"Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad reports"

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Mik
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"Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad reports"

Please report how The Laird's modified Vectrix Charger Software is working for you.

This will help to iron out any bugs.

A big "Thank You" to The Laird for his efforts to re-write the software and to everyone who helped him!

Background to this thread can be found at the following links:

http://visforvoltage.org/forum/11677-installing-modified-charger-software

http://visforvoltage.org/forum/11676-modified-software-how-it-works-what-it-does

http://visforvoltage.org/forum/11528-ive-cured-my-vectrix-it-no-longer-tells-lies

ofx210p
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

Not wanting to hark on : Usage so far (bearing in mind my version is slightly different/older to the final version)

Basically when riding recently Ambient temp 20 degrees celcius. Rode 15km - batteries 25 degrees. Put on charge immediately. fans bring Temp down to 21 degrees whilst charging within an hour. Usually temps whilst charging to 2-4 degrees above ambient.

In use, battery levels drop right to the bottom sequentially with no magical disappearing lower 5 bars.

Sometimes (and i understand that the 'final' version has different charging final voltages) my charge does not always reach 17bars full. however usually over several days this is resolved in a cyclic manner.

Day1 17bars
Day2 17bars (but 1st bar disappears almost straight away)
Day3 16bars
Day4 15bars
Day5 17bars - full again.

This doesn't worry me at all as it seems to follow the same pattern and just so you know Laird and I discussed this and he modified the 'final' production version that everyone can have now so that it has slightly higher voltage limits to counter this effect - still without damaging.

I will NEVER run the older/vectrix version EVER again.

My biggest battery worries ironically now are leaving the bike in the New Zealand sun now we are coming into summer !

So i tend to keep my bike either out of the sun, in an underground workshop / garage or within a silver bike cover to reduce the effects of the radiant heat.

Hope this helps.

Presently my battery has aprox 4 swollen cells - 1 completely dead cell. Acceleration is fine. Range for me at 50kmh in mountainous Auckland is 50km (31.25miles) I haven't tested it to the distance limit for some time.

Hope this helps all

Chris

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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

My vectrix had this firmware installed some weeks ago.
I never tried to make a full discharge with the new firmware, until yesterday.
In the beginning of testing the new firmware my vectrix could only charge up to 14/17 bars. As weeks go by, the "full" level decreased slowly. Yesterday my vectrix only charged to 11/17 bars, that was quite annoying.... I dediced to make a full discharge. To my astonishment, I could travel over 30 km with 0 bars and est range of 0 km. No red light apperared, no decrease of power sensed. I got tired and decided to recharge.
The battery was at 118v. With the 1014b The lower limit is some volts down! really dangerous for unbalanced batteries.
I made a full charge and reached 16/17 bars. Aaall these 16 bars are real!!!! Good bye disappearing bar syndrome!
My battery is more predictable with that firmware. I sincerely recommend it.
Interestingly, the gauge gets out of sync very slowly, but the battery is always charged. All the displayed bars are real and when they're gone my vectrix still have some extra range...

antiscab
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

I made a full charge and reached 16/17 bars. Aaall these 16 bars are real!!!! Good bye disappearing bar syndrome!
My battery is more predictable with that firmware. I sincerely recommend it.
Interestingly, the gauge gets out of sync very slowly, but the battery is always charged. All the displayed bars are real and when they're gone my vectrix still have some extra range...

That's probably because the assumed self discharge rate is higher than the actual self discharge rate

Not a bad thing, just means the fuel gauge is pessimistic (and provides reserve capacity)

having to go past 0 bars to re-sync too often may be a little tedious, but that my only be a winter issue (where self discharge is slower).

Matt

Daily Ride:
2007 Vectrix, modified with 42 x Thundersky 60Ah in July 2010. Done 194'000km

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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

Antiscab, I agre.
This is not a bad thing: I'd prefer 0 km est range than the annoying disappearing bar syndrome. ;-)

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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

I was finally able to install the updated firmware into my Vectrix (designed just for the larger battery pack conversions by The Laird). I haven't tried a full discharge yet, but the charge worked perfectly.
Before installing the new firmware, the charger was only able to charge the 50AH battery pack to about 30AH, but when I installed the new firmware and plugged the bike in - it charged 20AH beyond the previous maximum - just as I had hoped.
As The Laird warned - the fuel gauge and estimated mileage gauge no longer work, but they were never accurate anyway. I installed the Cycle Analyst gauge with the conversion - so I have all the information that I need.
My son helped me with the firmware install - he is writing a summary of how we did it in case anyone would like to learn from our experience - I'll post that, as well as my riding experience soon.
Thanks Laird!

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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

. I installed the Cycle Analyst gauge with the conversion - so I have all the information that I need.

oobflyer, a silly question: how do you turn on and off the CA?
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

oobflyer, a silly question: how do you turn on and off the CA?

There is no on/off switch - it displays continuously. But it draws very little current.

Image.jpg

I took this photo while it was charging after the firmware update. It is drawing about 9.4 Amps and is 10.1 AHs above the previous charge (30AH), so it is at 40AH and still going...

oobflyer
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Freeway Run Test

After charging to 50AH I headed to the freeway - accelerated to 65 MPH (105 Km/h) - and rode until the Cycle Analyst said I had ridden for almost 20AH. Then I turned around and did the same thing on the way home. When I got home I had ridden 40 miles (64 Km) and had used 42 AH. I never lost power, the BMS red light never came on, and the pack voltage only dropped to less than 118V (2.8V/cell) under heavy acceleration at the end of the ride.

This should be the minimum range for a 50AH pack - next I'll ride "real world" style (mix of city/freeway riding) and see how many miles the pack can do.

A couple of interesting anomalies that occur with the new firmware:
The estimated mileage gauge does try to display a number, but it disappears when you turn the bike off and back on.
Image 1.jpg

The fuel gauge also tries to display the bars while charging, but again, the bars disappear when you turn the bike off and back on.
Image 3.jpg

I am sooo happy with my Li-ion converted Vectrix - it's way better than when I bought it - thanks to antiscab and The Laird - I can use it for more than just short local commutes - and it should last for years to come.

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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

There is no on/off switch - it displays continuously. But it draws very little current.

Yes, but I c'an't park the vectrix in the middle of barcelona with that display turned on saying "steal me"... How should I connect the CA, so when I turn on the vectrix it turns on?
antiscab
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

How should I connect the CA, so when I turn on the vectrix it turns on?

you could add a switch to turn off the back light, by shorting out one of the resistors (IIRC)

You could also put in a relay powered by the bikes 12v, that connects the positive to the battery positive when the bike is either on with the key, or charging.

Thats more work, but a small 12v relay will be fine as you are switching a very high impedance load.

Matt

Daily Ride:
2007 Vectrix, modified with 42 x Thundersky 60Ah in July 2010. Done 194'000km

oobflyer
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Volt Meter/Trickle

I noticed another anomaly with the updated firmware - the voltage meter in the dash no longer works - or it works intermittently. While it was charging last night the voltage gauge stopped changing when it reached 139 volts and got stuck there, while the voltage reading on the Cycle Analyst continued to display the charging voltage (148V, 151V, 154V).

Another change - the trickle charge used to be at 3A, now the trickle charge is at 1.7A. I don't know how The Laird did it, but it charges quite quickly right up to 48AH and then trickle charges during the last 2AH.

I'm not sure about the temperature gauge. If the gauge is still working the pack only heated up 1C during the four-hour, 40AH charge (from 25C to 26C). When I started the ride yesterday the temperature reading was only 14C, so the temperature increased 11C to 25C during the forty minute ride. This is only HALF of the temperature of the old NiMH pack, which often reached temps in the mid 40sC, increasing to 50C while charging.

oobflyer
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

Yes, but I c'an't park the vectrix in the middle of barcelona with that display turned on saying "steal me"... How should I connect the CA, so when I turn on the vectrix it turns on?

Here's another option ;-)

BikeCover1.JPG

Mik
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Volt Meter/Trickle

I noticed another anomaly with the updated firmware - the voltage meter in the dash no longer works - or it works intermittently. While it was charging last night the voltage gauge stopped changing when it reached 139 volts and got stuck there, while the voltage reading on the Cycle Analyst continued to display the charging voltage (148V, 151V, 154V).
...
...

Something similar happened recently with the esga6t45 version of the software. I believe this might be due to a bug that is already present in the original software that the Laird's version is adapted from. I think I have seen something similar before, while using an original unmodified Vectrix charger software version.

What happens is basically that the display does not update the correct voltage and charge stage display any more, but the actual charging current and voltages continue to progress as they should. Nothing bad happens to the battery - the charging process runs exactly as normal, but some information on the dash is incorrect. If you did not look at the right time, you would never know!

Oobflyer could see this on the cycle analyst, I saw it on the M-BMS installed in the Vectux. To someone with an unmodified Vectrix (i.e. no way of measuring the actual battery voltages) it would just look like an unusual combination of voltage, charge phase and speedo-needle position.

The speedo-needle seems to display the DC charge current as usual when this display error occurs, i.e. 1km/h = 0.1A charge current.
Temperature readings appear to continue to fluctuate (the Vectux temp sensors are malfunctioning - but the displayed temp was not static like the voltage and charge stage).
The voltage appears to be stuck on an incorrect value and remains static while the real battery voltage (on the Cycle Analyst or M-BMS) continues to rise and fall according to charge stage and current.
I think the fuel gauge display also freezes.

Below is what was displayed on the Vectux during the error with esga6t45 installed:

CP143 and 138V remaining static.

8/17th on fuel gauge static.

Speedo showing 22km/h 3hrs into the charge, then dropping to 16km/h at 3hr 16min into the charge.

Actual voltage (M-BMS) at the time of drop to 15km/h: 144.4V

My impression/summary of this error:

If is an old bug that causes a failure to "refresh" the displayed charge stage (CP, CC, tr, EC), battery voltage and fuel gauge level on the dash, while all actual charge processes continue as normal.

This error is probably behind some of the much earlier reports of failures to charge to full as expected (on the gauge), but normal range when actually riding the Vectrix.

This information may be used entirely at your own risk.

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

antiscab
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Volt Meter/Trickle
I noticed another anomaly with the updated firmware - the voltage meter in the dash no longer works - or it works intermittently. While it was charging last night the voltage gauge stopped changing when it reached 139 volts and got stuck there, while the voltage reading on the Cycle Analyst continued to display the charging voltage (148V, 151V, 154V).
...
...

Something similar happened recently with the esga6t45 version of the software. I believe this might be due to a bug that is already present in the original software that the Laird's version is adapted from. I think I have seen something similar before, while using an original unmodified Vectrix charger software version.

What happens is basically that the display does not update the correct voltage and charge stage display any more, but the actual charging current and voltages continue to progress as they should. Nothing bad happens to the battery - the charging process runs exactly as normal, but some information on the dash is incorrect. If you did not look at the right time, you would never know!

I have witnessed this fault on my Vectrix while running BCR 3001 and MC 1017
However, the charger ran without voltage limit, and the battery was heating up, it was still charging at 9.5A after 3 hours, when I had not rode to red battery light.
The charger did not complete the charge process when it should have, from then on I used a timer

It's actually the number one reason I use the BMS with the lithium conversion

With the modified firmware, the results of a runaway charger are less severe, but a timer is still recommended as it limits the heating effect of the bias supply, and also allows convenient charging during off-peak periods (if you get that discount)

Matt

Daily Ride:
2007 Vectrix, modified with 42 x Thundersky 60Ah in July 2010. Done 194'000km

oobflyer
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Timer?

Do you think I should use a timer while charging? So far it has stopped charging automatically after 50AH, every time. I haven't seen a significant increase in battery temperature. The software appears to be terminating the charge, rather than the BMS, as I haven't had to use the reset button on the BMS.
If the software doesn't stop the charging, then the BMS will stop it once any one of the cells exceeds 3.65V - correct?

Mik
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Timer?

Do you think I should use a timer while charging? So far it has stopped charging automatically after 50AH, every time. I haven't seen a significant increase in battery temperature. The software appears to be terminating the charge, rather than the BMS, as I haven't had to use the reset button on the BMS.
If the software doesn't stop the charging, then the BMS will stop it once any one of the cells exceeds 3.65V - correct?

Yes, use a timer.

I estimated that it increases charging efficiency by around 25% in one of my very first posts here: http://visforvoltage.org/forum/2547-vectrix-reports#comment-12252

Using a timer has a number of other advantages, too:
1) Less risk of damage due to surges.
2) Probably prolongs charger life because it reduces charger heating.
3) You can start and stop charging at predefined times, to avoid charge loss due to self-discharge (not so important for Li batteries, but very important for NiMH) and take advantage of cheaper electricity rates.

If you live in a very hot location (or during heat waves) I would also recommend to add an ABCool http://visforvoltage.org/forum/7471-abcool-40-vectrix-auxiliary-battery-cooling-system to The Lairds modified charger program. Combined with a double timer it allows maximum control over cooling and charging and extended cooling times.

Mik

This information may be used entirely at your own risk.

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

antiscab
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Timer?

The software appears to be terminating the charge, rather than the BMS, as I haven't had to use the reset button on the BMS.
If the software doesn't stop the charging, then the BMS will stop it once any one of the cells exceeds 3.65V - correct?

Hi Dave,

As Mik alluded to,
The timer is more to help out the charger, than the batteries (when running Lithium)

It's something that may be useful to use at home, but not really worth bothering with while out and about.

The BMS actually stops the charge when any cell hits 4v, but that should happen fairly rarely.

Matt

Daily Ride:
2007 Vectrix, modified with 42 x Thundersky 60Ah in July 2010. Done 194'000km

oobflyer
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Timer?

Interesting... so is it harder on the charger to continue charging to 50AH? Should I set the timer to charge for two hours, then off to cool down, then back on for two hours?

The ambient temperature is very cold now (well, for California) - it's been below freezing at night for the last couple of weeks. I don't think the charger is overheating. But, in the summer it gets quite hot here - maybe I should use the timer at that time....

Mik
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Timer?

Interesting... so is it harder on the charger to continue charging to 50AH? Should I set the timer to charge for two hours, then off to cool down, then back on for two hours?

The ambient temperature is very cold now (well, for California) - it's been below freezing at night for the last couple of weeks. I don't think the charger is overheating. But, in the summer it gets quite hot here - maybe I should use the timer at that time....

The charger does not overheat when it is charging.

It overheats when it is NOT charging!

On 120V it is no so bad, but on 240V supply it gets way too hot.

This information may be used entirely at your own risk.

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

oobflyer
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Timer?

The charger does not overheat when it is charging.

It overheats when it is NOT charging!

I'm soooo confused! Why would the charger overheat when not charging?

kingcharles
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Timer?

Because it was designed by an incompetent fool ...

Once you go EV, Gas is history!

ofx210p
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Timer?

I wish there was a 'like' button for your comment Kingcharles.

antiscab
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Timer?

The charger does not overheat when it is charging.

It overheats when it is NOT charging!

I'm soooo confused! Why would the charger overheat when not charging?

There's a 12v powersupply inside that is just a 50W wirewound resistor and an amplified zener that drops the rectified mains (170vdc in your case) down to 12v
It doesn't trade volts for amps, it merely wastes the extra volts as heat.

It loses 25W continuously on 110vac (50W on 240vac).

When the charger is running, the fans are running, so it stays cool.

When the charger is off, there's no airflow, so the resistor and amplified zener (actually a FET) get hot and eventually fail.

Not so much of a problem when running off 110vac, due to the much lower power being dissipated.
Means the temperature rise is half as much.
No problem when the ambient air is freezing either :)

A major problem when the temp is 100F+ and you're running on 240vac

Matt

Daily Ride:
2007 Vectrix, modified with 42 x Thundersky 60Ah in July 2010. Done 194'000km

oobflyer
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Timer?

When the charger is off, there's no airflow, so the resistor and amplified zener (actually a FET) get hot and eventually fail.

Oh, I see, so kingcharles summed it up nicely then.

I will make sure that the bike is unplugged when the charge is finished (or use a timer when I'm not there to unplug it).

Jonathanm
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Timer?

I'd like to make a couple of points after using the Lairds new software for around 6 weeks now...

Negatives:

1. For normal operation the bike takes a bit longer to charge. For daily commute to and from work - not a problem.
2. The fuel gauge goes out of synch (at least on my bike fairly quickly) you can reset it by going down to red light. Then you can ride past the last bar until you feel the power reduce.
3. Not possible to check temperature during riding.

Positives:

1. No heating of battery.
2. The bike has significantly more power (because you need to use the earlier version of the motor controller firmware)
3. Improvement of battery condition. (this is a bit subjective - but my range has improved)
4. When charging, all gauges stay lit so inspection of temperature and voltage are possible with the key off.
5. EQ stage of the battery charge process never seems to go longer than 1 hour and produces no/little heat.
6. No pre - cool necessary (nor possible) as batteries are not heated - more likely cooled during charge.
7. Range predicted is more accurate - perhaps even a little pessimistic.
8. Fans running at all times during riding - helping to keep batteries temperatures even. Fans run for 10 minutes after shutdown.
9. No dissppearing bars. All the bars count - perhaps each bar goes down a bit quicker than before but it is more uniform. If the fuel gauge is in synch and you have used half bars, then you can be confident that you have half batteries left.
10. No reduction of power - like on the Vectrix version below half charge.

Thats about it. I, for one will not be going back to the earlier software. I am much more confident charging now - before with the earlier software my charger would never shut off. The timer had to take care of that. I feel the service life of the batteries will be improved. I am now at 20,000km and range is still about 60 - 70 km on flat at around 50 - 70 km/hour.

One thing I notice with the old motor controller firmware is that I tend to ride faster now. I don't know why? Before I would find that the optimum speed was around 50 to 60km but now the bike seems to be happier around 70 to 80. Perhaps this is all physchological knowing that I 'm not damaging my batteries anymore. Anyway FWIW.

All these points are my experience - perhaps some of these are based on feelings rather than demonstratable fact. But that's how it is!

Highly recommended...

Thanks THE LAIRD!

Regards,

Jonathan

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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

Question for those running the software: when charging at work, I tend to trip the GFCI on a routine basis (more routine in the summer, though). Not sure if this is a problem with the bike or with the outlet (or both), but I do wonder if the longer charge time required by The Laird's software would cause me some problems in getting a full charge for the ride home? On the plus side, I'm at work for 10-1/2 hours at a go and can usually check the GFCI every couple of hours, but there has been a time or two even using the existing software that the bike wasn't fully charged until just as I was ready to head home because of these annoying charging interruptions.

As a thought, I also wonder if the more extensive use of the fan under The Laird's version might help with the situation: usually when the GFCI is acting really flaky I find that a quick power-up then power-down of the bike helps, almost like it's dissipating some wayward charge in the system. If the fan is running most all of the time, perhaps this stray charge would never have a chance to build up in the first place...

Anderson
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

If you can replace it with a plain electrical outlet, thats what I did. I've had alot of batteries ruined over the years due to GFCI's randomly tripping while chaging 12 volt batteries.
I've gotten pretty good at wiring AC outlets but I wouldn't leave my house unattended when the Vectrix is charging partly due to the fact that my house only uses 14 gauge wire.

The best AC outlet you could get is something like this http://www.myrv.us/Imgs/PDF/30-amp%20Service.pdf and a matching plug to wire into the Vectrix cord.

antiscab
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

when charging at work, I tend to trip the GFCI on a routine basis (more routine in the summer, though). Not sure if this is a problem with the bike or with the outlet (or both)

Dust may have made its way into your charger, which could case a ground fault.

The charger is isolated, so the fault could really only be on the AC side

You could find out what the trip rating is on the GFCI (usually 20mA for homes, and 50mA for industrial use)

Matt

Daily Ride:
2007 Vectrix, modified with 42 x Thundersky 60Ah in July 2010. Done 194'000km

vectrix07
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

Where can I get The Laird's software?

ofx210p
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Re: "Using the 'Modified' Charger software - Good and Bad ...

Just message him here by doing a name search on laird and hitting the PM (private message?) button.

Simple

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