The Golden Age of EV’s.

This week ended a little oddly with Brain off to Louisville to take the test on SPIRITS as part of his grand plan to take over the world of Sommellier and other South African drink experts.

I was left with EVTV again this week. But that is not all bad. I like puttering around the shop by myself and some of my more productive days are spent this way. This week I reprised the Escalade test bench and got the two EVNetics Soliton1 controllers back up and running – more or less – in preparation for moving the motors from the bench to the vehicle.

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Under the rubric of “Even a blind hog gets an acorn now and again..” we found that the total length of our assembly from the face of the transmission to the air conditioning compressor clutch was right at 35.5 inches.

And we appear to have about 36.5 inches clear in the vehicle, with another inch to the large tubular cross member on which most of our coolers and heat exchangers mount. As there is a twin fan assembly mounting INSIDE of those heat exchangers, I would say we are going to lose some fans, or more likely have to get something in a tractor version from Summit to go on the other side.

But clearly the very long twin 11 inch motor will fit the car, albeit not by much. As we had the internal fans removed to minimize the length, this is currently looking like a brilliant move. At the point where we are at the side of the road with smoke rolling out of those motors, probably less so. The difference being a pair of XSTURBOS garrett turbocharger air pumps – each purportedly capable of 435 cfm and excusing their ear splitting howl. This may NOT be the quietest EV on the road.

The upgrade of Soliton1 software was surprisingly easy. I hooked a laptop up to the device with an ethernet cable, applied 12v, and started the program UPLOADER.EXE. The new 1.5.1 release being in the same directory, it found the Soliton1, and uploaded the new firmware. When it rebooted the device, it was updated.

Oh, there was a progress bar and an advisory that it was successful. But my role in all this was pretty damned impressively limited. I basically posed and preened and tried to look knowledgeable while all that was going on.

I also had a request from a viewer that we intercede for them in the purchase of an AC50 system direct from HPEVS. We’ve basically always avoided dealing in components as it is kind of like competing with our advertisers. But the advertisers didn’t show up, and the deal is getting progressively harder to do for our viewers in a lot of cases. So I was casting about the net trying to determine what the going rate was on this, as well as on a Zilla 2K a guy was pestering me about (I still don’t know how he knew we had one – he says he SAW it on an earlier video on the rack).

I was struck by a couple of things. There is a kind of deep malaise in the EV components industry. I suppose the David Kois/James Morrison/EVComponents thing did more damage than we thought. And it is true the economy has been a problem. But the landscape looked decimated and moribund. Half the ev components guys are GONE and the other half appear to have not updated their web sites since the middle centuries after the renaissance.

It is truly bleak looking.

I’m juxtaposing in my mind this sad state of affairs with the TRULY improved golden age of conversions that we are clearly IN at the moment. The EVnetics Soliton1 is just beyond conception three short years ago. The batteries are of course infinitely better and substantially less expensive. The motors are better. The HPEVS AC50 and Curtis 1238 controller are frankly MARVELS in some key ways. These guys kind of sauntered onto the scene in quiet mode. A few people tried this very low power AC option and it worked some better than expected. Even on midsized vehicles of 3000 lbs, this very underwhelming spec sheet was actually moving the vehicles quite well.

We’ve done a couple of builds now ourselves and bought the Spyder from Duane Balle who also used this solution. WE’ve run them for awhile. They just don’t get revisited very much. They just work.

I find the setup a little annoying each time. SOMETHING or other gets me. On the swallow it was a weird interaction with a perfectly normal hall effect pedal. But it’s always something. The controller is just a LITTLE too hard to setup for my tastes, certainly compared to the EVNetics Soliton1 but it IS quite flexible, which I do like. It is the ONLY controller where we’ve gotten the hydraulic pressure transducer 0-5v to actually control the regenerative braking, and this is a “feel” item that I “feel” rather strongly about. This is the way to do it. We’ve actually been advised by the HPEVS guys that it won’t work or won’t’ work very long. It has proven bullet proof for us and we have it on Speedster Duh, the Spyder, and the Vantage Van where we stole both the idea and the parts supplier.

Unfortunately, great flexibility and utility usually come at the cost of some configuration angst. Choices are choices. But the 1238 is truly a marvel.

One of our regular viewers, Ryan Fenchel, has a brother in-law working at Curtis’s Livermore Facility, what is called the PMC division. He sent us a fascinating article published in the March 8 edition of a very local small town newspaper titled the Independent. It profiled the PMC division of Curtis Instruments.

Curtis Instruments is a family owned business started in 1960 with about 1000 employees worldwide. The PMC division in Livermore has but 68 employees, but accounts for half the company’s revenues. And therein lies a tale.

My own first EV attempt was in 1980 with a 73 Pinto. It did use a kind of homemade “contactor” but a contactor was actually a series of switches that allowed you to cut the batteries in in various combinations to do various speeds. Kind of like a complicated manual transmission. Your motor was either ON or OFF and when on could be at several different voltages. It was a mess I have to tell you. With lead, you got about 11 miles to a charge. No heat of any kind. Electric cars were tough I tell you.

THere were no MOSFETs. There WAS such a thing as a field effect transistor or FET but it wasn’t really used for high powered applications.

Stephen Post started his conversion somewhat before mine, at age 12. His father worked at Lawrence Livermore Labs and so innovation was a family rite. In 1984, he attacked the control problem using parallel Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors (MOSFET) to create a “chopper” controller that took the battery output and chopped it into a square wave. This square wave was then “pulse width modulated” to vary the positive portion of the square wave duty cycle from 0 to 100 percent. In this way, the AVERAGE voltage to the motor could be varied. Since motors are mostly a series of inductors, and inductors strongly resist a change in current flow, the high frequency square wave was very much “averaged” by the motors themselves.

He launched Post Motor Controllers, but within a year the company made the radar screen of Curtis Instruments. As Curtis has international distribution and a very good name from providing instrumentation for the space program, the acquisition was a no brainer. The PMC division has had a great result within the company by providing controllers for industrial machinery, primarily forklifts and pumps.

But it DID become the default controller for electric vehicles and the Curtis 1231C remains probably the most widely installed controller in electric vehicle conversions. According to Fenchel, half the employees at Livermore drive EV’s to work. They’re all believers in the cause.

Stephen Post continues as head of the division and Vice President within Curtis to this day.

We found the article fascinating. But it puts us in mind how progress occurs over years and you can be a bit too far ahead of your time.

Enter the curious case of Thomas Davenport. Much like Mr. Post, he too was intrigued by the possibilities. A blacksmith in Vermont, he visited a nearby ironworks and was enthralled by the action of drum with iron spike electromagnetics protruding from it that was turned against finely ground iron ore. The more iron rich particles would stick to the spikes and so very fine iron containing ore could be extracted.

He was so taken with this that he bought one of these Henry electromagnets and took it home and disassembled it. He learned to make his own electromagnets and continued working with it until he developed the first commutated series DC motor.

He attempted to patent the motor in 1835 but the patent office had never patented an electrical device. Electrical apparatus was viewed at the time as part science and part occult mysticism and most adherents that actually made money did so by traveling about giving presentations bordering on magic of various things that could be done with electricity. Kind of a version of stupid pet tricks with batteries.

Davenport enlisted the aid of some famous engineers at Rensselaer Polytechnic, the first American school of engineering and even got Benjamin Franklin Bache, grandson of BF himself, to vouch for the device. Rensselaer actually bought one of the first motors. In 1837 he received the first American patent ever issued on an electrical device – number 132.

We like to view inventors of the past as ignorant provincials lacking the understanding we have today. It was almost never true. Davenport had a FULLY formed vision of what his motor could do and he particularly saw it as THE driving force in railroads, which were JUST then getting underway. He actually built model trolleys, cars, and a railroad on a track that ran on electricity. He also used one of his motors to run a PRINTING PRESS which he used to publish a newsletter on the motor. He had almost everything we use a motor for today correctly envisioned in the 1840’s.

He died bankrupt in 1851, heart broken that Samuel Morse had been credited with invention of the telegraph, which Davenport had apparently also invented earlier. He never achieved any kind of commercial success with his motor. Nor did he see it used for the many things he envisioned, and which indeed it came to be used for.

I’m struck by how FULLY he envisioned and described the motor, its importance, and its future uses. He had not discovered something and failed to understand it’s importance. He had FULLY comprehended it from birth.

The problem, apropos to us in the here and now, were the batteries. Motors in 1834 could only be driven by batteries. There were no generators, or dynamos, invented yet. ANd the batteries were unreliable, expensive, and there was no way of determining how much energy was left in them.

And so steam power was the watchword of the age and there was NO market for electric motors to drive anything – largely because there was no electricity.

The ultimate irony of course, is that the solution lie in the problem. Had he but turned his motor around and turned the shaft by hand, he might have observed that it PRODUCED electricity and might have invented the dynamo as well. That was not to come for some thirty more years. And so Thomas Davenport, was simply decades ahead of his time, with a fully formed vision of electric cars and trains, and electrically driven industry. He foresaw electrically operated looms, textile machines, all of it DECADES before it was remotely possible.

A large segment of our viewership are unduly focused on the concept of IDEAS and place great stock in them. In truth, they are not very valuable and have almost never been the driver in innovation and technology. The ability to develop something or execute and bring a concept to a useful product is the heart of engineering and of technology. Ideas are a dime a freight car load.

And so while I rail in frustration over all the obvious things we don’t’ have with regards to chargers, instrumentation, and so forth, there is another view. How marvelous the things we DO have available to very common everyday sorts at achievable prices in the way of batteries, controllers, motors, and other elements necessary to build an electric car. We may in fact be entering a golden age of componentry.  That rich availability of capable parts can lead to magical, incredible things.

If you watch the march of innovation and technology from the best technical minds and university labs, in steady progression into the maw of the huge corporate creature which grinds and masticates this technology into a churning stew of bits and pieces and industrial magic, it generally remains some lone guy somewhere who found three pieces that fit together in a new way to produce the disruptive technology that changes the game.

But for each of those stories, there are also a hundred Thomas Davenports.  And even keeping the story straight is nearly impossible.  If you look at almost EVERY single inventor credited with the invention of x..  when I was a child, we now know that at least three others that had an excellent prior claim….

To a pessimist, the glass always looks half empty. To an optimistic, always half full. But to an engineer, it looks like the wrong sized glass, with the wrong amount of water in it, and placed probably in the wrong place in the first place. But with a few adjustments….

Jack Rickard

39 thoughts on “The Golden Age of EV’s.”

  1. Jack,

    I noticed the reluctance ring you are using to feed the ECU appears to be configured as an internal dynamic balance for the ICE. Did you balance this some way that isn’t visible on camera? I am surprised it doesn’t shake the table when you run it up. Then again the mass of the motors and transmission is considerably greater than the mass of reluctance ring but I would still expect some vibration.

    Your video was timely as I am setting up my Soliton 1 on my bench with the motor, transmission, hall effect throttle, and tach sensor to get everything planned out before it goes into the car. I went back and re-watched the episode where you went through the setup when you first installed one (on Redux I think).

    Thanks so much as this helps greatly!


  2. No, Doug, all LS-based reluctors are neutrally balanced. The holes are for windage, (oil sling and air pressure inside the crank case.) Their mass loss is offset by the smaller holes, which I think are plugged with mallory metal or something similar to bring the wheel up to neutral.

    The reluctor fits up against one of the crank counterweights for more than half of its circumference. The holes in it are through the radial portion of the reluctor that is free of the counterweight as mounted, and the holes allow windage to pass through, or at least not force oil to build up on the reluctor, which could damp the signal and cause other oiling problems inside the sump.


  3. I would need your pink glasses Mr. Rickard in order to see any brighter, personally. Which I don’t, trying to do something about it. On the EV situation in general, it is rather oily, still deeply sank in the black gold.

    While I thought I might have found interesting battery and announced to spread the word as soon as chinese reply, the thing is they didn’t. My perceiving of golden age is when things are ripe.

    Being a big fan of Macintosh, you sound pretty much like Steve Jobs when omitting floppy disk drive and CD/DVD drive from laptops, relying on Ethernet and Wireless technologies, respectively.

    I am glad there are people responding to it, but golden would be when for someone like me, it is as viable to build an EV as making a collection of Macs, which I have. No iPhone/iPad because the crises crippled me financially, but I still follow, studying.

    Apart from dim personal view, and I am happy for everyone whom it differs from, I find this latest show quite inspiring. OEMs wave with products for under 20.000€ including the battery lease.

    Renault and Nissan are practically the same firm and much of their technology is interchanged.

    For a dream EV, I couldn’t agree more, conversions are the way, unless one lives in Europe / Spain where homologation seems to be troublesome. But there are people who did it and offer conversions to third parties.

    I am inclined to believe EV conversion’s golden age is ahead, and even though conditions are budding, they are far from flourishing. We need to work harder for it, in order to make EV conversion bloom. EV market is still inexistent, we have work over our heads.

    I am getting ready for this challenge and hope to find some money in it 🙂 That is pretty optimistic, since you and many others who already made conversions are not. There fore it is a hobby, but I see lot of potential in this future market.

    I agree with you in many things, conceptually in all, particularly that lots of people will go broke betting on EVs. But it is nonetheless worth giving it a try. The good thing is, many can actually do something about it already, and EVTV is helping them in order to do so. Thanks for it.

  4. Carlos Ghosn’s at 2012 Geneve Motor Show press conference. Coming from the mouth of such a giant OEM CEO’s mouth, I think the conspiracy myth against the EV is busted.

    Unless this becomes widely accepted, by 2020 Renault and Nissan’s EVs are going to be pretty common sight having expected 10% of the EV’s market share – themselves.

    Perhaps there lies EV conversion’s chance, if the rest of OEMs dwells behind. A spin-off of Renault-Nissan Alliance who might opt for commercializing their solutions to third parties, as battery manufacturers and all other components.

    What if this alliance decide to go Open Source?! It could strengthen the EV grassroots and bounce back boosting their sales. It could start with vintage Renault electrifying conversion kit.

    Certainly sounds crazy, but what Mr. Ghosn is pulling probably has been stroke through in many OEM Boards of Directors meetings as wrong, out lobbied or whatever, but stopped and EV initiatives quenched.

    I am truly glad many of EVTV viewers have their own financial freedom to pull what is on their blueprints for a dream EV project. It counts as an incentive for the rest of us, because, our time will come as well.

  5. As soon as cars go “open source” manufacturers warrantee ends. 🙁
    Renting out Renaults batteries. If you do 10,000 miles/yr then the cost is around 60 UK mpg. Most will simply avoid on the face of it.

    However, on design, the car is as heart-achingly beautiful as the French-Morrocan lady who’s in the design team that has put herself on a dating site.

  6. The show was interesting. I love the bench top Dyno that you have put together. (Now I want one…)

    I was intrigued by the write up in the blog. I have designed many things over the years and even patented a few of them. I got beat to the patent office by two weeks on one of them. (Underwater ultrasonic navigation system for SCUBA divers) I was lucky in that my circuit design was better than the guy that got the patent and I sold my research to him.

    You are correct in how many times people think that they have a $$$$$ idea only to find out that manufacturing and selling it is nearly impossible. I have found that once you design something and get it working 100%, you are about 25% along the path of actually making money off of it…

    P.S. If every one you talk to tells you you have a GREAT idea it is probably not worth perusing. However, if you can get at least ten people to tell you it is a horrible idea, you are usually on to something!

  7. Hmmm? I am looking at the service for manual for a 2005 C6 with the LS2 which I believe uses the same 58 tooth reluctor wheel from the crankshaft that Jack has on the front of his Hi-Torque dual 11″. I am on page 6-432 where a schematic shows the Crankshaft Position (CKP) Sensor and the Camshaft Position(CMP) sensor as a 12 volt reference, feeding data to the bus of the Engine Control Module (ECM). The schematic also shows a circuit between the CKP and the CMP that controls the Throttle body assembly.
    I was told by a business that reflashes ECM’s that you needed both the CMP and the CKP to make the throttle body work.
    I hope Jack can prove him wrong.

  8. Jack,

    You’re correct on the throttle position sensors having complementary voltage. Most late model cars that use electronic throttles (fly-by-wire) have:
    – pedals that use dual redundant outputs, with one usually having double the voltage of the other.
    – throttle bodies that also use dual redundant outputs, both adding up to 5.0V. For example, one output would start closed at 0.7 V, and the other at 4.3 V.

    I understand you want to use the throttle body so you can use cruise control. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. The ECM expects most of the engine sensors to be working correctly before it will enable cruise control. Those include:
    – crankshaft position sensor (CKP)
    – camshaft position sensors (CPS/CMP)
    – mass airflow meter (MAF) or manifold air pressure sensor (MAP)
    – oxygen sensors
    – wheel speed sensors
    – pedal position sensors (dual redundant)
    – throttle position sensors (dual redundant)

    The ECM also does startup checks upon ignition ON to see if certain actuators (e.g. throttle actuator, idle control valve) are working correctly. If some of those sensors and tests don’t work, the ECM will, from worst to best case, not let the engine fire, go into limp-mode, light up the CEL, or disable some features.

    I remember driving once after doing some maintenance on my engine (6-cylinder BMW). Cruise control wasn’t working at all. When I opened the hood apparently I forgot to reconnect MAF sensor connector. Car was actually driving fine, but the ECM wouldn’t enable cruise control without the MAF working properly. I also have some diagnostic gadgets (Innovate Motorsports) connected to my ECM. During cruise control, I can actually see the ECM modulate the idle control valve (ICV) much more than the throttle plate. On light cruising, the throttle plate is actually shut, only the ICV is being controlled.

    The lesson is that it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have all the features of late model cars work properly after an electric conversion. Another example is stability and traction control systems (TCS), StabiliTrak in the Escalade. The ECM and the TCS control units work closely together and have myriads of sensors, including steering wheel position, lateral acceleration, and speed sensors on all four wheels. In some cars (Mercedes Benz in particular), the ECM even puts the engine into limp mode when the TCS sees one of its sensors not working. Daimler decided that safety was paramount, but it’s absolutely annoying. Imagine having to have your luxury car towed just because your steering angle sensor was defective. Also, when traction control activates, it actually shuts fuel off from the injectors. That’s something that with current controllers, is impossible to simulate.

    We really just have to accept that for electric conversions of modern cars, we will have check engine lights, loss of cruise control, impaired stability control features, and other stuff that were designed to work with internal combustion engines.

    Viewer from the Philippines

    1. Sammy/Mark et al.

      I’m always amazed at our ability to generate instant experts on almost everything. BMW, Daimler, and the Cadillac Escalade have as much in common as a washing machine, a camp fire and an eskimo.

      It is certainly possible that the Escalade cannot be made to work.

      I rather think it can. The ECU on the Escalade is fairly simple, and the ability to “tune” a lot of its features and clear codes is certainly within our grasp.

      We will have the crankshaft position and most of the rest. The MAF will be present but unchanging. We’ll have the sensor hooked up but I haven’t’ really figured out how to spoof it yet. It has a kind of unusual output for a MAF in that it is frequency based instead of voltage.

      THe Camshaft position from all written descriptions is not really a problem and probably NOT necessary. The car will start without it for example.

      The MAP also appears unnecessary, though it may be quite useful for shift points. Shiftpoints can be set manually, and indeed this transmission supports manual shifting anyway.

      Dire warnings that it won’t work are not really very useful. That your buddy told you it wouldn’t is even less useful and absolutely unreliable. If you KNOW something cite your source and we’ll look at it. Simply surmising means nothing. I can surmise that no vehicle will work anywhere in theory.

      Bottom line is I expect we will run into some difficulties with sensor simulation. But we’ll work em off. I can do a camshaft signal or a MAP, and ultimately I think a MAF although it is a little more difficult. But they do not appear to be required for the engine to run as it is, and so I don’t think they’ll be required to run without the engine entirely.

      Will we have a check engine light and some codes? Kind of inevitably so. Will that make us nonfunctional? I don’t think so.

      You guys are a heroic wet blanket though…. and I’m sure fun at parties….

      Jack Rickard

    2. Further thought on the subject. I am glad you were able to start the i.c.e. with the camshaft position disconnected. I did not have the option of being able to run the LS2 in the C6 before I removed it.
      Jack, but there is a bigger lesson to be learned by your example. If one is going to attempt a conversion of any vehicle with an Engine Control Unit, disconnect sensors and see if or how it runs BEFORE you remove the engine.

    3. Ya, most important. Gently squeeze the engine check light with a pair of pliers until it makes a crunching noise. I GUESS that will be 90% of the engine management problems solved.

  9. Fascinating about Thomas Davenport.

    If you want to see something wacky, check out the Volks Electric Railway in Brighton in the UK. The oldest electric railway still running and the totally bizarre sea railway opened in 1896 by all round mad inventor type, Magnus Volk.

    You have to check out the pictures as it is too weird for words. It can best be described as an electric pier that moved along the coast (like out at sea!) from Brighton to Rottingdean. A sort of “Anthill Mob” train on 25 foot legs with wheels and rail track under the water.

    Volk is credited with being the first person in Brighton to have electric light in his home and later providing electric lights for the famous Royal Pavilion of the Prince Regent, later King George IV in Brighton.

    The Pavilion is pretty mad too… Must be something in the sea air at Brighton.

    I went to uni in Brighton for 4 years and now I’ve got a load of solar panels bodged on my roof with a bunch of giant lithium batteries behind my sofa in the living room… Volks would have been proud 😀

  10. something could be done about the EV components situation, Jack. you could aggressively promote development of new widely suitable components.
    maybe be ready for EVCCON2. maybe even be in cars by EVVCON2.
    either jointly with existing providers or find a few new guys. maybe semi open source such that all players can do their own take on it.

    1. my previous post? not the one you replied to?
      and you’re saying the words don’t even form meaningful sentences?
      it’s so curious how my sober comments attract such vicious and mindless attacks.
      it’s like I’m Jesus Christ walking through a jewish neighborhood : )

    2. something could be done about the EV components situation, DAN. you could aggressively promote development of new widely suitable components.
      maybe be ready for EVCCON2. maybe even be in cars by EVVCON2.
      either jointly with existing providers or find a few new guys. maybe semi open source such that all players can do their own take on it.

    3. Dan:

      You make it kind of easy. And that you not only don’t know, but don’t KNOW you don’t know is kind of uncomfortable.

      Jesus Christ was Jewish Dan. He did ALL his known walking in Jewish neighborhoods.

      As to components, your quest for free is NOT worthy. It eliminates innovation. It kills creativity. It is the communist quest for empty broken fields of bare dirt with nothing on them and nothing over them. Eliminate ALL profit or motive and ultimately the humanoids actually abandon the land itself.

      Jack Rickard

  11. Dan,
    How did you do that?? You read my mind. That was going to be my very advice to you!

    Hey, I’ve made a first off 96v single string battery out of A123’s with 4mm Correx and a lot of 100m wide x 160mm long x 1/8″ thick insulators bound together (threaded through) with 4 off 250mm long x 6mm threaded bar.

    My method lends itself very well to in-battery parallelism and any width lengths. The only special tool required is a piece of 1/8″ insulator with a blade each side to cut out every other Correx channel for the cells to slip into. The cells folded edges clip into the channel burrs so avoids the need to glue. They self retain the box shape!!

    Dan is selling the knives at 2 Euro’s apiece (+P&P&taxes). It will save you hours messing with a plain blade.

    Next he is going to get a plastics firm to cut out the insulators en-masse for easy assembly.

    Please notify Dan on here via EVTV which are holding this special offer for the regular blog readers.

  12. I’m intrigued by the corex idea, but not sold on the notion that it will adequately arrest movement of the tabs.

    Jack, a thought occured to me on the whole casting conundrum. I’m liking the idea of having the bulk of the volume filled with cells of gas rather than solids, that is, foam. But I’d like to see more solid skinning around the whole mess. What I propose is a three step process.

    First, cast the harder solid resin/plastic to be about 3mm thick by using an outer and inner form. Then remove the inner form leaving a five sided 3mm walled box. Drop the cells into it and foam fill with a determined amount to leave the tabs outside the foam. Maybe use a less aggressive color than green next time ;). Then top it off with the harder material. I would also suggest putting alignment holes in a sheet of uhmw to bolt the blocks to; and give it a fill hole or two. This would get all the terminals coplanar and to regular placement. Another advantage would be that it would seal the top surface from getting covered by resin. If you line the uhmw

    1. Nabil.
      The Correx box has nothing to do with holding the tabs. Horses for courses. As a structure its very adequate and I’m sold on it. Want more strength? simply glue on something stiff to the sides.

      The job of the insulating spacers with their four 6mm steel threaded bars clamp the tabs solid. Same as Jacks flatenum; movement does not happen. If you are bothered, glue gun.

      I must reiterate. The cell sides click themselves to the box inside. It becomes a sold load sharing block on its own!

      The sum weight of the materials makes it suitable for aircraft work and the cost is very low. I’ve simply dumped the idea of using thermo set plastics and/or silicon adhesives now.

      If I find a suitable manf’r for plastic spacers (Dan) and source some reasonable metal for the hard clamp/battery connectors (Dan)… Plus (Dans) special knife: It’s a fast assembly and fully self configurable kit!

      However, I do suggest not making the batteries too big because of the sheer weight they amount to. My 29 cell pack must weigh 16Kg or 35 lb!!

      Imagine lugging Dan’s 100lb+ battery cartoon drawing with no hoist lugs 😉

  13. I know 2-component plastic is interesting but at some point we have to arrive at the conclusion that it’s too costly, adds too much weight and offers little in terms of real benefits.

    we need battery boxes anyway so it’s obviously better to combine that with the naked cells. the box can provide the needed rigidity. fiberglass tray comes to mind, it’s both electrically and thermally insulating as well as super tough.
    whether you want to connect some in parallel or just a series chain, a single width tray seems like the obvious battery box format. I’d advocate trying solutions based on a series chain since the tabbed pouch format lends itself well to that. it requires no aluminium blocks or bolts thus can be ultralight.

    if you are considering 12V batteries for cars, I’d advocate a single chain of 20Ah. you basically don’t need more for a starter battery. I don’t believe in an aux battery for an EV but if you want I’d also make that 20Ah max or even much less. like 4 2.3Ah cells in series. it needs neither power nor capacity. it’s worth thinking about how iron phosphate works with a car alternator recharging policy. it might not live long.

    you talked about the prius C, that’s not a plugin though. no biggie.

    if you need to convert hz to voltage then an arduino can readily do that with an RC filter on the pwm output to function as a DA

    the camera focus was hunting a bit during the battery cast segment. I assume you know.

    I assume you are keenly aware that the escalade progress has been a little slow so just to diffuse the tension by bringing it out in the open, I also hope it will be ready to run soon.

    there is a world that needs changing

  14. MAF. That’s just a platinum/Rhodium wire. Whats wrong with a resistor? Vacuum; Another resistor. Oxygen sensor. That’s another resistor. Same with temperatures. They only tell the injectors what fuel to give don’t they? Heck! an error could be flagged when the injectors are missing!

    As goes voltage to pcm. If needed, 555’s are good why not. The DIV/2 from crank to cam (ignition timing?) can be done with a simple CMOS toggle bistable as a divide-by-two counter.

    fibreglass boxes are abrasive and do not have much rigidity in straight sections. They also take a lot of making. When are you going to make a start?

  15. There’s a small but ready market for small, light, powerful starting batteries: racing.

    Racers are always looking for a featherweight starting battery, and a 5 pounder that puts out 450 amps, or a 10 pounder that could do 900, is just what they would want. Running the lights and accessory loads isn’t really in issue. A little on-board intelligence to prevent overcharge and overdischarge would make a nicely featured starting battery product for the racing community. You probably wouldn’t need to charge it at all during the race; maybe a simple diode might be enough to prevent overcharge. The discharge side is a little trickier, should, say the race car throw an alternator belt and suck the battery flat.

    The promise of a 4-cell, 6lb battery the size of an air filter that lasts 12 seasons would be quite something. An 8-cell 10 pounder that would start almost any racing engine would be equally attractive, even at more than a few hundred dollars.

    I’ve been out of it for a while, but I know the “carbon fiber” AGM racing batteries available are in the 6-20lb range, but they have tiny capacities- far less than the 18.5+Ah of an A123 pouch. The go for $150-$500, too. I’ve heard that some guys were more recently paying $1000 or so for special “lithium” batteries, but I’ve neither seen one, nor looked into it. They’re not common.

    There’s a really good small (garage) business opportunity here for someone willing to figure out the minimal protection circuits needed, and continue the packaging work based on Jack’s research. The good news is you could have a profitable product at, say, $399 for a 4-cell or $599 for a 6-cell unit, and sell repackaged chargers, too.

    The best news is that if it works, such a battery would sell like hotcakes in the racing community, where word of a performance/weight advantage like this spreads very quickly.

    Somebody is going to be trying this in short order…

    1. Tom,
      Good find!
      I know one thing. When my motorbike battery gets too low. The starter solenoid just clatters as I attempt to start it when the voltage drops too far. The bets on no need of “hi-tech”.

      As goes charging. We know its safe if its not taken too high. Laptops don’t have anything clever. Cable warts simply give about 19V for 6 cells.

  16. I can’t speak for the A123’s but I’ve been patiently waiting for my Calb40ah starter battery to die in my ’88 corolla. I even logged off, idling, and cruising system voltages for several weeks – only to be bored with monotonous readings. My alternator spits out 14.4-14.6v and the resting voltage of the battery before starting would be 13.5-13.8. This is a 4 series pack. I have NO protection circuitry. Been operating since the new year with ambient temps from -1F to 85F. I’d be content with a 4s2p A123 pack at a fraction of the volume I currently use.

    Still waiting to see the impending doom…

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