Experimental Electric Vehicles

March 28, 2010

Charger Trouble with Zion

Filed under: 1 — tonyhelms @ 11:13 pm

Spring is upon us in the state of Michigan, so naturally I had to hop on my electric motorcycle and go buzz around town. So I strap on my helmet, jacket and gloves, un plug the charger and turn the key…

Nothing happens.

Very disappointed I started removing the farings and grab a volt meter, the entire 60 volt pack is at an astonishing 19.1 volts, This was bad news.

I had left the charger on the batteries all winter, I occasionally un plugged it, ran the motor checked the pack voltage and plugged it back in. In the early winter everything was working good, in fact so good that I hadn’t checked it in more then six weeks.

I checked the charger fuse, the bike fuse, the extension cord power, but everything was good. So I grabbed my multi-meter to find out that the charger is not putting out any power, in fact the output leads from the charger was a dead short! I knew then that the charger had failed and my batteries had discharged into the charger.

This charger Is a Chinese made charger that is designed for both lead-acid and AGM batteries. It is called the HWCC1B 12amp, It retail’s for $499 from Cloudelectric.com Unfortunately there is not a lot of selection for 60 volt applications, especially if you want 110 volt input, because this was the only one I could find available in a 60 volt configuration I purchased it.

I quickly removed all the batteries in an attempt to save them, I individually charged each 12 volt cell carefully to ensure that it would hold a charge, but with no luck, I could only achieve about 11.5 volts max and after several days it would taper off to almost 10 volts, the charger had permanently killed all 5 of my odyssey PC680 cells.

I then wanted to see if there was any obvious damage inside the charger so I opened it up. Although I didn’t find any obvious damage I did find a nice surprise, the switch that changes the charger from “normal charge” or “balanced charge” was not connected. I looked around for the plug that had fallen off, but there was not one. I examined the switch and there were no scratches or witness marks on the terminals, it looked like it was never plugged in at all! The instruction manual has an entire page devoted to the operation of this switch and when to use it! It wont do much if its just a dummy switch!

This is why this hobby is called “EXPERIMENTAL electric vehicles” sometimes we make mistakes so we can learn from them. I look at every mistake as a time for improvement! Therefore I will be upgrading the motorcycle to 72 volts and installing a Soneil on-board charger. When the parts get installed I will post pictures.

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