Excellent Days in the Land of EV’s.

First drives are always an excellent event. Weeks, and for us, usually months of effort in the shop eventually lead to a vehicle, still in some disassembly, but running out of excuses NOT to go drive. And then it rolls. The magic never lessens for me. It is always an exhilarating moment to see the car GO after months of being shackled to the lift.

In the days just prior to the EVCCON, the eCobra was reaching that point. It was my FIRST build where she I decided it was time to roll, it refused to roll. The thrill of victory. And in this case the agony of defeat as they used to say on ABC’s wide world of sports.

After a roll, there are always new issues come to light that have to be worked off – kind of like the tick list on a new house. But I have never just had one refuse to roll at all. The eCobra crept off the ramp ok, but when we hit the pedal, it appeared to have a severe case of clutch slip and really just wouldn’t go.

As I say, that’s a first for me and I take these things poorly.

As it turns out, it WAS a slipping clutch, but not the clutch we were engaging. Rather, it turned out to be the clutch in the limited slip differential third member we had added to eCobra in an errant attempt to save weight, which turned out to be a thoroughly discouraging 7.5 lbs anyway.

This was discovered by one of our EVCCON attendees after two days of furious work by probably 50 people who looked at it at one time or another, including the builder of the original car.

In any event, Paul Lin had flown from Taiwan, DURING a typhoon, to be with us and to drive his car on its first drive. It was not to be.

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In the few days since the event, we did get a new drive shaft made to accommodate the original third member, which had been reinstalled. And the vehicle was thereby made capable of movement.

We also had some controller issues traced to a very demanding controller who insisted that 12v be about 12v and noise free. We had to add an aux battery and rewire the way 12v comes up when using the ignition key to do that. I have a mini-white board session on this simple circuitry change in the video.

Once accomplished, we not only had a new drive to take on a sunny autumn day in Cape Girardeau, but we had a new camera to play with as well. We’ve been playing with a Contour Plus mini camera that provides excellent HD quality images but more importantly, an astounding 170 degree field of view – very close to the human field of view. Its a bit distorted, but hugely wide. And for shooting in vehicles, this is a huge plus.

Unfortunately the camera controls are pretty meager, there is no viewfinder, you don’t really know what you’re shooting, and the build quality is actually surprisingly poor given the $499 price. But we have persevered and learned pretty much how to work with it.

The result is first drive with a bit different video view. We think its engaging and another step toward putting you IN the car with us on these drives.

And indeed, first drive was exhilarating. Given his actually masterfully precise execution of an incredible array of details surrounding the EVCCON, Mr. Noto was privileged the honors on first drive.

Let me digress here just a bit to pass on some lessons hard won over time that have little to do with electricity.

I like people with good intentions. Your intentions should be good. Evil intentions are fortunately rare, but of course unpleasant.

It’s nice to be among men of vision. A grand vision is a grand thing. Out of the box thinking is always a joy to observe and participate in. A meager approach to life from a position of want and need is not who we are meant to be. A grand vision assuming a universe of unlimited resource is much more productive.

Pleasant manners are of course most characterized by being “pleasant”. Who doesn’t like minimal confrontation and maximum pleasant.

And I like smart people. The bandwidth of conversation and ideas simply is more enjoyable at a faster pace. Having to stop and explain the obvious and the given or worse actually get into a debate over things that no longer need debate is frustrating and annoying.

But I can convene ROOMS full of very smart, pleasant people of grand vision with good intentions. Unfortunately, as a general rule none of them have ever actually done anything of note or had any impact on anything. Too often, they spend too much time thinking pretty thoughts of a grand future where everyone is pleasant and has good intentions.

Great effort too is admirable. One of my favorite films is Rudy. Maximum effort with limited tools – the underdog story. I cry like a baby.

But in the end, the thing I prize most of all is execution. Some very small percentage of our population is simply capable of making things HAPPEN. They can execute. If you aim them at a target, you can pretty much then walk away and begin the next process because you KNOW the target either no longer exists, or will not exist very much longer. They will assemble whatever resources are necessary, employ whatever tools are necessary, identify any further needs necessary, but when the smoke clears – target gone and ready for the next mission. To execute with precision is an art form.

I was privileged to work with both Brian Noto and Christopher Fisher on this EVCCON 2011. I really did very little toward the mission of success with this conference. And both simply had this process of “execution” down to an implicit act. And they were both so calm about it. It is a thing to admire. Minimum fuss. Minimum noise. Lots of smoldering holes where at times difficult targets used to be. And a pathological, at times even obsessive, attention to detail.

I would have those skills for myself but I am not, unfortunately, graced in that way. Having the attention span of a four-year-old is of course its own reward. But in the unlikely event that I DID miraculously grow up, I would that I were as these two guys.

In any event, the drive was fun. Despite the false starts, the first real DRIVE was a hoot. This car is growing on me. First, it’s LARGER than the cars we’ve been doing. It is of course 3000 lbs – at least. We’ll probably weigh it this week once the charger is onboard. I can kind of stretch out and it lets me sit up kind of high rather than “down” in a hole. Second, the weight causes the adjustable springs to be tweaked up pretty tight to hold the car up. And it glides along with authority – no jouncing around really. Like a heavier car – which it is.

The Netgain 11HV and Warp Drive Industrial are starting to look like a fortuitous design selection. Under the rubric that even a blind hog gets an acorn now and again, I think I had a lucky pick here. Better to be lucky than good. It moves that 3000 lbs out smartly. No real testing yet of course. But I think we may have something a little special here. Not a drag strip dominator. But it will feel good to drive this car and I think we will accomplish our mission of making things in that rear view mirror get small quickly and in keeping with the Cobra culture and concept.

We really didn’t shoot much video of the convention. A lot less than I would have liked actually. But by stealing some photos from George Hamstra, and using some footage my daughter shot from her helicopter, we’ve cobbled together a recap of the convention that is hopefully both artful and representative. It is simply not possible to duplicate the conference on video anyway.

A number of attendees have requested access to the powerpoint presentations from various speakers. I’ve given this some thought. I may inherently have the right to do this but I’m going to pass on this. You have the attendee book listing the speakers and their contact info. This is their material they have developed and may quite likely use for a variety of purposes and conferences. It’s not really mine to give. Contact those speakers directly with requests for powerpoint presentations and notes. This is a “convention” of adults and viewpoints and information sources and it is little enough to contact the owner directly with your requests. If they want to deal with that en masse, they can of course post a link here for general download. This is not something I should try to arbitrage.

EVCCON 2012 will be presented in the 32,000 sf ShowMe Center here in Cape Girardeau. We hope for a larger assemblage of enthusiasts and cars for this event. Registration opens today at $400 until June 1. For those bringing cars, we will discount this to $99 this year. We had 23 attendees and two vendors sign up on site at the dinner where we made the final decision and announced the second annual Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention. I would that we would have more speakers, more attendee delegates, and more cars at next years event. I would like to thank those who DID go through the rigors of bringing their cars this year – they were some absolutely inspiring builds.

We’re going to work toward incentivizing this further. The builds were SO good I want more of them. Greed is a great motivator. So we’re working on some more thought through “classes” of builds, some more considered judging, and some SUBSTANTIAL componentry prizes for winners not so much on the race side but on the car show side. It was clear attendees who DID go through the logistical nightmare of bringing their vehicle, took no small pride in displaying to the public, but I think to even a greater degree presenting to their qualified peers in the EV community itself. And so I’m working toward more formal classes of builds, more considered and qualified judging, and as I say, some substantial componentry as awards, along with of course the usual cheesy trophy. Rather than our promotional contest for the pile of components, I thinks we can do more by rewarding the GREAT builds I’m seeing out there with components and providing recognition for the incredible amount of work that goes into some of these cars which are not just functional, but in some cases border on works of art.

We will probably issue ballots to all paid conference attendees and allow them to vote on the “Best of Show” build. I haven’t’ quite worked out how to tally all that in time for the awards dinner. But I would like for EVCCON to grow into a place where you can bring and display your work to the approbation of your peers.

Enjoy the video. If you have any ideas on how to make EVCCON 2012 bigger and better, I’m all ears.


Jack Rickard


19 thoughts on “Excellent Days in the Land of EV’s.”

  1. Jack,
    In your video you mentioned a couple of guys. Considering making a small chip that read cell voltage and temperature. The best place for this is on the bottom of a cell bolt. One sensing supply wire out to the other terminal and an serial LED output transmitted by optical cable, (strimmer – weed whacker). Cheap, EMI robust and safer than any other means.

    I’m giving suggestions for a free beer >;-))
    More to my heart.
    Kelso(?) from Portugal, a guy 30 miles from me and myself amongst others are building (reverse) trikes. As your rules stand with less than four wheels, if we have a mad moment and bring them over, we cannot compete. :'(

    You also disallow non-bodied vehicles. Do you mean? “Sit on” like a m’cycle or space framed “sit in” with roll bars and a floor?
    Loved the aerial shots. Shows the cars were like many breeds of horses on the same racecourse.

  2. Jack,

    I think the phrase you used during the show was “Thank Jack and blame Brian.” I want to amend that and thank the both of you! It was a tremendous event which I will always remember. Now I just have to finish my car so I can bring it along and get the $99 rate. If you cant tell, I am already looking forward to next year.

    This is a link to my EVCCON 2011 photo album.


    As it turns out I didn’t take very many people pictures. I also need to finish putting captions on the photos.

    Again, thanks Brian and Jack!

  3. Thanks Jack and Brian and all the rest that attended and spoke. I have learned a lot and found new alliances and have been re-inspired to move forward with great vigor. We are already signed and paid for next year (took advantage of the discount tossed at us at the last minute) and we plan on bringing a car as well next time. We have commuted to also converting an old Fiberglass 64 Correct Craft Ski boat to electric. Not sure if that will be ready but at the speed we are moving forward now with the Bus the Correct Craft may actually be done before the next conference. Transmission was ordered from RanchoTransaxles today. Pro Street with 3.44:1 Ring and Pinion.

    The show is an excellent one and I love the Eye in the Sky video of the event. Thank your Daughter for the flybys and video and whoever else was up there with her.

    Pete 🙂

  4. Wow, I completely forgot to mention the Cobra. I had said before that the Cobra did not catch my fancy much but after seeing it driving on the road I have to say I have changed my mind. Quite frankly all the Cobra’s I have ever seen were always just sitting at some car show. Never did see one actually on the road. Even in its non finished form it is an impressive looking machine even without the exhausts sticking out the sides. I think it looks great without them. Seeing the Cobra moving down the road with Jack at the wheel just looked right. You guys have done an outstanding job. Glad to see it on the road.

    Pete 🙂

  5. good show, the drive video was needlessly long though.
    the contour camera is not 170 degree field of view. they are lying. it looks more like 90 degree FOV and yes Jack, I’m an expert on that too 🙂 you might also notice that their diagram on the website showing 170 degrees as wider than 135 degrees they show a 90 degree cone.

    as for appreciating pleasant and intelligent, you certainly have a funny way of showing that with me. you don’t always practice pleasant. quite the contrary. something you might want to work on while you still have the excuse of being young.

    very nice helicopter shots. do you have a stabilized camera pod on the helicopter?

  6. Danny boy,
    I paraglide. Some use these if not the most popular sports cam. I think Jacks is a “CONTOUR GPS”? Sure its +90 Deg on a side. That explain’s why its around a 135 DEG diagonal.

    My bottom as been spanked on here too! I’ve been right, wrong and coming from other angles but looked again to see what the differences were about. Bigged up, dusted myself down and took it like a man. (Girlfriend is laughing)…. Need more duct tape..

    Some people have swiped at Jack for having money. Have they expressed appreciation for what he has done for them? He is like Jesus. Gave his all for the betterment of others. We are indebted to him and his disciples. We do not need to tread the same path of bad theories, silly myths, bad buys and bad guys like he has. Big J was also a good story teller, liked his wine and drew large crowds.

  7. I CAN turn water into wine. And if I drink enough of it it makes me think I can walk on water.

    Beyond that, whether you believe in God or not isnt’ really very important. What’s important is that he believes in you.


  8. Hey Jack!

    I love the idea of “classes” competition and judging by peers. Adds some unpredictability, as everyone has their own idea of what’s good; witness the variety of cars you had this year. But just like drawing up congressional district boundaries, defining the different classes is as important as the voting itself. For example, the competition for two-seat convertible would be a little fiercer than for minivans with third-row seating.

    Or, you can take the Academy Awards approach and ala carte the prize categories (best home-made component, best paint, best instrumentation, best wire management, …).

    I always love objective measured perfomance, and awards for rolling resistance, drag coeficient, dynomometer horsepower, and endurance (range) might be fun competitions as well as being instructive to the attendees. Imagine a full disclosure requirement so we all can learn how to gain performance.

    Finally, I think a way to communicate opportunities for improvement, maybe on the peer ballots, could be valuable info for owners to take away from the convention. Especially if the owners identify an area of their own concern where suggestions might not otherwise be mentioned (i.e., my acceleration sucks, got any ideas?).

    love the video.

    Mike Kaindl

  9. Excellent opening EVCCON comments, Jack. When I consider the best of EVTV, your perspective, color, and white boards/process are tops.

    Ozymandius could have used some better ideas/thinking; how often has engineering/production without invention really advanced things?

    Seems like opening the next convention up to motorcycle type [incl. trikes and tadpoles] conversions would help realize your goal of 800 2012 attendees. Sharing an equal focus with range and cost optimized conversions might attract a subset which looks askance at 0-60/quarter mile runs.

    Given previous controversies I hesitate mentioning this, but did others here catch Elon Musk’s mention of aerodynamic wheels allowing an almost 7% increase [300 to 320 miles] in one Model S version’s range?* Also, a flashlight for Jack which sort of resembles a light saber** and a * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvNEzfiL4_0
    ** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqqM_VQRRyg&feature=related
    *** http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/movies/

  10. AndyJ:

    I’ve made both wine and whiskey. No one mentioned it, but there was a GOOD BIT of my precious liquid taken down on Friday evening. And the response seemed very positive at the time. Perhaps most don’t have a crystal clear memory of Friday evening at the bonfire overlooking the river.

    Interesting thing broke out there too. Young Hauber made the trip from San Diego. Some of the crew found the Solar inverter and a pair of wire cutters, and they took turns having their photo made with Hauber and the cable cutters in front of the Inverter – reenacting Matt’s most famous scene.

    Yes, we’ll wash your feet and probably provide a sheep dip for some of you to hop through as well.

    Yes, we will welcome some very interesting three wheel cars as well. Not doing so this year was a mistake.

    Jack Rickard

  11. That was the best sipping whiskey that I have ever had!
    Just wishing that I had a keg of it.

    The Grand Gathering was quite a treat as well.
    Way too many very interesting folks, and try as I might, I didn’t meet them all.

    I came away energized and excited knowing that there are some grand efforts going on in EV Land.

    For anyone who was not able to attend, you would be well advised to make your plans now for next year.
    I plunked down cash to do it again.
    But next time, I’m bringing my ride…

    Thanks again to all who made it happen!

  12. I have found that it’s a rare thing to find someone to whom you can hand a project or problem, and know that with certainty, it will just get done or be fixed. I was surprised to find in the world of business that this seems to be the exception rather than the rule. When you’re lucky enough to come across such a person, a person that just gets things done, you hang on to them. They are worth their weight in gold! I’ve also found that those people don’t expect to be thanked for such work. If asked, they’d tell you “It’s how things should be done.” But it IS important to acknowledge them and their efforts. I’m really glad they are part of the EVTV team. It means next year’s EVCCON will be at least as good as this one. An exciting prospect to say the least.

    Bringing my car to the convention was difficult, expensive, time consuming, nerve wracking and by all accounts a crazy thing to do. But I’m so very glad I did. I’ve had a number of people at different car shows tell me they thought the car was great, and I’ve been grateful to each. But having this group scrutinize the build, question my choices, and offer advice along with the occasional complement was immensely more meaningful. In addition, seeing everyone else’s builds, getting the chance to question them about their choices and methods, and admire the quality of work that went into each of their projects was nothing short of inspiring. I left the conference desperately wanting to do another build so that I can do it better this time.

    For me, one of the most valuable things the conference offered was the understanding that I’m not working at this alone. There are a lot of very talented people out there doing the same thing, most of them to a degree I’d never seen or imagined. I mean, I knew that those people were out there, but seeing them, meeting them first hand made it real. I wouldn’t have seen it unless EVCCON had happened. And I wouldn’t have understood it unless I attended. EVCCON helped to solidify all these individuals into a community. Thanks to all who I had the pleasure of speaking, and thanks to everyone at EVTV for making it happen.

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