Give me an S…Give me an X… Give me an E…

What’s that spell? WHAT’S THAT SPELL?.

No, it does not spell SEX. It spells SXE. Dyslexics UNTIE!

That said, we do a bit of a walkaround of our new Tesla Model S this week and talk about their very high crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, their execution to date, and the future of their charger power connector and fast charge stations in general. We also note their application for trademark for “Model E”. Aside from the actual defensibility of a trademark for the word “Model” and an alpha character, we did find it interesting that in China, somebody over there trademarked TESLA and the Tesla Logo, and Tesla had to go to battle for their own trademark in order to sell cars in China under their own name.  And could this mean introduction of the Model E by Tesla BEFORE the Model X?  I hope not. I think I can get in and out of the Model X with gullwing doors.

Meanwhile, Tesla’s stock hit $173 and the price of oil has risen to over $108 as Obama postures and blusters over Syria and all he’s going to do to “fix it.”  Ron Paul Shane….come back…..




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You may note a big variance between the YouTube version of this weeks show and the one presented here. We think this one is better, but it was two versions LATER as well.

It would appear that sometime during EVCCON, someone relieved us of the burdening responsibility of further care of almost ALL of our video cameras. As we are also about $40k in the red basically holding a party for our FRIENDS, I should be terribly discouraged at the perfidy of humanity. I’m not. There are always a few weenies but by large the majority are good and decent people hampered by all the Satanic restrictions on their freedoms caused by the few who never actually seem to prosper from all that anyway.

In any event, entrepreneurs are a bit obliged to reinvent themselves daily and so we bought NEW cameras with later technology for better video. There’s always a pony in that manure pile. Unfortunately, new cameras come with new learning curves and we do struggle.

So we have a new Canon AX20 AND a new BlackMagic Designs Cinema Camera.


The BlackMagic Cinema is posing a lot of challenges. It is a marvelous piece of work at a very attractive price $1995 for the bare camera. It uses Canon EF lenses of which I have a lot anyway as we use them on our still cameras. It stores video in a 2500 pixel raw format, or a raw Apple ProRes 422 format that we use in Final Cut Pro X as an editing format anyway. Better, it uses a sold state hard drive that we can simply remove from the camera and plug into a USB base that plugs into the PC and looks like a hard drive. The files are .MOV files – no conversion or anything. We can suck em right in. But they are RAW and so we do have to do some color work on them, which I’m currently not only not very good at, but looking real orange these days on set.

It’s all an acquirable skill. In the end, I plan this will all up our video quality a bit. As soon as the world settles out on HTML5 and HLS, we plan on working that out where mobile downloads make a little more sense and it all goes a little easier and more automagically for our viewers. We are on a dual track here at EVTV. EV development of course, but also learning to shoot, produce, edit, host, and monetize video of the future. It is nontrivial but I’m convinced hugely rewarding going forward.

I kind of did this with Boardwatch Magazine. Yes, we covered the emergence of electronic bulletin boards and later the Internet with intensity. But along the way we learned to produce magazines at one 1/hundredth of the cost of Ziff Davis or Meckler Media. You have to be a LOT better at producing and publishing magazines when your costs are 100x that of a guy in his basement. They weren’t good enough.

Similarly video. We will learn to produce feature length high definition videos and distribute them globally for 1/100, or maybe 1/1000 of the costs faced by Discovery Channel for example. They will be more polished perhaps, but they need to bring their A game and a sack lunch with that kind of cost disadvantage if they want to wrestle me for the future. I kind of know how this is going to come out. That’s what technological disruption is all about. Scorched earth policy. And no, there is nothing I can do with the crippled and burned survivors of the holocaust. They are just culturally untrainable and unemployable. They are already all over the Internet preening and posing about the differentiation between “real video professionals” and the great masses of unwashed videographers out their shooting the world with their cell phones. As it gives them ease on the way to the gas chamber, I won’t twist their chain. As their still photography brethren learned bitterly, it is humiliating to be delegated to weddings as your last bastion of “will take photographs for food.”

Or as one ex-photographer put it – “One more trollop in a white dress duping some poor hapless yuck out of his house and 20 years of ‘child support’ and I was gonna hurl.”

In any event, this is a rapidly emerging field, and it was actually time to upgrade our equipment anyway. It is a complex technology still in its infancy with even basic formats very much in flux between Flash, HTML5, and now HML. I just this week learned to work Amazon’s new video transcoder.

Speaking of which, I recently asked you all to be a bit more creative with your entreprenurial urges and instead of trying to start an automobile company or conversion shop, do something for the coming hoards of custom electric car builders or the many buying OEM cars. I suggested there was more to be made from bobblehead dolls for the rear window and cupholders than from blowing $2 billion on the chance that you might duplicate Tesla rather than Fisker.

Enter a huge Boardwatch fan from the past, Warren Royal. Warren was then an ISP and did very well thank you, but continued to reinvent and remake himself through a couple of further entreprenurial careers. Today, he is the largest maker of Bobble Head dolls on the Internet. I called him and we did an hour revisiting the past. We have commissioned him to make one for us, and no, it is NOT Elon Musk but rather our own maintenance guy CHARLIE PRIEST. If he’s not very good at this art thing and it winds up more resembling Elon Musk, I wouldnt’ be the slightest bit surprised or alarmed. It’s an inexact art. But I’m telling you now, it’s supposed to be an exact image of CHARLIE PRIEST.

Jehu Garcia is emerging as absolutely one of my favorite people in EV space. This guy knows NOTHING about electric vehicles and in fact makes ALL the wrong choices essentially every time. He arrived with his SAMBA bus with one wheel literally falling off as the wheel nuts were never tightened, the adapter hub for the VW flywheel literally on BACKWARDS kind of hampering his forward motion. He has since assembled one of Valery Mitzikov’s 12kw chargers which now does nothing, is wrestling with the very appealing EV instrumentation from the same company, which doesn’t quite work (all as previously reviewed at EVTV) and has found a GREAT deal on some Balqon THundersky batteries at 80 cents an AH with a fresh date on them of 121107 marked right on them indicating they were just made LAST NOVEMBER. Or maybe Jehu needs to work on European date formats a bit on these 2007 cells.

But he attacks EVERYTHING with such energy and enthusiasm and self deprecating good humor, I just adore the guy. He did our show one week and in this episode already had a 90 second commercial completed for EVCCON 2014. It was SO good we announced dates for it on the spot (after checking with AC Blase Arena of course). We’re holding it August 12-17th next year, 2014. Hold those dates. I’ve got an entire segment from him already on hand for this coming week’s show. He is FEARLESS and pretty much proves that ANYONE can make an electric car roll. He is not in awe of accepted wisdom. If those batteries needed restraint, they would have come with some now wouldn’t they?

We also received the latest update on the Generalized Electric Vehicle Control Unit (GEVCU). We launched this open source project siz months ago and originally envisioned a Macchina with CAN bus ports and some software. The vision has grown and the project has taken on several very talented individuals who have kind of taken the bit in teeth and moved off into a very enhanced realm in both software and hardware. We are basically rolling the THING now with the Siemens 1PV5135 motor and DMOC645 controller. But with the new hardware, I think it is going to become very interesting very quickly.


We have gone to a 35 pin ampseal connector that is integrated into the circuit board – eliminating the assembly errors we would inevitably incur soldering little wires to 35 pins with heat shrink etc. This provides four isolated differential analog inputs, four isolated digital inputs, four isolated MOSFET digital outputs, and two CAN channels. The more I look at this hardware, the more I see that it could do quite beyond GEVCU.








With a few changes to the analog board, this kind of becomes the basis for an EVTV BMS pretty easily. Etc. Etc.

Anne and Celso team up on the Delta Flyer. This project goes back to a long running desire I have had for a “Speedster of the Water”. That is a small, fairly light boat that could be davitted as a yacht skiff, allowing a couple of people to zip to shore, eat at a restaurant, and zip back out to the boat at anchor when no dockside tie ups are available. Or zip into town for groceries. An otherwise fun little Speedster for zipping around the harbor at speeds up to 45 mph. I think such a device would have serious appeal to large sailing vessels and the “green” cred on the skiff is about on par with rowing and a lot more fun. My sense is the cost of the electric drive components quickly disappears in that market.

There is actually an electric boat conference planned for October in Nice France. We’re not promising we’ll show up. But it’s made our radar screen. And we’re paddling as hard as we can.

I also expect to be able to make a UK announcement soon. And the concept of a European EVCCON is a not entirely ridiculous notion. We have been aimed at global dominance from the beginning, as you know Pinky. So it should come as no surprise that our daily mission with Pinky and the Brain is to TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD in the true sense of Steven Spielbergs vision.

Jack Rickard

48 thoughts on “Give me an S…Give me an X… Give me an E…”

  1. Really sorry to hear about the Cameras Jack. Nicking anything is bad enough, but nicking the tools of someone’s trade is deserving of something lingering with boiling oil in it (to quote Gilbert and Sullivan)

  2. I hope the cameras are simply misplaced and not stolen, but I agree with John, it is a low thing to do….

    I liked Jehu Garcia ad for EVCCON 2014…. I think he is going to be a great edition to EVTV… I admire his can do (and repeat if necessary) attitude…

    I do want to keep in touch with the people I met at EVCCON 2013. I have a short (very short) list. I am going to compile it and send out the first draft this weekend. If you want to be on it, send me an email at

    Keep in mind that any info you send be will be on the list I send out…

    Keep on building…

  3. I am disgusted and disappointed to hear of the loss of the cameras. I cannot bring myself to believe that an EVCCON attendee would have been responsible for this, especially given the overall generosity and trust that I feel at the show. I personally left my laptop and iPad in plain sight on the table while I went off to eat and talk but I did note several opportunities to stock up on Go-Pro cameras should I have been so inclined.
    I just hope this doesn’t mean armed security guards wandering around next years EVCCON.

  4. Sad to hear that your cameras got stolen… some people have no shame. Happy to hear about the BlackMagic Cinema Camera though, looking forward to some crisp green screen footage! 🙂

  5. Byron Izenbaard

    Looking at the Schematic on the GEVCU Ampseal 35, why is pin 2 +12V for digital I/O, connected to pin 24 +5V Isolated?

    Upsetting hearing about the Cameras, glad you have a great attitude about it.

    1. Byron Izenbaard

      Ok after zooming in on the schematic the lines are very close and east to misinterpret. We may want to make that clear, it could blow something up in the future.

        1. Byron Izenbaard

          I know I just do not want someone getting that confused, that could end badly. I will email you the link to those videos that you asked for at EvCon. I only have your presentation uploaded as of right now but I hope to get the other one uploaded over the long weekend. They will be links from YouTube. Easiest way to get it out to people.

  6. It seems that the camera thief bothers us more that it bothers you…
    I’ve thought about it several times since reading your post yesterday.
    You didn’t say if it was the Canon Vixia gear. Those cameras have served you very well.
    I think I know more people who have used them to “up their game” to HD video than any other single camera line.
    But it is exciting to see you get a BlackMagic camera. I look forward to hearing more about it.

    And Thank You for a great party. I had an absolute blast!

  7. The theft of the camera gear is unsettling. I found everyone I encountered at EVCCON to be genuine and trustworthy but it only takes one bad apple…

    The GEVCU looks like a nice little package with much potential. I do have a concern with the security of the WiFi board. Most of the WiFi shilelds/stacks I’ve looked at did not implement any sort of encryption when set up as a server. Are you going to use some sort of password protection in the Arduino code or does this board provide encryption?

  8. Jack, I’m sorry to hear your camera equipment has been stolen ! You should let the Alexander Co Ill Sheriff dept know about it as it will probably end up for sale at Rhodes parking lot. They seem to do a very good job policing that place.

  9. The thought of an EVCONN-EU. Heck, I could drive there! A few budes I know would love to come for the craic! 170 road miles from mine to ‘dam. Anne, any local camping sites?

    1. Well, it’s not nontrivial. All we need is an EVTV franchisee in Europe with a shop, a marina, a test track, and a convention center all within a block of each other. And we’re good to go.

      After that, it’s easy.


          1. Maybe the heritage motor museum at Gaydon ( It might be possible to negotiate use of the co-located Jaguar/Landrover test track (I’m biased cos it is only 30 miles from home). We have a lot of canals in the Midlands but any speeds over about 3 knots seem to be regarded as a bit too fast and getting there from Amsterdam would be somewhat tortuous.

          2. That would be “glamping” (glamorous camping). 😉
            Ritz Carlton? Done that….. Ritz bikkies and Carling beer — with a mature cheese thank you.
            Has to be said about HamsterJam. I spent one night there and never laughed until I cried so much in my life! My ribs were killing me the next day. Was certainly an eye opener.

      1. Jack,

        May I suggest that the ‘Three Counties Showground’ Worcestershire, UK could be an contender for an EU venue.

        It’s 2 miles from my shop which is based in Upton-on Severn, which conveniently has the second largest inland marina in Europe!

        There is also a disused WW2 runway in nearby Defford to the East. I’d suggest a look on google maps.

        Just sharing my thoughts 😉

  10. Very unfortunate about the cameras. I would agree with Ralph, I felt everyone was genuine at the convention and would not expect this kind of behavior. Perhaps committed by someone who wasn’t attending?

        1. Video is online. Will take me 14 hours to download. I am curious how the new cam performs. Sorry about the circumstances in the first place …

          Heating revisited: If I got it right our i-MiEV has the same kind of water cookers the Transit has, except the Transit has 4 of them. Some people have isolated them with foam with good results. Another group including Karin and me, have started to isolate the doors. We have put 5mm of styrofoam with aluminium foil on one side (the passenger side) and taped it with weather proof tape to the door before putting the plastic trim in place again. With 4 doors done, passenger and rear hatch waiting, we have reduced outside and high speed noises dramatically and even without the heater it is warmer. More electricity for the heater or foam for the doors. It is your choice 🙂

          Peter and Karin

  11. Contractor Problems…..I had problems with the high inrush currents of my DC/DC converter. During original testing I was plugging the DC/DC into the high voltage bus using a NEMA plug. The blades of the plug were being spot welded. The problem was solved by wiring a NTC in series with one of the high voltage supply lines. For my setup, which is 99 cells, I used a GE CL-80. The CL-80 NTC has a resting resistance of 47 ohms at 25°C. As the caps in the DC/DC being to charge the current heats the NTC and the resistance drops. At 3amps the NTC resistance is less than 1 ohm. The resistance vs temperature relation is the opposite of the ceramic heater cores that Jack has been using for cabin heat. This has been the solution for the spot welding and instant DC/DC fuse blowing problems. I picked up my units from Ebay, but Digikey also has them. Here is a link to the NTC datasheets:

    1. I have a traditional setup with the contactor not build into the controller and to protect the controller it has a resistor wired across the poles. I suppose this will also protect the DC/DC converter and therefore also the contactor itself from spikes? I have a separtate cut-off switch to make sure that resistor doesn’t bleed the pack in the long run.

  12. Jack
    As for your saltwater empire there are a few options since you have already throwing good $ after it, you might as run it to the end 🙂

    Your surface area must be larger, especially on the moving part.
    It’s all about to make as much surface as possible, as close together as possible, but there is a danger of overheating but cirkulasions pump and some holes in the plate and it might work.
    If you wish to pursue this type of resistance, it was Baeder with a prencip as an old-fashioned trimmer capacitor where you have large surface area.

    end of the page.

    That is way to go 🙂


  13. Contactor welding
    I would check to things.
    First: How hight is the “12v” voltage directly at the contactor. Could it be that you hit the magic number that the contactor closes but not tight enough and is still arcing a bit..? Unlikely but theoretically possible.
    Second: Bridge the contacts with a small cable and check the arcing…
    Just an attempt to come closer to the problem.

  14. Jack:
    Sorry to hear about your loss of equipment….some peoples kids! huh. Glad to hear about the new video gear though!. As far a the salt water load, did you try to add any lemon/lime juice or acid to the mix, I’m grasping here. How about trying to weld two big garage door springs together and bolting one of the leads to one end and use a heavy duty clamp for the other polarity. The clamp could be moved up or down the length of the spring. You would have to come up with some way of isolating the spring from combustables but I think it would work.

  15. Hi Jack !

    Regarding your load problem.
    You already have an exellent load on your motor test bench.
    Run four cells and connect to the Soliton1.
    Run the motor leads down ito a bathtub and put the steel pipe in water.

    Just make sure you ask Seb and the guys at Evnetics if the controller is up for it.
    But it should since it can take voltages from 9v -340v

    It will limit the current to 1000A but for the 50ah NMC cell that would do.
    But you will get some nice 10kw water heater at those levels.

    Other Ideas for high power adjustable load can be to use several 12v->110vac inverters and then use heaters on the 110 side.


    1. If you do use a controller into a steel bar load, you really should put one of your big honking inductors in series with it too…
      But still, I’d run it past Jeffrey first…He may have already done such things.

        1. Good choice Damien.
          Quite cheap from any local source – like a car boot sale. Not forgetting they come in all different kinds of resistances.
          Even when the Vanadium becomes an oxide the ohmic resistance stays low which is important (and work well under water). Unlike with a bare copper & salt-water rheostat, one can stand the tea pot on it. Very important to have a ready made cuppa in a working environment.

  16. I used nichrome wire coils for loading a 3 phase industrial controller(not automotive). It is very cheap from ebay. connect in parallel to get desired ohms. I used fan cooling only since the wires are meant to “glow” anyway.

  17. VERY sorry to hear about the cameras. I can’t imagine someone to help themselves like that.

    You mentioned problems with a contactor in the VW Thing and I had a similar problem with the heater in the Jeep. I finally went with a 12V solenoid for a lawn tractor and 2 1/2 years later the solenoid is working fine. I wonder if a 1K resistor and diode would help as one does with the main contactor. But since the lawn tractor solenoid worked I never tried this out.

  18. re: saltwater rheostat – above a potential of 1.8V a sodium chloride solution produces hydrogen, chlorine and sodium hydroxide (i.e. – lye), so probably not the safest means of loading down a cell/battery. You can instead use a salt with a higher ionization overpotential, like sodium fluoride, or else skip the home electrochemistry disaster entirely and use something like steel rope or sheet as your resistor.

    For example, 3/16″ stainless steel rope has a resistance of about 80 milliohms per meter and can carry about 125A at a current density of 400A/cm^2 (which should allow cooling by natural convection alone). So to make a 1000A load for a LFP cell you can parallel 8 pieces of rope that are 0.3m long.

    The suggestion to use a Soliton to provide a constant current load is not a good one for the following reasons: 1) you need at least 10V – and preferably 12V – at the traction battery terminals for it to work (keeping in mind that the worst-case tolerance for the pack voltage reading is about +/-2% of full scale, or ~7V); 2) there still needs to be significant inductance present on the “motor” side; 3) you need a resistive load (such as I described above) anyway, so why bother with the controller?

      1. We use a 480V AC 100kW load at my job from these guys

        It has been reliable and is similar in control as Per desribes below.

        Only spec that does not match your need is their DC load needs 26V+. They mention be able to put together special orders and may be able to put one together for you for 6 – 9V

    1. Wouldn’t it be possible to remove the rotor from a large DC motor and just use the Field terminals and then lower the whole motor case into water/oil/orange juice or what ever you like to cool it with and run it with the Solition1.

      It would be really nice to be able to control the current with the controller instead of using different length of wire.
      But you could ofcourse do as we do when testing gensets.
      Have multiple wires of different length to create a set of binary represent.
      So one contactor controls a 10a wire, one controls a 20a wire and one controls a 40a wire and so on up to a 1280a contactor.
      That way you can build a variable loadbank with 10A – 2550A with 8 contactors.


  19. After some thought the problem with the high current relay on the Thing probably could benefit from a snubber. I must admit that I have zero experience with this problem but on the web there is a lot of very technical information on snubbers to protect solid state devices from the same problem.

  20. Jack, I have been waiting for the next Blog update so we can talk about your contactor issue. (You will probably post it while I am writing this ) I have a couple of ideas but you try stuff you don’t mention on the videos so you may have already excluded my thoughts with something you have tried. It seems like the issue is current welding the contacts closed but where is that current coming from? My first question that isn’t clear from watching what you say. Is the contactor welding occuring when it closes or when it tries to open? If it happens when it closes then the problem is most likely inrush current. Because of the inductor on the DC-DC it is unlikely that is the culprit if the issue is inrush current with that device. That would leave the DMOC which I would assume has a precharge circuit to prevent high inrush current. If it occurs when it is trying to open the problem would most likely be current flowing through an inductor being interrupted causing voltage higher than the contactor can tolerate across the contacts. I don’t like this much but when has what I liked changed reality? It should be possible to tell if the failure occurs during close or the open event. Replace the contactor with a big clip lead (I use a jumper cable as a big clip lead) and manually open and close the circuit. There should be a visible and audible event when the failure would occur. It should make for good TV as well.

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