concept bike just to prove what is possible.

Hi dp,

Thanks - I wasn't trying to put you on the spot and I appreciate your reply. We might be able to do it for $700 I doubt we could do it for much less. To get something production ready would be difficult and time-consuming when you consider the sort of cross wind testing we'd have to do. I think that's part of the problem and why streamlining won't catch on as a factory supplied option - you'd have a lot of work to do to persuade customers (not to mention product liability insurance companies!) that what you were doing was safe.

However, I do hope to try it out as a research project - who knows maybe we can at least publish our results for those who want to try it themselves.

Thanks for the thoughtful answer - I appreciate it.

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Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

strawhistle
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

In my opinion (for what it's worth) Johns byke looks like it is quite arodinamicly? designed already !! The front should create a low pressure bubble around the rider ! good enough! LaTeR

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strawhistle
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

In my opinion (for what it's worth) Johns byke looks like it is quite arodinamicly? designed already !! The front should create a low pressure bubble around the rider ! good enough! LaTeR

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PJD
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

Quote:

There were some oddities with acceleration, which may be a software issue, so I'm going to check with the CuMoCo crew about that.

Curious what role software has in the CuMoCo operation. Hopefully nothing too critical. Remember the demise of the Vectrix, and now, possibly Toyota cars...

MikeB
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

PJD wrote:

Curious what role software has in the CuMoCo operation. Hopefully nothing too critical. Remember the demise of the Vectrix, and now, possibly Toyota cars...

Power from the batteries is sent to the motor via a Kelly Controller, and the Kelly they chose has some programmable options. For example, you can tell the Kelly to limit the amount of power reaching the motor. Taking advantage of this, the CuMoCo guys built a small computer, a Bike Control Unit (BCU). The BCU is connected to temperature sensors, and will tell the Kelly to reduce the power limit when things get close to overheating. This is better behavior than what the Kelly gives by default, since it just shuts down entirely.

I've felt this kick in once already, going up a long hill: the bike slowed a bit after 30 seconds or so of max power, but I kept on climbing. This is a really good aspect of their design, since it allows temporary use of power levels that aren't sustainable, rather than having to permanently restrict power to a lower and safer level.

The BCU also drives the fuel gauge display on the dash, since it's keeping track of power in and out of the battery pack. (I think a good fuel gauge is really important for customers, since the voltage meter approach is almost worthless with Lithium batteries) Reverse and Regen are also triggered via the BCU, and I think some of the safety cutoffs (like the side stand switch) are too. I suspect there are a couple other tasks the BCU is doing, but those are the ones I'm aware of.

So, some software is needed for all this, and yea, it could be a problem if it doesn't work. But it doesn't seem to be horribly complex, and their chief engineer has experience with embedded onboard computers. I can tell they're trying to keep it simple, and are aware of and actively trying to avoid issues like the Vectrix has experienced. (Personally, I think many tasks are much simpler to handle in software than in analog circuitry.)

But, at the same time, the software is still being worked on, and it's possible that the BCU is making adjustments when it doesn't need to. And I've become part of the process for tweaking the software, and seeing how it functions in real-world riding.

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marcopolo
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

PJD wrote:
Quote:

There were some oddities with acceleration, which may be a software issue, so I'm going to check with the CuMoCo crew about that.

Curious what role software has in the CuMoCo operation. Hopefully nothing too critical. Remember the demise of the Vectrix, and now, possibly Toyota cars...

Ah, I think Toyota might just survive this latest recall of an American manufactured component!

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PJD
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

Agreed, the Kelly controllers do need to be programmable for flexibility in all the different applications they are used in.

However, the modified, purely analog controllers on my 4 year old E-max's continue to work well, and my simple analog BMS's work well too.

As far as Toyota I was alluding to the belief among many that the throttle problem is a not a mechanical problem with the pedal and pedal position sensor, but is a software problem in the ECM.

Call me a luddite, but if I must use an IC engine vehicle, I dearly hope I can continue to find one with old-fashioned operation of the throttle with that oh-so outmoded part of the car called the driver.

Of course the next step in this will be to tell us we can no longer have a manual transmission. As it is, me and my wife own probably own the only 2009 manual transmission Hyundai Elantra in western Pennsylvania.

MikeB
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

I went for a nighttime ride Thurs, on wet roads. I thought the rain had passed, but it came back while I was out. The good news is that the bike runs fine in the rain, and the windshield again proves it's value. The bad news is that the headlights are pretty typical for a chinese scooter, a pair of 35w bulbs with a mediocre beam pattern. With the wet roads, it was pretty easy to overdrive my headlights, and at least one car seemed to misjudge how far away I was. But I was expecting the lighting needed improvement, and came prepared. (The lights are fine for daytime riding, and probably fine for dry roads after dark, so I was riding in pretty much the worst case situation.)

Today I installed Vision-X Solstice Solo 10-watt LEDs, mounted on the forks:
LEDs mounted on Forks

Each one is brighter than both headlights combined, and they do a great job of lighting up the road. My biggest worry is that the beam pattern doesn't have a sharp cutoff on top, so I have to aim them a bit low to avoid blinding oncoming vehicles.
Forward Lighting View

I've always been a fan of lights on the front forks, it creates a light pattern that is pretty distinctive for a motorcycle. And it gives a strong point of reference for determining the distance and rate of approach of the vehicle, something that's very hard to do with a point source of light. A pair of closely mounted dim headlights can easily be mistaken for a car that is much further away, but now that's much less likely to happen to me.

LED brake/tail bulbs are also ordered, and I'll be beefing up the rear lighting shortly. The existing tail lights are actually fine, 2 bulbs in a good reflector assembly, but I like a little overkill for Atlanta traffic.

Btw, the DC/DC converter has a good bit of extra capacity for powering accessories, but I'm trying not to overburden it with lights. It also puts out a little over 13 volts, rather than 12, so things like halogen headlights can run at their designed brightness.

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strawhistle
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

SO, Mike B,how fast does she go? were did you find those LED lights ? got a website ? are you planing any lone trips ? I am full of questions you can answer. catch you LaTeR

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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

PJD wrote:
Quote:

There were some oddities with acceleration, which may be a software issue, so I'm going to check with the CuMoCo crew about that.

Curious what role software has in the CuMoCo operation. Hopefully nothing too critical. Remember the demise of the Vectrix, and now, possibly Toyota cars...

PJD -

Mike B summed it up well with his post. A key difference between our approach and what I know about the Vectrix approach is that we're striving to design a "loosely coupled" system. In our design each sub-system will continue to operate should one of the other sub-systems become non-functional (within reason of course!). This also has the advantage to the end user of removing, replacing or upgrading any aspect they don't like. We also design for fail-safe modes. Plus, as Mike B mentioned, we're firm believers in the KISS principle.

As an aside - I thought your EMax was a brushless motor? If so I didn't know there were purely analog brushless motor designs? I thought they all had digital circuits controlling the commutation of the motor? If it's a brushed motor then I can understand it being all analog.

Mike B -

I like how your lights have turned out - good job!

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ErikK
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

Mike -
Good work on the lights, I like it! I started a discussion with the Solstice LED light people some time ago, need to renew that. We (CuMoCo) may be limited in what we can officially do, since any lights we put on the bike have to be DOT certified. We could sell kits that make it easy for the owner to add good lights though. Or we could go through the testing process and offer proper LED headlights, but that would take a substantial investment of time and money.

PJD -
I share your concerns about throttle safety and software. Remember though that any modern electric vehicle is inherently "drive by wire" with software in the loop, and so is every modern diesel. So there is a lot of work being done in this area.

Our BCU computer has only partial control over the throttle. We designed the hardware so that the software can *reduce* throttle, but cannot *increase* throttle past what the user has requested with the twist-grip. So there is no way that any possible software bug, nor EMI glitch, can cause the BCU to apply more throttle than the user has requested. We chose this approach for safety, and also I must admit, for defense against the day we find ourselves in court.

The Kelly controller, or indeed any controller for a BLDC motor, is another issue. It has to somehow convert the throttle input into a PWM scheme that produces the desired current, and this is almost always done in software. Hmm, maybe there is a way to have an analog circuit set the maximum as a fail-safe while the software in the micro does most of the work? Interesting idea for future controller designs. Thanks! :-) There are also much simpler fail-safes, which Kelly and Nissan and many others (not Toyota until now, alas) implement. An easy one is that if the brakes are applied, all drive to the motor is shut down. That can easily be done in hardware, separate from and redundant to any software.

- Erik K
- chief engineer, Current Motor Co

\

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MikeB
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

ErikK wrote:

Mike -
Good work on the lights, I like it! I started a discussion with the Solstice LED light people some time ago, need to renew that. We (CuMoCo) may be limited in what we can officially do, since any lights we put on the bike have to be DOT certified. We could sell kits that make it easy for the owner to add good lights though. Or we could go through the testing process and offer proper LED headlights, but that would take a substantial investment of time and money.

The lights were almost trivial to install on the fork bolts, they even came with a screw that matched the existing thread. You could go a long way by just providing a wiring harness with the right type of plugs at the front of the bike. But I believe that there are no significant DOT regulations concerning auxiliary lights, at least on motorcycles (though that could be aftermarket only). I've got a set of Motolights on my Silverwing, and they are essentially just a standard MR16 halogen bulb in a nice housing, no DOT approval involved. Headlights would clearly be a whole different ballgame, no question about that.

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MikeB
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

strawhistle wrote:

SO, Mike B,how fast does she go? were did you find those LED lights ? got a website ? are you planing any lone trips ?

Top speed is somewhere over 60, but I haven't done any GPS verification yet (and I know the speedometer is optimistic).
Those LED lights are being sold all over the web now, but you can always start here: http://www.visionxstore.com/
No long trips planned yet, I want to wait until the CuMoCo crew give me a software update and enable the fuel guage.

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PJD
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

The E-Max controller is built around a Motorola MC33033 Brushless DC motor controller IC chip. To the extent that it, and other components like the FET drivers use functional logic gates, I guess it is sort-of "digital." But, I consider it such hard-wired electronic logic to be "analog." That is, it doesn't have any kind of microprocessor and memory that is executing program instructions or the like. Maybe a real EE can clarify this terminology for me.

Enough off-topic digression...

I look forward to scraping the money together for one myself, although as I've written before, the appearance takes a little getting used to.

jdh2550_1
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

PJD wrote:

The E-Max controller is built around a Motorola MC33033 Brushless DC motor controller IC chip. To the extent that it, and other components like the FET drivers use functional logic gates, I guess it is sort-of "digital." But, I consider it such hard-wired electronic logic to be "analog." That is, it doesn't have any kind of microprocessor and memory that is executing program instructions or the like. Maybe a real EE can clarify this terminology for me.

Ahhh, I see your distinction now. FYI, your E-Max controller would definitely be classified as a "digital design". But I do understand your wanting to make the distinction between a general purpose micro-controller (our BCU) and an essentially hard-wired digital controller. Our motor controller (a Kelly KBL unit) is equivalent to your E-Max controller - we (at CuMoCo) can't affect the software in it - we can only set a limited set of parameters. Our higher-level Bike Control Unit (BCU) is where the general purpose micro-processor comes in (an ATMega 1280 from ATMEL for those who care). As Erik and I have pointed out we've taken steps in our design to make sure the BCU / Kelly interactions fail safe (if they fail at all).

It is true that a micro-processor has an almost infinite amount of ways it can be programmed with software. Thus, theoretically, it can cause all sorts of mayhem. However, interestingly enough, the job the BCU has been programmed to do is (in some respects) far easier than the task that has been "programmed in" to the Motorola MC33033. It all depends on one's perspective.

However, PJD's point is valid and I hope this clears it up?

Quote:

Enough off-topic digression...

I look forward to scraping the money together for one myself, although as I've written before, the appearance takes a little getting used to.

Well, only a little off-topic :-)

I certainly look forward to selling you one and I hope to be able to make you a very satisfied owner. :-)

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John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

MikeB
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Re: First CuMoCo C130 delivered to a customer.

I was going to ride the bike in to work this morning, but it was dead. Turned the key, no lights or anything. Didn't have time to diagnose anything, so I took the car instead.

This afternoon, Erik (chief CuMoCo engineer) pointed me towards some fuses in the wiring harness, and explained a little more about the electrical path. There's a 24v line supplying power to the BCU, and an inline fuse on that line had blown. Looks like it was simply too small of a fuse, chosen before some of the more recent BCU mods. And without the BCU, everything else was off.

I'm headed out to Radio Shack to find a larger fuse, and hope to be riding again soon. (But probably not tomorrow, given the forecast for cold rain.) I'm sure Erik is also updating his fuse checklist, so I should be the first and last person to experience this particular problem. :)

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