Ok, ok, I get it…..we’re winning. We were always going to….

This episode we had little going here in the shop. Brain’s done a bit on the Carmen Miranda and I’ve been playing with a recalcitrant module on the GEVCU3 which has me reduced to trying to install a serial port on an ancient Windows XP laptop, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Volkswagen has long been an annoyance as they by rights should be the leader in the electric vehicle movement. We’re kind of a VW shop and it has been painful to watch them issue dozens of press releases about new electrically powered offerings apparently with no intent of ever actually producing any. I was gratified to have a viewer alert us to a video done by VW describing their research efforts and particularly explaining battery technologies. Actually I was astounded. After years of following the very closed proprietary march of Tesla, and the utter nonsense issued by Nissan and General Motors, the VW video was a breath of fresh air. Largely accurate and with fantastic graphics, it was truly an education about batteries, albeit pretty much the one I’ve been giving. In any event, we included the whole thing.

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Some video being better than others. Jehu Garcia is becoming a favorite. He really lets you in behind the scenes of succcess and failure and the learning curve he’s going through to bring his Electric Samba to life. It’s just very engaging and very real. He also has an innate sense of video and his talking ankles segment in this weeks version is actually just precious. I’m struggling to picture what Brian Seymour thought they would look like on video, and actually viewing it this week. It’s art Brian. I know. Had you known, you would have worn your good socks. But it was still terribly effective as we could watch the foot action as you drove. And hear the results. I know of no other way to capture that in quite that way. I think Garcia is an unrecognized video genius and I just haven’t figured out a way to make sure we get a segment every week.

Finally Mark Emon and his 914. This is an interesting segment in that you get to see a guy struggle with a build that has gone on too long. But he IS winning. Winning on the electric car build. The video camera is another matter. Not since Royce and Karen Wood graced us with their Blair Witch project Mercury build videos and broke into a production fight on camera have I seen such. In both cases I think they’ll wind up with excellent cars. But not a new career in video.

But we are actually having a ball and I’ve been on something of a shopping spree that has caused kind of another major investment out of the cookie jar and into EVTV.

As you know, we have contracted to have a 24.4 kW solar panel system put on the roof. Not as hard as I make it look actually. We had a new white rubber roof put on our top a month or so ago, and we’re using a remarkable mounting system called DynoRax.


DynoRax flat roof system consists of some very lightweight fiberglass devices that are kind of matrixed together and then burdened with concrete blocks to hold them down. The thing is very easy to install, no holes in the roof, and very strong once it’s all matrixed together.

We’re waiting on permits and paperwork while Ameren UE struggles manfully to AVOID paying us the $2 per watt fee and holds us off to the end of the year when the rebate goes to $1.50. I don’t think they are going to win this one but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag on this. Suffice it to say I’m routinely sickened by the corporate greed and ongoing desire to coerce government into sharing their monopoly powers over the individual. Once we get everybody driving electric cars and making their own electricity, we’ll have to move to an ongoing battle to retain the rights to our own roofs and keep the government from awarding those rights to the very deserving utility companies. It’s enough to cause you to vomit.

I’ve kind of felt under attack here recently with the bizarre behavior of our own GEVCU team, our own intern Hauber and the EV West guys, who we buy stuff from all the time, and the near disappearance of Sebastien Bougouis and the EVnetics crew. I’m like “Do I have bad breath here or what’s going on?”

Someone finally pulled me aside this week and explained it to me. We’re winning.

Winning? Duh. Winning what?

Just winning.

The explanation was kind of complex, but it is a bit bizarre and I do recognize the truth of it. I think most WANTED us to “win” to a certain degree. Mostly because in their estimation, it was so hopeless.

Ok, I admit it strikes my sense of whimsey to note that there are 160,000 gas stations, 25 states that tax gasoline, the Federal government that taxes gasoline, 17 OPEC countries, and the top 5 largest corporations in the world, along with the body politic of automotive manufacturers arrayed against us, so why do I feel we have them surrounded. My answer, from the beginning has been because we do.

I didn’t realize I was the only one who quite believed that.

But today, as the TEsla phenomenon marches on, and one by one the automotive manufacturers kiss the ring and mark in, it is apparent how it is going to come out. So I had another wave of viewers deeply concerned that if anyone could buy a store built electric car, we would be obsolete as there would be no need to build them ourselves any more. Errr.. so why does Summit Racing have 24 loading bays at their $100 million per year business selling components to people who build and customize cars now? ANd how come you can’t SEE all of SEMA in three days of tireless walking?

So I think it has become apparent that we called it starting years ago and are kind of “winning”. I don’t know what they quite imagine we are “winning” or what that looks like here locally. BUt it remains pretty much all outgo cash wise and now we appear to be beset by the politics of envy.

There is no master plan to take over the world guys. We think we’re winning when you’re winning. But it has become apparent that I’ve somehow schemed to corner the market on Siemens Motors. First, there are a lot of motors, and most are not Siemens. Second, my scheme was apparently to get a twice a month e-mail from David Pope at Siemens asking me if I wanted to buy 100 motors. In every case I told him that I had no inverters for the 100 motors and couldn’t imagine what I would do with them. Maybe if Siemens equipped me with an inverter……..NO WAY click.

The way I finally cornered it was he called up and said he was under orders to dump them and what was the number he was going to get. I repeated the same song. He said all that was over, what did I want to pay. I told him here was all I COULD pay given that I don’t have a clue what we’re going to do with them. He said ok. We’ll send them to you.

A brilliant and Machiavellian scheme. ANd now I have 145 of them sitting here. Had to buy a new roof just to keep them dry. Freddy’s Flat Roofs to the rescue.

But yes, while not precisely what you view it as, we ARE winning. Winning in finding more and better toys to spread ourselves thin over. I may have mentioned we found some very thin, very light, very efficient solar panels that they are virtually giving away at twice the normal price in China, using U.S. made cells ironically. Perfect for boats and RVs and docks and so forth. We’ve ordered 50 and are adding them to the store.

sunpower flexible solar

But did I mention that we found a small, light, 20 HP outboard electric motor?


It’s so cool. I bought a couple. They run on 48 volts, and guess what? I was strangely moved to build a battery module for a golf cart of….48 volts. Actually over 50. It will work GREAT with this outboard.

But maybe we want an inboard. They also have a 10kw permanent magnet motor that weighs like 11 kilograms and will squirt 20 kw briefly – brushless DC. That’s what’s in the outboard and they have an inverter for it for less than a grand that does 840amps at that 48v.


Did I mention I found a UPS inverter that will charge the batteries off of either AC or solar, and generate AC if grid power is lost WITHOUT the goofy anti-islanding BS that has been in all the inverters we’ve looked at?


So now we have almost all the components you need to make a solar powered electric boat. It’s not that hard. This one, named Turanor “sailed” round the world:








So we’re adding a whole line of 48v boat and golf cart style gadgets that I’m quite excited about. Meanwhile, we’ve been using LED tailights and headlights for years. All of them excreble in all respects. Suddenly we have headlights and tailights that are quality stuff all the way around and a delight to install and use, if not to pay for.

SO its raining toys. And it is true our mindspace in the EV community has never been higher. Indeed we are winning. And we were always going to. I worked out how to do that in publishing during the last rodeo and I’ll share the secret with you. You publish each and every week for five years with no hope of actually making it work economically. Never an encouraging moment. And suddenly sometime in the sixth year it rains everything.

This month marks the completion of four years of weekly publication of EVTV. We’ve got a little UNDER two years to go. And suddenly we’ll be an overnight success story. I mentally image this as crawling through 40 miles of piss, blood, and razor blades to suddenly be discovered as an overnight success story. And it pretty much works every time. But there are always those who want to move their hands theh same way, wave a video camera or page layout program around in just the way they see us do it, and take part of it away from us, maybe by marking it down a little.

I don’t know what to tell you. We had them in the Boardwatch days and we’ll have them now. A minor annoyance not marked in the history of anything. But it always surprises me when it comes from friends we’ve helped along the way. The politics of envy.

What I see over the next two years is some serious inroads in finding more and better toys YOU can use to build ever better cars and boats and planes and dirigibles (a brazillian dollar business THERE if anyone ever thinks to ask me about it) and more – hopefully at ever lower prices. As we sell YOU more, we BUY more and that is making a lot of radar screens. I’m not having to work so hard with the Chinese these days. They are finding us and pitching their products quite artfully.

And slowly, even the “we only sell to OEM” guys are coming around wondering if we could really move 40 or 50 of them in say, six months. MayBE. SHow me what you got.

The problem with the DIY electric car gig is that it is too widely distributed and has no nexus where you can even get a picture of what it IS, beyond EVAlbum which tends to be run over with electric bicycles and lawnmowers.

I have Chris working on a database now that will allow you to upload full resolution photos and descriptions of your vehicles. We will also have “judges” who register to vote for their three favorites. Kind of like the EV contest. We’ll wind up with an EVTV TOP 100 BUilDS and revert to form, printed publishing. We’re going to do a BOOK with 200 pages covering the top 100 builds along with our catalog of components in the back.

What this will do is let us put something in a person’s HAND that pretty much illustrates that it is a WORLDWIDE phenomenon resulting in THOUSANDS of gorgeous cars and other vehicles built by an ARMY of tinkerers and innovators. Kind of a Stars and Stripes for the EV Army. I kind of plan on publishing this twice a year.

All you have to do to beat me at this is take the idea, pretend you had it. Then publish and mail this book at excruciating expense to anyone who will look at it, twice a year for six years, with no hope of profiting from it. But then YOU can win and you won’t have to spend your evenings sitting around envying me like a young communist living at Animal Farm.

The irony is, that while THEY will find it a painful process, I live for it. I can’t wait to hand this book to somebody and watch their reaction. I never get over it. It’s simple. We give it away. We make YOU the stars. And somehow we win. I love it every time it works. But I think it will open a lot of eyes to “what’s going on” that they didn’t ever really understand that THAT was going on. They saw a couple of week on the show. That’s an aberration. But if they hold 100 in their hand, THAT is a movement.

You see the world can’t stand someone who gives stuff away. They have to either envy them and destroy them, or bring it all back into balance by supporting them and returning it ten-fold. The imbalance itself cannot be tolerated. The resulting Kharmic rule is this: You can’t give it away FAST enough. It’s just not physically possible. And its hard to destroy a guy that isn’t deriving anything from it anyway and lives on nothing. What do you cut off?

And the guys who prefer to GET, who wheedle and whine over very every tiny bit of every advantage real or imagined? Gathering all the “free stuff” they can find? I dunno. Generally you just never hear from them again. I’ve never seen one wind up a winner. Ever.

Stay with us. You’re all winners. And I’m going to tell the world about you.

Jack Rickard

Oh, and the Elon Musk bobblehead doll. A total mistake. We were trying to make a bobble head doll of Charlie Priest, our maintenance guy. See what you think.

Here’s the photos we submitted of Charlie. He’s 72 years old



Now here’s what the CHinese think Charlie looks like.


I don’t see it myself. I don’t think it’s that close a resemblance. But oh, well. It’s designed to hold an iPhone behind Charlie’s head on the dash of my Tesla Model S. I suppose it will still do that.

I wonder if I did one of Brian, would it come out looking like Barry Soetoro?

28 thoughts on “Ok, ok, I get it…..we’re winning. We were always going to….”

  1. I wonder how many bobble headed dolls of Charlie Tesla could shift?
    That motor is a “Golden Motor”. Cooling is not even secondary to it’s design and the most obvious weak point are the magnetic pick-ups. I was told the spare set of power leads could be ignored. Don’t. I’m almost sure this motor is two 5KW units built into one case.

    Your UPS inverter is way cool but can it be set to 50 Hz if required?

    1. I grew up reading Hot Rod magazine and Car Craft. Peterson publishing does most of the rodder magazines that get a whole rack at the Grocery store. After 2006 I turned toward Super Street and Import tuner because the cars were fresher and not just so much of same-old, same-old like most geezers build. After the lithium batteries became practical I started giving the EV concept a second look. The one thing I’ve never really seen much are feature articles in hot rod magazines about EVs. I’ve always wondered how many times the advertisers for these magazines have just flat out demanded that no reporting be done on the pesky disruptive EVs. Because the reporting was conspicuous by it’s absence I had no choice but to turn to the internet and lurk on site after site. I kept trying to turn up the brightness on the computer monitor but it just wouldn’t work…until I discovered EVTV.me.

  2. Right on, Jack! This posting is spot on. It is nice to see the addition of Solar Panels. A number of months ago, I purchased 16-100aH Calbs for my off-grid home. Through your ‘bottom-balancing’ technique and ideas concerning the parameters for the Charge Controller… The system has been working flawlessly for 117 Days, 225kwh produced (I, on average, use only 2kwh/day and lack a diversionary load to use the excess (2000watt array) ). What actually cracks me up, is that the ‘stable’ grid/powers to be you mention… have failed this area up in the mountains in Colorado, three times already in the 4 months that I have been at this.

    Thanks again for the help in the community, Jack.

    You were indeed, spot on. Purchasing from you is a much better idea that direct from a non-known supplier.

    1. Jack,

      I’m gonna toot my own horn a bit because it is confirming your mirror to be true. Thanks to the referral from our buddy Tim Cattilier, I was interviewed by Gearbox Magazine, a publication which ironically eschews advertising. My interview became the cover story with many great pictures of my daily driver. A print copy is on its way to you.

      Further, given the distinctive nature of my Bradley GT, with the unequivocal “ELECTRIC GT” blazoned down the side sin 3.5″ caps, it has been noticed around town. Most recently on the Des Moines section of reddit.com.

      The next conversion is under way. A metallic yellow 2002 Miata. Our biggest challenge will be stuffing 80 100ah potatoes into this little sack.

      As well, the Electric GT caught the attention of a born rebel who wants to stuff 700hp of electric drive in his 63 Rambler. Kind of on the fence about the forthcoming NMCs.

      In summary, Des Moines Iowa, and Electric Dream Machine Conversions is planning to fill a car carrier enroute to EVCCON 2014.

  3. Jack,
    I can’t wait to see the video of you throwing 96v at that little motor and the resultant smoke show!! Lookout Siemens!!
    Just a thought though, If you can find a (please excuse the blasphemous word) Prius inverter to drive it that would be about 200volts you could throw at it 🙂
    Then maybe use the GEVCU to control the P—s inverter? lol. That reminds me I still need to get my CAN bus sniffer built so I can datalog my Prius….

  4. I’ve found a great article, analyzing Toyota’s ECU. It’s about:
    – the most probable reason of dreaded unintended acceleration of Toyotas few years ago (IT WASN’T THE GAS PEDAL)
    – sheds some light on the process of creating ECU software and that can be relevant to GEVCU. Should GEVCU make use of MISRA-C? Or at least some of its recommendations, like code reviews?

  5. Another great show! I like seeing progress. Jehu is quite entertaining and does some great videos. However, the wife still thinks Anne is the best part of the show for some reason.

    I am starting to wonder about Tesla. I think the battery shortage may be a big deal for them next year. If they cant get enough cells for the Model S how are they going to power the Model X? They will need at least double the number of cells that they are currently getting.

    Any ramp up in cell production is going to take time. You have to build the machinery and install that in a plant at set up all the logistics of “materials in and cells out”. I won’t say they cant do it, but that is a lot to expect in less than 12 months. (I have spent most of my life doing the design of these type of manufacturing lines) I predict that production of the Model X will be delayed several months and pushed well into 2015.

    My buddies are still pushing me to do a Solar Powered Pontoon boat. They are not really EV guys, but want a floating man cave to escape from the wives. It looks like Jack has most of the parts to make to make that happen now. I really like the little water cooled motor. It also might be ideal for a Redneck go cart. (of the Hey Y’all watch this flavor…)

    In better news, I got word that my Transaxle shipped yesterday from the Thing Shop with a new significantly stronger gear set. I will probably get it next week and hopefully be back on the road by my Birth day later in November. These guys have really taken good are of me…

    1. Jeff, if you want a redneck go kart, look no further than the power racing series. In short it is an electric racing series based on children’s toys. Ours clocked at 41mph. We snagged a 5″ series motor from a forklift hydraulic pump and a 400a controller from another doner lift. Even with horribly wrong gearing, we out accelerated nearly everyone. Also found that in such a frame, a 10 series ca40fi pack will warm up after 45 minutes of continuous racing.

      For one-off toys, fork lifts are available by weight. And electronics are generally perfect because the lead rots away first.

  6. I feel like I am seeing a win win from your efforts, Jack! I am squinting my eyes to look past the dark hair and/or gray mustache to see the true “charlie TESLA” ecar icon. I am reinvigorated (excited again) to build my way onto the ecar team. Thanks Jehu for providing another interesting report. I think it would be great if Brian S. at HPEVS could work with Jehu to do a segment showing the Curtis controller set up, to run on evtv and put on their website. Looks like the vw stock transmissions are a generic problem. I am going to use the one I have just to get my build completed then plan to replace it after EVCCON 2014.

    1. Mesa, AZ local news reports that Apple bought the new (but mothballed) First Solar plant here. It would have worked equally well as a battery plant for Tesla.

      1. just noticed that in the link I posted rather confusingly the Volt has a big sign on the door saying “Ampera”! The Ampera is on the left. The difference is mostly odd bits of plastic

  7. I’ve enjoyed many shows after discovering you guys several weeks ago. I have built an electric bike, with the thought of possibly attempting an electric car at some point. I especially enjoy Jacks libertarian leanings and his fight against the entrenched monopolistic oligarchs and their well paid minions (“our” public servants) I feel your effort is worthwhile and will certainly be entertaining to see your future coverage of the EV space (race). There is another area in which the evil monopolists have gained undeserved power over the people of the world and that is through the private creation of the publics money. There is a fairly new digital money called BITCOIN , potentially a very disruptive technology, which bypasses central banks and the high fees of CC payment processors. There is at least one Bitcoin payment processor called BITPAY which allows vendors such as yourself to accept Bitcoin. Currently there are few people who use or accept Bitcoin , but it’s another way we can reclaim some power that is ours.

  8. The 8th November show was v good as ever. Your picture of Beijing was striking. Trying to do my tiny bit about the smog in China’s big cities is a part of what motivates me. It is the insidious damage to children and the unborn that is the most concerning. I fear that the government constraints won’t hold. A Chinese friend tells me that if you buy a foreign luxury car the dealer will, er, sort out the permit aspect.

    1. Money talks, rolls out the carpet, fills in forms and gets you the best seat.
      Was it Athens who forced cars with odd or even registration plates to access the city in alternate weeks? Resulted in many owning two cars!

    1. Nick:

      We are experiencing some interesting phenomenon. We changed our DNS server from GoDaddy to Amazon’s Route 53 service yesterday. Caused no end of mayhem. But the solution is time. Within 24 hours all the caches should be expired worldwide. In the meantime, if you will empty the cache in your browser, you may find that things get to be remarkably better rather immediately.


  9. I got my trans back today with a stronger gear set. I also replaced the steering box and found a bad tie rod and worn out steering arm. They should be in tomorrow…

    With any luck I should have the EVThing back up and running this weekend….

  10. Need to add a financial section to the forum. All the recent talk of TSLA investing. I’ve moved a lot of my TSLA into solar stocks, and I’m looking into grid storage as well. I’d love to be able to invest in CALB since it seems they are the most stable of the Chinese LiFePO4 makers. They seem to be getting into the grid storage game according to their website. The only listed battery maker I know of is Sinopoly, and I just cant get behind them enough to invest. What are the chances of CALB going public? Anyone have any thoughts about grid storage investments. I keep seeing news from China about them wanting to clean up their air, and they are starting to invest heavily into electric cars, solar and grid storage. Your comments in the latest video are just more feedback that I need to do some more investigating into these companies. I’d like to see if I can get into these companies early like we did with TSLA. I’m bullish on TSLA for the long term, but I think they are going to be trading at the 180-200 range for most of the next two or three years. (once the market re-stabilizes after the fire news and the George Clooney reports.)

    1. Ok. I’m a fan of LiFePo4 cells and so with this as my hammer, all problems look much like nails to me. But grid storage actually has some different issues. Size and weight are much less an issue. Long life and safety somewhat more so and cost is a big issue as well.

      Those with very long memories may recall my inclusion in one blog of a long video on Lithium chemistry cells by a Dr. Jay Whitacre of Carnegie Mellon University. He had then proposed an aqueous battery for grid storage and had started a company called Aquion. http://www.aquionenergy.com/. They’ve apparently kept after it and have recently entered into some sort of agreement with Siemens. They have a beauty contest of august venture capital firms behind them along with Bill Gates. I would keep an eye out for an IPO from these guys. I think they have the potential to provide low cost cells of exceptional cycle life (over 5000 cycles) with no BMS requirements, balancing issues, self discharge, or even problems with overdischarge. Apparently you can drain them to flatline with hardly any ill effects.

      If they can come close to the merciless low price of lead acid, I think they could become the 800 lb gorilla in this space. If they did an IPO, I would probably be trading in this stock, and two years too early if my normal pattern holds.

      CALB as you might recall is mainly funded by the China Aviation Missile Academy and the chances of going public are remote I would think. They aspire to the solar market but I can’t point to any notable sales in that area beyond participating in some projects with free batteries.

      Jack Rickard

  11. Thanks for the reply. I had not come across them in my recent search, and they do look promising. They have lots of great information posted in their blog ( http://www.aquionenergy.com/blog ). I’ll definitely keep them on my radar. I don’t mind getting in two year early. I was in with TSLA shortly after the IPO, and acquired lots of shares at around $21. The $40 hit recently did not phase me, it’ll be back up again. I’m not much for playing with options, more a buy and hold investor, but I really wish I would have bought some September calls back in March.

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