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Nissan Leaf, 24kWh -> 40kWh upgrade using Muxsan hardware.

  • 08-08-2020 10:14pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,389 ✭✭✭ extremetaz


    Alright, so owing to a couple of requests, here's a very quick overview of how I managed to upgrade my 2012 Gen1 Japanese Nissan Leaf to 40kWh from its stock 24kWh.

    I'm going to go ahead and assume that anyone who's interested in doing this already knows how the hardware swap itself is generally performed in these cars so I'm not going to get bogged down in that detail. Suffice to say that if yours is a Sunderland car, then 24, 30, or 40kWh fitment is identical across the board. There's nothing to it. If you've a Japanese car then there's two bolts at the rear of the pack which you can forget about, and you'll need to update the Yazaki connector on the comms and control loom to the pack - but that's it.

    So the problem isn't the act of removing or fitting a pack, it's getting the car and the pack to talk to each other. There's a huge amount of under the hood detail that changes between the various models, and there are a couple of ways of going about various swaps. My first swap was like-for-like with a 24kWh pack from a late registration Japanese car - in that instance I had initially planned to trailer the car to a main dealer to have the LBC paired to the VCM but it transpired that the scrap yard had seen fit to remove the LBC from the pack I'd bought (which I was none to pleased about), so I wound up just swapping in my old one. This is only doable with like-for-like swaps, it won't work for anything else.

    That being said, the early LBC's will accomodate the 30kWh pack modules without complaint if you don't mind transferring the bus bars and BMS loom across. This method won't work for the 40kWh pack as the earlier LBC's loose their mind if they see anything over ~80Ah going into the pack IIRC - so you have to get a bit more creative.

    Now the comms traffic between the VCM and the LBC has a fair bit of stuff on it, but nothing like what's on the main bus, and what the guys over at Muxsan have done is hacked into the clacks (for the Pratchett fans), which is to say they've built their own CANBUS 'Man in the middle' board which sits between the battery and the car. It then takes the info from each and turns it into whatever it needs to be for the other operate happily.

    I went over to see the Muxsan folks in Delft back in March - literally just before the lockdown started - spent a day shadowing Emile, and came home with my own MITM kit. Now I should probably take a moment to point out that I'm a reformed lifelong petrol head and wrench monkey, but professionally, I'm an electronic engineer which means I'm quite comfortable with what follows - and at this point I'm simply going to point ye to the thread that I created, after fitted the thing, on the openinverter forum. So tip over to that for a minute and have a read, then come back to me - I'll wait.


Comments

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,451 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    Thanks a million for starting this thread. Indeed I requested that you would and I just know many others in here are very interested in this.

    Now at the risk of annoying you, can I please ask you about the economics? How much is the total cost of all materials for the upgrade to a 40kWh pack? How much did you get back for your old and degraded pack? How much was your total spend (disregarding any travel costs and putting a zero rate to any time spent)? How much do you reckon your car was worth before the upgrade and how much after?

    I appreciate you might not care for any or all of these figures yourself, but for many other people out there they would be very relevant in assessing if they will take on a similar upgrade or not.

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,389 ✭✭✭ extremetaz


    Welcome back.

    What you aught to have taken from that thread is three things:
    - That you have to patch the little magic box into the comms loom to the pack. This requires a high level of competency with a soldering iron and associated workflows. The cables you need to splice are not easy to get much working slack on, and you will make life very difficult for yourself indeed if you balls it up. The joints you make also need to be reliable, and the insulation repaired once you're done. If you're happy enough with that bit then you're halfway there.
    - That you have to capture CANBUS traffic from the old pack to identify the LBC responses that the VCM expects to see. These will be programmed into the MITM. Again, loads of ways of doing this - I used an Arduino MKR with the Seeed studios CAN shield for it, and their accompanying code. The Arduino IDE doesn't support capture of serial monitor traffic, so I used Putty for that. I did make a few very minor tweaks to the code to get it to present a little better, but the functionality was there straight off the bat.
    - That you have to be comfortable programming an AVR (and here I don't mean writing code, just uploading it to the thing), but I covered that in the other thread.

    SO sequence:
    - Get at the battery comms lines inside the cabin (just to the left of the cup holders in the front passenger footwell)
    - Without breaking the canbus lines (the only twisted pair in that loom for the record), shave a little insulation off each and tap into the traffic using crock clips (Blue is CAN-H)
    - Turn on the ignition and use your preferred CANBUS sniffing arrangement to capture a few minutes worth of traffic
    - Take that record into your preferred data sorting software (I used Excel)
    - Identify the response codes of the battery. This will be the data in bytes 4-6 of message ID 0x1DC and there will be 4 variants.
    - At this point I'm assuming you're working with Muxsan kit so send those codes to Emile and he'll send back your HEX file to be uploaded to the MITM
    - Use your preferred arrangement to get that done (there's a record of mine in that openinverter thread)
    - Cut those CANBUS lines and splice in your MITM
    - Swap the pack (if you've a Japanese leaf you'll need to have sourced a new Yazaki connector and will need to solder that into place - the pinout, old and new, is in the Openinverter thread)
    - Button everything back up and you are good to go.


    If that all sounds like a bucketload of 'what??' then maybe enlist the help of a friend. There is a certain fundamental comfort level you're going to need to have before you attempt this and if you don't have it then, seriously, your best bet is to get someone who can teach you to help you out. It isn't actually that hard.


    For the sake of those curious, I bought my car new in May 2012. Did my first battery swap in 2018 at 220,000km. The old pack is awaiting commissioning as domestic solar storage at the moment and I'll hopefully get that over the line before the end of this summer. The 40kWh pack I put in last March at 293,000km (IIRC) - the pack that was in it was still in great nick but the option presented itself so I took it. A little under half of that second pack current resides in a Vextrix VX-1 which I'm hoping to resurrect, and a few more modules have been committed to a leisure battery for a camper van. Hoping to put the remaining cells to use in a motorcycle conversion that I started wayyyy too long ago at this point.. but a small tractor isn't out of the question either. I'd love to get my hands on an MF25 or similar... maybe a Dexta... but I digress. We just broke 300,000km a few days ago which is what prompted the post on the IEVOA FB page, and lead to this.

    In both cases the batteries were sourced from a local scrapyard. I've resisted providing a breakdown of the costs of my efforts as it sets an unfair level of expectation on those trying to provide the facility as a service. Suffice to say I feel like I've achieved exceptional value, and I believe that with development, labour, warranty and overheads to consider, anyone charging anything about the €8500 mark in the present battery market, is likely providing very good value too.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,451 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    extremetaz wrote: »
    I've resisted providing a breakdown of the costs of my efforts as it sets an unfair level of expectation on those trying to provide the facility as a service

    That's why I asked you to give a figure for the total net cost to upgrade, disregarding any travel or any labour cost. On the basis of a pure DIY job. Cost of parts only, including shipping costs and duty where applicable

    Can you do that?

    Obviously if you need to get the job done by a professional, it will cost considerably more. I am confident everyone reading this is fully aware of that.

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,389 ✭✭✭ extremetaz


    unkel wrote: »
    How much did you get back for your old and degraded pack?

    Well now there is an interesting question. My first pack is going to be continuing in service as solar storage - I'm just finalising some specifics at the moment. The second pack is getting scattered into various smaller applications. So it's hard to put a number on what I'm getting back out of them really - plenty of interesting projects?...
    unkel wrote: »
    How much was your total spend (disregarding any travel costs and putting a zero rate to any time spent)?

    Including refreshing the suspension struts at all corners, and fitting new control arm bushings, while I had the car on the rack, the total spend for the 40kWh fitout was respectable operating margin below €8000. You won't get me to be any more specific than that I'm afraid.
    unkel wrote: »
    How much do you reckon your car was worth before the upgrade and how much after?

    Never considered it, but with 293,000km, HA! not very much.
    Certainly a bit more now but who wants a car with that mileage!?
    Worth two of any other car to me though and I'm fully intent on driving this car into the ground. This pack will get me past the 500,000km mark no problem.
    unkel wrote: »
    I appreciate you might not care for any or all of these figures yourself, but for many other people out there they would be very relevant in assessing if they will take on a similar upgrade or not.

    It all comes down to what you can get the pack for. The Muxsan kit is €950. You'll need access to a lift, and lifting gear, to do the job safely so unless you have that stuff yourself, factor in a few quid for whomever you're planning to get the use of it from. So to price it up in your terms, it's Battery+€950+Garage access+€100 for sundry expenses like the arduino and the AVR programmer.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,389 ✭✭✭ extremetaz


    unkel wrote: »
    I am confident everyone reading this is fully aware of that.

    You'd be amazed at how many people have absolutely no regard for what it takes to make a business viable - and this is the internet. ;)


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,451 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    extremetaz wrote: »
    the total spend for the 40kWh fitout was respectable operating margin below €8000. You won't get me to be any more specific than that I'm afraid

    So €8k total cost for all parts needed incl. the 40kWh pack?

    Minus what the degenerated 24kWh pack might get you on the open market, say €2.5k, making the upgrade cost €5.5k (completely DIY, so not including any labour), or am I missing something here?

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Closed Accounts Posts: 322 ✭✭ Superfoods


    Any project with the battery to provide to people as solar backup's? I have a smaller battery but looking for more for my solar PV......current prices from companies make zero sense


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,451 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    Superfoods wrote: »
    Any project with the battery to provide to people as solar backup's? I have a smaller battery but looking for more for my solar PV......current prices from companies make zero sense

    I have an AC side battery to store my solar PV excess. Very similar to the Tesla powerwall setup. Currently I have 19kWh of lead acid, but I am transitioning to LiFePo4 (lithium) batteries. The Nissan battery modules are very suitable for using in a powerwall too. Apart from the fact that they are too expensive for what they are imho. Pretty much all used EV batteries are as there is huge demand for them worldwide and supply is very limited.

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,389 ✭✭✭ extremetaz


    unkel wrote: »
    So €8k total cost for all parts needed incl. the 40kWh pack?

    Minus what the degenerated 24kWh pack might get you on the open market, say €2.5k, making the upgrade cost €5.5k (completely DIY, so not including any labour), or am I missing something here?

    EoL 24kWh pack is worth about €1500 on the market. Would have to be in very good shape to fetch €2500.

    40kWh packs tend to run from about €4500-6000 + whatever it takes to get them to you. You'll see people looking for far more than that but I wouldn't be inclined to entertain them. These will be trade sales at those prices so pack condition will be your problem if you choose to purchase and no form of warranty should be expected.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,389 ✭✭✭ extremetaz


    Superfoods wrote: »
    Any project with the battery to provide to people as solar backup's? I have a smaller battery but looking for more for my solar PV......current prices from companies make zero sense

    This is precisely what I'm doing with my original pack. I'll give a full run down once I have that at the point of certification - just sorting out the window dressing at the moment so shouldn't be too long.


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,451 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    extremetaz wrote: »
    EoL 24kWh pack is worth about €1500 on the market. Would have to be in very good shape to fetch €2500.

    Easy to part out. The cheapest I have seen the modules go for in the last year or so is USD50. Times 48. And that was a pack with only 60-70% capacity remaining iirc. Saw modules sell on adverts.ie recently enought for €60, the latter would gross the guts of 3 grand. Very popular modules, only trumped by the Tesla packs in popularity. Both can easily be used in power walls without much work. In other words, if you can sell me a pack for €1500, I'll take it :pac:
    extremetaz wrote: »
    40kWh packs tend to run from about €4500-6000 + whatever it takes to get them to you.

    €4500 + shipping cost seems to be very cheap at only a bit over €100 per kWh. Any link to where you can source these?

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,389 ✭✭✭ extremetaz


    Parted out is a different story yes. €1500 is going rate for complete packs, untouched. No bother getting them at that price + shipping.
    unkel wrote: »
    €4500 + shipping cost seems to be very cheap at only a bit over €100 per kWh. Any link to where you can source these?

    €4500 is the sweet spot IMO. I've seen cheaper but not very often. €5000 is more regular. There's no steady supply of these things so you just have to keep your eyes peeled.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 15,639 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slave1


    So go on, I’m going to bite the real question, how did you get on with car Insurance once they were aware of the battery upgrade?


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 58,451 CMod ✭✭✭✭ unkel


    extremetaz wrote: »
    €1500 is going rate for complete packs, untouched. No bother getting them at that price + shipping.

    Any link? Or if you prefer not to post, could you please PM me?

    "Wind is Ireland's oil" - An Taoiseach, 25/05/2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 31 ✭✭✭ Peter mx5


    I am fascinated by the leaf upgrade possibilities I was wondering did look at the evs enhanced site where they seem to supply a more plug and play upgrade for the mechanical minded types but not confident with soldering etc. Its great to see how you have upgraded yours.nice job.


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