Monday, March 5, 2012

*How to replace the front hub battery or how to use an external battery pack with a Tidalforce bike Part 1

*Hello fellow Tidalforce electric bike owners,

I've received many requests for help on this topic (How to use an external battery pack with a Tidalforce bike or how to fix my Tidalforce front hub battery), that I thought I would put it into one blog post versus the many that I have on the subject.

First off, you're probably reading this since you have recently come across a used Tidalforce electric bike or currently have a Tidalforce electric bike that has a front hub battery that is either dying or is completely dead! This is pretty common since Tidalforce (also known as Wavecrest Labs) went out of business in 2006 (or thereabouts) and getting replacement batteries is either very expensive or very difficult to do. Many folks give up and just sell their Tidalforce bikes in desperation. They probably loved the bike when it was running and totally enjoyed riding a smooth, quiet, powerful electric vehicle and hate giving up on it, however, there doesn't seem to be much hope for reviving  the battery and so they sell their dying bikes for a song.

If you happened across one of these dying Tidalforce bikes, congratulations on your great buy and please read on!

If you've had your Tidalforce for a while and are looking to replace the battery, then please read on.

Let's start with the bad news!

You've probably thought of the possibility of replacing the bad cells inside the front hub and you're wondering if this is possible. The practical answer is no, unless you have lots of electronics experience and some specialized equipment. The special equipment you need is a battery analyzer, a tab welder, and some very high quality NiMH D cells. The battery analyzer is used to test the 30 (or more) NiMH D cells to match them for voltage and capacity. This is critical since any mismatched cells that are either high or low in voltage or capacity will not last long in the pack and any one bad D cell will determine the capacity and longevity of your entire pack. You'll need a tab welder as well to replace the D cells in your front hub. It is not practical to simply replace the defective D cells in your front hub. Any new cells that don't perfectly match your existing cells will guarantee that your rebuilt pack will not last long. The mismatch D cell will either discharge too much current or not enough current and die an early death.

There is also the matter of the technical skill to disassemble a very complex pack and to reassemble it after you've replaced the cells. This is not something that many people can do. Take a look at some of my other posts of my dead packs and you'll see that it is very complex and challenging.

Now, the good news!


All Tidalforce electric bikes, the M-750, M-750X, S-750, S-750X, iO and the iOX, are all capable of using external batteries. You will need a small jumper and some technical skills. Namely, knowledge of batteries and some basic electronics knowledge. Officially, the external battery when sold by Wavecrest Labs/Tidalforce was the "B Battery." The front hub battery was called the "A Battery."

First: WARNING!
You will need to work with some fairly heavy-duty batteries and delicate electronics circuits. Use caution!

Disconnect all connections from this console to any other component on your Tidalforce bike!
There are many connectors leading from this console to the front hub battery, the throttle, and the rear motor. Disconnect them all! That way, you reduce the risk of causing a short or other electrical issue with the system possibly live with electricity!

Let's get started!
After you've disconnected everything, take a look at the console or dashboard. It should look like this:

You will need to dismount this console by loosening or removing the screw holding it to the handlebars and open it up so that you can get access to the circuit inside.

Flip it over to see this:
Carefully look at this arrangement. You'll notice 5 screws, 5 wires and one white plastic insert in an unused wire slot. KEEP TRACK OF THIS PLASTIC INSERT! This insert helps to keep the console water resistant. Without it, water can easily enter and short out your bike! You've been warned!

Now that you have it open, you'll see clusters of wires and flexible cable inside. Ignore all of these. We are looking for one particular set of jumpers inside.

Here's the circuit board without any wiring to show you what jumpers you're looking for. First, look for the block called "Batt2". I have outlined it in red below. After you spot the block, then look for the second set of jumpers close to the "Batt1" connector. I've outlined it with two red lines below.


You will need to jumper those two pins on the circuit board. It's called the "B Battery Jumper."

In order to create this jumper, you can either improvise by looking for a small jumper from your junk PC or hard drive, or create one from the official parts available at places like Mouser.com or Digikey.com.

This is the correct jumper block for the "B Battery" connector on the console.

The description on the order form is a bit cryptic.
"H2006-ND .49600 4.96 T
CONN 2MM HOUSING 14 POS DUAL
HTSUS: 8536.69.4050     ECCN: EAR99
LEAD: LEAD FREE                ROHS: ROHS COMP
COUNTRY/ORIGIN: JAPAN
CAGE: 0AG18"

The sockets which go inside this housing are these:


"H9999-ND .18200 3.64 T
CRIMP TERMINAL A3B-A4B TYPE
HTSUS: 8538.90.8040     ECCN: EAR99
LEAD: LEAD FREE                ROHS: ROHS COMP
COUNTRY/ORIGIN: JAPAN
CAGE: 0AG18"

These are very tiny parts and require great skill in order create.

You will also need some very fine gauge wire in order to jumper across these two pins. 22 or 24 gauge should do the trick. The jumper does not carry any significant current as far as I can tell. It's just a signal wire. It's either present or not.

To show you how small this connector pin is, see the picture here:
That's the pin in the palm of my hand!

To help with crimping this tiny pin, I bought this $9 crimper from my local Radio Shack:

It's officially called a "D-Sub Pin Crimper".

Lastly, here's a completed jumper.

Now, insert this little header block you've just created onto the "Batt1" connector in the console. This is what it should look like.


Make certain that you've got a good connection with the connector and that it's solid in the socket, reassemble the back cover of the console and be sure that no wires are crimped and that the little white plug is in place! 


Now that you've enabled the B battery option on the console on your Tidalforce bike, it's time to configure an external battery for your newly em"power"ed Tidalforce! Please check out my next post!

More later,
Ambrose





24 comments:

  1. Hello sir,
    I have the same problem but on M-750 tidalforce X 2.0 folding bike. Can you guide me through how to do the above on such model?
    Thank you.

    Fred

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    Replies
    1. Hi Fred, the instructions above would work on any Wavecrest Tidalforce bike. They all have the same basic design. This would not work on the newer, EMS or E+ Tidalforce Version 2.0 bikes which have a totally different battery, motor, console, etc. even though they look virtually identical...

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Unfortunately, the Tidalforce technique of adding a jumper to the console to enable the auxiliary battery does not work on the EMS or E+ systems. That is the fatal flaw of the E+ system. You have to work around this problem and I don't know of an easy answer. MiroCarr13 found a complex way to do it, but it's 1,000X harder than a simple jumper!

    http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=40010&p=739055

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  4. I forgot to clarify that the X2.0 Tidalforce bike is not the same as the v1.0 version. The Tidalforce 2.0 bike is made by E+ or EMS and not by Wavecrest Labs. The motor, console, and battery are not compatible, even though they look very similar.

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  5. Why can't the wires that had been attached to the hub battery just be connected to a new battery on the back?

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    Replies
    1. You can. However, if you disconnect the front hub, your console won't work since it requires the BMS to be on and talking to the console. You need to jumper to disable the front wheel. Then you can use the rear connector.

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  6. My M750 has started shutting off with flashing LEDs though it still has three LEDs lit on the SOC indicator. I'm assuming this means the hub batteries are bad?

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  7. I've heard mixed reviews on sending stuff into LEVT for repair. Should I risk it? I was thinking about having them do the 750>1000w upgrade. Also, my bike already has an A/B battery selector, and a power input cable in the rear for "B" battery. Can I just buy another battery and plug-n-play? Do I have to jumper the console in order to replace the dead front battery/hub/wheel with a lighter wheel?

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  8. I've never sent anything to them, however, they are the only game in town when it comes to replacing the dead cells in the front hub batteries and they are the only ones who can upgrade motors for the Tidalforce bike line from Wavecrest Labs.

    Most of the Tidalforce bikes out in the wild have the second battery connector already on their bikes. You will need the jumper for the console if you want to use the second battery without the front Tidalforce hub battery. The jumper eliminates the need for the front hub wheel in order for the TF bike to work.

    You will lose the use of they key and the SOC LEDs, however. This is not a big problem if you install a Cycle Analyst or other battery monitoring device. If you do buy a 3rd party battery, be sure that it can deliver over 20A continuous if you're staying with the 750W motor. (750W/36V= 20.8A) If you are upgrading to the X version motor (1000W/36V=27.8A), then you'll need to get a battery that can deliver 30A continuous.

    One last thing. You probably won't like the feel of your bike with a heavy battery mounted over the rear wheel. It would be best to mount the battery near the front of the bike to simulate the weight of the front hub battery.

    One of the magical parts of the Tidalforce bike is the amazing balance it has. The most magical part is the complete silence of the motor!

    Best of luck to you!

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  9. Update: I sent a standard 750W Tidalforce motor to LEVT for an upgrade last Summer and wanted to report back. I shipped the motor to them at the end of August. The upgrade costs $250 and shipping to and from them was around $100 for the round trip. My memory is that it took a few weeks for it to be done and the motor arrived back in good shape. They were communicative, but not overly so. There was a delay between the time they got the motor and the time they shipped it back. I wasn't in a hurry so was OK with it.

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  10. Hi Ambrose,

    I come here for advice: I read many of your comments/helpful hints on endless sphere before buying a 2nd hand Tidal Force IO. I noticed the NiMH battery pack has weak cells on my first trip so want to bypass the original battery with a meatier battery pack. Do you know a page explaining how to install the replacement battery and interface with the existing system, I saw quite a few photos on endless spheres but I don't think they are very explicit (I have zero experience with repairing/understanding ebikes but have basic electricity knowledge/experience). As for the connectors to the TF, what are there names and where to buy them ? Thank you, I hope the conversion process to a new battery technology will be a cool summer project for me ;)

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  11. I'm not sure why you're asking me about replacing the battery on your TF bike. The whole blog post above are the instructions!:!:!: :-)

    The connectors on the TF bikes are called Delphi Metripack 480s. They are weatherproof and used widely in the automobile industry. They can be bought from various sites like waytekwire.com but they tend to be expensive and you need to order a minimum number. I believe it's 10 sets. If you only need 1 or 2, I can make them for you for a fee.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ambrose, I saw your post on making Delphi Metripack 480 connectors, the type I would need are metripack 480 to anderson connector to be used with a cycle analist CA-SA, just like described on an article written by you. my tidalforce uses the Delphi Metripack.
      my email sergiori@hotmail.com thanks.

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    2. Hello Ambrose,
      What would your fee be to make 2 of the "B Jumpers" for me? I have 2 Wavecrest bikes: a Tidalforce M750X and an iO cruiser.

      Also, can you recommend a fully ready-to-go lithium battery pack compatible for my bikes that I can buy complete online? What do you use??
      Cheers,

      James (freedombuilder@gmail.com)

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  12. Thank you for your offer to sell me some "Delphi 480s" connectors but I see they are available at mouser.fr, so think I can manage by my own.
    I took the time to read more than half of miro123's post on endless sphere about using an external A123 battery pack and think I understand most of it (and comments by various people on the post, also very interesting and "very" spot on !). I'd like to uncripple my TF (which tops at 250W because of local regulations) but have little hope on that. If I can improve range, it won't be too bad yet.
    Thanks for your answer !

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  13. Miro13car's comments on using an A123 prismatic pack is for his E+ bike which isn't easy to upgrade. The system doesn't have the jumper to disable the front hub battery. If you have a standard Tidalforce iO cruiser bike then you don't have that limitation. Simply insert the jumper above and use any 3rd party 36-37V battery that can output 30A continuous. Also, you can upgrade your TF to 1000W if you send it to LEVT in Pocatello Idaho, USA.

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  14. Two questions and I think I'm done :)
    - Once you insert the jumper for using the B battery, do you need to activate the B battery with a button ? On my french TF, there's no LED indicator for a B battery (just A battery).
    - Do you connect the B battery to the front Delphi connectors ?
    My NiMH hub battery has given the ghost from my last ride (wouldn't hold a charge after 1 day) so I really hope I can put the info here to good use soon.

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    Replies
    1. Once the jumper is inserted, the system overrides the front battery BMS. You can connect your new battery to the B battery connector by the rear seat. You don't need to plug it in where the front battery is connected. Once the jumper is in and the B battery is connected, the key is no longer needed. The system will be "on" all the time and you'll need to either insert an on/off switch in the circuit or disconnect the battery. Also, the SOC LEDs will no longer function. It might be good to get a battery meter in the circuit. The best one I know of is the Cycle Analyst Standalone. http://www.ebikes.ca/shop/ebike-parts/cycle-analysts/ca-sa.html

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  15. Hi, hoping thread is still open,.. I have a TF 750, the console LED battery indicators for column "A" displays a fully charged front hub. Yet when throttling the motor is sluggish and very slow (turbo mode vibrates like it's regen). I haven't jumpered the console yet but when I plug a 36v external pack into either front or rear (A or B) the motor performs very strong & optimal. Any ideas? TIA

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  16. In hopes that this is still monitored... I'm wondering if this bike can still be relevant? I'm going to an auction tomorrow where I suspect I can pick this up for around $50. It is sold without a charger, though I imagine the battery is long dead anyway so that hardly matters. I'm just wondering, now that it is 2016... should I jump on this or just pass? Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. The bike is easily worth $500. If you can get it for $50. Do it. You can replace the front wheel with a regular wheel and the battery can be replaced. See above! 😊

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  17. My brake sensors are broken off do you have to have them plugged into to the console for the bike to go? The thin plastic around the screw has has cracked and their is no way to tighten them on anymore. Thanks

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