Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

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SunLover
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Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

Hi all; I've been reading and researching from this forum for about a year - thanks for all the great tips and info. I have a 2007 VX-1 and have finally decided that I need and love it enough to put the money into doing the lithium battery conversion (spurred on by running out of battery a few weeks ago and couldn't find anyone to let me plug in). I ordered 18 Leaf battery modules from Hybrid Auto and since they've arrived, there's no more procrastinating!! although there's a tiny bit of nervous nail biting.

I have a few questions that I need help with - and YES, I've spent hours and hours on this site as well as on Youtube looking at all the info. As great as this site is, it's tough to find the answers to specific questions even with a search function. Many thanks first to Allan Bairstow for the succint summary of the way he did his conversion, and to Matt (antiscab) and Ben Nelson for the Youtube videos. And of course to the guys who make this site work! If you could even point me towards an old posting that might answer my questions I'd greatly appreciate it.

I'm pretty clear on the mechanical part of getting the old batteries out and new ones in. Not so clear on:

CANbus - where exactly is the connector that the USB adapter plugs into the charger? And is there a specific kind of CANbus that needs to be used with the ESD charger? I have a MacBook Pro.

Battery charger - I don't have one to do the initial charging and balancing of individual modules. Any recommendations?

CANbus - anyone in the Bay Area have an adapter that I can rent or borrow?

Based on reading a number of posts, it sounds like I can get by without a BMS, though I might hook up something so that I can check the batteries without disassembling. Does anyone violently disagree and think that a BMS is really needed?

Thanks again
LW

JimmyB
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

Responding with the proviso that I haven't actually done a leaf cell conversion - mine was with 40Ah LiFePO4 cells before the leaf conversion became popular. But ...

where exactly is the connector that the USB adapter plugs into the charger?

In the "glovebox" - shine a flashlight in there, look towards the back and up slightly. You'll see it. Both the bike and USB adapter have D-sub male connectors so it's easier using a female-to-female cable.

is there a specific kind of CANbus that needs to be used with the ESD charger? I have a MacBook Pro.

This http://www.peak-system.com/PCAN-USB.199.0.html?L=1 is the preferred adapter. Not sure if any others have ever been proven to work. I also use Macs but for the Vectrix I have an old Windows XP laptop. Some have had success under virtualisation or Boot Camp though.

Battery charger - I don't have one to do the initial charging and balancing of individual modules. Any recommendations?

I have one of these, it's been very helpful: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00466L0BW - you'll need a suitable PSU too.

CANbus - anyone in the Bay Area have an adapter that I can rent or borrow?

Not in the Bay Area but I'll mail you mine for beer money.

hth!

James

Kocho
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion
SunLover
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

IT WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!

Over the weekend I got the new Leaf battery modules put in and my VX-1 is back on the road!!!!!!

OK, well, I'm not completely done as I still need to update the firmware. But the bike runs and I took it around for a few miles. Many thanks to everyone who helped and all the posters here - I believe I've read every post at least once.

It was amazing how simple it really was. I plan to write up a new post, similar to what Allan Bairstow did, with a bit more detail on the steps and links to relevant posts. I know the summaries have been done before but hopefully I can add some clarity and updated info.

I bought my batteries from Hybrid Auto Center. It came with eighteen modules, two end brackets, 4 threaded rods/nuts to hold the batteries together, and a bus bar complete with BMS harness, though for now I'm planning to just do a regular check on the individual cell voltage as I ride to see if I need a BMS. The cell pairs (two pair per module) were all charged to within .004V of each other (from 4.002V to 4.006V) which saved me from a lot of time bringing them up to charge.

I used a rubber mat from Home Depot that was easy to cut and put it in the bottom underneath the batter pack. I also used it to cushion the front and back of the pack as there were several inches of space on both ends.

I was able to remove the old batteries without a hoist or a helper, by opening the packs and removing the top layer of cells. Thanks to Steev who came by today and picked up the old cells and is reusing the good ones. Recycle!!! Reuse!!! Steev also was there the moment I connected the positive terminal (used Antiscab's light bulb trick) and first turned the scooter on....courage provided.

I was also able to insert the new batteries by myself without a hoist by sliding them one by one onto the threaded rods directly inside the scooter. It was challenging to tighten the nuts with the pack inside the scooter well, but I managed with minor swearing.

LEAF batteries in Vectrix.jpeg

2015 Vectrix conversion.jpg

Laura

SunLover
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

OK Jimmy B, but how much beer do you drink??? PM me and i'd be happy to do the swap.

Kocho
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

Congratulations! Having the BMS leads out in the trunk under the rear seat or at another easily accessible location will give you a peace of mind to check the voltages from time to time. I too did not install my BMS leads initially and was worried if the cells were fine or not, but was lazy to open the battery too often to check... You probably read my posts about that already - you can use some standard harness and a small voltmeter to make measuring up to 8 cells easy. But the cheap voltmeters I bought were not too accurate across the 8 channels, plus they do discharge the cells differently, so better to not keep them connected and better yet to use a multimeter or voltmeter that is powered externally (has its own battery) which will not disbalance some cells by drawing more power from them the way one of these small voltmeters will if you leave them plugged-in for long.

2a.jpg

WP_20141009_12_45_43_Pro.jpg

WP_20141009_12_48_00_Pro.jpg

boeingpilot
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

Interested in how you're doing on range with the Leaf cells. Also did you source them from Hybrid Auto?

2015 Tesla S90D
2009 Vectrix VX-1 Leaf Conversion
1983 Lambretta Lynx
1980 Vespa P200
2013 VW Jetta Hybrid (gone....)

Kocho
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

.

Kocho
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

Range is good. Yes, sourced from them.

Interested in how you're doing on range with the Leaf cells. Also did you source them from Hybrid Auto?

boeingpilot
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

Thanks for the feedback. I'm interested on whether you feel 60+ range is reasonable with the Leaf cells. Please advise after you get some riding time in?

Also, I assume you installed the Laird's charger firmware? (I'm assuming you have the ESD charger)

Thanks in advance, and enjoy the ride!

2015 Tesla S90D
2009 Vectrix VX-1 Leaf Conversion
1983 Lambretta Lynx
1980 Vespa P200
2013 VW Jetta Hybrid (gone....)

SunLover
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

I've read your posts on this and will keep following. Thanks for all the information you've posted on line on many aspects of the Vectrix - it's been really helpful to me. I probably will install a harness like you did so I can check the cell voltages without having to open up the bike. Next step is to install the firmware, but I'm out of town for a bit.

Any chance you have a CANbus adapter, or know someone who does that might loan it to me for a small donation?

Laura

Kocho
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

Not sure if this was a question for me or the original poster... For my range and charger/firmware, see here http://visforvoltage.org/forum/14110-new-vectrix-owner#comment-76031

Thanks for the feedback. I'm interested on whether you feel 60+ range is reasonable with the Leaf cells. Please advise after you get some riding time in?

Also, I assume you installed the Laird's charger firmware? (I'm assuming you have the ESD charger)

Thanks in advance, and enjoy the ride!

Kocho
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

You are welcome! I can only lend my CANBus adapter locally, in the Washington DC area (not willing to ship). Someone else on the forum had posted offering to rent theirs for a small fee...

I've read your posts on this and will keep following. Thanks for all the information you've posted on line on many aspects of the Vectrix - it's been really helpful to me. I probably will install a harness like you did so I can check the cell voltages without having to open up the bike. Next step is to install the firmware, but I'm out of town for a bit.

Any chance you have a CANbus adapter, or know someone who does that might loan it to me for a small donation?

Laura

JimmyB
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Re: Jumping Into the Leaf Lithium conversion

That'll be me ... Sorry, haven't been on here much this week, too much work :(

Shoot me a PM, Laura, and we'll figure something out.

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