Installing CALB’s and Some Good Customer Service

I received 2 crates of CALB’s on Wednesday the 19th, it’s now Friday the 28th and all of the cells are tested, bottom balanced, and assembled into 7 cell groups for easy final connection when I move them into the car.  In contrast after receiving A123’s it was months before I had enough cells tested, grouped, assembled and usable, and that was just a test pack, not a complete battery system.

There was an issue when the shipment arrived, 72 cells fit perfectly in the two crates but that didn’t leave any room for the bus bars and hardware.  I emailed Don right away explaining the issue along with my requested delivery date.  Since I’m on vacation till the new year I had hoped to get the CALB pack installed in the car before going back to work, so I would need the bus bars on or before Dec. 27th.  Sure enough, mid morning on the 27th UPS arrived with a bubble envelope containing the missing items.  It’s easy for a company to look good when there are no problems, it’s how a company deals with a problem that really shows how dedicated they are to their customers.  Don Blazer and Keegan from CALIB Power came through, delivering what I needed when I needed it even during this very busy holiday season.

The 2nd issue was based on a lack of availability of the proper bus bars for the CALB CA60FI cells.  For side to side connection the cells require a 41mm bus bar, however only 46mm bars were available when I placed my order.  The simple solution was creating a larger “bend” in the center of the bar to reduce the center to center hole distance.  Given the laminated nature of the bus bars they are very easy to bend by hand, I simply clamped an aluminium bar to the desk using some bus bars as the perfect spacer.  The clamps are placed just outside the spacers to bend the aluminium bar up slightly in the center, making it easy to slide bus bars in and out for quick bending.

A fresh bar is bent “up” at a 45° angle, rotate and bend the other side up at a 45° angle as well.

Finally the bar is bent in the center against the square edge of the desk at ~90°.  The result is a new suitable center to center distance for use with the CA60FI.  Care must be taken to ensure the individual layers don’t move out of alignment too much to obstruct the use of one or both of the holes.

The final issue relates to the end to end connection of two CALB CA60FI’s.  I had purchased a metal punch when deciding how to make holes in the A123 tabs, it’s heavy duty and I didn’t end up using it on the A123’s but it was perfect for punching a new hole and slightly elongating the existing holes in the bus bars.  The bar was also flattened slightly to help increase the center distance.

A finished end to end connection.  The cells are shrink wrapped together to hold them in the desired cell groups for easy handling.  There are 10 groups of 7 and 2 groups of 2 cells making up the final configuration of the rear 74 cell pack.  The cells were assembled in order based on the bar code numbers the cells and documentation arrived with.  I will be able to easily match existing cell information with future data collected from the pack linking it to a specific cell.

In all of this there is one place where the 46mm bus bar actually works perfectly without modification.  When doing an end to side connection, IE transitioning from rows to columns or vice versa you need a (drum roll please) 46mm bus bar!  In my pack there are only two of these but perhaps it will let someone out there order the correct bars for every connection type and eliminate the type of modifications I had to make.

The bus bar sizes for CA60FI’s are as follows:
Side to side = 41mm
End to end = 51mm
Side to end = 46mm

The final layout of the pack is shown below, the negative most cell is the top right cell on the left block, the most positive cell is the top left on the right block.  This matches my layout plan for the A123’s making use of the existing 2/0 cables.  The bus bars not shown will be attached in the car, leaving simple to handle blocks to carry out to the car.  The bottom right cell in the left block and bottom left cell in the right block will be connected together through a fuse and maintenance switch.

This layout makes efficient use of the existing battery box, keeping the 10kW charger in the bottom center.  If I ever want  to add cells there is room in place of the charger to add 11 more cells, plus 19 in the front battery box would take me up to just beyond the limits of the Soliton1 at up to 104 cells.

The first half of the rear pack is installed, the charger needs to go in before I can install the 2nd half and connect everything together.

I’m finally putting the finishing touches on the 10kW charger.  The final panel has been milled/engraved, the wiring is almost complete.

There are still a lot of small tasks to get out of the way but the car is on track for being “complete enough” to resume daily driving early in the new year.

Speaking of new year, happy new year to all!




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