PSA: What to ask for when buying an Alta


OneLapper

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Hey!

I want to put this out there. It's REALLY important that a buyer asks the seller to provide screenshots of the battery with MT at 100%, 50% and around 25% state of charge.

There are C36 bikes out there that are being sold to buyers after the codes have been cleared and the rest of the pack has been brought to the charge level of the offending P group.

A single screenshot of the battery tab in MT is not sufficient evidence that the bike isn't afflicted with the C36 issue.
 

snydes

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Excellent point! @Philip , perhaps we should pin this up somewhere?

And to add to this, ride logs tell all. Problem is they are painfully slow to download and you have to know how to read them, but they can’t (at least not easily) be tampered with.
 

Philip

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Good stuff. I have pinned it in the "Should I Buy An Alta" sub-forum.

I am wondering if this could be simplified somehow though. Wouldn't checking the battery at just two different SOC be sufficient?
 

snydes

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100% and 25% should show most major issues pretty clearly and would be the bare minimum that I’d want to see if I were looking at a bike.
 

privateer703

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Prospective buyers won't have a laptop with MT and most likely someone trying to pull this off will not acknowledge that they have a laptop so our list of those with MT willing to help is an even more useful tool now. If someone does clear the Code 36 and balances the like you mentioned above, when would the code come back? Would it come back after it starts charging? Trying to figure out a solution that might not require MT if the buyer just doesn't have anyone nearby.
 

C5tor

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Prospective buyers won't have a laptop with MT and most likely someone trying to pull this off will not acknowledge that they have a laptop so our list of those with MT willing to help is an even more useful tool now. If someone does clear the Code 36 and balances the like you mentioned above, when would the code come back? Would it come back after it starts charging? Trying to figure out a solution that might not require MT if the buyer just doesn't have anyone nearby.
Also, if the seller doesn’t voluntarily supply this MT info, I doubt if they would let the buyer (even if they had their own MT laptop) both plug the bike in and then ride it around for an hour to drop the state of charge to 25%.

Not saying it is a bad idea to get as much data as you can. Do everything at your disposal to check it out six ways from Sunday. But in the end, buyer beware. The battery might be fine, but the inverter might be duct-taped together and the forks full of jello. Hard to tell from pics, and some folks will just be dishonest.

Go with your gut, and expect there may be some unexpected things with the bike. The AOF will try to help fix it if we can.
 

Philip

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I doubt if they would let the buyer (even if they had their own MT laptop) both plug the bike in and then ride it around for an hour to drop the state of charge to 25%.
Ask the seller to ride the bike down to 25% before the purchase. Then come to pick it up with a laptop, check it at 25%, then charge it, then check again at 100%.
 

snydes

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For sure if someone wants to spend 10k +/- on a used bike with no manufacturer support, and doesn’t care to do any homework about what their getting into, than it’s on them.

Having the bike at 25% or so to begin with and then charging it back to 100% should trigger any/most cleared code 36’s from what I’ve seen. That doesn’t help those scenarios where firmware isn’t current and so the code wasn’t triggered. Or if someone rolled back to an older version to mask the code from being triggered.

Maybe the best move for a new buyer would be to find another local knowledgeable owner to potential help evaluate the bike before buying.
 

synics

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So are you guys saying these bikes are useless after a 36 error? How could Alta have sold all these faulty batteries? I have a cheap chinese 50AH 18650 panasonic cell battery from China in my Stealth Bomber build and I've charged that thing over a hundred times and it still charges to 84 volts and I've never had a single problem with it. How could this super expensive Alta be so delicate?
 

Matt

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So are you guys saying these bikes are useless after a 36 error? How could Alta have sold all these faulty batteries? I have a cheap chinese 50AH 18650 panasonic cell battery from China in my Stealth Bomber build and I've charged that thing over a hundred times and it still charges to 84 volts and I've never had a single problem with it. How could this super expensive Alta be so delicate?
Not useless after code 36. Just in need of some love. Some modules can be fixed while others may need to be swapped but most everyone who has had a code 36 come up has eaither decided to just ride it with the code 36 issue which likely will be unnoticeable to most in for a while or had been able to get it fixed. There is a lot of information on the code 36 issues on the forum but the short is the welder that welded the wire bonds between the pcb and cells was slightly off for a run of the batteries. It was corrected during production. Some batteries will never have an issue while others will have a couple broken wire bonds. If there is a broken wire bond it came from the factory that way so it's always been there.
 

Philip

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I have to say something.

IMHO, this Code 36 issue is hugely overblown. it should not be neglected, and it should be fixed as soon as detected with a simple soldering iron and a piece of copper wire. Then there is a chance that none of the adjacent battery cells will need to be replaced.

I know I may cause the wrath of the ex-Alta guys and the local fire brigade, but many DIY guys have been making entire battery packs by soldering copper wires directly to 18650 batteries.

Does using a thick copper wire instead of the OEM thin aluminum fusible wire compromise safety? No, it doesn't. In our battery packs, there are two aluminum fusible wires going to each battery cell. One goes to the positive end, the other goes to the negative. You don't really need two fuses on the same circuit, one is enough.
 

C5tor

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Seems to me like that's a serious oversight in the quality control department. haha
Well, keep in mind that an Alta "battery" isn't just one battery. It's more like 504 AA-batteries strapped together. What are the chances that one of those individual cells (or the tiny little wire that connects them together) will eventually develop an issue? I'm frankly amazed that these things are lasting as long as they are in the harsh environment that is a modern dirt bike. I'd say they did a pretty good job of quality control.
 

synics

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Well, keep in mind that an Alta "battery" isn't just one battery. It's more like 504 AA-batteries strapped together. What are the chances that one of those individual cells (or the tiny little wire that connects them together) will eventually develop an issue? I'm frankly amazed that these things are lasting as long as they are in the harsh environment that is a modern dirt bike. I'd say they did a pretty good job of quality control.
I have been building electric bikes for a bit now, so I am fairly knowledgeable about all the various types. I have a 20s15p 49AH 200amp battery in my current build, running in parallel with a secondary 40 amp 10ah battery, consisting of Panasonic and LG 18650s, being controlled by a Sabvoton 72200 controller. I was going to go with 21700s but figured I could get more bang for my buck in the space I have with 18650s. I have put these batteries though hell, tons of crashes, charge them to 100% EVERY time, leave it sit like that, never had a single problem. The ONLY thing I don't do is let it get below 30% charge. That is what kills batteries, draining them too far. I've seen it happen many times where it destroys specific cells. However, I firmly believe that charging to 100% doesn't hurt the battery. I've been doing it for 2 years and the only voltage drop I have gotten is now they charge to 83.4 volts instead of a full 84. With the alta though, it shouldn't be getting bad cells that often, it shouldn't be something that occurs at the level of what I'm hearing in the forum. That's just what concerns me.

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Philip

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With the alta though, it shouldn't be getting bad cells that often, it shouldn't be something that occurs at the level of what I'm hearing in the forum. That's just what concerns me.
Read up on Code 36. It is not what you think it is. It is just a bad wirebond, which in the vast majority of the cases was bad from the factory.
 

Rashid510

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I have to say something.

IMHO, this Code 36 issue is hugely overblown. it should not be neglected, and it should be fixed as soon as detected with a simple soldering iron and a piece of copper wire. Then there is a chance that none of the adjacent battery cells will need to be replaced.

I know I may cause the wrath of the ex-Alta guys and the local fire brigade, but many DIY guys have been making entire battery packs by soldering copper wires directly to 18650 batteries.

Does using a thick copper wire instead of the OEM thin aluminum fusible wire compromise safety? No, it doesn't. In our battery packs, there are two aluminum fusible wires going to each battery cell. One goes to the positive end, the other goes to the negative. You don't really need two fuses on the same circuit, one is enough.

Now I gotta say something. I agree with Phillip (whoa) the Code 36 is a overblown issue mirde with mis information all over the internet. This is a process issue which occured with the development of the R pack itself. Wirebonding can only be solved with one solution. A wirebond. There is no "replacement". Feel free to argue that statement and I will ask: Provide data. Discharge/Charge cycles. Cycle life testing. All standards which are verified with one simple wirebond.

But guess what? Is there a path to fix this issue? Yes there is. Only issue is time. This forum is unfortnately a fraction of my free time (due to good things!) and one of those items is related to potentially wirebonding modules back together again with similar production spec equipment. I will not mention more details other than, its in the works.
 

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