Part 1 of this update (see it here) included the summary of Beta 2.1 Rider feedback including some of the issues our riders uncovered. Part 2 below will focus on our solutions and other features we've added.
As written in the last update, approximately one third of Beta 2.1 Riders experienced some form of unresponsiveness condition with their ZBoard 2 beta board. We have determined that these issues are caused by momentary voltage dips confusing the onboard Battery Management System (BMS), which can trip the under-voltage protection. Basically, the BMS is working properly to keep the lithium battery voltage from getting too low, but under specific circumstances it can be a little too sensitive.
When this would happen, the BMS would need to either be connected to a charger, or have the power connection to the controller cycled (unplug and plug back in). Since the first option isn’t always readily available, and the second option requires disassembling the board, we’ve developed and tested a solution.
To solve this issue we've designed a new Automatic Safety Fuse Board that both helps limit the issue and automatically resets power if it happens.
Safety Fuse Boards
The first version of the Safety Fuse Board aimed to intelligently reset power when it was unnecessarily tripped by certain usage conditions. Our first revision worked very well as a proof of concept. We have ridden long distances, up and down hills, and under artificially heavy loads and have not witnessed any shutoffs or unresponsive conditions.
That said, this revision had some issues with overheating, as seen in the bottom picture below:
We then redesigned it to use more efficient components with redundancies, and added progressive fuse protection as an additional safety backup. This production version is far more robust, and improved thermal mounting prevents components from being able to overheat.
We have ordered Safety Fuse Boards for all ZBoards. We will receive these in three weeks.
New Feature: Auto Shutoff after Five Minutes
Several customers mentioned that they occasionally forgot to turn off their board, and would appreciate an auto-shutoff feature.
The latest version of our firmware will automatically shut off the ZBoard if the drive wheel does not move and no inputs are given for five minutes.
Feature Adjustment: Powering On LEDs when Moving
During Beta 2.1, tapping the power button to turn on the LEDs at medium or high speed could cause a momentary jerk. We've adjusted this so that you can only turn on LEDS if you are stopped or coasting at low speed with no throttle or braking input.
Feature Adjustment: Advanced Timing Modification
The ZBoard’s dynamic sinusoidal modulation control is both more efficient and less noisy than traditional trapezoidal modulation used on most other brushless outrunner motors. However, with the added performance comes added sensitivity to other variables.
Over the last few weeks we've spent time mapping the performance curves of motors and drive systems for our initial production runs, including analysis of the many Beta Round boards that have shipped. As a result, we will be implementing several brand new tuning controls to further refine and customize performance for each and every ZBoard that we build.
Continuing into Beta 3.0
Once we receive the production order of Safety Fuse Boards, we will be contacting all Beta 2.1 Riders to ship their board back to get the hardware and software improvements listed above.
We are opening Beta 3.0 up to all domestic customers. If you are a domestic pre-orderer and you were not part of the Beta 2.1 group, and you'd like to join the Beta Testing Group please purchase this option (will close Weds 11/9 at Midnight PST). There will not be any additional costs for this, you simply have to agree to give us feedback.
If you were in the Beta 2.1 group you will automatically be in the Beta 3.0 group.
Note: We expect the turnaround on the Beta 2.1 -> 3.0 improvements to be very quick. Far quicker than Beta 2.0 -> 2.1 was. We won't be requesting your boards back until we have the Safety Fuse Boards in stock. Also, we will be reaching out to all Beta 2.1 riders with a return shipping label when the time is right. You will not have to pay shipping.
Note: Be sure to purchase with the same name and email as you original order through our site.
Note: If there end up being issues with Beta 3.0 and we need you to ship your board back, you will not have to pay additional shipping.
Schedule Moving Forward
Due to the in-depth feedback from our Beta 2.1 Riders we have high confidence that the Beta 3.0 Build will be identical to production. So if you are a domestic customer and are interested in getting your board ASAP, we highly recommend purchasing the Beta Testing option mentioned above.
Here is our schedule moving forward:
If you have any questions, our Co-Founder Ben will be chatting on our site on Tuesday morning (11/1) from 9AM - 10AM PST. We'd love to hear from you!
From the Founders
We are extremely excited to be in the final stretch of this project and to get all of you your ZBoards as soon as possible. Its been a long and bumpy road but we truly feel like the end is in sight and we're stoked about how great the board is performing. Its fast, nimble, and it puts a smile on our faces every time we jump on. Thanks as always for your incredible patience and support. We can't wait to get you riding.
Ben, Geoff, and the ZBoard Team
A great photo and ride data from Matt in New Jersey
A ZBoard 2 rap from Nikademus posted to Facebook
A long, fast ride, from Michael in North Carolina