My latest Vectrix has a charging problem that I would like to diagnose and fix.
When I turn on the charger, the headlight (and front/rear lights) come on and stay on, the battery cooling fans start up but the speedo does not move to indicate any charging current and the battery meter fluctuates between 15 and 16 bars and occasionally reaches 17 bars . After about 5 minutes everything shuts down again (cooling fans stop and the lights and dashbord instruments all go off).
According to my energy meter on the house supply it is actually drawing about 100-200 watts and the voltage does seem to be slowly increasing each time, but it is definitely not charging correctly.
I started today at 129.3V and it went up to 130.7V after the first session. I switched it off and on again and it "charged" for another few minutes and the voltage rose to 131.7V.
As there is obviously a serious problem somewher, I do not want to keep going with the short charging bursts in case I cause more damage.
When I turn on the ignition the estimated range now shows zero and the battery capacity bars just seem to vary with motor load (albeit with a delayed response) so I presume it is now simply working as a voltmeter.
Does this mean that it is definitely a charger fault, or could it still be a problem with the motor controller or Interface Control Module?
I have already tried removing both plugs from the charger and leaving it for a few minutes before reconnecting them, but it has made no difference.
I would appreciate any suggestions on what to try next.
Do you get any red warning lights on, such as battery temp warning? Do you have ScooterDiag info about potential faults? When did this behavior start - was there some unusual circumstance like lots of rain or repair or accident?
I have experienced the short charging behavior on my bike when one of my temp sensors went out of spec and was reading over 10 degrees different than the rest, thus fooling the bike and shutting down with a temp issue. But I had red lights with that. And I don't remember having the voltmeter-like power bars issue, which is typically associated with mismatched firmware on the charger and controller or a non-standard charger. So that leads me to a suggestion for you to reinstall matching firmware on the MC and the charger and see if that resolves the issue.
There are no unusual warning lights coming on and unfortunately I don't have an adapter for use with ScooterDiag. I only recently purchased this scooter on eBay and the seller did post the following statement 3 days before the auction finished:
The seller is a genuine guy and would not have deliberately tried to cover up a more serous fault, but I am surprised that he rode it quite so far with no Tax or MOT! The bike is a 2008 model which has only done 1,159 miles and even with this charging fault is still worth what I paid for it.
I am tempted to try running the battery right down until the battery light comes on to see if it will charge at a higher rate and hopefully for a lot longer too, but that's probably just wishful thinking.
I'd be a bit worried about discharging the battery down to red light, because you have not recently performed an equalization charge, so you don't know the state of charge of the individual cells. So, by the time the MC thinks the voltage of the pack is low enough to throw a red light, some individual cells may already be empty and reverse-charged and damaged. Especially, if you have the older 62mph speed limit firmware, which allows the battery to discharge deeper than the later 68mph one.
Could also be a loose connection somewhere - are you feeling like you are loosing power intermittently or the power is not smooth at the moment the gauge moves while riding?
Sorry, I'm out of other ideas for now - hopefully someone who has seen this exact problem would respond. If you could borrow the adapter and diag. software to reinstall the firmware, that would be the easiest thing to try, in case the firmware has somehow corrupted itself...
I'm pretty sure it does still have the earlier firmware as it was advertised as "60mph and rapid acceleration."
Do you know whether the voltage reading is still displayed with the old firmware when you switch the immobiliser button and pull the rear brake? As nothing seems to happen when I try it on this one. I currently have to remove the rearmost charger plug to obtain a battery voltage reading with my multimeter.
My other Vectrix has the latest 68 mph firmware, so I presume that swapping components over to try and locate the problem might not be such a good idea.
You are probably right about the possibility of causing cell damage, so perhaps I won't risk fully discharging the pack at this stage.
The seller stated that "when last used averaged up to 50 miles per charge depending on how the bike was ridden. As the bike has been stored for a few months I can’t guarantee the condition of the battery."
As the scooter is not really in a usable state at the moment, and I am still waiting to hear from my insurance company to get the new scooter added to my existing policy (it's been a week now since I first rang for a quote) I may end up just swapping the battery pack over at this stage to see how it charges and what range it gives me in my current Vectrix.
One other question, both of my scooters have the square plugs on the charger, does anyone know where I can obtain a matching socket that I could connect to the end of a cable to allow an external charger to be easily plugged in, although I suspect it will be a lot cheaper (and more convenient) to modify both scooters by installing additional charging sockets/leads under the seat (like the Laird uses with the "Freddy" charger).
Swapping the chargers b/w the two bikes should not cause compatibility issues during charging. But that requires to take apart the front ends of both bikes... Not that hard after you've done it once, but a hassle. Swapping the battery is more work and with more potential for damage/injury. Mismatched firmware versions b/w the motor controller and the charger *may* cause issues while riding (the gauge not working properly is one known issue, there might be others that are unknown; for what it's worth, I've ridden mine while I was still with the NiMh pack with several combinations between 62 and 68mph motor controller firmware and original older/newer/and the Laird's charger firmware and only noticed issues with the gauge not working). Sorry, don't remember if the 62mph firmware displays the voltage or not.
Also, I've heard that the spark that may occur when plugging back the charger plugs is not necessarily good for the longevity of the charger. And if reconnecting the battery to the controller, definitely use a current limiter (aka an incandescent light bulb) to precharge the MC capacitors and not overload the circuit boards.
Hello Alan, I think that your problem is on the MC, and I think that you have burned one little fuse near the white plug the center fuse. For test you must unplug the battery connector, remove the MC board and unsoldering the fuse. For replug the battery you must use one bulb lampe if you don't want burned the fuse again.
You can use one car fuse like this:
Be careful with the power from the battery.
Thank you both for the helpful suggestions, so it looks as if I will need to remove the battery to gain access to the controller after all, it would be great if the problem was something as simple as a blown fuse, I will also check if it has the uprated 200 Amp main fuse while I'm in there too.
Here's a little update on today's findings:
I tried a quick comparison between the charging on both scooters to see if I could spot any major differences.
My good scooter has not been used for a few days and was topped up fully until the charger cut out yesterday with all 17 bars filled, but a voltage reading of only 136V. I put it on charge today and tried to monitor the energy draw using my E-on energy monitor.
While charging at 3 Amps on the gauge my total energy consumption rose from 0.970kW to ~1.22kW which indicated ~250 Watts being consumed, but 3 Amps @ 136V is 408 Watts, therefore the energy monitor is obviously not very accurate.
Anyway, here is the interesting part, the charger also cut off after ~5 minutes of charging with the same 136V showing, so I then tried the same test on the scooter with the charging/display problem and here are the results:
The battery cooling fans cut in as expected, but this time the headlight (and side and tail lights) did not come on, but the energy monitor showed it was also consuming the same ~250 Watts of power as the other scooter did, which was showing a charging current of 3 Amps.
I looked at the display and the speedo was still showing zero, but this time the battery gauge was completely empty instead of fluctuating between 15 and 17 bars like it did yesterday.
After the five minutes of charging it turned itself off, but the battery gauge showed 15 bars when the ignition was turned on and the estimated range was still showing zero. I measured the battery voltage which was only 131.1V.
I listened very carefully in my quiet garage for the spark that Kocho mentioned, but I was unable to hear anything at all. I am very familiar with the sparks that occur each time I connect the battery packs to my electric pushbikes, so I am aware of the "spark" noise that typically occurs when initially charging the capacitors in the controllers.
I have also experienced the nice loud bang that can occur when you accidentally short out a LiPo pack with no fuse protection whilst trying to video the aforementioned spark between two male connectors!
I had wondered whether there may simply be a communication problem on the CAN bus which might be causing the charging problem. I get the feeling that the charger is programmed to automatically cut off if it cannot read the state of the battery after a pre-set time (i.e. 5 minutes).
I assume the battery usage and remaining capacity is actually calculated by the motor controller, and if the controller was not communicating with the charger then it might explain both the estimated range and the charging problem.
Although I still don't understand why sometimes the headlight and rear light stay on while charging and other times they don't.
Anyway, it now looks like I may have to start some serious dismantling in order to gain access to the motor controller.
Thanks again guys.
EDIT: Photo links rectified
As far as I know, the charger while charging reads the SoC directly, not over the CAN bus (e.g., taking a voltage measurement off a resistor rather than relying on some bus message). Do the fans on the charger work (not the fans on the battery under the seat, the fans on the charger itself in the front under the body work)? If they don't work, perhaps the charger gets hot and shuts off from a thermal protection?
Also, why is it charging at 3A (assuming 30kmh on the speedo)? That's low and if I recall is the current during the Equalization charge phase with the factory software. Is this when you measure it? I forgot at what voltage the high-amp charging modes end (CP is something like 11A/110kmh). If the battery is lower voltage, say 130V, are you getting full power charging indicated on the display at 11A or so?
Also, do I understand you correctly that your "good scooter" is only charging to 136V when the charge process curs off? If it indeed only charges to 136V, there is something wrong. It should be charging to something like 146V (actually a bit higher if you let the original software fully blast its way). 136V is half-charged - too low to cut off the charge...
The spark I mention probably only occurs if the charger has been off for a while, so the capacitors inside can discharge enough to cause a spark upon reconnecting. I too did not experience it every time (most of the time I didn't feel it at all). A brief disconnect probably doesn't matter (same for the battery/controller, by the way - after using the bulb current limiter to pre-charge the controller, if I disconnect that and then try again to use it a short time later - the bulb does not light-up, so very little current flows the second time; unclear how much time is too much though).
I have double checked the fans on the charger and they are definitely working well. I can see and hear them start up a few seconds after the battery cooling fans and there is also a large volume of air being blown down over the front mudguard.
As the scooter is not taxed or insured and currently has no MOT, I am unable to give it a good run to lower the battery voltage. I just thought it was a bit too coincidental that the charging appeared to be so very similar to my other scooter with the full battery gauge.
I envisage the charging program as being something like this in very simple terms:
This could explain why both scooters cut out after five minutes of charging, one because the program perceived the "remaining battery capacity" to be equal to 100% (all bars full), and the other because the remaining battery capacity could not be determined (due to communication failure).
If there were no cooling fans and no signs of charging whatsoever I would simply assume that the charger had died, but from what I have experienced so far I am not so sure it is the charger, and Archi's last post regarding the fuse in the motor controller fits in with my suspicions.
You're absolutely right, there is something wrong, but unfortunately that is due to poor programming that seems to control the charging rate according to "last stored" voltage and the "actual used capacity" figures rather than using the "actual battery voltage" and the "true remaining capacity".
When the battery gauge is not full it does charge correctly with currents of up to 11.5 Amps and I now try and manually terminate the charging when it reaches ~148V but it will go over 150V if I leave it long enough.
The scooter may be good but I suspect the battery pack is not, which is probably why I am beginning to experience the temperature rise problem if I allow it to complete a full charge from completely empty:
I think the reason it did not charge at a higher rate today is because it doesn't seem to register the natural voltage drop that always occurs due to the battery self discharging, and this means that the battery gauge is still showing completely full even though the battery voltage indicates that it obviously is not.
As the scooter hasn't been used since its last complete charge, I think the battery gauge continues to read full because no current has actually passed through the motor controller, yet the battery voltage continues to drop due to the self discharge associated with these NiMH cells.
Perhaps I will try to measure the voltage across the pins on the charger next time to see how much voltage the charger's capacitors are retaining.
EDIT: Picture link repaired
In my experience, four things can terminate the charge:
(1) voltage cutoff
(2) time limit
(3) temperature cutoff
(4) battery capacity target reached
While #4 means if the charger thinks it has pumped enough Ah to reach the capacity it will stop the charge, I think it only does that during a single charge. Meaning, if you unplug, wait a bit, then plug it again, it will try to charge to full capacity again (and likely stop the charge because of one of the other 3 thresholds).
In my experience, only the voltage cutoff should kick-in at every charge. Whether your gauge fills-up or not depends on weather it is synchronized with the SoC and the capacity of the battery.
On my bike I have a voltage cutoff limit of 148V, which corresponds to 80-90% of the actual full charge on my battery. By experimentation, I have determined what should I set the capacity to, so that by the time the gauge shows 0 bars my battery is "empty" (in my case, I consider that to be around 126V or so). 40Ah preset capacity via ScooterDiag seem to give me a very accurate and consistent gauge: empty when "empty", full when "full".
The battery capacity is set in the software - user definable. I don't remember if you can do it via a "magic sequence" through the bike itself with your firmware (I can do it on mine with standard, late version MC firmware). Try this to see if you can:
- turn the bike on with the kill switch set to off (i.e., you can't ride).
- press and hold the "S" button until the trip counter resets on the left display and the user selectable charging delay is displayed. Let go off the S button
- press the S button again - you should see the Ah capacity. Rotate the throttle forward or back to set the capacity to whatever you want (in Ah)
- press the S button again to set the charging power limit if needed (again rotating the throttle)
- press and hold the S button to exit this mode, then shut down the bike or flip the kill switch to On and drive off.
Only the later versions of the Motor Controller firmware have the above capabilities.
My good scooter has the 68mph firmware which I thought was the latest, but those instructions don't work on mine.
I can see the delay time displayed but there is no sign of the Ah display that you mention on the second press.
If yours is set to 40Ah I presume you must be using higher capacity (lithium?) cells.
I have put a short video on YouTube to show you exactly what happens when I try to charge a self discharged battery when the battery gauge is showing full.
I think I have the latest motor controller factory firmware, but for the Li bikes. So likely that's the reason I have it and you don't see the Ah setting on yours, just the delay. And yes, I have 18 Nissan Leaf cells in mine now, 60Ah. Since I do not have a BMS, I am conservative in charging and discharging, so using only about half the battery, effectively (still plenty - I get about 50-60 miles range in my mixed local/highway riding with a somewhat spirited riding style).
Looking at your video, as soon as the temp boards measure the 14C temperature (starting from the default 21C), the charge mode switches from CP 000 to CC 154. Then it enters the "cool off" period, "C0" mode, even though the temperature is still 14C... I did not think it should be doing this...
See this post for a discussion of the charging process: http://visforvoltage.org/forum/10169-modifying-vectrix-charger-programme#comment-55868
As you are suggesting, it appears that it is the Ah condition that you are somehow hitting and the CP mode is not even started. Do you think you can test for that? If you ride the bike for a few miles, so that you use-up a couple of Ah, say drop the voltage after the ride to 130V, then try to charge again - will it stay in CP and charge at full power for the equivalent to about or a bit less than the Ah you used-up? If it does that, perhaps you are indeed hitting the Ah limit. If, on the other hand it still charges the same, then there is some other issue.
I still think your best route is to obtain the CANBus adapter and software and see if you can reset the fuel gauge and the battery capacity without having to fully discharge the battery, and see if that works. That would be the easiest, no disassembly required. While there, you may consider asking the Laird for his software (if you have the ESD charger), so that future charging is gentler on the batteries.
Oh, and you may want to contact David from http://www.vectrixsupport.com - he is an ex Vectrix engineer and really knows the bikes and the software inside and out (he wrote the custom charging software for my Li conversion).
I have been carrying out some testing with the Diagnostic Program and this is what I have discovered so far:
It appears that the charger is not communicating properly, and temperature sensors are not communicating at all!
Do the front and rear temperature boards connect independently to the CAN-Bus system directly, or do they connect as a joint pair through the charger unit?
I'm still trying to understand why all three components are not working.
Also, the battery gauge refuses to respond to the CAN Bus Test as is just remains completely full and doesn't move.
With the ignition turned on, but the charger turned off at the mains, I can sometimes get the charger display to update by turning off the ignition for ~1 second and then turning it straight back on again:
But it occasionally throws a wobbly:
If the charger is turned on at the mains, it will charge at a low rate for 5 minutes until it then turns everything off:
If I turn the ignition on and wait for it to complete its start up procedure I can turn it off and on again and update the charging screen:
It shows as "Charging" but there is no current flow and no cooling fans after the first five minutes, but if I turn the mains off and on again it will restart the 5 minute low current charge every time.
I had to set a up a mechanical timer to turn it on and off at 15 minute intervals and managed to increase the battery voltage from 129V to 141V over a day or so of charging for just 5 minutes every half hour at this low current, so that the battery voltage would be high enough to risk riding a few miles to the MOT testing station and back again, which it covered with ease.
While charging, the front and rear lights remain on and the L/H gauge has the “Ready” light flashing and continues to display the current time, estimated range of 0 miles and the trip mileage instead of the timer, battery voltage and battery temperature. It appears to be charging in “run” mode instead of “charging” mode. With the bike on the main stand I can even use the throttle to spin the rear wheel while it is plugged in and charging with the cooling fans still running.
I was unable to access the riding history as I encountered this error message when I tried to Upload it:
I have since cleared the riding history but have not ridden the bike since to see if the data is being stored.
Does anyone know where the riding history is stored? MC, Charger or ICM
I have also discovered why the regen braking is not as strong as my other bike, the throttle signal doesn't go as low. I have superimposed the three main readings (full reverse, released and full forward) onto this screen-save:
Is there somewhere I can access the required .HEX files for the motor controller, ICM and Charger? As I would like to try reloading the default firmware before I do anything else.
This scooter has:
And my other scooter is currently using these:
I had hoped that I would be able to back up the currently installed firmware using the Can-Bus USB interface unit, but I cannot see any way of doing this with the Vectrix Diagnostic program that I am using (Revision: 18.104.22.168 compiled on: 7 January 2013).
Has anyone found a way of doing this?
EDIT: Picture links repaired
I have two question, in the first time have you try to make a reset on your charger, it's very simple, with ignition key in off position, you remove the central connector on your charger and connect again.
In second, when your ignition key is activated, if you accelerate what's happen on your bar gauge, if the bar go to full to empty like a voltmeter, this is the sign that the little fuse on the MC board is burned.
I had already tried resetting the charger by unplugging both connectors and leaving it for a while, but it made no difference when I first tried it.
I did not suspect the main fuse because the motor has always performed very well with plenty of power, the problem was that it just wouldn't charge properly or display an estimated range etc.
Anyway, with help from Matteo Zordon from VectrixParts.com, I think I have finally located the source of the problem, as it now charges correctly and the current now goes over 10A if the battery voltage is low enough, and the gauges are now displaying the correct charging current and voltage:
The only problem I now have is the constantly flashing battery and temperature lights because I have unplugged both the front and rear temperature boards from the main harness as suggested by Matteo.
Here is a copy of the email reply that I sent to Matteo yesterday:
Matteo suggested that the rear sensors might be OK, but when I plugged just the rear sensors in, the charging and gauge problem immediately returned.
This is a poor quality picture of one of the two sensor modules on the rear battery pack which doesn't look very healthy to me:
If the other sensors in the pack are in this sort of condition (or perhaps worse) it might explain why the charger doesn't like being connected to them.
EDIT: Picture links repaired
I charged it fully and threw everything back together today before taking it for a test run.
It started at 148V and I rode it for 22.5 miles through some very hilly lanes and flat out up a nice long hill and it was still showing 40% remaining on the battery gauge and the battery was still reading 133V.
The estimated range was showing 19 miles remaining (which is probably a bit ambitious) but I suspect I could probably have managed another 8-10 miles before running out of juice entirely. With the front and rear temperature boards now disconnected completely, the battery warning light (and temperature light) now flashes continually, so I don't know if it would come on permanently when it gets low.
Anyway, compared to my other bike, the range seems very good, as the most I could manage with the other one was 12~15 miles before the battery light comes on, so this one should have at least twice the range I am used to. So I should now be able to make longer trips without having to worry about whether it will be able to make it home again.
Now I have the ability to reset the battery gauge I can set the gauge to reflect the actual battery voltage instead of the voltage it was reading before the self discharge effect took place, so I can ensure it receivs a full charge every time.
Unfortunately, the riding history still does not work, so it looks like the high battery voltage in the temperature boards may have caused further damage, unless the functionality has just been temporarily disabled by having the temperature boards permanently disconnected.
At least it can now be used, and I can also recharge it a lot quicker than I could before.
Bikemad - sent you an email...
I too am looking to get the source files for the other scooter. It seems crazy that they are not as easy to find as the ScooterDiags, although that was pretty hard to find too.
I also own a 2018 Tesla Model 3 and a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiev
I could not find a way of saving the original firmware but I have managed to acquire all of the original hex files for my two scooters with the exception of the older scooter's ICM firmware REV 1007
If you can send me your email address I should be able to send you copies of these files, as I can't find a way of attaching files to emails sent via the
forum's email system.
As it doesn't disclose your email address I can't just send them directly to you using my default email program.
Thanks again for your help, getting the files. Bike is behaving. I just need to fid out if the batteries are good. But I got quite a few miles on the first charge I did by force. Now it should charge like a normal bike as the software is all in sync.
I also own a 2018 Tesla Model 3 and a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiev
Randy, if you have installed the later charging software you may find these instructions useful:
Especially the "battery management initialization routine".
EDIT: Picture links repaired
Yeah, thanks, that is a LONG time ago. My issue has been that I don't ride the bike enough. I don't trust it to take me to work so I leave it parked. Well, last week I retired and finally got around to charging and then taking the bike to work and turning in my parking card. Of course it failed to get me home. But this is more due to the long time sitting, I usually have this the first ride of the year. I will ride it to redlight again today and then test tomorrow to see if it's all better, but this is the same bike that I had towed home after it started making the crazy popping sound a few years ago when I first got it. It was said to just be a battery charge issue so I am trying to see if just using it will bring it back to normal or if it is ready for new batteries.
I also own a 2018 Tesla Model 3 and a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiev
Hello, it wouldn't let me create a new post so I am just commenting on this similar post. I have a vectrix VX-1 NiMH model scooter that is having some charging issues. Then I plug it in, the charger starts up and the fans spin and the battery voltage rises for about 10 seconds and then the whole system turns off. The voltage right now is about 120V. I have tried disconnecting the battery temp sensors, I visually inspected the fuses on the controller, I have tried to reset the system by various power cycles. The scooter still charges for about 10 seconds and then turns on. One thing that I noticed is that the battery meter on the dash seems to display 3/4 battery charge when its charging and 1/4 while the scooter is power on. Any suggestions?