Plugging Along

This week we continue plugging along. Not a lot of activity. Actually we spent a good part of the week packing braided straps and meters. We received a shipment of 20 meters and had a bit of a backlog to fill, so it kept me busy casting shunt bases and Brain in packing boxes. We are also moving a lot of the braided straps. If this keeps up we’ll have to order another brazillian.

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And this is a bit of a business lesson. Whatever you are trying to do, be aware of signals that something else might be afoot. We’ve been struggling manfully to get some of these vendors to cough up fairly piddlin amounts for commercial advertising – 1 minute ads in our show. They’ve been oddly resistant.

I could be sympathetic, but recently had cause to learn what a huge discount they are giving to their dealers – often more than they make themselves from the product. I’ve written on the flattening effect of the Internet on dealer networks for many years. That we still had them going strong in EVland was kind of missed. And I have to say I don’t get it.

But when in Rome…..

This week we received our polyurethane motor mounts that we are going to use on the Escalade. This is kind of an important issue. We need to hold 450 lbs in position, keep it from turning with 350kw of power applied, and ideally we do not want to transmit any vibration to the frame of the car.

This last can be a surprisingly annoying and often overlooked aspect to an EV build. We’ve never really talked about it although you’ve watched us do it build after build. Basically, you want some sort of rubber or urethane shock mount between any vibrating motors and your vehicle, to prevent the vibrations from entering the passenger compartment, traveling up the seat back supporting structure, and entering the fillings in your back teeth. This can be terribly annoying if you forget to do this.

And so, polyurethane shock fittings. Used for many years with ICE engines, which also vibrate annoyingly.

They basically absorb vibrations in the flexible material, isolating the vehicle from the vibrating or oscillating motor.

These cost $142 I think for two basically urethane cylinders with a top and bottom steel piece and a hole through it. A bolt through it holds it in position, and does transmit a bit of vibration, but most of the weight is carried on the flexible chunk which absorbs a lot of the vibration.

Not much happening on the flatten ’em series. I am building a 2×2 inch by 1/8th aluminum angle frame around the bottom section at the moment. We’ll add the second section to that soon. Bottom balance both at 2.65 volts or thereabouts. Add a third section for a bandwidth of 4.5-5.0 inches. I may work in a Kilovac relay to allow me to turn this pack on and off remotely, and perhaps a separate fuse for it.

We tested our last 12v monolithic that we cast in the pink silicon rubber last week. It came in at about 117 Ah very nicely. Good battery. We may have to make a set of the terminal tops and some drawings and see what we can do with a machine shop to have some of those made up professionally as fas as the terminals go.

We did receive a new shipment of 500 of the A123 cells. We’re gaining confidence in our CHinese supplier and the cells themselves. I guess I do NOT think these cells are as good a solution as a CALB 180 prismatic for an electric car. But the smaller granularity with the much higher power output offers a significant advantage – smaller battery packs of less CAPACITY that still offer the same power output at any given instant. As we’ve said numerous times, this opens the door to a pack of less expense, but consequently less range, while still retaining full operation of the vehicle.

The bad news is that you basically have to engineer a structure for the cells. And that is additional expense, effort, and time. If you can swap sweat equity for money, it can be a strategy. If you spend as much on the module as you would have with the CALB 180’s in the first place, you lose all the way around. Not a great strategy.

Flatten em looks too heavy and too expensive to make sense. It’s main advantage will be I can bolt it on underneath a car for testing purposes. It could be a model for a very light Speedster where that was the sole supply and we accepted a 35 mile range in the car in exchange for lightness which is of course next to Godliness in the land of the EV.

Nine or 10 of our monolithic 12volts would probably make more sense with a 120v pack of 115 AH. That would be more of a 50-60 mile car and more practical. Probably a lot easier to put together. But the resin is a significant expense.

Nine of those would make a nominal 120.4 volt pack of 288 lbs and 115 Ah.

For those wishing to experiment, we are offering these cells in small quantities at $31 each. We have them in the EVTV online store.

We included the WSIU PBS piece in this week’s episode more or less for archival purposes. But it was March last year when we first announced a little gathering at the shop that grew into EVCCON 2011. And so we kick off the season. More on the event and registration at

We had most of our sessions, our vendor area, and quite a few of the meals in my hangar at Cape Girardeau Airport last year. It’s about 18,000 sf and it was pretty comfortable for the number of attendees we had. If that number were to go up even modestly, it would quickly become uncomfortable. And so we have purportedly contracted to take the entire Show Me Center Arena here in Cape for our educational sessions, most meals and the vendor area. It’s about 32,000 square feet and so unless we just have a blowout event, it should be quite comfortable.

I see Willie Nelson is in Concert there April 8th. I think he’ll have cleared the area by our September 26th event. What famous singers are associated with electric vehicles?

Jack Rickard

113 thoughts on “Plugging Along”

  1. at the risk of sounding obvious, shouldn’t you hire a kid to handle the sales and shipping?

    it’s ok to sell low volume A123 cells but why not a volume price as well? say a price break at 100 cells and flatrate above that. and have some vision when you set the price. say bulk price plus customs plus bulk freight plus 10%.
    remember that adoption speed is more valuable to you than a couple of dollars. life is short.

    remember to cast the shunt so it doesn’t touch the casting. it probably relies on free air flow. if you block the flow it changes resistance and misreads. I know you hate suggestions but you should probably stop being so happy about casting. plastic sheet will do fine.

    1. Dan, do you think it never occurred to Jack nearby is an army of available, intelligent, willing and very hard working students who will for a little extra money?

      Hell, he should have an open day for the budding engineers and Electronics people there. Should be interesting on film and if you catch their heart when they are young you will have them forever.

  2. Jack,
    Quick question about charge voltage on your A123 module in this week’s show. You mention 4.2v as an absolute maximum voltage for a lithium iron phosphate cell. I had always taken 3.65v at 0.05c as a maximum. Is this correct? I have never charged a cell above 3.7v unless trying to kill it!

    Damien Maguire

    1. Hi Damien.
      I think you are spot on. Jack is too!

      Unlike you I’ve never even charged a LiFePo4 cell in my life! However, I’ve quotes, prices, connections and settings for the 1.5Kw Li tccharger (Hangzhou Tiecheng). They say they set output voltage to give 3.65V per cell if you do not buy the CANBUS version.

      I’ll be running 6 of 29S packs so will ask them to set it for 28S. (3.52V ea.). If some cells do not become fully charged then you’ll have to stare very carefully in my face to see if I’m bothered 😉

    2. Damien,

      The 4.2v number is approximately where the electrolyte starts to break down and out gas. There is little point in ever getting close to this voltage unless you want to see the cell bulge and pop its vent. I’ve popped the end off of one of the A123 26650 cells by charging to 4.2 volts. There is no point in setting the CV point above 3.6 volts per cell. You are shaving very little off the charge time and in anything but a top balanced pack you could be pushing the weakest cell in the pack to destruction.


    3. Doug is essentially correct. More 4.3 or 4.4 volts but 4.2 is kind of hard to hit without docking one up it is true. This is because the voltage is rising so fast at that point in the charge.

      For TS cells, we normally charge a SERIES STRING at 3.65 volts x N cells. It is QUITE ok for an individual cell to hit 3.8 or 3.9 or even 4.0 v. Not to worry. And some will be down around 3.5. It’s all good.

      If I’m charging cells to test them, I could go either way but normally 3.65 just to be safe.

      Jack Rickard

  3. Jack:
    Do you think A123 at less than $2 a share has to do with their recall of some cells produced on a faulty machine? How true do you think this is and how do you detect the faulty cells?

    Also, what trade law allows them to produce cells in other countries stamped “Made in USA.” but sold in China???

    Lot of questions I know; but, all are begging for an answer.

    1. The A123 cell is considered a simple component to the A123 battery pack assembled in the USA.

      This is common. We used to sew on labels saying “Made in Britain”. Well, they were!

  4. Jack,

    Always looking forward to the evolution of your A123 packs.

    Have you toyed with the idea of using a fat low-voltage pack (say 15-series for 48V) and using a boost converter to step-up the voltage? The A123’s high power density seems an ideal candidate for this kind of set up.

    As you know Toyota does this for all their hybrids (HSD), with a pack voltage of 200V-250V and steps-up to 500V-650V depending on the model. The DC controller manufacturers won’t probably do this soon, if ever, but it would be nice to be able to run the current line of DC motors at high speed with even a low-voltage pack. Not really sure if there are off-the-shelf boost converters available at EV power ranges at reasonable prices.


  5. Googled:

    “Justin Bieber birthday: Singer gets a $100k Fisker Karma sports car ..” ok, its not really electric.

    Deb Seymour: “Little ZENN Car” (Who??)

    Meeky Rosie Who Killed The Electric Car music video

    Pixie Lott:

    Metalhead Mike, (Master of Puppets)

    Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Anthony Kiedis:


    Michael “Flea” Balzary Bassist:

    actor Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer on “The Simpsons”. He can sing!
    Nissan Leaf.

    I guess there’s many more.

    If we care to mention Silver screen stars with electric cars then it will be a very extensive list.

    It has to be said as long as we have celebs, politicians and carbonazi’s who enjoy and drive these high end electric cars but not necessarily for their supposed green credentials it will rub down to the Josie Bloggs or Jane Doe down the street to look beyond “not another SLK Roadster” but enjoy the feel of an electric drive.

    1. And don’t forget producer Dean Devlin. He is responsible for films like “Independence Day” and “Godzilla” plus a little known film “Who Killed the Electric Car”. If you watched his TV series “Leverage” you got to see his red Tesla Roadster at the end of season 1 episode 2.

    2. Anthony Kiedis owned an ev-converted car earlier. Left Coast company did that conversion. Lead-batteries 🙁

      Btw, Tom Hanks used to have e-box (XION converted to EV) and is a big EV advocate.

  6. This story about the A123 cell recalls suggests that more 20AH pouch cells are being made in the US than we all thought. Is that right? Does anyone know the kind of numbers made in each factory?

    “The company anticipates that the cost of replacing the affected customer modules and packs will be approximately $55 million and expects it will be funded over the next several quarters.”


    Is anyone smart enough to work out how many cells 55 million dollars suggests are involved in the recall?

    1. You can’t work it out like that. I just listened to their conference call on this issue. The $55 million includes the total cost of changing the battery packs. It’s not an estimate of how much it will cost to make enough cells to do it. Each pack contains a mix of cells from the US factory. It doesn’t sound like they have a sophisticated enough system to know which pack each cell went into.

      The $55 million is an estimate anyway. It’s possibly …or probably wrong.

      They said the issue was solely caused by 1 of 4 machines in their US plant. Their South Korea plant is unaffected. I don’t believe they could blatantly lie about that and get away with it. Their was no info on the call about how many cells were made at each factory, but the questioners were asking about the “capacity utilisation” of the US factory. Presumably if you wade through all the investor stuff on the A123 website, the information is there about how many cells each factory can make.

    2. I smell a begging bowl scam.

      The pack is either faulty or not. Only 25% chance if made in USA. The true base cost of a cell I reckon from inside sources is ~$15. 380 cells per “Energy Core” pack is maybe $5750 in parts.

      They have a thousand faulty 23KWH units in the wild?

      Then there is the de-facto scrap recycling which is never put on the books.

    3. Each pack can potentially have dud cells in from the one welder out of four which was not setup right. Every single cell in a pack could be fine except for one and they would have to change it. I might be wrong but that’s what I understood the situation to be from the conference call.

    4. You all are apparently reading something I simply am not.

      First A123 may or may not be making cells in Livonia. I’ve heard this both ways.

      But the printed release was NOT about cells. It was about one of four cell tab welding machines in Livonia. ALL the cells in the Fisker come as part of a module A123 makes that is really quite complicated. They laser weld the tabs together and put little clips over them as part of the process. Apparently some of the MODULES are damaged. in welding the tabs together, they may have mispositioned the cells and creased the outside case of the pouch cell. I’ve done this myself by the way. It kind of ruins the cell.

      You have to treat the individual cells kind of carefully. That’s why I’m all about this resin casting. Get them INSIDE something robust.

      So this has NOTHING to do with the manufacture of individual cells. It is about assembling MODULES. Apparently they don’t have a way of telling WHICH module came from which machine, and so they have to recall ALL of the modules from five different partners. That’s the $55 million. Probably they can “inspect” modules when they get them in and re-use them for something or other. Id’ buy one at a distressed price if they will run them through China first of course.

      Jack Rickard

    5. A123 have been accredited with ISO 9001. This means they should have full and complete records of batches, operators, machines used and testing records.

      I smell a management akin to Neanderthals. We know what happened to them! Their ISO rating will be rescinded. It’s not to encourage sales but aid in quality control, recalls etc.

      Once upon a time after final assembly including packing ~100 missiles. My next job was to fly out and upgrade others to the latest spec on the field. The very first box opened in front of all the lads and the Colonel Bigwig in charge of procurement immediately noticed this missile had a very important job not done on it. This was not fit to fly lest it killed someone, ‘plane and all.

      My heart skipped and I thought that’s it. I’m in a DEEP pile of poo. An ambassador to a multi billion pound project, on the spot. Luckily, I had the parts with me to make good and they had to inform the pit.

      Back at the pit head, our top honcho was informed and was not happy. The rage was so palpable I was told they had to turn up the air conditioning. My name buried under expletives. Computers were sent chugging. They found the data in a minute. It was not my stamp on these op’s including what was not done. A few were assembled by a temp at the time I was off work.

      I promised to never, ever put my finger in the lawnmower again. This made their love of me complete.

  7. Jack,
    On the subject of seating in the brushes, a noisy and time consuming operation, are the brushes ground to an arc that matches the contact patch on the armature or are they just square ends? If not it would seem very good idea to have that done when the brushes are manufactured. It would also seem to cause less damage in the initial stages of use.

  8. My new replacement brushes from Kostov are not pre-curved. I am quite sure they are not because they are used on more than one size motor and the commutators are not the same diameter. So pre-setting the brushes is not a real good idea. Pre-seating once you get them is what you need to do for your particular motor. I may go with helwig redtop split brushes.

    1. I’ve a good few of these marked exactly the same; a bit of printed paper and cellotaped over “Made in USA”. Obviously it’s not a resting Voltage. Possibly The current taken to reach 3.7V on their test equipment?

      All cells as supplied read on my meter as 3.28V resting with amazing consistency. On my Cycle Analyst with 29 cells it gives 95.44V (3.291V).

      I’ve not done any capacity checks but feel fairly confident. Hope it helps.
      On a similar note. I have a question.

      I’ve been attempting to clean the gum off the tab sticker with acetone. Still time consuming. Does anyone have a better idea?

  9. Jack,
    I finished reading “Ice Free” by John Hardy a few days ago, and as promised, here is the review.

    To give a little background on me, I had some electrical training from the Navy 20 years ago, all centered around distribution, household and industrial AC, and I have read a couple of books on the subject of EVs and electrical motors. I have not converted a vehicle yet, but am planing on doing a mid sized sedan when I move to my next duty station. Army life makes a conversion even more complex so I have yet to take the plunge. I am definitely one of the converted, not someone who needs convincing that EVs are a good idea. Therefore I was disappointed when I read on page 6 that the book is an overview of this field, dealing with background knowledge and principals. It does not get into specifics of particular brands of equipment (except for a very limited look in the battery chapter) or even takes a particular stand on which technology is better at the time of it’s printing. Since this book was billed as “Electric Vehicle Technology for Builders and Convertors”, then the author should at least take a stand on which component types would be better for a given application, and then defend that position using data from both manufacturers and from the field.

    The book also does not get into ways to increase the efficiency of a build, such as chassis selection, slow rolling resistance tires, streamlining mods or decreasing weight. The book does not get into overt environmentalism or blatant tree-hugging but does seem to love the different bits of “Unobtainium” that EVTV loves to deflate.

    What the book does do well is chapter 2 on basic electricity and motor theory for those who slept through physics class. Chapters 3 and 4 dealing with motor types and their controllers respectively, again were good on generalities, but light on specifics.

    Chapter 5 dealt with battery types and chemistries and these were explained in a good amount of detail, but the fact that lithium cells are simply superior to lead simply eluded Mr Hardy.

  10. Chapter 6 dealt with battery management, and for someone new to this subject, the material presented could have been done better. I found it to be confusing in that techniques for managing lead and lithium chemistries were presented at the same time, and the overcharging and fire dangers posed by some of the BMS setups to lithium packs was either buried in the text or glossed over. He did cover both top and bottom balancing, but only in a small section at the end of the section.
    The second half of chapter 6 dealt with BMS systems, chargers (again short on specifics) and (finally) the arguments for and against using a BMS at all.

    Chapter 7 gets into all the other bits that make a car drivable: AC, PS, PB, heat, etc. Cabin heat systems are covered fairly well, including the ones that burn diesel or gas. AC systems are covered generally as are other systems. The bottom line for all of them is that they either eat too much of the car’s range to be practical or add another level of complexity to the build.

    Chapter 8 deals with stuff that either is not part of a book on electric vehicles or pure unadulterated Unobtainium. Mr Hardy covers topics such as fuel cells, compressed air, flywheels, ultra capacitors, and other stuff that is not available for purchase or even close to ready for production.

    Chapter 9 deals with a variety of reasons to convert vehicles to electricity. This is well written and presented, but needed to be in the beginning of the book, or omitted entirely in keeping with the desired audience. Builders and converters are by definition already converted to the idea. Chapter 10 gives a selected bibliography including Mr Hardy’s choices of the good, bad and the ugly.

    Overall, my opinion for this book is that it is far better suited to the significant other of a converter or builder, someone who is toying with the idea of a conversion or someone who gets angry every time they pull up to the gas pump. From my viewpoint it gets a C+.


  11. I saw an awesome quote from where they asked,”How expensive is gas today in your neighborhood?” Douglas Dunn of Exondido,CA responded tonight:
    ” I have had my LEAF for 7 months and 8,200 miles.
    I have no idea what the price of gas is.
    Nor do I particularly care.

    From all the whining I hear I suspect it’s getting up there again.
    Has it passed $3.00 yet?

    Ask me about “range anxiety”?
    I’ll ask about “gas price anxiety.”

    Love it!
    Jim Holifield

    1. It’s apples and oranges. There’s a hell of a lot of energy that comes out of the end of the gas nozzle every minute at the gas station! If gasoline was delivered through a hose the size of the IV drip line, it would take a long time to fill a cars gas tank too. EV’s could be filled much faster, it just takes a bigger hose.

    2. Jack:

      Indeed it is a weak argument. And I guess that’s the point. It incites a discussion or ends it quickly. The range anxiety issue is more a regurgitation than a genuine concern for most folks. I also poke with the calculated observation that by insisting they need 150 miles range, are they saying that they do indeed spend four hours in their car each day and spend nearly $100 a week in gas – is this true? Again, my purpose in such a discussion is to assess if they are regurgitating FUD and if they are, try to help them to see their own reality. That all said, I have a two mile commute, so it is also educational for me to see real world examples of those who do indeed drive that much. Having previously worked as a field tech who would regularly drive 150 – 200 miles a day, I am skeptical whenever someone insists that is their regular commute – its really. It that common around here.

  12. Obama has admitted he will be free to do what he wants in his next term to Medvedev in private but the microphone was on..
    I guarantee war with Iran will start. Then it will take longer to fill a gasoline car than electric with no guarantee you can fill it up at your destination.

    Refilling a gasoline car at home will depend on the size of your chemistry set.

    My take on EV’s is they are a huge leap forward for mankind in avoiding politically created instability.

    1. I couldn’t agree more Andyj.

      In the mean time, last week’s EU prices for 1 liter of 95 octane gasoline were:
      1,498€ in Barcelona, Spain
      1,55€ in France and
      1,98€ Greece.

      There is no smaller fraction then centime of €, but on my last tanking ticket, guys squeezed in an 8 millesimals of € as well. Must be result of the struggle for stretching as long as possible the crossing of the psychological barrier of 1,5€/l 🙂

    2. Hello

      Here in Portugal gas is above the $9/Gal , I know families spending about 1000€ (about $1300) a month just for gas ! and Still for them I their minds the electric car doesn´t make sense, I need to put them behind the steering wheel of a real electric car .

  13. The cost of my fuel for my EV is pretty constant, 7.25 cents per KW. It costs me about 3 cents per mile to drive my car. The EPA originally rated my 300 ZX at about 20 MPG so I figure I am paying the equivalent of about 60 cents per gallon to drive my car. The biggest adjustment I had to make with driving an EV was to wash my windshield. I used to do that when I got gas, but since I don’t go to the gas station any more I have to make a point to wash the windshield or it gets pretty dirty. Oh the troubles of driving an EV. 🙂 What are you paying per mile and what unexpected issues did you run into when you started to drive your EV?

  14. Brian – many thanks for the review and comments: noted for any later edition.

    I’d suggest though that it is horses for courses: Jack can tell you better than I whether the 144 volt Curtis is worth waiting for, but my book will I hope be useful to the former hotrodder who isn’t clear why you can’t just hook up a Soliton 1 to an AC50

    1. Over on the Nissan Leaf Forum, there’s a subscriber from EVSE-Upgrade who goes by the username,”Ingineer” who is developing a data scanner for the Nissan Leaf which he calls the “Leaf Scanner” that plugs into the data port under the steering wheel, and displays very useful detailed data, which he has mounted on top of the rear view mirror. It has a bar graph that displays current flow into and out of the motor as well as Amps,Kw’s,Volts and temp’s and he says he’s designing into it other parameters as well. I asked him if it could be made to be used with a home built EV. Here’s a few links to his video’s of trial runs with it in his Nissan Leaf.


    2. I had to correct my mistakes on my previous post, so I copied,corrected,then pasted. But “Ingineer” who’s first name is Phil replied that it was doubtful that his Leaf Scanner could be made to work with homebuilt EV’s due to lack of an interface,basically. Oh well, I thought his design was a good one, and looked great I thought.


  15. I was pursing the web site of a good friend and came across something he wrote on the greasing of electrical connections in high current applications. It’s something Jack and I may not see eye-to-eye on but that’s fine with me. I just though I’d put it out there since there I’ve found so little information on the web and knowing Duane, I put a lot of trust in what he has to says.

    1. Can’t beat painting the joint after assembly.

      Army usually slap on the grease AFTER assembly of electrical connections.

      I wonder if Jack came across this motto in the Navy:
      “If it doesn’t move, paint it. If it moves grease it. Now get to work”.

  16. Jack, what do you think about the CALB 130AH or even the 100AH cells as a lower cost/reduced range alternative? The 130AH cells cost about $175, are “rated” for up to 1000A, and weigh 10 lbs. When I was sizing my build I just needed a 50-60 mile range and these fit the bill nicely. A 120V pack of these (37 cells) will cost around $6500 weigh 370 lbs and give a solid 130 AH. No module fab required.

    1. Hi J,
      As usual I’ll be presumptuous and save Jack the time. Hope I’m right.

      Brick cells are fine. CALB’s are well loved. Get Jack’s braided straps with Nordlock washers along with bottom balancing and don’t overcharge and you’ll be great.

      What people like about these A123’s is their better “C” rate to Voltage drop ratio under a higher load. It’s a sprint battery so lends itself better to smaller performance packs.

      It’s also an interesting build diversion. I’ve bought A123’s and having a ball giving them a practical home and doing good making packs smaller, lighter and cheaper than Jack’s haha.

    2. I was trying to find out whether using around 40 * 100 Amphr (128 volts) was feasible with a ~ 600 amp controller. The pack will produce 600 amps, but the voltage would probably sag to or below 100 volts under load (but that is a guess based on Jack’s work with the 180s). Not the most powerful configuration. But I’m choosing economy.
      My maths may be wrong, but here goes. If I assume that the pack sags to 100 volts and for arguments sake stays there under load at 60 mph, and my compact car uses 215 Watthr/mile; just like the Spider (more economical than I can hope for I’m afraid). I would get 60 miles, doing 60 mph with my 12 800 watthr pack (100%DOD) and the pack would be running at 1.3 C at 100 volts. The safe range might be 40 miles or 60 km. But the average speed on these country roads is 60 km, so the range may actually be better. In any case 60 km is a useful range for me, and with a powerful charger; charging may only take 3 hours. And with a j1772 connector topping up your charge around town would be easy.

      That’s my plan anyways, the drivetrain could cost around 10 000 U.S dollars more or less (more like 15 000 realistically).

      What small, fun to drive car would suit such a project?

      Please let me know if I am making any silly errors.

  17. Essentially so. We vastly prefer the large leggo block prismatics for SO many reasons.

    The 130Ah CALB is a bit of enigma to me and I confess we have not used them.

    We figure these cells for an absolute maximum of 8C. And so a 100A cell would be limited to 800 amps. On some cars, this is ok. On others not so much.

    The 130’s of course would then be good up to a little over a thousand amps.

    But in our testing with Speedster Redux, we did a solid 1000 Amps from the 180Ah cells, but they sagged down from 188v to 147v in doing so. Clearly there was a lot of heavy breathing going on there.

    I suspect, entirely without data, that the LESS you stress these cells, the longer they last. In other words, if you limit them to 5C they will last longer than 8c and at 3C longer yet.

    The attraction with the A123 cells is simply a MUCH wider power range. We have tested AT 23C for 30 seconds. Voltage was certainly racing down, but the sag even then was more like 17-20% instead of 25%. That was 475 amperes out of a single 20Ah cell. And that tells me that 3 of these in parallel at 60Ah total can do what your 130Ah CALB can do – and in some respects do it in measurably more Bristol fashion.

    So again, you are at $6500 and I’m at $3000. But we can drive the car with the same performance results. You’ll go further. That’s the trade.

    The one fly in the ointment, is what you have to DO to the A123’s in order to get them into the car at all. So far, that’s a bit of effort. And the flatten ’em series is getting worse with this respect, not better.


  18. I like the connections clean and tight. But there is something to be said for lubrication and moisture sealing. Unfortunately, this is a voodoo area where EVERYONE is an expert and nobody knows shit about it really.

    My main concern is of course the Nordlocks. I’ve checked with them and they actually make a grease called GTP600 which is basically graphite in petroleum jelly. The lubricant on bolt threads actually strengthens the action of the washer and it is of course CONDUCTIVE.

    So we are going to do our own formulation of EVTV lube and test it at least.

    We’ll probably do something like the half the connections lubed and half not or something and see what it looks like after six months.

    We’re going to combine a graphite nano powder with Zinc in mineral jelly. The graphite will make it highly conductive and the zinc will serve as a sacrificial anode in the event of galvanic action. The mineral jelly should block out any moisture.

    We’ll call it EV-41 or something stupid.


    1. Belay my last. This is why it is so dangerous to do thought experiments.

      Found a further report that the military has known for DECADES that graphite is corrosive to aluminum. It may help Nordlocks, but it actually corrodes aluminum and graphite lubricants are banned on military aircraft in any form.


    2. Mathieu,
      please look at the table I provided. Copper and Aluminium should never meet except under the right conditions.

      Ask yourselves. Would the copper be sacrificial and is it a good thing to have an oxide forming between two conducting metals?

      Jack said zinc in Vaseline. Sounds fun. When it becomes oxidised you can rub it on your face for a lovely complexion. xxx

    3. Correct Mathieu,
      They must be absolutely clean and dry at all times and the connection must be very tight with no resistance between.

      For instance, you can alloy copper into Aluminium to make Duralumin. It won’t self rot, in fact improves it’s place in the galvanic table.

      As said before, on say aircraft. They remove the protective coatings between components. Ensure they are thoroughly cleaned then bolt them up *very* tightly. Continuity check to ensure the connection is good. Then apply a PRC sealant around the joint all round and on both sides to keep out the elements.

      In my time, (both production & spares/repair) I’ve built in a good few of these lightening arresters at the back of the 146/RJ elevator:

      They live on the outside of the aircraft and get quite a pummelling.

      7 years ago, the 14 year old mains supply to my street destroyed many neighbours appliances. I got home to hear everything buzzing in the house therefore switched everything off. This was from the Aluminium/copper wire joint badly applied and protected at my end of the ring. It just HAD to be at the end of MY driveway.

    4. Nice Andyj,
      I asked two Brainbugs today. One was with you, the other was with me.
      I think, the copper paste will make the connection very tight, and keeps moister, air, salt etc. out of it. I use this stuff for many years now, and had never a bad experience. Ok, I never used it specifically for this use. The Periodic Table is clear in copper with Aluminium. But I think the grease turns it perhaps in the other direction. I don’t know, it is just an idea.
      This is the stuff I am talking about:


    1. Very interesting if poorly written. Some of the points are actually quite good. The article strives to be critical but brings out some good points.

      If we made cars like that they would go 400 miles on these batteries. But I like the more modern cars of the 1950s.

      Driving my Speedster today. I just never do get over it.

      Jack Rickard

  19. Regenerative BREAKING

    I’ve been reading about electric Volvo C30. This vehicle has regenerative breaking that works in the usual way. But it has a highway mode that allows it to coast when you lift off the accelerator, rather than regen.

    Padraic McDonnell

    1. Regenerative BRAKING
      Same with the Leaf if you take it off “eco mode”. This is normal and very important.

      All BLDC controllers I have been revisiting have the option of a switchable analogue brake pressure pedal regen.

    2. It’s new to me, so I’m not sure what you mean by “normal and very important”. I did not know about the Leaf… interesting.

      It kind of mirrors Jack’s c9nclutions on regen he made last year which is why I thought it was interesting that volvo were taking this approach.

    3. If you will notice, we have taken some unusual positions on a lot of things about electric vehicles. That is because I have become enormously distrustful of the “known to be true lore and mythology” of electric vehicles. So we test, and we work from what is IN FRONT OF US.

      Yes, we did some testing of Regen. I rather like the braking action of regen, and it certainly has a role, but it unfortunately does NOT offer the gains widely reported. I would not say that it offers NO gains, but they are highly variable by driving style. For me, they are negative numbers. But I have a by now natural inclination to coast a lot and regen actually interferes with that.

      A button to turn it off? We mostly have that on most of our cars.

      Same with BMS systems and other things that make perfect sense but do not happen to be true. Over time, we’ll look better, and the myths will gradually test away as people work with actual road work. I never said ALL engineers are morons.

      You might also be surprised who lurks in the EVTV world at this point. You might be VERY surprised. But it’s not my place to “out” anyone who has to maintain a job and career… We have some political negatives for a lot of people….

      Jack Rickard

    4. Thank you, Jack. For me, your testing is what has kept me tuned in over the years, and I suspect it is the same for many viewers, whomever some of those are……

      With regen I suspect (from my armchair) that I would prefer to have regen on breaking, which may be useful, and none at all when I lift off the accelerator (but the option of turning it on/off altogether like you).

      I also suspect that regen is forgiving of those with lead feet, like Brain, around town.


    5. I think it’s a personal choice. I personally like the idea of regen because I drive a hybrid already, so I’m used to playing the brake pedal and hills for recharging my IMA. Jack likes to coast and use less power to begin with. Call it a draw, it just depends on who’s behind the wheel 🙂

      – Doc

    6. If I had any car and was driving down the M62 (Pennines) to Manchester, UK. I would not be a happy chappie if I had something that took the pleasure away from my 5 mile free ride down.

  20. You all might have missed this from the last post of the last session.
    There was a post from ORION 2010 on March 29th that contained the following You Tube video…!
    The important part that I got out of the video was the external hydraulic pump which enabled the automatic transmission to be pressurized when the motor was not idling, in this case so he could use a ZILA 2K controller which he says did not have an idle function. This is something I have been thinking about for a long time, and the featured EV builder showed the components to do it with an elegant design.

  21. Jack, I sent you some j1772 connector price quotes by email. I think I’ve sent them to you before. I think the price is low enough that it could good items for your webshop.
    do you still get my mails or are you filtering them out? I ask because I want to give you some feedback on the show and maybe you’d want that more private. otherwise I’ll post here.

  22. Dan:

    I’ve actually asked on many occasions that you keep your valiant help a secret just between the two of you.

    That said, we are adding J1772 products to our web shop – specifically the aluminum billet receptacle and AVC circuit from David Kerzel and indeed he has a NEW AVC circuit that is even better.

    We kind of focus on the best solution we can find at the best value point. Nature of God, the Universe, human nature, and technology, that will in almost ALL cases preclude the most inexpensive option with regards to the upfront price. Not that it couldn’t happen. But it would be a raging coincidence and largely after the fact.

    If you want to build a car from the absolutely cheapest crap you find and assemble, I don’t really want to ride in it…..

    And in fact, I kind of have a weakness for over engineered “jewelry”.

    It says that my car is “special” and indeed all of our cars are “special.” That’s
    one of the advantages of NOT having a massive assembly line and volume production.

    Jack Rickard

  23. Special car, yes.
    But we have a “special” who’s life is incomplete without his 3D printer. Dan, check out Makerbot. Buy one and we’ll EMPLOY you to make us parts in ABS.

    Reliability is known by it’s weakest link. If anyone wants to undercut the J1772 route then £35 inc. 20% UK taxes will buy you an outdoor plug and socket, (240V, 16A) that can be used in any campsite/industrial area.

    If David Kerzel’s new circuit works directly from a pack voltage; I’m very, very listening.

    1. Dan:

      Plenty happened this week. The A123 thing is huge news and the Azure Dynamics thing is too.

      What could I do to get you to cut that 20% down to 0% and also stop posting in my blog???? As you had agreed?

  24. The new circuit still works from 12vdc I think. But it has a plastic case so I don’t have to mount it in a little box. Even HE sells less expensive plastic J1772 ports.

    I prefer the billet aluminum model.

    Dan of course has never SEEN either one.

    Dan, you can import the $51 jobber and sell it on YOUR web site. Then we’re both happy.


  25. Jack,

    I am filming my work like a diary and sometimes I try to cut a video out of it. I don’t know, five or six people seems to like them. So I will continue…
    For me it’s a kind of payback, because you and some other guys are doing a great job in the net. My english is sometimes funny, but I would like to see you guys doing a show in German.)
    Anyway, I would like to know what you think…?!

    Bottom Balance:

    Or check out more on my canel:


  26. Ohne – in one video you posted to youtube you measured 100V from the motor terminals of your Soliton1 to its case. Did you purchase this Soliton1 from Rebbl and is it marked “CE Compliant”? If so, it is likely the common mode filtering capacitors which are coupling enough leakage current to the case for your meter to register the voltage. Try measuring the *current* between the case and either motor terminal (through a 10k resistor for safety) and see if it is much lower than Ohm’s law would otherwise predict.

    NB – posting a video to YouTube, etc., rather than sending us an email is a rather oblique way of obtaining technical support.

    1. A message in a separate blog is an unusual way of providing it. I like it although it is a little circuitous. This must set a record for roundabout communications. If only there was some old fashioned street mail in the loop, we’d have a trifecta.

      Glad you all could work it out….


    2. I don’t have Ohne’s email (as he’s never contacted us) and the comment box for YouTube only allows a pathetically tiny number of characters. I could have just ignored the video, but after a second person forwarded it to me I about blew a proverbial gasket.

    3. I bought the Soliton from Rebbl in the Netherland. This video was only made for them. As you could see,it had no EVDrive number. I had no clue that it is “open”.
      No, it has no CE sign. Rebbl sold it to me as an EMC compliant device.

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