The Blind Leading the Blind.

They say that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man would be named King…. I guess I’m not convinced…

This week we ran our longest show ever, and had to cut much of that. It’s feast or famine here, depending on what parts come in or are available. Right now we’re buried. We really finally after months of waiting have the necessary batteries for the Cadillac Elescalade, but are working furiously on the eCobra at the same time.

We actually cut a good bit of the show and put other bits off to next week. But it was still a bit of a press.

Mark Kriss, brother to Eric Kriss contributed an interview with Ludmilla Ng of Sinopoly Battery Company. Sinopoly, recall, is Thundersky Battery renamed, and currently in a furious legal battle with Winsston Chung. The company accuses Chung of submitting FORGED documents in the legal proceedings and it is all a little beyond me regarding the battle.

But the “news” buried in all that is some new “black” Sinopoly batteries that are something of an advance. The 66 Ah cell is 10% more energy than the previous 60 Ah cell, but it is ALSO much lighter at 1.8 kg vice 2.5 kg. And to Eric Kriss’s interest, the 200Ah cell is in the same size and weight as the previous Thundersky 160Ah cell. Winston Battery Company does NOT have access to this factory and does not offer these cells.

Ludmilla insists that they are going to continue this increase in energy/weight at a very aggressive 10% per year. And they are pricing at $1.05 per Ah for less than 10,000 Ah and $1 per Ah above that, which rather undercuts CALB and even Winston Battery. Sinopoly appears very aggressive.

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Eric is the star of this week’s show. He had a very unnerving vibration in this drive train of his Beck Speedster electric. He removed the motor and had the flywheel, clutch, and pressure plate dynamically balanced, reassembled, and is all good to go now. In this weeks episode, we assemble the adapter plate, flywheel, clutch and pressure plate on the eCobra, and again mention the importance of doing this.

It is a very simple spin balancing procedure, and does NOT reqquire a magician machinist to perform. Most NAPA auto parts places, but also almost all full service autoparts dealers, do a set stable of routine machinging for automobiles. Most commonly, turn rotors and drums, and indeed do this very routine flywheel balance. They basically assemble the flywheel, clutch and pressure plate into one assembly, and mount it on a spin balancer. They then gradually remove material from the back of the flywheel with a drill to bring the whole assembly into balance. It’s typically less than $100. But don’t even bother installing without doing this.

In our Speedster Redux, recall that we burned out a clutch with the 1000 amp Soliton1 and replaced it immediately with a Kennedy Stage IV racing clutch and 3000 lb pressure plate. They arrived overnight and we had them IN the next day. Unfortunately, we neglected to do this basic machining, and indeed we have a slight “buzz” in our drive train. Not bad, but not likely to improve either.

Eric does a walkaround of his very excellent Speedster build, pointing out the improvements and changes he made ot our Speedster Duh design. Most notable was his use of 200Ah cells. As we have driven Duh 111 miles on a single charge using the 180Ah cells, this would imply a max range of his Speedster of 123 miles. That puts his 80% range at 98.4 miles. And that’s pretty good. Ours is 88 miles so he gets a safe range increase of 10 miles – very substantial.

He also takes us on a drive to a car museum to view a 1908 Bailey Electric. I kind of got the impression they spent more time with the curator looking at the Speedster than with Eric looking at the Bailey.

This kind of build was what we were wanting to foster as our mission. A highly desirable car in its own right, that happens to be electric, and built in a very workmanlike fashion that you might expect in any factory built car. When people see this, and you driving it, with a 100 mile range, pleasurable performance, and NO gasoline and NO mess and a CLEAN engine compartment, the reaction is universally positive.

We also had some fun with J1772 this week. One of the old guys that renovates buildings for me here in Cape did an install of our Clipper Creek J1772 charging station. We plugged it into the Mini Cooper, pressed the button, and it immediately started charging per design.

We also received a beautifully machined custom billet aluminum J1772 inlet port from David Kerzel of modularEVPower ($160). As we have an enormous billet aluminum covered gas cap for the Cobra, as is customary on Cobra’s, we endeavored to marry the two. This is the only gas filler cap I can imagine sufficiently enormous to actually put a J1772 inlet inside of. And I managed to squeeze in a soft LED light ring as well. We used Kerzel’s little circuit board to simulate the J1772 copilot signals but also to work the proximity switch and light the LED ring. Very cool.

Mounting it to the car was a little gruesome, and complicated by the fact that you are going to be plugging in and unplugging daily for years. The inlet had to be recessed BELOW the fiberglass of the car so that the cap could be closed, while sticking upt THROUGH the fiberglass sufficiently to allow the plug to lock into position. We made an aluminum mounting plate and used the mounting screws for the cap, along with some spacer nuts and washers, to stand it off very securely. Kerzel had actually machined tapped holes for #6-32 screws into the rim of the inlet piece. Very nice job.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is implementing rules requiring noisemakers for electric cars. I would urge you to ignorre this stupid law. Passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress, this addresses the potential for blind people to be run over by electric cars they can’t hear. We’ve investigated and found the total number of blind people so far massacred in this way – Zero. in fact, there have been no injuries and we cannot find a verifiable story of a close call.

In any event, we think they got the cart before the horse. We do not think blind people should be allowed to drive AT ALL, electric or not. And what difference it makes whether the car makes noise or not is entirely beyond us.

So these learned people, our very best and brightest, cannot do ANYTHING about spending our money like drunken sailors and whores to the extent that they are now BORROWING 40% of the annual budget, but they do have time and common cause to address something that is, and has never been, a problem at all, with an almost unanimously adopted measure to require YOU to do something hysterically embarassing in public to accomplish NOTHING.

Most advocates and organizations, faced with such tyrannic stupidity, organize a letter writing campaign to Congress to make their views known. And they provide everyone a sample letter so they will know what to say?

We rather presume our viewership is exceptional in that they are probably bright enough to write a letter. But for those of you who need it, here is a sample letter to your Congressman on this very considered issue:

Dear Congressman/Congresswoman Pluketthamner:

You’re fired.

Warmest Regards;

Sincere Registered Voter in Your District

It’s brief. It’s to the point. And it can be encoded in Braille very easily so they can read it with their fingers…

I suppose you could even send it by finger directly…..

Jack RIckard

38 thoughts on “The Blind Leading the Blind.”

  1. RE: EV Noise Makers

    There’s nothing like reading a good blog with your morning cup of coffee. Least we forget, there were local laws and ordinances produced when the horseless carriage was introduced which required a method to prevent startling horses. And of course at night they required that a person walk in front of the car with a lamp to warn other people.

    Maybe some of the same people that wrote those laws are still in Congress.

    Really liked the clutch assembly video. I suppose I would have figured it out after several tries, but your video sure helped.

    Will most likely look into the Sinopoly 200 aH batteries. Like everyone else, I could use the extra range and weight reduction. Will you be testing some any time soon?


  2. Hi Jack,

    Nice show. Here is some more info on the J1772 charge stations.

    Leviton has a number of offerings at:

    From the Volt site:
    Interstate-5 through California, Oregon and Washington to be the ‘Green Highway’


    It has been termed “the West Coast Green Highway,” and the phrase to describe the route is from “BC to Baja” (British Columbia to Baja, California).

    Overall, the plan is infrastructure will consist of high-DC-voltage CHAdeMO chargers to replenish compliant vehicles like the Nissan LEAF in under 30 minutes, and 240-volt J1772 chargers to recharge the LEAF and other EVs including the Chevrolet Volt in a few hours.


  3. This is really interesting:

    “Ceder group at MIT analyzes the limits and opportunities of phosphates as Li-ion cathode materials using a Materials Genome approach”

    Here’s a link to the actual paper:


    I was reading this today and I thought it was the type of thing that might interest people here, so I thought I’d post the link.

  4. Regarding the noise maker law. I say we take it to the max. We use really high power stereos to play some of the most obnoxious music available like Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries”. With no volume limits or time of day restrictions I’ll be glad to cruse down my neighborhood streets at 1AM complying with an absurd law! Any ticket they hand will be beaten because I’m complying with Federal Law which trumps any local noise ordinance.

  5. Balancing the flywheel and pressure plate as a unit is a great idea. However, Jack do you balance it with the clutch disk in there? That’s what I thought I heard in the video. The clutch disk does not have a guaranteed orientation, and can go a little off-center as they typically have a little bit of play. I would think it is better to balance without the clutch disk.

  6. Hello Jack.

    Very interesting your video of 7/19/2011. Thank you for sharing. I have a question. Why didn’t you use a dial indicator to verify that the taper lock hub is properly leveled? When you spinned the flywheel, I could see in the reflection of the camera light that it was not very well leveled. I think that even if it a little unleveled, it will cause premature wear of the clutch or may cause vibrations at high speed. A dial indicator is the inexpensive tool to make sure rotating things are leveled instead of eye-guessing.

    See this video in minute 2:50 and 3:30 to see what I am talking about.

    Great show.


  7. Jose:

    We specifically talked about a dial indicator in the video. Now let me get this straight, so to speak. YOU can tell from the “light” off the surface of the flywheel on the VIDEO how much runout we have BETTER than I can tell viewing it from the side and turning the flywheel by hand? And you are then diagnosing a high speed vibration and premature clutch wear?

    Gads, I wish I was that good.

    Whatever drugs you are on, I want to try some.

    Jack Rickard

  8. I believe they balance the entire assembly, clutch, pressure plate, and flywheel.

    true enough that the clutch position isn’t even indicated. Now let’s see, 11 or 12 lbs for flywheel, 15 lbs for pressure plate, 2 lbs for clutch……

    The clutch is more or less balanced from the factory, and is such a small part of total assembly weight it really doesn’t matter. You can balance either with or without it.

    The problem with Redux is that we changed the pressure plate as well as the clutch, without rebalancing.

    Had we just changed the clutch, it wouldn’t have mattered.


  9. I have my flywheel/pressure plate balanced without the clutch disk. Just be sure you mark both the flywheel and pressure plate so it goes back together as it was balanced. It was balanced as a pair so it must be put back together as a matched pair exactly as assembled during the balancing process.

    Pete 🙂

    I am going to have mine rebalanced as well since I will be using a new pressure plate.

  10. Re run-out: I cannot quote chapter and verse on this, so it may be an old wives tale; but received wisdom where I learned to use a lathe is that the naked eye is capable of spotting about half a thou. run out which is good enough for most government work.

  11. Jack, What Jose is talking about is the change in reflection on the plate when it was spun. As I’m sure you know reflected light is used to magnify the results of very small deflections so if the surface was a mirror then yes, looking at the image in the camera would be better than your eye looking from the side. However, what I don’t think Jose considered was that the surface is not a mirror and has a regular pattern of machining “scratches” which when oriented a particular way reflect more light into the camera than at other orientations. Because of this, the camera view is a very inaccurate picture of any run-out.

    David D. Nelson

  12. Jack a Davide Andrea of Elithion has posted three videos, here is the first one:

    He sounds quite knowledgeable about charging Lithium batteries. Apparently you have been charging your batteries too low (need to go to 4.2V), you need to top balance, and bottom balancing will ruin all the cells if you draw them too low.

    You could invite Davide Andrea to be one of the featured speakers at EVCCON!

  13. The funny thing is that in those videos Davide actually includes the information to refute his own claims! ie. the resistance of the cell goes way up when it nears 100%DOD so it can’t supply power. Wow, what happens when all of them do that at the same time? There are NO losers! They all quit together so none of them gets reversed.

    Oh by the way, Jack. That car you drove until it couldn’t move on its own power. All of those batteries are toast so you better quit driving it any more. Pull out all of those bad batteries, send them to me and I’ll recycle them for you 😉

  14. What Davide is saying in those videos above is completely illogical and completely backwards!

    Jack’s video from November 13, 2009 titled “GET RID OF THOSE SHUNT BALANCING CIRCUITS” lays it out in terms so simple even a child…..a very young one, can understand.

    Jack even uses wooden sticks as props to visually demonstrate his point! It couldn’t be a more technical and down-to-earth demonstration on the subject.

    Soon I will be done with the shopping cart system for EVTV so Jack can sell HIS BMS system that he showed at the very end of the April 29, 2011 video. At the very least he demonstrates how to properly treat BMS.


  15. Hi Jack,

    How does one go about purchasing Sinopoly batteries (specifically the black ones)?

    I’m after about 20-25kWh worth of Li-Ions and was thinking TS (for $1.10 per AH), but if these are $1.05 and are lighter I’d go for them.

    Do you know if they are available yet?


  16. I can’t wait for Jack’s next video entitles “8 Reasons Davide Andrea is totally wrong” – a point by point decimation of some very interesting and somwhat dubious information I just wasted 15 minutes of my life watching on Youtube.

    I have NEVER heard before about this minimum 4.0v charge REQUIREMENT to ‘set’ the chemistry – where the heck did that come from!? He also seems to think that the cells have a charged voltage of 4.2V. Jack has spent many gigabytes of bandwith explaining this and it is patently clear to me that Davide just hasn’t “got it” yet.

    I went on to watch the video about the 3 stage charging but I got to half way and couldn’t stand it any more! How hard does this guy want to make this process. Stick with Jack, buy a good charger and, to quote an infomercial, “set it and forget it”.

  17. Just wanted to clarify something from thenlast post… When i said “to ‘set’ the chemistry” what I meant to say was to “balance the chemistry. I know that the cemistry is “set”at the factory with the initial charge before being shipped.

    This thing about the DeWalt batteries being actively bottom balanced evey charge sounds crazy. Aparently they discharge the battery at the cell level to a common SOC before charging. Why would this need to be done more than once, ever?

  18. ***Why would this need to be done more than once, ever?****

    Well when I used to do RC stuff and used the NiCAD style batteries it was common practice to fully discharge the cell before recharging. The battery chargers had that function built in. Another holdover from the old battery chemistry. I think it was to help keep the battery from getting a memory and nothing to do with balance.

  19. I’m not certain. But they were using the earlier A123 cylindrical cells with the tabs on them and we found those very flaky. The balance was to keep them in balance I suppose, but the bottom balance makes great sense. If I use an electric drill, I normally run it so dry it won’t turn, and THEN go swap the battery. Bottom blanking keeps me from destroying the cells.

    Jack Rickard

  20. David Andrea’s videos.

    There is NOTHING I could ever do or say that would OUT this guy as effectively as he has done himself with his videos. They’ll undoubtedly go viral. They were a SCREAM from front to back and this man clearly knows much LESS than I credited him with about these batteries and their treatment.

    That he considers himself competent to ATTEMPT a BMS design is hilarious.

    I confess I could not make it all the way through part two. When he was doing the pocket calculation of available watt hours of power based on the CHARGE voltages of 3.6 and 4.0, I realized I’ve been picking on a cripple for several years.

    He does not exhibit a GLANCING passing knowledge of cell chemistry or charging techniques, or even what the charge process IS or DOES. And that he concludes he can design, build, and market a BMS explains all the fires all too well.

    This guy IS dangerous and it is NOT funny but I just can’t stop laughing.

    I think by remaining mysteriously in the background, he was actually somewhat effective at confusing the issue. Now that he’s OUTED himself, I kind of think my work is done here.

    It will be curious to see how some of the other BMS/top balancing proponents react to this embarrassment.

    Jack Rickard

  21. No data points, just assertions. It’s alright to guess, but without testing it, it’s just a guess.
    There’s a paper by Kruger and Dunning called: “Unskilled and Unaware of it: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”. What the EVIDENCE shows is that incompetent people haven’t got the skills to assess their own incompetence because they lack the very skills they need to spot their incompetence.


  22. I wont vouch for Davide Andrea and I don’t much care for BMS but he’s right that top balancing is the best although only his first reason is the valid one. an EV is at the top charge all the time and largely never at the bottom. you’d have to go out of your way to balance at the bottom.
    bottom balance also makes charging harder as you can’t trust a combined cut off voltage as they are not balanced at that end..

  23. Actually Dan the EV is mostly at the middle and bottom. I drive my Leaf daily and it is always below the top. Sure it starts there but quickly your no longer on the top. By the way. That first few miles really burns off that top charge anyway and you really don’t’ get much from it. So keep off the top and stop and recharge before the bottom is reached. In other words stay in the middle where you get all the benefit and none of the problems. I say for a home build you should balance your cells on the low knee. I guarantee you will be at the bottom danger point more than you can imagine. So keep your pack safe and be sure your pack won’t die WHEN you do go low.

    The top is only use briefly. The middle to bottom is always. There is no substantial argument to warrant top balancing. None.

  24. The only “advantage” to top balancing is that it is easy to do and easy to automate. Unfortunately, the batteries are not terribly concerned with our “ease”. They kind of are what they are.

    The principal problem with top blanking is destruction of cells when you are NOT at the bottom of the SOC. One or two CELLS go to the bottom with the rest still at a higher level of SOC. The weak ones go over the cliff and are destroyed – effectively disabling the pack. Bottom balancing will prevent this.

    The basic disconnect is that driving a car at the bottom of the pack DOES happen, even when you don’t intend it, and it is destructive at a level of 300-500 amps or more.

    Charging is a 15 ampere event. Two entirely different realms for a battery cell. You can get away with a lot at 15 amps that just don’t work very well at 500.

    But that’s the only “advantage” of top balancing. It’s easier to perform and easier to automate.

    But you should really view Andrea’s videos. It is startling in how lost this man is and on what really a large front he is lost on. He hasn’t a clue of the very basics of battery charging or discharging, and has amassed a truly impressive array of errant myths and misinformation into one contiguous stream of nonsense quite beyond anything I’ve ever seen or heard tell of.

    He was much more damaging when mysteriously in the background tossing vague and intriguing bits of misinformation in in cryptic fashion. Now that he’s explained it where everyone can understand it, the lack of clothes on the emperor is hideously apparent.

    Sunshine is a marvelous disinfectant.

    Jack Rickard

  25. No no no now. You HAVE to watch ALL his videos – it is a penance for your many sins….

    Ok, I’ll confess…. I didn’t make it past the middle of part 2.. It may have been BRILLIANT after that….I’ll never know….


  26. Hi Jack l tried to watch all the videos but couldn’t stand it, all smoke and mirrors only trouble is his smoke causes BIG FIRES. Definitely the worse case of Unskilled and Unaware of it.

  27. Haha. No Jack, you cannot make me watch this deluded man. I believe it’s better suited as reference material for psychologists.

    He’s removed comments off his video’s as the only means to answer his detractors and check-mate questions. Nobody backed his thoughts and many questioned his statements which he could not answer.

    Until BMS units become intelligent two-wire chargers with a guarantee I’m not even going to consider their efforts babes.
    Overall volts and batt. bridge for me so far.

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