Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

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icerider   100 W

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Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 23 2014 9:22pm

In May 2014, I bought a used Terratrike Cruiser with a PL350 (old style I2C G1 console) Bionx system. The bike is circa 2009 and appears to be a “Power Cruiser”, originally delivered from Terratrike with the Bionx system installed.

When I took possession of the bike, it came with two Bionx batteries. One of these appears to have good capacity remaining and is capable of about 15 miles in the top level of support (level 4). With an advertised capacity of 9.6AHr, this seems reasonable, not great, but reasonable. The second battery was STONE dead.

After several attempts to recover the “dead” battery, I figured … why not… and opened the case. The battery was wired 10s6p as expected. The old I2C Bionx system does not have a battery management system as such. The pack of 60 cells is bulk charged without any attempt at “balance”.

Disassembly yielded 60 LiMn 1600mAh 18650 cells in varying states of life. Roughly 30 of them proved to be dead, leaky, and unrecoverable. The other 30 retain some “spark” of life and I have managed to recover 10 of them more or less fully.

Living in Arizona and now knowing that the Bionx system had no balance circuitry made for an interesting idea. “Why not a Solar Power Cruiser?” A quick look for solar panels showed up an initial problem. Solar panels are HEAVY. Most 100W solar panels weigh 16-21 pounds (7.5-10 kg) and come with heavy frames and tempered glass faces designed to withstand the impact of golf ball sized hail without damage. A worthy goal for an installed panel, but not very necessary for an electric bike that is already probably at least a little allergic to rain, let alone golf ball sized hail. Further looking produced an interesting candidate (https://www.renogy-store.com/100watts-b ... -100db.htm). A 100W Monocrystalline bendable solar panel. Bendable…hmm…but more important, the weight is 3 pounds (1.35kg). OK, that might be workable…not cheap, but workable. The panel is 41x21 inches (1049x530mm). Maybe very workable. Next question is simple…where to mount this thing. So take a picture of the bike from the side, drop it in PowerPoint, and take a line the right length and start waving it around over the picture. Ah ha…did I mention that I live in Arizona? My bike is about to have an umbrella.

On to the next problem. The solar panel produces 17.7V and 5.90 amps at the max power point, and I need 42V for a 10s battery. OK, I need a boost power supply. Amazon to the rescue with (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F0E0F2E), a DROK DC Voltage Converter Regulator 10-32V up converted to 36-60V Boost Regulated Power Supply. Now they caution that it needs enhanced cooling over 80 watts and I still live in Arizona and it is getting on July. A 50mm 12 volt fan will fill the bill nicely. And a project box from the local radio shack, and oh yes, a low-loss blocking diode with very low forward voltage drop. Say like (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0087YQKQ4) a Vishay 30A 100V trench MOS barrier Schottky diode…just what the doctor ordered. Now we are ready to try to build this thing.

I started with taking the 10 good 18650s recovered from the dead Bionx battery, wired them 10s1p and put them back into the Bionx battery case and wired up all the other stuff in the project box. I wired the solar panel to the input of the boost supply and to the little 50mm fan. I wired the output of the boost supply into the Bionx battery and dragged the whole thing into the sun (Arizona strikes again). I adjusted the output voltage to 42 volts. I mounted the mess to the Power cruiser with ¾ inch PVC schedule 40 water pipe and now I had a Solar Cruiser with a battery capacity of 1.6Ah and a total energy of 59 Whr.

Hmm, this probably isn’t going to work very well but what the hell, it is a down and dirty prototype. If I get it up to speed without using the motor, and then go REALLY gentle on the throttle, and keep the required battery (and panel) power to say no more than 100W then I can go 14mph !!!!! on level ground. Or so says the simulator (http://www.ebikes.ca/tools/simulator.html). I fed it Bionx PL350 Motor, 36 volt, 20a controller, 150kg full recumbent with fat old guy and 78% throttle. I don’t believe the 14mph, but maybe this won’t be a complete failure…maybe.
So now the 59Whr (1.6Ah) battery is all charged up to 42V, the sun is shining …sorta, we are getting into monsoon season and there are clouds around. I push the menu (start) button and the Bionx system powers up – first time in a couple of years this battery has come to life in the system. The circuit board in the older “dead” Bionx battery is still mostly? WORKING. This is a BIG step in the right direction.

Down the drive and out onto our little rural road. Lo and behold, if I get it up to 12 mph with my legs and then use the throttle VERY gently, I get a couple of bars on the power meter (couple of bars out of say 16 bars) – not too far maybe from 100W. And the bike rolls on at 12 mph without pedaling at all. If the power is split 50/50 between battery and panel then I am drawing roughly 1.5A (1C) from the poor abused 18650s in the Bionx shell and 50 W from the panel and boost supply. OK, so far kinda sorta working, let’s try a little more throttle – BANG low voltage cutout and the system is locked.
OK, put it into diagnostic mode, which on the I2C Bionx system appears to ignore low battery. I continue to ride using the throttle. With the diagnostics running , I see the low voltage warning (err 25), but there is no low voltage cutout, just the diagnostic warning. When I give it more throttle, the voltage drops like a stone to around 30 volts and the bike continues to roll at maybe 13 mph. OK, the first test is a rousing, but limited, success. I now have a “working” battery to play with (and my other unmodified good Bionx battery is not at risk) and the solar system is trying to do what it should, I can hear the little 50mm 12v fan running faster (no load) and slower (as the solar panel is loaded by the boost supply and the voltage drops). Don’t have any diagnostics except the voltage report from the Bionx controller, but when I coast, the voltage comes back up to 38+ volts … and RISING, the solar system is charging the Bionx battery. This thing is working. The first ride went for 2 miles and never got above about 13 mph. Not too far from what the simulator predicted, but not NEARLY enough fun.

So, everything is sort of working. What I need now is a higher battery capacity. I can buy a replacement brick of lithium batteries for the Bionx battery shell for around $500 from electricrider (http://www.electricrider.com/Lithium-Ba ... ebuild.htm)– and I still may, but that seems like a big investment just to take the next step to a Solar Power Cruiser.
Hobbyking to the rescue, did you know they have a new US warehouse. Two 5s 20C 5000mAh LiPo bricks (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor ... _Pack.html) and an iMAX balance charger are $150.

The two 5s 20C 5000mAh LiPo bricks fit with a LOT of room to spare into the Bionx battery shell. And, even if I know the LiPo can be dangerous, I also know that I am using them VERY gently. Say the Bionx system peaks at 750W, that is 20A at a nominal 37 volts or 4C out of the 20C LiPo bricks. And the charge rate is around 0.5C at best. Pretty undemanding life for an RC LiPo. But, it is Arizona, and they will have to be in the sun to charge, and the garage is uninsulated…so we’ll keep a watchful eye on them. Charged and balanced the LiPos and put them into the Bionx battery shell with three power leads (high, mid, and ground) sticking out of the case for charging. i also extended their balance leads outside the case so I can check and correct out-of-balance problems.
solar1small.jpg
Solar Power cruiser
So now for the first REAL ride on the Solar Power Cruiser. It is early – pre dawn. The battery is fully charged and I am anxious to know how far my new 5Ah (185Wh) battery will carry me. I set the console to max assist and use the throttle freely. I also peddle consistently but not particularly hard. I work to keep the speed UP on uphills for efficiency in the Bionx direct drive motor. I rarely drop below 17mph. When the pack (10s) voltage reaches 35 volts, I have gone 14 miles (13.2 Wh/mile) on a loop in relatively hilly terrain with a total loss/gain of 700 feet. WOW, that is better than I expected, pretty darn good for a cheapie rebuild of a Bionx battery. But that was in the dark. The sun is now up and low in the sky, I put the back wheel of the cruiser up on a bucket to give it a better solar angle. I manually track the sun just correcting the pointing maybe once per hour for 4 hours from 7 to 11 am. At 11 I walk past the bike and notice the little 50mm fan is REALLY racing. I check voltages and the battery is back to 42V and the boost supply is taking virtually nothing from the solar panel so the little 12v 50mm fan is getting about 20 volts from the panel, no wonder it is racing. With a fully charged bike I set out at 11am to see how much further I go with the sun shining. I get 14 miles on the same loop again at max assist and using the throttle freely. When I get back to the starting point, the battery voltage is still at 38.5 volts (about half full). I ride the circuit again, I am getting a little bored and am using the throttle a LOT this time around. At about 26 miles I have dropped to 35 volts under load and back off the assist to finish the last two miles. I finish the 28 miles right at 35 volts. The solar panel has essentially doubled my useful range in the highest assist mode.

So at this point, I am elated. I ride for fun, and do not commute on the bike. 14 miles is a good morning ride and even 20 miles is enough to go to the nearest town for groceries, etc. This is going to work. For the next three weeks, I ride the bike every morning and just leave it in the sun when I am done with the morning ride. My wife keeps an eye on it and rolls it into the garage when the little 50mm fan starts to get fast and noisy. It is the height of monsoon and she also takes it inside if it looks like it is going to rain. In three weeks it fails to fully charge by noon on only one particularly dark and gloomy day (Arizona remember).
I have now ridden for four weeks and been on a charger only once and that was to be sure the LiPos were properly balanced. I got an RC balance checker (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003Y6E6IE) an Integy C23212 Lipo Voltage Checker, and have kept track of the LiPo cell voltages. At full charge, the cells are at 4.17 volts plus or minus 0.01 volts. At 90% discharge they are at 3.4 to 3.5 volts with a total range among the cells of less than 0.10 volts. After roughly 20 full cycles they still have better than advertised capacity ~5200mAh.
So what is the bottom line? Dogman is right, if all I wanted was range, the batteries are lighter than the solar panel (but not too much lighter). On the other hand, on weekends I ride with friends and use the lowest 2 assist levels. In that case, I can reasonably expect to go 60 miles starting first thing in the morning. If we kept riding through mid-day, I would expect to have a nearly full battery at 2pm after 7 hours at 12-14 mph. That is starting to sound like a reasonable touring solution, at least in sunny Arizona. Besides, it is kind of fun to have an electric bike that never has to be charged from the wall, just left in the sun and ridden whenever I want.

There is also an interesting “bug” in the ointment. Starting out at 42 volts, that old I2C Bionx controller occasionally enters “never land” and locks up. It is easy to clear, just push the “menu” button and wait for 20 seconds or so and the console will “reboot” and become useable again. When this happens in the diagnostic mode, the controller shows err 26 (no comm with battery). I think it is related to the fact that the max voltage the Bionx system was expecting is from 41-41.5 volts and the diagnostic display shows 42.4 volts at startup fully charged. The other unique problem is that the battery gauge was showing nothing (no bars). I reset the battery gauge and it worked once, but did not work after recharging. I tried again and reset the battery gauge when the battery was full. I rode it half empty in midday sun and left it to charge. When I came back the battery was fully charged 41.7 volts but the battery gauge still showed only 50% charge (it didn’t move at all. This suggests that one of the functions of the circuit board in the battery in the I2C (old) Bionx system is to act like a cycle analyst and integrate the received charge. Since I am charging the batteries direct to the battery terminals and NOT through the battery circuit board, this feature does not work. I am going to try resetting the battery gauge immediately before every ride (when the battery is fully charged) and see if that works. After being reset, the battery gauge seems to follow the battery voltage as a guide to energy remaining, and the curves for LiMn and LiPo are relatively similar.

In any case, I am having a great time with my Solar Power Cruiser.
Last edited by icerider on Aug 25 2014 2:52pm, edited 2 times in total.

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icerider   100 W

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 24 2014 12:42am

OK, I'm clearly an idiot.

I uploaded a picture but it isn't here

How the devil do I get it to show ??

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by dogman dan » Aug 24 2014 6:08am

After the upload, you click one more time to insert it in the text where you want it.

Apparently there are new solar panels on the market without the heavy glass protection. Might look into 100w worth of those.

And then carry some way to get them protected if it's summer and hail might happen. like some coroplast sheets.

60-100w going in all day, when riding in level 2, would be half your power or more.

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icerider   100 W

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 24 2014 12:31pm

I hadn't thought about carrying hail protection. The way the panel is laid out, it would be fairly easy to carry a second "panel sized" piece of hard plastic that could be pulled out from under the panel and put on top in a hurry. I really don't think this "flexible" panel would like hail very much. The front cover seems pretty thin, but Renogy says you can walk on them (think boat deck). I will also throw some freezer bags into the panniers to have a dry place to stuff the controller and the battery if I ever need to. The panel wouldn't mind rain. Since I usually ride close to home, I either don't ride when rain threatens or I stay close enough to come tearing home and duck into the garage before the storm hits. But touring is entirely different .. more things I need to think about before trying it.

Just got back from a ride with friends down Az90 to Kartchner Caverns and back, 26 miles round trip. Started at 7am and rode assist level 1 and 2 on the way out and assist level 1 on the ride back. Averaged 12-14mph on the way out (generally slightly uphill) and better than that coming back. We spent a long time exploring around Kartchner Caverns and taking wildflower photos, etc.

The low point for the battery was 38.8V (3.88/cell) starting back from the caverns. By the time we got back it was 9:30 and the battery was back up to 39.4V and rising slowly. Kinda cool, the bike could have kept that up all through the midday hours and well into the afternoon. Riding assist levels 1 and 2, I could have kept going for at least another couple of hours. Beyond that, I think I would give out before the bike.

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by dogman dan » Aug 24 2014 2:23pm

That's badass, Somehow I got the idea you were carrying the heavy glass. Since hail is seldom happening in a monsoon morning rain, you should be fine on that. I was thinking carry something if you rode to the mountains in the PM.

I'm starting to wonder about something similar, with a panel about that size carried on top of the tent and sleeping bag. It's a bit longer than I would like, but the width is no wider than my existing load on the cargo bike.

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jateureka   10 kW

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by jateureka » Aug 24 2014 3:15pm

That's a really neat set up you have there!

I have a Terra Trike cruiser also and have made an adapter plate to reduce the turning circle as I got sick of having to do three-point turns all the time. Now it's more enjoyable to ride.
E-bikes: Bafang 8FUN; Mac; Ezee; FreeGo; Aprilia 7s LiPo; eLation V2; TerraTrike recumbent
E-motorbikes: ZEV 7100 LR scooter, 84V 60Ah LiFePO4.
ZERO 2011 S motorcycle, 51.8V 70Ah LiMno2, 2012 headlight, Kilovac EV-200 contactor
E-mower: EGO 56V mower & line trimmer

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by dogman dan » Aug 24 2014 3:51pm

This is looking cool, Near as I can figure, 500wh per day sounds possible from this size panel including heat losses in the voltage converter.

Based on my magic number of 25 wh/mi I try to hit when touring, a full 10 ah pack plus the solar setup could do 40 miles. If not at a plug to refill faster at that point, you could potentially continue at a rate of 75w or so.

That's not going to cut it if your goal is to ride 100 mile days, but if you wanted to take your sweet time getting there, It could move your camp 20-40 miles per day. On solar panel power alone, 20 miles a day would work.

The panels are light enough to carry two or three, meaning a noon stop for 3 hours could nearly fill 1000wh. This could be very handy if riding into the big empty out here.

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icerider   100 W

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 24 2014 6:16pm

The real shame is how expensive the lightweight "flexible" panels are. They run $2/W from Renogy compared to $0.80/W for the conventional and heavy (50lb) 300W polycrystalline also from Renogy.

A quick check of ebay shows that all the flexible lightweight panels run in that same $2/W range. The largest single panel I saw was a Semi-Flexible 150 Watt Solar Panel, High Efficiency Sunpower Marine Rated panel with a voltage of ~27V at max power.

One problem, besides clouds, is that although the panel can be tipped in the "roll axis" on a moving bike, any attempt to move it very far in the "pitch axis" will result in additional drag. Add cross winds or buffet from passing trucks, and the only sensible orientation is likely to be horizontal. This means that the panel is seldom (or never at higher latitude) perpendicular to the sun and runs below rated power.
solar_aug.jpg
tipped up for sun
For example, right now at 4pm, even tipped up for a better angle, my bike is only pushing 51W (1.3A at 39.3 volts) into my battery right now. For my small 5Ah (185Wh) battery, 50W is fine, 3 hours and I am ready to go again, or I can cruise at 12-14 mph with moderate pedal input and the battery holds roughly stable. If I were riding right now, the solar input would drop well below 50W and I would gradually run the battery flat, even riding conservatively.

I have considered using 3 of the 100W panels as a "roof" for a Bob's trailer (13 lbs + the solar stuff), or building a lightweight solar-battery trailer with 20 inch or smaller wheel, but no matter how I figure that one, it gets to over 13lbs REAL quick. So, If I actually needed a Bob's trailer putting on the solar roof makes sense but as a stand-alone solar trailer it gets hard to justify, Especially at $2/W

For a 100W panel in Az, I think that 300Wh delivered to the battery (from say 9am-3pm) is a conservative estimate. The 500Wh seems a little optimistic, but not by all that much, especially if you tip the bike whenever it is not moving. This morning I was just rolling it onto the left pannier to get just about perpendicular to the 8am sun.

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by dogman dan » Aug 24 2014 6:31pm

Yes I understand, you'd likely not get 500wh unless you stopped so you can track the sun better.

But for more modest needs, like yours, or somebody looking to take a long time to ride across a state at 20 miles a day, lots of time to charge enough.

I'm impressed, particularly with the low budget converter to make the 12-20v panel put out pack voltage.

If 200w of panel and the voltage converter could be done for under 10 pounds, that would equal a 48v 10 ah pack in per day usable power, and not weigh that much. When I tour, I ride so slow drag would not be such a problem, and stopping to unfold two panels for a three hour lunch would work fine. Then ride on with just one panel still giving out 50w.

It's looking damn cool to me, along with the additional use at home, as a stationary charging station.

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icerider   100 W

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 24 2014 6:39pm

I have also (maybe?) had a breakthrough on the controller lockup issue I am having. Diagnostics say it is error 26 -- loss of comm with the battery. I noticed that it happens most often when the battery is near full (41+V) in particular and MUCH less often when the battery has a little "room" in it say at 39V. It NEVER happens when the battery is below 38 volts. This suggests that just maybe, the electronic noise from the boost power supply is interfering with the I2C comm. That noise will get worse as the battery gets full and the boost power supply is running at a lower pulse width. At least the "noise/ripple" will gradually move to higher frequencies as the battery fills. In any case, Bionx designed for a nice quiet battery and I have attached a hellaciously noisy boost power supply into that circuit. If the noise just cross-couples into the comm lines it is easily prone to cause trouble.

In any case I will grit my teeth and go to radio shack and (I hope) get a couple large-ish low loss capacitors to install across the output power lines from the boost supply to the battery. I'll let you know if this helps with the console lockups. I have to think about startup transient for the boost supply, but I doubt any caps I buy will make all that much difference compared to the battery hanging across the output of the boost supply.

I have noticed that the rear support for the panel, which is attached to the back end of the headrest tube, is vibrating the aluminum headrest and the two aluminum seat cross braces that the headrest attaches to. Sooner or later that is going to cause a problem. For now I will brace the headrest against the rear rack for additional stiffness. This will put the supports for the rear rack in greater tension but they are relatively beefy DIY aluminum flat stock so that shouldn't be an immediate concern. I will also put a dense piece of rubber in the brace to provide at least some damping. I'll have to watch for fatigue in all the tubes of the headrest and in those cross tubes on the back of the seat.

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icerider   100 W

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 24 2014 6:59pm

Yes, that little Boost Converter from DROK has been working VERY nicely for four weeks of daily use. I have only checked the efficiency of the conversion a couple of times but the values I got were 85% and 89% which are consistent with the advertised efficiency. The one problem I have is that the boost supply and battery look like a 2 ohm load to the solar panel. That pulls the best output of the panel down to something in the neighborhood of 12 volts and 6 amps for a total of 72W. I am running significantly below the 17.7V // 5.7A max power point.

I realize now that 2x50W panels (https://www.renogy-store.com/50watts-be ... g-50db.htm) would have probably been a better match to the application. Connected in series the max power point would be near 35V // 2.85 amp. The open circuit voltage would be around 43V. I (might ??) have to find another boost power supply, but that isn't very far out of the specified range for the one I have although the step-down from 43 to 42 for a near-full battery might not work. On the other hand, two 50W panels is $320 or so rather than the $199 or so I paid for the 100W panel.

If you are thinking about two 20V open circuit panels in series, this boost supply looks interesting (http://www.amazon.com/DROK-Constant-Cur ... B00E8D7XYG). It has the added benefit of doing constant current-constant voltage so it could limit current into the battery to some defined max and then limit voltage as the battery gets full. With two 100W panels you might even NEED the current limiting although 11-12 amps into a 10Ah battery is not VERY far above 1C.
Last edited by icerider on Aug 31 2014 12:01am, edited 1 time in total.

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desert_triker   1 mW

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by desert_triker » Aug 24 2014 7:17pm

What a facinating post, icerider. Thanks for posting it.

I live in Tucson and just finished a pusher trailer for my Catrike, I call it my "grocery cart". Putting a panel on the trailer would insure I could get to a big box and haul back a ton, it's a 20 mile round trip (neighborhood streets and bike trails). Have lunch at Costco and I'd be ready to go home.

Too cool.

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icerider   100 W

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 24 2014 7:57pm

Just ran to the little local 7-11 for a gallon of milk. Found the bike happily charging in the sun, grabbed it up and went. 4 miles round trip, ran up and over I10 at 20+ mph full throttle and high gear. It has completely replaced my car for that short little run. I wish the roads were a little smoother, but it is still fun to grab and go.

now ... GROCERY SHOPPING... That is sort of my current short term goal. 14 miles on I10, but it has nice wide paved shoulders all the way so not as bad as I used to think.

Downhill into Benson, lunch at MiCasa, grocery shopping (two panniers full), and the ride up the bloody 600 foot hill out of Benson and back up onto the mesa.

But a grocery cart ... that is an idea, and a place to put MORE PANELS...and then carry more groceries, etc. and maybe try a little touring ... and ... I'm gonna need a bigger motor, and a bigger battery ... and

This could get addicting in a big hurry.

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Jonathan in Hiram   1 kW

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by Jonathan in Hiram » Aug 24 2014 11:32pm

Just when you think you've properly propitiated the ebike gods with your latest sacrifice of Benjamins then something like this comes along.

Something that makes no economic sense but is ridiculously emotionally satisfying to the geek mind.

Needless to say I want it and I'll keep thinking about it until I eventually break down and do it. Nice job.
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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by motomech » Aug 25 2014 4:50am

I have been thinking about copying this layout(with more panel on the back) for a while now.
Pannon_Rider_Solar-powered_recumbent.jpg
Pannon_Rider_Solar-powered_recumbent.jpg (73.38 KiB) Viewed 4896 times
This thread will motivate me.
I imagine most anyone who rides an Ebike here in the desert South West thinks about a solar trike from time to time.
Not only to be able to use some power of the Sun, but to create some moving shade.
I have brought up the idea here from time to time, but most seem to think it wouldn't work.
I guess one needs to live here to appreciate the intensity of the Sun.
I only ride at nite and early morning right now.
Need to finish my 2WD dirt bike first.
Motomech

'03 Rocky Mountain Edge 2WD 260 Q100H frt and Ezee V1 rear 2 Elifebike 20A & 25A 9-FET controllers 12S/10Ah Multistar Lipo rear 4Ah Turnigy frt Luna Cyclops Extra lite Alex 24DM rims, Crazy Bobs run ghetto tubeless. 25 mph. Mean Well HLG-320H-54A
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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by dogman dan » Aug 25 2014 5:37am

I'm still sort of thinking along the lines of one panel working during a ride myself, so I was thinking more in terms of 2 or more panels in parallel. At a noon stop, you could unfold a second panel, perhaps completely separate, charging a separate battery.

I think to carry to charge on the fly, the one panel might be the sweet spot.

I'm also thinking more in terms of charging one battery while I run on another, so none of that stuff about ripples will bother me. I carry a 48v 15 ah and a 48v 10 ah. So riding in the dark could be done on the 48v 10 ah, then it could start charging that battery while I ride the 48v 15 ah empty.

To make it across the 70 mile gaps, I need another 500wh of battery. Very tempting to buy a panel rather than more battery at this point. Especially if you have a 100 mile gap, through the mountains, to cross. Might take three days, but in the mountains taking your time could be a plus.

Also intriguing the idea of just carrying an even lighter and smaller 50w panel. It would charge a 12v battery while camped. With it, I could camp anywhere, and still use mobile wi fi to do my internet job in the afternoons. This would free me from the need to make it to a camp site with power every day. In this way, carrying more battery, I could do the 70 mile gaps in two days, rather than have to get there in one.

I have this fantasy now, get up ride 40 miles, camp, work on the net all afternoon. 70 mile days wear me out too much to do much more than two in a row. So for a longer tour, I need a shorter daily ride. The catch 22 here is it's 50-90 miles between state parks with power. So each camp without power would be a day missed on the internet job. A reliable 12v power source would keep an internet wifi and laptop going.

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lbz5mc12   10 kW

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by lbz5mc12 » Aug 25 2014 6:36am

What about using to panels and peaking them at an angle like a roof?

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icerider   100 W

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 25 2014 7:09am

Jonathan in Hiram wrote:Just when you think you've properly propitiated the ebike gods with your latest sacrifice of Benjamins then something like this comes along.

Something that makes no economic sense but is ridiculously emotionally satisfying to the geek mind.

Needless to say I want it and I'll keep thinking about it until I eventually break down and do it. Nice job.

Yep, ridiculously emotionally satisfying to the geek mind is the key. It will certainly never pay for itself, but it does enable interesting changes in how I think about the bike. To be able to do a 26 mile round trip on a 185Wh battery and return from the ride with half the battery left and just getting to the high-solar midday hours completely cures my fears of running out of battery on a "friendly" ride, at least on sunny days. I am much more likely to use the bike for local errands if it is is sitting out charging from the sun rather than sitting in the garage charging from the power cord. I know that is silly, but it is the truth, I can just sit down and go and that makes all the difference.

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icerider   100 W

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 25 2014 7:17am

Motomech,

I loved that bike when I first saw the pictures. It is another example of solar replacing another component, in this case a cowl. I like concepts where the solar is an "incidental" benefit.

The more I think about it, the more a solar "roof" for a Bob's trailer appeals, and it can go with more than one bike. Maybe the seeds of the "next project" are taking root. With even 200W available I could be going a LOT faster or a lot further
Last edited by icerider on Aug 25 2014 7:34am, edited 1 time in total.

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icerider   100 W

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 25 2014 7:33am

lbz5mc12 wrote:What about using to panels and peaking them at an angle like a roof?
If you have the room to do that, you could take a single panel and set it up so that it could swing left or right as needed. That would be cheaper and lighter but probably more complex to build.

Otherwise, set it up so that the panels form a peaked roof when in motion but can be moved to be flat when stopped and then either tip them both or tip the whole bike to maximize solar gain while stopped. I think I have seen concepts like that in photos somewhere around here or maybe elsewhere. Google images for solar powered bikes and you will get a LOT of interesting ideas including the curved "solar roof" Motomech showed above.

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by dogman dan » Aug 25 2014 7:39am

Yep can't pay for itself really. But an ebike that can't really every run completely out of power has definite appeal.

Back when only heavy panels, or too large area thin film was possible, covering a trailer roof made sense. It still does. I keep looking at that 50w panel, though it's price sucks. Three of those that could fold out at a camp would work fairly well without being too big to carry on a longtail.

If committed to trailering, then two 100w panels could work well, on a very low trailer to keep drag down. Use very short dolly wheels. About 42 " square. It could be less than 16" tall, yet have 10 inches on interior box height.

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icerider   100 W

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 25 2014 9:03am

dogman wrote:Yep can't pay for itself really. But an ebike that can't really every run completely out of power has definite appeal.

Back when only heavy panels, or too large area thin film was possible, covering a trailer roof made sense. It still does. I keep looking at that 50w panel, though it's price sucks. Three of those that could fold out at a camp would work fairly well without being too big to carry on a longtail.

If committed to trailering, then two 100w panels could work well, on a very low trailer to keep drag down. Use very short dolly wheels. About 42 " square. It could be less than 16" tall, yet have 10 inches on interior box height.
I like the idea of keeping the trailer low and 42 inches is not that much wider than my trike so I would adapt quickly to the additional width. When the weather gets nicer I want to try some short tours. An overnight down to Kartchner Caverns would be good "training wheels" for me. I can do that one with just the panniers and maybe a sleeping bag tied to the back of the seat. With just a 16 mile run from my front door to the caverns, I can ride in high assist all the way and just FLY on the flats.

Thanks to something you said above, I just realized I have another possible solution to the "noise" problem with console lockup. There is absolutely NOTHING that keeps me from digging into my other "stock" Bionx battery and pulling out a set of charging wires for it too. In fact that was my original plan which I abandoned when I realized I could rebuild the dead battery to try this scheme out before putting the stock battery at risk. Then I can charge the battery that is off the bike and always have at least some reserve. It doesn't even require any change to the existing charging system since it just hooks into the battery and doesn't really know that the battery is also hooked to the bike. Hmmm, this is getting more and more interesting ... That means with a simple modification I have ~13Ah of battery in two packs.

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amberwolf   100 GW

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by amberwolf » Aug 25 2014 1:27pm

I like what you're doing (although i am not sure about everything in your first post, as some of your text is garbled up, with parts of a sentence somehow moved out of where it should be and planted in the middle of another, at least once).

I do highly recommend bright lighting, even in daytime, if you're having to ride on the shoulders of highways like that. I ride in street traffic here in Phoenix and use motorcycle lighting, plus white downlighting to light up the road around me. The downlighting doesn't help in the day, but the other lighting does, along with the car headlight in front (MC headlight would work too but I didnt have one).

I also recommend an SMV sign, like on the back of my CrazyBike2 and Delta Tripper. In your case, if you are going to use a trailer, put one on that and on your trike. It should help alert people approaching you from behind that there is a a vehicle going slower than 25MPH there, if they know what they are supposed to know as drivers. ;) But even if they don't, it's a big orange triangle in daytime and a reflective one at night, to make you more visible.

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icerider   100 W

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by icerider » Aug 25 2014 2:39pm

amberwolf wrote:I like what you're doing (although i am not sure about everything in your first post, as some of your text is garbled up, with parts of a sentence somehow moved out of where it should be and planted in the middle of another, at least once).

I do highly recommend bright lighting, even in daytime, if you're having to ride on the shoulders of highways like that. I ride in street traffic here in Phoenix and use motorcycle lighting, plus white downlighting to light up the road around me. The downlighting doesn't help in the day, but the other lighting does, along with the car headlight in front (MC headlight would work too but I didnt have one).

I also recommend an SMV sign, like on the back of my CrazyBike2 and Delta Tripper. In your case, if you are going to use a trailer, put one on that and on your trike. It should help alert people approaching you from behind that there is a a vehicle going slower than 25MPH there, if they know what they are supposed to know as drivers. ;) But even if they don't, it's a big orange triangle in daytime and a reflective one at night, to make you more visible.

Thank you, I did not notice the scrambled sentence, I think they are all fixed now. Funny, I read through it twice after pasting into the editor ... but .... who knows.

For my normal riding around the neighborhood I have a Cygolite Metro 420 headlight in flash mode and either one or two Portland Design Works Danger Zone Tail lights both are VERY bright and eye catching, especially at dawn and dusk. However, I LIKE your idea of the SMV sign for riding down the highway shoulder. The wider highways with paved shoulders are DEFINITELY safer than the run-of-the-mill 2 lane "country road" with NO shoulders, but I still feel kind of naked out there and I watch my mirror like a hawk. No touring experience AT ALL and I appreciate the ideas. The SMV signs will also help with daylight visibility even in bustling "downtown" Benson. Besides, the sign will fit within the outline of the panniers so little or no additional wind drag.
Last edited by icerider on Aug 25 2014 3:01pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Solar Power Cruiser - Terratrike

Post by amberwolf » Aug 25 2014 2:53pm

Something else you could consider if you find poeple coming too close on hte highway shoulder is either MattyCiii's Lefty Folding Lightstick, or simulating one of those "arrow" construction signs that is made of a few amber LED sections, strobing from right to left. It won't be as high as people would expect it to be, but if the road is straight and flat they will still have plenty of time to notice it, and the response to that sort of thing tends to be automatic in most drivers I've watched.

(I've considered using some of the traffic signal lights on All Electronics' website as tail/brake/turn lights, simply because they're almost a foot across. :lol: Bigger it is, the harder it is to ignore it, which is why I don't use bicycle-sized lighting, or any of the smaller bright but point-source stuff, but try to use larger-surface-area lights)


Oh, and here's a pic of the Delta Tripper with SMV sign, day and night:
Delta Tripper rear Apr 2013.jpg
Delta Tripper rear Apr 2013.jpg (96.17 KiB) Viewed 4890 times
Delta Tripper rear Nana Apr 2013.jpg
Delta Tripper rear Nana Apr 2013.jpg (47.97 KiB) Viewed 4890 times
It's not quite as visible in the night pics of CrazyBike2 because of the much brighter lighting surrounding it:
0725142148-00.jpg
0725142148-00.jpg (25.75 KiB) Viewed 4890 times

.

And some harborfreight reflective striping on the back of the trailer (cuz I don't have another SMV sign for it yet):
20131011_170944.jpg
20131011_170944.jpg (66.03 KiB) Viewed 4890 times

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