Category Archives: Electric Vehicles

Code name Iron-DR – Part 2 – The Brushless Motor Controllers


Brushless motor and controller

So I had sourced the relatively cheap motor / wheel assemblies from eBay, originally  used for those hover boards. The next issue was controlling them, I could easily make my own controller but I would want it to look good so would want a professional PCB made, which is all fine, i’m a design engineer I can do all that, but the cost soon adds up. So off to eBay again, sorry, and I run across some controller boards that cost around £7 have a voltage of 12 to 36 Volts and are said to handle 500 Watts if you put a heatsink on them. So I order a couple, a few weeks pass and they arrive from China, in the typical way with very lacking documentation, well none in fact just a jiffy bag and the boards. So I look over some other suppliers of the same board and find the pin outs. So I have some pins I need to pull high / low to choose direction and enable the motor then I have a variable voltage input (0-5 Volts) for the speed. RC network to the rescue coupled with the PWM output on an Arduino, bingo variable voltage output from a Micro controller. There is also a pulse counter output, I have not played with this, but should be useful to give an indication as to how much the motor has moved.

Motor Controllers Mounted

Anyways, I hookup one of the motors on the bench, start off with a pot to change the speed of the motor, all works great, nice and easy. so I start to mount all these bit up on some old copper clad board I had laying around, all the motor controls sit nicely in between the motors, Will clean up the wiring later. Next I start writing the Arduino code, start off simple and get one side working, first with a taranis remote control and then with serial data from a PC, no problem, then I pretty much copy the code I have written to control the extra motor controller. fire her up and one side works great the other side is anything but controlled, seemingly doing whatever it wants, strange, so double check wiring. All seems to be fine, start double checking code, all seems to be in order too. so I pull the motor controller board off and stick on a spare motor I have, it works as i expect, really strange, so I stick back in the robot, try again, its does not want to play, so with a bit of head scratching I think to myself its late will pick it up again tomorrow.

So next day I double check everything again, all in order, I even write some really simple code to make the other side work. But still no play.  So I admit defeat I pull the controller out again and try it on the bench, oh I see now, wont work on the bench with the spare motor either now, so a little more messing and it seems it just likes to do random things, sometimes works sometimes doesn’t, maybe its got different firmware of maybe its just got hit by static, in any case I order two more of the controllers, which have arrived now, but I’ve not had time to fit on in.  So I will post again about my adventures with these controllers, but at the moment its a 50/50 chance of the them working, I will give credit to one that does work though, its a great cheap large brushless motor controller when hooked up to the Arduino.

DC 12V-36V 500W Brushless Motor Controller Hall Balanced Car Driver Board U5Y

Lithium Batteries

One of the difficult parts when prototyping  a new project is to find reliable power sources that don’t cost you too much. Here I’ll show how to refurbish dead battery packs by stripping them down, testing each cell and combining cells to produce a new pack.

I’ve been pretty luck with some of my recent finds, an old electric cycle lithium pack, they seemed only to have a faulty connector to almost dead Apple MacBook Pro batteries, so I decided to tear them down to see if there was something profitable.

Here is a look at them

Electric bicycle lithium battery pack
Electric bicycle lithium battery pack

Apple MacBook Pro batteries – Cell Part Numbers US604496
Apple MacBook Pro batteries – Cell Part Numbers US604496


So next step is pull the packs apart and get each individual cell out, i know this is a pain, particularly when they may already be made int eh size you want, but time spent here will save a lot headaches and pain later.

13A23 lithium cell on charge


so above we have a cell on charge, this is from the bicycle pack, didn’t find any information on google about this one but by calculation should be 4.25 amp, so a pretty good size. note start of slow, so i set the charger to 500 mA and checked regularly  while it was on my desk to make sure it was not getting warm, if it does start to get warm its a good sign that cell is dead, chuck it. equally if after charging and left unused for a few days you check the cell and find its dropped voltage say over 0.2 Volts, its a cell thats probably going to go bad, chuck it.

Go through all the cells you have, charge them and make notes of their voltages and when you come to make up your battery pack, check the cells have not lost voltage, only use the best ones you find, this is the same for the famous 18650 cells that are used in laptop batteries.

I would also recommend however tempting they seem dont get fooled into buying lithium cells from china or anyone that claims supper high capacity cells and really cheap prices, you will only get disappointed when you find out in fact they only hold a few hundred mA at best.

so why do i want these cells, what am I planing with them, I will show you all soon but for now a quick gimps (ignor the lead acid batteries on it, there just for testing as i had them to hand), enjoy – keep safe

World’s first long-range all-electric BYD Double-Decker buses introduced in London

World’s first long-range all-electric BYD Double-Decker buses introduced in London

London has become the first city to have on its revenue services routers, world’s first zero-emission, long-range, all-electric BYD Double-Decker buses.

The move by Transport for London (TfL) has been pegged by many as rather a bold move. The first BYD Double-Decker bus was deployed on its route with a special ceremony at London city hall with London’s Deputy Mayor of Environment and Energy, Matthew Pencharz formally receiving the first bus from BYD Europe.

Pencharz during the event that the running costs of these buses as well as some of the maintenance and operations cost are much lower than currently used buses. With zero-emission and zero-tailpipe-pollution, there is a huge environmental benefit specifically for London where pollution levels are relatively high compared to some similarly sized and populated cities around the world.

As the plan goes, currently TfL is commissioning five of the all-electric double decker buses on Route 98 operated on behalf of TfL by Metroline. Route 98 was chosen given its status as a pollution hotspot in the city.

BDY Europe will be providing support to TfL and Metroline for installation of fast charging equipment at Metroline’s Willesden Bus Garage in north London. Additionally, BYD will provide driver training for the bus operators.

BYD, the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer, designed and developed the vehicles to Transport of London’s specifications. The five buses scheduled for deployment are more than 33 feet long and feature air conditioning, seats for 54 passengers with space for 27 standing passengers (81 total).

The buses are equipped with BYD-designed and built Iron-Phosphate batteries, delivering 345 kWh of power that come with a Industry-benchmark 12 year battery warranty, the longest electric battery warranty available. The batteries can power the bus for over 24 hours and up to 190 miles of typical urban driving on the service routes with a single daily recharging requiring only four hours. TfL plans to charge the buses overnight using low-cost, off-peak electricity to provide additional cost savings.