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Discussion Starter #1
I recall that before Honda announced the extended battery replacement, there was some discussion of building replacement packs, but the conclusion was that the high-capacity NiMH cells weren't available.

I was just browsing through an electronics catalog (http://www.digikey.com), and out of curiousity checked the battery section. They have Panasonic 6.5 and 8.5 Ahr cells listed, and marked as new products. Are these the same cells as used in the Insight packs, or viable replacements?
 

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... Are these the same cells as used in the Insight packs, or viable replacements?
In one of the sections for Insight Central there's are several articles specifically regarding this issue and if I recall right, the "D" sized cells you refer to from Digikey are NOT viable replacement parts due to a specific fixture/fitting at the positive end of the cells. The "D" cells in the Insight (one hundred and fifty seven of them I believe it is) have a fitting on the end - unique to the Insight. Look around Insight Central's old posts, it shouldn't take too long to find the article I'm talking about.

Hope this helps

Fred / Proud Owner of "The Silver Bullet"
 

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120 cells, but who's counting... :D
 

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Yeah but

Someone is making refurbished packs for Honda for warranty repairs. By refurbished, I understood same frame etc, new cells. So somebody is getting new cells and knows how to assemble them into a like new pack.

If only we could find out who and how this is happening. I think several of us would pay to have it done when it becomes necessary.

I had my first pack replaced an 157k miles, figure next one at 314k? But really more because new control modules are supposed to manage batteries better. I just can't bear the fact that my baby might become not repariable.

Regards, Jim
'01 #191
 

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Part of the problem is the lack of a solid understanding of the cost of a replacement battery from Honda. There are 120 cells, so if they cost $10 each that's $1200 just for the parts. Is it reasonable to expect that a lower cost will be achievable?
 

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120 cells, but who's counting... :D
Have no idea where one hundred and fifty seven came from! One hundred twenty sounds right now that you mentioned it but what still amazes me is that they are essentially, standard "D" size cells. Until I read that article here in Insight Central (can't remember where I found it at the moment) some how I thought the cells would be small, square or oblong shaped units - but "D" cells? It would never have occurred to me, to use "D" cells in that manner.

Fred / Proud Owner of "The Silver Bullet"
 

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Re: Yeah but

jgessling said:
Someone is making refurbished packs for Honda for warranty repairs. By refurbished, I understood same frame etc, new cells. So somebody is getting new cells and knows how to assemble them into a like new pack.

If only we could find out who and how this is happening. I think several of us would pay to have it done when it becomes necessary.
They may have an exclusive contract to only provide refurbished packs to Honda.... But perhaps worth checking into anyway..

JoeCVT - Just your average CVT owner
 

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Using D cells

The history of NMh cells is pretty convoluted and there is a lot of conspiracy theories around. As I understand it the patents generated by Ovionics when making batteries for the EV1 were sold to Texaco and subsequently Chevron bought Texaco and the patents. In protecting those patents, Chevron's spin off Cobasys prevented panasonic ( and others ) from making cells bigger than "D" cells.

So Honda had no choice but to string together "D" cells. If you search around the internet you can read more details.

Jim
'01 #191
 

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Discussion Starter #9
"In one of the sections for Insight Central there's are several articles specifically regarding this issue and if I recall right, the "D" sized cells you refer to from Digikey are NOT viable replacement parts due to a specific fixture/fitting at the positive end of the cells."

I remember those posts, though they didn't pop up on a quick search (or if they did, they were lost in clutter). If I remember, though, the real problem was the capacity and/or current handling. Fittings can be machined or adapted, if need be, but changing battery chemistry is just a little beyond my ability :)

I had thought that one reason this kind of cell wasn't on the market at the time was that Honda & Toyota were buying all the manufacturer could produce. So I figured that if they've managed to ramp up production since then, they might be offering them commercially now.
 

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James,
All of the "Standard"NIMH I have seen on the market have either tab or regular compression (like regular D cells) terminations which cannot handle the 100A the car requires under full assist.
I have some photos of the cells and terminations here:
http://www.99mpg.com/Resources/articles ... cksexpose/
and some data that we took when examining the subpacks balance here.
http://www.99mpg.com/workshops/mikessaturdayhybri/
May want to try a pack balancing like we did on the Silver Insight pack which was very bad on initial test, and still is balanced to within 0.004V after 500 miles and a 2 week sit on my bench.
The Triton smart charger worked great for the conditioning.
http://www.electrifly.com/chargers/gpmm3153.html
The idea is to fully cycle each subpack to erase any memory or imbalance that may have developed. The Prius BCM actually does this based on their battery management patent, but there is no evidence that the Honda Hybrids have a similar procedure.
The pack life will likely not be reduced by a measurable amount buy a full cycle or two, and so far this has brought back a couple of pretty bad battery packs.
I do not have any data as to how long the re balancing will last.
If your pack is bad enough to consider rebuilding, you may want to try this first. The charger is about $125, and your results will add to the data.

;)
 

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I asked a friend of mine who works for Duracell about it and he said those batteries are different inside, too. But obviously they are made in a factory somewhere, so with the right political connections you could get them.

However, if a replacement battery from Honda costs, say, $2000, then it's probably not going to be worth it to assemble one yourself, even if you can get the batteries. Sort of like machining your own crankshaft: You can do it, but why?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Mike - I wasn't necessarily considering rebuilding my own (though it would be nice to know that it could be done), just happened to see the listing and posted it for general interest.

Dougie - "...if a replacement battery from Honda costs, say, $2000..." Then that's a good deal, considering that these cells are about $16 each in quantity. But there's a current thread quoting $3000-3600 for a replacement pack, which is not so good.
 

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I was not suggesting rebuilding, only reconditioning.

**** Do not attempt this if you do not know how to safely work around HV batteries. Lethal voltages are present on the open battery pack.*******

NIMH and NICD both share the memory effect, which any RC modeler can attest can be repaired by a few complete cycles.
A quick summary :
The silver pack initial imbalance where some subpacks were down to 5.5V with virtually 0 ah while others in the same pack/series string, had 7.5V and 3-4AH.

If this pack is charged to 80%SOC, the weaker cells will never get to over 40-50% SOC, and will continue to determine pack bottom end, or the recal point.
The clue about this possible imbalance came on the way back from Madison where we did the pack whack, and erased the recal condition for at least several weeks.
The problem with the pack whack was that the subpacks were still in series, and could not fully be rebalanced.
We pulled the silver Insights pack (HV sw off), took the silver pack disconnect and current module off one side of the pack, and the plastic cover off the other to expose both sides of the subpacks.
One subpack at a time Ian measured charge AH and discharge AH using the smart chargers end of charge determining system to look for the raise then dip at the top of charge, and to compute the subpacks real AH capacity. The cells that were weak took 2 cycles to get back to the full 6.5AH. Ian left all of the subpacks at 100% SOC, and we reassembled the pack and put it in his car for some testing. No recals and full use of the SOC for the 500 mile test. It has been sitting on the bench now for at least 2-3 weeks. we did a subpack by subpack voltage match test last Sun, and the subpacks remain within .04V of each other.
If the imbalance is corrected, the pack may be fine for some time?
Need to repeat this reconditioning on several more packs that are acting up to see if this is a short term or long term fix.
For the price of the charger, and maybe a day of reconditioning the subpacks one at a time, you may find that the pack is good for many more years???
 

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Discussion Starter #15
"I was not suggesting rebuilding, only reconditioning."

Sure, I understood that. I was responding to the thought that I was planning to get a bunch of those batteries and rebuild one myself - which I haven't time to do, even if I wanted to be the first to do it.

Now if there was an easy way to use them to increase the capacity of the existing pack, I might go for the idea.

The reconditioning might be an idea. I looked at the charger link, though, and it seems to be a bit of a pain. I'd have to rig up some sort of 12V DC source to power it with, but they say not a 12V charger. How do you power it? Maybe a 12V car battery with the charger on it? Or a 12V wall-wart?
 

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I used a 100Watt 12VDC power supply

The Triton will operate from a supply voltage of 10.5VDC up to 15.0 VDC
This can be a 12V battery if you like... But you would be draining the battery while using it

I proffered the 12VDC power supply because I could just plug it in and it would run... but the cheaper way to go would be to just use a 12VDC carry battery... even the insights Lead Acid one work work.

an alternative would be
A Simple Transformer 110VAC to 12VAC that can handle say 9 or 10Amps and a good rectifier would also work.

But the off the shelf 'D' Cells should not be used at higher than 30A discharge rates for more than a few seconds... and even limited to like 5 seconds 50Amps is the upper limit for a normal 'D' cell... most go up to 10Ah a few up to 12Ah per cell.

normal 'F' cells can go up to 40Amps sustained and 60 Amps for about a 5 second burst and and most go up to 12 or 13 Ah

'M' cells can handle up to 100Amps at a sustained discharge and hold up to 20Ah but as far as I can tell only Harding Sells them... and they are much larger than the 'D' Cells in the car now.... about 8 or 10 months ago I talked to Harding and they wanted $20 per cell unless you were buying in very large bulk orders.

http://www.hardingenergy.com/products_NiMH.htm

Above 'M' Cells in NiMH for size I a few places sell them but not many
powerstream at http://www.powerstream.com/
used to sell them a few years ago.... but they are not selling the large NiMH batteries anymore.

Oh, and it is no secret Panasonic makes the Insight 'D' cells pack for Honda .... I even contacted Panasonic about the high discharge rate 'D' cells they used for the insight battery pack and after allot of transfering ad repeating myself... I eventually got to a nice woman who said Panasonic would be happy to sell them to me.... but they are not the consumer division and a minimum quantity of 10,000 cells was the required minimum purchase about 12 months ago.... I haven't checked on it since.
 

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To be honest I did not keep the figure she gave me , and it has been a while.... but I recall it was in the $80k range for the whole lot....

It was for just the cells....

You have to remember when trying to get this kind of information how to ask the questions...

If you ask for a Honda Insight Battery Pack or Sub-Packs.... They will just say no flat out... It is most likely due to agreements Panasonic has with Honda .... but the High discharge / Charging rates If you describe it for a application that would need similar type of batteries you can get the answers you want...

For Instance when I called I told them I was considering using the 'D' cells for Robotics Project that needed 80Amp up to at most a peak of 100Amp Discharge Rates... etc.....

If you want them to build the Battery Sub-Packs for us.... we would need to think of some application that would need the 6 cell sub-packs the way we want them , that has no reference to a Honda Insight in the request.

Also since it has been about a year or so since I called them about it... they might have changed prices, or policies, etc ....
 

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Something I have been thinking about and I actually tried to place an order today. What about finding some discount battery packs for a late model cell phone, or laptop, and running the batteries in serial strings, then run those strings in parallel .... as in 10 or more strings in parallel.

I placed an order earlier today, for 500 Mitsubishi cell phone batteries rated at 4.8v, 1200maH at 18 cents each

Here is a breakdown of the order:
Mitsubishi AH-129 1200Mah MIT1291200MB 500 0.18
nimh MIT1291200MB
Subtotal 90.00
Shipping 126.99
Tax 0.00
Total 216.99

Now, according to my calculations, it would take 30 batteries per string, and there would be enough batteries to make 16 strings with 20 batteries to spare. In this configuration the pack would have yielded 19.2 aH, or approx 4X the capacity of the Insight pack. And running them in parrellel would compensate for not having high current leads per battery as each string would only have to supply a max draw of 6.25 amps, or a max charge of 3.12 amps. At that cost I wouldn't hesitate to solder all of the battery connections.

However my potential fun was cut short as the store owner only has 2 in stock, but he mentioned trying to do a backorder for me.
 
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