All new* C130 delivered

72 posts / 0 new
Last post
MikeB
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Monday, April 14, 2008 - 09:49
Points: 517
All new* C130 delivered

Got my C130 Deluxe delivered today. Ok, it's not all new. In fact, probably about 2/3rds of the bike is exactly the same as what was delivered about a year ago. But the changes to the other 1/3rd make a pretty significant difference.

For those who haven't been following the story, I was the first customer to get a Current Motor Company bike. I accepted a bike early and helped the guys test the product. My account is here: http://visforvoltage.org/forum/8371-first-cumoco-c130-delivered-customer

At the end of the story, I'd sent my bike back to Ann Arbor for some parts upgrades, most significantly a new 400A power controller. Unfortunately, Kelly Controls had recommended moving to a new model, but the new model just wasn't quite ready for use. We wasted a bit of time testing the new model, but eventually backed down to an existing model that was more stable. And with that issue resolved, my bike is returned to me.

Oh, they did make a few other tweaks as well: The battery pack was re-arranged, strapped down differently, and the interconnections improved. The DC/DC controller was replaced, as was the BMS, and some of the low power wiring was redone. I got an updated fusebox. The software in the BCU was updated with better error handling, adding an operating 'fuel' gauge, and regenerative braking was turned up. The failed hall sensors in the motor were replaced. And I got new shocks for a better tuned suspension. My seat was replaced due to a small tear, and my brake master cylinders also replaced due to a suspicious feel. In essence, I got my bike updated to a 2011 model after riding the 2010 model for most of a year.

Sorry folks, this was part of my testing agreement, not every bike is going to get a complimentary upgrade of parts every year. Though you might ask John for subscription pricing, since it does appear that new parts are going to be coming for a while, as they incrementally improve the product line.

So today, after waiting for the tornado watch to end and the torrential rain to pass, I took the bike for a test ride around the neighborhood. So far, everything is working correctly. I immediately notice significantly more acceleration than before, and the stronger regenerative braking is also rather noticeable. The suspension is a little softer, and the dashboard is giving me a little more information. The big test will be my daily commute, which starts tomorrow, including the steep (10% grade) hill at the end.

I'm going to do some more tests and re-evaluate the bike, but right now I think they've got a winner.

jdh2550_1
jdh2550_1's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 8 months ago
Joined: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 09:35
Points: 2335
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Sorry folks, this was part of my testing agreement, not every bike is going to get a complimentary upgrade of parts every year. Though you might ask John for subscription pricing, since it does appear that new parts are going to be coming for a while, as they incrementally improve the product line.

Actually this is what our test pilot program is about. For the first 25 bikes of each model we're giving a $2000 discount and ensuring that we keep your bikes up to date with key updated parts. We can't promise we'll put as many new parts on each bike though - after all the rate of change is slowing down.

Full details here: http://www.currentmotor.com/test-pilot-program/

However, having said all that I like the idea of "subscription pricing"!!! :-)

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.

MikeB
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Monday, April 14, 2008 - 09:49
Points: 517
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Ok, 3 days of commuting completed, and the All New* bike rocks!

Most importantly, it passed the steep (10% grade) hill test, as well as the stoplight-in-the-middle-of-the-hill test. I would still like to see just a hair more torque when starting from a dead stop, but it picks up quickly as you accelerate. I'm faster than the average traffic speed most of the time, and I rarely want to use full throttle once I'm moving.

Two items that are new to my updated bike that should be mentioned:

Regenerative braking has a 3-level setup, which is pretty clever. Right brake lever alone gives 1/3rd regen strength, Left brake lever alone gives 2/3rds regen strength, both levers together deliver full regen strength. And full regen is acceptably strong for slowing down quickly in traffic. It isn't a panic stop, but is stronger than I need for most stoplights. The 1/3rd strength seems too light to me, I hardly notice the pull, but the 2/3rds strength is just about perfect most of the time.

The fuel gauge is now working as well. This isn't a volt meter, it's a coulomb counter. It tracks the power coming in from regen and from the charger, and tracks the power going out to the motor. Using a constant for the battery capacity, it does a fine job of estimating your state of charge. There's no compensation for aging or cold batteries, and you have to get your computer re-programmed if you adjust the battery capacity, but those are minor limitations and would be expensive to solve completely. It does reset to 'full' after a full balancing charge, so that takes care of cumulative drift errors. It's supposed to read empty around 80% depth of discharge, so you have a little extra range left (at reduced power) if you push the limit (rather than pushing the bike). Of course, hitting the limit will shorten the life of your batteries a bit, so they don't recommend delaying charging if you have an opportunity. There's also a trip odometer on the dash, and I like to reset it every time I charge, but the fuel gauge will adapt to riding style while a range-in-miles count won't.

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

jdh2550_1
jdh2550_1's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 8 months ago
Joined: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 09:35
Points: 2335
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Ok, 3 days of commuting completed, and the All New* bike rocks!

Most importantly, it passed the steep (10% grade) hill test, as well as the stoplight-in-the-middle-of-the-hill test. I would still like to see just a hair more torque when starting from a dead stop, but it picks up quickly as you accelerate. I'm faster than the average traffic speed most of the time, and I rarely want to use full throttle once I'm moving.

Yay! I'm glad to hear that it's meeting your needs. I agree that the speed away from the line could maybe be a little quicker. We're working on various approaches to that - but they're a ways out yet. The brute force method is to just put more amps in away from the line but that's not the best / most efficient solution.

Regenerative braking has a 3-level setup, which is pretty clever. Right brake lever alone gives 1/3rd regen strength, Left brake lever alone gives 2/3rds regen strength, both levers together deliver full regen strength. And full regen is acceptably strong for slowing down quickly in traffic. It isn't a panic stop, but is stronger than I need for most stoplights. The 1/3rd strength seems too light to me, I hardly notice the pull, but the 2/3rds strength is just about perfect most of the time.

We will continue to play around with the regen strengths assigned to both levers. Based on what you've experienced so far what would you choose for the values? 45% right, 66% left, 100% both? The ultimate solution would be to let the customer set these values - we may see if we can work that in.

The fuel gauge is now working as well. This isn't a volt meter, it's a coulomb counter. It tracks the power coming in from regen and from the charger, and tracks the power going out to the motor. Using a constant for the battery capacity, it does a fine job of estimating your state of charge. There's no compensation for aging or cold batteries, and you have to get your computer re-programmed if you adjust the battery capacity, but those are minor limitations and would be expensive to solve completely. It does reset to 'full' after a full balancing charge, so that takes care of cumulative drift errors. It's supposed to read empty around 80% depth of discharge, so you have a little extra range left (at reduced power) if you push the limit (rather than pushing the bike). Of course, hitting the limit will shorten the life of your batteries a bit, so they don't recommend delaying charging if you have an opportunity. There's also a trip odometer on the dash, and I like to reset it every time I charge, but the fuel gauge will adapt to riding style while a range-in-miles count won't.

A couple of points here:
1) We don't correct the fuel gauge for cold temperature because we don't need to. We rode our test bike in 18F ( ~ -8C) weather about 1 month ago and the fuel gauge operates correctly. LiFePO4 isn't affected by cold nearly as badly as SLA. Also, cold temperatures affect the voltage output more than the capacity.

2) We do correct for age. Every time we detect the bike has been used from a full charge to a "nearly empty" or "empty" charge then we correct our measure of "available energy". These are the only times we can make this correction because they're known states that we can detect. Actually, I should say "will correct for age" - you can expect a software update for that at some point. So, as the pack ages and if you ride from full charge to "nearly empty" or "empty" we will correct the fuel gauge.

3) Related to cold weather (but not state of charge counting) we do adjust our LVC point lower. This avoids us assuming the pack is empty sooner than it really is.

Onwards and upwards!

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.

MikeB
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Monday, April 14, 2008 - 09:49
Points: 517
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Hmm, ok, the fuel gauge is a good bit smarter than I thought. However, the calibration at 'nearly empty' does require that you actually let your bike get to 'nearly empty' sometime, which I will generally avoid. Though I suppose I could do a few extra laps around the neighborhood once every year or so, just to hit the calibration point.

As for the brakes, I wonder if it might make more sense to reverse the left/right strength? Most motorcyclists should know to use the front brake for heavy braking, since the weight shifts forward, so it would make sense to have lighter braking on the rear. Just to experiment, I'd want to try something like 45% left, 70% right.

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

PJD
PJD's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 6 days ago
Joined: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 - 05:44
Points: 1416
Re: All new* C130 delivered

The proper setting for the Regen is going to be different for different terrain. Where I live, I have some long hills where on my current lighter, non-regen scooter I have to lightly ride the brakes all the way down. So it is going to take some fiddling to get the optimum setting for recovering the most energy from descending hills.

I assume the regen settings are programmable? Could you make the settings user-adjustable?

jdh2550_1
jdh2550_1's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 8 months ago
Joined: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 09:35
Points: 2335
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Hmm, ok, the fuel gauge is a good bit smarter than I thought. However, the calibration at 'nearly empty' does require that you actually let your bike get to 'nearly empty' sometime, which I will generally avoid. Though I suppose I could do a few extra laps around the neighborhood once every year or so, just to hit the calibration point.

Yeah, I know that's not an ideal learning strategy - but "full" and "empty" are the only known points to use to update the algorithm (because these conditions can be measured without knowing capacity).

As for the brakes, I wonder if it might make more sense to reverse the left/right strength? Most motorcyclists should know to use the front brake for heavy braking, since the weight shifts forward, so it would make sense to have lighter braking on the rear. Just to experiment, I'd want to try something like 45% left, 70% right.

I don't think we should do more regen on the front lever because the actual braking is happening on the rear wheel. So, an experienced rider says "give me a little bit of front only" and we give her a "whole lot of back brake". I don't think that would be a good thing...

However - that's why the ultimate solution is something that's user selectable. :-)

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.

jdh2550_1
jdh2550_1's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 8 months ago
Joined: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 09:35
Points: 2335
Re: All new* C130 delivered

I assume the regen settings are programmable? Could you make the settings user-adjustable?

Yes, at some point we want to make this user adjustable.

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.

jdh2550_1
jdh2550_1's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 8 months ago
Joined: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 09:35
Points: 2335
Re: All new* C130 delivered

BTW, it's not implemented yet (but maybe by 5pm today ;-)) - but we will need to disable regen when pack is near full to avoid overcharging the cells. Regen will automatically enable itself when the pack can accept the charge.

This is for the rider who charges when at the top of a very long hill...

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.

MikeB
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Monday, April 14, 2008 - 09:49
Points: 517
Re: All new* C130 delivered

BTW, it's not implemented yet (but maybe by 5pm today ;-)) - but we will need to disable regen when pack is near full to avoid overcharging the cells. Regen will automatically enable itself when the pack can accept the charge.

I think that function already exists in the Kelly Controller software, based on a pack voltage. But since your BCU is adjusting the Kelly's settings, you may need to implement that same logic.

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

MikeB
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Monday, April 14, 2008 - 09:49
Points: 517
Re: All new* C130 delivered

This thread needs a photo:

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

PJD
PJD's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 6 days ago
Joined: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 - 05:44
Points: 1416
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Vary long wheelbase. Maybe it is illusion from the photo, but can a person with short arms (i.e. my spouse) ride it comfortably?

The ride is certainly bad on my existing little 3.25-10-wheeled Chinese scooters, but I think I'm going to miss the turn-on-a-dime capability they have.

And that top-case really cantilevers out there. Is it possible to mount it a bit further forward?

MikeB
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Monday, April 14, 2008 - 09:49
Points: 517
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Maybe it is illusion from the photo, but can a person with short arms (i.e. my spouse) ride it comfortably?

I think the angle of the photo is causing a bit of an illusion, the driver seat isn't really that far back from the console. I've got a comfortable bit of bend in my elbows when sitting upright (I'm average height, 5'8"). I'd still be comfortable if the seat was moved back several inches, so I think your spouse would be ok.

And that top-case really cantilevers out there. Is it possible to mount it a bit further forward?

I could move it forward maybe an inch or two on the luggage rack, then I hit the bar at the forward edge. If you took that bar off, then it could be mounted a good bit more forward, but you start to intrude on your passenger space. Frankly, the luggage rack was designed to cantilever, as long as you don't try to overload it.

That said, I was getting a little bit of a squeak from the rear when the trunk would bounce a bit, as the plastic lightly rubbed against the metal supports. I just loosened the bolts and re-tightened them, and I think it's no longer rubbing.

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

awilensky
awilensky's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 years 1 month ago
Joined: Friday, August 15, 2008 - 06:40
Points: 77
Re: All new* C130 delivered

I have order the C130 under the new program, and I will put my 10cents in here as an experienced motorcyclist riding ICE all marques since the age of 15, and as a former electric scooter dealer, one of the first in the country, in 2001. I have also worked for an Israeli startup that was engineering a very advanced hybrid power plant that was going to be licensed to the Power Sports industry, but as the steam generator (it was a compact turbine) used HTP, it never got regulatory approval. I have had 3 custom vespa style performance electrics under my butt, and so, that experience is the basis for my following opinions and observation:

1) I think most PEV two wheeler vendors make a huge mistake in hold back the amps takeoff curve. The experienced riders buying the +5k$ bikes expect more. We are disappointed with anemic roll-offs the line when we know that an electric can do better than an ICE. We are jousting with giants, please do not short change us to protect a few neophytes, or at least give us a soft switch. Oxygen offered a great hi-lo button.

2) Regen should be properly relegated to the rear brake lever. Period. Regen should "taper off" at some lower speed / current ration. Do not confuse the experienced ride with adding regen to the right lever.

3) Do not, do not, DO NOT neglect suspension tuning. This is the worst sin of new PEV entrants to the market. I expect a 6K$ + scooter to have suspension at least the OEM quality of a Honda or Suzuki maxi scooter, and that it be tuned to the weight and particulars of the chassis.

4) Please, contact the States Motor Vehicle Departments, and have them add your DOT and NHTSA credentials to their databases, please, I beg you Current, do not make me go through what I went through with the martin EVD! I do understand that the fault lies in the ignoramasses at the MA RMV, but there are only 50 states, please do what every motor sports manufacturer / OEM does for its customers, and contact each DMV OEM database admin, and have your credentials ready for when I go in to get my plate.

5) Do not send me a registration from Ann Arbor, send me the MCO - the way a real dealer does, do not do what Martin tried to do, and send me a TX reg - I finally got them to do it right UGH.

6) Good luck, I will evangelize the CRAP out of a worthy scooter, even if it is not 100% perfect in al details, I will look at the potential of the bike holistically, and work with you, and might even get a dealer's license here in Salem MA - as I have retail floor space and the technical knowledge to repair and diagnose electrics. I was born with an AMP clamp in my claws.

awilensky
awilensky's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 years 1 month ago
Joined: Friday, August 15, 2008 - 06:40
Points: 77
Re: All new* C130 delivered

I love those fork mounted driving lights? SAENG?

MikeB
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Monday, April 14, 2008 - 09:49
Points: 517
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Hiya Alan, and welcome to the C130 owners club. :)

1. I think the amps are being limited by the Kelly controller, at least at takeoff. It's a limitation of the controller, not an attempt to protect the user. Current has the expertise to build their own controller, I suspect, but it's a big effort and not a cheap exercise. I think we'll see them build their own eventually, but not on the first round. In the mean time, they've been working with Kelly to get a better product, but Kelly has been slow to deliver. On a side note, there is a High-Lo switch on the dash, which limits speed and torque somewhat, but I see no reason to ever put it into the Lo position. :)

2. I think the best regen solution is the one the Vectrix used, based on reversing the throttle, but it's protected with a patent. The dual lever solution is simple and effective, and also cheap to implement. Can you think of a reasonable alternative that doesn't break the bank? Regen doesn't activate if you hit the brakes below about 10mph, but I'm not sure if there's an algorithm to taper it off as you reach a stop.

3. They did hire a suspension tuning expert, and he made some suggestions that they implemented. The ride is much improved over last year. However, I'm not an expert, so you may find there's room for improvement. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

4,5. Current Motor Company is in the national registry of manufacturers, and I had no problem at the Georgia DMV. They typed in my VIN, and Current showed right up. And you'll get an MCO like you expect. I don't know what communication happened between the state and Current, maybe John can answer that.

There's a number of shortcomings you'll probably spot, many of them related to the Chinese body and running gear. The ideal solution is always a compromise between cost and function, and I've spoken up when I think the wrong choice was made. I hope you'll help improve the product as well. Look at these bikes as a work in progress, and you've got a direct input to the design team.

As for my driving lights on the forks: Vision X Solstice Solo pods, available all over the place. LED, 10 watts and around 800 lumens each. You should get a set.

Actually, you should, the existing headlights are rather weak, and the LED driving lights make up for it. This is one of those points where Current is limited by their Chinese supplier. It's easy to put a brighter bulb into the headlight assembly but that might not be a DOT-certified configuration, and Current has to provide only DOT approved solutions. A new round of headlight certification is not cheap, but they are looking at finding better lights. I'm sure they'll get there eventually, but there are higher priority issues to work on first.

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

jdh2550_1
jdh2550_1's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 8 months ago
Joined: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 09:35
Points: 2335
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Hi Alan,

Mike covered these points pretty well (thanks Mike!):

1) I'm afraid you may be disappointed with the take off on the C130. We're looking at ways to improve things - and as a member of the test pilot team you'll get those upgrades. Some of it comes down to heat management and some to range management. Also, we're building a commuting bike not a sports bike.

2) Our regen implementation has been described above. It does engage some light regen on the right lever. Think of it like balanced braking (like some of the big sports tourers do). At some point we aim to provide user adjustable regen - then you'll be able to have zero regen on the front brake. As for tapering off - we may also add that in the future but riding it with today's setup doesn't appear to need it. We will continue to work on this area though.

3) I think we have a pretty good ride on the rear. The front could still use a little more tuning. We benchmarked our suspension performance against a Vectrix and a Vespa and we get our rear suspension custom made for us. An ex-Chrysler suspension engineer did the work for us.

4) I haven't contacted MA DMV yet. Unfortunately we don't have a team of folks the size of the mainstream guys to do all this sort of administration work - but we're doing our best. We have bikes successfully registered in GA, NV, MI - soon to add OH, MA, VA & NV. I'll try and make sure I've contacted the appropriate person before you receive your bike.

5) Yes, we provide the MCO. That's what we've always done.

6) Thanks - I appreciate your well wishes and I look forward to getting your feedback.

BTW, your bike should be shipping this week. I will be contacting you for final payment in the next couple of days...

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.

awilensky
awilensky's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 years 1 month ago
Joined: Friday, August 15, 2008 - 06:40
Points: 77
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Hello John and Mike:

thanks for the thoughtful reply's. I am not looking to break the rear wheel loose, but to improve on the EVD experience, which I look at as a successful test of what an electric could be. Ok, we will see. I am doing this as an entusiast, and I understand the limitations of the test program.

awilensky
awilensky's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 years 1 month ago
Joined: Friday, August 15, 2008 - 06:40
Points: 77
Re: All new* C130 delivered

BTW John, on front fork customizations:

I used a race tuning company in CA for the forks on my EVD - they were both mushy and too stiff at the same time. Too stiff on small undulations, and too mushy and bottoming on moderate bumps - so I sent them out to Dick's Racing. it was 175 for one off re valving and twin rate springs. Probably not a good option for productions, but if you sent one set, they could give you the preferred rates and specs. Its obviously doable as a pre=production option for some buyers, but I am sure that you can these dialed in for manufacturing. No doubt the EVD is not a bad Chassis and motor, but they were clueless as to controller programming and suspension, and what can a contracted build expect form a gas scooter chassis with 200 lbs of batteries!

So we will see; at least no one can state that Current is disengaged from its community, and that should result in a great product in iterations. I think I can sell an electric maxi, the time is right !!! I really think that the enthusiast market, not the Green market, is ready. For two wheelers, no amount of economy will ever alter the fact that some folks were not born to ride.

jdh2550_1
jdh2550_1's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 8 months ago
Joined: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 09:35
Points: 2335
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Hello John and Mike:

thanks for the thoughtful reply's. I am not looking to break the rear wheel loose, but to improve on the EVD experience, which I look at as a successful test of what an electric could be. Ok, we will see. I am doing this as an entusiast, and I understand the limitations of the test program.

Hi Alan,

I believe Mike also had an EFun-D from RMartin (aka EVD?). I also think our acceleration is significantly better than that bike. I bought an iteration of the EFun-D (but not through RMartin) and our acceleration on all three models is significantly better than our EFun-D (unfortunately the EFun-D is in pieces so I can't do a side-by-side now).

On front suspension: For the rear suspension we bought a fully customizable/tunable set of rear suspension and then we did our own testing benhmarking the rebound and damping compared to a Vectrix and a Vespa (both considered "best in class" for suspension ride). We plan to do the same for the front shocks in the future.

John "fully engaged" H. ;-)

p.s. Check out this blog post by our suspension engineer: http://www.currentmotor.com/shocking/

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.

MikeB
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Monday, April 14, 2008 - 09:49
Points: 517
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Looks like I broke my throttle this weekend, during a speed test. I musta been twisting too hard. :)

No really, I did have a throttle failure, and I was doing a quick run between exits on the interstate. Fortunately, it was easy to coast onto the exit ramp and to a reasonably safe stopping point. The speedo was buried over 70, but the GPS indicates I never got over 66mph.

I wasn't sure what the error was until this evening, when a multimeter verified that the problem was in the throttle. Interestingly, there's lots of failure modes on an electric bike, and they all have essentially the same symptoms: twist the throttle and get no power. I could be anything from the throttle at one end of the bike, to a temperature sensor at the other end, to the controller in the middle. Overheating seemed plausible, since it was a warm day and I was pushing the bike's limits, but apparently it was a simpler issue.

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

PJD
PJD's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 6 days ago
Joined: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 - 05:44
Points: 1416
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Interestingly, there's lots of failure modes on an electric bike, and they all have essentially the same symptoms: twist the throttle and get no power. I could be anything from the throttle at one end of the bike, to a temperature sensor at the other end, to the controller in the middle.

That is why is is important to keep the design simple - K.I.S.S.!

I've never had a throttle (I assume it is a hall-effect type) fail on either of my e-maxs, nor a failure of the motor hall position sensors - even when I accidentally rode through 2 feet of water (yes, a good bit water got in the motor). I've never had an overheated motor, in spite of running it at 2.9 times its rated output (90+F days are rare here, though). Aside from the infamous case of the filter capacitors shaking off the PC board from road vibration, I've never had a controller failure, in spite of running a good bit more power through it than stock. I did have a broken wire to a throttle once - due to repeated pulling at a connector when the handlebars were turned. That was the only case that I was left stranded (The fallen-off capacitor incident luckily happened one block from home).

Did you check the possibility that is broken throttle signal wire?

On the other scooter I had an intermittent stoppage every time the scooter hit a bump - which became permanent as I was riding around the block trying to duplicate the failure to troubleshoot it. I had a hard push up the steep hill back to the house. That stoppage was due to something all e-bikes seem to have that seem unnecessary to me - an interlock features that disables the motor when the brakes are squeezed. It uses the 12V brake-light circuit as the signal. The right-hand brake lever micro-switch had broken and the internal parts were stuck closed. I had trouble-shot everything, and only figured it out when I discovered the brake light was stuck on also (ding-ding!) The e-max also had a switch that disabled the scooter unless the kick stand was up - another stranding waiting to happen. Then the was the famous e-max "black box" control module.

The lesson I have learned from the e-maxs is to get rid of all "safety", "convenience" or functionality features of dubious value if a failure can possibly cause a motor stoppage.

With these and other "sources of trouble" cured by simply removing and bypassing them, my scooters have had 100% trip reliability (aside from that brake interlock incident) for the past couple years of daily use for 8 months out of the year.

I do appreciate the transparency in which current Motor's project is being run. Think of all the manufacturers in a similar situation who would have made you sign a gag agreement!

jdh2550_1
jdh2550_1's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 8 months ago
Joined: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 09:35
Points: 2335
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Mike - your new throttle is on it's way. You should have it by Thursday.

As far as failure modes, safety lockouts and rider information goes...

1) The current set up (no pun intended) allows us to detect a failed motor temperature sensor. However, we don't flag it to the rider because we also have an additional power lead temperature sensor. We (mistakenly) decided that we would only flag the error to the rider if both failed because in the BCU software we can use either sensor to make load-based temperature decisions (we also have a further two temp sensors in the battery pack). So, in the BCU we have redundancy. However, where we made the mistake was that we also program the Kelly to disable itself in an over temperature situation - as yet more redundancy. What we failed to take into account was that the Kelly doesn't report an error when it detects over temperature. So, if just the motor temp sensor fails (and it fails by reading high - which is a good thing) we get a "no go and no information as to why" situation. As a result we'll be changing the BCU software to tell the user if the motor temp sensor fails. Oh, and we're also thinking of adding another temperature sensor into the motor such that if one fails there's a backup - this would require rider intervention (switching to the backup hall sensors by unplugging and replugging one connector).

2) Currently (another non-pun) we have just one lone LED on the dashboard. Via this rather overworked device we try and inform the user of over 18 different states (which now needs to be 19). That's possible but not terribly practical! As such we're replacing the right hand amp draw / regen analog gauge with a 128x128 pixel LCD. This will allow us to tell the rider a lot more information. We still can't detect a bad throttle though - and we'll ask that you return the one you remove so we can do a postmortem.

3) With the new LCD we will be able to tell you exactly why the motor isn't responding to the throttle. So, we'll tell you which brake lever you've engaged or if the side stand is down. We'll tell you that the pack is low or the motor is over temperature. etc. What we won't do is remove any of these safety lockouts (sorry Paul) - they're all there for a reason. If the customer chooses to bypass something then depending on what they choose to do and how they choose to do it we'll have to figure out the impact on the warranty. We're actually trying to be up front and helpful here - most companies would simply cancel the warranty the first time you look at the bike sideways...

Happy riding!

jh

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.

MikeB
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Monday, April 14, 2008 - 09:49
Points: 517
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Excellent (on the shipped throttle).

Btw, if my multimeter measurements were correct, the throttle was broken in a half-high position, reading ~3v when it should have been near zero. This is something your BCU can test for at startup. You can't test for a broken at zero, but at least you've got one possible case covered. And you might also be able to give an indication whenever there's a throttle input above zero but no current applied to the motor, which would allow someone to quickly eliminate throttle failure on a diagnostic checklist.

Oh, and I'm really looking forward to the tiny LCD display, that's gonna make things much nicer. And now we get the exercise of designing a tiny user interface with maximum information but is still intelligible in traffic and at 60mph. Such fun!

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

LeThala
LeThala's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 years 6 months ago
Joined: Friday, June 27, 2008 - 06:09
Points: 90
Re: All new* C130 delivered

I do appreciate the transparency in which current Motor's project is being run. Think of all the manufacturers in a similar situation who would have made you sign a gag agreement!

I second that.

PJD
PJD's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 6 days ago
Joined: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 - 05:44
Points: 1416
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Do ordinary motorcycles disable the engine when the brake lever is squeezed or the kickstand is down?

Are you sure you are sourcing your components from a reliable supplier? Hall-effect throttles and rotor-position sensors should not be failing any more often than a mass-produced transistor or IC does - i.e. almost never. Same with temperature sensors.

MikeB
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Monday, April 14, 2008 - 09:49
Points: 517
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Do ordinary motorcycles disable the engine when the brake lever is squeezed or the kickstand is down?

Are you sure you are sourcing your components from a reliable supplier? Hall-effect throttles and rotor-position sensors should not be failing any more often than a mass-produced transistor or IC does - i.e. almost never. Same with temperature sensors.

My Honda Silverwing will kill the engine when the kickstand is down, that's standard. You have to use the centerstand in order to do maintenance work with the engine running. Honda scooters also require the left brake lever to be squeezed strongly before the engine will start. So there is a brake-based safety lockout, but it doesn't apply to a running motor.

I know Current changed their supplier for hall sensors based on reliability questions, and it was my bike that raised those questions last year. I think they are still in the process of learning which parts are vulnerable to such failures, and which suppliers are more reliable. That's why all of us test pilots are getting discounts, to help get bikes on the road and find out where such issues might be hiding.

Edit: Just spoke to a buddy a work who has a small stable of motorbikes. He confirmed that the sidestand disable is standard, and also that many of his bikes have a clutch lever lockout, so the bike won't start unless the clutch lever is pulled all the way in.

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

jdh2550_1
jdh2550_1's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 8 months ago
Joined: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 09:35
Points: 2335
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Do ordinary motorcycles disable the engine when the brake lever is squeezed or the kickstand is down?

Yes, all modern ICE bikes have a sidestand cut out and ones with a manual gearbox have a clutch lever cut out for start up. It sounds like ones with a CVT have a similar safety cut-out on the brake lever at start up (per Mike's post).

I wouldn't be surprised if Honda, Suzuki et. al. would implement a cut out on the engine during braking if they could easily stop and start the darn thing and that riders don't expect engine braking. However, as we know that's not a trivial exercise. Also, you need to remember that the same switch that is used to disable the controller is the switch that controls the brake light - so, if that switch were to fail you'd have the chance of slowing down without anyone behind you knowing you were applying the brakes.

Hall-effect throttles and rotor-position sensors should not be failing any more often than a mass-produced transistor or IC does - i.e. almost never. Same with temperature sensors.

You are right, these should rarely fail (as in a few parts per million) and for throttles the answer is that in fact failures are rare. For the temperature sensor and the rotor-position sensors the issue is not the fact that the sensor just fails but that the packaging or the wiring fails. I'm pretty sure that when we get the throttle back it won't be the hall-effect sensor that has failed but that there's a wiring issue or some other mechanical issue (e.g. a magnet that shifted). These all represent deficiencies with the sub-system design and we examine design failures and improve upon them. It's not to do with failures at the silicon level (although that can happen as well).

Oh, and the quality of the IC's and sensors is actually represented by the QC of the supplier. So when we upgraded the hall sensors it was to move to a "brand name" that we know has good QC and tests and rejects parts (or whatever they do to control quality) so that they can have failure rates in the low PPM range.

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.

Mik
Mik's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 8 months ago
Joined: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - 15:27
Points: 3739
Re: All new* C130 delivered

The VX-1 does not disable the motor when either front or rear brake lever are pulled.

I find this very useful when driving in rain, to warm the disks and dry them.

This information may be used entirely at your own risk.

There is always a way if there is no other way!

PJD
PJD's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 6 days ago
Joined: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 - 05:44
Points: 1416
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Thanks for the clarification on IC engine features. My experience on MC's is limited and long ago. A clutch start interlock, like cars all have would make a lot of sense.

As I wrote, my only throttle problem was a wiring issue.

MikeB
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Monday, April 14, 2008 - 09:49
Points: 517
Re: All new* C130 delivered

Good news: new throttle is installed, and the bike is running fine again.

And John also sent me a cable, so I can take a peek at some sort of dashboard application software. Should be interesting, once I get it running.

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

Pages

Log in or register to post comments


Who's online

There are currently 0 users online.

Who's new

  • CYBRTRKR
  • ericaturner
  • 2008VectrixForSale
  • flapjacksbestof
  • incomefun

Customize This