STORM Eindhoven is a student project which has developed the first electric touring motorcycle. In 2016 we have travelled the world in 80 days to actively promote electric transport by showing the world our motorcycle and Eurocircuits has helped us build it. The defining features of our motorcycle STORM Wave, are that it can drive 400 km on a single charge and the battery pack can be swapped for a full one in less than 10 minutes. As you might imagine a machine like that needs a lot of electronics to function and all printed circuit boards (PCB’s) of the motorcycle are provided by Eurocircuits. This post is dedicated to a special PCB, the battery management system (BMS) PCB and the design process that created it.
The BMS is a piece of electronics which governs and protects the unique modular battery pack of the motorcycle. A standard BMS has three basic functions. It measures parameters and relays them to the user, it makes sure the battery operates safely and it balances out the pack. Usually this is done with multiple PCB’s and components scattered around the vehicle. The special thing about the STORM BMS PCB is that all functions and components are combined on two PCB’s and put in a single battery module. This makes all battery modules stand alone and enables modularity.
These demands gave a lot of challenges for the PCB’s in terms of cost and technology and so Eurocircuits became involved in the project to help us out. To combine all functions on one PCB meant we had to have a power and a signal section. The available space inside the battery module and the high power that goes with an automotive battery, demanded that the power PCB required maximum thickness of copper layers and press fit technology to reach specifications. However thick copper layers for the signal PCB would mean it would be harder to assemble. This lead us to the decision to split the PCB into two separate sections. Luckily all the technology to make this compact design was available at Eurocircuits and the result was over 200 compact standalone battery modules.
This was of course not without some considerable effort in the logistics department. I can remember a moment in the development stages when the final design deadline for the BMS PCB was close and I had the unfortunate task to inform our contact at Eurocircuits, Matthieu Samain, that the design was delayed and to make the final deadline, we would have to considerably cut into the delivery time of the PCB’s. Add to that our special requirements for the PCB’s, I knew that I was giving him and the company a hard time. Despite all that, Eurocircuits and Matthieu came through and the deadline was met. It was at these moments, I was once again remembered of how much we depended on help and support from our partners like Eurocircuits.
If you look at the challenges we faced in the design phase, fast prototyping and fast delivery times were almost a must. The technical part of our team existed of 13 people and we tried to design an electric motorcycle from scratch within 2 years, while no one at the start of the project had any experience building anything like that. To compare, Audi and BMW use a team several times larger than ours and 5 years to develop such a motorcycle. Obviously, our design was not at the level of those companies but we did need a working motorcycle that was capable of driving around the planet and we had only 2 years to do so. I am still convinced to this day, that without the fast delivery time and the compliance of our partners to our ridiculous request, STORM Wave and the STORM world tour would never have existed and Eurocircuits is no exception to that.
It would please us if you would explore our journey video. Thanks, the STORM-team.