Motorcycle Batteries .. AGM, GEL, Wet, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by _cy_, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Shorai LFX36 is holding 13.79v after sitting over night. seems to have recovered after being drained to 6.5v or completely dead.

    second battery installed drained to 13.09v after sitting overnight. starting volts was 13.44v.

    there's now a dead drain of 700 milliamps with everything off on R80G/S. have not tracked current drain down yet. probably a diode failing. battery going dead was zero fault of Shorai LFX36.

    goes to show you, best not to jump to conclusions until everything is checked out.
  2. ChrisC

    ChrisC Amal sex?

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    Just a quick remark on Shorai warranty. I am running a Shorai battery in my '03 640A. It cranks the bike perfectly, particularly when the battery has a little heat in it.

    I purchased the dedicated Shorai charger, the BMS01. It seemed to function well for a couple of months and then seemingly just shuffled off it's mortal coil, kaput, nada.

    I contacted Shorai directly via their corporate website describing the failure it all the detail I could muster. Within 48 hours their warranty department responded with "expect a new charger being delivered FedEx to your address". They also took the time to explain that some of their chargers were afflicted with a firmware glitch and that was the likely cause of the failure.

    So, promptly standing behind their product and a cogent explanation of the likely cause of the failure to boot.

    Kudos to Shorai... :freaky
  3. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    finally had a chance to trace down where 700 milliamps drain originated.

    assumed it was the diode board .. headed there first... tested out perfect. all diodes only passed current one direction. passed meter but wanted to place a slightly larger load. hooked up a test light ... passed with flying colors, every diode only would light up test bulb one direction.

    rotor tested out at 3.9 ohm or within spec's. all three phases on stator checked perfect. no current to ground.

    charging system checked out perfect .. zero drain.. now where did the 700 milliamps go?

    kept chasing and finally found the problem... these three accessory wires. clipped wires different lengths to make sure wires could no longer connect... found my drain source.

    the good that came out of this was knowing Shorai LFX36 is capable of recovering 100% after being drained to completely dead.

    a 700 milliamp parasitic drain can kill ANY battery. good to know Shorai is capable of recovering from dead.

    [​IMG]
  4. B9E9R9T9

    B9E9R9T9 Old Guy

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    A little heat shrink on those wires would be nice. Even cut off the ends are still open with wires on the tips.
    Even liquid tape would work better than nothing!
  5. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    good idea.. some heat shrink wrap coming up.
  6. Gramp-Z

    Gramp-Z Been here awhile

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    Late to the party . But I recently bought a battery from Battery Mart , a "Big Crank" ETX15L AGM for my 83' V-45 Sabre . My god , that battery has the reserve power ! Had the bike apart all last winter doing a bit of maint. , mostly cleaning carbs (PITA) . The year old battery (standard) that I kept charged all winter had nothing . Talked to few buddies that had switched to AGM and said they were thrilled , so ordered one up . Being as it took a lot of cranking to get oil and fuel into everything , along with some bad connections . I mean I cranked quite a while and it didn't show any sign of getting weaker . A normal battery would have needed to be charged several times for that amount of work . No long term results yet , had to order and install new pulse generators . Will drop in for an update after I get to ride for a bit . Not sure , but isn't the stock battery on my DL650 an AGM ? All I can tell you is I have never had any of my Sabres crank so well , even when new . Carry on .
  7. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    excellent feedback!

    for most folks, my advice is go with AGM. unless weight is totally critical. AGM has one of the main advantages of LiFePO4 which is very low self discharge. unless one has a large parasitic current drain. trickle charger will not be needed for LiFePO4 or AGM over the winter.

    some bikes normally have a small self discharge. for those bikes a trickle charger will be needed regardless of what type battery is used.

    if you've got a modern adventure bike and decide that it's worth $$$ to save 10 lb or so over AGM or Gel. forget the marketing hype mfg use to calculate which battery to use.

    use actual amp hour rating less 25%. note this is for modern Adventure bikes, which has one of the highest battery demands of any bike. example, if factory ratings is 12 amp hour x .75 = 9 amp hour actual LiFePO4 amp hour rating.

    some bikes that only are used in fair weather can get by with much lower LiFePO4 amp hour ratings. one advantage of LiFePO4 batteries is ability to deliver larger amps for size, while maintaining a very flat discharge cycle.

    take mfg amp hour ratings with a bucket of salt... use real amp hour ratings to size your LiFePO4 needs. LiFePO4 batteries when sized properly are robust, super lightweight batteries.

    upcoming topic will be: special precautions to take when retro-fitting a smaller sized LiFePO4 battery into a stock battery's much larger holder. Or dead short dangers for positive terminals.
  8. LoneStrom

    LoneStrom Been here awhile

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    This is good advice. I am using a 12 cell Ballistic in my 12GS. In fair and warm weather it has proven to be a great battery. But in the cold, it doesn't engage the starter, even after a warmup with an accessory load.

    Not the best setup to have if you don't have someone around to jump start you.

    Joel brought up the starter-pinion issue earlier. Spot on as well for these bikes.
  9. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    anytime a battery is moved from OEM location, take extra care in securing that new battery. which is probably a LiFePO4 battery a fraction of weight/size.

    for connections, don't trust black tape only. my recommendation is to use thick rubber, then tape that down. radiator hose slit long ways works well to cover critical positive connections.

    don't lose all your work and super nice bike to an electrical fire. which could consume battery and rest of bike. lithium batteries discharge at extremely high rates. easily equal to an Arc welder.

    LiFePO4 batteries are almost always smaller than OEM batteries. this means factory tie down straps, plates, etc probably will not hold new smaller battery down securely. To Shorai's credit, provides a slew of foam mats all different sizes to help secure new battery.

    you MUST secure new smaller LiFePO4 battery solid as factory. don't lose your nice bike to an electrical fire. accidental grounding/discharge is not the battery's fault.

    LiFePO4 batteries that uses pig tails instead of a hard connection must be insulated with extra care at positive connector. use thick rubber for insulation. a slit rubber radiator hose slides over connection. then tape hose assembly down to keep from moving. if possible use a connecter kit if battery mfg offers one.
  10. ShadeTree.

    ShadeTree. n00b

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    <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--> Some minor experience to share here re: Lithium Iron Batteries.



    I purchased an Antigravity battery from an honest fellow at AG (http://antigravitybatteries.com/). I have a well-used (4<sup>th</sup> hand) KLR 650 2009. I live in Ontario Canada. So far this year we have already been down to the -5 Celsius (23 Fahrenheit) at night. The bike is in the garage (non-insulated, poly tarp for roof, basically 4 brick walls with no windows). It gets cold out there. So far it fires up every morning, no hick-up, no warm-up procedure. I do have to have the choke wide open however (not surprising). The winter is not really here yet, and it will get worse (winter is coming). In the spring I will re-post here and let you know how it fared for the winter.



    Personally I have had great luck with the lithium iron battery (even through some reasonable diagnostic turning: 3 or 4 times at 4 or 5 second bursts, 5 or 6 sets of this over several hours).



    Thanks ADV for all of your excellent information, I will try to remember to update. Please feel free to PM me with any specific questions that I can maybe help you with.
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  11. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    cold weather is finally upon us in Oklahoma and most of USA. Once again meaningful data can be generated.

    LiFePO4 batteries are pretty much trouble free during warm weather. but when cold weather hits... that's when problems with under sizing LiFePO4 batteries and not learning cold weather starting procedures shows up.

    Yes LiFePO4 cold starting procedures is different. which is fully covered a few pages back.

    approaching one year on installed Shorai battery. this is a good beginning for a long term LiFePO4 battery report.
  12. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    rumors are A123 went through bankruptcy so Johnson controls could acquire A123 and continue to receive federal subsidies. which are tied to A123 building factories within America. naturally politicians will go along with anyone that builds factories in their district.

    have posted this several times, but here goes again:

    for most folks, my advice is go with AGM. unless weight is totally critical. AGM has one of the main advantages of LiFePO4 which is very low self discharge. unless one has a large parasitic current drain. trickle charger will not be needed for LiFePO4 or AGM over the winter.

    some bikes normally have a small self discharge. for those bikes a trickle charger will be needed regardless of what type battery is used. Your lead/acid battery charger may or may not properly charge LiFePO4 batteries.

    if you've got a modern adventure bike and decide that it's worth $$$ to save 10 lb or so over AGM or Gel. forget the marketing hype mfg use to calculate which battery to use.

    use actual amp hour rating less 25%. note this is for modern Adventure bikes, which has one of the highest battery demands of any bike. example, if factory ratings is 12 amp hour x .75 = 9 amp hour actual LiFePO4 amp hour rating.

    some bikes that only are used in fair weather can get by with much lower LiFePO4 amp hour ratings. one advantage of LiFePO4 batteries is ability to deliver larger amps for size, while maintaining a very flat discharge cycle.

    learning how to start your bike with LiFePO4 in cold weather is mandatory. yes procedures are different.

    take mfg amp hour ratings with a bucket of salt... use real amp hour ratings to size your LiFePO4 needs. LiFePO4 batteries when sized properly are robust, super lightweight batteries.

    ----------------------

    use caution when replacing any battery substantially smaller than OEM. mount battery equally secure as OEM. taking extra care to make sure positive side cannot ground out.

    Lithium batteries discharge at HUGE rates. Dead shorts are suspected in bike fires resulting in total loss.

    LiFePO4 batteries that use cables to attach instead of fixed posts require special caution. positive connections need enough insulation, to where grounding out is not possible. including in the event battery gets lose. dead shorts can result in temperatures hot enough to weld with.
  13. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    up next ...

    1. LiFePO4 amp hour ratings and just what is this PB/EQ most LiFePO4 battery mfg seem to be using?
  14. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    one of the advantages of Lithium batteries is it's ability to deliver HUGE amps.

    but drawback is extra costs as compared in equal amp hour energy delivered. more amp hour capacity = more $$$

    this is why LiFePO4 batteries found it's first non-electric vehicle acceptance in the marketplace in Motorcycles and not in applications like starting diesels or cars. to create a battery with enough amp hours to support those applications. costs would exceed benefit.

    what's it worth to you to save say 10lbs.... for the weight wienie paying $$$ for carbon parts for his race bike and/or wanna be race bike. those are some of the cheapest lbs one can unload.

    but for most folks ... best replacement battery still remains AGM. unless of course it's worth all the $$$ to save those 5-10 lbs.

    yes ... one can successfully use LiFePO4 batteries in the most demanding applications. but the amp hour capacity has to be there. my recommendation is actual lead acid amp hour ... less 25%.

    if you follow most lithium battery mfg suggestions. you'll end up with a battery that supports your bike in the summer. NOT for the winter.

    R1200GS has some pretty demanding requirements. including needing reserve amp hour capacity to crank bike over repeatedly if your bike should go down from contaminated fuels, etc. there will be times pounding on fuel pump while cranking and cranking will get your bike back up again.

    for cold weather, one needs to understand warm up cycles consumes amp hours. starting procedures has to be learned to start your motorcycle in cold conditions.

    your heated gear doesn't understand all those fancy PB/EQ ratings battery mfg use. heated gear draws real amps... if your lithium battery say has only 4.6 amp hours. then your heated suit uses a chunk of that reserve just before you put bike away.... guess what happens next morning?

    above is why for most folks ... my recommendation is to stick with AGM. but some of us are willing to pay the toll to save 10lbs. not likely someone trying to sell you a lithium battery will inform you... probably because they don't know better.

    here's a chart listing voltages with corresponding battery charge state
    [​IMG]
  15. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Amp Hour capacity in LiFePO4 batteries and how important it is to properly size a lithium battery.

    PB/EQ is most lithium battery mfg's attempt to capitalize on Lithium battery's ability to discharge at huge rates. without diving into all the technical reasons why this is so and putting most eyeballs to sleep in the process. :lol3

    this video by Joel Wiseman, one of the most knowledgeable BMW tech's on Adv.

    shows what happens when a LiFePO4 battery is undersized as compared to AGM batteries that are correctly sized.

    <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ySNbSZTgplA" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe>
  16. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    last night went to our local Tuesnight pub crawl ... R80G/S had been sitting for a week.

    Shorai LFX 36 resting at 13.42v or 100% full. G/S started right up with quick crank. temp was about 50f in garage.

    short 10 minute ride to Crawpappys with heated suit and heated gloves on. G/S parked outside for about 3.5 hours while meeting (food&beer) with our local Adv group.

    about 35f outside a light layer of frost ... turned on lights a few minutes allowing LFX 36 to warm up a bit. engaged choke, then cranked and cranked and cranked. for some reason G/S decided not to cooperate. LFX 36 was getting a serious workout!

    finally after cranking for over 3-4 minutes (not continuous) then turning off choke... R80G/S sputtered to life. then plugged in heated jacket/gloves for the short 10minte ride home.

    next morning took a reading ... 13.32v or 90% full... not bad considering all the cranking night before, then heated suit/short ride combo with no chance of alternator having enough time to recharge fully.

    [​IMG]
  17. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    yup there are tolls to pay besides $$$ to successfully use LiFePO4 batteries in adventure bikes. which are the most demanding of all motorcycle applications.

    one year in with Shorai LFX 36 in R80G/S ... has proven itself up to task of supporting an adventure bike. When lithium batteries are sized with enough amp hours. they have proven themselves very rugged and reliable. but it's not for everyone...

    this is why for most folks AGM is still the way to go. unless of course you are part of that group where saving 10lb or so is worth it.
  18. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    a common question .... will a standard lead acid battery charger properly charge my LiFePO4 battery?

    answer is it depends on the charger. for not all lead acid battery chargers work the same. it's best to use a charger designed specifically to charge LiFePO4 batteries. But one can improvise and use a charger designed to charge lead acid by carefully monitoring charge. then remove when charge gets close to full. being careful not to exceed max voltage of 14.4v for LiFePO4 batteries.

    Cellpro Powerlab 8 is what I'm using. A favorite of the RC world. considered the most powerful/versatile of all hobby chargers with software to track charge cycle and generate graphs.

    here's my charge station with DVP-2212 (22amp) and HP 6263B regulated power supply
    [​IMG]

    below are the three stages for lead acid charging which works fine with LiFePO4 batteries. not recommended are chargers with an equalization feature which could overcharge/damage LiFePO4 batteries. best lead acid chargers without extra features, like Schauer shown below.

    some battery tenders don't actually terminate charge when a certain voltage is reached. but instead continues to deliver a small milliamp charge. this could result in an overcharge condition and damage your LiFePO4 battery.

    for most bikes with LiFePO4, battery tenders are not needed or desired. discharge rates are under 1% per month. if no parasitic drain exist on bike, then no tender will be needed.

    here's a chart showing LiFePO4 battery's discharge profile. reading is for per cell, 4x 3.6v per cell = 14.4v full charge for LiFePo4 battery. max charge of 3.6v per cell or 14.4v

    so long as lead/acid battery charger used doesn't contain an equalization mode and doesn't exceed 14.8v. it should work fine. note equalization (controlled over charge) is also called desulfation mode. note equalization is also not recommended for AGM or Gel cell batteries.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    -----------
    [​IMG]

    Three Stage Battery Charging for Lead Acid

    The BULK stage involves about 80% of the recharge, wherein the charger current is held constant (in a constant current charger), and voltage increases. The properly sized charger will give the battery as much current as it will accept up to charger capacity (25% of battery capacity in amp hours), and not raise a wet battery over 125° F, or an AGM or GEL (valve regulated) battery over 100° F.
    The ABSORPTION stage (the remaining 20%, approximately) has the charger holding the voltage at the charger's absorption voltage (between 14.1 VDC and 14.8 VDC, depending on charger set points) and decreasing the current until the battery is fully charged.
    The FLOAT stage is where the charge voltage is reduced to between 13.0 VDC and 13.8 VDC and held constant, while the current is reduced to less than 1% of battery capacity. This mode can be used to maintain a fully charged battery indefinitely.

    Equalization
    is essentially a controlled over charge. The electrolyte in a wet battery can stratify over time, if not cycled occasionally. In equalization, the voltage is brought up above typical peak charging voltage (to 15 to 16 volts in a 12 volt system) well into the gassing stage, and held for a fixed (but limited) period.

    -----------------
    LiFePO4 uses constant current (CC) and constant voltage (CV) and consists of three charging phases: pre-charge; fast-charge CC; and CV.

    In the pre-charge phase, the battery is charged at a low rate for testing, if the battery is internally shorted when the cell voltage is below 0.5 V.

    Fast-charge current is applied to charge the battery quickly. Its charging rate can be up to 10C rate, which is much higher than the traditional LI-Ion battery without additional degradation. The charger enters to the CV mode when the battery reaches a voltage regulation limit (typical of 3.6 V/cell). During the CV mode, the charge current exponentially drops to a pre-defined termination level where the battery is fully charged and the charging is terminated. Since the LiFePO4 battery has much lower internal resistance, its charging time is much shorter than the Li-Ion battery.
    While the LiFePO4 is much safer than the Li-Ion battery, a fast charge safety timer is usually required to prevent charging a dead battery for an excessively long period. The LiFePO4 battery can be overcharged to 4 V without safety issues, even though it is specified to charge to 3.6 V. However, the energy stored in the battery between 3.6 V and 4 V is very limited. From the discharge curve in Figure 1, the voltage drop is very fast at the beginning of the discharge period. This demonstrates that the battery does not store much energy at higher voltages.
    Most of the battery energy is stored near the battery voltage between 3.0 V and 3.4 V for 1C-5C discharge rates. It does not give much benefit to charge the battery higher than 3.6 V though it does not degrade the battery. The voltage difference between rechargeable voltage threshold and battery charge voltage should be around 200 mV, since it takes a few seconds to drop the battery voltage from 3.6 V to 3.5 V. Although the LiFePO4 battery has excellent and stable high temperatures, it is still preferable to monitor its temperature to improve safety.
    [​IMG]
    LiFePO4 battery charge profile.
  19. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Quote:
    <table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset"> Originally Posted by Twilight Error [​IMG]
    Less than 5 years. I keep up on the tech through NASA Techbriefs, my IEEE membership and industry publications. The last batteries I built were for the X-37. They were power for the avionics and control surfaces during re-entry, it didn't burn up when it came home, so I must have done something right.

    My problem with the commercial LiIon batteries is cell matching. Every cell, no matter how consistent the manufacturing process, is a little different.
    A simple BMS system will shut off charging when the top cell reaches a full charge, leaving every other cell slightly lower, these systems are typically found in power tool batteries. This protects the battery against overcharge, and while LiFeX is more tolerant of overcharge than other variants, it still suffers an effect. Overcharging causes the Lithium to plate out on the anodes. The Li is then unavailable for movement across that membrane, and the capacity of that cell decreases. So the top cell loses capacity, but at the same time, the other cells are chronically undercharged.
    A battery that lacks a BMS system will let the cells overcharge, our motorcycles do not have any ability to shunt excess power to ground when the battery reaches full charge. A Lead acid battery, esp. the modern VRLA and AGM units, tolerate it just fine and don't appear to suffer much in the way of dendrites and other uglyness.

    If the battery starts with a set of tightly matched cells, it will delay the onset of the overcharge/undercharge cycle, but it won't prevent it. A good BMS system will use a DC-DC converter to regulate the voltage and current fed to the cells and a bleed resistor array to shunt power from the high cells while the low cells continue to charge. Charging will shut off when the low cell reaches full capacity. This is easy to do on a spacecraft designed to use a battery of this type, it is not so easy to retrofit a motorcycle with an 'always-on' charging system. Any BMS used with the charging system we've got on our bikes will need to shunt all excess power to heat, I don't see any of that in the current crop of LiIon batteries.
    And none of this addresses the thermal management issues of these batteries. Heat kills LiIon. Cold kills LiIon. We got around the heat problem by attaching the battery to an actively cooled heatsink. Cold was overcome by attaching heaters to the case. All the batteries I built used prismatic cells, which are far easier to manage from a thermal perspective than cylindricals, which are the cells used in every LiIon battery sold for motorcycles. I've seen active cooling systems for cylindricals, but the water jackets are heavy and require their own hardware. They do have a benefit in being able to maintain the battery at a stable temperature, but again, I don't see this feature on the offerings for our market.
    Some of The stuff I worked on 5 years ago still hasn't reached the civilian market, it may never get there.

    </td></tr></tbody></table>
    ah... makes sense why you think all that... well dump all that out the window. Li-ion or lithium cobalt required an entirely different set of protections.

    li-ion is an inherently unstable chemistry in that it will accept a charge long as it's delivered, until thermal runaway occurs about 4.35v or so. so special protections had to be built in to prevent this from happening.

    main disadvantage of LiFePO4 is energy density is about 1/2 of Lithium cobalt. but so much more stable. most importantly 4x 3.0v-3.6v = 13v-13.6v falls within our motorcycle's 12v electrical system. vs lithium cobalt 3.7v-4.2v range doesn't match 12v systems without some type of voltage stepup or down.

    now days BMS can be a full blown protection circuit that can isolate entire load. or the most commonly used scheme is to use four individual boards that protects each cell individually. when that particular cell reaches full charge cutoff at say 3.65v. rest of cells that have not reached cutoff will continue to charge until cutoff is reached. that that point excess current is shunted off.

    note how each individual cell is protected by a independent BMS. picture shows a true 20 amp hour LiFePO4 battery. originally designed for electric scooters.

    [​IMG]
  20. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Look at what just came in the door....

    The very nice folks at Earth-X Lithium Batteries just sent me two LiFePO4 batteries with internal BMS for testing. No promises were made except their batteries would be tested fairly in real world conditions. (BMS = battery management system)

    It's almost a given that a quality LiFePO4 battery if sized correctly will start your bike in nice weather. But the real question is how will that high tech LiFePO4 battery perform when it gets cold?

    Since winter is just getting started.. we should have plenty of opportunities to see how Earth-X LiFePO4 batteries with internal BMS performs in cold weather.

    More to come ....

    [​IMG]