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Jgilly, I found more info on the ports in the SOP folder - dense folder there. It seems that I'm going to need the PEAK CAN adapter you mentioned and PCAN Explorer 4 software? I'm going to look for that. Would these instructions put me where I want to be? It shows a log mode for "charge"??

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JGilly, I've also noticed about the how you're to supposed to let the batteries get low just like you said - I read somewhere in the paperwork that you're supposed to do it once a month when you're driving it regularly. I'll be trying this soon but it might be a few weeks before I decide to drive it and get an idea how far it will go on 3 good batteries.
 

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I recently bought a 2012 Smith Newton, the box truck style from Frito Lay. Well not exactly bought... I asked the seller to only ship it when it was confirmed to be able to drive/charge correctly, but they "misunderstood" and shipped it to me anyway! I had to pay the tow truck driver $3000 and sure enough the truck wouldn't charge or drive. Well, it charged string 1 out of 4 perfectly fine, but the other strings won't budge. String 2 is at 3 bars, and strings 3/4 show completely dead. After a day the Smith display won't load when I turn the key, it only appears while charging. The seller advised I leave it on the charger for several days, and then I found a technical service bulletin that describes a condition where the batteries self-destruct when you leave it on the charger for several days! The only advice it gave was to power off the 24v and pull out the 4 pucks to stop the drain from getting worse, but did not describe a fix (I assume that would have been up to Smith techs who are all scattered to the winds).

At this point, I have no idea if these A123 batteries are ruined. What should be my next steps? Should I buy those PCAN dongles and try to run some kind of commands?
 

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I recently bought a 2012 Smith Newton, the box truck style from Frito Lay. Well not exactly bought... I asked the seller to only ship it when it was confirmed to be able to drive/charge correctly, but they "misunderstood" and shipped it to me anyway! I had to pay the tow truck driver $3000 and sure enough the truck wouldn't charge or drive. Well, it charged string 1 out of 4 perfectly fine, but the other strings won't budge. String 2 is at 3 bars, and strings 3/4 show completely dead. After a day the Smith display won't load when I turn the key, it only appears while charging. The seller advised I leave it on the charger for several days, and then I found a technical service bulletin that describes a condition where the batteries self-destruct when you leave it on the charger for several days! The only advice it gave was to power off the 24v and pull out the 4 pucks to stop the drain from getting worse, but did not describe a fix (I assume that would have been up to Smith techs who are all scattered to the winds).

At this point, I have no idea if these A123 batteries are ruined. What should be my next steps? Should I buy those PCAN dongles and try to run some kind of commands?
Hey Big cheif - Will it even turn on? I would be inclined to drop the voltages in the battery's to see if you can get them closer to each other. The problem is that the contactors when it starts up should "close" to allow for charging and it sounds like they are so far out of balance that they wont engage all of the eight contactors. When it starts up you should hear 8 different clicks. If not that is #1 problem, and you need to get all the battery's closer in voltage. I assume this is a A123 pack not a valance truck?
 

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Yes, it is A123. I am waiting on some PCAN adapters to check the states of the cells. Someone had suggested I connect jumpers between battery packs in parallel to balance them manually; what would be the easiest way to try that, open both battery box lids and carefully use jumper cables? I unplugged one of the charger plugs from a battery string and tried a multimeter on the inlets but read no voltage; are there contactors inside the battery boxes?
 

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I got the PCAN adapters today and ran the Smith SCANNAR. Not looking great, seems like I have 4 modules with a single bad cell, and one module with 2 bad cells (all in dark blue). I assume the A123 batteries make it too difficult to swap out single cells, and that I'll need 5 working modules to get this online again?

I wonder what would have caused individual cells to fail in such a scattered fashion like that. I can see why A123 isn't really around anymore. I emailed the skeleton crew remaining at their offices and they told me to get lost, of course.

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I got the PCAN adapters today and ran the Smith SCANNAR. Not looking great, seems like I have 4 modules with a single bad cell, and one module with 2 bad cells (all in dark blue). I assume the A123 batteries make it too difficult to swap out single cells, and that I'll need 5 working modules to get this online again?

I wonder what would have caused individual cells to fail in such a scattered fashion like that. I can see why A123 isn't really around anymore. I emailed the skeleton crew remaining at their offices and they told me to get lost, of course.
You can get some replacement battery's. If your interested in giving Thunderstruck a call they have some units that have taken out of the step vans. Another option is to pull the units out and manually charge those low cells.

One way would be to make a Jumper and manually jump from one pack series ( SBS1 to SBS3 for example) to another. When you look at the design for the connectors on the battery pods the + /_ are on separate ports. So one has the positive and the other has the negative. You need to be super careful doing this since you can dump all that voltage to the low packs very very quickly and possibly cause a fire from the hot connectors etc... like 600amps at a moment. Another way would be to get it up to its minimum low balance voltage and it will burn off the high cells. I think the cell in SBS2 is shot! That one is going to be your holdout.
 

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Here are some units that drop right in.

 

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You can get some replacement battery's. If your interested in giving Thunderstruck a call they have some units that have taken out of the step vans. Another option is to pull the units out and manually charge those low cells.

One way would be to make a Jumper and manually jump from one pack series ( SBS1 to SBS3 for example) to another. When you look at the design for the connectors on the battery pods the + /_ are on separate ports. So one has the positive and the other has the negative. You need to be super careful doing this since you can dump all that voltage to the low packs very very quickly and possibly cause a fire from the hot connectors etc... like 600amps at a moment. Another way would be to get it up to its minimum low balance voltage and it will burn off the high cells. I think the cell in SBS2 is shot! That one is going to be your holdout.
Thanks, that is probably a last resort as it looks like I need at least 5 modules at $520 each plus the cost of a palette worth of Hazmat shipping... that's not going to be cheap.

From what I'm learning, each cell is really 3 pouch cells together in parallel, so if one pouch cell is truly dead, the diagnostics might have no way of knowing?

I don't see how manually charging the low cells would help, they are below 2500mv which is supposed be where lifepo4 takes permanent damage. I was also told by an ex-Smith tech that 2000mv is the threshold where the BMS will no longer attempt to charge the cells back up. Those reading at 1900, 1700, or 1300 have got to be pretty much toast, right? I would think if they can be brought back up they would continue to throw the whole pack out of balance going forwards.
 

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Thanks, that is probably a last resort as it looks like I need at least 5 modules at $520 each plus the cost of a palette worth of Hazmat shipping... that's not going to be cheap.

From what I'm learning, each cell is really 3 pouch cells together in parallel, so if one pouch cell is truly dead, the diagnostics might have no way of knowing?

I don't see how manually charging the low cells would help, they are below 2500mv which is supposed be where lifepo4 takes permanent damage. I was also told by an ex-Smith tech that 2000mv is the threshold where the BMS will no longer attempt to charge the cells back up. Those reading at 1900, 1700, or 1300 have got to be pretty much toast, right? I would think if they can be brought back up they would continue to throw the whole pack out of balance going forwards.

They can be brought back up. The BMS will control it after 2.5v, but the problem is the SBS2 pack - that one cell will be too low and is most likely shot. I think Brian at thunderstruck EV has a way to connect to the BMS Units but again you need to manually charge it up. They sell a charger that you can buy that can be programed to just plug in and will charge up each pack. Here is a skematic of the battery packs and how to connect to them...

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Very great information here! Thanks BigChief, JGilly.

Im just now doing what JGilly recommended a couple months ago about draining the batteries down and charging them back up to solve my single battery pack that won't charge (#3) - the thing about the open contractors not closing. Unfortunately, I didn't do it right or it didn't work. I got the SOC down to the last bar and where a little red light illuminated on the battery HMI:
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After I plugged in the charger, it shows what each pack had left in power, but as usual the little red lights next to pack 3 were not illuminating like on the other packs. JGilly, perhaps I should have let the battery packs go lower or was this low enough? I thought about leaving the vehicle ON at the ChargingPoint location until they went completely dead? But opted to try that another day after some feedback from JGilly.:
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This is what it looked like after several hours of charging and I decided to stop and head home since the lights still hadn't illuminated on pack #3 - which I'm assuming means that its not charging. They've never lit up on that one:

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Anyhow, Im in process of purchasing the PCAN cable and doing the same deal as BigChief. Worse case scenario, Im willing to drive down to Santa Rosa, CA (Thunderstruck) from Oregon for a replacement, and also interested in this charger you mentioned with the programming option, JGilly, what is it called?
 

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Well that is probably a indication that you have a low cell in that pack that is holding it back. I think the PCAN unit can tell you what the voltages are but in order to correct it you will need to get that one cell back up to the minimum voltage. One way would be to get the packs back to a similar low state of charge (Just above the low pack) and parallel them using a jumper. This will be a manual way to get the pack up in voltage without having to use that charger. You can get the unit from thunderstruck, but just don't go crazy with it, charge it slowly since you are trying to bring that low cell up just to the minimum cut off voltage, then let the internal bms take over.
 

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JGilly, thats bad ass! - so that I can charge the one pack on its own with another? I may take you up on that, but I may as well make one too, if possible. I think you mentioned 600 amps on this jumper procedure? I may need to break out some dielectric gloves and face shield. Anyhow, I looked around on Thunderstruck for the charger and may give them a call and hopefully the price isn't ridiculous. But I will have more information soon when I run the SCANNAR.
 

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I was given a nice gift related to these trucks and vans! Please message me and I will try to hook anyone up with a smith van or truck.
i am a new user of this site with a newly purchased Smith step van. as a new user, i cannot message you outside of this post. how can one reach you to get a copy of the software and info you have? i have a few issues and think it would help greatly. Thanks
Doug
 

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i am a new user of this site with a newly purchased Smith step van. as a new user, i cannot message you outside of this post. how can one reach you to get a copy of the software and info you have? i have a few issues and think it would help greatly. Thanks
Doug
I shot over a conversation, let me know what questions you have. Where did you manage to pick it up? Copart?
 

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Yes it came from Copart. Its intact and wants to run, just been sitting so long it has a few electrical issues.
 

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A few questions if anyone knows:

1 - I took a picture of a single 84v module, and took the side cover off. Is there a way to individually charge each cell from only this side? The other side seems to have a cover that's not made to come off. I have a charger that is meant for single LiFePo4 cells, so I could hook it up with alligator clips or something to bring up low cells.

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2 - To readdress a module, I'm supposed to use a dongle that goes from the module's 10-pin connector (there's apparently a board on both the positive and negative side of the module), to the PCAN dongle. Does anyone know what the name of the 10-pin connector would be, and what the pinout would be to translate it to the DB-9 on the PCAN?

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1 - I took a picture of a single 84v module, and took the side cover off. Is there a way to individually charge each cell from only this side? The other side seems to have a cover that's not made to come off. I have a charger that is meant for single LiFePo4 cells, so I could hook it up with alligator clips or something to bring up low cells.

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Since you can reach both terminals of each cell group to measure the voltage, you can reach them to clip on a charger.

In this common module design, with both tabs on the same end of the cell, all cell levels are accessible from the same side of the module.
 

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Oh, thanks! I am not sure exactly how the cells are grouped, but it seems like the best hint is those little holes stamped in the middle of the rows, are exactly 26 holes, and I know it's a 26 series battery. Should I be charging them like I illustrate with the colored squares? The way I'm holding the multimeter probes in the picture was giving reverse polarity to what was marked on the battery, but by placing the probes in the matching color areas it was giving 3.3v at polarity that coincides with the battery markings.

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