Modularity and electric vehicles

General Discussion about electric vehicles.
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timnix
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Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by timnix » Dec 09, 2017 5:08 pm

Since I've become interested in EVs ( a bike conversion ) the idea of designed non-modularity has cropped up again.

Multiple time in my life I have been annoyed at the idea I have a bunch of gas powered things that only do one thing, and they are non-interchangable.

In 1990 I had collected:
4.5 HP lawnmower
3/4 HP weed trimmer
10 HP boat motor
gas chainsaw
gas generator
gas chipper/shredder (...trying to make compost instead of landfill)

..not to mention my car.

So I was maintaining this collection of engines, each one of which performed a specific task, and shared nothing with the other except... the power source was universal. Gas powered them all.

Fast forward to 2017... electric bikes allow my aging frame to ride longer, more often, and even replace the car to commute.
In theory.

But the cost.... $2800 to $6000.... for a bicycle. Really?? So, cost is still high for a motor having less that 1HP of power... but worse than that, these electric bits are completely non-modular. Even only talking of bikes, brand A battery can't be used on brand B bike.
Yes there are some generic shark paks, but the big name bike makers are designing single purpose battery packs into their bike frames.

Nuts! Here we go again!

Why on earth is nothing in the EV world interchangable?? I write this just having watched a youtube feature of the show "fully charged" about the Bosch electric mower. A Bosch rep demonstrates it's guts. He holds in his hand a 2HP (1.4Kw) electric motor that was diminuitive, maybe the size of a stack of plates, and later another Bosch guy shows off their 36v 9Ah battery.

Essentially everything I need for a bicycle.

And in my head I'm thinking, oh fantastic, these batteries will be available anywhere you buy lawnmowers and I can't use the dang things on my bike, not to mention the specialized motor my bike will employ.

Marketing-wise, sure I get it. Make a plastic box that only powers the hedge trimmer, or the drill, and those numbskulls have to buy the smae thing repackaged over and over. Of course a 36V Bosch battery must never be able to power a 36V Dewalt saw!

That's just my sense of it. Frustration at what could be, but seemingly we don't care.
In my ideal world I use two of a standard form factor 36V modules on my bike, two on my mower, one on the hedge trimmer, the weed whacker, and they share a common charger.

At least all my mechanical engines share a common power source, and the stored energy itself in interchangable between devices.

Maybe that's it. The oil companies need to produce the power source in standard form factors otherwise vendors will make a thousand different battery designs.
Battery and electric component modularity would catalyze the adoption of electric things in the same way the D cell, C cell, AA and AAA did.

And my garage would not have a pile of electric appliances that share nothing.

At least I can pour the gas out of my mower and run my trimmers when I need to.

So at this point, it seems that both the high cost and the waste factor of the "green tech" is maddening.
I soon discovered that discarded laptop battery packs are full of still servicable cells.
But since the cells are molded into a plastic box with a BMS, in the event a single cell in the pack fails, the 8 good cells will go into the battery recycle bin, or worse, the landfill.

Bikes I've looked at warranty a battery for one or two years, after that the $500-700 replacement cost is on me.

With all the focus on electric thingies, why on earth isn't anyone providing some reasonable form factor plastic box I can fill with the current flavor of Li-ion or Li-Po batteries and replace the baddies rather than discard all 40 cells when one dies?

I realize the Bosch power packs aren't ideal shapes for a bicycle but they also aren't far off the mark.
Maybe we need a Shell 36V9Ah module for starters, 'cause it looks like the machine makers are just gonna pick our pockets.

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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by amberwolf » Dec 10, 2017 2:16 am

There's quite a few threads / projects where people have used toolpacks (intact) as ebike (and other) power sources, but it'll take some poking around to find them, as they don't all use a consistent terminology to make searching easy. But they'll give you some idea of how people have already done this.


Regarding the comparison to AA, AAA, C, D, etc: most of the ebike (and toolpacks, for that matter) use the same format: 18650. So you can swap out cells when they go bad, as long as you have the tools to do it.

The catch is that there's a number of different chemistries used in the same physical format, some of which are different voltages, and many of which have different capacities and charge/discharge characteristics, so you do have to check the cells you're replacing and get similar ones to put in it.


As for manufacturers making consistent stuff (pack shapes, sizes, connections, etc; controller types/shapes/sizes/communications/etc)--they have not only little reason to do so, they have every reason *not* to do so, because they'll sell more stuff if nothing is compatible with anything else, as it'll make you buy whole new systems whenever the old one has any kind of problem.

It's wasteful and stupid in the long run, but in the short run (which is all any company cares about), it's highly profitable. :/


Unfortunately what end-users want, and what manufacturers find profitable, are not that often the same thing.

Since people will still keep buying new things rather than fixing old ones, manufacturers have no reason to change their ways. To make them change it, you'd have to get almost everyone to stop buying anything new that was not completely compatible with all the old stuff. Since that won't happen, we're stuck with the system as it is.


As for "oil companies" doing anything, I don't know what that has to do with ebikes/ev's; those oil companies would be as (or more) likely to do even worse than the existing manufacturers. Look at ICE car manufacturers and the "model year" crap they do, where whenever they can they'll change things just to change them so that people have a reason to ditch their old perfectly-working vehicle for a new "snazzier" one. :roll:



Regarding costs of ebikes....the prebuilt ones companies make generally are expensive, and are going to be proprietary simply because it makes those companies more money to do it that way.

It can be a LOT cheaper to roll your own, down to only a few hundred $$; less if you already have battery systems you can use to power it (though as noted previously this is not always as simple as one might think at first glance, as your existing packs might not have sufficient current delivery capability, or capacity for range, etc., unless you parallel sets of them). The biggest cost is usually the battery, so using existing stuff (if you have any) saves some money. The motor, controller, and accessories can cost less than $200 if you look around hard enough, and don't expect any support from the seller (and don't care who actually makes the stuff, cuz you'll likely never really know). Then install them on an existing bike that fits you and your intended usage.

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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by mark5 » Dec 10, 2017 2:39 am

amberwolf wrote:
Dec 10, 2017 2:16 am
There's quite a few threads / projects where people have used toolpacks (intact) as ebike (and other) power sources, but it'll take some poking around to find them, as they don't all use a consistent terminology to make searching easy. But they'll give you some idea of how people have already done this.
A couple of threads to start off with.

Adopting Power Tool Batteries to Our Broader Uses
https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewt ... 14&t=69889

Lawnmower batteries for ebikes?
https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewt ... 14&t=85824

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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Chalo » Dec 10, 2017 4:30 am

Batteries are interchangeable. Hub motors are interchangeable. Crank motors are mostly interchangeable. Controllers are largely interchangeable, along with throttles, e-brake levers, PAS sensors, etc.

Proprietary turn-key e-bikes often have proprietary components. That's in the manufacturer's interest as often as not. But e-bikes as most of us know them are about as modular as anything could be expected to be, and more or less as modular as the bikes we retrofit with them. Which is to say, all parts won't work together, but many do.

If you want to buy a bike that's all sorted out and integrated like an Apple laptop, well, you're going to live with whatever the manufacturer saw fit to install, and you'd better like it that way. You're going to pay for the privilege, too. But if you want a bike that's more like a no-name tower PC, with all its components interchangeable and upgradeable, you can have that too. And you can have it cheaply. That's what most of us have, really.

I don't see the problem you describe. If you want the stuff to fit together like Lego, it will all have to come from the same manufacturer with that kind of systemic compatibility designed in. That wouldn't be to our benefit in terms of cost-effectiveness.
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by markz » Dec 10, 2017 1:37 pm

Those store bought ebikes, are limited to :roll: 32kph.... too slow for me :twisted:

I've only ridden one store bought ebike, the BionX at Bow Cycle 8 years ago. When I roam bicycle stores I see lots now, but the price tag is shocking. :shock:

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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Dauntless » Dec 10, 2017 3:06 pm

Dedicated purpose machinery exist because the tailor made equipment does the job best. You think of the gas engines on a weed wacker, a lawnmower, a motorcycle and a car, look how different from each other they will be. I've considered that issue of a box with a spline where you plug in whatever driveshaft when you move this powerplant with batteries from vehicle to vehicle, but the box big enough for the car isn't going to fit well on the motorcycle or the lawnmower.
Last edited by Dauntless on Dec 10, 2017 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Hillhater » Dec 10, 2017 5:13 pm

Actually many types of commercial equipment do have "standardised" fitment ICE power units.
The most common is probably the 5-6hp range of lawn maowers, garden tillers , cement mixers, compactors, powered wheelbarrows, generators, go karts, pumps, fans , etc etc....all from multiple manufacturers, but all able to accept motors from various motor makers (Honda, Kawasaki, Subaru, Chinese "clones" , etc) ...because the fitment and connection points are standardised.
The same applies to various other scale equipment normally classified in hp rating. ...9hp, 13hp, 20hp ..etc etc...even large, 100+ hp, pumps and generators can be specified with a choice of engine makes.
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Dauntless » Dec 10, 2017 11:37 pm

Well of course, but he's referring to the end user only having one, the varied pieces of equipment all being in different classes and the interchangeability isn't there. There's the power tools with only one motor drive and you snap on all the attachments to create the different tools, but while the motors can work they usually create an unwieldly tool.
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Punx0r » Dec 11, 2017 4:45 am

The closest I've seen is a modular generator/water pump/pressure washer from Evolution power tools: http://www.evolutionpowertools.com/uk/e ... evo200.php

Different applications usually have different requirements of the power source & prime mover so end up being different and non-interchangeable for understandable reasons.

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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by timnix » Dec 11, 2017 11:15 am

Thanks for the links, the bike using lawnmower batteries... good stuff!!

I saw over the weekend Bosch electric vehicle components (Is Bosch the only company responding to EV parts demand?) and they sell parts that can be added as needed... there was a east german moped they had converted using their bits, shown at an EV expo in London.

Anyway, while I can sort of fathom IC engines not scaling well, electrics should.

Brushless motors could be stacked to obtain a specific hp rating, batteries could be paralleled or series in some usable configuration.

An electric motor is agnostic, charging characteristics aside the motor cares only that it has sufficient voltage and current, not who made the power source or what it's chemistry is.

I guess where I was going was, electrical components can be more modular/interchangable that IC engine parts.
Take apart a Tesla car. ( Eventually someone will have to...) and you'll have something over 7000 18650 batteries, all welded together in something only useful in a Tesla car. When the cells get upgraded or a module replaced, the remaining cells could be harvested. Most will be degraded but still usable. My sense is that Tesla will "repurpose" the leftover Li-ion batts from upgrades to employ in home storage cells they will sell to homeowners so Tesla at least will not toss out the useful bits like we are now doing with laptop batteries.

I just wish my string trimmer, my chain saw, my bike, my radio, wireless speakers, and heck yeah a lawnmower simply had a plastic box I could shove my leftover 18650 batteries into. Clearly we're not there yet.

Yeah I realize there are chemistries and voltages and stuff but it still seems doable.
Many thanks for this forum and participants.
A handmade (modular!) ebike of some kind is in my future, if i ever figure out how to employ torque sensing.
A mid motor TZDZ2 or Thun sensor/hub of some sort I haven't worked out yet.
Maybe I'll even use lawnmower batteries!

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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by amberwolf » Dec 11, 2017 9:45 pm

timnix wrote:
Dec 11, 2017 11:15 am
I guess where I was going was, electrical components can be more modular/interchangable that IC engine parts.
Sure, but it's not in the interests of companies making vehicles to do so, because it's unlikely most people will want to take apart their car's engine and battery so they can run their bike or mower or whatever. ;)

Myself, I'd like the idea of modularity so that I could quickly and easily use a motor or battery / etc. from one tool in another when the second fails but I need that one more for now, or other similar situations.

Some other people would probably like that too....but Most people would rather have a bunch of separate but complete devices, even though they have redundant stuff in each of them, so they don't have to mess around with swapping stuff out of one to use another.

Take apart a Tesla car. ( Eventually someone will have to...)
You might want to read around--it's been done quite a lot, and cells from them are sold all over the place both as modules, individual cells, and packs built to your specifications from those cells.

People are also reusing drivetrains and other parts from them. There's threads around ES and elsewhere about those projects.



Most will be degraded but still usable. My sense is that Tesla will "repurpose" the leftover Li-ion batts from upgrades to employ in home storage cells they will sell to homeowners so Tesla at least will not toss out the useful bits like we are now doing with laptop batteries.
I suppose it's possible, but htey will have ot sell them as "used" or "refurbished" items, not as new ones. So they wont' make nearly as much money off of them (or be able to offer as much of a warranty), and that will probably make it less (or non-) cost-effective to go thru all the testing needed to sort the cells before reusing them. :/

I just wish my string trimmer, my chain saw, my bike, my radio, wireless speakers, and heck yeah a lawnmower simply had a plastic box I could shove my leftover 18650 batteries into. Clearly we're not there yet.
But you can still do it--quite a few people have. THe project threads are here on ES and elsewhere if you look around. Even though they're not designed specifically for this....

As for specifically designing them--remember that 18650 is just a physical format. You can't take jsut any 18650 cell and stick it into anything that uses them, and have it work. The cells have to be the right chemistry (to get the right voltage) and the right C-rate (to be able to deliver the necessary current) and the right capacity (to deliver the necessary range or operation time).

You can adapt anything to run on anything else, but it isnt' as easy as just shoving your leftover 18650 batteries in there, even in those packs taht are easy to take apart and replace cells in. ;)



A handmade (modular!) ebike of some kind is in my future, if i ever figure out how to employ torque sensing.
Lots of info on the forums about torque sensing in quite a few ways, from pre-built bottom brackets, to sensors that ride the top of the chain (or belt), to sensors that mount on the chainstays/dropouts, to ones built into existing hubmotors or middrives, and others.

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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Dauntless » Dec 12, 2017 12:08 am

Image

http://www.yasamotors.com

To the point Amberwolf is making I'll add the stackability is there for those who are ready to pay for it. We mere mortals might not live to see it in our price range. Mostly they don't build for the builder, they build for the turn key system user. Worldwide carmakers have made some of the simplest problems on a car near impossible for the average person to fix. You're talking about doing something that's heresy to a lot of manufacturers. But the Model T was marketed by how easy you'd find it to fix it.
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Dauntless » Dec 14, 2017 12:50 am

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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by timnix » Dec 14, 2017 6:24 pm

I guess as EVs become reality for more people, every car maker will design it's own proprietary battery packs rather than implement interchangeable standard form-factor Kw/hr modules.

Maybe one of the most useful things Rome did was to conquering all of western Europe, from which we at least ended up with a "standard" rut path width used for roads and paths to interconnect roman outposts.

It's fine if manufacturers want to build stuff that's proprietary. But I just wish there were an "open source" vehicle platform that offered a high degree of modularity so that a low purchase cost/low maintenance cost vehicle could exist alongside the high priced stuff. Since so much of the cost of EVs is the battery, to have those produced in volume in some standard size would be great.

Ford started as a "motor company", not a car company, availability of affordable reliable motors being the key to adoption of IC auto technology. The car was an implementation of IC engines.
I just feel like battery tech is still in it's infancy, and just marginally better than lead-acid.

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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Dauntless » Dec 14, 2017 11:58 pm

The Roman standardization influenced railroad tracks. But Henry Ford did not start off as an engine manufacturer, his engines were bad enough that they kicked him out of his first company, now known as Cadillac, on the advice of an engine man by the name of Lincoln. Ford used his second company to buy Lincoln to gain his services, but he slipped away.

People have to stop looking for the Model T equivalent in electrics and let them develop over time. Sell no wine before its' time. We're actually getting there.
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Chalo » Dec 15, 2017 1:23 am

timnix wrote:
Dec 14, 2017 6:24 pm
I just feel like battery tech is still in it's infancy, and just marginally better than lead-acid.
Marginally? I have a sub-10 pound pack strapped to the downtube of my bike, but it gives me more than the range of my old 50+ pound SLA pack, with substantially better performance and radically better cycle life. I don't think that's marginal. I gave up on light EVs for a long time before affordable lithium batteries were available.
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Toorbough ULL-Zeveigh » Dec 16, 2017 10:33 am

Dauntless wrote:
Dec 14, 2017 11:58 pm
The Roman standardization influenced railroad tracks.
a popular myth conception.
https://www.snopes.com/history/american/gauge.asp

standardization killz innovation.
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by timnix » Dec 22, 2017 6:20 pm

I just meant that there's no Moore's Law with battery tech.
Lead acid is about all we've had until Nicad in the 1980s and lead acid goes back to 1859.
The best rechargeable battery today doesn't approach the energy density of gasoline.
...hold on... I only mean a pure energy per mass comparison, of course I realize an EV is more efficient so it doesn't have to be.

https://cleantechnica.com/2016/05/13/ev ... line-2045/

For now, the storage of electricity beyond the average car battery is only beginning to be practical.
I'm fairly certain that whatever an electric vehicle is in 2045 and beyond, it won't involve the knitting together of over 7000 teeny batteries a la Tesla and it will probably be a different chemistry than Li-Ion.
Especially if the Fisker invention works out, (fast charging) EV numbers in use over time will drive more efficient energy storage designs of some kind.
Let's hope anyway. I don't own my own battery welder. (...yet!)

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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Chalo » Dec 22, 2017 9:17 pm

timnix wrote:
Dec 22, 2017 6:20 pm
I just meant that there's no Moore's Law with battery tech.
Lead acid is about all we've had until Nicad in the 1980s and lead acid goes back to 1859.
Nickel-cadmium batteries were developed in 1899.

Nickel-iron batteries were invented by the same guy, around the same time, and brought to market in quantity in the first few years of the 20th century. They were used for all sorts of things, including vehicles. NiFe cells have poor energy density, but unsurpassed cycle life and shelf life. They were sold commercially for various industrial applications until the mid-1970s. They are still manufactured in small volumes today.
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Dauntless » Dec 22, 2017 11:06 pm

So the Snopes article basically says the chariots DID influence the track width. Though it misses the boat in the U.S. where there were so many guages you couldn't merge so many lines. The first train in America was a mini for joy riding.

So how many NiCads were out there before 1980? Electric cars date back to the 19th century. All kinds of tech exists without much use being made of it.

If they have something and it seems to be working, they keep it around. Even if it doesn't work all that well.

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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by wturber » Jan 06, 2018 5:18 pm

timnix wrote:
Dec 22, 2017 6:20 pm
I just meant that there's no Moore's Law with battery tech.
Most technologies don't progress at rates similar to Moore's law. I could be wrong, but I think the only ones that do are those based on etching electronic circuits on silicon wafers.

Frankly, it seems almost magical to me that my 14 lb battery pack can propel me around the city for about 40 miles on less than 15 cents worth of electricity. That battery pack, BTW is a fairly modular group of 7 hoverboard battery packs strung together. They they power a pretty cheap (about $250 for a complete kit) motorized rear wheel that fits most standard dropout spaced mountain bike frames.
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by wineboyrider » Feb 08, 2018 5:43 pm

DIN standards is what I used when I worked on nuclear rockets and it could work for ev's too. Not a fan of government mostly, but standardization is cool if you want to progress. Hell I can't even buy batteries for my tools that are standardized...LOL https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_DIN_standards
If it works for nuclear weapons than hell. :twisted:
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by Hillhater » Feb 08, 2018 9:52 pm

Boy !! There is a worrying thought.
What kind of mind thought having a "International Standard". for Nuclear weapons,...was a good idea ? :shock: :D
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Re: Modularity and electric vehicles

Post by wineboyrider » Feb 13, 2018 9:32 am

Hillhater wrote:
Feb 08, 2018 9:52 pm
Boy !! There is a worrying thought.
What kind of mind thought having a "International Standard". for Nuclear weapons,...was a good idea ? :shock: :D
German's of course. It's an evil standard..lol But, you wouldn't want to hook up the wrong wires on a nuclear weapon?
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