Extreme Charging Makeover

Discussion in 'Electric Motorcycles' started by Rugby4life, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. Rugby4life

    Rugby4life Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    795
    Location:
    Upstate SC (GSP area)
    So I was thinking how much I'm enjoying my 2017 SR but it's basically a $16k occasional use toy. I have to charge for 8.5 hrs to get 1.5 hrs of fun. Well, my SR just got an extreme makeover with a 9.9kw belly pan charging system from Diginow. I now have 7.5 times the charging capacity without sacrificing any luggage space. I no longer have an occasional use toy but a full blown road trip machine. Before n Afrter.jpg Air Gap.jpg Cable Routing.jpg
    #1
    MJSfoto1956 and voltsxamps like this.
  2. Rugby4life

    Rugby4life Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    795
    Location:
    Upstate SC (GSP area)
    Two benefits of this double J-plug install is that the inlets mount to the inside of the saddlebag racks so they are well protected yet easily accessible. Also, I have the flexibility to buddy charge another bike at the same time. So if you have a friend (or significant other) who only has the stock charger, you can still road trip together. Gunslinger.jpg Dancing.jpg Buddy Charging.jpg
    #2
  3. Rugby4life

    Rugby4life Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    795
    Location:
    Upstate SC (GSP area)
    Double Jplug.jpg Troubleshooting.jpg Firmware.jpg One of the positives with purchasing from Diginow is the option of having the founder of the company fly across the country to do the install and then spend the next few days touring with me, teaching me the ins and outs of fast charging. The only gremlin we had to troubleshoot had nothing to do with the chargers. I had very old firmware for my BMS and MBB and the two decided to stop talking to each other. Brandon Stayed an extra day until the dealership opened and did the firmware update himself while on the phone with a Zero engineer. This also rid me of the occasional "zombie charger" bug where the charging light stayed on long after unplugging.
    #3
    voltsxamps likes this.
  4. Rugby4life

    Rugby4life Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    795
    Location:
    Upstate SC (GSP area)
    After the firmware upgrade, we had no further issues. I treated him to some true southern cuisine and made a couple of other charging stops while making new friends. We got our best performance at a public station (full 240v) in Hendersonville, NC and a Tesla station in Greenville SC. We toured over 300 miles and spent $0.00 for charging. Lunch.jpg Tesla.jpg Making Friends.jpg
    #4
  5. BrianTRice

    BrianTRice Nerdy adventurer

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    75
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    Thanks for the write-up and welcome to the electric motorcycle touring club!

    I'm also traveling on DigiNow equipment (early adopter / test engineer) and can tour at about 450 miles per day (as long as the charging network supports a good power output per leg).
    #5
  6. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,906
    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Can you tell us what this sort of upgrade costs?
    #6
  7. BrianTRice

    BrianTRice Nerdy adventurer

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    75
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    DigiNow's Facebook page typically shows prices, but they might be withdrawn: https://www.facebook.com/digiNowInc/
    The product web page at least has technical specs: https://diginow.it/supercharger.php

    Generally, the ballpark figure for what the OP has installed is $3000, but this has varied a bit and I'm running on older hardware that had a different pricing structure.

    The current generation of hardware that DigiNow sells is modular in 3.3kW units, with cable harnesses configured in a number of ways, some of them custom, so usually under $1000 per 3.3kW unit but there's a fixed overhead for the cabling so it's a little more cost effective for a larger buy.

    It's a big purchase, to be sure, but there's no reasonable alternative that is IP-rated (vibration and weather protection) and compact and powerful enough for a motorcycle fitment. Some people build stacks of computer power supplies that are a reasonable DIY solution, but they can't be supported as products because they're vulnerable to faults after being carried around on a bike for hundreds of miles and probably getting moisture and grime on them.
    #7
    Rugby4life and szurszewski like this.
  8. Rugby4life

    Rugby4life Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    795
    Location:
    Upstate SC (GSP area)
    Oops, popped my first circuit breaker today. I should have guessed it was a shared station with 3.3kw per side based on how skinny the cords were. Ran for about 2 minutes before it shut down. The other plug that was feeding the single Diginow kept running, so like an idiot, I switched it to the other side and 2 minutes later... silence. I'm learning something new each day and in the 500 miles of fast charging, I still haven't paid for a single electron. Saving time and saving money, that's how I roll.
    #8
  9. mandatedmotorvation

    mandatedmotorvation Shunpiker

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    875
    Location:
    Flat road, Florida
    Imagine, if you will, that I don't understand the verbiage you used to describe the benefits you are experiencing with the Diginow? Could you help a layman and clarify for me what all this means?

    Does "charging capacity" mean the battery will charge faster or the battery will go further (distance) on a charge? Are the benefits only seen at charging stations or can these improvements be made available at a regular (home; 120v?) outlet?

    Can something like this help bridge the gap and decrease risk for someone that worries about "new" technology in batteries being released the day after a new purchase?

    Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Congrats, btw!
    #9
  10. Rugby4life

    Rugby4life Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    795
    Location:
    Upstate SC (GSP area)
    OK, to put it into ICE terms, the battery is the "gas" tank. The electricity is the "gas", and the charging capacity is how fast the "gas" can flow through the pump (charger) and into the tank. My bike's "tank" capacity is 13kw. Thing of my Diginow charger as a high flow gas pump at a gas station. It can flow a maximum of 9.9kw/hr into the "tank". Just like a gas station pump can only flow as much gas as is in the underground storage tanks (low fuel levels in the storage tanks is why sometimes the pump at the gas station runs slowly), the chargers can only flow as much electricity as is available to them. Most J-plugs can pass 6.6kw/hr so with 1 plug my 9.9kw/hr charging system would only be able to move the 6.6kw/hr volume available from the plug. I have 2 J-plug inlets in my system so I have enough incoming flow of electricity to run my "gas pump" at its full 9.9kw/hr capacity.
    The bike's software prevents you from drawing all of the juice out of the battery to protect the chemical health of the battery because a completely dead battery is just that; dead for ever. The usable portion of the battery is about 11.5kw. If I run the "gas" gauge to empty, it'll take me just over an hour to fill up completely. Of course, just like with a gas powered vehicle, we never run the tank completely dry before finding a gas station to fill up again. In the real world, I'll stop when I get down to around 20% which means it'll only take about 45 minutes to top up. Compare that to the stock charger on the bike that could only flow 1.3kw/hr. Think of it as a gas pump with a hose the size of a soda straw.
    As far as "future-proofing" the bike, there are 3 areas that could make your new bike "obsolete" quickly:
    1. A big leap in battery capacity. The physical size of Zero's battery has remained unchanged for the life of this generation of bikes (S/SR and DS/DSR models) since 2013. Battery capacity has increased 10% every couple of years. Unless there is a shift to a whole different battery design, I don't see that changing.
    2. A big leap in energy flow to the motor. That happened with the introduction of the "R" derivative models. I don't see a huge leap in this area unless they are willing to spend huge amounts developing a brand new motor. Since I don't think they've amortized the development cost of the current motor yet, I don't see a big change coming in the next few years.
    3. Faster Charging. This is where I have "future-proofed" my bike. The current "charge tank" option from Zero is only 6.6kw/hr, has to be ordered when the bike is built (can't be added at the dealer later), and is not backward compatible with older model bikes.
    So, with this mod, I've turned my bike from a local commuter bike shackled to a 8hr charging time into a true road trip machine ready to explore the world. BTW, since adding the (what I call) Diginow Charge Pan system, I can now access all of the free EV charging stations around me. I haven't paid for a single electron since the upgrade. At current gas prices and considering how many miles I ride, that comes out to a $1500-1800 savings per year. Here is a screen shot of the free charging stations in about a 50 mile radius of me. Go to Plugshare.com to see what's available in your area. plugshare.jpg

    Attached Files:

    #10
  11. mandatedmotorvation

    mandatedmotorvation Shunpiker

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    875
    Location:
    Flat road, Florida
    Amazingly perfect description; well done. I really appreciate you taking the time to write all that out. It made perfect sense. I'm sure it's a question you've answered many, many times before (thank you, commandant lassard).

    Out of curiosity, what's the general consensus of the possibilities that new batteries could simply be upgraded (plug-n-play) to an original platform?

    Say, a larger "tank" could simply be plopped in and replace that which sits on the current bike?

    At any rate, a big thanks for your feedback.
    #11
  12. ctromley

    ctromley Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,059
    Location:
    PA
    Loving the thread, really appreciate you spelling all this out. I may make use of this myself in the future. However, some of what you posted here got me cringing severely. Your head is on mostly straight, you've got the right concepts generally, but please allow me to nit-pick your terminology and correct some minor bits. I get that electric power is new to many and it's hard to wrap one's head around unfamiliar tech. All the more important to correct errors where we find them.
    Mostly true, but your charger doesn't have a capacity so much as a rate. That may seem like trivial semantics, but it will get more important later.
    No. Your "tank's" capacity is a measure of energy, which in this case is expressed in kWh, just like your electric bill. Your electric company charges by how much electricity you use (energy), not how fast you use it (power). The rate at which your charger can charge, just like the rate at which your controller can dish out energy to the motor, is a measure of power - in this case 9.9 kW. If it seems like I'm being anal about this, here's a hypothetical conversation with an ICE motorcyclist adapting your terminology:

    Passerby: Nice bike! How much power does it have?
    You: 4.2 gallons.

    When these terms get more traction, this will matter more.
    Not quite. The analogy you're looking for is not how much gas is in the underground tank, it's how big the gas pump and hose is. Bigger equipment, higher rate of gas flow, quicker time to fill. Has nothing to do with how much gas in the tank, only how quickly you can move it.
    Not universally true, this can vary a lot. The J-plug as you call it is just a plug connected to a wide variety of EVSE (Electric Vehicle Service Equipment). On cars, the same plug is used on the little 1.3 kW brick EVSE (Level 1, 120V) because that's the only connection available to the on-board charger. The Level 2 (240V) EVSE can charge at various rates. The highest I've seen is 18 kW (Juicebox, 75 Amp feed), but they can also be as low as around 3 kW. It all depends on how the particular EVSE is designed and how many amps its feed circuit is capable of. There is also the matter of how many amps your on-board charger can take. When you plug in one of these connectors there is a brief "handshake" process where the vehicle charger and the EVSE tell each other what their max rates are, and the lower of the two is what the EVSE feeds the vehicle. So basically, it depends.
    You were right (mostly) the first time. It's not so much the motor, it's the power (rate of energy flow) getting to the motor - not the motor itself. Getting power to the motor is the job of the controller, and the figure of merit there is its current limit. It's the size of the straw between the battery and the motor. I believe Zero outsources their controllers (from Sevcon?) so this might actually be upgradable - or not, or with some adaptation, for a variety of reasons.

    The motor does have a secondary part to play in terms of amp carrying capacity and heat dissipation. A motor will deliver all the power that feeds it - for as long as it can before heat causes a problem. (Which might be milliseconds for an extreme change, though that's not likely the case here.) So this may or may not need attention for an upgrade.

    Again, thanks for the write-up. An SR is likely in my future and this will be very useful info.
    #12
  13. Rugby4life

    Rugby4life Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    795
    Location:
    Upstate SC (GSP area)
    ctromley,
    Thanks for the technical corrections. I don't disagree with any of your points. However, I was trying to formulate a reply to which mandatemotorvation would easily relate. Your response, although technically correct, would have left him glassy-eyed and more confused than before he read it. In order for electric bikes to gain widespread acceptance, we have to make their function as easily understandable as possible. Once newcomers have bought into the concept, then we can fine tune the terminology for more precision. I have found that people asking casual, exploratory questions don't want to be answered with a masters thesis. "Know thy audience" is a golden rule of communication.
    #13
  14. ctromley

    ctromley Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,059
    Location:
    PA
    I do understand where you're coming from. Sometimes it's hard to be both clear and correct when addressing someone who's low on the learning curve. But there are great benefits to doing so if you can. No need to go into why you're correct.

    A wise person once said, "Be very careful what you let into your head. It can be very difficult to get the wrong stuff out."
    #14
  15. Rugby4life

    Rugby4life Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    795
    Location:
    Upstate SC (GSP area)
    Selling the stock charger from my '17 SR. Just over 1k miles of charges on it. I live near GSP airport in upstate SC. Will meet you within 150 miles. $500 with free pick up (or meet up) or actual shipping costs. I'll also post it in the marketplace.
    #15