Exciting days. Brain did a marvelous job of getting the front of the Cadillac back on and the new condenser fan installed. We had a bit of a problem with the left front turn signal that required a trip to the dealer for a new bit of harness about a foot long, but that wasn’t too hard.

This week I’m winging it without Brain. We received the eCobra and a bizarre message from Paul in Taiwan. He’s sending the eCobra and a half finished version Brian was working on to Oregon to have some one else finish the second car. We’re kind of buried here so we’ll not be able to pursue it. But we will replace the DC-DC converter and get it running again and he does want it shown at EVCCON.

We shot Thursday and Friday some information about our heater and a little air conditioning primer. It has already been rather well received. But over the weekend I have kind of pieced together the plexiglass top to our battery box and the tonneau covers of the bed and the truck looks sharp. I’m actually having difficulty LOCATING the rear window – kind of the task for this morning.

[jwplayer file=”news082412-iPhone.m4v” hd.file=”news082412-1280.mov” image=”http://media3.ev-tv.me/news082412.jpg” streamer=”rtmp://s3einxnpkaij93.cloudfront.net/cfx/st/” provider=”rtmp” width=”950″ height=”584″ html5_file=”http://media3.ev-tv.me/news082412-1280.mov”]

But over teh weekend I actually drove the beast around town as my main ride. I have to say, I am extraordinarily pleased with myself. I never get over the fact that after working on a car for in this case a year or two, that it can actually move at all. But I did all my normal driving this weekend and even took it about eight miles down Interstate 55 to the airport and it ran very nicely.

All the action is in the latter half of the accelertor pedal and so I’m having to put a bit of foot pressure to it – and then it takes off. I think I’m going to use HP Tuners to remap the whole accelerator/power curve a bit more aggressively. IT seems very conservative. I guess it was really pretty much like that with the gas engine too. But now I can change it. And so we are going to change it for “feel”.

Of course at 7200 lbs (I think – we should weigh this beast). It just floats down the freeway. The acceleration is good. It moves fairly smoothly though at times, and kind of random times at that, the motor spins up 1000 rpm in a big lag between 2nd and 3rd gear. I can adjust to that, and indeed quickly learned to anticipate this shift and just let up on the pedal very slightly during that shift which made it go quite away. Hopefully I can find some way to do this in HP tuners but I’m not sure the ECU doesn’t nornally cut power during this shift. Not sure just how to remedy it completely.

Beyond a certain perception of sluggishness in the first half of the pedal and this 2n3/3rd shift, there was kind of busy action in the higher gears. Seemed to- move around a lot up and down between 5th and 6th. THAT we can certainly address in HP Tuners.

As to the EV grin. At this point, I have done a number of cars. There remains a lot to be done with the Elescalade and I have a worried eye on every twitch and every noise and every movement of the meter. But I guess Sunday afternoon and I finally broke down and smiled all over town. I was cruisin baby in my big black Cadillac and digging it.

Over the years I’ve suffered a problem deriving from the fact that I’m an excellent cook, and my wife is even better. Our social life with friends mostly derives around food and unfortunately several of them are truly gourmet class cooks. And this is the part of the day I spend with my wife. She’s a huge baseball fan and at the end of the day, we gather in the kitchen, stir something up and watch the Cardinals. Believe it or not I am just absolutely NOT a big baseball fan. But I’m kind of forced to watch this very slow moving game with her and after awhile you do get to know who the players are and how it’s coming.

But the net effect is that I’m no longer young and pretty, and in fact, border on the grossly obese category at 285 pounds. Carrying all that, I’m not as lithe as I once was either. So getting into and out of all these itty bitty cars is a bit of work. The Cadillac Escalade is kind of high, and I have to climb up into it. But as you can see, it’s a big car with a big door and an enormous seat that is both heated AND cooled with air conditioning routed through tiny holes int the upholstery. You sit up quite high of course with superb viisbility in all directions. ANd of course as a Cadillac it has actually stupid luxuries built in. The steering wheel is heated for example. The pedals can be adjusted electrically fore and aft with a button press. The cigarette lighter works. Two enormous cup holders. An armrest/storage compartment the size of a laptop desk. And acres of dash board to hold enything you might want to array there. The seat is wide, deep, and tall and of course six way power.

The result is a very comfortable car for a big guy. I sit up high, lord and master of the universe as I idle down the road typically at 22 miles per hour.

I recently received my notice from Tesla to firm up my order and did indeed fill it all out – $101,000 when it is all done for my long awaited Model S. Then came the message to electronically “sign” my order. I’ve hesitated.

First, it appears they are simply not going to get the Model S far enough in production to put number 2875 on the ground for EVCCON – now less than a month away. Second, it IS a hundred grand. But playing into this decision – I’ve GOT a very comfortable five passenger heated cooled car now – the Escalade. And while it won’t go 300 miles, I just don’t need to.

It also wont’ go zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds. Don’t need that either. I’m confident that when we get it shifting smoothly enough to try it, the 7.5 second 0-60, even at 7200 lbs, is actually going to be there or a near miss. More performance than I need to idle around town at 22 miles per hour.

So far the motors are running so cool they don’t register on the Engine Coolant Temperature gage. I may have to recheck the gage in fact. We had it working earlier. And the dual motors pull the car very strongly if you put the pedal to it.

Bottom line, I may just not need a Model S. Tesla has kind of rudely quit talking to us about the show. I’m sure they’re up to their ass over this production ramp up, but the girl we were talking to I’m guessing was not given to much sheet metal work anyway. And I sure do like driving this Cadillac.

So yeah, this weekend the EV grin finally arrived. And I’m driving with more confidence. I did blow two fuses in my GE Wattstation at home. They were ordinary 40A BUSS fuses and I drove out to Lowes for a pair of 60 Amp versions. Got it back together and charging. Of course the Manzanita can do 75 amps, but even at 50 it was warming the substantial GE cord. I turned it down to 40 amps and it charged well.

Averaging, it appears to use just barely over 5 Ah per mile. At 185volts, that’s about 925 wH per mile. We’re at LEAST at 7500 lbs with me in the car. That’s about a 12.3 ratio instead of 10:1. So it would appear to my eye that the automatic transmission and all these blowers have thrown our rule of thumb off a bit. We would expect 750 wH per mile. We’ll do more testing of course and in a more scientific fashion. But it takes a lot of power to move this hog. With a 76kWh pack, that implies a max range of about 82 miles and a safe 80% range of about 66 miles. I’ll take it. Actually for my use its way overkill.

This project puts me in a frame of mind to consider a Ford F150. They have announced a new aluminum body version of this truck that is purported to be lighter of course for fuel economy. The FORD F150 has been the top selling vehicle worldwide every year since it was introduced. I’m thinking a single 11 inch and Soliton WOULD make it move. If we can crack the ECU issues on that, and I can’t imagine why we couldn’t, this could be done. And a 200Ah pack would then get us perhaps 40-50 miles max range. Perhaps $25,000 in parts and a new truck would do it. I think there would be a market for such. At least around here. We’re kind of the heartland of pickup trucks.

In any event, I’m just bouncing up and down over the Escalade. My kind of car. Now rolling and driving well. A long and expensive journey that I was assured by so many of our ever optimistic viewers would end in disaster. We’re in cleanup mode. Air conditioning. Heating. Tidythings up. Etc. Meanwhile it’s already taken over as my daily driver.

Saturday, Nabil Henke and his father John came down and spent the afternoon with me. He was picking up 50 brand spanking new CA100FI cells and an assortment of bit parts. Nabil wants to play in the conversion space but lacks funding to set up shop or even do his own car – which is in kind of slow motion progress. But he found a guy who owns both a brand new Leaf and an older Porsche 944 lead acid conversion with a Zilla controller. He’s worked a deal to upgrade this Porsche to the new CA cells. And so he has his first conversion job – without actually ever completing a car himself. Highly unusual. But he’s very intelligent and has been following our progress closely. My advice, – give the guy the ride of his life. By extracting 1200 lbs of lead and replacing them with 350 lbs of lithium and tidying up a few things, I think he very much can. And success is in the nature of these cells. As the man has driven his Porsche a lot, starting at 35 mile range and within 3 years diminishing to nothing, grossly, and in my eyes OBSCENELY overweight, that has been his experience with this car. If Nabil can devise secure mounting for these cells and get them charging properly, it’s almost an automatic win by virtue of the nature of the cells. The car will then drive like a PORSCHE instead of a concrete truck. The range will go much higher even using the 100Ah cells, and they’ll last essentially forever if Nabil can wire up the JLD so you can’t overdischarge the car. When the guy drives it, he just isn’t going to believe it after a lead acid Odyssey experience.

He intends to bring the car to show to EVCCON along with the client and his wife. Should be a good time for all. A guy with a conversion and a Leaf has to be one of us anyway.

And so that is two guys, Henke and Hauber, that have basically had the dream of having a conversion shop and gone and sold someone on DOING a conversion, performed it, and became a conversion shop in a very real sense, with no resources really to do all that. When I tell people to go just DO their dreams, they assume I don’t know what I’m talking about, and that I just don’t have any sympathy or understanding of how lacking in resource they are and how debilitating that can be.

Let me first say, it is unlikely for anyone on this forum to have a clue the limited means I started life with. And with four years in Asia and most specifically the Phillippine Islands, where I found my first wife, I think I have a view and understanding and comprehension of poverty in a way that it would just be very special for any of you to be able to relate to. Along the way, it’s true I picked up about 40 million dollars, ran that up to 100 million, and then lost 90% of it. That leaves me with as wide a spectrum of “resource” experience as anyone I know or have heard of.

In any event, along the way I’e encountered thousands of individuals working away at jobs they actually loathed, trying to pay the utility bills and survive until their ship came in. I should be more sympathetic, but it is very hard for me to be. In their poverty, they have so very MUCH more resource at their disposal, than the true poverty I have seen and lived amongst, that it’s hard for me not to be irritated. We are so wealthy we can run pure clean potable drinkable water out on the ground and not bother to shut the spigot off because we are busy washing our car? Or use it to water our grass? To where we spend money and energy to adjust the TEMPERATURE of where we live or where we keep our food? I cannot adequately express what this would look like from the outside looking in. You just will not be able to share this picture with me.

I also happen to know something else that maybe you CAN picture. After a certain limited number of serial years, if you live LONG enough, you will most likely wind up all alone in a white room, full of white people, dressed in white clothes, all anxiously and very kindly inquiring about how you feel and trying to determine some WAY some HOW to work in one final billable procedure for the government to reimburse them for before you pass from this earth. You might mention to them THEN that you indeed paid EVERY damn utility bill you ever received IN FULL. It will certainly make an impression.

Heart attack survivors are generally all over this message.

Now, in the time you have left, it is very nice to have a dream. Something you wnat to do to be useful, to make a mark, to AFFECT the world for the better. And to glean your daily bowl of gruel from. If you already have one, my advice, and I’ve repeated this in all directions with very poor success, is to go DO it. You will not starve to death first suffering the pangs of hunger as your very flesh wastes away to bare bone skeletal remains. Live your dreams as if you may be dead tomorrow morning. But you DO have the rest of today.

For those with an ear to hear.

Last night, we had our Rickard house open Sunday Dinner, which normally includes an array of everyone at an enormous round table I bought years ago. We celebrated the 87th birthday of Alberta Sides, an African American woman of some accomplished years. I leaned over and asked her quite directly what was the ONE thing she had learned in 87 years that she MOST valued. Her answer was immediate, with the obvious expectation that I would not really accept it. And that was GRATITUDE. She had learned to awaken each morning and thank the Lord for the day before her and the days behind her and the joyful experiences of her life.

Actually I do accept it. In my view, a conversation with an 87 year old of any intellect talking to a 57 year old, even of considerable genius, is akin to a person discussing the complexities of their marital relations with their cat. That 30 years is an enormous gap I can’t bridge for probably another, oh say, 30 years. But in trying to be a very smart cat, I was listening closely. And I do accept the answer. And so today, I’m going to practice being GRATEFUL. Not that I understand it entirely…

My dream as that the entire world move toward electromagnetic drive for their personal transportation, giving up NOTHING and having a better transportation experience from 1/6th the energy. I will likely die without ever seeing all of that come to fruition. But we’re not going to worry about utility bills in the interim. And today, TODAY I am going to do my very best effort at making all that come to pass.

On the odd off chance, that you share that dream in even a small way, I would urge you to motion in all due haste.

Ironically, on their drive home to Iowa, the Henkes’ RAN OUT OF GAS on the side of the road. THat’s in their unlimited range ICE vehicle. While waiting for AAA to bring them some gasoline, they thoughtfully put on their emergency flashers. And by the time they had added a couple of gallons to the tank, the flashers had run down their 12v battery to the point it would not start the car…. with 50 CA100FI cells in the back end of it.

Oh welll……..even living the dream, some days are indeed better than others….

Jack Rickard


  1. Jack,

    Did the eCobra have the diode and inductor installed on the DC-DC or is that something you are going to add now? That part wasn’t clear to me.

    Thank you for the reminder of the vast resources we each have. Having lived in the central pacific and SE Asia for 11 years I know first hand what you are talking about. It is still so easy to forget how easy we have it.

    David D. Nelson

    1. The eCobra did NOT have the diode and inductor treatment. So I’m fairly confident it will provide a fix. Again – 1300 amps is a lot of amps. Those power levels are actually a new thing for us here at EVTV. And it sags a battery pack dramatically.

      Yes, I know. I share your ennui and I’ve caught myself so many many times. It’s just human nature to whine. Nipple deep and about to drown in rose petals and hundred dollar bills, you’ll still find me bleating pitifully about my plight and my day.

  2. Yes – if you have a tap in your community you are better off than many. If you have a tap in your house you are blessed. If you have two taps in your house you are wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice.

    There is a far fetched rumour doing the rounds that someone had four or five taps in his house and prewarmed water came out of a couple of them. The guy’s name was Gates or Soros or something. Not sure I believe it. Why would anyone want that many taps?

  3. Jack,

    Is anyone working on the same type of gauges and systems you are using in the Elescalade in other car brands? Ideally I would like to have the original gauges on any brand used in the conversion. After talking with friends and family, if it doesn’t appear to be a seamless transition from ICE to electric drive, most consumers will not bite… Especially if it becomes a significant monetary outlay.


    1. What a relief Brian. I feared I was going to have to build electric cars and make videos all day every day for the rest of my life.

      Now, realizing it is all for naught, I can relax, stop this silly video thing, and put these annoying cars away and go and get a
      proper ICE vehicle to drive.

      Whatever was I thinking…

      It is tough to get the vehicle to work exactly as it did when ICE. Fortunately, in many ways I don’t want it too. But yes it would be nice to get hte warnings to go away and all the gages to work.

      We’re not there yet on hte Escalade and may never be. But I’m having a lot of fun driving it anyway.


      1. The nicest drive I’ve ever driven on a car as far as the motor and transmission goes has been the i-MiEV (Citroën variant to be exact). Driving ICE feels stupid now. I’d hate it if an EV would drive like an ICE. Same goes for the motorcycle I built. No gears, single speed, seamless acceleration. Compare to six speeds and chasing a narrow powerband of a 500cc. Why would I ever want to go back to that?

        1. I guess the issue Brian is describing is mostly instrumentation and minor controls. I surmise that this in turn depends upon the extent to which we can do things like inject CAN signals onto the existing bus to replace fuel flow with amps and fuel level state with state of charge so that the OEM dash read out of “Miles to empty” works as it used to. It would also be nice to fiddle with the code so it said “Instantaneous W-hrs/mile” rather than “Instantaneous mpg”.

          I see this as the most challenging part of my current conversion. I have an Arduino CAN shield kit on my desk and will report back on anything interesting if I can avoid being killed by accidentally triggering an air bag. Medium term we need suppliers to start developing plug and play solutions in this area.

          Jack (or anyone) – have you tried playing with Curtis VCL to see whether you can get it to fake CAN messages, or to respond to existing CAN messages by closing a relay or whatever?

          1. Indeed, the i-MiEV had a working speedometer and km to empty indicator as well. Although it’s reading was quite dependent on what you were doing with the car. We started out with 111 km, went down to 60 km on highway in less than 10 km travelled and back to city resulted in the reading slowly climbing back upwards again. If you start out with 111 km and try to make it to a town 100 km away via highway you won’t make it. People trust these things way too much already.

            The ZEVA Fuel Gauge Driver mentioned on the show before should take care of the fuel gauge though. That and the speedometer are probably the only things most people look at anyway. I suppose the biggest adjustment to be made is to reverse the logic of energy comsumption where it used to be that you could get further on the highway than in the city. The hybrids are already changing that though, since they too sip less fuel in the city.

            Newer cars are more and more problematic with their closed CAN bus systems. Not to mention the legislators making it harder to convert your car. Making one from scratch is near impossible already. At least if you can’t spare two copies for crash testing. That’s in Finland, perhaps elsewhere in Europe as well. To practically convert a car it can’t be newer than 1997 here either. After that they’ve been sort of EU stamped as a whole. Probably works great for the automakers.

          2. Would be interesting if Jacks Elescalade can show *any* reading.

            John, reverse engineering is fraught. I’d be more tempted to photograph the car clocks for superimposition to an LCD for later fitment.

            Miles to empty = ( Miles*Pack) / ( Pack-AH )
            Where Pack = allowed capacity in AH.
            The pre-selection of Miles or Km is a ratio to empty. Changing Miles/Km mid charge, one will need to multiply or divide the displayed figure and the “Miles” variable.

            A non-calibrated efficiency gauge would be nice for driving. Simply
            “velocity – battery consumption”. Variables scaled for a sensible reading.

          3. I think we’ll be able to advance the token on instrumentation in some interesting ways. BUt I have to tell you that my interest wanes. Here’s why. They have all that done very nicely on the Leaf. Guess what the most popular aftermarket device is for the Nissan Leaf? A guy made them an AH counter.

            Like Doroethy in Oz, Kansas wasn’t so bad afterall. With several layers of abstraction done very well, Leaf owners want to know the splecifcs of how many amp hours they have to work with, and how many are left. The predictives turned out to be a little vague, a little arbitrary, and they never got the feeling they
            really knew where their battery packs were. And indeed, the Cadillac’s “miles remaining” thing with the ICE engine was comical. In driving around town, I could take off for St. Louis and with a few miles of highway driving have more miles left on arrival in St. Louis than I had when I left Cape Girardeau.

            I’m growing more fond of the JLD404 all the time. Voltage, current, Amp hours. It just works. We’ll probably put some effort into getting an AMPBLOCK or something from RechargeCar to simulate the gas tank sensors and get the hokey fuel gage working. But it’s mostly for show and self entertainment.

            I just went through this with the Japanese guys who bought Duh. They want something easier than a number. Actually there is NOTHING easier than a number. They’re just overthinking it. You get used to it very quickly, and it is inherently MORE accurate than a normal gas gage and actually easier to interpret. But it IS different than a gasoline car with the fuel gage. Should we fix the car or the driver? In this case, the transition is just very easy to make. It takes less than a minute to explain. Everybody understands it. And after two days, they like it. But on the first day, it seems different.

            You have 180Ah. At 170, the car runs really slowly. At 180 it won’t run at all. You start at zero. When you get there, you’re done. It’s pretty easy. The initial reaction is to calculate miles to go. But miles are themselves an entirely arbitrary abstraction. Neither the road nor the car knows whether it is a mile later or earlier. We have marked off 5280 feet as being something termed a mile, and we made up the length of the foot. If you skip over all that and just think AH, you will soon learn it is 82 AH to Aunt Bert’s house. No different – except that ampere hours does truly represent the state of your battery pack.

            Different ways of presenting and interpreting that will occupy us for some time to come. As the AH rate changes with SOC, I would like to eventually get to kWh which don’t. But beyond that, we are truly designing video games.

            Jack Rickard

  4. Hi Jack, sorry if this is off the EV subject or too personal but since you did bring it up, you might like to know that those 285 lbs are a lot easier to deal with than you may have ever thought. I was there*, and this site can answer the “whys” and also the “hows” when it comes to reversing that simple problem”. It’s easy when you know the answers and I suspect that this fellow’s highly-referenced books and research may appeal to your objective technical nature.


    The cure is doable and doesn’t feel terrible. In fact you may feel better than you ever remember. And why not stick around until your EV vision is realized. 87 should do nicely.

    *here are my bona-fides: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=1&page_id=190767&v=z

    Best wishes,

  5. Nice post. Very happy to read your Escalade is your main squeeze again. Hey, I relate. I had a Jeep Wagoneer that Royce built for me that I refused to give up for years. I just loved it, truly (I still feel wistful over it sometimes) and aside from the choking fumes, she was the only gal for me. Also, I think you hit the nail on the head; we’re really only limited by our imaginations, not our pocketbooks. I wish I could tell you all the stories of the bargains and freebies we’ve found over the years to build a car shop, renovate a crappy house, homeschooling the kids, home projects, costumes, and now the gorgeous Bad Cat and all the other weird stuff we do. And here’s what I tell friends when they are waxing nostalgic for a dream unfulfilled: I say, do what you already do and give it everything you have. That’s where the treasure is. Have a good one, Jack! A very Happy Birthday to your friend, Alberta Sides 🙂

    1. Thanks Karen. Yes, you guys could be a poster child for this blog entry. Just go live your dream. Do it 100%. And somehow it all works out. The trick ism, it generally works out a lot BETTER than slaving away at a job you detest to pay the utility bills. In the long run, it is heroically better. As we do all wind up with dirt in our face, peering skyward through the bluegrass.


    1. No Nabil. I mentioned pulling 220 for the heater. That requires both legs. I mentoned pulling one leg for the pump. I’m kind of rethinking that anyway. I think I can use the J1772 relay to switch on the 12v pump as we leave one DC-DC converter on all the time. That eliminates the second pump.


  6. Jack, just curious how much affect you think the twin motors has on your weight to power ration? Also, we mention that the temp gauge does not even register because the motors are running so cool, I know on the older ODBI pcms and I’m sure the ODBII also, the engine temp plays some part in what the transmission does. I know in my ’92 S10 Blazer, the pcm will not allow the torque convertor to lock up until the engine has reached a certain temp. I think they likely did that for emissions and I don’t know how that would play into you Caddy but it may be something to consider. I’m glad you have it running and drivable. I would be interested to see some “Real World” data from it once you have had a chance to get all the tweaks made and it is in a mostly finished state. You and Brian did a great job.

      1. THanks John. Yes, it is cool. I’m driving it full time now and it just suits a big fat guy like me much better. The weather is quite nice so neither heat nor cooling is desperately needed at the moment.

        Today we connected the Trendnet to one of the +5 v legs of my 15v forward supply and connected it to the other Soliton and mounted it securely. I can now configure the Soliton or monitor with ECar or EV Speedo at will. I ordered another from Egghead.

        I misspoke on the video. They were NOT inexpensive at $50 or $60. They’re $39.99 everywhere. Put an ethernet shield on your Arduino and….

        Ordered a second one for the other Arduino from Egghead….

        Jack Rickard

  7. Jack,
    I am sure that you and Brian will be busy as beavers just like last year, but will it be posible to part with some cash monies for EVTV parts while I am at EVCCON this year? I hope some of the attnding vendors will be actually selling parts this year, or at least taking orders, rather than just showing their wares – it would save me a fortune on international shipping costs if I load up my own suitcases. I may end up ditching all my clothes and just filling up on EV parts!

    1. Nick:

      We have most parts in stock, even for the vendors displaying. I’m sure they’ll be doing something as well. We’ve told all of them sales are no problem. I think they associate that with swap meets or something and are trying to appear professional.

      Richard Flentge has joined us to head up our parts department.

      Jack Rickard

  8. I enjoyed reading your blog this week…

    I am inching closer to my long dream of owning an electric car. I finished one of the rear battery boxes and I am about 90% complete on the other. I am sure that I am making them a little too complex, but I really wanted to keep the weight low and in roughly the same orientation as the original engine.

    As for instrumentation, I know that the PLC and HMI that I am working on will do everything that I need. Once I get the car running, it will be a rolling Lab for me. I will enjoy many hours of experiments in how to make things work better…

    The PLC and Touch screen offer almost unlimited possibilities in how to control and monitor these vehicles.

    I have a 2011 F-150 Lariat Super Crew Cab 3.5L Ecoboost truck. It is the best truck I have ever owned. If Ford can shave 750lb (as they claim) off of this truck, it will be a game changer.

  9. Jack,
    I designed my own amphr gauge in 2008, and in the hardware I added a voltage input to allow for future software changes to give me Kwhr instead. The amphr gauge is so accurate and useful that I still haven’t made the change. I did however add a bit of circuitry that allows it to run an original ICE fuel gauge.

    John Hardy, it is quite easy to listen in on a CAN bus provided you know the address of the parameter you need, and then you can do what you like with the information. I used a CAN to RS232 converter which comes from the US (cost about $130 if I remember correctly), and a little micro board that I designed. I can check if there is an off the shelf little micro board with RS232 in and relay output if you like.I use mine so that I can display the parameters sent out by my AZURE DMOC. The most exciting parameter is the actual torque which I display as a bar graph with 2/sec updates. The torque is easy to measure for a DC motor but not so easy for an AC system.

    1. That’s very interesting Walter. I have a CAN shield for an Arduino but (at this point) zero knowledge.

      Do I understand correctly that by “…micro board with RS232 in and relay output…” you are describing a mini electronic control unit which could (with a CAN/RS232 interface) take in a CAN signal, interpret it and conditionally close a relay?

  10. Jeff.
    Can you tell me the brand and model of the PLC that you are using?
    I am also using a PLC to controll all of the internal and external lighting on my conversion vehicle in addition to sequencing up the various other components. Like Coolant pump, Coolant fan. DC to DC Converter, and other stuff. I am using a Crouzed Millenium 3 Logic Essental Controller.
    Also I am not shure what a HMI is, Could you elaborate just a little bit.


  11. Hi Jack and John, Your side bet in the previous blog is no go because I agree with what you say in your comment. What it shows me is that you did not get my meaning with my reasoning of why some batteries had there voltage shot up and others dipped. I used the term fully charged which naturally I mean, near enough to fully charged. I approximate just like Jack did when he said that the actual fully charged battery is 3.4V. I just went out to my old thunderskys that have been sitting in the barn for 6 months now and measured 31 of them. Remember these were charged with cell boards (no supervising BMC) that allowed charge up until the 1st battery hit 3.8V. The charging was then stopped and all the cell boards turned on their shunts (1.5Amps) independantly until each battery dropped to 3.6V . It was at this point when I removed the cell boards and packed away these batteries.
    The results of my measurment was that after 6 months the highest voltage was 3.45V and the lowest was 3.34V and the average was 3.42V. (2 were < 3.4 and 3 were 3.4)So I accept 3.4V is near enough. Please understand that I am very impressed with all your work.
    Now with what I was trying to say is this:
    When you have a pack of batteries they have small differences in amphr. When the charger goes into CV mode the total voltage accross the pack is fixed, so the sum of all the voltages must equal that amount. We know that the individual battery terminal voltage increases very rapidly when the battery is near full and it takes very little current to keep it rising. But as the current falls and the near full battery voltages rise rapidly the charger current drops but the batteries with more amphr still nead a bit more current to keep the voltage rising and because the current is falling and the charger voltage is fixed, their terminal voltages dip a bit. That is why I asked which batteries where the lowest amphr. If I am right the lower amphr batteries should be the peeky ones and the higher amphr should be that ones that have the dip.

  12. Jack I loved your blog and you are correct we have MUCH to be thankful for. I have had the opportunity to go to 6 third world countries on short term mission trips, mainly with Habitat for Humanity. The poverty is something most Americans can imagine. Imagine one spicot for a town of 1500 people. Not a signle family had running water, not one. Not a single person had a bicycle let alone a car or scooter.

    Yes we are blessed.

    And I am closing in on my second conversion a 1991 Mazda Miata. Definately a fun ride. I hope to make a video of the highlights which I will send.

    1. Love to see the Miata. Yes, it is stark to contemplate the size of the poverty. BUt indeed one of my fears is actually a very optimistic view of an emerging middle class in India and China that I quite applaud. But it does indeed indicate huge numbers of additional automobiles on the planet – an exponential growth in their number actually, in the face of questionable oil production. If all that is true, we are headed for another one of our reality TV “emergencies” in America with a sudden panic to $10 gasoline and pretty unattractive financial implications deriving from that.

      So build on.


      1. Yes – if an emerging Chinese middle class spawns a few million young men wanting to tinker with V8s the way the last generation of US lads did, then we are all doomed.

        Maybe one of the most important jobs in EV land will turn out to be making electric drive seriously cool. Matt – you may have contributed more than you thought driving up Pike’s peak the other day… I’m hoping to do my bit by doing a Chinese edition of “ICE free”

  13. Just to repeat a couple of comments I already posted on youtube.

    The Renault Zoe has a heat pump system that can cool by 2 kW and heat 3 kW while using just 1 kW of energy. Pretty nice way to soft of use the AC system to heat the car as well. Hopefully this will catch on and someone will make a kit of such for us DIYer’s.

    As for the Solitons I noticed the IP address they’ve chosen is kind of wrong (reserved that is) and shouldn’t be used, but after talking about it with EVnetics they’ve convinced me that it’s the best way to do it in this case anyway. They are however considering adding an option to their configuration where you could change the last digit of the address so that you could actually reach more than one controller on the same network.

      1. We regularly have below zero F (-17C) here in Finland and the heat pump efficiency does go down in such conditions, but it does still give som heat, just not as much. Renault has been testing the Zoe here as well in -25C (-13F) last winter and claims they had no problems.

        1. Interesting. I’ll admit I haven’t looked into it very deeply. Just what I’ve been told by contractors about why no one, except those with geothermal heat sinks, uses heat pumps in my area, for heating, and we don’t even generally have too severe of winters. At least by some standards. Finland is definitely colder. I only live about 100 miles north of EVTV. Looks like I have some reading to do about the system they’re using.

          1. This is the same heat pump (or the indoor unit of it anyway) that we have, the Mitsubishi Electric MSZ-FD25VA “Kirigamine”:


            With a single unit you can just about halve your heating bill in a small house so while they cost about 1500€ here it’ll pay itself back in no time and you’ll of course get the cooling in the summer as well. It’s just silly not to have one if you need the heat and don’t mind the slight fan noise that it makes while in operation.

  14. Al Gajda,

    I work for an Allen Bradley distributor so I obviously used a AB PLC.

    I am currently usin the MicroLogix 1100 PLC with a Spectrum Universal 8 channel Analog Input card. This eight channel 16bit analog input card can take in almost any typical analog signal, 0-5V, +- 5V, 0-10V, +-10V, 0-20ma, 4-20ma, Thermo Couplers (mv) and RTD’s. The Channels can also do +-50mv or +-100mv which makes the prefect for reading a shunt.

    Each channel can be configured independently. I will probably also add a 16 Channel DC input card and a Relay Output card. The PLC is avaliable in 12V input model, but I chose the 24VDC model because it has 2 PTO/PWM high speed 20Khz chopping outputs and some relay outputs on the base. This will eventually let me directly control a Buck/Boost charger with the PLC. The 12VDC model only has 6 relay outputs.

    I have little 4″ Color Panelview Component HMI for the Thing. It was the only one that you fit in the dash and still have an ethernet Adapter. It is full TFT color. It can connect directly to the ethernet port on the PLC, but I will probably add a wireless router to have Wifi connectivity to the car. (Open up Android app possibilities for the car) The HMI is 24vdc ONLY. 24VDC is kind of the standard in the automation industries, so this will require another DC-DC converter. (Only 15-30 watts however)

    The Programming software for the HMI is built into the unit. You program it through a web browser Firefox or IE7 or IE8.

    Here are the links to the AB site for the PLC and HMI:





    Obviously AB has many more powerful processors, but I chose these because of price and the fact that you can get the programming software for the 1100 for free. (I wanted use a PLC that people could afford. However, NOTHING AB makes could be called inexpensive. The PLC retails for about $550.00. The HMI lists for $399 and the spectrum card is around $300.00. However, AB has fairly hight list prices. You can negotiate a better deal with any AB distributor in your area…

    I can program these things in my sleep. I will offer to help anyone who uses them. I have a basic program that can accurately measure the amp hours in and out of the pack down to an accuracy of about 1000th of an amp hour. (We are a Fluke distributor and I tested the accuracy against one of their certified power monitors). I doubt that anyone will find a more accurate way to measure amp hours that will fit in a car…

    I can help with most other PLC’s, but do not know them as well.

    The Crouzed Millenium 3 will work fine. However, one word of caution. Their DC outputs are very susceptible to Back EMF cause by relay solonids. These big contractors we use the EV’s can kill them in short order. If you put a 0.01uf 2000V Ceramic cap across the load and a 2.5K Ohm resistor to bleed it to COM you will greatly extend the life of the outputs for a few cents worth of parts…. I even recommend them on the Relay outputs to eliminate arcing when the contact opens…

    My plan for the HMI is to make some graphical gauge faces and put the Needle object in them. It should looks very nice. Since they are programable, you can display just about anything you can think of. The little 400c is not my favorite HMI, but it works well and does have a trending object. I can literally trend all of the amp/voltage data to a SD card and monitor the power flow during an entire drive….

    These little PLC’s can be used to replace the function of just about anything on a car from headlights, interior lights, gauges (Can drive with analog outputs), Heaters, Air Conditioners, Pack warmers, A safety check for the charger, etc….

    For Example, the wiper motor on my Thing is burned out. I plan to replace with a simple 12v gear motor and use
    the PLC to operate it. By programming a couple of timers and adding a few on screen controls I will have infinitely variable intermittent control.

  15. My personal druthers would be to just gut the gauge cluster and replace it with an assortment of SpeedHut gauges. If you wanted something more elegant, I’m sure Dakota Digital would be happy to whip something up for you.

  16. Hi Jack, Hope you keep us posted about your 2nd to 3rd lag. I have been contemplating changing my manual box to an automatic, because not having a clutch slows things down when changing gears. My idea is to remove the torque converter, control the shift with my home grown computer and integrate it with my accelerator pedal. Has anyone actually done anything like this?

  17. Jack
    We purchased a few items from the EVTV Store, including the JLD404.
    It is easy to read and gives you the basics, anything else is just fluff. I like it a lot and will be ordering more. Appreciate all you do for the cause, and wish you continued success.

  18. Nice post Jack! I was especially drawn to your comments on wisdom, poverty and the preconceptions some people may have. The only roadblock anyone will every encounter in life is themselves. Enjoy your Escalade and the fact you got it done!

    1. I guess I don’t think the only roadblock anyone will encounter is themselves. But in essence you are still correct – the self imposed limitations so swamp the real roadblocks you encounter that the real ones are trivial by contrast.

  19. Great blog, great inspiration. The potential of EV, the ability of an average Joe to do something significant (and I am not referring to changing a light bulb), and gratitude for all the potential we have personally.
    What a waste to know what can be done, and then choose the status quo.

    So, I have located a project – a 1963 BMW 700.

    Your Porsche 356 projects and the Sun Jag got me thinking about rear-engine air-cooled cars, and I happened to know of this one sitting in a field just waiting on someone to care before corrosion finally wins. I know BMWs, having repaired/built/rebuilt and raced a few, and I am looking forward to learning about EV conversions by jumping in the deep end (OK, maybe not as deep as the Escalade). I think the owner and I are pretty close to a deal….

    Here’s to finally moving myself from the observation deck!

    1. Come on in, the water is fine. I think MOST of the guys building an EV enter with trepidation and later are delighted with the results. The assumption is that it can’t be done or it is hard to do or else it would be done to death.

      There are some powerful anti-motivators in the existing infrastructure for making and selling cars.

      With the advent of LiFePo4 prismatic cells over just the last three or four years, electric cars became viable in a way they simply were not. These batteries are actually BETTER in all respects to those in the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt or Prius.

      Your main challenge with the BMW will be rust – not making the rust roll – but making it fly.

      Jack Rickard

  20. Hi, I am happy top have learned about your great work. My dream now is to convert some really big gas guzzlers from the 60s, 70s and 80s to electric drive trains. If I can afford it, I’d prefer Tesla drive trains. I’ll get a 81 Olds 98 soon. Maybe I’ll start with this one. I was thinking that maybe the bigger, older Eldorados and Lincolns might be easier, as they have less electronics.

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