New Vectrix Owner...

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boeingpilot
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New Vectrix Owner...

Ok, just made a deal to purchase a running NiMH Vx-1. It has been used by a local university police department since new, and according to the department the dealer has still be servicing it up to recently.

Plan to pickup next week. I'm going to initially use as-is, though I suspect the range will be inadequate for our area (you can go 20 miles in a heart beat between things here).

Looking at this forum, youtube and other places, it appears the thing to do is replace the stock cells with the Leaf batteries. I'm feeling fairly confident I can do this, but would like to tap the collective wisdom here.

Please let me know if I'm understanding everything. Am I correct in assuming that once the Leaf cells are in, I will need to update the charger firmware? Do I need to modify anything else? Looking at the forums, it seems a number of people are running the Leaf cells without a BMS. Comments on this? What should I consider for a BMS system?

Thanks in advance, and as soon as I have the bike in hand I will update and post pictures.

Lionstrike
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

Interesting. I work at a University campus that uses Vectrixes.

Are you by chance in Pennsylvania Sir?

Kocho
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

The search box shall be your friend ;-) All these questions (and then some) have been answered in several threads on this site. With photos, videos, step-by-step instructions, and "buy lists".

Suffice it to say, if you like the VX-1, you won't regret upgrading to a good Li pack. For the ultimate range, you will want to build something like a Tesla-style battery, which can as much as double the range you get with a Leaf pack, but is more complicated to make and more expensive.

Ok, just made a deal to purchase a running NiMH Vx-1. It has been used by a local university police department since new, and according to the department the dealer has still be servicing it up to recently.

Plan to pickup next week. I'm going to initially use as-is, though I suspect the range will be inadequate for our area (you can go 20 miles in a heart beat between things here).

Looking at this forum, youtube and other places, it appears the thing to do is replace the stock cells with the Leaf batteries. I'm feeling fairly confident I can do this, but would like to tap the collective wisdom here.

Please let me know if I'm understanding everything. Am I correct in assuming that once the Leaf cells are in, I will need to update the charger firmware? Do I need to modify anything else? Looking at the forums, it seems a number of people are running the Leaf cells without a BMS. Comments on this? What should I consider for a BMS system?

Thanks in advance, and as soon as I have the bike in hand I will update and post pictures.

boeingpilot
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Last seen: 5 months 3 days ago
Joined: Sunday, September 27, 2015 - 19:34
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

Kocho,

Thanks for your comment. My goal is to get the range up above 70 - 80 miles. It seems from a practical engineering point of view, the Leaf cell may be the best compromise. To be honest, I neither have the time or skills to fabricate a Tesla style pack. JimmyB mentioned that your bike may be configured very much like the way I would (though I noticed you are not using a BMS at this time?)

Regards

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

Kocho
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

I am getting 60 miles consistently in mixed riding (50/50 highway/city). On highway-only, at 55-60mph I think I can get at least 40 miles. In the city it would be above 80 miles for sure (as long as I don't accelerate a full throttle at each opportunity) - never measured that, since my commute is usually about 20-25miles with the occasional 50+ mile trips (with more than 70% highway in both cases).

I try not to use the full 60 mile range - that is not good for the battery, though the effect might not be huge. I usually try to recharge more often and not to keep it fully charged when not going to ride it and not fully discharge it either, unless absolutely I need the range.

Here is the thread that I put a lot of questions/discussion on my own conversion:
http://visforvoltage.org/forum/13767-nissan-leaf-modules-li-conversion-questions

Here is another good Leaf conversion thread:
http://visforvoltage.org/forum/13928-my-simple-leaf-cell-conversion

And one "Tesla-style":
http://visforvoltage.org/forum/14037-vx1-li-ion-18650-conversion

A a couple of conversions with non-leaf cells:
http://visforvoltage.org/forum/13950-my-calb-cam72-converted-vectrix
http://visforvoltage.org/forum/14021-vectrix-vx1-calb-60ah-batteries

And a good thread for Leaf conversion with lots of videos (or read about it from the author at 300mpg.org):
http://h7.visforvoltage.org/forum/13934-bens-2007-vectrix-repair-project?page=2

And here is the YouTube set of videos that Matt (antiscab) put together, which have helped a ton of people here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgzTEmkQSBA&list=PLCFDD8780E3FBEFD5

And the thread about the Laird's software for the Li conversions (ignore the bickering in there, if you can):
http://visforvoltage.org/forum/14072-lairds-team-files-vx1

When I started, I had the ESD charger, that burned out at some point, unrelated to the conversion, and now I have the Runke type charger. For the ESD you have a choice of David's software www.vectrixsupport.com (for a reasonable fee) or Laird's software above (free). For the Runke, it's David only for now (and possibly the Fuelfree Motors in Europe, but they seem to require you to mail them your charger or buy one of their bikes).

Kevin_PA
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

In case you decide to keep the stock NiMH pack, I have a bunch of leftover cells from a pack that I replaced last year. What seems to happen occasionally is a single cell craps out and goes high impedance. Only one cell is damaged but they are all in series so the whole pack suddenly has very low capacity.
Anyway, I am in the Phila area. I live north of the city.

2007 VX-1

boeingpilot
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

Just a quick update... and a few questions for the collective wisdom of the group (please, no flames that I can 'look it up' in the forum)

I picked up the bike earlier this week. It was a former university police department bike, and has 3800 miles on it. Talking with the transportation department head, he said they liked it, but the range just didn't cut it for a full officer shift. The fact that they have a pretty good hill between the two campuses kind of worked against it.

As the bike was in police service, it still has the lights and siren installed. Looking at internet pictures, this appears to have been a standard option for VX-1's, as most of all of them have the same lights in the same positions. What they did was put an auxiliary deep discharge battery in the trunk and an additional 12v charger back there. It's quite a large battery, and I don't think it would've have needed to be that large. I suspect that some PD's also had mobile radios, and they needed the large battery for that. LED 'strobes' and a siren shouldn't need that much juice. Right now I have them disabled, but may rehook up solely due to the fact that siren has an electronic air horn, which puts the standard horn to shame!! I will probably swap the battery to a smaller AGM cell though.

Anyway, I of course had to ride the bike as soon as I trailered it home. (A little background, the bike was charged when I got it, but from what I can tell the bike has not been really used regularly for a year). I quickly found out that the range indication is a great random number generator. I went from 35 miles to 16 in about a mile and a half, and then it went from there up to 21 and down and up. Of course its kind of shocking how quick the battery level bar graph goes down. On the other hand, it keeps up with traffic like my gas powered bikes, so it's a real vehicle in my mind.

So here are the questions....

- A couple of the board members have PM'd me indicating that I may want to run the bike down to bat light and charge a couple of times seeing as the bike hasn't been used recently. Is that common consensus?

- I live in a semi-rural area. If I'm not moving at least 45 mph, I'm going to get flattened in a heart beat. 35 miles range is really too low to make it more than an electric toy. I'm trying to keep the cost of this project (life experiment?) within reason. I'm ok with planning a spring time swap to Leaf cells, but only if I can be sure I'll get what I want. So this question is primarily aimed at Leaf conversion owners. What are you getting for real world range? Looking at Ben Nelson's blog, at one point he seems to indicate he gets 70+ miles, but then when he tells the story of riding over to his friend (http://300mpg.org/2015/05/29/1st-mini-road-trip-on-the-vectrix/) he seems to be a bit range limited?

- Assuming that I go for the Leaf cells, it appears the majority posts show them installed without a BMS. Again, thoughts? My goal is to let my son use the bike. It can't be a science fair experiment where he has to baby everything. (He's not going to be looking at battery voltage and say, 'oh I need to stop'.) That said, Antiscab seems to be using the zeva EVMS BMS. Makes sense as its a centralized system (using the Leaf harness to feed it. What other options has anyone been using with the Leaf (if any).

- Again, assuming I go with the Leaf cells, I assume the battery charge time is basically doubled using the stock charger? (1500 W - I'm assuming if you double the aH, you need to allow for double the time (roughly) to get the same amount aH back in? Of course, 4 hour charge time isn't practical always. I see that Ben used supplemental power supplies on his Lake Loop adventure. What's everyone doing? I'm assuming you all just take advantage of more range an live with longer charge times, and use top off charges as needed during the day.

- Had a weird experience with the speedometer. At on point after regen braking, the needle stayed put at 10 mpg at stop and after going. It eventually returned to normal, but it doesn't give me confidence in the electronics. Anyone see this?

Anyway, this will probably be an interesting adventure, and a learning experience. I'm just trying to keep costs reasonable and the bike practical.

Thanks in advance

Scott

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

Kocho
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Joined: Friday, March 21, 2014 - 21:05
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

Not flaming, but there is so much to say that you really need to spend the next few weeks reading through various forum posts. The VX-1 is quite complex and there are so many things to learn it just does not make sense to repeat them every time someone becomes a new Vectrix owner. That said, I relate to the frustration new owners feel - this site is not the friendliest in terms of finding relevant information. I was in that spot less than a couple of years ago. So I will go against my own advice and repeat some stuff here ;-)

You really should consider updating the charger software to something that will not overcharge the battery over time. Also, running down to red light is really not a good idea, especially before first charging it up with gentle equalization (the original OEM software is not gentle!).

As for Leaf cells range, I am consistently getting max range of about 60 miles in mixed riding, at least half of it at highway speeds. My office is about 20 miles round-trip, about 60% of it I ride at 60-68 mph the rest is typical urban/suburban traffic with traffic lights and speed limits of 30-45mph (folks drive usually 10 miles faster than that, and traffic light "mini drag races" are the norm rather than the exception - you accelerate fast or folks will cut in front of you, not a friendly offbeat traffic, but hectic urban atmosphere where everyone is in a hurry somewhere). I have no problem making that 20 mile round-trip twice, without being terribly gentle on the bike. For pure highway, I can do 40 miles at speed between 55-60mph and being gentle on acceleration. I don't have too many flat sections - most is gentle but long hills, so ups and downs. The Washington DC beltway and local roads, as a reference. If I am gunning it at 68mph (its max speed), I think the range will not be more than 30 miles. I am 190lb+ before gear, lighter folks will have a bit more range and better acceleration.

Charge time from "empty" to "full" depends on what power I have selected for the charger. It can go from as low as 5A to as high as 15A or so (measured at the wall). I usually charge at around 1KW (around 8A at the wall). That allows me to use a fairly inexpensive extension cord without overheating it. And I think it is easier on the charger electronics as they stay cooler. I usually consume about 4-5KW from the grid at each charge. This means I usually do not use my full battery capacity/range - I typically charge on average at 30-40miles, sometimes more often. It is battery for the battery to do a larger number of shallow charges than a smaller number of deep charges. I think one KW consumed from the grid roughly translates in 10 miles of mixed riding for me. So you do the math: you need about 6 hours for a full charge if you empty the battery and charge at 1KW per hour. 4 hours if you charge at max power. If you plug some external charger, you can go much faster.

For the BMS/No BMS - read the Leaf conversion threads. There is some discussion about that there. Seems the Leaf cells stay balanced over thousands of miles and a BMS is not needed to balance them. However, you are blind without one and would not know if a cell malfunctions. I have the balancing leads under my trunk so I can manually measure each cell and can balance them manually if needed. So far - they have been balanced over the past 3K miles and 1-1/2 years just as good as the first day I put them in, so I have not had the need to rebalance them. From what I read, it is more likely for a BMS component to malfunction and sometimes cause battery damage than for a cell to malfunction...

Just a quick update... and a few questions for the collective wisdom of the group (please, no flames that I can 'look it up' in the forum)

I picked up the bike earlier this week. It was a former university police department bike, and has 3800 miles on it. Talking with the transportation department head, he said they liked it, but the range just didn't cut it for a full officer shift. The fact that they have a pretty good hill between the two campuses kind of worked against it.

As the bike was in police service, it still has the lights and siren installed. Looking at internet pictures, this appears to have been a standard option for VX-1's, as most of all of them have the same lights in the same positions. What they did was put an auxiliary deep discharge battery in the trunk and an additional 12v charger back there. It's quite a large battery, and I don't think it would've have needed to be that large. I suspect that some PD's also had mobile radios, and they needed the large battery for that. LED 'strobes' and a siren shouldn't need that much juice. Right now I have them disabled, but may rehook up solely due to the fact that siren has an electronic air horn, which puts the standard horn to shame!! I will probably swap the battery to a smaller AGM cell though.

Anyway, I of course had to ride the bike as soon as I trailered it home. (A little background, the bike was charged when I got it, but from what I can tell the bike has not been really used regularly for a year). I quickly found out that the range indication is a great random number generator. I went from 35 miles to 16 in about a mile and a half, and then it went from there up to 21 and down and up. Of course its kind of shocking how quick the battery level bar graph goes down. On the other hand, it keeps up with traffic like my gas powered bikes, so it's a real vehicle in my mind.

So here are the questions....

- A couple of the board members have PM'd me indicating that I may want to run the bike down to bat light and charge a couple of times seeing as the bike hasn't been used recently. Is that common consensus?

- I live in a semi-rural area. If I'm not moving at least 45 mph, I'm going to get flattened in a heart beat. 35 miles range is really too low to make it more than an electric toy. I'm trying to keep the cost of this project (life experiment?) within reason. I'm ok with planning a spring time swap to Leaf cells, but only if I can be sure I'll get what I want. So this question is primarily aimed at Leaf conversion owners. What are you getting for real world range? Looking at Ben Nelson's blog, at one point he seems to indicate he gets 70+ miles, but then when he tells the story of riding over to his friend (http://300mpg.org/2015/05/29/1st-mini-road-trip-on-the-vectrix/) he seems to be a bit range limited?

- Assuming that I go for the Leaf cells, it appears the majority posts show them installed without a BMS. Again, thoughts? My goal is to let my son use the bike. It can't be a science fair experiment where he has to baby everything. (He's not going to be looking at battery voltage and say, 'oh I need to stop'.) That said, Antiscab seems to be using the zeva EVMS BMS. Makes sense as its a centralized system (using the Leaf harness to feed it. What other options has anyone been using with the Leaf (if any).

- Again, assuming I go with the Leaf cells, I assume the battery charge time is basically doubled using the stock charger? (1500 W - I'm assuming if you double the aH, you need to allow for double the time (roughly) to get the same amount aH back in? Of course, 4 hour charge time isn't practical always. I see that Ben used supplemental power supplies on his Lake Loop adventure. What's everyone doing? I'm assuming you all just take advantage of more range an live with longer charge times, and use top off charges as needed during the day.

- Had a weird experience with the speedometer. At on point after regen braking, the needle stayed put at 10 mpg at stop and after going. It eventually returned to normal, but it doesn't give me confidence in the electronics. Anyone see this?

Anyway, this will probably be an interesting adventure, and a learning experience. I'm just trying to keep costs reasonable and the bike practical.

Thanks in advance

Scott

boeingpilot
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Last seen: 5 months 3 days ago
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

That said, I relate to the frustration new owners feel - this site is not the friendliest in terms of finding relevant information. I was in that spot less than a couple of years ago. So I will go against my own advice and repeat some stuff here ;-)

That's the point...

As for the charger software... As soon as budget and time allow to get a CANBUS adapter

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

Kocho
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Joined: Friday, March 21, 2014 - 21:05
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

Here is a snippet of the highway portion of my commute. No problems keeping-up with traffic on the Beltway. However, being limited to 68mph is a bit frustrating at times. The main flow rarely exceeds 65 and the right lane is usually below that, so keeping-up is fine. A quick burst above 70mph is what I miss...

https://youtu.be/D3rqdpwmd7c

But this will be a project bike. Can't compare with bikes that have service by dealers and independent mechanics. So, be prepared to tinker with it and budget for potential repairs like a burnt charger or controller down the road...

boeingpilot
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

Kocho,

Impressive! In just a day of ownership I can see my bike is capable of the speed, but the battery pack, not so much. I would guess I have a truly serviceable NiMH (after allowing a full charge, the range already appears improved), but at the end of the day its only a 30ah (give or take) pack, and it's NiMH, with its inherent problems.

That all said, I put 20+ miles on it, and had a blast. (The highlight of the day was the motorcycle that pulled up next to me at the light, and you could tell he was thinking, WTF is that and where the heck is the exhaust?!?)

With winter approaching, makes no sense to rush into the Leaf cells, but I suspect that we'll get to it in the spring. Thanks again for your input

Scott

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

Jim Lowder
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...
BLUESTREAK
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

Those are not suitable for the vectrix, they are not leaf cells.2015-03-15 16.30.46.jpg

boeingpilot
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

Seven years on…. After the first summer converted to 18 Gen 1 leaf cells, no BMS, Dugas firmware

Decided to check the health of the pack.

At full charge, (which I have set conservatively low ) I was seeing a max spread of .02v between cells. Amazing how the top balance of the pack has stayed consistent

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

israndy
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

Nice! Good to hear

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I also own a 2018 Tesla Model 3 and a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiev

Calpod
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

How many Leaf cells are required for Lithium Ion conversion, 18 or 19?

israndy
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Re: New Vectrix Owner...

Yes

If you choose 19 batts and you charge to full the regen is disabled, but you can just set the battery max charge in the software so the batteries are never that full. Lithium batts don't like being full the way the NiMH did. And they don't discharge the way the NiMH did so you can leave it unplugged after charging most of the way up. If you always need the full battery to reach your destination, you can change the software, but you'll have to use the hand brakes until you have used some of it up so there is a place for the regen energy to go.

I was actually curious if you could fit *20* Leaf batteries in there, as I had to brace my 19 batts with wood.

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I also own a 2018 Tesla Model 3 and a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiev

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