Author Topic: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)  (Read 7919 times)

Kim

  • Timelord
More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« on: November 13, 2013, 09:55:02 pm »
So, for various reasons barakta hasn't been getting the miles in.  This means less cycling fitness, which has been limiting how far she can ride.  Unfortunately, we live a 10km and at least one Bastard Hill round-trip from any pleasant cycling roads, which means we've been mostly pootling on the Rea Valley cycle route.  Which is nice enough as Sustrans paths go, but gets a bit dull and doesn't go anywhere - which doesn't give you an incentive to get the miles in.

This seemed like an excellent job for electric assist - to give a little more speed and make the local hills less of a barrier.  And HMRC were paying.   :)

We wanted something that was relatively straightforward to remove, for times when her cycling fitness is better.  As the baraktacycle is a tadpole trike, this pretty much limits the motor options to those that fit in a rear hub.  Since the aim of the game is asisted cycling, rather than an electric motorcycle, the BionX system seemed like the obvious choice.  Unlike most systems, which simply apply power whenever the pedals are turning, this uses a torque sensor to provide power in proportion to the force exerted through the pedals.  As a bonus, this means relatively little button-pushing in normal operation - barakta already having her hand full with the usual bike controls.

Unfortunately, BionX is currently unobtainum in Europe, and US dealers are reluctant to ship internationally.  At this point, JennyB OTP drew my attention to Falco, a relative new kid on the block.  Slightly dodgy website, but the technology is getting good reviews.  Their motor supports torque-sensor operation like the BionX, with a higher efficiency, lower rolling resistance when 'off' and - even more pleasingly - doesn't require an expensive proprietary battery pack.

After an email exchange with the lovely Mark at Team Hybrid (the UK importer), I ordered the road legal version of the Hx motor, built into a 406 rear wheel with 11-34 9-speed freewheel (hub motors use freewheels rather than cassettes, presumably due to the larger axles).  I've fitted larger middle and big chainrings to compensate for the loss of the 10t and 9t sprockets.




The battery was more difficult.  We wanted something with lots of capacity, with a view to being able to do the standard 100km/1000m social ride at the lowest level of assistance.  There's nothing off the shelf that fits the rear rack on a Sprint RS (which has a suspension-specific luggage rack), so I decided to molish something.  Reading around on e-bike fora suggested that the slightly dubious looking Ping Battery is a good source of LiFePO4 batteries (I decided that LiPo was too scary, and a false economy in the longer term.  With EU Pedelec speed/power limiting, the battery won't be under much stress anyway).  I ordered a 48V, 20Ah battery from Ping, along with a 5A charger (this is a simple 60V SMPSU with a really noisy fan - the BMS controls the charge cycle).

So, after a *lot* of tedious research, I decided the simplest approach was to mount this in a durable box on the rear rack.  I discovered that Rixen & Kaul make a luggage box that was just about big enough for the battery and some electronics, with a cunning quick-release adaptor plate that fixes to the rear rack (a bit like the Topeak rack bags).

Then it was just a small matter of electronics.  Ping batteries include a Battery Management System (which prevents overdischarge and balances the cells properly when charging.  I mounted this in a proper enclosure - rather than the mechanically dubious heatshrink wrapping it comes in - taking the opportunity to add a header for a remote shutdown switch.  In a second enclosure, I mounted the guts of a Turnigy power meter (a CycleAnalyst seemed like overkill), and a board with DC:DC converters to power the existing dynamo lighting (experimentation showed that a Cyo wants 7.5V +-0.1V to run on DC at decent brightness) and relay logic to enable the BMS when the charger is connected:





The glowing green ring on the outside of the enclosure is the BMS shutdown switch.  This avoids the need for a high-current isolator.  I've used a 4-pole Speakon connector for the motor and lighting power - They're rated for 40A RMS, the IP54 rating should be adequate protection against rain, and more critically, they're a latching connector that barakta can actually undo easily.  The charging port is standard 3-pin XLR.  I've also added plenty of fuses - using 58V automotive fuses on both positive lines to the battery (5A and 30A respectively - the big one is visible front right).

The USB port is there primarily because the Falco console (slightly pointlessly, in this case) uses Ant+ wireless to communicate with the motor (there's a dongle under the seat), and recharges its internal battery via USB.  It also gives the option of using the pack as a 1550000mAh backup battery for your iThing   ;D

I extended the cable between the console and the assistance level control buttons to put them somewhere sensible for under-seat steering:





The console is the weak point in the system, IMHO.  While the motor is reassuringly solid, it feels cheap and plasticy, and the display has poor contrast.  Advanced functions are accessed via cryptic combinations of presses on *spit* membrane switches.  On the other hand, the wireless link to the motor seems surprisingly robust, and it can display the heartrate from an ANT+ strap.  There's a possibility that future firmware might allow a device like a Garmin Edge to communicate with the console to record torque sensor data.

The remaining piece of the puzzle is a crank rotation sensor:



Theoretically this shouldn't be needed, but it provides a backup interlock to the torque sensing to ensure that the motor stops properly when it should.  This consists of a unit containing a pair of Hall-effect sensors and a ring of magnets - unlike a standard cadence sensor, this can tell which direction the cranks are turning, and responds more quickly.  It's designed to fit inboard of the chainrings, with the sensor on a collar that's secured by the bottom bracket.  Unfortunately, ICE use a fairly narrow bottom bracket to keep the Q factor down and there simply wasn't room.  Mark suggested that I could fit it to the drive-side idler pulley instead, which seemed feasible with a bit of bracket fettling, but I opted for inboard of the the non-drive side crank instead, on the basis that it would be clear of skog, twigs and so on.  As the sensor is directional, this meant mounting it upside-down.  Hose clips and self-amalgamating tape to the rescue!

Beyond that, it's cable ties all the way down.  Lots of wiring for power, lighting (I removed the existing bottle dynamo, and provided a connector for re-fitting it in future), and the various data lines.  All bundled up with the existing lighting and computer wiring, and the usual proliferation of brake and gear cables.



I took it for a proper road test today, and the motor performed as expected.  It takes a bit of getting used to - the feeling is something like a strong tailwind that kicks in as you reach about 3mph and stops when you exceed 15mph.  It took a bit of time to learn how to use the gears effectively to find the optimum balance between human and motor effort.  Yes, there's a lot of mass on the rear rack (though well within its load rating), and you do feel it's there in corners.  It'll do, but if I were building this with a motor programmed for *cough* 'off-road' use, I'd want the centre of mass lower down.  On the other hand, having lots of weight on the back greatly improves the rear wheel traction on mud.  There's also some rattling going on somewhere that needs attention - probably the box's QR bracket moving in its clip.

Bastard Hills are where it really makes a difference.  With the legal power limit of 250W, it's not going to conquer a chevron without a bit of work from the rider, but you can maintain a much more respectable pace without stressing your lungs too badly.  You certainly don't notice that you're lugging an additional ~15kg of battery and motor!

In the interests of SCIENCE, I just took it for a 30km ride, including the silly slalom hill in Cannon Hill Park, Primrose Hill and Weatheroak Hill, with the lights on (not that they use much power in the scheme of things - I estimate they would discharge the battery in a little over two weeks) and being less than sparing with the assistance level.  When I got home, barakta took it out for a quick lap of Canon Hill Park.  35km in total, and some 300m of climbing.  Ambient temperature was mostly around 9C, though the battery and electronics felt slightly warmer in use.  The power meter claimed it had used 4.5Ah (234Wh) in that time.  If those readings and the battery rating are accurate, that bodes well for a range in excess of 100km...

More photos here.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

interzen

  • Venture Altruist
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    • interzen.homeunix.org
Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2013, 10:11:52 pm »
Mr. Eland is always looking for material for Electric Bike Magazine ... this sort of thing would fit rather well.

Just sayin'.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2013, 10:23:47 pm »
Mr. Eland is always looking for material for Electric Bike Magazine ... this sort of thing would fit rather well.

Just sayin'.

Could do.  Let's get some miles in first, work out what the bugs are...
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Torslanda

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Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2013, 10:28:11 pm »
Molto Fantastico!!!! Well done, Kim!

This has arrived at a really apposite moment. As it happens I could well need the services of Team Hybrid and have already fired off a Knee mail
VELOMANCER

Well that's the more blunt way of putting it but as usual he's dead right.

Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2013, 11:04:11 pm »
While it's probably not Rocket Science, that's well above my level of comprehenshun!   Sounds pretty impressive though  :thumbsup:

Battery Assisted Barakta !  Coming soon to a ride near you  :D

Well done that Kim!
Not fast & rarely furious

tweeting occasional in(s)anities as andrewxclark

Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2013, 11:11:47 pm »
great ,i will bring my tow rope  :D :thumbsup:
the slower you go the more you see

barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2013, 11:20:45 pm »
Kim has worked really bloody hard on this, several days of several hours of work, and that was just implementation.  She's done about the same or double again in research and thinking it through with her clever brane.

I hopped on the trike this evening for a quick spin around Cannon Hill Park as it was Traffic O Clock and it was very interesting.  Felt exactly like when Rich Forrest gave me a push up some hills at Mildenhall  ;D  Takes a little getting used to when it kicks in and out - not helped by it being dark so I couldn't see the speedo or cadenceometer and also my gears have been changed as part of this process which was also strange.

I'm hoping to get a better ride in during daylight at the weekend.  Preferably when I have gloves and more layers this time!

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2013, 12:03:45 pm »
I've built a Rich Forrest inna box.  Marvellous.   :D
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Charlotte

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Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2013, 12:24:15 pm »
Oh I say :D

I knew you were a devilishly cunning artificer, Kim - but that really does stand out as being rather splendid.

Looking forward to riding with you sometime soon, Natalya!
Commercial, Editorial and PR Photographer - www.charlottebarnes.co.uk

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2013, 12:29:26 pm »
I've built a Rich Forrest inna box.  Marvellous.   :D

The highest achievement anyone can hope for.  Chapeau!
Getting there...

Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2013, 08:45:55 pm »
I knew you were a devilishly cunning artificer, Kim - but that really does stand out as being rather splendid.

Looking forward to riding with you sometime soon, Natalya!

Nods to both of those!

Will be most excellent to have a barakta on some forum rides.

Woofage

  • Ain't no hooves on my bike.
Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2013, 08:51:13 pm »
And the yACF fettling of the year decade award goes to Kim :thumbsup:.
Pen Pusher

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2013, 08:57:43 pm »
This looks brill, Kim.

You could do a sideline in making these up for recumbenteers who fancy a bit of assistance...
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2013, 09:02:09 pm »
That's fantastic! :thumbsup:

Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2013, 09:16:52 pm »
Outstanding.
Get a bicycle. You will never regret it, if you live- Mark Twain

Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2013, 09:17:02 pm »
You are so skill.  :thumbsup:

Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2013, 09:19:46 pm »
 Excellent fettling  :thumbsup:
I don't want to grow old gracefully. I want to grow old disgracefully.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2013, 05:17:46 pm »
And we've just ridden our 36km loop (which barakta hasn't managed since last summer) out to the Earlswood reservoir and back.  Average speed of 17.8kph, which would probably have been higher if it hadn't been for barakta and RichForrest-inna-box having to wait for me to catch up on hills.   :thumbsup:

Rattling greatly reduced by the addition of a ratchet strap around the box, to stop it bouncing upwards.

I'll check the exact figures later, but electron use was in the region of 240Wh again.

ETA: Energy consumption turns out to be somewhere in the region of 1.11milliDunRuns per AAA.

To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2013, 08:33:39 pm »
excellent  :thumbsup: . more miles more smiles  :)
the slower you go the more you see

Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2013, 08:32:27 pm »
This is fascinating, I've been watching Falco with interest and very much like the open source nature of their product which is the exact opposite to Bionx.

I ran a Bionx on my HPV Scorpion for a year for my mega commute across the Peak District to work. It was a hill flattener and a lovely and elegant turnkey solution, however it's a locked down system so when I needed a new battery it cost me a fortune. That's when I came across Ping as an alternative - there's a workaround off piggy backing a Ping on to the back of a Bionx battery that I was going to try. However, I trashed my motor wheel on a  typical local crater - the heavy hub doesn't help when it comes to wheel longevity.

I decided to commute unassisted (I'm able to work at home quite a lot and in Summer the extra hours pedalling are mostly pleasure) and see how long it was before the Bionx tempted me back, my motor wheel is now rebulit and calling me from the garage but I'm holding out...

Things I don't miss about e-assist:

The drag of the motor in the hub really limits the wheeee factor down hills although it makes a great drag brake in regen mode. However, regen mode is pants and puts sod all back in the battery.

It undermines the simplicity of cycling. I don't own a car and, while I'm very comfortable with the technology, e-assist adds a whole level of complexity that I didn't warm to and eventually began to resent. Call it the faff-factor.

Things I do miss:

Storming past club riders up any local hill. 8) For a year I was King of the Mountains and it felt like I had Wiggo as my invisible stoker.




Kim

  • Timelord
Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2013, 09:25:01 pm »
This is fascinating, I've been watching Falco with interest and very much like the open source nature of their product which is the exact opposite to Bionx.

While they're being sensible about standards, and seem happy enough to answer questions, I do feel they could make more of an effort in provision of docs and specifications.  I received no documents whatsoever from Team Hybrid, and only had what I could find on the Falco website to go on.  No doubt this will improve with time.

While it's good to see that they've used a standard connector for the battery supply (Delphi Metripack something or other - they supplied the mating connector as part of the kit, which saved me having to work out what size), the data connectors for the Ant+ dongle and crank sensor / throttle are proprietary, as is (frustratingly) the connector between the console and the assistance level buttons (which is also used to charge the console battery).  I had to splice the cable to extend it.

I've no idea how (if at all) an end user is supposed to go about tweaking parameters in the motor controller, other than you'll probably need an unobtainium serial cable to do it.  Not really a problem for us, but...


Quote
The drag of the motor in the hub really limits the wheeee factor down hills although it makes a great drag brake in regen mode. However, regen mode is pants and puts sod all back in the battery.

I don't have anything to compare it to, but I'm quite impressed by how little drag there seems to be from the Falco motor when it isn't doing anything.  The trike's never been particularly fast down hills, though, and having 10kg of battery on the rear rack does limit how much you want to let it go if there's cornering involved.


Quote
It undermines the simplicity of cycling. I don't own a car and, while I'm very comfortable with the technology, e-assist adds a whole level of complexity that I didn't warm to and eventually began to resent. Call it the faff-factor.

We have a fairly high faff-factor already, with getting the trike through the door and the FMGenie and so on, so adding electric assist to the mix doesn't seem to be a big difference in overall faff.  I've deliberately specced the battery to last longer than barakta was capable of riding at her un-assisted peak last year, so running out of power shouldn't be an issue under normal circumstances.

Would I want a motor on one of my own bikes?  It's early days, but probably not.  I'm perfectly capable of riding up bastard hills in a reasonable, if underwhelming amount of time.  Realistically, as more or less able-bodied cyclist, I'd only consider it to improve the acceleration of a cargo cycle, or if I had a commute that I needed to be presentable at the end of (I can't cycle without getting soaked in sweat).


Quote
Things I do miss:

Storming past club riders up any local hill. 8) For a year I was King of the Mountains and it felt like I had Wiggo as my invisible stoker.

Have recumbent, will save that for the right terrain :)
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2013, 09:37:46 pm »
wow, superb result Kim! an impressive and unique machine.

Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2013, 11:30:56 pm »
And the yACF fettling of the year decade award goes to Kim :thumbsup:.

The decade isn't over yet.
I'm sure that Kim has an early prototype of a thorium powered device undergoing tests in a Selly Oak squash court as I type this  ;D


Kim

  • Timelord
Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2013, 11:34:31 pm »
I'm sure that Kim has an early prototype of a thorium powered device undergoing tests in a Selly Oak squash court as I type this  ;D

Edgbaston tennis court, actually.  ;D
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: More power, Igor! (ICE trike with Falco e-motor)
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2013, 11:35:46 pm »
Awesum, just awesum