Contest Launch and Mini Cooper Success – or was it DISASTER

Strange week. A lot going on. Reminds me of the early days of Boardwatch Magazine.

First, the contest. We’re launched. And we’re getting a very encouraging number of entries. Reading through them, as I noted in a recent post, I’m not sure I’m up to this emotionally.

We’re probably going to quick scan 100 promising ones out of the pile at about 19weeks. I’m going to give this list to our sponsors who can then each pick two. We’ll pick two. That’s 10.

Then we’re going to ask them for further videos, photos, writeups, whatever they want to provide for the finals.

We’ll post that and let the viewers decide.

This week’s video.

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This video marks a first. Our first paid advertiser, as part of the contest sponsorship of course, is Netgain Motors LLC. We intend things will go well enough that they will take some pride in the future to be cunning enough to be our first supporter. The Netgain “commercial” is our first paid commercial.

The motor bears the tale. has come out with a total of 26 improvements to the motor, and as we’re using a couple of them in the Escalade we’re pretty much excited about them. An optical port for a sensor on the fan is pretty interesting. The new brush design and the 192v limit George does NOT want to talk about, because it hasn’t been tested yet, is exciting. And the new fan is supposed to improve air flow 50%. We need all that.

This week we also announce we have settled on EVnetics Soliton1 as the controller you’ll be getting. A bit of agony here getting to this. I thnk the Zilla is what the viewers would want. But the Soliton1 is newer technology, uses components that weren’t even available when Zilla was designed. It’s supposed to do 1000 amps. And the build look is just really quite cool. I like the hard core fittings for the water cooling instead of plastic. And I just think these guys deserve a shot. They’ve done a good job with this design. THere’s enough running it to indicate a chance at a good one.

I think these guys are a little strange. Now put that in context with ME and OTMAR OBBENHEICH. Who isn’t strange? But their device oughtta get an industrial package design award if it doesn’t work at all. It’s configurable. It’s in software that can be upgraded. IT uses the latest IGBT’s, and I suspect they are the 1400 amp IGBT’s giving us a little head room. Even the old fashioned bakelight terminal strip is just easier for me to deal with than tiny crimp pins and trick plugs. I like it. And it’s my show. So that’s that.

Is Ryan Bohm/Netgains just as good? Probably. We had to make a call and Netgain already had the motor.

Anyway, welcome EVnetics You’re the SECOND advertiser in EVTV history. If I seem to be a little hard to deal with, it’s because I am. No one suffers it more than me, lacking it might be my wife or Brain. In any event, I admire your engineering and that’s that.

Speaking of being me. Mix a little Alzheimers, a quart of whiskey, and high voltage and what do you get? A 2009 Mini Cooper Clubman. We did a little experiment with the little exciter ring and magnetic pickup from the origianl Mini engine and low and behold, would you believe the DME started showing the tachometer display AND turned on the Electronic Power Assist Steering (EPAS) all in one smooth move.

I got so excited I changed the brake regen and accelerator regen and replaced the exciter ring with the ttach output from the TIMS600 controller.

Unbelievably, it all worked. Well more or less. The tach was live but didn’t read right by a factor of four. The EPAS doesn’t come on until 600 rpm so that meant 2400 real rpm. But we went and drove it and it was a different car. I was actually pretty pleased with the way it drove before. But by lengthening the brake regen PERIOD to 3 seconds from two and increasing the TORQUE to 70% max from 50% the brakes were PERFECT.

By decreasing the throttle regen zone from the first 20% to the first 10%, suddenly the throttle regen felt right for the first time. Better, we apparently got both into a zone where the 5K pot on the dash started to make sense and for the first time I could “tune” this to perfection.

I thought I didn’t need the EPAS while driving, but was aware that in a parking scenario it was way to stiff for most humanoids. Yah, well. It felt MUCH better at ALL speeds.

Was I excited? You bet. But the tach wasn’t right so I had an even BETTER idea. We would steal the 64 bit encoder signal from the motor right out of the controller box and use THAT to drive the tach.

Would you believe it worked? Oh, I wasn’t set up to make sure it was to the RPM. But the tach indications suddenly made sense – approximately right. ANd the EPAS kicked in at 600 rpm instead of 2400. But the motor had a little different noise and the tach would magically drop out after 10 minutes.

So I played with some resistor loading between the encoder signal and ground. And things REALLY began to get better. I was on a roll. So I quickly threw together a little darlington pair driving an opto isolator to really separate these two.

To quote the famous electronics engineer and inventor, Scooby Doo, – RUH-ROW.

And that’s the last the MIni ever peeped. Absolutely dead on power output of any kind. It would talk on the serial port, and reports an A3 POWER ALARM. We looked that up in the truly superb Swiss Italian gibberish documentaiton that came with and it very cleverly defined the A3 POWER ALARM as being the A3 POWER ALARM. Not another word in the book.

No help from Victor or MES-DEA of course. Do you think those guys just don’t LIKE me anymore?

We replaced the encoder in the motor. No help.

So, we have NO controller. We also tore it all down to put the exciter ring and magnetic pickup in the adapter plate where it always should have been.

A door is closed. But a window opened and I think this will be a LOT of fun for you guys. Maybe less so for me at about 10 grand.

A little birdy told me that Larry Rinehart of Rinehart Motion Systems had a little bit of a business breakthrough recently. It seems that Remy, a division of what was DELCO REMY, has a very interesting motor. IT’s termed a Hybrid Vehicle Hairpin motor. It’s used in some of hte GM hybrids and is buried in the transmission. This is a very intereetsing, and somewhat problematical motor.

You can actually get these hybrid transmissions on eBay now. They don’t give em away but given the prices of AC motor systems for EV’s there’s a lot of room there. The problem is the motor really doesn’t have a housing. It sits in the transmission and is literally bathed in the transmission fluid for cooling.

But it is a very cool motor. The stator windings use a unique hairpin design that allows about a 70% fill instead of 40%. That translates into a tighter flux and more torque in the same sized motor. Or higher current levels, rather depending on both how you look at it and how you wind it.

But they don’t have a controller of their own. And therein lies a tale. Apparently they have actually invested some MONEY into Rinehart and word is this controller, now $9500, may go into a more assembly line kind of production getting it down into the $4500 range. Now the motor is hardly free. Actuallly there is a line of motors. And Rinehart is apparently working on a 150kw controller in addition to the 100kw unit they have. How all this will shake out is anybody’s guess, and I would guess Larry and Remy and everyone involved aren’t really nailed down as to where it can go themselves. But it looks like a pregnant partnership. Remember where you heard about it first.

Too late to do us much good. But we are talking to them about a 100kw Rinehart for the Mini and it looks promising. They have a couple laying around and I have already spoken for it in decimal. We’ll likely have to send them the motor to get it configured. But it’s worth a try.

For one thing it moves our controller support function to Wilsonville Oregon instead of whacoville Metric Mind or the Swiss Italian alps. The documentation, which looks pretty good, is in English, which I still favor as my native tongue.

And so there is the POSSIBILITY to examine, using our Mini disaster, which is mega, to explore a real AC controller and motor system that COULD BE purchsed for cash at a useful power level sufficient to do somewhat larger vehicles than the HPEVS system. As we’ve kind of reached a command level decision to just start studiously ignoring all the pie in the sky unobtanium in favor of products where you can get documentation, spares, replacement and support, this is as Martha always says, “a good thing.”

Speaking of unobtainium, I DID stick in a little piece on the Audi eTron appearing at the Paris auto show. Why? Because it’s cool and chicks dig it, of course.

Stay with us. I’m hoping to have some further coolness in the way of a brand new charger entry for our contest….that you’ve never heard of before….

Jack Rickard

38 thoughts on “Contest Launch and Mini Cooper Success – or was it DISASTER”

  1. The Soliton 1 is an excellent choice for a controller. It can do most(all?) of the things that a Zilla can; being able to limit motor voltage is extremely helpful for a high performance conversion, as you can maximize the motor’s power output without fear of having too high a nominal pack voltage. This means a higher top speed, under the condition that max rpm wasn’t your limiting factor. Liquid cooling is a must, for the purpose of reliability.

    Too bad Netgain doesn’t make liquid cooled DC motors(lots of technical issues with that). The motor will be the ‘weak link’ when racing a vehicle for the extended lengths of time that a LiFePO4 pack would allow. I can’t imagine that even the Netgain 9″ HV could take 1000A for more than 20 seconds straight, but hopefully I’m wrong and the additional fans really do provide the necessary cooling. I’ve seen videos of “White Zombie” doing wheel stands, along with the orange glow of the brushes being reflected in the pavement…

  2. The new Netgains have improved brushes, and an improved fan. We’ll also do a little forced air cooling work on ours. But even then, I do not see even the 11 inch motors doing 1000 amps for 20 seconds.

    On the other hand, 20 seconds is a LONG acceleration at 1000 amps. Hopefully, using the leverage of the automatic transmission and the buffering of the torque converter, I’m hoping to put 1000 amps into each of two motors on the Escalade, but I’m picturing a seven or eight second acceleration and the thousand amps for 2.5 to 3 seconds of that. That will get me a very nice start and what will be for me an impressive acceleration, in an attempt to replicate the 7 second acceleration of the 405 HP engine that’s in it now.

    It’s not going to NEDRA to drag race. But it shouldn’t be anything to “apologize for” because it’s electric.

    We chickened out and went to Netgain Warp 11’s for the Escalade. And if your build requires it and you win the contest, George has said he’ll do a tradeup at the difference price.

  3. An 11″ would have a too low of a max rpm and far too much torque for my build; I’m going for top speed, not 1/4 mile time. 20 seconds is indeed a long acceleration at 1000A; of the few series DC motor specs I’ve seen that even mentioned 1000A, it was never for more than 5 seconds(although, drag racers do abuse them for much longer times without destroying them). But, I’m fairly confident that the Netgain 9″ HV could take 500A for 5 minutes.

    A 35 kWh LiFePO4 pack in an aerodynamic sports car could(theoretically) allow run times of more than 15 minutes at double the legal speed limit… this would KILL a series DC motor with air cooling because it would be pulling 400A or more the entire time. *zorch* Even still, the Netgain motors are very hardy, and in any normal driving conditions plus frequent bursts of acceleration, they are “bulletproof”.

    I can’t wait to see more specs on the 9″ HV. I’m planning things as if I won’t win the contest; if I do, awesome, as I’d gladly use the components to make the best conversion I could and use the ones I had already purchased for another conversion. If I don’t win, I will still want to upgrade my components at a later date, and Netgain motors are a good choice for my application; the battery pack will be the most important thing to upgrade, however.

    Twin Netgain 11s in that Escalade will probably be good for about 650 lb-ft of torque at 1000A. It shouldn’t have any problem matching the 0-60 time of a stock Escalade, and you may just end up blowing the doors off of Corvettes and Dodge Vipers from 0-30, let alone a gasoline Escalade. With that amount of torque, my main concern would be making sure the setup actually accelerated the vehicle at full throttle, as opposed to destroying its tires. Of course, a proper setting on your controller should take care of that.

    I also think it would be hilarious if you put spinning rims and hydraulics on the Escalade; I have yet to ever see or hear of an electric car with either. It would be the height of absurdity.

    Finding an AC drive that will meet your needs for the Mini is probably harder today than it was 5 years ago. Metric Mind used to have more EV-friendly products available, but they aren’t manufactured anymore. Solectria’s AC setups along with the AC50 on the market are too lacking in power for anything but the most conservative daily drivers. I see what you were saying about the need to have an affordable AC solution with high power in that email to me… Paul Holmes is working on an open source DIY version as we speak, in a similar vein to the ReVolt PWM DC controller.

  4. “We looked that up in the truly superb Swiss Italian gibberish documentaiton that came with and it very cleverly defined the A3 POWER ALARM as being the A3 POWER ALARM. Not another word in the book.”

    Jack, Haven’t watched the show yet, but did you try the reset alarm pin (22) already?


  5. The very ordinary 9 inch Warp 9 in the original Speedster has often done 540 amps for 20 or 30 seconds and 450-500 amps for some time on the freeway in an uphill situation. We no longer even both to actively cool it – we used to have an external blower. No more.

    The Escalade is an exercise in scale. We haven’t done one that large and it is well over 6000 lbs as it sits. It will be some 7200 lbs.

    We do have the GMC 2500 van, entirely loaded with AGMs to give us a sense so I know how I DON’T want it to behave. And all the direct drive adherents will find little common ground with me from that experience – don’t get me started again on lead.

    We are taking a pretty careful approach to a somewhat unknown area for us. For power, two Netgain 11’s on the same shaft is a 34 inch long motor of slightly over 11 inches in diameter and about 460 lbs. Driven by two Soliton1’s capable of 1000 amps each purportedly.

    No direct drive. In fact, this one will be a little over transmissioned with a TCI six speed automatic with torque converter – paddle shifters I hope if we can figure out how to mount them. We’re going to hydroboost for the brakes and the aux shaft will drive the Air conditioning, power steering pump, and likely the original engine exciter ring and pickup just in case there is something I need in teh ECU – lesson learned.

    In truth, I expect it to actually use 2 gears 90% of the time. I’m just not sure which two.

  6. Yes, an affordable AC drive train in the 150 kw range has been the holy grail for too long now. I was aware Paul was working on an open source version and I asked him what he needed to make it happen. He kind of did a total reject and said he needed nothing. Needing nothing, I would expect to see something pretty quickly.

    I can hardly wait.

    Jack Rickard

  7. Jan:

    We did. Actually I didn’t have pin 22 wired up frankly. But I did so and tried it variously to 12v and ground with no success. So it failed a hardware reset, a software reset, and a series of incantations and frustrated gestures.

    I killed this controller pretty well – from messing around with the encoder signal???? Not very hardy in my book.

    Jack Rickard

  8. 35 kWh in a light sports car is tough. First, it’s 789 lbs. Second, it takes up a lot of room. Light sports cars have not much room, and when you add nearly 800 lbs, it’s not “light” any more. For such a project I would probably forego range for AH. Go to a 200 AH cell that will put out. David Kois told me they tested a TS LiFYPo the other day of 100AH size at 25C continous to capacity the other day. That’s 2500 amps until dry.

    We plan on duplicating that experiment as soon as I figure out how.

    Thundersky is supposed to be releasing a new Lithium Ion Yttrium Sulfur cell with much higher density, though not the cycle life, of their current cells. We can’t wait to test them.

    Jack Rickard

  9. Dammn. My only serious option is MES-DEA. And you spoiled that prety professional by now. Thanks a lot. And that’s not sarcastic. Actually quite greatful. But it doesn’t bring me any further. Well, at least thanks to my unique skills in restaurating cars it will take at least another year before I get to EV related stuff.


  10. At this point we simply would not use MES-DEA for anything I can imagine. Or Victor for that matter. When I look down the road a few years, a failure would just be disastrous. We’d have to start over. Actually we very nearly have to start over right now.

    It was a $15,000 “mistake”. We made it publicly so you don’t have to.

    Jack Rickard

  11. 35 kWh will not make a light sports car ‘heavy’ if you have roughly 600 lbs of ICE parts and fluids to remove from it. In fact, a ‘heavy’ battery pack for my choice of donor is an absolute necessity to return the vehicle to its original weight distribution(or improve upon it by making it 50/50). Having a heavy 402 lb engine up front to remove does that…

    Yes, volume for which to fit such a pack will be an issue, but not an impossible one to work around. People have managed to fit 1100 lbs of lead into these things, which says a lot about the volume of batteries that can be shoehorned into one. Being a sports car, I want as much of the weight as possible located towards the center of the car to reduce the polar moment of inertia while cornering, and i want it as low as possible; this means I will be highly unlikely to be able to fit such an 1100 lb pack, and I wouldn’t want to even consider it unless I somehow got my glider weight under 1000 lbs. Given the small size of the LiFePO4 batteries, I’d have a lot of options with regard to battery placement and multiple battery boxes placed in clever locations… should I obtain LiFePO4 that is. PbA has a significant reduction of design options available.

    I’ve been following the progress of a Spitfire build, and it seems my estimations on my final conversion weight are actually a bit pessimistic. The builder of this particular Spitfire weighed his glider with a very heavy Solectria AC motor installed(purpose built for buses), and with a 730 lb pack of lead, his car will weigh 200 lbs more than stock. That amount of weight increase is not an unreasonable compromise.

    The MES-DEA has wonderful specs. That being said, I’d sooner spend that kind of coin on a battery pack, nevermind the difficulty in getting an MES-DEA to actually work. There are ways to pair AC smaller systems together, if you have a good amount of machining skills. There is a Fiero with a twin AC setup on the EV Album:

    It’s not an elegant solution, OTOH, and twin motors adds unwanted complexity. IMO, an advantage of using AC is supposed to be simplicity, and twin motor setups with custom fabricated parts to make it work just kills that.

    I’m not a fan of direct drive myself. Hills make using a direct drive system extremely difficult(with some exceptions; a liquid cooled AC150 from AC Propulsion works well for direct drive, but try finding one on the market for a reasonable price… LOL). I prefer at least a 2-speed transmission for AC, and a 3-speed for DC(I like having a ‘felony gear’ and the speed it allows). I am not fond of having to limit a car to 80-90 mph to have decent acceleration, nor do I like the idea of pulling 400A or more on a steep gradient when the RPMs are low. A transmission of sorts makes the car more versatile. Only in extreme cases do I think direct drive works wonderfully and makes use of a vehicle’s full potential(eg. “White Zombie”, and this particular example allows ‘electronic shifting’ of the motors between parallel and series as a two-speed transmission substitute anyway).

  12. Jack, It’s quite possible Victor made some serious mistakes. But to me he is a pioneer. He got me interested in EV’s with his Metricmind website. He deserves some respect.


  13. Victor deserves RESPECT???? He’s bilked people out of some serious money and delivered NONSENSE. He delivered a battery pack that was ON FIRE when it ARRIVED on the UPS Truck???

    I too learned a LOT from Victor early on. As it turns out, I had to UNLEARN it pretty quickly.

    This is a problem in the EV community. Squatting on the territory the longest does NOT equate to success or even a useful contribution. Part of the obstacles we face in building and promoting these vehicles is the old timers who insist on overcharging cells because that’s how you do it with lead acid batteries.

    Victor doesn’t deserve any respect. The new people coming into this world do – and a WARNING about Victor would be a good first “stickie” post by way of introduction.

    I suppose James Morrison is another of your heroes?? Should we put up a statue of him too?

    Jack Rickard

  14. Pack sizing. Hmmm. We have 12 blind men around an elephant, all describing what it looks like after feeling it up.

    An interesting conundrum is that the EV community communicates largely by the written word. IT is very difficult to describe how good good feels like, how loud is loud, how quiet is quiet, how big is big, etc. etc.

    And often, the result is that we don’t even know exactly, when building a vehicle, what success might look like. I have visited a number of people with EV’s as they have us, and it is quickly becoming apparent that there is some disconnect here.

    YEs, it CAN actually be interesting and even fun to roll a ton of shit on wheels down the road at 35 mph even if it DOES take 30 seconds to get there. I rather got a kick out of driving the GMC2400 electric van. But it’s a comical horror to me.

    No, you’re not going to swing me over on the lead thing. I strongly believe that I apparently know something you don’t, and man are you going to like the future when you find it.

    A Spitfire with 730 lbs of batteries in it makes about as much sense as a pig on roller skates. The pig might even learn to skate a little, just to survive as a pig. But it’s unlikely to come up with a routine that will take the roses in an Olympic skating competition.

    You can make a car that feels, accelerates, corners, and handles BETTER than the original ICE engine car. It can be made to go further than you can possibly want to go in normal everyday driving. We have DRIVEN the exact Porsche replica Beck Speedster with one of the most respected and highest powered CB Performance 2165 cc 180hp engines in it. It drives in ALL RESPECTS better now with an electric drive. It’s smoother, more elegant, accelerates just as well, corners infinitely better, brakes better, quite silent, and much less trouble to deal with. It costs a buck and a half to fill it up. I can drive it on winding back country blacktop roads until my ass is sore from doing so and still have enough left to do whatever driving I normally do that day.

    None of that would happen with 730 lbs of batteries in it. I’m sorry. It just would not. None of that would happen with lead – the best lead. It’s not that we don’t have lead and it’s not that we haven’t driven cars with lead. We have. More than we should have.

  15. Our mission (and I would imply ideally yours) is to derive cars that are “balanced”. By that, I mean the drive train, the instrumentation, the power pack, the transmission, the brakes, the suspension, all act in HARMONY to complement each other in the mission of producing not just forward motion, but an ideal environment to move around in.

    Sometimes more is just more. Brute force is not usually what we are after here. And we have to reiteratively go through this design process to get that. Speedster Duh is NOT as powerful as the first Speedster. And it has very different gearing. And the layout is quite different. And the battery position and weight distribution are all different. And the overall result is much improved.

    It has an AC motor so it is NEVER going to have the brute torque of the Netgain 9 on takeoff. There ARE no motors that have more torque than a series DC motor. It is heroically unlikely that there ever will be.

    But we virtually have power brakes on the Duh from the regen, and it is surprisingly GOOD power brakes. Not touchy things with no feel, a very POSITIVE feeling braking that is quite useful on just the rear wheels. And we can pop the clutch at any time to get a very different four wheel braking that ALSO feels very good.

    But it’s a process, not a guess. In the event that Special Editions does decide to make it available as a regular build, and if a few people actually buy the thing, my intention is to redesign it AGAIN next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And the year after that. Using the batteries available then, the motors available then, and what we learn about the car with each iteration.

    After a certain number of serial iterations, say 10 or 12, I truly think it will be one of the greatest cars ever built – for me. It’s kind of an individualized sport. Your mileage not only can, but WILL vary.

    I would say not only many, but MOST car aficionados like a LOT of power and blazing acceleration – the 3.6 second 0-60 of a Tesla springs to mind. I absolutely have NO attraction to that. I like quick and snappy but wouldn’t spend 12 cents for a 3.6 second 0-60. To me that is kid stuff. I like harmony, grace, and elegance with an EASY drive but positive control and feedback. I’m a wine country driver. You can’t imagine how far I am removed from NEDRA.

    But that is not to say its not perfectly valid to love racing and all that that implies. Brain loves it.

    Jack RIckard

  16. This lack of common language to talk about electric cars has had me going for some time now. With each visit TO our shop and each visit FROM our shop it becomes increasingly apparent that we are all actually in pretty violent agreement over DIFFERENT THINGS ENTIRELY.

    The corollary is that we strenuously disagree ad nauseum and often ad hominem in heated discussions saying the SAME THING.

    Deja Vu all over again. This was the Internet circa 1992.

    The solution that worked extraordinarily well then, and I’ve come up with none better since, was to design a function at the junction.

    I’m thinking we need some sort of convention to bring all the vendors and all the converters and all the individual EV builders all together at one place and one time to compare notes and raise the bandwidth a little. Like ISPCON but for EV’s. EVCON or some such.

    I’m picturing a GREEN PRIX road race through Forest Park in St. Louis. A parade of cars through downtown. And about 100 educational sessions on various topics from soldering to TIG welding and I might even do one myself on how to melt batteries to slag. Have a drawing to giveaway a Tesla, or better yet, a 1983 Citicar.

    A vendor floor in the Chase Park Plaza with all the stuff laid out where you can touch and feel and examine the latest batteries, motors, controllers, etc. side by side.

    And of course a judged entry car show.

    Or maybe just do it by e-mail. I don’t know yet…

    Jack Rickard

  17. Jack, you put a lot of words in my mouth, I didn’t say. Really hate that. A bit. More or less. OK, I don’t care.

    Anyway, like I said: I admit he made some serious mistakes. But he –just like you- had to learn everything by doing and trying. And he tried a lot. And showed us how and what he did. Not as honest and clear as you guys do it on film. But he had to do it with a much lower budget. And maybe he is just not that honest. Not everybody is. I know I’m not.

    No, he is not my hero. Neither are you. Surely not after this reply. 😉 But he got me in to it. Maybe more people than me alone. And that’s something he definitely accomplished. Newcomers have to proof that yet.


  18. Hootin big difference there Jan. We make our mistakes with OUR money. He makes his with OUR money as well. In the case of the burning battery pack, it was $48,000 of somebody else’s money. No get well. He denied any responsibility for it.

    I put no words in your mouth. I extended your argument in a logical sense.
    We differ on our use of “respect” and I don’t “respect” the over abundance of opportunists and charlatans mucking up this industry.

    Victor among them. But it’s true he didn’t invent it. Steve Cloud stole a plenty, Boulder is a hot bed of it, and I see David Andrea continues to try to burn down every car he can wedge a mosfet into.

    You guys must think I’m running for political office here. I am NOT a 24 year old titty blond on TV striving for ratings. I am committed to a mission. That mission is converting our transportation system to an 8 times more efficient process to convert energy into motion. It will eliminate a lot of smelly things from our air, potentially some of our more recently common diseases, energize our economy and inject a half a trillion dollars a year into it that currently goes to rag heads in sand dunes.

    Being deferential to obsolete failed technologies (lead acid batteries), crooks, charlatans, opportunists, and hangers on isn’t in the job description. A LOT of people are not going to like me before this is all over. You have NO IDEA.

    You, and several very well meaning others recently, are trying to get me to be more popular with a very small group of people who had a chance to do all this and DIDN’T DO IT.

    Way beyond them, there is a HUGE industry with a business model that would require HEROIC measures to convert to the production of electric cars. GM’s VOLT is NOT an elecric car. Chris Paine and Plug-In American have SOLD OUT the movement for a couple of $25,000 donations from GM and Nissan and a little heavy petting. The REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR is a COMMERCIAL for General Motors now, over a car that of ALL ironies runs on gasoline!!!

  19. The five largest corporations in the WORLD with over a million employees between them are all OIL complanies and the LEAST of them have a cashflow LARGER than 50 nations of the world.

    There are 166,000 retail gasoline stations in the United States.

    The level of what I “ought” to be doing, and the constant direct and indirect reminders of ALL that can befall me, and the direct and indirect reminders of ALL THAT COULD BE MINE if I’ll just alter that message just a WEE bit, you cannot imagine.

    Some of this shit is directed at my CHILDREN and THEIR children if you can believe it. The depravity of humanity can be just disgusting. And the passion of some of the people watching the show, on the other hand, brings me to tears.

    In the end, I’m a 55 year old has been with a garage full of very good homemade on a river. You cannot take away my birthday. You cannot hurt me and if you kill me it’s just really not my problem anymore now is it? My children aren’t really my responsibility any longer, and anyway, if I’ve raised em right they’re tougher than I am. Pack a lunch. You’ll need it.

    You DON”T have anything I want, unless it’s an idea of how to make my little car go better. I don’t want your money. I don’t want to be feted in Detroit, hell I don’t even want to GO to Detroit. I rarely leave home.

    I went through all this with the Internet. Not real popular there either for those that recall. But they read that damn magazine every single month.
    And the world did change.

    I’m older now. My knees don’t work as good. I can’t work all night like before. But I’m as good in brief spurts as I ever was.

    Bottom line, Lead, Follow, or Get the HELL out of the way. I’m not running for anything, and frankly have no aspirations to be “popular” outside of a very tiny circle of people who are very used to all of this.

    I know many of you have very good intentions advising me to ameliorate all the rants. I don’t know what to tell you. Thanks? I’m sorry? What?

    VICTOR IS A THIEF. JAMES MORRISON IS A THIEF. And they’re PEEing in my swimming pool.

    Jack Rickard

  20. I’m still not sure why the absolute hatred for lead. Yeah, lithium rocks no doubt. I want lithium. Everyone driving lead wants lithium. I’m sure that if every lead driver had a set of lithium batteries show up on their doorstep that it wouldn’t take long before they were under the hood. The car will be lighter, faster, go further. We GET it. But aren’t we lead drivers keeping money out of the pockets of Middle Eastern countries just as much by driving lead instead of gas? Wouldn’t most Americans driving a lead sled keep even MORE foreign oil from entering this country? If the goal is to get this country off of foreign oil, I don’t see what difference battery chemistry has in our goal. It’s just like the computers in our classroom. Sure I’d like to use a dual core processor and 4 gigs of ram, but the kids are better off with a 700 MHz proc and 256 megs of RAM than an abacus….

  21. I will consider my car a success if the handling is as good as the gasoline version; given that a big 402 lb lump of cast iron is being removed from the front of the car, even with almost a half ton of shit in it, it will probably weigh about the same as and handle better than the gasoline version. If a 730 lb pack will make a Spit/GT6 a pig, then it was already a pig straight from the factory. I’ll be happy just to match its stock handling and braking. There are plenty of GT6/Spits used in autocross that perform admirably, even maintaining their stock vehicle weight without having had weight reduction done. These cars were achieving 0.8Gs and better on the skidpad when released, back in the days of bias ply tires. Even the LRR variety of radials would provide a significant improvement in cornering; thick, sticky sport tires can get a Spit/GT6 to have a lateral acceleration well in excess of 1G.

    My concern is more oriented towards top speed and highway acceleration. You might be a wine country driver, but I’d more prefer a car that was comparable to a nice, smooth tequila, yet one that still burns on the way down and gets you wasted after only the 2nd shot. I want something that will be scary on the highway when you put your foot in it, something that will make the passenger hold on for dear life… but I don’t really want it to be dangerous to drive, only seem that way to the other occupant. Call me a caveman. 😉

    An EV rally through St. Louis is a nice goal to pursue. There are a lot more EVs on the road around here, than there were 5 years ago. Could your EV make it to St. Louis without a recharge along the way? You’re still 100 miles away from here. I would gladly deal with a little increased weight, in order to be able to make such a trip.

    If you’d really like to share a discussion with me face to face, perhaps I could drive my diseasel down to Cape Girardeau. What days/times would be good? I don’t doubt for one minute that you know things I don’t; I have yet to finish my first conversion, when you’ve worked on far more than most EV hobbyists.

  22. John:

    Well if you’ve got it worked out, its worked out. I stand corrected. Sounds like a good build. We have that weight in the Mini, but it was a 3000 lb car anyway.

    You can come down as you wish. I didn’t know you were in St. Louis. Yeah, I can probably make St. Louis. But I’m flat when I get there. So what good does that do?

    I said I was a wine country driver, not NEDRA. We don’t HAVE any cars that we’ve built that won’t do 100 mph. That’s scarey enough for me and technically a felony.

    We’ve had several down from St Louis already and you’d be most welcome. Let me know ahead of time so we can make sure we’ll actually be here is the only thing.

    Jack Rickard

  23. Hmmm. Hatred for lead. Ok, let’s get to it.

    I hate lead. Lead has caused me a LOT of problems. I have had a tough time learning about these batteries because of my preconcieved notions about batteries, derived from lead.

    Worse, I’ve had to have endless discussions with “old hands” that want respect, and particularly for their battery knowledge. The problem is, they had the same struggle, and many just won’t give up what I call “lead thinking” or “lead head” when discussing LiFePo4.

    But none of that is why i hate lead. It is where I think we are on the adoption curve.

    New technologies are normally the product of tinkerers and innovators and exist in a kind of bubble of people intensely interested in that. Along the way, some become attached to parts of it that have to be shed to move forward.

    Forward means expanding from the tinkerer space, to the early adopter phase. These are people who love to have the latest gadget, and are great about spreading the news about such gadgets. They are the flag waivers, and actually fund innovation along the way to volume production.

    I think the OEM news I see is an attempt to jump OVER this phase, directly into mass market. True, they have marketing muscle. And they have manufacturing muscle. I guess I don’t think that is enough to modify the “laws of physics” and by that I really mean the “laws about how people and markets work.”

    So at this point we need to recruit early adopters and we, the late stage advanced tinkerers have to do that with attractive hardware. Early adopters, along with us, will demonstrate these vehicles to the public near and far in a kind of viral one on one that looks very slow while it is happening but is a necessary and actually one of the more exciting and “key” elements in the process.

    At some point momentum takes over.

    Meanwhile, I’ve got some early stage tinkerers who don’t want to let go. We’ve already converted junk to electric junk. It’s been done to death. And we’ve already demonstrated forward and reverse and quiet with lead acid batteries for a few months and a few miles. That ain’t a car. That’s a science project.


  24. You will actually be surprised, I think, at my main objection to lead. It’s true they cause a heavy sluggish car in most cases. And it IS true that their range is sufficiently limited that I think they are the historical SOURCE of range anxiety.

    But that’s not my main objection. It is cell life.

    Lead acid cars that are actually DRIVEN rather than occasionally demonstrated, go bad in about two years. Some latter AGM’s, ok three years. But at that point, the car isn’t new anymore, the EV grin has faded, and when faced with the renewal of the battery pack at $3000 after such a short period, the wind kind of goes out of the tinkerer. That’s why so many EV’s on eBay for so cheap. The guy just wants to get rid of it. And actually my advice to the ducat disabled is to buy one of these aging beauties of good design, put some LifePo4 cells in it, and in some cases you’ve bought a car for $6000 that the guy originally put $20K into and now with $7500 in sells you’re cruisin big time on someone elses nickle.

    So to my way of thinking, lead is TOO EXPENSIVE because of the short life It is really an OPERATIONAL EXPENSE and you’ve just moved the problem from the gas station to the battery store.

    IF we can get 7 to 9 years or better 10, out of a LiFePo4 cell pack, and I truly believe we can, we move that out of operating expense into capital expense. In other words, the batteries are a significant part of the purchase price of the car – the capital expenditure to buy it.

    Along the way, the car becomes much more agile, with a range that you can live with. No water. No hydrogen. No sulfation. Just plug it in any time you want for as long as you want.

    That makes as STRONG case for the electric car. Lead sleds are actually DAMNING to the public perception of electric cars, and at this point counterproductive to the movement toward electric vehicle adoption. They tend to CONFIRM the doubts in the wider public’s mind about electric cars. And since a better alternative does exist, unnecessarily and unproductively so.

    From here and forward, if you want to contribute to the cause, you must give up the low cost lead option, which really never was low cost in the first place.

    Jack Rickard

  25. Besides, as a child I used to chew on the window sills and the door jambs. The lead paint has caused certain, …er… aberrations in the way my mind works….ahhh…errr.. if you know what I mean.

    It’s an environmental thing. The aluminum and copper in lithium cells, by contrast, just remind me of Abe Lincoln and Reynolds Wrap. They are harmless.

    Jack Rickard

  26. Jack, I’ve learned a lot more from you, than Victor. And I agree with your opinion on lead. Even worse: I agree with you pretty often. On regen I might differ a bit. Might change. But I don’t want AC just for regen, I want it for rpm control. I want to be able to wobble down a steep slope with my cruiser. I want to be able to crawl without having my foot on the throttle.

    I also keep the lead option in the back of my mind for prototyping purposes. I calculated a lot, but if I can get my hands on enough cheap lead, I buy it to check my assumptions. If they appear to be totally wrong, I can stop my project before I waste my savings on lithium.

    But I don’t like your habit of putting words in my mouth. Or worse: telling me who I am, what I think, and to what group I belong. All based on my simple statement that I think Victor still does deserves some respect. As a pioneer, a ‘prophet’ and teacher. How wrong he might have been, and how bad he handled his mistakes. I guess it’s easy for me to do this for not having lost any money to him. But that’s just the way it is.

    So to be clear: I don’t belong to the group of people who think you’re running for any office, or want you to become popular by people I never heard of. I don’t threat you or your children. I never done anything like that. And I not even want to kill you. Yet. I’m not really a group person.

    Cheers, Jan

  27. Hey, Jack:

    “…my intention is to redesign it AGAIN next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And the year after that… After a certain number of serial iterations, say 10 or 12, I truly think it will be one of the greatest cars ever built – for me.”

    That really makes me smile. You have become one of the guys you have always wanted to see get interested in EVs. You’re a hot rodder, Jack, plain and simple. Let me be the first to call you that. Mickey Thompson would be proud of you, as would Vic Edelbrock, Zora Arkus-Duntov and so many others who went out to the shop and hammered together what they couldn’t buy.

    Here’s the odd part- y’know what happened to those guys? They frequently wound up at the core of the automotive industry. Smokey Yunkick taught the OEMs how their motors really worked. The Alexander Brothers taught Ford how to manufacture convertible Mustangs. Zora made the Corvette a real sports car. A huge share of the innovation and development in the car business has actually come from people so dissatisified with its products that they made better ones themselves.

    On a related topic:

    “I’m thinking we need some sort of convention to bring all the vendors and all the converters and all the individual EV builders all together at one place and one time to compare notes and raise the bandwidth a little. Like ISPCON but for EV’s. EVCON or some such.”

    I loved the ISPCON shows, but iWorld was more fun- tons more people, and cross-pollination of everything everybody else was doing. That’s how I like to see events come together- combinations of people who normally wouldn’t be together, but should be. To wit, I think it would make the most sense to get an EV presence together at the larger hot rod shows, and put the EV crowd into one corner of that tent.

    Those shows are big and spectacular, and full of exactly the kind of guys who are the market for future expansion of the EV conversion industry. Moreover, the SEMA guys that support the hot rod hobby have TONS of products that are just perfect for EV use, and that most EV conversion guys have never seen- Just one example:

    Here’s a brake master cylinder that is a no-brainer for dialing in the brakes on a car where the curb weight, front/rear balance and other components have been changed, like the majority of EV conversions:

    Anyway, shows are good, but not just “EV” shows. I think its better to crash the car show party with a handful of cool EVs, or otherwise make sure the larger rodding scene is included. Now that you are one of us…


  28. Jan:

    I take your words and extend a response. None of that is what YOU said. It’s what I said – in response. Nobody is putting ANY words in your mouth. But if you don’t want me going off on a riff from what you’ve said, don’t say anything.

    You still hold Victor up as a hero. A bit callous. Let’s talk about a guy in St. Louis doing a pickup truck build WITH lead acid cells. I actually talked him into going to LiFePo4. He spent $16,000 of hard earned ducats he really didn’t HAVE to buy a great pack of batteries so he could really demonstrate this truck and BE part of what I’m talking about here in the lead acid/LiFePo4 debate.

    He got his check in just under the wire. James Morrison stole the money, didn’t ship the cells, and this guys project is completely stalled. HE’s a hero. HE’s a pioneer. Victor is an OPPORTUNIST. He VICTIMIZES people like Dale for MONEY. Most of his “information” that you have eaten wholesale isn’t information at all. It’s regurgitated data sheets and what makes sense to Victor.

    We’ve bought a number of products from him. The heart of his EVIsion is a board from Brusa and he doesn’t actually understand HOW it works or how to fix it when it doesn’t. The software configuration for the TIM600, which is VERY expensive and noted to be so because of the SUPPORT they HAVE to provide to these stupid hobbyists? Victor has NEVER HAD THE SOFTWARE UP ON A COMPUTER SCREEN AND DID NOT KNOW HOW TO EVEN GET IT STARTED ON A COMPUTER….. MES-DEA has provided NO support. It’s a scam. A fraud. A way to sell cheap hardware at a huge markup and with no recourse. They not only don’t care if you get it working, THEY”VE NEVER DONE IT THEMSELVES.

    So Victor chants a bunch of shit you think is INGINEERE TALK and you’ve “learned a lot.” Most of it you’ve learned wrong.

    Pioneer? Dale Friedhoff is a pioneer. Victor is an opportunist and a charlatan.

    We have a very bad situation going on right now. Gas prices are down (how coincidental, and oddly with oil prices UP???) and virtually all of the EV component vendors are not only broke, but they’re stealing outright from each other, from their customers, and from their suppliers in a fight for survival. I’m quite concerned about it. I would urge EVERYONE to be VERY careful with their purchases, even from long time good guys, and to pay with credit cards no matter WHAT the story is.

    Many of these firms were always undercapitalized, and not very business like in their approach, more run on enthusiasm for the industry than good sense in too many cases. Hopefully, their demise will make for a healthier climate for the good guy survivors. But it’s gone beyond “buyer beware” at this point.

    Jack Rickard

  29. TomA:

    You’re probably right. I’ve predicted for some time now that once the rodders/custom guys get wind of this electric car gig, it would change dramatically. They don’t have qualms about dropping ducats to build their dream cars. And there are plenty of people willing to take them off their hands for ducats when they want to “move on” to the next project.

    And yes, there is an entire industry that has sprung up to service them and MANY small vendors with great ideas who find a ready market there.

    But I much preferred our ISPCON to Internet World. They bought us and just mostly screwed it up. The ISP’s shared that view rather strongly. Sometimes more is just more. Lot’s of people around looks good, but the noise level goes up and the information level goes down. I much prefer smaller shows.

    Maybe in a year or two.

    Jack Rickard

  30. Jack,

    OK, let’s call it the extending of words. In that case you extend my words to things I don’t agree with. For example: I don’t consider Victor as my Hero. If I have one, it would be Mandela. The thing is: Between hero and charlatan lies a lot of grey.

    James Morisson is in my book too, a real charlatan. A lunatic. Completely insane. I don’t know of anything he contributed to the EV world. He wanted to earn a lot of money very fast, with no interest in the EV world for what so ever. As far as I know it was a big mistake of David Kois to go into business with this idiot and to accept his money.

    Victor is not in that league.

    On the other hand I could be completely wrong about James and David, my knowledge is solely based on internet gossip and incredible insane replies on several forums of someone who says he’s James Morisson. Not very solid.

    With opportunist I can agree a little. But I would call it more lazy, uninterested and a bit disappointed in reality. Why? Well, I always found it very disappointing that all his example conversions where never based on anything he really had for sale. No MES-DEA or Brusa conversions. Only Siemens. What he advertised with, but never had for sale.

    He sells MES-DEA and Brusa for a living, not because he really believes in it. I think he really believes in AC, but never found a supplier that could deliver what he really wanted. So, he never put the energy and time in that stuff he could sell to be a good reseller. His time and energy went into projects with the rare occasions he got hold of Siemens stuff. His first and only love.

    Gas prizes down? It’s a strange world. Petrol in the USA is always relatively cheap compared to Europe. But the DIY EV community is so much more active in the USA than here. Very odd.

    I don’t think it has much to do with the gas prize. If you want to bring your cost per kilometer down, you should not build yourself an EV, but buy a small cheap and economic diessel car. Even in Europe with our prizes for petrol.
    The costs of batteries must come down pretty serious before a homebrew EV with off the shelve component becomes economical attractive.

    But it might be based on misconception. Maybe people start a conversion because they have the misconception it will save them money. I don’t think that’s a solid ground for a healthy market.

    I’m not building my EV to save money. Not in the least. It’s because I like to do it. I always wanted to have an oldtimer 4×4, but never had any positive feelings with combustion engines. I just hate them.

    Feel free to rant and extend my words. I’m free to dislike that.


  31. Hey Jack,

    glad that you mention the Audi etron, still unobtanium, but very cool nevertheless. Here is another video, of the electric mercedes SLS, don’t know if you have seen that one, it is very similar to the audi, 4 motors, one for each wheel, direct drive, etc. And if david coulthard says he is impressed with the performance, then it must be really impressive, after all, he has driven the fastest cars on a track.

    best regards, and keep up the good work

  32. The Siemens systems that Victor used to sell worked extremely well; there are a number of conversions on the evalbum that use this system. It is a shame that it is no longer available.

    He used to sell a “plug and play” 107 horsepower(at the motor) setup for about $7000, that could rev to 9000 rpm and produced peak power at a max of around 8000 rpm(peak power with this system starts at around 5000 rpm or so). I got this price quoted to me in 2003. Imagine the top speed an aerodynamically efficient EV could get with that thing.

    The MES-DEA sounds like a nightmare and I know never to purchase such a thing. On the evalbum, there isn’t a single conversion using one of the MES-DEA systems that has been completed. There are 4 conversions listed with the MES-DEA, and your Mini Cooper is one of them and the only one that was ‘running’. Not a very good track record for this system… Unless he can get one to work in an EV, and document how it is done, I also feel that selling them is unethical.

    If you could get a chance to buy a used but still working Siemens system in the 70+ kW range, for under $8000, buy it. It will serve that Mini well, and its top speed would still be in excess of 120 mph with a 0-60 mph time around 14 seconds. It was intended as an OEM solution.

  33. On aerodynamic sports cars, weight and volume…

    My goal is to convert my GT40 replica to electric: I spent a lot of hours building it in the first place and can hardly afford to run it at UK fuel prices.

    It should work well. You can install a lot of Lithium K-watts for the weight of a small block Ford V8, and 1000 Amps for a few seconds should give you very quick up-to-legal-speed-limit acceleration. Very low frontal area means low watt-hours per mile, plus with the V8 gone there is a space the size of a small dance floor under the rear clip. With the fuel tanks gone, there is a lot of room in the sills. And with the radiator gone there is some room under the front clip (Porsche aficionados used to refer to the GT40 as the worlds fastest lorry). Keeping a low C of G and low polar moment of inertia should be easy.

    By the way, the latest specs on the CALB site for the 180 Amp hour cell suggest 1000 Amps for =<10 seconds (

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