Thunderstruck (not-just-)72V Converter

November 20, 2010

Well finally it arrived. The Thunderstruck Motors 72V*-12V converter I needed to replace the factory Ego Scooter’s 48V one has finally completed its hazardous USPS journey from sunny California. Here it is:

It comes complete with a male three way red/yellow/black mini-connector of exactly the same type as that of the converter it replaces, and can even comfortably fit at the same mounting point. It comes with a little sticker on the back with helpful labelling of each wire, and there’s even a female three way mini-connector included in case your existing wiring doesn’t follow this common arrangement.

Best of all: According to the blurb on their site, the input voltage is actually 36-72V, so it will also work fine on a regular 48V (or 60V, of course) Ego Scooter – so a perfect first step in the upgrade path! 🙂

For now, though, it sits under my seat next to the extra batteries, until such a time that I get round to taking the bike apart, yet again, to re-route the bikes converter cable back to its original location. I’ll also remove the temporary feed wire from battery 1, which I was using as a temporary power source for the 12V electronics. It’s so nice not to have to plug in, and then disconnect this cable every time I need to use the bike.

Suffice to say, it does what it says on the box, providing 12V at a maximum of 10A from a 72V input. I plugged it in, and took it for a good long spin, and it seems to work absolutely fine. At $50 US inc p&p – that’s about £33 in English money – I can therefore definitely recommend it as an alternative to the home-made PSU converter that was eventually to cost me just as much, and leave me with the weird polarity problem on my 12V system.

The downside is that the item has a long way to come, in the course of which it may vanish entirely into the twilight zone of the US postal system that was to claim the first one that the Thunderstruck people sent me. Fortunately, though, the second one made it here safe and sound, but not without getting knobbled by customs and hit with a seemingly arbitrary £11 charge, which I had to pay before I could pick it up. But then, that seems to be the nature of international shipping and customs fees, a strange game of Russian Roulette where parcels are hit with fees apparently at random, or due to a technicality of customs labelling that I have yet to fully understand. You win some, you lose some…

*That’s 36-72V input, actually, so fine for regular 48V Scootas too!

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Thunder still not struck…

November 1, 2010

thun·der·struck (thndr-strk) adj. Affected with sudden astonishment or amazement.

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“Feed me!” – My lonely plug still awaits its converter

It’s now been six weeks since I ordered the 72V-12V converter from Thunderstruck Motors of California. A couple of weeks ago, at about the four week mark, I checked the tracking number on the USPS website only to be given the following message:

The U.S. Postal Service was electronically notified by the shipper on September 27, 2010 to expect your package for mailing. This does not indicate receipt by the USPS or the actual mailing date. Delivery status information will be provided if / when available. No further information is available for this item.

I contacted Thunderstruck, and one of their staff – Brian – got back to me with an apology, explaining that USPS tracking is not very good and that I should just give it a few more days  – not unreasonable given the considerable number of time zones that separate us.

Another two weeks passed, and when my hopes were dashed, yet again, by a no-show by the postman today, I got back to them a second time, asking if they could take it up with their shippers and try to figure out where it had got to. This time the reply was a little disappointing. A different guy – Mark – got back to me  with the observation that the customs service frequently slows things down by holding them for a while. “Please check with your local customs,” he suggested.

I can see how that conversation would go:

Me: “Excuse me, but do you have a package for me somewhere?”

Customs Official: “We have 393,234 parcels in our holding area, but I’ll take a quick look. Any idea what it looks like?”

Me: “It’s a little box, or maybe just a package. Brown. Or maybe white. It has my name and address on it…”

Customs Official: “OK. I’ll be right back…”

I wish...

You might think that perhaps the USPS number would help. But if USPS can’t even track their own parcel using this, then it’s pretty unlikely that our own customs service can do anything with that number either. Or is there some magnificently efficient database that can identify – by recipient name and address – exactly what they have in their gargantuan warehouse/hanger where they keep those mountainous stretches of international mail?

Answers on a postcard please, just don’t send it by USPS…

UPDATE
I replied to their message asking, again, if they would take a look at it, as it was pretty unlikely that I would get anywhere with customs. A guy called Ari – who originally took the order – just got back to me: He said they’re sending out another tomorrow, and to let them know if the other one emerges from the USPS twilight zone… 🙂  


Thanks Ari!