Fast Chargers

More range is what everyone thinks they need, but what could really make the biggest impact in the future is fast charging.  I am strong believer in DC charging (ie Chademo).  Basically this means that wide voltage range DC chargers are off-board and available to everyone.  This saves weight and complexity of onboard battery and electronics.  This setup does mean more expensive and larger charging stations.  This also tends to higher voltage pack designs because of current limits of the chargers.  Tesla does this with the superchargers.  All of these systems have a bit more complicated circuitry and communication to have everything operating safely.  These are the future in my opinion.

The more readily available and more easily used charging network is the J1772 standard.  This is 220V AC power source basically.  Most stations are 32A so about 7kW peak.  I believe the standard allows somewhere around 80A, 19kW peak output.  There is only a simple communication circuit (thou expensive connector) needed to utilize one these stations.

So the next step is finding a onboard charger that works for me.  I have been thinking about this one for a few years now.  The main parameters that I’ve been looking at space, weight, and cost.  And I want something >3kW and less than 15lbs and can fit somewhere on the bike.  This rules out a lot of the standard Elcon, Zivan, etc. chargers because at these higher power levels the size and weight is too much for the R6.  The leading candidates for my needs are industry power supplies or the Electric Motor Werks 12kW charger.  I flipped between a lot of these chargers, but have finally settled on a setup after seeing this charger thread ( using RSP-2000-48s.  The problem in the past was that I was worried that these power supplies wouldn’t be able to charge the pack more than 85%.  56V*2 = 112V.  However in that thread Burton showed that he could fast charge his Zero pack up to about 115.7V which is more like 95%.  So this combo’d with me finding a deal on two supplies saving me $200 I pulled the trigger.

I’ll basically be following Doctorbass with the Anderson PP45 connectors.  I also plan to keep using my current on board chargers. This whole setup should give me about 48A, 5-5.5kW and 80% charge in about an hour (6.1kWh pack).  The charger will only weigh 8.5lbs plus about 2-3lbs for the various connectors.  I’ll try to follow up more when I get some parts in.

Battery upgrades

As some have already seen I switched over to Nissan Leaf modules about 6months back.  Four big reasons I did this; cheaper overall cost, OEM quality and safe cells, robust module can handle the elements, and easy to find replacements for years to come.

These modules ended up being a pretty easy fit because of the simple cage battery pack design I have.  That is except for the last two modules that made up my 26s pack. These had to end up hanging off the bottom of the battery case.


I was hesitant of that design at first but it has held up well.  Now the reason to go with 26s (and not 28s, max for the sevcon) was in order for me to parallel some cheap Nanotech Aspec Lipo cells. A small 10Ah pack that would almost doulbe peak power abilities of the pack.  This is one of my great ideas that really isn’t worth the problem.  The nissan pack could already max out the power of the Sevcon size6 and the complexity of the paralleled cells just wasnt going to be worth it.  A “simpler” philosophy makes building and riding the bike less time consuming and stressful.  So I sold the Nanotechs and got one more Nissan module to make a 28s pack. 
The install was fairly straightforward.  I just got longer M6 bolts and added one more cell to the bottom of the pack


Then I wired it all up with extra busbars I had around.  The bussing ended up being simpler because the pos/neg terminal arrangement lined up now. 

Two more steps were required. I had go in and reprogram the settings for the Sevcon.  I upped the LV and HV cutbacks all by about 6V each to keep the new configuration comfortable.  I also upped the battery current max from 500A to 600A mostly just to see what the system can do.  Don’t believe I’ve ever pulled more than 470A from the pack, but 10C on the 60-62Ah modules shouldn’t be to hard for them.  Ill report back on this.

The last step was upping the voltage of the onboard 700W charger.   I suppose I haven’t mentioned this before either.   So I have installed two Meanwell HLG320-54A LED supplies under the seat to charge the bike.  These are CV/CC, Isolated, waterproof 54V supplies of which 4 were used in previous 2013 Zero motorcycles as a charger.  They can be trimmed up to about 60V each.  So wire two in series and you have a nice robust 6.5A charger.   Basically I had to trim the voltage from about 54V each to 58V each to fully charge the new pack (sevcon limit is 116.4V).  This gets the cells to back 4.15V each which is a good compromise between energy and cycle life of the cells.

Charger pictures….

The whole upgrade took about 4hrs because I know work out of a apt and parking garage so it takes a while to get all the right tools out to the bike.  I also had to add a terminating resistor to get the CAN communicating with my laptop.  So a few struggles, but my fixes throughout the day helped fix them right up.

That’s all for now.  I’ll talk more about chargers and balancing wires later this week.

Back at it

While I haven’t been keeping up to date on this blog or any forum for that matter I have been continuing work on my EVs. I want to make an attempt to keep this blog updated again and help others follow my project with questions or information. Hopefully I can also keep better track of my ideas so that I dont bite off more than I can chew.

Where should I start. Maybe a new introduction would be best. I graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree from The Ohio State University in June 2013. In August of the same year I began working as a Design Engineer with a brand new group at Honda R&D in Raymond Ohio. The new group was responsible for Hybrid Vehicle design and testing at Honda here in the US. The group was mixture of Japanese and US staff in an attempt to bring the years of hybrid knowledge accumulated in Japan over to the US. It was a big learning experience for me both technically, professionally, and socially. Unfortunately I recently left the company for personal reasons and have moved down to Orlando, FL. I will get into more about Orlando shortly.

My other big news relevant to this blog is my purchase of a 2000 Honda Insight Hybrid. This is one of the original hybrid models introduced at the same time as the first generation Prius. I was commuting over 83miles each day and knew I had to get some vehicle with better gas mileage. And for the price you cant get much better than the 60mpgs I can achieve with the Insight. The vehicle I purchased had roughly 275000 miles on the board and I have actually put over 15000miles on it since I bought it. I spent under $3500 for it and it came with a new (6month old) battery replacement. It’s nice manual car that I plan on adding a lot of modifications to over the years. The first of this is converting it to sort of PHEV in which you have a larger battery pack (reuse my EIG cells) and manual control of the Hybrid assist motor. The guys over at Insight Central have done a ton of work to decode and hack the Honda IMA hybrid system to do our bidding. Sadly the vehicle is not yet in Orlando because I had an axle snap on me in Ohio right before our trip down here. Not sure if that’s good luck or bad luck haha. That will be picked up at the end of the month at which time I will hopefully begin some additional modifications to it.

In that same time period I have continued to develop an additional iteration of the electric R6. These modifications have been initiated from functional necessity (after a few mistakes on my part), performance desires and financial concerns. I’ll first touch on the financial concerns. I made the decisions to change out the battery pack. I have moved from the 26s pack of 8kWh EIG cells to a 26s (and soon 28s) 6kWh pack of Nissan Leaf cells. I basically wanted to have less money invested in the bike because I wasn’t getting as much value out of it. I was under utilizing the potential of the EIG cells and decided the Nissan leaf cells were a better value for me. Therefore the EIG cells will be reused in the Insight conversion I am performing. Other sets of mods were needed because of some poor mistakes that I had made. I sadly fried my Sevcon Size 4 when I correctly rewired some pins. Lesson Learned; take the time/money to acquire the appropriate connectors. This along with my performance design lead me to purchase a larger Size 6 controller and larger Zero ZF75-7 motor. Offer about 40% more power/torque. This has made my bike a rocket IMHO. Another big change was me relocated my 12V systems (relays, fuse box, DC/DC, etc) to the front of the bike (basically behind the “dash”). Previously these parts were in the same box as my HV fuse, shunt and contactor. This made an modification or troubleshooting of the 12V system a pain because I would need to disconnect the HV system first. It also moved most of the LV wiring to the Dash area which simplified things and saved a few pounds of wiring.

One more recent upgrade was due to another mistake which has taught me a very big lesson thanks to my wonderful fiance. This upgrade was replacing the headlight, front stay and front fairing. This was due to me running into the back of a pick-up truck at a traffic light. Here’s the back story. I was on my way to softball in some rush hour traffic. I noticed that my front signal wasn’t blinking…it was just a steady orange which I used the signal. My rear tail light is an integrated signal/brake light system. So I was concerned that maybe my brake light wasn’t working. When traffic came to a stop (on a small hill so I had to hold the front brake in) I decided to check my brake light with my left hand. I attempted to twist my body around to reach my left hand behind the tail while I pulled the front brake lever. Sadly this twisting of my body caused my right wrist to roll slightly. In an instant I was jolted forward and flipped back around in just enough time to see myself come to a complete stop thanks to the tailgate of the truck in front of me. I had the bike upright thou leaning slightly over and pressed up against the truck. My first reaction was to kill the power, which I did. That was a good lesson I learned during my Vetter Challenge incident a few years back. Sadly the front stay had cracked and split in two. This meant the front was just hanging from LV wiring very concerning. Time for some good news. A very kind woman behind me helped clean up the fairings and headlight bits all over the road. I pushed by bike off to the sidewalk which was a few steps away. The truck was basically only nicked and the man only too much phone number to let me know if the damage was enough to warrant any money from me. It seems he never did, so wipe that off my conscience. Additionally my fiance was only three minutes away and the bike still functioned. So I followed her home and we eventually just U-hauled the bike down to Orlando where I have been fixing it up. New front stay, headlight and fairing cost me about $300, but the old headlight and fairing where both in need of replacing anyways so I did. I also went ahead and purchased a racing fairing instead of a street fairing. This saved me hundreds of dollars and gave me a bit more aerodynamic bike. I did have to meticulously dremel out the opening for the headlight over a few day period and it’s still not 100%, but it passes the 10ft beauty rule. Whenever I decide to paint it I will go back and smooth out some of the edges as well.

More importantly out of all of that I gained a new respect for my riding. My fiance made the astute point that I wasn’t allowed to be an engineer on the bike, I had to be a rider. Made complete sense. I should have pulled off, gotten off the bike and then put my engineering problem solving hat on. Instead I tried to do it on the bike and it cost me. This time is was only money, but that’s not good enough. I have a new found focus for riding the bike and making sure the bike is ready to go before I jump aboard. Tough lesson, but I have high hopes for the future…

Long-winded, but I’m back and can not wait to share my future ideas and projects.
Thanks for reading

A few pics

20141013_145207 20141013_145218

Summer is Here!!!

Yep, I am finally back at it. School, Job 1, Job 2, Baseball Coaching and BEMRT (Buckeye Electric Motorcycle Race Team) ended up eating up all of my time over the winter and the spring. The R6 has thus been heavily neglected, but the time has come to clean off the cobwebs and juice everything up. My first task will be to finish the battery busbars and HV wiring. Then I need to create a lower mount for the additional 40Ah of batteries and to build up the pack that goes in that space. Headlights and maybe brake lights are the only LV wiring I need left. My idea of a screw terminal for 12V isnt as clean and simple as I wanted it to be, but it will work for now.

After that I will test and optimize with the current R6 bodywork I have left and move to better bodywork later in the summer. All of the work I am doing now is to try to compete in the Vetter Challenge in late July. This is a 100-110 mile ride on 55mph roads and the vehicle to use the least amount of fuel is the winner. With good bodywork this should be within my batteries range, but I’m not sure I’ll have time to fit better bodywork.

My plan to begin work tomorrow and I can hopefully keep this updated 2-3 times a week at a minimum. We shall see!

Seeing Behind Me

This is a little side project which started as a bit of a impulse buy on day when I had nothing better to do.

Normal motorcycle mirrors are meant to provide additional safety to the rider and to help limit the blind spots which one may encounter.  This is all well and good in theory, but I have more than a few issues with standard mirrors.  I will explain below.

One problem I tend to have is that the mirror does not cover a wide enough area of the space behind me.  Whether it wont give me a wide enough view or a high enough view, etc.  This is generally overcome by me (and most riders) actually turning my head and taking a quick look to verify what I think I see in the mirror.  Unfortunately, this action tends to decrease the safety of the riders because the body/weight of the rider shifts away from center and their eyes shift away from the road in front of them.

The second issue which I have is that I like to ride both in a upright position and full-tuck every time i ride.  This is a dramatic change in viewing angle from my eyes to the mirrors to the road behind me.  Thus the mirrors are  only useable in one of the two riding positions.  My temporary solution is to rotate 1 mirror for upright viewing and the other for tucked riding.  Even then thou it is near impossible for me to rotate the mirrors to the angles I need.  Therefore I still find myself pulling an arm out of the way or popping my head up a few inches to get a good view of the road.

Besides functional and safety concerns, conventional mirrors have a performance issue, they increase frontal area and drag.  The mirrors stick way out in the airstream and no matter how slippery you make their shape it will still negatively affect aerodynamics by a few percentages.  I could also argue that they add mass to the machine, but this is a small consequence for the safety they do indeed provide.

The Last issue I have is that the mirrors are ugly.  It is true over time they are getting better, but no matter what mirrors stick out like a sore thumb and disrupt the clean lines that a motorcycle has.  This can be trivial because safety is a much more pressing concern.  Nonetheless a better solution should be possible.

So where does this leave me.  I want a solution that provides me a view from all riding positions, doesn’t affect the looks, remains out of the airstream and is unobstructed by the rider.  Bar or Bar-end mirrors do a little bit of this with a improved aesthetics and less bulk in the airstream, but still have viewing angle issues.

Thus I decided to install a rear view camera.  Unlike in a car I wont need this to assist in backing-up, but to assist in viewing the road behind me.  With this setup, nothing is in the airstream as the camera will be mounted on the tail and the screen will be behind the windscreen up front.  With 120 degrees or so of viewing angle and screen mounted front and center, I wont have to worry about viewing from different riding positions, having body parts in the way, or taking my eyes off of what’s in front of me.  This design is safe, more efficient, and may provide  As a back-up and potentially to avoid legal issues, a small bar end mirror was also installed.

This setup doesn’t come without concern thou.  Potential issues include vibrations, reliability, night vision, and cost.   Costwise it ran me about $50 plus install time, this is one par with the price of a new set of factory mirrors.  Night vision is a concern as the camera, at this price, may not provide a clear enough image.  However, it will still let you know when a car headlight is present which is about all you can see with conventional headlights at night, right?  Reliability is still a bit unknown at the moment.   Cameras and LCD monitors are quite reliability these days and I don’t expect either to fail.  Vibration may make picture shaky so a solid mounting of both the camera and screen will be needed to minimize this effect.

I tested the unit out on 12V power and everything worked well.  The camera works well in bright light, but gets fuzzy as it gets darker.  I also turned the lights off and shined a flashlight on it.  The screen didnt wash out so this should work well for just seeing headlights behind me at night.  The camera has a nice big viewing angle and works very smoothly.

***Picture 1 soon!***

Will get it installed this spring and report back with the on-board testing.  Peace

Final Battery Layout – hopefully :D

I have been finding a little bit of time between classes, work and the OSU team to work on the R6 design.

Biggest thing is that I have been able to source 18 more EIG cells for a good price.  These don’t come with the nice mounting, but it gives me a chance to do some design more.  Pack will now be 21s6p or roughly 9.2-9.5kWh total instead of 22s5p 8.2kWh.  This will add about 25lbs so R6 will be about 375-390lbs now, but will a pack capable of 70-90kW peak, less voltage sag (ie more energy), and more range.  It also made packaging a little more straightforward, but still tricky.  Here is where I am at now.



3 rows of 42 cells on right under the motor with 8in of ground clearance as I learned I had way too much weight down low.  The wheel clearance of 2″ in the front is a little bit of a concern, but I believe I should be ok for most riding.  It will just make contact if I bottom the forks out with 4.7in of travel depending on some pack design.  If this becomes a problem I will mod the swingarm like Ripperton to push the motor back 1-3″ and the batteries will move too. The lower pack will bolt into the motor mount, the original engine mounts and the top battery.  The top pack will have two stack of 42 cells and will attached to the upper portion of the motor mount, the original engine mounts on the sides of the machine and maybe somewhere upfront on the frame.

Motor mount is also done, but don’t have any pictures yet.  I am hoping to practice some welding this weekend along with cutting the rest of the metal for the battery boxes.  Working on a wiring diagram this week.  Hacking Noah’s diagram (here’s his build)  to create my own, thanks buddy!

R6 Teardown – bye bye gasoline

Started tearing down the R6 chassis.  Started with the front end; fairing, windscreen, dash, wiring, and fairing stay.  Then went to the tail removing the fairing, tailight, seats, ECU tray and wiring.  after removing the tank I was able to drain the gas, oil and coolant lines.  Radiator and exhaust were removed as well.  Only thing left to do is pop off the chain and drop the engine.

Here are some pictures of the process…


Not going to lie I really enjoy cranking away at this thing.  Getting dirty, finding the right tool, using the the wrong tool, its all part of the experience.  Oh and just got an early Christmas present…a front stand.  This will help me out a ton when working with this bike and future bikes

The rest of my days have been spent disassembling the battery boxes on the BEMRT motorcycle.  We are going to lighten the battery boxes and repair/replace some of the cells.  This is a great learning experience about cell failure and battery pack building.