Vulcan Wallet Meld and Lithium Blood Stains on the Bedroom Floor

Busy week. I did not get a blog entry up for the show of the week of the 15th and now I already have the March 22 show up online.

I had a bit of a conversation with an old friend of Boardwatch days, computer columnist John C. Dvorak. I had followed John from the early 1980’s when he had the final word on the back page of a computer publication called INFOWORLD. Later, I was extraordinarily pleased to have him join us in the same position paper wise on the back page of Boardwatch Magazine where he appeared for a number of years.

John is still a noted columnist with PC Magazine but he plays around a lot in new media, with several podcasts and online blogs. In my estimation, he’s never found the formula or a good “gig” in this space. He does a news review at the podcast No Agenda Show He does a stock review podcast at DHunplugged. But I don’t think he’s really found a gig here in the way he did in print. And nothing special in video.

Of course, everybody else’s sins. He thinks I’m actually LATE to the party on video. He has been doing an IPTV gig for some time which tends to be a bit more technical on the topic. I don’t agree. I’ve been working the video thing for 10 years although the “perfect storm” of camera technology, editing technology, and bandwidth enabling it to be viable I would date from 2009.

In any event, he noted that I must really miss writing.

Apparently not, since it appears to be all I can do to get a single blog entry per week up reliably. But he may have been referring to the fact that I have a face for radio.

In any event, it is true that it has been quite a transition for me. In all modesty, I’m one of the best writers in the world and probably AM the best technical writer in the world – if John reads this please note that I’m a LOT better than he is.

But I knew full well that going into video was taking me out of my “comfort zone”.

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What this refers to is that to be “good” at communications, the tools you use must be somewhat transparent. At some point in writing, the process of developing a theme, outlining, keyboarding, editing, and finishing all melds together into a natural and transparent act. You don’t think about where the keys are located on the keyboard or how all this is going to hang together structurally, or how to bend the language to your will. The tools become transparent. At that point, you can start to push the envelope on the actual communications and weave in a lot of things in and out in parallel and just do it on a different level. The mind sees through the medium to the end product in a natural flow.

Video is most often done by teams of people who must interact with one person framing the shot in the camera and another manning the audio and another managing the set and another managing the lighting. And of course the talent on screen is an entirely other set of people. Then it all goes to editing as raw material where it can be reworked to be anything you like. All under the aegis of a “director” who is supposed to provide a unified vision for this symphony and of course a producer who manages the business.

EVTV is an experiment in COLLAPSING all of that into at most a couple of guys doing video for near zero dollars, very quickly, and in copious amounts. The result herein is a feature length HD film each week with a shooting cost measured in the hundreds of dollars. Ultimately mastered, this is disruptive economically putting Sony Pictures basically out of business. They can’t possibly compete. If you are spending $100,000 per day to shoot against a guy spending $100 per day to shoot, how much BETTER can you be?

So all of this is very interesting, and very exciting to me, ENTIRELY aside from our mission of converting the planet to electric drive, which is very very real.

So we basically have TWO projects going simultaneously. How do you produce, develop, shoot, monetize, and publish video circa 2013 – my VIDEO ON THE RUN concept, while at the same time focusing totally on converting personal transportation to electric drive. The first is an extension of what I DO – communicate or “write” and the second is what I do it TO, the topic.

As the first leverages much of what I learned viscerally about the Internet over the course of the last 25 years, it is of course of ongoing interest to me. The current topic is rather newer and totally absorbing. I never get over the fact that I kind drive noiselessly, without any emissions, and without any gasoline, in a car.

The goal of the former is of course to achieve the TOOLKIT transparency I enjoyed in writing and print publishing, in this new medium (to me) of video. Video is a more powerful tool, but a more complex one at the same time. Kind of like learning to touch type on a 756 key keyboard.

For example, in this weeks’ episode, Brain is voiceless over the first 29 minutes. He’s actually being picked up on MY microphone. His being out of commission. Ironically, probably a BATTERY issue.

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But I’m having a ball as the medium IS becoming more transparent. We spend less time shooting each week. Less of what we DO shoot gets cut each week. I spend less time editing on Saturday. And less time uploading and posting on Sunday. The mental image of what we are doing is clearer throughout the week. The relationship between closeup shots and framed shots and introducing various segments all gets easier. And so I expect our video to get better. Failures along the way are frustrating and annoying. But we progress a bit each week. And so the show should be improving in many ways, each week.

If we can improve just a fraction of a percentage each week, after a certain serial number of weeks, we win. And since the inherent premise was a very nearly cost free product, competing with Sony should be a lot of fun.

I’ve been through this before. PC, page layout software, and laser printer against six story building full of statcams and page layout professionals doing wax layups. I already know how it comes out.

This explains my bias toward personal innovation and lone innovators in their garage, in contrast to large corporate organizations and their scaling processes.

In my world, the ultimate electric car starts with a boy of 14 digging a discarded golf cart out of a salvage yard and fixing it up to run. After 20 years of devoting himself to basically that mission, personally building any number of electric cars, working professionally at several component companies on the heartbeat technology, and ultimately coming to a vision of what the perfect electric car might look like. That’s the JB Straubels of the world.

Elon Musk and a couple billion dollars leverages that to making 500 such cars per week. Yes, Elon is a bright guy. What that means was that it took JB Straubel less effort to sell him the vision.

But don’t get confused who’s vision it is. And even if the media and the corporation rewrites the story REALLY hard, if you want to know how things work you have to be able to decode how it really happened. Especially important if YOU ever want to replicate the feat.

Boeing 787 and the Battery Pros group on LinkedIn case in point. Boeing is enduring $50 million dollars per week in direct losses for EACH and EVERY week that plane does not fly. They are working with the NTSB and the FAA to get them back in the air as fast as possible. It is NOT in their commercial interest to acknowledge or otherwise deal with some clown who drops them a couple of e-mails over the transom with the “root cause” and “smoking gun”.

But although they will continue the current process though it be a felony and treason, it is not that it does no good to send the information. They can always work it in quietly later.

But it brings up the point, why would I have an immediate grasp of it and all these talented, educated, professional engineers NOT know it. Either I am suffering delusions of grandeur, or this makes no sense at all. Or does it?

Let’s NOT go to the obvious. That I worked for MacAir for several years, now OWNED by Boeing, and I am intimately familiar with the various levels of eggregious incompetence existing within the heart of the beast. It is a thing to behold, and quickly removes the awe of large corporations and “professional” engineers in aerospace. I won’t bore you with all that. Let’s go to the OTHER end of the question.

Once upon a time I overcharged a battery. In my bedroom. I actually have several computers in the bedroom. This is where we write and edit video and so forth – often in the wee hours of the morning courtesy of acid reflux. If I have to do a little software coding, it occurs in the same place. And at one point I was working on some Arduino software to drive a Porsche gas gage to display AH.
Unfortunately, I left a battery on a low level of charge. When I entered the room later it was full of a haze of sweetly smelling vaporized electrolyte. The battery had burned through the carpet and deeply into a wooden southern shortbristle pine floor. That’s an extinct species by the way.

The cure was pretty simple. Pickup the battery in a wet towel and walk out on the balcony and heave it over the rail down into the driveway into a snow bank. Snow is actually an effective extinguishing agent for lithium cells.

And it strikes me, among all the PROFESSIONAL battery expert engineers, what percentage get up EVERY morning to see the SAME blackened spot on THEIR bedroom floor.

And note that it is kind of curious that a battery I propose to put in my CAR can cause THAT much heat and damage from a very low level charge? So let’s file this incident away, and over the next three years try to devise in different ways various tests resulting in the near total destruction of $20,000 worth of cells to satisfy my personal curiosity. We can temper this with three years of reading various journaled publications on lithium battery advances and developments along the way in case they might provide a clue – to this and many other questions I have about these cells, many unresolved to this day.

I would note for example that to a man 100% of these experts discuss self discharge in lithium batteries in very knowing tones. As our viewers are aware, we can find no EVIDENCE of it in batteries that have been laying on the floor in the boxes they were delivered in FOUR AND A HALF YEARS AGO. This kind of explains why in ALL of the lithium literature, while there are REFERENCES TO self discharge, no one has even ATTEMPTED a theoretical description of what process internal to the cell describes it. None. There is no SHUTTLE mechanism like Pb cells, and no OTHER mechanism really described cogently.
It’s just a blank hole in space. Lots of people talking about its level and its impact. None verifying anything experimentally nor even attempting a theoretical explanation of it.

The world of lithium cells is RIFE with this. Everyone knows MANY things about these cells that are very difficult to prove because no one has yet proven it. Cycle life is dramatically shortened by heat. Except experimentally it appears to actually LENGTHEN cycle life. Still pondering that one. There are a DOZEN questions about these cells that are routinely answered, and all I can determine is that the ANSWER is totally incorrect. It takes a lot of work to tease out the reality surrounding the question. And it comes slowly and grudgingly.

Now let’s pose two worlds. In one, you are PAID to be an expert and have KNOWLEDGE of batteries. First, in answer to a question, you should have an ANSWER and the answer should be plausible and make sense to management people. Not hard. It doesn’t have to be CORRECT. It just has to be authoritive. Secondly, if you burn up and/or melt a lot of batteries in your lab, that is NOT considered a sign of expertise in corporate America. You will probably be asked to leave. You are being PAID to BE an expert. Not to BECOME an expert. And burning down four square blocks of downtown Phoenix with Lithium cells is NOT going to be persuasive to the guy sitting down with you for your annual performance evaluation. Or, for example, in determining whether a consulting gig should be renewed or extended.

In the other world you PAY to get to work on batteries. Each ducat dear, it is true that a single cell meltdown causes a kind of Vulcan Wallet Meld between you and the cell. But no use crying over spilt milk. The question as to WHY it melted becomes dear thereby and the only way to make that determination is to MELT MORE. At the point where they don’t melt, there is significantly LESS information. But we can draw some conclusions from pre-melt SWELLING. And if we couple those observations with readings of the chemical process problems tackled by those trying to create NEW and BETTER chemistries and solve some of the problems of the CURRENT chemistry, it can become intensely interesting.

The problem of course is that battery testing either requires a LOT OF TIME and effort, or a LOT OF EQUIPMENT and effort. I’m limited in both. But I can play. MOST IMPORTANTLY, I can play because I have the QUESTION.

If I already KNOW that you can safely charge cells to 4v and hold them there forever, and I already KNOW they self discharge, and I already KNOW that they need to be top balanced, and I already KNOW that their SOC will drift, and I already KNOW all this, I don’t HAVE any questions. So why would I be burning up cells, along with my employers money and facility?

And so the possibility arises that I AM in a unique position. As it so happens, despite the Vulcan Wallet Meld, I probably DO have enough money left in the kitty from the last rodeo to burn up a LOT of cells and still maintain my portly figure. Handsome was never the hard part anyway frankly.

As I don’t HAVE a job, don’t WORK for a corporation, and don’t have a consulting gig, it can be curiously hard to terminate my work. Brain tries to every few years. But as we both know, you only stay fired if you’re willing to stay fired. He’s fired me. And I’ve fired him. And neither one of us can make it stick either way.

I think I work for myself and our viewers. And suffering fools poorly, I occasionally have to fire one of THEM. But they too tend to come back.

It was curious to watch the reaction on LInked In. Several members jumped in immediately and picked up on what I was saying. It was a little left field thinking for them, but they picked up on it pretty quickly. That’s not to say they instantly agreed with it. But they took it as a plausible question.

What was more fascinating was the “clingers”. They took exception to my boorish manners, which is what suffering fools poorly looks like from the other end. And from there they went into ego/hubris defense, which is just the immediate confession of amateurism/poseur status as far as I’m concerned. If you’re too proud to fall on your own sword in the inquiry of the universe, you are forever relegated to making coffee for those who continue the learning experience. Players, and their supporting cast members. It has ever been so.

I remain committed, body breath and soul, to the conversion of personal mobility to magnetic drive. It is a passion. For acculturation of the body politic to this as a newly viable technology, we need an army of about 100,000 to demonstrate the true advantages of the technology to bring familiarity to a tipping point. This is all more plausible than it looks. But it requires growth of the group of passionate elect now extant. And that means to grow this segment has to become more plug and play. Minute incremental advances is how this is accomplished. This week we demonstrate Sebastien Bourgois billet aluminum adapter to mate a Siemens Motor to a VW transaxle. Study this device attentively and ignore for the moment what it narrowly does. There is a subtle design thing going on here that is a thing of beauty in and of itself. It does the minimum it needs to do, in the minimum space to do it, with a strength that is indestructible. It rather fails in economy. But excels in all other areas.

The interest of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) or Automakers, has given rise to some very capable equipment like this from some remarkably talented engineers that ARE indeed often in large corporations, but also small ones. Their products have not been available to us. There are some realities to building and marketing a product to the world that rather preclude making it a full time task to teach each individual how to work it, one sale at a time. This is why Azure Dynamics pays $2625 each for a motor that you as an individual are quoted $9000 to $12,000 for. This is why BMW can get a drive train for $7000 that if you call the company to inquire for one for yourself you will hear $25,000. If you actually DID pursue it, you would find that they will simply not sell you a single unit for $25,000. This is why Coda can sell a car for $32,000 with a UQM drive train that they will quote to YOU for $34,000. They don’t want to deal with you.

As Phoenix, Aptera, BrightSpeed, Azure Dynamics, Think, Enerdel, A123, and now coming to a theatre near you Coda and Fisker and AmpElectric and many more go broke, there is a forced rethinking within some of these companies as to how to accomplish this. The truth is, they actually NEED you. They need you to buy their product. They need you to beat up their support guys. And they need you to FAIL their products in public. This is the annealing process for these devices and these companies. The ones who don’t learn this will join their customers as the pioneers along the prairie with the arrows in their backs.

My hope is that a few smarten up, and begin to make such components available to the next JB Straubel in the garage. It will make his work much easier, and there will be more attracted to attempt it. A larger body of this bubbling witches cauldron of innovation will exist thereby.

We are trying, in our own small way, to encourage product development, and hopefully gather buying power from YOU cooperatively where some of these OEM components can be made available at prices that while still dear, can be realistically accomplished. Better components. More plug and play. And in migrating through this army of 100,000, the common body of knowledge and “group support” achieved to allow such things.

Lift your eyes to the horizon. Inquire in all things. Don’t worry about being an “expert”. An expert is just a spurt with a little age on it. Imagine what can be, without constantly counting every ducat. The Vulcan Wallet Meld.

And if you wind up with a burned place in your bedroom floor, tell her to put a rug over it. In the end, it can never be more than just a floor.

I don’t have an annual performance evaluation. We eat what we kill and I’m EXACTLY as good as LAST week’s show. No better. And no worse. Every week of my life. I rather like it that way.

Jack Rickard

44 thoughts on “Vulcan Wallet Meld and Lithium Blood Stains on the Bedroom Floor”

  1. Jack,

    Good show again this week and as always, enjoyed your blog entry. Have you ever wondered how close you are to your 100k goal and how many of those builds are a direct result of EVTV? Thanks for all of the R&D, and holes in the bedroom floor!


  2. Wanted to confirm about putting on the VW flywheel. Be sure you have the pins lined up correctly. If you don’t and you force it thinking you have it on correctly you will ruin your flywheel. The pins are hardened and the flywheel is not and those pins will gouge the pin hole with no trouble ruining the hole. If you happen to ruin one and you happen to have an 8 hole flywheel and your good with using only 4 pins then you can just put the 4 pins in the other set of holes and be good to go. Do not use the long pins as Evenetics did not drill the holes for the pins to accept the long hardened pins. One more issue. If you do use the studs in the adaptor before installing the motor you will need to have your rear apron removable so you can plug your motor straight in or you must put the studs in after. This is of course if you use other motors. Even with a motor that will fit without cutting the apron if you have the studs you may not have enough angle to slip the studs into the transmission holes. If that is the case you can either put the studs in after your lined up or you can unbolt the large nuts holding the transmission on the frame horns and drop the front of the tranny enough to slip your motor over and on the transmission then just lift it back into position after your motor is bolted up. I used some allen head grade 8 bolts as they fit around the side case nuts but with my current transmission the bolts are in the way for my transmission bolts. With the stock transmission it was a tight fit around those and the normal bolts would not work. So you do need studs for mounting. I got my adaptor before they started giving studs for mounting.

    Glad to see your on board with the Rebirth Auto Adaptors. For those with no time or shop or skills you surely can’t beat these controllers. Kudos again to Seb and his work on re-fitting my adaptor for my older style Kostov that has a larger diameter shaft and mounting holes.

    PS. Don’t use the Gland Nut for seating the flywheel.

  3. Another good show Jack and thanks for all the work (holes in the bedroom floor) that you do to help the conversion community. Do you ever wonder how close you are to the 100k conversions and how many of those are a direct result of EVTV?

  4. Roger Peterson

    Your battery rubber booties are an answer to a maidin’s prayer! As long as they do not cost more than a 4 x 5 foot Lucite sheet, sign me up. Oh Hell. Sign me up anyway. I do not look forward to bending and gluing up a cover for my seven by nine, 180 aH pack.

  5. Jack,

    As always an interesting and informative video.

    Regarding your Thing Project. Is there any chance the transmission and mounting are somewhat symmetrical such that you could rotate the transmission 180 degrees, so you could put the motor under the body/back seat to reduce external body work?

  6. Hello Jack and Brian, it is good to see Brian again!

    Jack, I just became aware of a program offered by Ameren UE that pays 2 DOLLARS for every installed watt of capacity of an approved photovoltaic residential installation! (with a maximum of $50,000.00) Correct me but you are supplied by Ameren UE for your electric there in Cape are you not?

    see this:

    also surprisingly 2 dollars a watt is BELOW the cost of materials for a grid tied system!

    See this:

    Should I dare suggest an EVTV photovoltaic episode or maybe miniseries?

    Enjoyed Dvorak in the magazines always liked his …contrarianism.. I also enjoy listening to the Noadgenda show which I found on his blog (although I still like you best!)

    Regards JMS

  7. Thanks for another great show. about the battery booties: You may know this material already but the FRP C channels(Fiberglass reinforced plastics) may do the same job as the booties. It’s been used in hi-voltage DC power supplies for a long time.

  8. michel bertrand

    That`s a great idea but, it means a lot of fabricating and welding and brackets ,motor mounts ,reinforcements etc..I get tired just thinging about it,.

  9. Regarding legislated sounds for EVs: Last summer I participated in a study for a young lady working towards her Master’s Degree in Mobility Studies. She assembled a group of experienced sight challenged (that’s PC for blind) individuals who gathered on a corner in a quiet neighborhood and listened as I passed by in my Leaf and another fellow drove by in his Acura. They would raise an arm when they heard a car coming and the testers would record the distance. They consistently heard the Leaf well before the Acura and in the follow on interviews identified the tire noise as the first thing they sensed. Seems the Ecopias on the Leaf are noisier than the Michelins on the Acura, both cars being pretty much equally silent otherwise. In both cases they heard the oncoming vehicle in plenty of time to avoid an accident.

    The student’s conclusion in her Master’s Thesis was that proper training for the blind pedestrian was a better investment than artificial noise makers on only a small portion of the cars on the road.

    Personally, I’d like to have a recording of a 427 SCCA Cobra at full chat to play on my evTD.

    1. The fact they needed to do a study on this is scary all by itself. I told a friend of mine who’s been blind since birth, his answer was ……idiots.


  10. “Separately, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board on Monday said it would hold a two-day forum April 11-12 to examine the design and performance of lithium-ion batteries in transportation — a comprehensive review sparked by the battery failures on the two Boeing 787 Dreamliners in January.

    The public forum will examine the design and development of various lithium-ion batteries, how their use and manufacturing are regulated, and the use and safety of such batteries in various modes of transportation.”,0,2571620.story

  11. Another fascinating, if somewhat muted (on Brain’s part) episode. I’m a Jeep fan, but think the VW Thing conversion is a splendid idea and the competition with Jeff Southern adds excitement. Like your thrashing of Dvorak (Cranky Old Men Fight!) it adds drama to the project and raises the stakes. I admire your frank boldness and fearless wisdom.

    The battery booty innovation is a nice touch and we could see how much you enjoyed playing with it. Perhaps, because it’s made from silicone rubber (not silicon). You probably did a reverse Freudian and got the wrong end of the Bay Area. Carol Doda (SF) made silicone famous, semi-conductors and high tech made Silicon Valley famous. As a great writer and cunning linguist you were probably doing it for the humor.

    I agree with your take on the web and long form video. And you and the EVTV gang are creating unique compelling content, a kind of “on the fly” reality, long-tail, WebTV. One request. Please have the editor (we know you’re busy, but) mute out the coughs, burps, belches, gurgles, slurps and other bio blasts that naturally occur during the rigors of the show. Sorry, but you sometimes sound more like a bosun’s mate than an airdale.

    I’ll keep watching anyway, but it would reduce the wince factor a bit. Thanks for letting us join you on the Great EVTV Adventure!

  12. Hi Jack and Brain
    Another great show and I would like to point out that a man speaking softly (without working mic) tends to make one listen more intently.
    Regarding legislated sounds. It would be nice to use the Jetsons air car noise!
    I understand that the Egear Drive is also produced in 6.25 : 1 ratio and I think would would work even better with some of the lower reving AC and DC motors. Will BorgWarner allow a mixed order of transmissions?
    The Aluminum/Air battery? idea seems neat. By the way the article reads it looks like aluminum is more like a fuel than a battery. The aluminum is used up in the process. If a normal person enduser has to dig out some waste material and then reload the system with many plates and possible electrical hookups would be a burden every thousand miles.
    Other than the fact that you’ve got a ton of money tied up in the Seimens/Vw adapter plate and the transmission already in the Thing, did you ever consider using the Egear Drive in the Thing as the motor would then go transversly?. The Project sure is quickly moving forward though.
    The man who develops a High Power inverter/controler for these AC motors that work like a motherboard bios and auto detect the motor type, throttle and brake types in a more “plug and play” sort of way will make a ton of money.

    1. Borg Warner has taken an interest in what we are doing, and predictably enough, now want to raise the price. We will probably discontinue the product when the current stock is gone. I think I have nine left.

      Jack Rickard

  13. I found JB’s interview with SAE. He was very blunt about how dumb their standard is!

    Along the lines of your ‘GETTING AN EDGE IN A WAR OF STANDARDS – THE OPEN AND THE FORGOTTEN.’ article, if Tesla wanted their plug to win, wouldn’t they make it’s design more open ? My only counter to not is that at this time, they only want Tesla owners using their chargers. But how long will it be till someone molds their handle and hacks into the super charger? I wonder if their superchargers “know” which VIN number is charging…

  14. Jack,

    Just out of interest, who have you tried to contact about the 787 battery thing and how far did you get? Are some of the Boeing people involved in the Linkedin battery group your having the debate in?

    I had some free time so I was trying to see how easy it was to get contact information for senior people that are involved. If I find some good contact info do you want me to send it to you or are you done with trying to contact them?

  15. Having had to design, draw and fit the adapter for the Civic, the Rebirth adapter made a big impression. A beautiful job. On a FWD car as you no doubt discovered with the Mini, a part of the amusement with the motor installation is the labyrinthine path of the final drive.

    My 787 simulator (4 LiFePO4 cells in series hooked up to 15 volts) is cooking gently in the garden. We ought to start a sweepstake on when it is going to blow: 2 weeks? 2 months? a year?

    1. Hi John,

      Because the batteries are LiCoO2 in the Dreamliner and your experiment is LiFePO4 you may find that your experiment never does yield a similar meltdown. I floated a single LiFePO4 cell at 3.45 volts for about 6 months with no ill effects. Granted you are floating at 3.75V. At 3.45 volts the current dropped off to the limits of what I could measure with a Fluke 189 a couple of weeks in. Something like 0.2 microamps. It seems unlikely that an event will occur with so little energy going in. What is the current down to on your experiment?


      1. Doug:

        In this scenario, it is not a matter of whether. It is a matter of when. The LiCoO2 cells have an open circuit voltage of 3.72 and they are trickle charging them at 4.00v.

        Your LiFePo4 cells have an open circuit voltage of 3.38 and you are floating at 3.45 for six months. If you carefully measure capacity before and after, you wlil find you have lost some. And if you leave it long enough, it will swell up. And if you don’t take it off float then, it will eventually burn.

        So do understand, there is no self discharge. And there is no hydrolysis. IF you float above the OCV, you ARE adding energy to the cell and the resolution of your fluke meter is entirely irrelevant. At some point it will blow. The damage is irreversible and cumulative.

        But yes, 3.45 to 3.38, you are probably looking at years, not months.

        One of the reasons I am so certain about this problem is that we have two aircraft that operated perfectly for many months. Then they each had a fire – one week apart in January.

        So invert the problem. What could you do to one of these cells to get it to operate normally for a year and THEN burst into flames.

        Trickle charging would be the perfect strategy.

        Jack Rickard

      2. Hi Doug,

        Very interesting to hear about your test. I haven’t instrumented mine so I don’t know the current. I guess one way to look at it is that your test was at 0.07 volts above OCV and mine is 0.37 volts per cell above OCV (actually probably more like 0.40 as the total voltage is just over 15)

        This blog will be the first to know if I come out one morning to find wisps of smoke over the flower bed.

  16. Hi Jack and Brian!

    I have been running my Thundersky pack now for more than 3 and a half year,
    I have no heating on the pack and charge during real winter here, (down to – 25 dg celsius).
    It would be interesting to se a comparison between a cell charged in +25 and -25 dgC for a number of cycles.

    When I look at the JPL slide show that has been linked in an earlier Blog I can see no permanent damage done on the A123 cells that where tested.

    Have you tested the CALBs in a way that would compare ?
    I might have to buy two cells and start cycling them.

    In my car I normally charge with about C/10

    Best Regards

    1. I don’t have any data on this Per. There have been several papers persuasive that lithium plating occurs on the anode if you charge below freezing on LiFePo4 cells. I have not verified this myself.

      But note that this theory is based on the temperature of your anode, not the temperature of your mailbox. If you are driving the car, and it is perfectly permissable to DISCHARGE below freezing, there is some amount of heat generated internally. Similarly charging causes some internal heat.

      So if you drive the car, bring it home, and put it immediately on charge, it is very possible that it is -25C ambient, but 5C internal to the battery.

      In any event, in that climate I would heat them.

      Jack Rickard

      1. Yes I know that the pack temp is probably gonna rise some when discharging. So thats what I do. Charge as soon as possible after driving. This weekend I’m gonna install heaters in the car. Also I’m gonna bottom balance the pack and check that capacity of all the cells in the pack. I’m in for a good eastern !!!!

        I think I’m gonna buy two 60ah cells and do som cycles with one in the freezer and one in room temp.
        I have the iCharger 4010 duo to test with, that little nintendo can sure push some amps.

        Also going to do a first trial run on an old TT-Ford that has been fitted with a modern add on,
        a PMSM motor and a controller. I will try to get some shoots and upload for you.


  17. $&(#*$&#($ !!!

    I literally came up about 1 foot short on my 2/0 cable for the EVThing…… Oh well pretty minor delay in the grand scheme of things….

    I like the little battery booties….Interesting idea…


    If you have not already cut out the rear of the car, I might offer a little warning. I would weld in some structural steel to frame the area that you want to remove. I had to cut mine out to repair some rust. It move a lot when I made the cut and I had a heck of a time getting it straight again when I welded in the new steel….

    1. We cut it yesterday afternoon. I was amazed that it didn’t move AT ALL. Apparently there is enough structure in ours, secondary sheeting that it is quite strong structurally. Ours didn’t give ANYTHING when we cut through. And we can’te actually get it to flex at least by hand.

      Very stiff.

      Jack Rickard

  18. Picked up my Vauxhall Ampera today (think Europeanised Chevy Volt). Grotesquely complex – two of everything – and absurdly expensive but I can understand why it is so popular with it’s owners. Driven 40 miles or so and not turned on the petrol engine yet. I’m not sure if I have used the hydraulic brakes either. We are now in the silly position of being a two-EV family (or will be when the Civic is rolling).

    Have a good Easter everyone

    1. Congratulations John, and yes, a joyous Easter to you and your family as well.

      What’s silly about being a two EV family? Dirty little secret John. Half of the guys who watch our show and have a project going also have a Volt, a Leaf, a Tesla, or the like. We ARE the low hanging fruit in the world of electric vehicles. The guys who build their own EV’s are the EASIEST ones for the OEMs to sell one to.

      Jack Rickard

      1. Having spent the last few weeks researching EV conversions I have discovered the key element of the process which is EVTV. I like the idea of converting old luxury cars to short range EV with Induction charging. Using a range extending trailer when needed. In Ireland there are a lot of old gas guzzlers out there which will never move again unless converted. At $2 a litre for juice with road tax of over $2000 for anything over 3500cc EV conversion makes dollars and cents.
        I was just wondering what your expert eye makes of this announcement from Maxell Hitachi, will it apply to the EV arena?

    2. Congratulations John,

      I am thinking about getting a Volt for the wife. She likes the idea of being able to do a 300 Mile shopping loop occasionally with her electric car…

      I personally would rather be hose whipped than shop that long, but she seems to like it…


      The cut out in the Thing looked good. Mine twisted like a pretzel when I cut it to do some rust repair, but it had been hit in the rear once… I would cover the gap with some 1/8″ thick black rubber sheet. I think it would look fine.

      I liked where you put the radiator, I decided that if my heat sink did not work that would be where I would mounts mine. However, why not simply reverse the fan and have it pull air from the bottom and blow out of the two side vents???

      1. Jeff:

        Your heat sink should be more than adequate for the Curtis 1238, particularly with the fan. The sin is that a lot of people put this thing up on a foot square piece of flat aluminum and call it done. It does warrant some heat sinking. We usually use fluid because it cuts down the space requirements where the controller is, and let’s us put it very close to hte motor. In the Thing, there is plenty of room.

        For the Seimens and DMOC, I think we’re going to need more heat exchanger. I think we’re going to go ahead and put another one on the right side and hose it up right from the beginning. If it’s too much heat exchanger, that’s kind of like having a too pretty girl or a too fast horse. It will all be ok.


        1. I figure it is worth a try with the heat sink…. I have noticed that many people who try a heat sink bury in it some way that prevents good air flow (Which is the whole point of a heat sink) That is why I mounted the controller vertically to get max air flow. I am hoping that the two vents will provide a good path for the hot air to rise out of….

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