Ford C-Max Energi Part 4

First Fill Up Life Time Summary 01/07/13
First Fill Up Life Time Summary 01/07/13
On Monday January 7 of this last week, we put our first fill-up in the car. The odometer was reading 574 miles, subtract the 59 miles we started with (presumably on a full tank at the dealer) and that’s 515 miles on 12.45 gallons of fuel. We averaged 41.36mpg. Remember, Ford states not to judge mileage for at least the first 1000 miles.

A few thoughts come to mind:

1. The car says 230 miles have been driven on electricity, the balance of 344 miles driven on fuel. I’m a little confused here. Did we only go 344 miles on our 12.45 gallons of fuel. Yikes, that would be terrible mileage?? I need to dig in to the displays to see make sure the 574 is overall mileage as I am presuming and not just the fuel driven miles. Is my presumption wrong here?

2. Remember, midway through the tank, I changed the calculation from MPGe to MPG. It would be interesting to know if that effected anything or if there was a recalculation of the entire fuel/electric consumption so it reflected accurately at the time of the change.

3. I have not reset anything as of yet. I will perhaps do that when we get to 1, 2 or 3k so as not to have the break in miles figured into our average. Many cars don’t really give you a “since reset” average but rather a rolling average of only the last 300 miles or so. I’ll be interested to see how this car calculates that.

4. It’s notable the MPG calculator @ 40.7mpg is very close to my calculation of 41.36.

5. I hope I am not boring any readers. Writing along as I learn about the car. I’ll try to keep it down to 1 post a week on this subject. Expect them on Sunday’s. From here up was written on Jan 7th.


01/08/13 Notes: Bev actually reset the mileage computer when we filled it up, her habit with the Civic Hybrid. I discovered this when she returned from work today and I noticed the reading slightly over 50mpg.


Worlds First Electric Heli Kit

The following photo and description is from Frank Beafore of Select Tech GeoSpatial. Frank has become a modeling enthusiast and UAV manufacturer as well. It appears to be an example of the first ever electric powered RC helicopter that was manufactured for general sale to the public. It’s an interesting unit. If you know more about it or the history of hobbiest early electric helicopters, please stick in a comment.

First Electric Heli
First Electric Heli


Attached is a photo of the first electric RC helicopter offered to model builders back in 1981. It was manufactured by Ishimasa Co, LTD, Tokyo. It used NiCad batteries with less than a 2 min. flight time. To train on it, you needed a 25 foot umbilical to supply current to keep it going. The tail rotor was coupled to the main drive via a fragile rubber belt that broke in mid flight. I do not think that it was 3-D capable.

I was lucky to get all the spare parts and the original instructions.

Cheers – FB

Below is a link to a website dedicated to Vintage RC Helicopters with lot’s of photo’s of this kit.

Vintage Radio Control Helicopter: VHRC Website


Whew, could you make the barnfind below a flyer???

Holly Dust-mites Batman!


Capitolist Buys a Plug In Hybrid? Ford C-Max Energi Part 3

You might wonder why a couple of proud capitalists would purchase a plug in hybrid car? The vast majority of media outlets never pass a chance to describe lovers of liberty and free markets as people who want dirty air and water. We reject their racist analysis. Racist? Ok, I’m taking lingual liberty. They certainly are drawing a circle around a huge group of people and saying “They are all bad like thus and thus….”. And, the statement is completely untrue. Perhaps racist isn’t the right word, however is it “news” if it’s delivered with a slant? No, it’s propaganda or opinion, not news. 😉

Anyway, we are to one degree or another technology nerds. Also, I’ve always had an interest in electric transportation. I’ve built some hot rod electric scooters that I use at shows. At the moment, I have some projects underway to electrify a classic mini bike. So, as a family, we have operational 3 forms of electric transportation.

A few reasons. I don’t like giving money to people that hate us. As an American, I consider it a matter of patriotic pride to limit my consumption of products imported from the Middle East. I like electric powered transportation and have always dreamed of building electric bikes, scooters, motorcycles and cars. My wife and I are technology nerds. It’s a cool car and technology is just fun to play with.

Not a reason: Man Caused Global Warming Hoax. This is a huge scam religion perpetrated by those wishing to weaken America (anti-capitalists), those wishing to take American pride down a few notches (can you name a few American Apologist Politicians?) and those in academia (scientists) who survive on money for government studies that seems to pour into any public panic. If you hate me for stating these things, don’t look up any data on rise of CO2 following global temperature rise, it will disappoint you in the so called scientists that signed the original report and Al Gore. CO2 does not drive global temps, it follows it. What warms the earth is (do you remember grade school?) is that gigantic ball of intense fire we call the sun.

I don’t need to make up lies or silly make-believe theory’s to justify being clean, thrifty or patriotic (my personal expression of one aspect of patriotism). Others may need a Santa Claus, I’ll stick to facts and logic. Hokey religions and Three-card Monte are no match for a good logic at your side, kid.*

*Hans Solo adaptation.


Ford C-Max Energi Part 2

A full week on the ticker. Remember the very important point presented in part 1. That point was Ford says to wait at least 1000miles before making any mileage calculations. This implies there may be some break in mixture settings that prevent it from reaching it’s potential for a while. That being said, here are my shots of the data thus far.

Life Time Summary 01/06/13
Life Time Summary 01/06/13

Over 20 miles of driving on engergy generated from braking. 200 miles exactly in pure electric driving. The brakes are interesting. When you lightly press on the peddle, you get a braking action, however it’s really the generator robbing your inertia for energy to charge the battery. As you move down on the peddle you can feel there are about 3 steps in this level of braking (or level of power generation) which each step increasing in rate of power generation and braking force. If you don’t move your foot at all, you’ll come to a complete stop. Obviously, when you are barely moving (moment before you stop) there can be no electronic braking (or little) yet it feels just like the brake pads are stopping you. Some super-brain programming must be managing this and it works perfectly!

Ford C-Max Energi MPG & Miles 01/06/13
Ford C-Max Energi MPG & Miles 01/06/13

Shown here are total miles, state of battery charge and what remains of our first tank of fuel given to us by the dealer. Not bad, close to 500 miles and we have about a 1/4 tank left. Notice, I have changed the mileage calculation. It was at first combined with with electric power. I wasn’t interested in that figure. I wanted to know what we were getting per gallon of gasoline. So, that is now represented. It’s continued to climb all week and as you can see, it’s over 40mpg at this time.

Overall my impression of this car is a “fine ride”. Really enjoying the gizmo factor of playing around with an electric car. It’s as fine a ride as any luxury automobile I’ve ever driven. Comfortable, handles nice, great on the highway. Can’t wait for an excuse to take a long trip in it.

I did run into a couple of irritations this past week. When it comes to any kind of product manual or help file, it seems not to include “my” answer. While switching it from MPGe to MPG I encountered a wrench icon. A retangular yellow light with a wrench in it. Going to the bible like (thin pages and thick!) manual to look over the two pages full of warning icons, I could not find a wrench. Going to the glossary and looking up words like “icon”, “wrench” and “symbol” produced a big fat zero. I’ve come to expect that when I look into any kind of help file or manual. Is a black cloud following me? Probably not. Once I got the setting to what I wanted, the wrench never appeared again. Not sure what it was trying to communicate to me.

The second item is the foot actuated lift gate. It seemed to work iratically, opening partially then stopping at times. I discovered we were using it wrong, wiggling your foot back and forth under the bumper can start it opening and also toggle it to stop. Just sticking your foot under the bumper and pulling it out gets a reliable full open every time.

More to learn: You’ll notice in one photo, a full battery stating it has 12 miles range. We had read this car has about 20-22 miles on battery alone. I’ve still to figure out if this is part of a break in or what the reality is on final full electric range.


Ford C-Max Energi Purchased Part 1

2012 C-Max Energi Plug In Hybrid
2012 C-Max Energi
C-Max Energi[/caption]It was time to purchase a new car. My wife and I are fans of Top Gear, a european auto show. On that show they don’t like many cars, however, they all love the Fiat 500 Abarth. We also liked the Ford C-Max. These cars do not have too much in common, however it was the two we were picking from. We finally decided on the C-Max Energi. (my Abarth dreams are still alive) Her previous car is a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid. The Civic is 9 years old with a little over 100k on it. I currently drive a 2006 Dodge Mega Cab Cummins Diesel pickup. We have decided to keep the Honda as I have been averaging about $254 a month in fuel expense commuting to work each day. However, I need the truck to travel to trade shows and fly-ins so we’ll be keeping that. I just don’t need to be driving it so much. I am planning that by driving the Civic will save us about $127 a month in deisel fuel.

The C-Max comes in several varieties, we choose the “Energi” version. The Energi is a plug in Hybrid It has an EPA rating of 100 miles per gallon. The car contains a lithium ion battery and can go 10-20 miles on battery alone.

I plan to write in this forum about the C-Max and out experience with it.

When we picked up the car, the avergage fuel economy guage was reading 13.5mpg and it had 59 miles on it. (YIKES!)

One of the things that concerned us was the lack of people reporting fuel economy for the C-Max, both Hybrid and the Energi Plug In. The few that did report all reported less than EPA sticker mileage. Typical for the C-Max Hybrid (sticker 47mpg city, 47mpg highway and 47mph combined) was from 32 to 36mpg. That is alarming. However, these reports all seem to come from reviewers who have cars on loan for a day to film and make reports. Also, for photogenic reasons the driving almost always was in the hills and canyons of California or similar. Test speeds always seem to be 70mph plus. We don’t drive like that. Also, what does any reviewer or test driver do? They stand on that throttle to feel the power, they film passing, they film jack-rabbit starts, the test the handling. All things your likely to get tired of doing after owning a car for a 1000miles or so. What am I saying? You can’t trust the media here (like you can’t trust them anywhere). In this case, they don’t have an axe to grind, they have a report to finish. There is no axe to grind, just human nature. So, I’m anxious to see if I am correct or in error. Will the car do much better than previously reported?

Also, not reported by any report is the Ford’s manual which warns not to measure fuel economy during the first 1000 miles. The most accurate time will be between 2000-3000 miles. Having mechanical and racing experience (and a dose of healthy logic), I can assure you with todays computer controlled ignition and fuel delivery systems could easily be programmed to run a little richer for a better break in. The manual does not state it in that way and no research indicates they’ve done that. However, there is no research that indicates they did not either. So, we’ll follow the directions and give it the miles before we get too critical.

I wonder if any of the online reviewers of the C-Max Hybrid bothered to read the manual? Remember, these are humans.

Engergi Lifetime Summary 01/01/13
Engergi Lifetime Summary 01/01/13
We have the Energi version which is perported to get 108mpg in the city and 92 highway. Of course with an electric range limit of about 20 miles, I would presume most of your trips need to be very short with charging before each trip to acheive this mileage. My wife’s commute is 60 miles a day and most of that is Highway. I’ll be quite happy if she averages 60mpg. We are starting with the car in the winter which creates heating loads.

Mileage Data Shot 01-01-13
Here is our first set of guage photos. I’ll try to add these from time to time so you can see how the Energi is doing.


Crash Investigation, Why did it crash?

Just as in full scale aviation, crashes are often because of a sequence of things going wrong. I received a letter recently asking my opinion on a set of circumstances. At the time of this writing there is no 100% sure answer, not enough info is provided, however there is enough info to draw boil it down to a few likely reasons. It’s easier to take a cucumber cool Sherlock Holmes look at the facts when it’s not your own model. However, you should always investigate crashes and failures with cool logic looking for every possibility, particularly the human element. Read through John’s letter and see what idea’s you have based on the info provided

Hi Dave:

I have an Orbit Charger–up graded by you to accept A123 cells.–Number: 0650-05601OK

Until recently it has worked flawlessly–but that came to a “Crashing” end several weeks ago when I took of and immediately ran out of power, airspeed and ideas, all about the same time.

If you will bear with me I will run through the sequence of events:

*Prior to going to the Field I threw my Plane on Charge (6 x A123)–The Charger quickly indicated “Full and I assumed I had charged before leaving the field the previous day.

* Commenced T.O. and promptly BECed at about 15 ft–gliding smoothly into a vertical Metal Post just off the side of our runway—cleverly ripping the wing in two and tearing it off the Fuse.

*Checking the battery back at the Pits, with my Buddy’s similar Orbit Charger–the pack indicated full and would not accept any charge.

OK, that is what happened–here is the rest of the story:

On arrival at home–(I did not take my charger to the field as we have similar chargers and packs and intended to use my buddy’s) I put my Pack on MY charger–and was horrified to see, when it was turned on–“LiPo 4.2” instead of the usual 3.6!

So all was clear–somehow my Charger reverted to Lipo 4.2V/Cell, overcharged (very quickly I might add) and ruined my 6 cell pack. This without any abnormal heat or any indication (other than the initial charge settings–which I have never paid as much attention to, as obviously I should have– as it’s been “Bullet Proof” for years).

Battery Pack ruined–Airplane wing history, ego damaged–etc!

But what I would like to know–is WHY???–did my charger revert to 4.2V/Cell as I have never used Lipo Batteries with this charger since you upgraded it– and I must say it has preformed flawlessly–until now!!

I hope this ramble was understandable to you,

John, Canada

John, Sorry to hear of losing a favorite model. You say it ruined your pack, however, you don’t provide any cycle data or voltages to back that up. So, I’m going to make a guess or two to follow that presumes your pack is not ruined from over voltage charging.

You may not know, but when A123 first came out there were no chargers really. We all charged them with Lipo mode chargers. As long as they are perfectly in balance this can be done. The high voltage fuse does not open up and fail the cell until just a little bit over 4.2. So, if a fuse opened up (your pack would be reading zero) it would have to be out of balance to begin with. You don’t say your pack is reading zero, just throwing out there some information you may not be aware of. Obviously it is less risky to the HV fusing if charged to 3.6 per cell and as chargers (Orbit was one of the first) became available to do it correctly we started only charging them in A123 modes.

There is no capacity (or not much) above 3.6v so there is no advantage to charging them higher than 3.6v, just risk. They are not lipo which will puff or risk of fire if you charge them even a tiny bit above their max voltage of 4.2. A123 is a little more forgiving of it’s 3.6v cap. Not suggesting you take up this practice, just history to chew on which bears on your question.

No idea why it may have reverted. Have you run a test to satisfy yourself it is true? If it is, you could tell it that it was charging a Lipo pack of 1 cell less and it would stop at 4.2v x cell count. In this case, set to 5 cells it would stop at 21v on your 6S A123. This would prove for certain your correct.

Also, bear in mind you had some period of time of testing it and it worked perfectly. It’s possible something happened here that you may have not expected yet was exactly what was supposed to happen given the circumstances. Bear with me while I roll through the some possibilities. Anything is possible some some things are more likely than others.

Also, havn’t used one lately in A123 mode but I am wondering if the screen reads differently? It’s late or I would check it, time to go home.

****For the benefit of readers, the Orbit charger starts the charge procedure as soon as you plug in the pack. Plugging in the pack is like hitting the “start” button on many chargers. It looks at the pack for a few seconds then displays on the screen the number of cells it “thinks” it’s connected to. The user then adjusts by hitting the up or down arrow and once you hit “start” and approve it, it starts applying current and charges the battery.****

Scenario’s I’d put forth:

1) If it were in fact in Lipo Mode, an A123 Discharged to 2.7v per cell would be only only be 16.2V, the charger would have guess it was only 4 cells and charged it to 16.8v. You’d be not fully charged and your flight would end very early. Your charger would “peak” out quickly. It would be very reasonable for you to fly the pack down to that level, so this scenario could hold some water. If your BEC voltage is hard set to something reasonable like 2.3v per cell or so, you can see how quickly putting a load on the partially charged pack would cause you to hit BEC cut out.

2) If it were a tad higher than 2.7v, lets say 2.9v, it might still only guess 4 cells. Same scenario as above, you’d be not fully charged and your flight would end very early. Your charger would “peak” out quickly.

3) If you had a short flight and the cells were at 3v+ then the total would have been 18+v. The Orbit tends to guess a tad low (to be fire/damage safer on your packs) at higher cell counts, so I’d expect it to count 5 cells in Lipo mode at 18v and only charge your pack to 21v. A full A123 would be 21.6v, it would have flown fine and you’d not have detected the slight short charge.

4) The charger could have been in A123 mode, the pack could have been discharged lower than normal. Did the last flight on the prior day end in a BEC cut out? Was it a great day, perfect conditions, where you reallying enjoying yourself extra well? Maybe you put a couple more minutes on it. Maybe it was discharged a little further than normal habits and counted 5 cells. Out of habit you approved it without looking and you had a short charge at 18v to start the flight.

My guess without having anything here to measure or double check is that scenario 4 happened It is even possible you could have had the pack so low (depending on BEC settings and nature of model) that the orbit only counted 4 cells and only charged to 14.4v. This kind of oversight when your distracted or in a hurry is very easy to make. And with a floaty model with very low cruise power requirements, it’s even easier to fly a pack very deep by mistake.

I would wager (unless there is mechanical damage) that your pack is just fine, just undercharged due to approving the charge at the wrong cell count and not hitting the up arrow to correct it.

If in fact it really and truly is in Lipo mode, I have no idea how that could have happened and it’s likely that scenario 1 describes the chain of events.

Some positive action to take:

When anything happens that is unexpected, it’s worth a closer look. You had the little red flag early on that the pack filled quicker than usual.

Really looking at that screen before you approve the charge is the first step in not having a problem. The second is looking at the finish voltage when you take the pack off. Your packs should be reading close to 3.6×6 or 21.6v. Seeing this end voltage is your second charging check and really your first step in pre-flight inspection of the model. The third check is listening to the ESC and make sure it’s counting 6 beeps. If it only beeped 4x or 5x when you plugged it up, it’s a big red flag something is amiss. If you pay careful attention to all three of these steps, it would be very difficult for something like this to slip by you again.

(You might actually be listening for 5 beeps as most ESC’s presume they are counting LIPO’s to set BEC Cut Off voltage. Being aware of the regular beep count that represents a full pack is the point, not the precise number in this case since your flying A123 cells and I dont’ know which ESC your using or it’s settings. So, correct could be 5 beeps, wrong could be 4.)

Hope those ideas will let you craw back through memory and your equipment and find a satisfactory explanation. Obviously, anything that goes unexplained can easily happen again so you want to figure out as much about it as you can. This should allow you to be alerted before flight if ever there should be a next time that circumstances stack up in a similar way.

If you did mechanically damage the battery, we can usually repair them. We keep cells on hand here.



Reluctance Motor In The News

Chrome users may need to refresh the screen to see embedded video.

A reluctance motor is a different breed. It is a form of a brushless motor. However, the brushless motors we use in the RC hobby, the number of stater teeth (each iron segment that is wound with copper wire) will always be 3,6,9,12…; A number always divisable by 3. Magnets will always number 2 or 3,6,9,12 some number divisable by 3. Each magnet is considered a pole. So, a 6 magnet motor is called a 6 pole motor.

The cause of investment into the development of Reluctance motors is communist China produces most of the materials described as rare earth that are used to produce modern high power magnets. China has limited the export of these materials and magnets in order to help China monopolize permanent magnet motor production. The reluctance motor does not need any of these materials and is hence much cheaper to manufacture. Also our ability to produce motors in the USA would not be hindered by the unholy alliance between government and business as is so common in socialist/communist states. Regardless of the type of government, anytime governments stick their fingers into business, supply problems and shortages ensue. Perhaps these developments will stifle the anti-capitalists this time. Sustained monopoly’s are only possible when governments collude with business (or nationalize industry). It’s an interesting side note to mention there have never been any long lived monopoly’s that were not created and maintained by government regulation.

Clean Tech Open 2012 Winner HEVT

According to HEVT the spot price for neodymium increased from $19 a pound in 2010 to $129 a pound in 2011.

HEVT Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies

Many times technologies are developed and press releases fly all over the internet. These products offer great promise yet often the creators are just looking for somebody to buy the technology and when they are unsuccessful (most of the time) we never see the great new products. This development strikes a different tone with me, I feel this very well could be the beginning of a new paradigm shift in motor technology. Lets just hope it makes it down to us modelers sooner rather than later.

Gigaom Story: An Electric Motor That’s Ditched The Rare Earth Materials

Reluctant Hero’s (The Economist)

Learn more about Switched and Synchronous variations here: Reluctance Motor Wiki

Many photo’s and drawings: Google Images Reluctance Motors


Electric Vocabulary

I love history and electronics. Where do the terms ‘Discharge’ and ‘Charge’ come from? Enjoy this little treasure….


Converting A Model From Lipo to A123 (LIFE) Cells

Chris from Michigan Asks;

Hello Dave,
I would like to power my Ryan with A123 cells. I have been using a 9s 4p 6000mah Lipo pack to power a Hacker C50 motor.
If I understand things correctly, I believe that I need 4packs 6s 2300mah to equal the same watts and flight duration as the Thunder Power packs that I have been running.
Because of the cost of these A123’s, I want to be sure that what I am ordering is correct!


To match duration of a 6000mah Lipo, you’ll need at least 6000mah in A123 which will be 3P. You’ll actually be a little over as the 2300mah A123 cells actually test most of the time around 2200, at 3P you’ll have 6600mah which should result in slightly more flying time.

I assume your 6000mah lipo is made up of 1500mah Parallel packs. So, 4 1500’s in parallel = 6000mah.

If what you really meant was your running 6000mah cells, 4 in parallel, then your pack size is 24000mah which would be about 11P or 11 A123 in parallel. I am not thinking you meant you had a 24000mah pack.

If your running 6000mah total in the airplane, and are thinking of running A123 in 2P for about 4400mah real world, this may be just fine. I generally only use the top 60% of a Lipo (70% max) on a routine basis. 60% of 6000 3600mah, 70% is 4200mah. I’m more comfortable running A123 cells a little deeper than Lipo’s as the risk of hitting BEC cut off cause me less worry. (Hitting BEC cut off is hard on Lipo’s) So, running a 4400 A123 down 80% is 3200mah. So, a 2P A123 should get close to the Lipo in actual use. However, your not running as much cushion between a solid end of flight habit and the bottom of the battery.

For matching running voltage, you’ll need 10 to 11S A123. I’d probably go to 11. At 12S, you’ll definitely have 3-4 more running volts. It will be like 9.8 Lipo or something like that.

To do conversion at nominal voltage, (# Lipos * 3.7) / 3.3 nominal of A123 = cell count.
To do conversion at full voltage: (# Lipos * 4.2) / 3.6 full voltage of A123 = cell count.

Nominal conversion is: 9 Lipo = 10.09 A123 cells

Full voltage Conversion is: 9 Lipo = 10.5 A123 cells.

Since you do most of your flying between full and nominal voltage I lean towards the full number for this estimation. 11 is the best choice. 10 you might notice a slight decrease in performance by your motors KV * volt reduction of the 10S pack. Right in the front of the pack, the 9S Lipo is 37.8v. Right in the front of a 10S A123 your full voltage will be 36v. So, KV X 1.8 = drop in top rpm. If your running a 500kv motor, that’s 900 rpm.

If you go with 11 cells, you’ll be starting out at 40.4v meaning your over the Lipo voltage by about 2.6v. So, you pick up (with 500kv motor) 1300 prop rpm.

Either choice means to get back to exact performance you had on Lipo you may need to alter the prop slightly, maybe an inch more pitch for the 10S A123 and an Inch less pitch for the 11S A123 or something similar to re balance things back out.

So, on balance, not knowing everything about the model and power system, I’d lean towards 11S. If you go 12S as your proposing, you’ll likely end up way over on RPM and Watts from where you were with the 9S Lipo pack. Important considerations here are if you mind a little more or a little less power (if the ESC minds more amps/voltage) and if you would need to change props, is there a convenient prop up or down that would suit the model and flying preferences. For example, if your running right at the edge of the ESC at this time and didn’t want to upgrade it, a slight decrease in power is acceptable, 10S becomes the obvious choice.

Another consideration not taken into account above is there can be a wide variation in quality of Lipo’s people are using out there. (not picking on Thunder Power, remarks for general readers of this post) Your current pack which may be performing just fine for the application may be worn and not really up to snuff compared to the original new condition. Thus if the current lipo has more voltage depression than it should, an A123 10S pack depressing less by some significant amount, could end up taching and watt metering out higher than the battery you are now using.