And a Happy New Year.

We conclude 2011 with one of the most gruesome video edits we’ve ever done and a show that is two hours and 45 minutes in length. I suppose the question must come up, WHY.

Some of our viewers want more detail. And the A123 cell thing turns out to be a pretty big deal.

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I should hate these cells and I very much want to detest them quite thoroughly. The company they come from, their actions, their attitude, their web site, their history, their dependence on gubbmint munny, almost everything about these people is anathema to me. That they are currently failing actually DOES give me satisfaction if not a bit of New Year’s joy.

And so there is nothing I would like better than to finally receive some of their cells and slaughter them publicly for your entertainment and my personal satisfaction.

And truly it does puzzle me why they would make a 19 Ah cell and title it a 21 Ah cell. What would be DIFFERENT in putting a few more foils in it and making it a 21 Ah cells and calling it a 20 Ah cell????

In truth you cannot purchase these cells form the company anyway, and by the time they wake up to what’s happening and sell them to you directly, they will of course then ask something stupid like $50 per cell for cells you can get from China for $20.

Ultimately, I don’t know of course what the price of these cells is. They are made in an Asian factory. A123 doesn’t need as many as they thought they did. And they are available. How much do they cost the factory to produce? Probably 60 cents per AH. For everyone to get their little piece, we are probably there at $1 or $0.90, But the factory is not going to just shut down as long as sales can be made.

And indeed A123 has actually licensed OTHER Asian companies to use the cells out of the same factories or to produce their own – mostly Japanese.

So my best guess is they ARE going to be available, and the price will slowly fall.

We have been doing some testing. This week we formalized that a bit. How much power WILL these cells put out and how much CAPACITY do they actually have.

It appears that most DO have a capacity somewhere between 18.5 and 19 Ah. And we actually have CONFIRMED output at 23C. That is, I have watched two separate and independent meters indicate currents of 475 amps twice from a single series of 3 cells starting at 10.00v. Their claim of 360 Amps or 18C is a LOCK.

And so a block of six cells, analogous to a 100Ah prismatic, can really do 1800 amps no sweat and we have actually seen a 2300 amp level with two meters twice.

What THAT means is I could actually drive the EleScalade with TWO 1000 Amp EVnetics Soliton controllers and two 11 inch Netgain motors at 2000 amps with a single string of 100Ah modules of these cells. That would be 57 x 6 or 342 cells. It would cost $9576 delivered. And it would be 19200 wH in size.
Compare this to our current 76kWh pack at about $25,000.

Now we would probably have a range of about 20 to 25 miles with the A123 pack and I think we’ll be close to 100 miles with the pack we have. But we’re over 1700 lbs in battery and box at the moment. The A123 pack would weigh more like 450 lbs all assembled in a box.

I have to admit that life won’t’ change much for us. Other than some demonstration projects, we would almost always go for the larger prismatic cells. That tough plastic case is just bullet proof. And I like my cars to go 100 miles. I see no sense in all the OTHER expenditures it makes to have a Cadillac Elescalade and then scrimp on battery costs – cropping the range.

But I think a lot of people noodling an EV, will find this attractive. Here’s why.

Let’s say it takes $17,000 to do the average conversion including batteries at $8500. If I can cut that to $4500 in batteries, that gets me down to $13,500. The car works. It runs. And I can always add ANOTHER $4500 in these cells later for more range.

I think they will get people into the game that just were not going to go there at the higher price.

I could pick up a Speedster for $20K on eBay, sell the engine for $2500, do the conversion for $13,500 and have a nice little sports car with 40 mile range for $30.5K smooth. That works for most people.

The other obvious application is racing. Low weight, high power, and don’t worry about the range we’re only going 1/4 mile. No brainer.

We did somethings with multiple cameras and closeup cameras that Final Cut X really doesn’t want to do. So I wound up in editing hell. But in this episode, we actually show detailed step by step on how to build a little clamp terminal for these push cells, and then tested the cells.

See what you think.

We’re hoping to find SOME economic reason to HAVE EVTV in 2012. Waiting eternally for the EV industry to grow up sufficiently to need an advertising medium insn’t in my playbook at age 56. But I’m hopeful it will all come together this year.

Jack Rickard

104 thoughts on “And a Happy New Year.”

  1. Jack – Great work on the redesign of your A123 module! Do you see any reason not to put for example,10ea. of the 20Ah pouches in parallel to have a module that would have about a 190Ah capacity?
    I think 2012 will be interesting to watch in the EV community.

  2. I woke up this morning thinking about the A123’s. I thought, why use angle irons and straps? How about just linking them together with a [ shape. Then on the end terminals, have a straight piece that sticks through a piece of Lexan sheet. There’s the top of the battery box.

    Build up the sides with aluminum or more Lexan and PE foam the cells in place. Slap on the bottom and you have a solid battery box. Insulated and shock resistant with just two terminals sticking out.

    I just hope these cells can be found when I can build my BugE!

  3. Happy new year Jack,
    I too wanted to hate the A123 cells but your latest show has me rethinking that posture. Nice work on the clamps. That’s something that almost anyone could make at home.

    The concept of a low cost / low energy yet high power pack is something I stumbled upon over a year ago and that led to ditching the lead in favor of a headway pack costing about $4,500 for 10kwh yet capable of 500amp discharge during acceleration. Good for about 30 miles and only weighs 96kg. The vehicle is actually 30kg lighter than stock kerb weight! Cells will be in the car one year to the day tomorrow and had no real problems. Definitely a good option if the cost of a large prismatic pack is a deal breaker. The A123 would be even better of course.

    Very interested to see the test data on the 38120hp cells.

    Damien Maguire

  4. Hi Jack and Brian,
    Thanks for another year of great shows and full speed ahead over the new year. Jack, in a previous show you mentioned how the J1772 plug was more wife and daughter friendly. As more cars are equipped with J1772 ports as their prefered plug-in, does it make sense to have a J1772 handle with a 110 or 220 volt plug at the end?

  5. My first thought for the A123 cells is a city car. Range is less of an issue there, but impressive acceleration off the stop light/sign could be fun. Couple that with the ac50 or ac31 and a good controller, and you’re golden. Or maybe DC is still preferable (cost v. performance) at those power levels . . . .

  6. Great show. Thanks Jack.

    Your design is looking good. I enjoyed that you spent so long explaining it.

    I actually just watched a section of the show again even though it was a “brazillion” hours…which I like by the way. 😉

    As I was watching it a second time I paused it and looked at the foam separators. It looked like they were between 2 to 3 cells wide. I was just wondering if there was a way to have them thinner and why they were so thick? Are they a temporary thing or part of the design? In the battery you had made there were 3 foam pieces and so if they are as thick as 3 cells then they are taking up 9 cells worth of volume which would be a third of the whole thing.

    It may be that you designed it so that the top metal plates were a certain distance apart to work with your braided metal straps.

    If that’s not the case then I was just thinking of possible ways to win back some of the space lost. What I was wondering was whether you could dispense with the high molecular weight polyethylene piece and instead make 2 threaded wholes in the aluminium angle. You might have to change the thickness of it although I’m thinking that you could make the threaded holes and then let the screw and washer stand out from the aluminium and have no counter sunk holes. It shouldn’t matter. One end can touch, but one end has to be insulated, so couldn’t you just make your mold for the urethane so that when you pour it it covers the back side of the nutserts so you have say 5-10mm of material which will insulate.

    Another possible way to win back space would be to use smaller screws and nutserts. I’m sure there are pros and cons to doing this.

  7. These cells look like an ideal solution to my dream EV design. In order to drive it I need a 335v 100Ah battery with 5C or greater discharge rate. With the current tested capacity my pack would have to have 624 cells.

    But the problem is packaging. I can see no way to build a module that will protect the cells. One of the criteria is that the final assembly will not allow relative movement between the tab and the battery body. If the tabs are allowed to flex the material will fracture where the tab enters the cell body. Much like bending a coat hanger back and forth to break it.

    Jack’s latest design will not survive the vehicle environment. As the pack vibrates the mass of the blocks will begin moving one way while the cells go another way flexing the tabs and eventually breaking them off of the cell.

    The Victor (I don’t remember his last name) design depicted in the 25 JUN 2010 EVTV news show was doomed to failure. As the pack was going to be bounced the PCB with the metal masses bolted to it would move up and down relative to the cells. So after a year or two the tabs would begin to break off and start fires as the current carrying area was reduced. The tabs wont snap off all at once. They will begin to tear from one side so instead of having 45mm to carry the current you only have 20mm. This equals more heat for the same current as the failure progresses.

  8. Zak:

    Just putting a NEMA L6-30 on the end of the J1772 cable will not work. Many cars will require proper communication with the EVSE. I know for a fact the 2001 Ford Ranger EV wont charge if the pilot signal is corrupted. I could force the power on at the DS-50 EVSE on and the car still reported a bad pilot signal and would not charge because the pilot was missing. It turned out that the blue wire in the cable was bad from the factory and broke inside the insulation.

  9. Jack,

    In this weeks show you were talking about the upcoming convention this year. I believe there are some electric airplanes available now. If possible having one of them at the convention would be a hoot. Just taxi over from the runway.

  10. Thanks for another show…

    On the incandescent light bulbs, no time should be wasted in trying to outlaw them! They have a place. People will change as the costs of other technologies come down. In my basement room I gain NOTHING by running CFLs or LEDs because it is electrically heated and I need heat in it all year long. Going to CFLs or LEDs just moves the heating job to the heaters. Same with indoor Christmas lights. As far as energy saving is concerned, if a house is heated with electricity, buying LED indoor Christmas to replace incandescent ones merely to save money will actually cost the owner more with no change in energy use. Outdoor use is a different matter entirely since we don’t want to heat out doors.

    It is a misconception that heat rises. Heat does NOT rise! A warmer fluid will rise in a cooler fluid, however. The statement is really, “hot air rises.” The rate at which warm or hot air rises is rather slow when compared to what a small fan can do so it really isn’t too big of an issue anyway.

    When conducting heat the optimal direction is not affected by gravity or any other physical force. Ideally this is demonstrated in a vacuum chamber to eliminate convection heating effects. Since you probably don’t have a vacuum chamber just hold a metal rod at a 30°-45° from horizontal and heat one end and note how the heat travels at the same rate regardless of which end is heated. The convection heating will be minimal so the results will be close to what would happen in a vacuum chamber.

    David D. Nelson

  11. It seems like a big zip tie or strap around the sides of pouch cells could tend to dig into and damage pouch cells if it was too tight or the cells jostled too much. Jack I’ve never touched one of these cells, how robust are they to being handled, strapped, etc.? How tight do you think you could tighten a strap before they were damaged? As always thanks for your great show!

  12. JSmithy,

    The pack Jack is testing is a demo and not representative of a finished product. Very doubtful that they could be strapped super tight without damage. I know your referencing what you saw on the pack because of the strapping. I would be putting them in a solid container like the plastic cases of the currently available units. They would need a good solid container so the container could then be strapped without damaging the soft pouches. For what Jack is doing his routine is fine.


    The top connections would for sure need to be secured well before actually being put into service in a vehicle. Jack is not showing that aspect yet. He is crudely designing a system that will be easy to assemble and that works and holds well. The securing of the soft pouch and top comes next. That is the purpose of lets say a contest. It’s not just about he tabs but the whole idea of containing the cells in an EV environment.

    One step at at time folks.

    Pete 🙂

    I still like how the prismatic cells are tabbed together and how they are contained. I’d love to find the company that makes those plastic boxes and then have one custom fitted for assembling cells with the A123s inside. Self insulated and contained and ready to go.

  13. Jack:
    Another thought for racing using the A123 cells; NASA runs a time trial race series and the winners are based on the lowest time around the track; each race is about 20 minutes long with all cars on the track for the race. With a warm up lap and other cars on the track, one can get about 6 laps in a race; so that’s balls to the wall for about 12 miles. A lot of the racers drive their cars to the track and then race them. In my case the distance is about 100 miles and one charge in between. I’m thinking if I could remove some of the batteries at the track to lighten the car and run three good laps, I would be in good shape. The chassis would be my 240Z Datsun turbo.

  14. Hello all. Thanks for the extra work with the 2nd camera. I really enjoyed the different shop stations as Jack was walking the cell design around. For a minute it reminded me of the DIY Network shows, minus the dorkiness.

    Yes, muting the 2nd camera audio track so it doesn’t sound phasy or mounting Jack’s lap mic higher in the shirt collar would be nice but those are secondary knit picks to the content of the show. BTW, I’m watching these on YouTube now so Jack doesn’t get dinged with Amazon bandwidth bills.


  15. Arctic Glacier Charge Test.

    Using dry ice in a cooler to keep things cold. At the moment it is -20F in the cooler.

    Started the charge test this afternoon:

    Jan 4 2012
    2:51 pm
    3.162 volts static
    -2.9 F

    3.920 volts……… time………..20 amps………-2F
    3.808 volts………..:47 sec…………..15 amps………-2F
    3.697 volts………..1:26 min…………10 amps………-2F
    3.548 volts………..3:00 min…………5 amps……….-2F
    3.540 volts………..4:52 min…………5 amps……….-2F
    3.631 volts………..29:03 min……….5 amps……….-10F
    3.630 volts………..44:20 min……….5 amps……….16F
    3.650 volts………..50:15 min……….5 amps………-16F
    3.429 volts………..53:00 min……….2 amps………-16F
    3.410 volts………..56:28 min……….2 amps………-18F
    3.432 volts………..1:26:40 min…….2 amps………-20F

  16. My ever devaluating 2c about the future of evtv:

    It’s a simple fact that the EV industry is growing. Every year there are more and better cars available. You might think it’s going to slow. But you can’t deny it.

    I believe that we are nearing, or already at the point that the DIY group who wanted to drive electric, and did not care much about the donor car will soon be something of the past.

    You can’t build a cheaper and/or better EV yourself than a Leaf e.g. Yes, you can build a cheap lead sled with no range and no performance and a lot of problems for a lot less. But if you want a serious, robust EV, buy a Leaf. Don’t bother building it yourself.

    But I don’t for see DIY EV building in general disappear. Just like there is a pretty large market in the ICE world. People who swap engines, gearboxes, complete drive trains for the car they love. Especially in the 4×4, and old-timer scene. The first group is never satisfied with the performance, and the second group eventually comes to the point they have to swap the original engine.

    If your world changes into EV’s, those groups will do to. Because they have no choice, or see the light.

    So, I for see little grow in the DIY EV market at the moment, maybe even the opposite. With on a side line the petrol heads that will slowly step over to the dark side. Our side. What they now see as the dark side.

    I think you should anticipate or focus on that, if you want to stay in the DIY scene. No more kit cars. No economical or regular cars. But high performance race cars, monster trucks, and/or old timers. Not the cheapest road.

    Thanks for reading, and wasting your time.

  17. I haven’t bought incandescent bulbs the past 10 years (apart from the brake lights for the car).

    Growing up in a middle-class family in a developing country does offer some ‘advantages’. Resources aren’t plentiful, and learning to avoid waste is second nature for us. So we never cook food that we can’t finish, never ever threw food into the trash. Always switched off the lights when not needed, and used electric fans much more often than the A/C.

    I never quite understood the American protests over limiting (not even banning) incandescent use. Sure, I understand, and support, freedom of choice and the libertarian view of limited government. But wasting energy should have its limits.

    Viewer from the Philippines

  18. This morning I got up and checked my cell. Temp of the cell was -57 degrees F. Cell was reading 3.3 volts. I then decided to connect to the motor to see how much run time I could do with the tiny amount of AH’s put into the cell. I had some help and figured out I put in about 15 AH worth of power. Well when I connected the motor nothing happened. I even sorted out the battery and got no spark. The cell did dip into the milli volt range when shorted at -57 degrees F. Well that ended that test. I pulled the cell out of the cold and allowed it to warm up. Once up to 17 degrees it allowed some power out but the internals of the cell were still quite cold. I let it sit longer and when the cell was above freezing the battery would then run the motor.

    So in a nutshell the reason we want warm batteries is so we do not put the cells into hibernation mode and give nothing or next to nothing. Now we know why. Cells will hibernate in the cold. So would I. At above freezing the cells work just fine. So insulate and use a warmer to keep the cells above freezing. Also if your cells are cold your charger may not charge the cells because the colder it gets the higher the charge voltage will go under normal charge amperage and if the charger sees that high voltage it will assume the pack is full and shut off. I did show the high voltage of a charging cell at -57 degrees. At 20 amps it was in the 7 volt range.

    Pete 🙂

  19. Jack,

    Love the shows. Can’t wait to watch all of them, so I hope you find economic sense to keep doing it. I so want to start a conversion shop, so you have inspired me to make some money and start a business about Velomobiles. Hopefully that can fund my dreams of building EVs.

    Thanks for the inspiration,

    Jason Lattimer

  20. Jack, I have been following the sparrow build and want to duplicate it in my VW Beetle project. Could you please tell me a bit more about the Elcon 2500 charger you are using? Is it the #120xx (120v) version? What number is the, Preferred Lithium Charging Curve? Also I remember in a past show you were saying to choose voltages around the number of cells times 3.65 for the 10 algorithms. In this case 38 x 3.65 = 138.7v so picking 131v, 132v, 133v, 134v, 135v, 136v, 137v, 138v, 139v, 140v, would be a good choice? Thanks.

  21. We have not resolved the throttle issue entirely, but we are getting a LOT smarter. The Lokar throttle is really mostly made by Williams Controls. And it appears to be loading the Curtis 5v supply rather too much.

    OR the Curtis supply isn’t robust enough. Kind of depends on point of view. We have tried connecting to 5v at pin 15, pin 26, and pin 27. As SOON as we connect this throttle, it drops the 5v supply to about 1.65 volts. And the throttle output is essentially nothing.

    Oddly, I DO have the swallow turning wheels and in fact we spun em up today and found a little rub between the pressure plate and transmission case – very small. Removed some material and it’s all good now.

    We did this by using an ordinary 1 watt 12v to 5v module. This separate 5v supply goes to the throttle. The 5v supply return is tied to the POT LO line from the Curtis so they have a common reference. And the output of the throttle goes to the controller normally. It all works.

    The encoder and brake transducer work fine off the Curtis 5v. But the Lokar pedal loads it badly. At this point, we don’t really know if its the pedal or the controller. Tomorrow, we’ll probably swap out the controller just to see.

    Jack Rickard

  22. I don’t have the exact part number of the Elcon, but yes, we normally pick the lowest voltage and highest current model that will still cover the highest voltages we foresee using. I think we have several voltages coded with curve 501 or 502. The default is voltage three I think with 133 volts as the target voltage. It’s been hitting 133.6 pretty well. And that is a recurring theme with the Elcom’s, about 0.6 v high.

    Works like a champ.

    I wired the J1772 in today and linked the normally closed contacts of the AVC31 module from MODULAREVPOWER to the INTERLOCK input on the controller. So 12 v from the controller goes through the normally closed contacts of the relay on the AVC31 and back to the controller INTERLOCK input. In normal operation this will enable the controller.

    In the event of J1772 charging, when the charge connector is inserted, the AVC module will close the relay disconnecting Controller 12v from the INTERLOCK input. In this way, if a young ravishing but too much in a hurry to stop and unplug young lady jumped in the car and took off, the taking off part of taking off would mostly be off. The car won’t’ start or roll until the J1772 connector is removed.


  23. Alan, it was great meeting you at the conference. Thanks for the video on your Beetle. Nice work – very tidy. I’ll look forward to seeing it in September at EVCCon. Your drive segment reminded me of the first thing I noticed about my conversion, namely that you never notice all the suspension noise until you eliminate the ICE. Now you’ve got me thinking about my daughter’s Beetle Convertible. Hmmm …

  24. Jan,
    I feel your view does not line up well with the opinions of most here.

    Kit cars and specials are absolutely ideal for electric drive. Easier to build than fuel cars. They rarely go far and do not do high singular mileages. Often the owner is only interested in neck snapping acceleration (maybe) and Sunday rides, rarely touring.
    EVMonster trucks require monster $$’s to build so can only fit in the above category.
    Old timers on a rebuild? I cannot think of any better way to rebuild one to own and use such a car. All these cars will be classed as “second” or “Sunday cars”. None are trying to emulate a Leaf.

    Here’s where we are.
    In the early days of computing some people loved to write programs to do a job. Others simply downloaded stuff.
    Which do you think gave the most satisfaction?

  25. Jan:

    So you own a Leaf, and now you’re not only an EV expert but soothsayer and prophet as well? I gotta get me one of those cars….

    There are very few people willing to pay the premium for electric drive today, mostly because they are not familiar with them. To know one, is to want one. Although I have to tell you a bottom of the line Nissan economy car just doesn’t make my little ticker go pitter patter if you know what I mean.

    The task before us is that 100% of the population THINK they know something about electric cars, but haven’t really lived with one even for a day or two. And our relationship to our cars is really quite visceral.

    I looked at a car as a means of transportation initially. A way to get from point a to point b. A bicycle would appear to do as well and much more efficiently. So why don’t more of us just ride bikes?

    Well, there is the issue of RANGE anxiety. I get really anxious thinking about peddling 100 miles. But the reality is the bike is not an answer because transportation never was the question.

    An automobile is an ENVIRONMENT BUBBLE. It lets us take our home environment, where WE are in control of the temperature, the lighting, the security, and the seating arrangements, and extend that into the world in a mobile fashion. To do this, a car has to spott several features:

    1. It must be secure. There are streets I don’t want to walk on alone at night because I would be a target for a crime. Same street in a car is ok. I’m in motion, and they can’t grab me very easily.

    2. Heat and cold. I don’t like heat in July or cold in January. Car makes me “juuuusssst right” just like in the three bears.

    3. Home office. Have to have the olde briefcase, cell phone, extra shirt, a couple days groceries, my bag of cheetos, glass of iced tea – etc right there at hand. Difficult on a bike.

    4. Seating for 2. Well, five would be better, but mostly it’s just me or me plus significant other who needs a seat.

    Then if you have such a device, and you use it EVERY day of your life, it kind of become apart of you. You like it when you can RELY on it to be there consistently, day in and day out without a lito of difficulty. If it goest to the shop three times in one year it becomes a source of RAGE actually.

    If it serves, it also becomes a bit of a fashion statement. It is all about me. It says me. I like a big black Escalade that sits up high. Some like low slung sports cars that go 200 mph. There is no place to GO 200 mph but everyone knows they COULD if there was just a stretch of road where it wasn’t’ a felony.

    Finally, cars are costly. They cost almost as much as a house. For most of us, the only way to own one is through a finance company. We kind of rent the car $350 per month at a time. So big expense.

  26. Now we have a better idea. We have a car that is 8 times more efficient at converting energy into forward motion. And we’re asking people to buy these instead of the cars they are familiar with.

    It’s actually amazing that we get as good a reception to this as we do. Nearly 17,000 people actually bought Lithium electric cars this past year IF we grant the Chevy Volt electric car status, which I’m sorry it isn’t.

    That’s out of 12.5 million we made and sold.

    That’s right Jan. Now that you’ve notified us that you’ve taken over, I have to point out that statistically you don’t even exist yet.

    We would be at the EARLY ADOPTER PHASE if we had 2.5% market penetration, almost by definition of the adoption curve. That would be more like 375,000 Leaf’s Jan. Per year. At that point you have left the early tinknerer and innovator stage and could make some claim to appealing to “early adopters.”

    I think it will take 10 to 14 years to make the trip, and that is variable by the price of gasoline more than anything else. It will go slowly, painfully, one car at a time until it reaches a tipping point at which it will take off with some velocity like everything else.

    You will find it surprising that I would love to adopt your child mind view of all this. I could pick up a used leaf and go on down the road and be totally wrapped up in the nEXT big thing. Except we’re a long way from done on this one. And actually I can’t get a Leaf here in Missouri yet. They have not deigned us deserving of Leafs here just yet.

    Yes OUR viewers ARE the low hanging fruit, and ARE buying Leafs. They also convert cars. ANd most of them no sooner get one done, than they start eying every two, three or four wheel unit they see on the road with a VERY different eye than you do. They’re measuring for JUST how many cells it would hold, and how the weight would be distributed. It COULD be the next victim.

    It is an enormously satisfying hobby all in itself Fran. It is fun to work on these cars. They are not dirty. And they are fun to work on. THEN when you get done, you get an ENORMOUS jolt of personal satisfaction when it moves down the lane. ANd THEN you get another as you drive it for a week or 10 days, make further adjustments, get it going better yet, and so forth. You never do get over the fat that it doesn’t use gasoline at all, drives just like a “real” car, and you built it yourself.

    At some point, you’ve fixed all that needs fixing, and your car doesn’t “need you” anymore. This is the EV empty nester syndrome. Only one cure….. start looking for the next donor….

    You think it’s going away. That’s because you THINK you know what it is….
    Jack Rickard

  27. LOL…

    “At some point, you’ve fixed all that needs fixing, and your car doesn’t “need you” anymore. This is the EV empty nester syndrome. Only one cure….. start looking for the next donor….”

    I don’t think I should let my wife read that. I’ve built 3 EVs and own 1. It says “me” all over it.

    I understand why you had to moderate your comments section but I feel it has really put a damper on the exchange of ideas that come from your shows and blog entries. It would be great if you could find some other way to temper the content. I don’t know what to suggest.

  28. I’m a little late to the party here but I thought I’d share this animation demonstrating some ideas I had for making a battery pack using the A123 pouch cells anyway.

    PouchCell Video

    I know that Jack has his doubts about whether it is practical but it may be useful to someone thinking along similar lines so I’ll throw it in the mix in the name of “open source.”

  29. Andy,

    I could be wrong about kit cars. I’ve never heard of them, before I saw them on evtv. Maybe that’s a permanent market. I really have no idea.

    But besides that, I don’t see where we really disagree? DIY converting was about building the ‘first Leaf’. Just get It done. Proof that it can be done. Surprise people that there is an alternative. The evtv mini is a typical example of that era. I was under the impression the kit cars where a cheaper road. But in essentially the same. I’m probably wrong.

    And yes, I believe, that era is passed. For now. In my little country, less than two years ago, most people could not believe battery powered driving could be taken seriously. And now they are convinced it’s an alternative. If only the range issue could be solved. Just a little more range. And most believe that this will be solved in the near future. No-one is impressed by just an electric car anymore. Unless it’s very weird, very, very pretty, extremely fast, or overwhelming powerful. Times changed very quickly,

    I agree, we are still at the early days. But surely passed a point. The point where DIY EV was an goal on itself, and becomes an alternative drive train option for the car someone loves. Where the first converters where new to electric driving and at the same time new to car modification. Where the first converters where mainly electric heads. They eventually will become outnumbered by the ex-petrol heads.

    Jack, I’ve read your reply, but have no idea how or where to respond. I think we speak more than just different languages. It seems to me, you’ve read a completely different reply. Somewhere. I don’t know. But it’s probably me.

  30. Jack, have you considered maybe temporarily reconstructing Redux with A123’s for the 1/4 mile, handling and lightness? It would certainly turn a few heads next time around the course.

    Give food for thought amongst the kit car guys next year 😉

  31. Mic:

    I like it. I fear the plastic rod and nuts will not provide enough clamping force to be useful and of course the heat is focused on the terminals – not a good combination with plastics.

    I actually have some nylon rod. I may gen this up to see how it does.

    I’m just guessing the nylon material just won’t quite get er done.


  32. Jack, when you get the Escalade going down the road you could have a couple of good sized battery cables coming out of the battery pack and be the first mobile DC charging and rescue vehicle. It’s got the biggest pack ever assembled and could easily supply a true HOT SHOT to another ev that has overshot it’s range.

  33. I like Mic’s idea. Just a thought…
    All it needs are wider terminals then you can use 3 threaded nylon rods per pole, (giving 6). The outer 4 rods can be 8~10mm dia.

    For heat sinking can we could use thin pieces amongst the spacers to spread and radiate the heat?

    Threaded rod to end plates. Not keen on those tie-wraps at all!

    I do worry nylon can harden with age, UV and certain chemicals. It can also stretch.
    ….and if it breaks….

    Those cell clamps Cro-driver is using are very neat indeed. They easily get my vote. With two hex headed screws which clamp up several cells at a time with no loose items but they look pricey.

  34. Jack,

    I’m not sure I agree with your assertion that there is no volumetric benefit. On my sketchups, I’m almost 8% smaller than calb 100’s. That’s significant in my book.

    I’m intrigued with the notion of aligning cells end to end with overlapping tabs. Certainly, this is about as compact as you can get, and likewise probably about as cheap on your material costs. I may be making a bigger deal than is warranted, but I’m not keen on the idea of disassembling half the pack to access one cell. In the linked video of Rimac’s pack, around 5:30 or so, you see them doing just that. At least they were on a bench, not under the hood.

    My design continues to center around serviceability. Will try to get another teaser in and some video with the prototypes.

  35. Andyj:

    Please provide a link to Crodriver’s clamps you refer to.

    I’ve done a little casting about at McMaster Carr, one of my favorite spots to look of such things. There are two problems with Mic’s concept – first is tensile strength or clamping power of the plastic threaded rod – the pin on which all of this is hung.

    The second has to do with the nature of plastic. It degrades with temperature. Where will see the greatest temperatures – up at the terminal tabs.

    I did find some PTFE (Teflon) threaded rod. It is hideously expensive, but it does offer 500F temperature limit. Most of the nylon and plastic was down around 120 to 140F. The 500F is very nice for this application, although a 4 foot stick was around $70.

    As Nabil indicates, this kind of leads to a monolithic battery pack. But very efficient volumetrically.


  36. I would be hesitant to build such a big module with these cells. We don’t know the origin, and without multiple full power cycles on a cell you have no idea how good it really is. Even Crodriver had a parallel group that underperformed and he ended up with 1/3 or 1/2 the expected range because of one group. I had a cell in my first test pack that was defective, initial capacity was fine but had high IR, this made it heat up and start to swell. (every cycle on the test bench the cell decreased in capacity) In my pack it was 1/3 from the bottom in a 48 cell assembly due to it’s location I just took the whole thing apart and am measuring each cell. I’ve decided on 12v ~55ah modules which is only 12 cells. I will also have 1 or 2 modules as my 12v battery. No idea if it could ever help me out in a cell failure event, but they will be there. The 12 cell module is small/light and easy to handle, even 24 cells isn’t bad but I wouldn’t go back to the 48 cell module that I built the first time.

  37. Jack, Nabil,
    Thanks to nickkkkk’s link from last week.

    You can see Rimacs cells on the bench starting at 05:00. First view of the clamps 05:29. Note the insulating sheet with one pole to stop the clamps knocking together and opposing voltages into one another.

    If the Allen headed screws could be tightened from the front and his pack was not back to back, he could part dismantle, service and (re)tighten from the front without having to disassemble the whole pack. Say screws pulling a reverse dovetail?

    Just wondering, how much current can strong tension springs take? Pull them apart just enough, insert cells and let them self clamp 😉

  38. I have at last found time a week late to watch the 30th Dec show. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the Headway cell tests. To my mind one option for packaging is end-to-end series strings in a tube like an old fashioned flashlight, connected with double ended studs. Rules out a BMS, but hey

  39. Jack,

    The threaded rod in mic’s design could be used only as a structural support and to hold the plastic non conductive separators. The clamping force could come from metal screws going through different holes in the battery tabs. I suppose you would end up with 3 holes in the battery tabs. The middle one would have the plastic rod and the outside 2 would be used for screws. I don’t know if this would be a good solution or not, but I just thought I’d mention it.

  40. Mics packaging idea is terrific.

    The threaded plastic rod may not be necessary, either.

    What if there were two alignment rods per stack of terminal tabs as Jack has done, but they were tubes of a hollow, suitable insulation material (like HDPE, ABS, PVC, etc.) instead of the Mics threaded rods.

    You could then string a loop of high performance fiber rope down one tube, through a custom molded ferrule the size of your terminal spacers on the far end (to spread the clamping force across the tab stack and protect the fiber rope,) and back through the other tube, terminating in a tensioning device (clamp?) to squeeze the tab stack as tightly as you need. Quite literally, the terminal tab stack would be strung (banded?) together.

    This company would be the first one I called to see if that made any sense to one of their engineers, and if they had, say, a 1/8″ low stretch aramid roving/rope/cable, some fittings and an appropriate tensioning/clamping device on the shelf that could do the job:

    The advantages are that it would be light, simple, adjustable for cell count, very fast to assemble/disassemble, and the tensioning device would keep it under the correct pressure throughout the thermal cycling and aging of the pack.

    Probably expensive, but maybe not, with only one device set needed for up to what, 200 cells or more?

  41. The nylon rods could be replaced with screws only long enough to join two adjacent parallel groups (through pos of one group and neg of the next). The insulating spacers would not be drilled through, and would have clearance for a thin nut on one side and would prevent the next bolt head from spinning on the other side. Might have to hold these spacers in place with adhesive or someting.

    Jack, does it look like you could open the holes in the tabs a little, cheat the aluminum spacers a little thin and make it up in a thicker insulating spacer every twelvth pouch or so, without damaging the pouches/tabs?

    I still like two screws per tab (Jack even uses two now, probably after disecting the CALB and seeing that they use two screws per terminal).

    Gotta give a little open-soure love to Mic. Nice share.

    Mike Kaindl

  42. Oh, I forgot to mention that your band saw appears to be the exact same model I’ve been using for a couple years. Watch the guide blocks; the set screws like backing out and letting go! Also, I’ve never had the back stop work too well; the blade flexes and walks.

    Additionally, you will be well to cut the bar and angle for that matter in a 12″ chop saw and a metal blade. Just pick up a tube of cutting wax and tap it to the blade every half dozen cuts or so. The edge will be much much cleaner.

  43. I did not know if anyone has seen this site: an electric Subaru raced in Florida with the SCCA. The site looks like it has not been updated in a while but it is worth a look just to see what & how they did in building their car. They used Kokam pouch type batteries that have tabs similar to the A123 cells. While their cells don’t have the power of the A123s they are of a similar shape and their cell connection is real similar to what Jack did with his last test.


  44. If A123 would offer the cells with different lengths of tabs, the connections could be quite easily made by bending the tabs to a central point and clamping them together; then one could use insulator spacers between cell groups.

    But, that’s not the case yet and may never be.

  45. I’ve had some success and some failure with MicOz/Celso’s design using dielectric threaded rod. I’m pretty excited about it really. The biggest thing is all the terminals wind up pointing toward the center making this a very easy to handle module. By using LOTS of nuts, the clamping force problem seems manageable.

    We’re working on a 40v 75 AH module at less than 70lbs – 19.75 x 9 x 8.

    Jack Rickard

  46. This is very interesting. I do a video each week and post a blog. We do about 5000 views a week.

    One week I DON’T post a blog and video, and the views go to 7200????

    Imagine if I ceased this entirely. We could be in the millions…..


  47. It’s because we’re all checking the site hour by hour seeing if anything’s been posted yet. We’re like a bunch of kids waiting for the pie to get out of the oven… “Is it ready yet? Is it ready yet?”

    – Doc

  48. Hello Jack and all,

    >One week I DON’T post a blog and video, and the >views go to 7200????

    Can think of two reasons: 1. People like me with an F5 (page refresh) tick and 2. People like me that get your videos from YouTube are coming here wondering where is it this week.


  49. I’m totally guilty of coming here a lot this week. I missed the show. I got so board that I started writing stuff about A123 batteries on the WordPress blog I set up to comment here.

    I have done a few A123 battery module designs. I don’t claim they are any good, but people here might be interested. They are based on Jack’s design from the December 30th show, but with changes.

  50. It’s your classic lab rat conditioning experiment. Rat pushes button, gets treat. Rat pushes button, no treat. Rat pushes button again in hopes of getting treat. Still no treat, rat continues until treat comes.

    Classic and predictable. 

    We are a bunch of conditioned lab rats. 🙂

  51. It seems Dan’s back to breathe sobriety into Jack’s contagious delusions. – Back to our regularly scheduled program…

    I’ve put together a not-so-brief explanation of concept / presentation of prototype / demonstration of use video of my concept.

    In it, I hit on several key points that I see being overlooked in other concepts. I hope you find it at least intriguing. One I feel is terribly important that I don’t think I adequately emphasized was that of keeping all fasteners in a position that they remain accessible and serviceable. If you can’t see or touch it, how can you be sure that it’s still tight? Another consideration I have is for tool orientation. I’m not keen on having the wrench waving around in a path that could readily create a short through itself. This is what lead me to having the fasteners perpendicular to the direction of force applied to the tabs. In my sketchups and physical prototypes the lexan is rather thin for weight and expense savings; I would rather have the screw heads completely recessed below the surface, but it’s kind of a balance that I’m not yet compelled to a conclusion on.

    I have a rather serious concern with the screws being able to back out quite easily. Though they apply great force to the tabs, the wedge design prevents a reciprocity. I can in fact remove the screws and am unable to discern any loss in clamping force until the block is disturbed. Logically, there is some amount, but I suspect much of that is consumed by friction loss.

    One more consideration I’ve been mulling over and am leaning in a definite direction is putting more than one tab in each block space. My intuition tells me that the greater concern is the plurality of mating surfaces and not the block material per se. So instead of having a sequence of block-tab-block-tab-block-tab-block, it would be block-tab-tab-block-tab-tab-block. The blocks would be wider and the length of tab between the pouch and block would be a bit longer on average. However, I think the losses in the length of tab would probably be less than the losses between that 25% more connection surfaces.

    More in line with Jack’s style than Brandon’s, the video has no flare or soundtrack. I shot it on my phone and uploaded directly to YouTube in three parts. The first with the front facing camera; iPhone doesn’t let me switch cameras while recording. And the third because the battery was pooped. At any rate, enjoy.

    Part 1:

    Part 2:


  52. About A123 cells; this was to be expected:

    What is the real truth behind all this is anyone’s guess.

    There seems to be a new system of replying directly under someone’s comment. It might be good, we’ll see. Only problem is that it’s not as easy to spot the latest comments. I guess there’s a way to filter those somehow… If somebody knows, please inform us less skilled 🙂

  53. hehe sigh, A123 is apparently dead set on bankruptcy.
    somewhat funny that they can’t control the flow of cells. tragic that they think lying about it is the best course of action.
    with all the different labels we’ve seen on the cells, including blatant lies like made in USA, I’m starting to wonder if korea was ever involved in the production. all the resellers are chinese, the A123 cylindrical cells have been made in china, why would they suddenly go korean and why would chinese sellers have such free access to a korean product that the factory owner is trying to prevent 🙂 that sounds chinese to me.

    I ran across this chinese seller selling the old cells with cut off tabs:
    price is now 12$

  54. Jack,

    Just a quick thought on those long, plastic threaded rods. Being plastic, over time they will stretch, releasing clamping force. I work in a bike shop. Think about bicycle axles. To apply enough clamping force to hold a wheel requires about a 10 mm threaded axle. But run a cam locking skewer through a hollow axle, and apply the same force with a 3 mm rod.

    Instead of a single, large, threaded plastic rod, you could use two holes per tab. Use 4 mm OD plastic tubing with a straight pull, 2 mm, straight gauge stainless spoke running through the tubing. Thick stainless washer under the spoke head, and nut. Grind flats on the end of the threaded portion of the spoke, to hold the spoke against twisting, while you tighten the nut. Spokes come in many lengths and diameters. You can cut straight gauge (not butted) spokes to any length, and roll new threads on the end with this tool.

    Or get the best, made to order, from Phil Wood.


  55. Jack,

    In your videos you suggest using the hall effect throttle instead of the 5k pot style. Is there a reason or way to make the 5k pot better, like keeping the wire distance short? The reason I ask is in my area there is a 3 mile long 6% downhill grade. I want to put a motorcycle twist grip on the emergency brake handle to vary the regen so I can control it on this long downhill without actually applying the brakes on such a long downhill run. I would like to run this system in conjunction with a brake pressure system.

  56. I smiled with the seance reference and then laughed aloud at Radar Cody. Have you considered [or has someone suggested] putting screws at the bottom of the mold to help push out the cured epoxy from the form? The populist segment has me recommending a documentary The Corporation
    I look forward to the bike build. I hope you will consider a trike or quad:
    How about a “dual power” battery synergism combining prismatic and pouch cells
    Here is a working link to the document Lad shared above Yes, it can be found by searching for aluminum vs copper, but’s Wayback Machine is very handy, so I share. Finally, flamethrower vs aerogel Could a simple aerogel bag contain the most raging LiFePo fire and eliminate cold weather woes?

  57. Don Zacher:

    Hall effect throttle. The standard 5k potentiometer actually features a wiper riding on a coil of resistive wire or other material. As such, it represents a mechanical wear item that inevitably will fail, but more annoyingly loses sensitivity rather quickly. It develops “spots” in the acceleration curve.

    Hall effect pedals produce an effect on current based on its proximity to a magnet. There is no actual contact, and so no wear. Wear on the hint and the spring of course, but no wear on electrical contacts. And so these pedals are good for many more cycles.

    Additionally, most modern hall effect pedals actually have TWO outputs that are NOT identical but ARE radiometric – that is as the pedal moves, the outputs have a steady relationship. This can be used to compare the two signals to determine if the input is valid or if we have an electrical problem that COULD theoretically cause an uncommanded event. An additional layer of safety if you will.

    Jack Rickard

  58. Warren:

    you idea has merit. We are looking at some form of metal rod with UHMW or PTFE tube. But lengths become critical in this manner.

    Actually, the direction we’re taking with the threaded rod is with nuts applying clamping force every inch or so along the length of the threaded rod, rather than trying to do it from the ends. Even glass filled nylon simply doesn’t have the strength for that.

    Once it is assembled and tested electrically, we intend to pour it into ice – basically the urethane resin to lock in positions and avoid flexing.

    Basically, once you get it assembled and it all works, salute it and cast it in concrete. After that, defects become boat anchors.

    Jack Rickard

  59. Nabil:

    Enjoyed your videos and watched them in their entirety. Your approach and process are excellent. I do like the wedgy.

    We are getting some good ideas but the contest concept never really got off the ground. I’m just awful at packaging.

    Anyway excellent input and process there.

    Jack Rickard

  60. I , for one, hope you guys keep at it in 2012. I love your projects and watch every episode. The E.V. thing needs exposure in a big way to get in the face of every person who doubts the technology. I wish there were enough cars for everybody to take a test drive or live with one for a week. Perhaps a video segment of a random and unsuspecting person getting an E.V. to drive for a week would get some attention on the T.V. (just a thought). Keep at it.

    1. Dan, Other than a tangential relation of possibly building one’s own motor, I’m not seeing what the DIY wind charger has to do with EVTV. I do have an interest in all kinds of bettering, so search youtube for “Japanese Wind Lens” noting the Dyson air multiplier connection.

  61. good show and glad to hear you are ok.

    looking at the commutator in John Allen’s video it’s sort of clear that DC drive in EVs has no future. that mechanical friction mess does seem like something you would do 100 years ago.
    and I think John Allen could learn to do a pretty good Alan Rickman voice, the bad guy from Die Hard 🙂

    160k$ for the Escalade project. that’s serious dough : )

  62. Hey Dan lay off the accent….John Allen speaks the Queen’s English (well more or less: a sprinkling of Americanisms)

    Jack and Brian – thank you – usual enjoyable show. and the green screen is a good move. I’d vote for the mk 1 whiteboard though. What it lacks in neatness it more than makes up for in immediacy

  63. John Hardy, Alan Rickman is from London : ) but it’s more than just the accent.

    I liked the green screen but it will probably require a way for Jack to see what he is pointing at more precisely to be really good.
    a HD video mixer might not be easy to come by though. I suppose you could do something ugly like arrange two 40inch tv with a semitransparent mirror so Jack can see a mix of the two.

    here’s a HD video mixer for 4500$
    it probably can’t do chromakeying but it can show a mix of the two images

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