bike

My Gelato

I've been looking for an electric scooter for about a year. I wanted to start with something inexpensive to see how it goes before spending any real money. Seeing that spring is here and the price of gas is going up again it was time to make the jump. My requirements were: it had to cost less than $400, did not require special registration or licensing, and had pedals.

A month or two ago I found the Gelato on craigslist (only 3 miles away). It had been used a little, but had been sitting for the last two years. It was no supprise that the batteries were dead. I found replacements locally (batteryspec.com). There is not that much information on the Gelato online, but batteryspec.com had a listing. They also have a place to pickup locally so the cost of shipping 36 pounds of lead was eliminated.

If you live in the Silicon Valley (or San Francisco Bay area) and would like to save on shipping too, the guys at batteryspec.com are pretty good to deal with, be warned that the sign on the door is microscopic. Once inside you might
think that you have wandered into the lobby of a deserted tech company.

I've ridden it to work 15 or so times plus around the neighborhood on various jaunts. Overall I am pretty happy with the scooter.

The things I like about it most are: It runs nicely on the flats and manages small hills better than I expected. Luckily there is only one small hill to get over on my commute. I like that the batteries are in a box that can be easily removed and recharged in my office while the scooter is outside. It has carried passengers up to 120lbs without any noticeable reduction in speed.

However there are some downsides. None of these are deal breakers yet, but have become obvious. The case in which the batteries are contained is made of very thin plastic. Mine has already started to crack and is being held together with duct tape. There is a handle on top which barely holds up the weight of the batteries. I was not sure that it was possible to actually make anything out of thinner plastic, but amazingly the trunk box proved to be up to the challenge. There is not much information about the bike on the web and the manufacturer (Q-electric) does not respond to calls about parts. Their support email address on bounces all mail back to the sender. The controller is completely bare of markings. When it goes it will be time to do some re-wiring. Minor issues include no odometer and a questionable speedometer.

This looks like a lot of negatives. Overall it is fun to ride, uses no gas, and is very quiet. It has become my regular commuter.

My projects for the scooter are: install a cycle computer to provide accurate speed and distance measurements, and add a watt meter to keep track of the quality of the batteries. (How can we brag about the amount of money being saved without measuring?)

Cafe Racer/Tracker build in New Zealand

After years of looking at motorbikes, riding some, dreaming about owning or buiding one, I have finally settled on building a cafe racer/tracker style electric motorcycle. I've just bought a 1986 Honda CBX250 rolling frame and am currently investigating all electric components.

I've looked into Lithium Ion batteries from a company called LifeBatt but the costs are high. The batteries are roughly $2000 NZ (US$1400) each and apparently also require a battery protection module (NZ$1000). They've also quoted NZ$2000 for a compatible charger. For my total budget of $5000 this is waay to expensive, so I think I'll have to go for deep cycle lead acid batteries. I'll keep investigating Lithium Ion possibilities but at the moment Lead is winning.

I've found a good site at EVAmerica for pretty much all the components required and even though frieght will cost almost NZ$1000 after tax it's still the best option.

Any help or suggestions are welcomed.

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moveon70's picture

Upgrading my Electra Voy Bicycle

I bought a used ebike purely for the experience of upgrading it.

I stared with a Electra Voy bike/scooter which I found on Craigslist and boght for $150. It has a 36V lead acid battery set which feed a 180W hub motor.
My ultimate goal (and I have all ready ordered parts) is to upgrade it to a 48V, 1000W, LiFePo4 system with regen breaking.
I ordered the motor and controller (with regen breaking) from "Golden Motor" ($400), and the LiFePo4 battery with Battery Management System from a Chinese distributor through ebay($400).

It will take a couple months for my new parts to come in, so until then I thought I would mess around with the current system. The 3 12V, 12Ahr batteries were shot. I picked up some used 12V 7Ahr batteries from a surplus house for $5 each and decided to see if I can make them work.

This scotter has allowances for two sets of batteries. When one set dies, you can switch to the other set. I was interested in putting two sets (a total of 6 batteries) but do not want to switch between them. If the two sets are simply wired in parallel, then one weak battery brings down both sets. Instead I decided to use some diodes to seperate them out. After drawing the schematic I realized that it was actually the same diode lay out as a bridege rectifier. (see attached file for schematic).
I bought an NTE5340 40A bridge rectifier from Fry's for $7 and it all ready has push on blade connectors, so it was easy.

So far, it works great. I can charge all 6 batteries with the 36V charger, and as I ride, the controller pulls the most current from the set with the most voltage. They basically drain together. Fantastic!

Next posting will be once I get some of my new parts in.
-Mark

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