EVCCON 2012 – A CALL TO ARMS

We’ve had a little time to recover and the post event depression is lifting. In these type of events, I spend five or six days, shall we say, overstimulated AND overserved of the humble leakage from my garage still at the same time. Post event, I’m pretty much a collapsed heap.

But things are brightening a bit now as I recover and indeed it would appear EVCCON 2012 can be declared a modest success. Just prior to the event I did an interview with local reporter Jacob McLellan on a local show called Cape Chronicles. Shared herewith, in all modesty I thought I sounded very good on this show. A little perkier before than after.

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Many of you had requested video of the event. I can’t host the event AND shoot video and more to the point, post event I don’t have time to WATCH that much video, much less edit it. So my reply was that it wasn’t happening. I loathe the NO word actually and so gave it some further thought. We hired Andrew McClary who is starting his own competing video called Electric HotRod Television to come up from Florida and shoot the event. Andrew uses a bit of a different technique taking many short shots and then artfully blending them together into kind of a montage. Narrative is not apparently his strong point. But the purpose was to give you a good feel for what EVCCON FEELS like. And I think he did a marvelously artful job of it. I fear THIS is the kind of video you wish we did. It can never be. But I get it. It’s eye candy.

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Anne Kloopenberg of New Electric in Amsterdam gave one of the more interesting sessions on electric boats. As George Hamstra was showing off his new Netgain Impulse 9 Outboard Motor at the event, interest in electric boats is picking up. We’re circling the concept of doing a boat project. I think this can be HUGE. I suspect the electric boat building world will actually in some ways eclipse electric car conversions. The advantages are just to obvious, and the boat guys too willing to spend, for this not to have life. There are some slightly different metrics with boats having to do with motor duty cycle and of course the marine environment. But I’m picturing a little Speedster of the water and I can’t get the image out of my head.

In any event, Anne (pronounced AH-NAH) has travelled a long ways TWICE now to EVCCON and is becoming one of our more effective supporters of the event. We’re hoping that like Noah, he marches Europeans two by two onto his ark and brings them over for 2013. Remember Anne – west to the Gulf of Mexico – right turn and merge onto the Mississippi, – we’re the first house on the left after the bridge.

In any event, he did a video on the “grudge match” which was between the two EVWEST attendees, our former intern Matt Hauber and his partner Michael Bream. They had some weeny excuse for not bringing their car and instead brought a ziplock bag full of differential parts from it to show. But they lined up on the drag strip with Hauber in my over drive trained 57 Speedster and Sebastian Bourgois’ Porsche 911 with TWO Netgain Warp 9’s in it.

Anne captured this race on video.

Incredibly, my Speedster with Hauber at the wheel creamed the Porsche 911 with TWO Netgain Warp 9’s on board by two car lengths at 14.4 seconds. Lots of grousing about the controllers not being set up correctly on the Porsche. WHATEVER….. The owner has QUITE a bit of pull around EVnetics as I recall. Excuses are for girls. And then too, the Speedster is easily 600-700 lbs lighter. On the dynamometer, the little Speedster cranked up 160 HP while the 911, after some serious adjustment to the controllers, wowed the crowd at 356 horeepower.

The dynamometer, a last minute addition at no small expense, was a HUGE hit. After the sun set, a group of guys migrated to the beer trailer, conveniently located right next to the dynamometer. And then they started cheering and betting on outcomes as one car after another crawled onto the roller and made three runs with the results shouted out by curiously beer emboldened observers. Admittedly this WAS a hoot. Subsequent to the exhausted dyno crews cutting this off in the late hours of the evening, thirty or forty retired to our shop at 601 Morgan Oak for a few more beers and some raucous battery debate while attending to Jason Horak’s again ailing Daytona. We cut it off promptly at 4:00AM sharp so I would look and feel my best introducing the first session the next (same) morning at 8:00 AM. Thanks guys. Very considerate. I wouldn’t have wanted to drive from the shop directly to the ShowMeCenter arena that morning. The 2 1/2 hours sleep was marvelous.

And word of EVCCON appears to be spreading. There are now over 75 EVCCON Videos on YOUTUBE. Click the link to get a listing but it goes on five pages now and climbing. As I predicted four years ago, video is just becoming ubiquitous. A print magazine is just too old school for this age. I wanted to do one. But it was video. And now EVERYONE is doing video. It is the new communication medium. I predict that within two more years, the world wide web will look like video with a few text blogs like this kind of wrapped around it on the edges. YouTube as we know it almost won’t make sense other than a storage bank for web videos which it is more or less morphing to now. EVERYONE watches YouTube videos, and very few actually go onto YouTube. Kind of part of the weakness of their business model frankly.

We have about 1000 viewers on YouTube almost entirely because they have technical difficulties with the JWPlayer or still suffer bandwidth limitations. It’s a paler version of EVtv but it more or less works.

The discussion thus far about EVCCON 2013 has focused on upgrading the playday from a few hours in the afternoon to an all day event. Morphing the 1/4 mile drag race to an 1/8th mile that would be both safer and more of advantage to the very quick start advantage electric cars have. I don’t really know much about drag racing which is ironic. I have a home in Denver that is sufficiently close to the world class Vandemeer raceway that I could throw a cat from the porch and probably land it with suffiicent accuracy to stop or at least delay a race. I’ve called around some of the strips here in Missouri and the 1/8th, I am told, is immensely more popular with the builders and the spectators than the 1/4 ever has been in this part of the country.
Nobody can quite explain to me why this is except in vague terms I don’t quite grok.

The other consideration we are discussing is that we are talking about finding sponsors for $10,000 in purse money to be spread across several of the pro classes for various finishes. I think NEDRA has about a hundred and sixty different classes defined so everyone IN NEDRA is technically a record holder of some sort. I’m thinking a relatively large purse for the top finishers in an OPEN class and then a couple of voltage classes. Everyone will still get to use the strip. But we’ll make a serious attempt at attracting the top talent. That MIGHT help push EVCCON into a viable number of attendees and cars.

As announced in our last show, I am trying to get up to speed on this genre. We are actually sponsoring WARP FACTOR III for 2013 and hope to see a big yellow EVTV.ME on the side of that black stealth fighter at an event soon. My impression is that most of the “sponsorship” of NEDRA cars has been “in-kind” parts and components. We may be the first cash sponsorship on the circuit. (That should cause some yowls of rage and correction). I suspect mostly on technicals.

What IS clear is that our attendees have a LOT of fun at this part of the event and in future events we would want to expand it somewhat to accommodate. I don’t think we can get to the TOO MUCH FUN part easily.

Beyond that, in the light of day, I have to say this. I refuse to be a safety Nazi and so pretty much just let EVCCON happen with the intention of surviving the consequences if possible. But I have to say, this is the nicest bunch of people I’ve been privileged to meet with. They are all quite intelligent, have very deep reservoirs of common sense, are a bit older and more mature than the ISP crowd (some of them ARE the ISP crowd but older) and I really didn’t see ANY of the negatives I commonly cringe at in crowds of fellow humanoids. It may just be that small is a good thing, and we ought to focus on quality over quantity in any event. My trade show experience indicates that if we could get 350 of them to show up, there’ll be another 1000 attendees show up to watch THEM. But as I say, we are kind of rethinking the whole thing all around.

And this is a lesson of life, engineering, and electric cars. Rarely do you come up with the perfect thing the first time. It takes time, trials, and tuning – prototype, test, and reprototype, to normally get a thing to really be useful.

Much to Rich Rudman’s and even last year Dennis Doerfel’s surprise, EVTV belongs to me. i do it. I present it. You can watch it. Or join the nearly 7 billion who don’t. My way or the highway. EVCCON really is NOT. It’s about you. And it becomes what you make of it. I do editorial selection to try to keep the value high. But it is intentionally without a specific theme or point of view. I can kind of see it morphing more toward people who want to build an income producing hobby or business in the EV space and less just “electric cars are cool”. But it is really all about you. The feedback is invaluable to EVTV. And hopefully it helps promote EVTV, along with all the valiant vendor efforts out there. But it is intended to be a meeting, a convention, with different points of view and a variety of players. If you have an idea for a boat session, we try to accommodate that. If you as a vendor want to have a private “dealers” meeting at EVCCON, we’ll try to accommodate that. If you want to have association and organizational side meetings, we’ll try to accommodate that. But it is its own thing. And if you want more of it, feel free to step up with suggestions. So far these are mostly about how I can spend more money on it. But some have actually been very very good and are incorporated in what you see.

Realities being what they are, of course we have to assess viability. But the event is sufficiently popular that our inclination is to find a way for it to be viable. The number of RETURNING attendees was very impressive. And os it may just be like the electric car itself, a thing you have to experience to appreciate. No doubt the logistics are indeed heroic to participate. The ones who have apparently find it worth it. I need to find some way to expand on that, so it can be bigger, better, and more valuable yet. Some days are harder than others on the Internet. So too in EV space.

We’re working it. It’s ok to chime in with help and ideas. We can all stand around and watch Jack work. Or we can work together. The outcome kind of depends on the mode. If you’re waiting to see if I can do it, I already did. Twice. And a good time was had by all. If you want it to move from that, be a player.

KFVS12 News

30 thoughts on “EVCCON 2012 – A CALL TO ARMS”

  1. Hi Jack,
    On the subject of inviting or even promoting lead sled cars to come to evccon 2013, I would suggest to you that it would make a great leap of progress to do so. What could make a greater impact on someone with a science project car to turn it into something real than being confronted on the spot with dozens of cars that work better that their lead cars could in their wildest dreams. Think of the battery sales alone that the store could cash in on. These people already have put in the effort to build a car they just need to turn it into something that works. A pack of the 60,70, or 100 ah cells put into their cars has got to be a great improvement. One contest you could have would be a “makeover” award/contest for the best lead car submitted ahead of time, do a drag strip time, replace the lead with Calb CA cells, and then do a new drag strip time.

    1. An addendum:
      In the “makeover” contest much like your previous contest the top 5 would receive prizes of diminishing value but would have to agree and show up to form “team lead to lithium” They would be the people actually swapping out the batteries on the spot at evccon 2013.

  2. Jack,

    I’ve been to both EVCcon’s and I would come back again no question. I had a great time! I learned a lot! The cars last year were good and even better this time around. To me this is already a must attend event. I’ve got two friends who I believe are going to start conversions within the next year now that they have driven my car. I am going to try to convince them they need to go to the next EVCCon.

    I would like to see a seminar on conversion best practices so we don’t unknowingly build cars with issues that can come back to bite us. Bad for the cause when that happens. I think extending the play time to a whole day is a great idea! I would like to casually compete in a class appropriate to my car. As you point out it might be interesting to come up with classifications that have relevance. I didn’t think the quarter was too long but then I didn’t get going all that fast this time so stopping wasn’t an issue. A 1/8 mile run would be fun and it is at least possible to see the finish from the start. I think lead conversions should be encouraged to attend. It is an inferior conversion but it is still a conversion and after seeing the good conversions I think those cars will show up the next time sans PB.

    Doug

  3. Why not have EV parts sellers fund EVCCON? If you want to be taken as a legitimate parts seller and not a crook, this would be the place to prove it. If you are a parts seller you should know that several people purchased items and took delivery at the event.

  4. I love the lead to LifePo4 make over idea…

    I have not been able to stop thinking about business ideas related to the EV world since the show. I am working hard to get the EVthing finished so that I can jump on the next project….

    I have a lead on a 25hp vintage outboard the just might make a very cool look for a boat….

    1. Dennis Van Swol

      I’m with Don Z. and Jeff S. on the PbA-to-LiFePO4 makeover idea. Having a few of those highlighting the performance, range and weight improvements resulting from the makeover could be a real eye-opener for many current and/or would-be EV converters.

      Like Jeff, my wife and I had several discussions during the 8 hour drive home. Topics ranged from possible products that we could develop for EV converters to how to get our next car done in time, maybe even bringing two cars since our MG no-showed this time due to parts not arriving in time. I’m definitely up for 2013 and will be recruiting new attendees.

  5. It occurs to me that I haven’t said very clearly just how fantastic (as an elderly Englishman that is not a word I use lightly) EVCCON was. A delightful bunch of folk, some at the cutting edge. The EV West people, John Matrix, and Netgain with the whole delightful extended family stick in my mind particularly; but a whole raft of names (David Kerzel,Jeff Southern, Jesse, Al…. and of course Jack and Richard) who I knew from blog and video came alive as real people. Plus Cape seems a great place, the hotel staff were wonderful and even the weather was changeable enough to make an Englishman feel right at home. The strain (both financial and personal) was no doubt considerable but MANY THANKS GUYS (and GALS)

      1. Wow. That’s a load of BS if I’ve ever seen any. For example. Where are they getting nickle from? NIMH is essentially useless when it comes to EV’s with the advent of, and continued improvements, on Lithium based chemistries. Copper and aluminum should and would be recycled. They’re valuable metals and infinitely recyclable. Simply citing the examples they’re giving on the “toxic” metals beats that report up one side and down the other. As far as the energy usage. You can almost drive an EV the same miles as a gallon of gas will take you with the electricity wasted/used to refine said gallon of gas.

        1. Take it from an Englishman.
          Its the BBC. What do you expect, educated, intellectuals saying it as it really is? Oh come now!
          Here’s the Beeb in its finest hour.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A83846Pb1-A

          Am I also suffering Deja vous here? Reading the paper brought out many references to other papers from discreditable people who have skulked around the halls of global warming in their quest for a ready made lining for their pockets. They couldn’t even get the basics of that right!

          Other names also crop up in this paper with FOURTEEN references to “colleagues”.
          Buddies marking papers is in my book, toilet paper.

          1. # Andyj
            Hmm … Not BBC’s finest hour ….

            But reference is made to Norwegian researcher constantly

            I thought, maybe it’s the oil norway produce is causing some researcher not to telling the truth or associate truth with carelessness.

            Norway has a fortune said to be over 3000 billion. The fund is among the very largest investors in the world and owns per July 2009 more than 1.25% of all listed shares in Europe. Norway’s oil fund is the world’s second-largest state-owned capital, after Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

            Allan

  6. Jack and all

    I just got back from a little drive. Big EV Grin on. Passing gas stations and oil change places and feeling a warm glow knowing that I will never have to stop at those establishments (at least with the EV) ever again. Thanks to Jack, Brian and all the other EVTV contributors that spurred me on to get my car on the road. I would still be working on it if not for the EVCcon 2012 deadline I had to meet.

    Driving along in my automobile … no particular place to go.
    Chuck Berry

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvpA2iO6lns

    Doug

  7. I have a huge grin on my face after reading this blog. I would love the drag racing event to me modified to an 1/8 mile event, and the huge purse WILL attract a huge amount of drag racers from all corners. I look forward to new safety barriers the whole length on the 1/8 mile, and addition safety rules and inspections. WE CAN MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

  8. Hello Jack, Call me crazy, but don`t you think that by turning this event into a drag race with prize money ,will attract attendees into just building fast straight line cars (stripped down to bare chassis`s )with no environmentals or balance in mind. Don`t get me wrong ,but I think that trying to attract a few dragsters could be fun ,but they don`t reflect the real world of EV conversions. Having said that, I must admit that your idea of an enduro was a good one, and it really puts a focus on range .To bad it didn`t happen this year. Hopefully your viewing audience will come up with some good ideas to attract a larger attendance next year, so that hosting this phenomenal event is less of a burden for you. By the way ,your team was awesome! thankyou very much !
    michel

    1. First, the Enduro would have been two hours running away from the event. Nobody wanted to do that, including myself. The drag race is right there in front of you.

      We had two kind of purpose built drag cars at the event and one of them was essentially non-operational. So the nature of the event now is certainly not over tilted to purpose built drag racing iron. But that’s what wows the crowd. So I think attracting fast cars will likely be a positive.

      I believe the event overall will remain a showcase for custom conversions. And the level of the build was up markedly the second year over the first. To the point I was embarrassed to open the hood on one of my now “junker” looking wiring jobs.

      As to earlier in the year, that’s a point. Late September and early October is just my favorite time of the year here. We are actually getting the pretty tree color now – mid October and the temperature has declined to very pleasant jacket weather. June can get quite warm. July and August are
      intolerable. April and May can be quite rainy with uncertain weathers.

    2. Captain Obvious

      Just separate the dragsters from street legals and have some price brackets. That way the real vehicles don’t have to compete against financial experiments that don’t even qualify as grocery getters.

  9. “It may just be that small is a good thing, and we ought to focus on quality over quantity in any event.” I almost always agree with this, but you probably jinxed yourself now :). I’m reading an article about another garage owner who started a community event and the first 2 years just 4-5 people showed, years later attendance is in the thousands. Do they wax nostalgic for the smaller turnout? As an introvert I can’t help but think so. Enjoy these precious fledgling years, Jack. Thanks for posting all the info of the event, it makes it easier for those who missed it (or those who feel somewhat sad for their person who missed it).

  10. Hi Jack and John Hardy,
    I just watched the latest video, enjoyed it and thought I’d make a couple of comments:
    Jack, the idea of using a DC generator as you motor tester, isn’t very flexible, perhaps you could consider an AC drive with a 4 quadrant controller, like the TM4 280KW one. This would be very flexible if a high voltage battery pack is OK, or a couple of smaller AC drives if not.
    John, I watched you short video with interest, and noticed that the 4 batteries with the shunts were losing voltage in the constant voltage phase. Is there any chance of getting the data including the charge current, because I couldn’t make out the axis scale. I was particularly surprised with the sag of the 4 shunted batteries, and i’d like to get a better look at the results if possible

    1. How I saw it was that the shunted cells actually didn’t receive a full charge and that caused them to vary at empty and/or the imbalance itself was created by the balancers (how awkward for them). So in actuality non-shunted cells were charged to a more full state which is opposite from what the BMS guys claim (they claim you need a BMS to fully charge your cells).

      1. Yes and no I suspect Jarkko. Yes they didn’t receive a full charge, and yes any shunting will inevitably unbalance the cells if they are already balanced. A balancer advocate would probably say that having 40 cells with balancers in series with four without balancers meant that charging terminated earlier than would have been the case if they had all had balancers.

        I think the main difficulty in these data for the BMS brigade is that the theory appears to be wrong: the balancers are clearly smoothing differences in surface charge dissipation rates between cells, not capacity differences.

    2. Hi Walter. I’ve posted the raw data from test 1 warts on all as zipped CSVs on my website (tovey-books.co.uk) and will do the same with test 2. If I haven’t done it by the next show, I’m remiss. Is that format OK?

      1. Hi John, That format is fine.
        As a BMS user who plans to move to bottom balancing, I have a few comments but want to keep them to myself until I have the data to confirm my thoughts. For example, it appears that the voltage across the shunted batteries is falling during the constant voltage phase. This may indicate that the shunts have poor regulation and are actually taking more current than the charger is supplying, that is, they are slightly discharging the battery. But my real interest in the difference in the sagging when you are discharging.
        Whats holding me up with going to bottom balancing, is that I like my battery feedback, so want to keep the cell boards. To do that I need to redesign them so that they do not shunt while charging and that each board takes exactly the same average current.
        Some time ago, Jack and I were discussing why my batteries were not all reaching 3.65V at the same time if they were all top balanced. I did check this and found that the cell boards are out of balance by about 1ma. Thats 24 mahr per day or about 300ma for 5 min, so my cell boards are simply adjusting for the imbalance they are producing.

        1. The BMS thing is a long, sordid and somewhat complicated story. But I refer to it as “wearing the spots off your batteries.” A kind of cell level masturbation. But it goes to the heart of the measurement issue. Sure, I’d love to know ALL about each and every cell and have that info at my fingertips. What John Hardy has relearned, and I STILL come across in my own efforts after knowing better over and over, is it is perniciously difficult to measure these things without INTRODUCING parasitic loads. And VERy small ones are simply cummulative over days, weeks, months and years to increasing effect. The BMS guys DO see drift. There is no mechanism in the cell to explain this, but they DO indeed SEE it. That’s because they are CAUSING it.

          A measurement device is simply no good if the act of measurement alters the test subject. This is actually a common problem in science. But it becomes very real with batteries. John used OPAMPS with essentially infinite input impedance for really any conceivable purpose, but powered them from the cells themselves and THAT caused complications.

          I understand it is inelegant. But what we’ve found over time is that the way to get the most out of these batteries is to have a little faith in them. We bottom balance. And if we want to look at them, we take a handheld high quality multimeter and simply go through the pack, measuring each cell for about 3 seconds. We do measure
          the pack voltage and current and amp hours and keep a realistic eye on our odometer. And trust the batteries to do their thing. I have one pack that was run to a full STOP – unable to move the car at all. It was recharged and used for an additional three months of driving in that car, and then removed and installed in ANOTHER car and has been used to drive it for a year. So I don’t feel I’m guessing at this point or typing myself smart or over theorizing it. This approach works. On cars. On the road.

          The central issue is that if you use semiconductors to protect your battery pack, you are using a LESS stable LESS reliable device to protect a MORE stable MORE reliable device, and indeed in failure it has the potential to catastrophically damage the battery cells. And it is almost impossible to CONNECT them to the pack without introducing variable parasitic loads.

          The least innocuous cell level measurement device we’ve found is the Cell Log 8S. As it turns out, and without being really mentioned in the specifications, it draws power from SIX of the eight cells it can monitor. An unintentional unbalancing parasitic load. We actually had one cause a fire because the molex connector softened with heat and shorted two pins where the measurement WIRES came together. Show me the most benign measurement device you can conceive, and all I see is a detonator for a battery bomb. And many of our adherents to this philosophy showed up here with a hard luck story and $10,000 worth of regret – looking for answers. For obvious reasons they do not scream this online in all directions.

          You have permission to live vicariously. You do not HAVE to experimentally retrace their steps. But I only have so much time to devote to challenge/response belly bucking contests on this issue. We’ve laid it out over many videos, and continue to do pointed testing where some new information might be gleaned or be useful.

          And ultimately, and I mean this in all sincerity, they are YOUR battery cells. There is no effective warranty on them anyway. Even from Nissan. So treat them as you see best. It’s your rather large investment. These cells are what make the cars viable, but the other end of that is they are just hideously expensive.

          Imagine a day where these cells are $20 each. Of course the straps will still be $7. But imagine the day.

          Jack

          1. Hi Jack,
            How to measure the voltage of these cells seems to be very difficult, maybe you or John Hardy can spread some light on it. I’m doing some testing on evening out the capacity of my battery pack by adding small cells to the main cells that have lower capacity. When trying to measure the voltage of the cells at the extremes of the charge cycle measuring the voltage is problematic. While charging or discharging you can measure and record the voltage but as soon as you interrupt the load or charge you get a voltage rebound that takes a long time to stabilize. It’s almost like there is a voltage/pressure membrane you have to pierce. It seems that having a minute draw or charge is a way to mitigate this without waiting for hours for the cells to settle, what’s your opinion on this as a voltage measurement technique?

          2. Jack makes a great argument for no BMS, I have experienced bms failures repeatedly.. even at the most basic level. ( did not turn off the charger due to driver transistor failure inside bms)
            i have used MiniBMS, eLithion, Orion and a no name predecessor to Orion.
            I would like to learn how to balance the decisions when making a product for profit. ( read as: sell this to someone and it works)
            I hope to be invited to EVCcon 2013 for a roundtable discussion.
            I am still pro-bms but want to keep it simple.

  11. Hi Jack, I am acutely aware of what you have said. My only disapointment is that I wasn’t aware of your work before I designed my cell boards. Now that I have some understanding of both the “wearing the spots off your batteries.” issue and the dangers of unbalanced cell boards, I can do something about it.
    I see this a little like converting my electric Miata, I didn’t need to, but enjoy the challenge. Luckily I’m retired.
    Until now I have always thought that if you keep the batteries between 3.8V and 2.5V alls good, but after seeing John’s results I realise its more complex than that.
    By the way, if I wasn’t so intrigued, I would remove the cell boards.

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