Nickel (NiMH, NiCad): January 2010 Archives

The weather was finally nice enough to commute to work this week on my Piaggio Boxer EV with Prius NiMH batteries.

Here's the data from my CycleAnalyst:

Run #1
Run #2
Run #3
Run #5
Distance5.2 km4.85 km4.21 km4.19 km
Efficiency45.1 Wh/km39.2 Wh/km42.2 Wh/km47.6 Wh/km
Energy used234.23 Wh189.87 Wh176.92 Wh199.03 Wh
Charge Used5.90 Ah4.28 Ah4.01 Ah5.01 Ah
Max Amps106 A101 A91 A101 A
Average Speed20.6 km/h23.3 km/h24.8 km/h24.1 km/h
Max Speed36.6 km/h40.3 km/h39.0 km/h36.6 km/h
Starting voltage---49.950.247.2
Ending voltage43.8v45.9v---44.2v
Run time15 min12:3010:1010:24

My commute is slightly uphill on the way to work and downhill on the way back, which accounts for the difference in energy efficiency going to and from work.

The bike feels much lighter than with the SLAs and faster too (even with the gear reduction) so I have to say it's an unqualified success. I just hope I can get good life out of these batteries.

After Run #4, I was in a rush and so I put the charger on and went to a talk and then came back. About 3 hours had passed and the charger had over charged the batteries. It actually wedged the battery holder apart. So I'm worried now that my batteries will be weakened -- even though most of the bulging has subsided.

I reinforced the battery holder this morning and we'll see how it holds up.


On this cold New Year's Day, I've been thinking about the problem that NiMH batteries like to self-discharge. I'd love to trickle charge them with a low current but my current NiMH charger seems like 1) overkill; 2) liable to slip into the wrong charge mode and boil them dry; 3) too big of a hammer for this little nail.

So I thought of the 1.5 watt 12 volt solar chargers I had bought for my car back pre-Prius. These would be perfect except for the voltage. I think they are actually around 15 or 16 volts nominal, but my packs are 43.2 volts. So I need to boost the voltage....

Scrounging around the web, the best solution appears to be the LT1070 chip from Linear Technologies ( It requires minimal external components and comes with a through-hole TO-220 package for us non-SMD people.

So... how to design the right circuit..

This is my back of the napkin calculations using the design notes and should be taken with a huge grain of salt. Do not trust my calculations!

Vin = 14 volts
Vout = 48 volts LT1070-R1.png

R1 = R2 * ( 48v / 1.244 - 1) = 46.606 k ohms
R2 = 1.24 k ohms

Duty Cycle = (48v - 14v) / 14v = 70.8%


L = (14V * ( 48V - 14V)) / (0.5 A * 40 kHz * 48 v)

L = 476 / 960,000

L = 495.8 uH

C1 = arbitrarily 100 uF with a low ESR
C2 = (48v * 1A) / (40kHz * (14V + 48V) * (0.33 Vpp))
C2 = 48 w / 818,400
C2 = 58 uF

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Nickel (NiMH, NiCad) category from January 2010.

Nickel (NiMH, NiCad): December 2009 is the previous archive.

Nickel (NiMH, NiCad): August 2010 is the next archive.

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