It took a while to convert my '07 Vectrix from NiMH to Li-ion, but it's finally done and it's working.
I'll share with you some of what we learned along the way - to help you when you convert your bike.
I ordered the 50AH batteries from CHL in China. Since there are some tricky import rules to deal with I paid Randy at FalconEV $200 to help me with the import stuff (customs, forms, etc.) However, there was mass confusion between CHL, FalconEV, and myself regarding how to import, where to send, etc., so Randy has already declined to help others with this import process. The gentleman at CHL that made the arrangements to export the batteries from China is named Joey Zhong (chlbattery [at] gmail.com). He seemed very helpful and answered all emails promptly. Although his export experience is… well… anyway… he may be able to export the batteries without a middleman, if you want to try that route.
CHL was under the impression that I was ordering the batteries for my "business", rather than just for my own bike - this delayed the import by several weeks. Make sure that you make it clear that you are importing them for yourself, and NOT a business - otherwise the import process will be delayed (they will ask for business license info/company address, etc.) We had to literally stop the process and start over with new paperwork, otherwise US Customs was threatening to slap a $5,000 fine for not providing all of the correct "business paperwork"! Once we changed from the company to the personal name/address we were able to get through customs without any further problems.
When I ordered the batteries I didn't know how many battery interconnects came with them. Joey from CHL didn't know how we would configure the 42 cells. Long story short - we came up 10 interconnects short. They didn't charge extra for the interconnects, so ask for 42 (I think I used 41, but why not have a spare?) This delayed my conversion by a week or so (and added another $100 to the cost), as you cannot simply go to the local Radio Shack store and buy them - you have to go to a machine shop and have them manufactured to exact specifications.
Removal of the old batteries:
We found that a hand-ratchet chain hoist, hooked over the garage rafter was adequate (but necessary) to remove the old battery packs. To connect the hoist to the pack you will have to improvise (as in the antiscab conversion video). This part really requires two people, to guide the pack out of the battery box, so it doesn't swing one way or the other - and so you can move the bike out of the way to lower the pack onto the floor.
Installing the new cells:
BUY AN ANGLE GRINDER if you don't have one. The smaller the disc, the better (I bought a 4 1/2 " angle grinder). The 50AH cells won't fit into the battery box without grinding out the extra aluminum welds in the corners at the back of the battery box. I also had to grind off the overlapping lip at the front of the battery box. I started to try to do the grinding with a Dremel tool, but found that I needed something more more heavy duty (again - I wasted hours trying to grind off just a few millimeters of aluminum and went through several grinding bits - only to finally give up and go buy an angle grinder!)
The battery management system (BMS) modules that came in the kit from antiscab are soldered together, but the soldered connections are quite fragile. Several of the small red wires had broken loose during shipping and had to be re-soldered to the module boards. Others came loose during installation and had to be re-soldered. You will need a soldering iron and some solder. ALSO: the top battery layer BMS strings did not line up with the cells, as shown in the video - you will have to remove one board from one end of the string and solder it to the other end for them to line up with the correct polarity of the cells (maybe the 40AH cells in the video are configured a bit differently than the 50AH). This was easy…if you know how to solder, but it had us scratching our heads for awhile.
ASK antiscab to email the diagram of the BMS connections - this helped tremendously.
ONE IMPORTANT OMISSION FROM THE CONVERSION VIDEO: in the bottom layer of the battery pack, the BMS line must connect from the right side of the pack, across to the left side between the two rear cells to make a complete circuit. Antiscab makes a verbal reference to this in part 8 of the video, but it is not shown in the video . Again - the diagram makes it clear how the BMS lines need to be connected.
The poly-carb divider that sits vertically in the middle of the battery box to keep the top layer of batteries from shifting forward is made for the 40AH cells. If you use the 50AH cells you have to modify this divider a bit (I used the Dremel tool to cut an inch or so of plastic off of each side). Since the 50AH cells are taller, this divider only provides a few centimeters of restraint across the bottom of cells of the top layer. To help strengthen the top layer we wrapped a couple of large wire ties around the cells - 18", or 24" connected together should do it - this also came in handy later for support of the Cycle Analyst shunt.
Wiring up the new cells:
Watch carefully where to start placing the cells in the battery box. The cells in the antiscab video have different indications of positive/negative (the center part of the terminal was red for positive, while the 50AH cells have a red ring around a silver central area). In the bottom layer, if you start from the front of the pack on the right-side of the bike (the throttle side) the terminal in the corner of the battery box should be the positive one. Each cell is placed in the opposite direction as the one next to it, as you go from the front to the back of the battery box. On the left side of the battery box the cell will have the negative terminal in the front corner.
In the top layer the pattern is the same if you start from the front and work your way back, the positive terminal on the first cell will be on the right (throttle) side of the bike.
Make sure you place the polycarb divider into the battery box before installing the top layer of cells - as you cannot put it in place afterwards.
Make sure to double and triple check that each and every bolt is tightened and each BMS line is secure to each board before continuing onto the top layer. Somehow we failed to tighten two of the 60 bolts in the bottom layer and had to completely disassemble the top layer and find the loose bolts.
Cycle Analyst Installation:
Antiscab's instruction video for the Cycle Analyst installation should be watched BEFORE finishing the battery conversion - as you will have some different wiring to do at the back of the top layer of cells. Also, you don't want to hook up the main power lines (Anderson Connectors) until after the Cycle Analyst is installed - otherwise you will end up just disconnecting and reconnecting the Anderson connectors unnecessarily. Although it is optional, I HIGHLY recommend installing the Cycle Analyst (order the high-current version - Model # CA-LHC). The Cycle Analyst was easy to install and proved invaluable in confirming that all was hooked up correctly and in diagnosing problems when it wasn't. (Also it's really cool to see how much current you are drawing under heavy acceleration!)
We were a bit concerned about the extra weight of the Cycle Analyst shunt on the negative terminal of the left-rear cell, so we used wire-ties to support the far end of the shunt by connecting it to the large wire-ties that we strapped around the top layer of cells.
The model of Cycle Analyst in Antiscab's video has three wires to connect while the one I received had four - follow the instructions that come with the Cycle Analyst.
The Cycle Analyst wires were just about 12" short of reaching from the dash of the bike to the rear of the top cell layer - you will have to splice some wire to lengthen it a bit. (However, I placed the Cycle Analyst wires along the outside of the battery box on the right-side of the bike, rather than through the middle of the battery box, just to avoid having so many wires running through the same area. I believe antiscab ran the Cycle Analyst wires through the battery box - the wires are probably long enough to do it that way).
Reset Button Installation:
The reset button is set in a piece of polycarb that fits nicely between the two thin sheets of metal on the right side of the bike, near the trunk-latch. You can use some silicon glue to secure it there.
The large steel plate that contains the trunk-latch will not quite fit with the reset-button poly-carb piece. I used a Dremel tool to cut a few millimeters off of the poly-carb piece.
The Blue Box:
Don't miss the opportunity to extend/replace your charging cable - I bought a 25' heavy duty extension cord and cut off the female end and threaded it through where the old charging cable was - no more need to carry around an extra extension cord!
IMPORTANT STEP NOT COVERED IN THE CONVERSION VIDEO (For 120V systems)
This is the charger wiring diagram from the Vectrix Service Manual:
To do the wiring correctly in The Blue Box for 120V charging you have to know which of the black wires to use. Looking at the wiring from the charger down to the new blue box -there are four wires inside the bundle, three black ones, and a white one. One of the three black wires isn't used with the 120V bikes, We figured it out by disconnecting the power cable from the charger (the gray connector unsnaps - it is the one that is closest to the front of the bike) and using a volt meter to check continuity.
The wires are numbered, although they don't exactly correlate with the numbers of the pins inside the gray connector that plugs into the charger. If you look closely at the female side of the gray connector you will see that one of the holes is blocked - I imagine that this was done for the 120V bikes. Once you've determined which one of the black wires does not connect to the charger, you can eliminate it from the blue box (we didn't cut it off like antiscab… just in case… we taped the end of it and curled it up inside the blue box).
Our check revealed that:
Wire #1 connects to Pin #1
Wire #2 connects to Pin #2
Wire #3 connects to Pin #4
Otherwise we followed antiscab's video for the wiring inside the blue box, although we decided to solder the power cords to the terminals, rather than use the crimp-connectors.
After wiring the two layers of cells and the Cycle Analyst into place you have to modify the battery box cover. For the 50AH cells you have to cut it completely open. BUT, leave the thin strip along the sides as they contain the holes for the bolts that hold the whole thing in place.
The seat actually rests on top of the battery terminals of the top layer without modification - I placed a layer of foam packing material on top of the batteries - and then I placed some spacers beneath the seat brackets to raise it up about one centimeter. This should keep the weight off of the battery terminals, but it will result in preventing the trunk from locking. I believe it's possible to remedy this by extending the trunk catch by cutting and splicing a one centimeter length of metal rod into the "hook" that fits into the trunk lock. I haven't done this yet - I will post again after I get it fixed.
When I originally ordered the batteries and the kit I didn't know that the onboard charger isn't capable of charging the 50AH battery pack. For now I'm using the pack as if it were 32AH (the maximum that the charger will put into the pack based on the original firmware programming). To solve this problem antiscab has been working the The Laird on firmware changes. I've opted to wait until some testing has been done, as firmware modifications are quite risky and can cause permanent damage if not done precisely. Another option would be to connect an off-board charger to the pack, as antiscab does with his 60H bike.
I haven't pushed it too far yet - as recommended by antiscab - I'll ride and recharge 20 times to make sure the cells are balanced before pushing them to the limit. So far I've ridden and recharged five times. At the end of each charge the Cycle Analyst shows that more and more AH's are going into the pack. I believe it is already close to being balanced, but I'll ride it a bit more each time until I no longer have to hit the reset button (i.e. when the BMS is happy with the ebb and flow of current within the pack).
Today I took it onto the freeway for the first time. I rode first north and then south on Highway 99 near my home. When I got back home I'd used 18AH and had almost 30 miles on the trip odometer. Although the Vectrix fuel gauge showed only one bar left, I experienced no loss of power, no red battery light, no problems whatever. This is how it should have been done in the first place. Imagine how it will perform once the 50AH pack can be fully utilized.