New Web Site

The big news this week is actually a new web site design. Count Domagni has finally gotten things to a pretty good state with our video interface. The entire website now resides on an server with the videos remaining in the Amazon cloud.

This is all a bit of a technical issue and much of it is not particularly visual.

[jwplayer file=”news042211 – iPhone.m4v” hd.file=”” image=”” streamer=”rtmp://” provider=”rtmp” html5_file=” – iPhone.m4v” download_file=””]

But for those with any interest, I’ll spray a few words of wisdom for those wishing to delve into video distribution.

Basically we have had the gathering of a perfect storm for some 20 years that is just now coming to fruition. This involves both the expense and capabilities of the video cameras, is heavily a function of the available non-linear editing suites and the computers that run them, advanced video compression techniques, and the Internet – primarily a bandwidth function.

Canon’s Vixia line of video cameras will give you 1920×1080 high definition video that is “good enough” for government work and in fact at this point a bit of overkill for our purposes. The uncompressed 1920×1080 version of our show this week is 96GB in size for example. That requires a couple hundred GB (uncompressed) of source video. Way to much for the Internet.

We edit down the video of course, and then compress it with h.264. H.264 is an international standard for video compression that kind of rolls up a lot of different compression techniques into one almighty mess. The heart of it is that we transmit a full video frame only about once per second. The intervening 29 video frames are much smaller, just a fraction, providing “difference data” of the image from one frame to the next. This video compression technique, along with dropping the resolution to 1280×720, drops us from the aforementioned 96GB to about 2.5GB. It is a phenomenal amount of compression.

We use an editing suite called Final Cut Pro on a MacPro computer that features 12 processors actually. These 12 processors allow us to render the video, a process that until just recently required about 18 hours, in about 2 hours.

And then there is the distribution. A couple of things happening there that aren’t quite finished. One is the iPhone/iPad Apple vs Adobe flash war and HTML5. Basically we have warring parties over what format our video should be in to properly display on a browser. Apple eschews “flash” because it’s from Adobe. This little battle hasn’t sorted itself out. Eventually, HTML5 will accomplish all, but the implementation of HTML5 is far from accomplished.

As to bandwidth, some of you have faster and some slower. We are focused on high end delivery of HD video. And we have to forfeit some of the late adopters as viewers frankly. Google is actually experimenting with home delivery of INternet in Nashville and now Kansas City at GIGABIT rates.

Meanwhile, we have to have servers to host these large videos and make them available. Anything I would build would be the wrong size on any given day, and worse, it would be in the wrong place. Enter Amazon has been building a global network since 1996 to host their retail book store and now their retail anything store. This has grown to about 30 servers spotted worldwide and connected with hundreds of MB of bandwidth. They have an enormous IT department to maintain all of that and it is really quite separate from the retail operation. They kind of make tools the retail side can use to operate on this network.

A year or so ago, they decided to develop another revenue stream by making the same tools available to large corporations to use to outsource storage and other server intensive operations. They called it Amazon Web Services or AWS and it is really quite good. They priced it based on usage but I would call it “realistically” priced. The charges are on par with what you would pay to build and run your own service. And so in a buy or build decision, they come off very well. For corporations needing additional computer power between additions to their own network, it is a great way to “fill in.”

This really very open and inexpensive approach has worked well for Amazon. So well, that many corporations simply don’t have a server farm anymore or are simply running a legacy system from inertia, and doing all new development on the Amazon side.

The reason has MOSTLY to do with scale. The Amazon service is not as powerful or easy to develop on as a local server. But it has this huge advantage. It’s already BIG. We need a tiny bit of bandwidth in the great scheme of things to serve our viewers even largish videos, but it is hosted on this huge global network. If we suddenly “went viral” for a day, and had a million visitors, I would get a largish bill from Amazon, but otherwise our videos would serve as normal.

And it has reach. The servers are placed around the world. They just added one in Paris for example. If you are in France, you get your EVTV video actually from a server in Paris. This greatly reduces delays and network obstructions from the viewing process.

Our videos have been hosted on Amazon’s “Cloudnet” for some time. The actually web page was just on an Apple server. Frankly it doesn’t do much. It just has links to our blog (on Google) and the videos (on Amazon) and so it doesn’t actually do much and in fact the pages held on Apple are really quite small, simple, plain vanilla HTML that just barely glues all this mashup in place.

It was a little gawky looking admittedly. But it never really was what we are about. We see the web as almost collapsing into a video black hole that sucks up cable television, broadcast televsion, most of what you know of as the web, and parking lots on both coasts, into one massive video network. Within a few years, we’ll have hyperlinks IN the videos, text overlays, and the world will be one big video experience.

This is why we didn’t just start a print magazine for electric vehicles. Or try to get something on the Discover Channel. Or be MythBusters. Or Senior/Junior. Most of that is all going to be irrelevant as a communications medium. It’s going to be the net, and the net is going to be video. HD video and beyond. Picture 4000×4000 pixel video. That’s right Buzz… to infnity and BEYOND.

For any of my previous Boardwatch readers from the net, enormo opportunity here. This is the killer app of the Internet. IT will dwarf the web as you know it by an order of magnitude. YouTube will no longer be on the web. The web will actually subsume and become YouTube.

The ones who will struggle with this the most are what I call the Walking Dead. That is the mega industry that relies on video already. The “professionals”. They’ve been so busy shutting out the “indies” for so long, they have missed the beat change in the music. It will be all about “indies” and the distribution advantages that large video production houses and cable networks now have will evaporate like mists in the morning. What cable did to broadcast, is about to happen to cable.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this continues the trend to decentralization. And so as the enormous budgets for CBS and ABC and NBC news got reduced to a relative pittance in the move to cable, so the enormous cable budgets will evaporate as well. The good news is that there will be MILLIONS of jobs in video production. The bad news is that they will all pay $8 per hour. The entire economic model gets dispersed, instead of concentrated, and everybody is a video producer.

This is what we have been demonstrating with EVTV. Yes, I’m fascinated with electric cars. First love was networking and not likely to be supplanted easily. We are a demonstration of how to produce, develop, distribute, and monetize a video production on HUNDREDS of dollars per day, not tens of thousands. Kind of like the shift in magazine production in the 1980’s. And on a GLOBAL scale. in HD.

Next year there will be 1000 EVTV’s. And the year after that, 10,000. And then of course millions. Mostly bad. But some good. And some excellent. We hope by then we are excellent.

Meanwhile, we’ve moved our little HTML page to Amazon as well. Count Domagni has developed a bit of a new look. It is going to take some getting used to both for us and you. We’ll try to duplicate the features we had, but we are no longer going to fight the HTML5, iPhone, etc. battle on our pages. We’ll try to make an iphone version available somehow. For now, you can display the flash, or download the Apple .MOV movie.

In this weeks show we show a new build of a hot water heater for the Escalade. How’s that for a comedown. From infinity and beyond down to a hot water bottle. But this is a 24kw unit to produce a LOT of heat to heat both the car and the batteries. We won’t need all of it very often, or any of it that often. But we basically put a hot water box together with pump, individual control relays and two 12kw heating elements, for under $800. By using a relatively high end system ($589 on eBay) we get a nice metal enclosure that can old all of that in one box.

We’ll most likely add external components anyway. We’ll put an ordinary block heater and 120vac aux pump in the line elsewhere so that we can “plug in” our heater on cold nights and maintain a bit of a temperature in the system so it won’t need so much heat on startup in the morning. A little 1500 watt AC unit should be overkill.

We also talk in this episode about documentation for our Speedsters. We’ve named the Duh model Grunflachen (new fresh green areas) and the more powerful Redux model Geshwind (fast as the wind). We are working on an owners manual for Geschwind and you might find our acceleration performance page instructive. In this, we compare the acceleration performance of the original 1957 356 Speedster with the popular 1600cc S engine with both the Grunflachen and the Geschwind models we have constructed with electric drive.


As you can see Geschwind is a huge increase in performance. That’s not quite the entire story. The original 356 did not become an iconic classic based on its acceleration. It was a combination of an Erwin Komenda body design, and a very pleasant driving “feel” that put you in touch with the road.

The body design I continue to marvel at. Here in Cape Girardeau, very young children and adolescents marvel at this replica of the 1957 Porsche Speedster. There is no nostalgia here. They were not around in 1957. In fact, they don’t know it’s a Porsche, and don’t know anything about early Porsche’s. They haven’t seen it before. In fact, they think it is a NEW model car. But it looks “cool” to them just as it did to me as a young sprout. That’s a classic or iconic design. You could introduce that exact same shape in a new car in 2057, and people would think it looked very strange and very cool. You could do it again in 2157.

As to the feel, well frankly Grunflachen mimics it best. It has the same peaky 3500-5000 rpm band of performance as the original Speedster. It is lighter. We did extremely well with this design and I much prefer its driving characteristics. Putting the 9 inch Netgain and Soliton1 in Geschwind upped the performance dramatically, kind of like dropping a small block V8 into a 1957 Porsche Speedster and it makes about as much sense.

The trick is that the extra batteries in Geschwind give it a 150 mile range. And the HPEVS AC-50/Curtis controller can’t cope with the resulting 192volt pack voltage.

To tell the truth, I don’t need the range either. It’s kind of a bragging right. Yes, we can make a small sports car go 150 miles on a charge. And it will not be stupid looking or ungainly. But this car works best on the winding country two lane blacktops we have in such abundance hereabouts, through some beautiful country. It was the nature of roads when the 356 was born. ANd you wind along at 45-55 miles per hour mostly. I can do that for an hour and a half or two hours in Grunflachen, and that is usually more than enough for me.

Actually using it as a car here in Cape, 50 miles would be overkill. But that’s ok. This will preserve the batteries very nicely.

We do also feature an update from Duane Ball and Scott Smith with their Porsche Carrera GTS build – the Porsche 904. This car is coming along nicely and we think is going to be a stellar example of an electric sports car. By doing it themselves, they wind up with another inconic piece of history, fantastic performance, and instead of the $150K for a Tesla Roadster, they’ll probably have $75K in the vehicle. With a Soliton1 and an 11 inch Netgain, this thing will just fly. I think they’ll see something in the range of 5.5-5.9 second 0-60mph. And 120 mile range.

Jack Rickard

30 thoughts on “New Web Site”

  1. Jack,
    My computer is having a brain haemorrhage trying to figure out the new video. Must be running on lead acid! That said i like the website design. No nonsense and everything accessible.

    On the water heater issue i found a simple solution this past week for my next project. A 9.5kw pumped electric shower. The pump even runs on dc. Its a series motor!

    Damien Maguire

  2. Yes I’m in there. Lovely and well put together. My only initial issue was the fact I tend to download the weeks video to peruse it multiple times and absorb the data. If anyone wants to know, here’s how.

    Eggs, sucks and granny?
    Scroll down to “Featured video’s”. Find the green title link, i.e. “Latest Show – Friday, April 22, 2011”, right click that and goto save link (or target).

  3. Jack,

    Love the new site!

    I am agree that classic cars has been in “denial”, that is why we are building an electric Porsche 912 so the new generation can see that not only “restoration” exists, but it could be viewed in the NEW concept of ELECTRIC CAR, as you said in video “researchers” predicting $5 a gallon before EV will be “popular”.

    I know that we have more calls to us “how to get started conversion” and some Customers already signing the contracts.

    I am looking forward to go to EVCCON with the car (Lithium Batteries), checking on ship/towing cost…

    Also, I think simple “Air Blowers (hair driers)” would work as heaters too… What do you think?

    Thank you.

  4. Hi Jack,
    “Grünflächen” is plural, “Grünfläche” (singular) would be correct, but no german engineer would take it for a car reference, I think.
    “Geschwind” is OK. We don’t use it very much in germany (perhaps a little often in some regional language use), because it’s a little bit “old fashioned”. But to a 1957 Porsche, it’s OK 😉

    Greetings fron the “Ostseeküste”,

  5. Some thoughts on the video size and bandwidth. I’ve downloaded some movies about 1.5 hrs long that look great between 700 MB to 1.5 GB. I think your videos, which aren’t exactly action films or cinematic masterpieces, could be done at much lower resolution and still look good, and save you time and bandwidth. Maybe offer lower res versions? How about using torrents for distribution? Use the free bandwidth of your viewers to help you distribute the videos.

    Regarding your comments on Tesla being the next Apple, as a shareholder I certainly hope not. Apple stock did nothing for 10 years or so, maybe longer.

    The new website looks great, big improvement.

  6. JP:

    We think they are truly cinematic masterpieces and each and every one a classic. We are anxiously awaiting delivery of the REDONE camera so we can go to 4000×4000 resolution.

    We can save a LOT of time and bandwidth by not doing them at all. We can make me a car much faster, and not have to bother with any of it, which is of course what almost everyone does.

    Jack Rickard

  7. It’s the show content that makes it interesting, not the screen resolution. Do we really need a clearer picture of you and Brain standing there?
    How many people watch this on a big screen as opposed to their computers?
    Just trying to save you a buck or two and some time.

  8. JP:

    I have no concept of what “we” need or even who “we” are. I’ve got a pretty clear vision of who we are and what we are doing. And yes, it leads the existing technology by a bit. It will probably lead it by more than a bit before we are done.

    EVTV is actually two simultaneous projects JP. One is about electric cars….

    I do appreciate input on the other. But all input regarding how it doesn’t work with my 56k modem connection and 1996 Windows 3 computer I kind of have to gloss over. We’re getting in position for the computer and connection you will have three years from now.

    We could easily do an audio track and slide show. Or just a print magazine, which would of course use my talents in many ways better. That’s not the mission.

    I also get a lot of questions about our length. IT is all about viewer qualification. We have no intent to be THE video for people who think electric cars are cool. We do think they’re cool, but that’s nothing I want to do a show about. We are going to be about components and techniques, as they evolve to actually design and build electric cars. We are COUNTING on the fact that a lot of people who think electric cars are cool are going to look at us for a few minutes and say “that’s too techie and too boring” and move on. Ideally, that will leave us with a core viewership that are pretty dedicated to the concept of building the future, not just being a victim of it.

    Yes, in the interim I’m paying you to watch it. About 30-40cents a pop.
    I can save a WHOLE lot of money by not doing it at all. And my builds would move along faster as well.

    Expand your vision just a little bit. And consider, for just a moment, that I didn’t win the lottery to get here, I didn’t “get lucky” other than after a trip to the winery, and none of it is by “accident.” I didn’t stumble onto anything, I wasn’t in the right place at the right time, And I am very comfortable coming across on screen as the bumbling old fool with the videos. It’s all good. But it may not be precisely what you think….

    We are going to change the world. All we have to do is crawl through 40 miles of puss, blood, broken glass and razor blades on our hands and knees first. Then we can once again be an overnight success story….

    Such a happy exciting time….


  9. Hey Jack!

    When my cheap, low current heater relay welded itself closed, the heating element jumped on the grenade to save my batteries. There was no circulation pump running to keep the element from becoming a big fuse.

    Do you plan on having anything more sophisticated than on-off switches for each of the heating elements to control heat production. That’s all I have now, and it’s a little more manual than ideal. I’m toying with the idea of comparing a potentiometer to a thermistor, but the weather is starting to warm up…


  10. GoFigure:

    Check this out.

    So actually I do have some more advanced aspirations. This is a dual fan controller with programmable temperatures. You set one temp for one fan to come on, and a second temp for a second fan.

    We’re going to kind of invert it by additing a couple of relays. We’ll run 12v through two relays, one to each of our existing contactors for the two heating elements.

    Then we’ll use this device to monitor the temperature at the inlet. At about 150 degrees one of the fan outputs will got to 12 volts, closning a relay and DISCONNECTING one of the lines to a heater element contactor.

    At about 160 degrees, the OTHER fan output will do the same to the second heater element.

    In this way, we’ll have one switch that turns on 12volts to the pump and the two relays that run the heater contactors. We’ll get pumping and full heat almost immediately. Once the entire system is 150F, we’ll kick out one heater. Once it reaches 160F we’ll kick out the other. As they system cools, when it hits the OFF temp for the second fan controller, that fan output will drop, engaging the heater again. And so we will sit there and cycle one heater in and out and in and out as the temperature oscillates about 10 degrees.

    So we start with two, drop to one, and then cycle that one, all automagically.

    We’ll have ONE cabin control, a switch to turn on 12v to the heater. It will run the pump, the fan controller, and the two contactors.

    At least that’s the plan.

  11. “How many people watch this on a big screen as opposed to their computers?”

    I’ll start the count: I do. Sometimes I have to run for the mute button when some 4 letter word slips out but I stream EVTV to my 65″ HD screen in my living room. On an early show, that’s where my 4 y/o daughter noticed Jack wore the same yellow shoes she did 🙂

    I look forward to those 2 hours masterpieces. This last show about heaters and whatnot was not all that interesting to me since I live in the oven known as Miami, FL. I’ll be watching closely when the guys setup the Escalade A/C


  12. hello

    I like to watch the EVTV Shows in my 42″ TV, and I dont have to wait for the download to finish to start and see the show, it only takes about 15 minutes of my optic fiber internet 🙂 to download a EVTV show

    And of course I will try to pass trough customs with some Madeira wine 🙂

    Cant wait for September to come

    best regards
    Celso Menaia

  13. Hey Jack!

    Nice heater controller, but you should consider failure modes of powering ON a circuit to turn the heating element OFF (nomally closed relay). If you blow the right (wrong?) fuse, etc., the heating element is switched on until you change the fuse. Every off-the-shelf automotive possibility I’ve seen is for cooling, not heating, and so comes with this risk.

    Just be careful to put the 12 VDC power switced BY the normally closed relay (to the contactor coil) on the same fuse as the controller, or have it otherwise slaved to the controller circuit.


  14. I watch the show on my 3.5″ iPhone Display. I don’t care how large in GB the Video is, but surfing the new website is wiry and annoying to me (sorry).

    I know that the one who pays the bill makes the rules, Jack, but please give me (all apple mobile device users) a quick bypass to your show.

    One of your loyal viewers 🙂

  15. 37″ HDTV (1920×1080) from my media pc. If anyone has a HDMI connector on their pc/laptop and not use it, they need their bumps feeling.

    That Smart car… Not considered two agni motors. One to each wheel with no gearbox? Wouldn’t there be enough room for batteries in the back? Just a thought.

  16. You know what? It’s not a bad idea. I actually have ONE of those motors laying around.

    I’d really rather have some kind of gear reduction for each so I could run them in the 2000 rpm range instead of 300 rpm. I wouldn’t really care if that car ever did freeway speeds. It’s a town car. If I knew where to find a little one speed reducer and axle fo reach side, we’d try it.

    Any ideas?

  17. Haha! Nice one John. I thought that video was lost.

    I’d look to a toothed belt at I’m guessing around 3~4:1 reduction and 40mm+ wide?

    Performance/weight calculations for vehicles:

    Keeping two wheel drive and dumping the gearbox/axles to gain battery estate was most on my mind.
    Anyway Jack, you have lots on the go already!

    Electric cinquino 2.0.
    This car I think is cute and the sort of thing I think many people like myself would tackle as a first off. A quick drive:

    Great blog photo’s showing the Agni 135 like a big button on the end of his transmission. gives him room for another (Kokam) pack at least as big as the one in his boot. Will need to Google Translate.

    Photo Album:

  18. Yay, John.
    Perhaps your friend has utilised this method which is often used for the faster motorcycles:

    One motor has its brushes set for reverse. They share a common shaft with the pulley.

    It’s a such a pity this type of motor is not designed to allow stacking one behind the other. It would be ideal for later expansion.

    But what Jack could do with is a motor to each wheel. Possibly with those cheap chinese belt CVT’s suitable for a 250cc engine. If they do not take up valuable battery room.

    Either can be sold as single units but I’ve no idea if they would be any good for this car. Will certainly need a set of heavier weights for the lower rpm’s as delivered by these motors.
    And I’m certainly sticking my neck out on this theory. I’ve no idea how everything is suspended under the car.

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