This week we continue our head spinning trek through the land of world wide magnetic drive for personal transportation. We’re not just THERE yet but getting closer.

And that causes us to reassess and reinvent, with every passing day, our mission and role in it. And are we having fun.

Novembers are kind of cool around here (so to speak) as we get a sudden influx of component sales. I’ve thought this odd with Christmas coming that sudden ducats become available for components????? But it actually appears to be more of a weather thing. Days are shorter. Temperatures cooler. At least here in the northern hemisphere. And so the interest in outdoor activities wanes while the idea of an evening in the garage with Thursday night football on and a couple of sudsy cold ones in hand while playing with some high voltage starts to take on an allure. As Brian’s latest T-shirt says, STAG BEER – NOT JUST FOR BREAKFAST ANYMORE.

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We’ve kind of reached a preliminary agreement with Rinehart Motion Systems to market their inverters to what they term the DIY crowd. This considerably extends our ability to provide Siemens motors usefully and they have quite successfully characterized this motor on their test bench with their PM series of inverters. They’ve also expressed some interest in our Generalized Electric Vehicle Control Unit, now often referred to as Collin Kidder’s idea of course, as some of their existing customer base has need of such.

Despite being electric car enthusiasts themselves for MANY years, their experience in the EVerDuLl and DIYelectrijunk forums rather shaped their image of what we kind of picture as morphing into the Custom Electric Vehicle market. And the direction we are going with it might provide entre to selling into that market in a way they were hesitant to endure at the hands of the bottom feeders and electric junk miners.


Custom Electric Vehicle designs. That’s what I see this as in a future where store-bought ready made electric cars are readily available. There was actually NOTHING to buy in 2008 when we started beyond a GEM. Today, things are better. And we see the market changing. But in some actually very positive ways.

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, the modern OEM electric car is quite complex and VERY proprietary. I was recently in a discussion on LinkedIn where they were holding forth on Tesla’s battery chemistry, when it became obvious to me that they didn’t know what it WAS. After looking into it a bit, I guess I’m not so sure myself. I know they started With LiCoO2 cells but I think Panasonic has mostly moved to a hybrid cell of Lithium Nickle Manganese Cobalt Oxide that many even have some aluminum in it last I heard. The point is, Tesla ain’t saying. Their chargers are proprietary. THeir drive train. Ditto VOlt. Ditto Leaf.

We’ll ultimately figure parts of it out along the way. But nobody is going to make that easy And to maintain your warranty or lease, you kind of have to drive it their way, maintain it their way, and it’s pretty much THEIR car in a way quite beyond what it had become over the years anyway. Suddenly much more so. You just really have little in the way of property rights to your car, even if it was $107,000, which my case is about six times the cost of the house I grew up in.

But its ok. You can go build a show car in the garage that will knock people’s eyes out, KEEP some of the romance of vintage vehicles restored AND have an ultramodern, ultraclean drive train in it AND have complete and total control of it, its operation and its destiny. And you can park it RIGHT NEXT to your MOdel S or BMW i3. It will look right at home there.

We’re starting to get a little excited about the Karmann Ghia for example. Yes, it had a lot more work under the spats than we expected, but that’s kind of ok. We’ll just make it like new and use all new parts there.
No one has ever done one with an HPEVS AC-75 and I think it’s going to be a powerhouse. The CA series cells which we have sold a lot of, in reality this is our SECOND conversion to actually use them. Speedster Nippon was our last CALB SE build if you recall. And the CA series is just a huge leap forward as to battery performance. The CA100FI’s going into this build in a single centrally located box won’t even reach heavy breathing to do the max 500 amps our Curtis 1238 inverter will manage. And Brain, left without the prying and usually RUSHING fingers of the wide one, is just a master of fitment. The extra wide pedal assembly Pete suggested being a prime example. Croc-optimized VW pedals. Gotta love it.

And we’re going after something no Ghia has ever had, GOOD air conitioning and heat and an excellent smart phone/bluetooth stereo system. Creature comforts. Things the THING can never have. An “all season” electric car. I haven’t really hit him with my electric window idea yet. And the pop out door handles like the TEsla has I’m afraid to bring up.

But all that sort of thing is in the future of what we are going to call Custom Electric Vehicles. Now that we really have mostly shed the electric junk car image, and of course the bottom feeder lead acid batteries that hamstrung them, I may be alone privy to the knowledge of just how very many very pretty new builds are out there and underway.

When we started this adventure in 2009, I looked hard at what was before me and realized that to be global, we really had to be web based. The print publishing world I so loved was just a little dated. Mailing costs to Europe are preposterous. Printing costs are too. And the ad sale in a print publication is at abeyance. I think it will return in an odd fashion at some point but not yet. Given to long winded missives such as the one you are currently reading, I also realized that reading itself was kind of out. People had plenty to read. But video was the preferred medium if they had a choice. So we did video.

And so at age 54, I faced a huge new learning curve. How to publish in HD VIDEO instead of print, and to distribute and monetize that effectively on a global scale. I guess I still think I’m in a fist fight, but it seems I can stop and take a sip of whiskey between rounds and the opponent is visibly flagging. In 2009 most people on the Internet had neither the bandwidth or the computing power to show HD video on the screen. Today you can do it with your pocket phone. And we don’t even hear much about bandwidth and PC performance anymore. An hour of HD video in 2009 was considered comically unusable. Today it is a half show for us. And 45% of our viewers are outside the U.S. and Canada entirely.

We host on ANd the editing process and upload are such that I’m usually mostly done by early Saturday afternoon, rather than late Sunday in the past after a marathon weekend in a chair. I’m much more comfortable with the format these days. I don’t even see the camera when I’m in full rant. And so I can project what I used to do in print on screen. The tools have become more transparent and less awkward for me. Kind of like learning to type all over again. I no longer have to look at the keyboard would be the analogy.

But something is missing. The web is like a keyhole. Looking at our products online, which I have busily been adding a couple per week for a couple of years, you can’t really get an overall view of all of it. Most of our categories run two or three screen pages now and most of our visitors are blissfully unaware we HAVE pages. So they haven’t seen 2/3 of the products we have in stock.

More important, and on a wider front, I get e-mail and telephone calls each and every day with people at various stages of building very interesting cars. And we can show some of that. But again through a keyhole. Here’s an electric boat. Here’s a Samba bus, or a Vanagon. Or a Porsche 914.

One of the startling things at EVCCON is just to see 40 beautiful electric cars all parked together. Forty isn’t very many. But it seems like a LOT when you’ve never seen more than 3 together before at a local club meeting.

And so I’m kind of cognizant of the size and scope of this thing, but I can’t show it to you. I have to have video of it. I have to edit it into the show. And two hours, which I understand many of you find too long, goes pretty quickly for me editing it. There’s just so much room in that length of time. It’s a world through a keyhole, that anyone viewing any one episode is going to assume that all of this is EXCEPTIONAL. It’s cool. But it’s not really exceptional. I can’t put all the cars we have parked here on the LOT in a single episode. Or on a single web page. Much less the very rich environment I deal with every day, with people from 14 to 74 actively working on the next most gorgeous, electrically powered thing. And understand MY visibility into this is but a tiny fraction of what is going on worldwide. I responded to an e-mail from a guy in Serbia who just couldn’t get his car registered, even though he had been on local TV with the minister for vehicles promising on camera to help him.

It’s truly a global hobby of passion. It has everything that hot rods and custom cars had PLUS room to innovate and improve PLUS a kind of holy war mission jihad to convert the world to a better place by advocating electric drive. It’s actually intensely powerful and engaging for literally thousands of people all over the world. But I don’t have a way to show that….

Unless I revert to form.

I’ve long been fascinated by EVAlbum because you can slice it and dice it different ways and get a bit of a cut on what percentage of the motor market HPEVS has, as opposed to Netgain. Or how dominant has EVnetics become in regards to the venerable Curtis 1231 everyone used to use. And so whatever the manufacturers claimed, you could kind of get a sense of market share and of what people were doing now.

What I didn’t like was the trashy lead acid crap junk cars, the total domination of the numbers by electric bicycles and an unusual fascination with electric lawn mowers. It kind of trashed up the neighborhood.

So what we’ve been working on is an online database of builds. We are going to refer to this as the EVTV Registry of Custom Electric Vehicles. It will be an online database, heavily oriented toward high resolution photographs as well as vehicle component choice particulars. We hope to make it even more usefully searchable with regards to statistics and so forth. And hopefully a lot PRETTIER than EValbum. A real showcase for gorgeous cars.

We will actually include boats, which I think will be fascinating, aircraft, which might get to be a thing, and probably high class custom motorcycles. What it will NOT include is lawn mowers, bicycles, neighborhood electric vehicles, and generally not OEM electric vehicles at all – unless they are rather heroically CUSTOMIZED. In other words, show cars. Original builds will of course be welcomed and kit cars done electric would be very additive as well. But that you have a new Nissan Leaf is just not of interest in this Registry of CUSTOM electric vehicles. If we ever let in a lead acid vehicle, it will have to have some sort of NEW lead acid chemistry offering a signficant improvement over ionic batteries. Could happen. Probably won’t. But anything is possible.

So that leaves out a LOT of electric activity. Which is just fine with me. What it leaves IN is gorgeous custom cars. Innovation. Show cars. Ok, daily drivers but show me something cool.

We are also going to require registration for people to VIEW the database. Actually, the only ones who can view the database will be the JUDGES. And actually anyone, including the builders, can be judges but htey have to give up their precious identity and register on the service. If they don’t know what their freakin name is I can’t help them, I don’t either. That’s because they will be limited to three votes. They can vote for three different builds, in the order of 1, 2, and 3. They can logon anytime and browse the database and they can even CHANGE their vote, at any time and on whim. There is no charge either to the builder or the judges.

In the end, I hope to have several thousand very very nice builds fully described and complete with photographs – high resolution gorgeous BEAUTIFUL photographs. We are also going to allow the builders to provide a link to their Youtube channel or other video site, their blog, their website, etc. So it will kind of act as a gateway and rainmaker for that whole world. Damien Maguire has 141 build videos now. That’s almost as many as I have. He also has several cars in work. And I’m VERY pleased to report he has taken the vow and pledged the pledge. He will be appearing at EVCCON 2014 next August. But the point is, the Registry of Custom Electric Cars will be a portal to his Youtube channel as well as photos and details of his build. You wind up sucked into his whole world.

Doesnt’ this just make a bigger keyhole to look through? Well yes. Of course. But a couple of kickers are going to change the world for me, and I think change a lot of minds worldwide. We are going to take the 100 most beautiful custom electric vehicles, along with their high resolution photographs, as determined by our distinguished but self selected/appointed panel of hopefully several thousand judges, and we are going to compile this into a four color printed BOOK of the EVTV Registry of the TOP 100 Electric Vehicles which will be printed and published eventually QUARTERLY if I get my way and can afford it. A coffee table sized book with full color photographs of each build along with detailed data.

That’s probably 200 pages. And then we’ll add say 100 pages of photos and descriptions of shiny billet aluminum components you can use to BUILD a Custom Electric Vehicle.

It is my belief, that if I could put THAT book into the hands of a person standing in front of me, that I can watch the cranial detonation actually GO OFF real time as it suddenly comes home the breadth and scope and reality of all of this, holding hundreds of pages of gorgeous show cars in his hand. Not one car. Not a couple of cars. But a couple of INCHES of cars in print. From all over the world.

Keyhole slammed wide open. And hopefully, it will terminate my daily irritation at dealing with people who sneeringly dismiss this phenomenon as something they know and deride, when they don’t know squat about piss in reality, and are blissfully unaware how deeply, viscerally, and completely they don’t know it. I want to personally WATCH them go into meltdown realization in real time. Ignorance is NOT bliss and arrogant ignorance is particularly irritating. I look it in the mouth EVERY SINGLE DAY. And I’m tired of it.

Second, it will make our best friends and customers into celebrities in their own right. They can point to it in the book. Number 37 on the EVTV TOP 100 Registry of Custom Electric Cars. If you are a conversion shop and don’t have at least a couple of builds in that list, then just how good a conversion shop are you anyway?

Finally, you have no idea who calls into this place these days. There are a LOT of prototype Tesla wannabees with some funding from somewhere hitting us. And the phenomenon TOTALLY unexpected out of left field, three calls per day from Universities. And they call, they don’t e-mail. And they won’t even look at the web store, they want us to chant it into the phone FOR them. It would be mildly annoying but they tend to follow up with $20-30,000 purchase orders. We’re not too sure what to do with those, but we think they might be good things. Kind of takes the sting out of their elite liberal self-importance.

What’s that about? The University world has for some time had some build teams at select schools, some of which do astonishing things. But suddenly, the largely liberal elite of our entire wider University system has detected a “greener than thou” pecking order and if you DON’T have an EV program in place, you are disabling your student body AND lacking in enviro-creds in one smoothly awkward move, that MIGHT lead people to believe you were some kind of closet Tea Party Patriot or something equally as red state icky as that. Particularly uncomfortable for those Universities IN red states.

But you’ve heard these guys at EVTV can help.

Why yes, we can actually. But I think we could do that more easily, and give institutions a little easier entre than watching 200 two-hour videos, by placing this book in their hand, with 100 examples of excellent custom cars, and a hundred pages of shiny components enabling them to do it too.

Chris Fisher of Sweden is currently coding furiously to make all this happen and we have a guy here in the shop named Jeff Crain who is designing print pages as we speak. As always, both of them seem curiously unable to translate my whims and vanities into instant product reality within moments. I find that annoying and fault them for that. But it’s coming along. Slowly but surely.

And so I want a combination very upscale version of EVAlbum online and a gorgeous six color medical press style book to publish at astonishing expense RIGHT NOW. I think it can signficantly upgrade the world’s image of who you are, what you do, and why you do that. But we have to print it to make that happen.

In any event, it becomes much easier for us to deal with large institutions AFTER we put the book on their desk and THEN have the telephone conversation. Kind of an eight-pound business card.

Stay with us. Whatever you thought it was, we’re going to change it.

Jack Rickard

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102 thoughts on “SHOW TIME.”

  1. I like the idea of an Custom EV Build Album. Simply seeing the cars is a very powerful message. When Richard joined the show I liked how he immediately realized that the Hotrod guys were prime targets for custom EV conversions. I have seen great interest from these guys when they see my car at the local shows and cruse nights. I usually have 5-10 people crowding around the car the entire time I am there.

    I really want to do another build, but the wife is kind of insisting on me getting a new EV. I have to get another company car next year (Can’t be more than 4 years old). I can let the company pay for about 70% of the car and then donate it to her. I like the little BMW i3 and will most likely get one as soon as they are available. The truth is, I could not build one that nice for the same price. I still have a reservation on a Tesla Model X, but will most likely cancel it as I think the i3 with the REx will be a near perfect solution for us and is about 1/2 the price of the Model X. I hate the idea of not getting a pure EV, but 80 miles of EV range is still 90-95% of our driving and having that extra 5-10% insurance seems like a no brainer to me. If we get the car, I will try to talk her into driving it to EVCCON 2014. I’ll follow her in the truck towing the EVThing. Although stopping every 80-90 miles to top off the REx might be a bit of a pain…

    If it was up to me, I would do a Model A Coupe or 65′ Mustang with a AC35x2. I just think these two would made a near perfect custom build. It would be difficult, but I think you could get 48 CALB 180’s in there for a solid 100 mile range…

    I should have the EVThing back on the road by this weekend unless I find another problem. I replaced the steering box and found the inner tie rods was shot and the hole in the steering arm was worn out on one side. I might have enough video of the work to send in, but it is hard to video alone…

    It is an exciting time in EV land…..

    1. 65 Mustang – almost the only American car that is instantly recognised over on this side of the pond. A bit ponderous compared with an MG Midget but it would be a seriously nice car, particularly if it was done with the same meticulous attention to detail as the Thing.

      How light can you make a Mustang if you try? I really liked the approach Mark and John Bishop used with their Morris Minor – build in lightness.

        1. Jeff,
          I have a 66 Mustang and i wanted to do convert in 1997. my car is why i found Jack on the Internet. I 100% agree a mustang or a Model A. the guys in CO did a 65 convertable already with two Netgain 9″ motors. I hate BMS’s but it’s a pretty build.

        2. Maybe. Maybe not. Ring Brothers made quite a splash at Sema this year with an ALL CARBON FIBER body 67-68 Mustang. You take an old Mustang and cut out most of the body, then skin it with a whole line of panels they make for it that are carbon fiber. They have a 14 lb fiberglass door for example. It winds up being the real black with gold fleck looking carbon fiber – no paint needed. And it is of course light. 2 inches wider than a normal pony car.

          There’s a guy out there also stamping NEW pony car bodies out of steel. I wish he could be converted to aluminum. One of the rarely discussed elements I like most about the Model S is that it is ALL aluminum including all the structural stuff. The Detroit steel stamping machine is made for the current life cycle of cars and why renovations so often involve so much rust and rot, as you found on your THING and we are living out in the Ghia.

          But an all aluminum body, as long as you don’t WRECK it or otherwise ding it, which iis kind of a problem, is kind of forever. Since the drive train basically is as well, the Model S is kind of one of those that by replacing the battery pack, interior, and paint, you just keep getting a new car over and over.

          Not important to most. But you would not believe the cars I’ve driven into the ground. I just never can let go. They don’t give you what they’re worth on trade-in, so I just keep em forever. I drove one pick up truck that was mostly shot when I got it for 15 years.

          I think we would be much better off viewing cars as we do houses, something you can remodel a dozen times, it’s still your house. Instead of the planned obsolesence we see with a 9.6 year life. But all that is easier with aluminum and carbon, and just not doable with steel. In the 80’s, we’d see cars that weren’t four years old in St. Louis and Chicago with big smiles over all four wheels where they had rusted through from road salt.

          Jack RIckard

  2. It would be good to settle on a wiring diagram format or program for builds that go into the book. I’m sure there would be interest in this area and if the drawings or component layouts were in the same format it would be a plus.

    1. I really like the idea of the wiring diagram as well as a detailed parts list. Another aspect to consider is to have an unbiased person drive the car and rate it on how much better (or possibly worse) it is compared to an original version. The end result would look like a Car and Driver review. For some of these custom builds this will be impossible, but a conversion of a well known original will be fairly easy.

      1. Another excellent idea I have no IDEA of how to pull off. But it goes to something we’ve talked about often. How is a scratch built conversion SUPPOSED to feel like if it is operating perfectly? And if it is operating HORRIBLY how would you be able to tell. Comparing it to what?

        Often the guy building the car has very little experience driving an electric car. But if he did, this one will be different. As I’ve often mentioned, we’ve “fixed” probably a dozen cars now that were working fine. Just a little disappointing on the performance side. We always find either a thermal or battery voltage limit in the controller that is severely limiting output. A little cooling or a configuration change, and the thing shoots down the road at frightening speed and has to be dialed back a bit to be drivable. But who knew? You compare it to what?

    2. I second (or third, I guess) zak650’s idea for the EVTVAlbum. As an electronics and electrics noob, I’ve spent more time trying to figure out which end of what goes where, and also details such as the AWG and fuse sizing for each circuit. At EVCONN I must have taken a Vermillion pictures of the builds, especially those utilizing HPEV’s excellent hardware. That had helped quite substantially, including those that took the time to explain their work in detail — thanks again, Mr. Southern and a MEGA shout out to Joey and his 911 (pronounced “nine-eleven”, Jack). I also bought Eric Kris’s amazingly detailed EV Sonnet book, which also has helped immensely.

      When I do finish my wiring plan, I’d be happy to share what I came up with, and I encourage others who have made their EV go forth without the thrill of an electric fire to do the same.

      1. The surprise session that absolutely wowed everyone at EVCCON this year was Eric Kriss on the very boring topic of preplanning and estimating for a build. You could just see cranial detonations going off across the room. Lots of basics and basic tool stuff. Sometimes we get in a little deep.

        Hoping to have him back this year.

  3. My custom car, after I finish the Ranger conversion, will be to get one of those steampunk-esque rat rod’s that seem to be in vogue. You know the type…the ones with hundreds of hours invested in making it look like they just pulled it off the Titanic?
    I’d want to find an old industrial 3-ph motor of roughly 25-40hp and figure out how to make it work in a car.
    I guess I’d need a custom inverter, custom windings for 140-200v, and a fairly stout suspension system as those were not built with weight savings in mind.
    I’d want the coupling to be fairly exposed, contactors that spark when they’re energized…basically something that came off the set of Hell Boy.
    That’s my vision anyway and who knows how long it will be until I can make it real…

    I really like where this is going!

    1. Jarkko, it amazes me that they would even think to put that into the car, let along actually do it. I would never purchase a car from them if they had this feature. I wonder if Nissan will follow behind with the Leaf.

    2. Jarkko,
      Methinks it is more about protecting their asset: The leased battery pack. There as been no talk of any ICE car in this way.
      Seems EV’s in particular attract, techies, geeks and tinkers. The Leaf Spy App is one such case. Many others doing physical hacks that no self respecting motor company would consider.

    3. This very disturbing mentality broke out here in Arizona state banking laws over a decade ago. The service company bandwagon wanted all customers to commit to direct debit of ones bank account as a condition of service contract. When they became in default of contract one was compelled to prove to the service company that you should be allowed to stop payment. The banks in cahoots with the negligent service provider would simply refuse to assist the customer in stopping payment. The laws involved protected the service provider regardless of service level and left the consumer out in the rain. The debit charge process was protected by law but in the mean time the consumer was given the burden of all proof.

  4. The EVThing rises from the dead.

    I managed to get the trans back in and the motor with a new balanced light weight flywheel. I also rebuilt the front end with new toe tie rods, steering arm and steering box. I also replaced the bushing in the steering colum bearing to keep the wheel from moving up and down.

    First test drive tomorrow!!!!!

        1. Bosses? They are all like that. My long time place wanted me to forget going home times. Instead telling me to consider work as a lifestyle choice…. I still had to clock!

          All the best with that Jeff. If yours is better it will keep Jack on his pinkies for bigger and better. *wink*

  5. Jack and Brian,
    Holy cow, I just saw the damage on the news from the tornadoes in your neighborhood! I hope all is well with you and your families, and that no one is hurt.
    Alex Vieira

  6. Thinking about what Jehu said …..
    Jack, remember the time when you done a piece about the Tesla cells and Panasonics(?) were peaking at 2,400mAH with the future expecting up to 4,000mAH?
    A pack of twelve 18650’s, 5000mAH each to my door for £19.60 (222 watt hours)
    I was wondering how they packed that 48KWH Leaf.
    Theoretical numbers tell me If my 10KWH A123 pack was replaced by an almost equal volume of these, (3150) the pack would cost third more than the A123 price, (£5,155 or ~$8.6K) but the capacity would be 58KWH!! Someone say “disruptive technologies”, a game changer?
    My 10KWH pack fits in a Quasar style motorcycle. IF consumption was also 58wh/mile. Without safeties and variables in mind that is an absolute theoretical 1000 mile range…. On a motorbike!!!
    Elon Musk is a billionaire because the battery costs are not so high. Fuelled vehicles technically are the walking dead.

    1. @ Andyj,

      I wonder if there are pre made assemblies available to slot groups of these into capable of handling EV current rates… The pricing on these is comparable to lead acid! Do you happen to know the discharge rates?

    2. I doubt that those cells are realy 5000 mAh , you should test , to good and to cheap to be true ! I bought some of those ultra fires on ebay and one of them tested only 1000mAh 🙁 and they were more or less about 2000 mAh.

      best regards

  7. Hi Paul, Don’t quote me or take any recommendations. Even if it’s written on the cell. :-O
    Here is “a” test of plain blue coloured similarly unprotected “5000mAH” cells. (Rated bad)

    Remember, if you wish to use these, always go for protected cells from a known good company. The Ultrafire range is not from a single controlled manufacturer so quality can be rated ok to appalling.

    Best bet is someone with the correct toys to have a play. If you Google “tmart 2pcs Ultra Fire 18650 3.7V 5000mAH Lithium Battery Yellow”. ($8.17) For a sample of two?

    There are good cells out there. I doubt 5AH.
    People like Jehu could be interested to market a parallel/serial extendible 18650 module kit? 😉

    1. The “Ultrafire? appears to be a Lithium Polymer battery with a 500 cycle life and about a 1C output. These batteries, and the A123 pouch cells, are not in my opinion viable for EV use and cannot be made to be so. What Jehu will find is that the density advantage is MORE than wiped out by the structure he has to build for them to survive in a car. Sure 50 cells at $3 each looks good, until you go to the same expensive of packaging them.

      Walking around in a BIG circle, no matter how many laps you do, the prismatics we get from China are the easiest, the best and the most durable for automotive use They offer the longest life and the most robust package and they are the safest.

      I applaud his sense of self reliance and innovation. I’m glad HE’s doing it rather than me. And in the end, after buying old last year chemsitry batteries from Balqon, making packs out of laptop cells, etc. etc., he’s going to wind up wanting CA series cells from CALB.

      Having been through most of this myself…. But you just never know. In the end, we learn and we innovate by doing. Not by talking it to death.

      Jack Rickard

      1. I agree with you Jack. I think all of us who have ever entertained the thought building an electric car have traveled down the same path as senor Jehu in exploring the possibilities of assembling a battery pack of this nature.
        My reasons for not doing it was the discharge rate. I found that in my calculations, I needed way more cells than just having a pack that would get me down the road a 100 miles or so.
        This obviously offset the weight advantage to nill and would have cost me just as much as prismatics

        The amount of work and assembly necessitates special welding machines and robust packaging to hold these batteries together on the road or track.
        Maybe one of the most important steps in building an EV is research. Diving into DIY forums may sometimes be frustrating, but discussing and exchanging information with your peers will usually pay off in the end.
        It will be a lot of work for Jehu, but I think Gabriel (his brother)will give him a hand.

        On another note, I look forward to his endeavor ,and I`m reassured that it will be more instructive than watching someone butcher an aluminum adapter plate with a hole saw. OMG !!

      2. You know Jack, I am glad I decide to simply take your advise on most of the components for my build and figure out why later…

        It is kind of a penny wise pound foolish kind of thing…

        Thanks again for the show. I am not quite sure I would have done my build without it…

        1. Your craftsmanship and fabrication skills far exceed anything we have to work with here at EVTV Jeff. But the EVTV approach is to offer a reasonable thought process to select a component, try it, and show how it came out over time. Yes, we had five different heating systems in the Escalade and we’re still working on it. We added an overflow tank this week.

          And so along the way, a body of specific knowledge about specific components is built. But it all started like Jehu. And so I applaud his sense of adventure, originality, and rather fearless approach. It’s going to cost him in coin of the realm, but he’ll learn it very well in the process and I’m certain he’s going to wind up with the Samba Bus from hell – maybe with a 300 mile range? The first zero to sixty VW microbus in the six second range?

          I contrast all this to the way it was done prior to EVTV. That was basically EVDL and DIYelectric, where all messages are created equal, an dinstead of experience, you got endless thought experiments from wannabees and poseurs pretending to be very knowledgeable on topics they’d never actually had any experience with at all. I busted one guy who posted in there for years and had NEVER BUILT A SINGLE CAR. He simply read messages, added what made sense to him, and repeated it as advice.

          People new to the forum couldn’t tell it wasn’t good advice. Worse, if you contradicted any of this with actual knowledge of actually doing it, they would all gather and sagely “vote on it” in a really weird way. Very frustrating.

          THEN they loved to entertain flame wars. Having emerged from the Fidonet 104 flame wars of the early to mid eighties, I had them a bit overmatched on that front and they found that very upsetting as well.

          So EVTV is kind of an anti-forum. And here we are developing forums.

          Back to the salt mine… I’m running into some unbelievable liquidation deals that threaten to break me financially unless a lot of you guys buy a LOT of components.

          The UQM deal from the Coda remnants is back on. How do you feel about 22kWh battery packs from a Better Place. Do any of you have a better place yet for them? At a VERY attractive price I’m hoping?

          Jack RIckard

          1. Jack,

            I have a 2000 Ranger EV that has an aging NiMh battery pack. I might be interested in the batteries you will be getting from Better Place. Do you know the physical size, Voltage, and Amp hour capacity of the modules that will be up for sale?



          2. Ed:

            Haven’t seen them but do have a spec. 764 x 1288 x 832 mm (L W H) and 290 kg 2P96S for 360v nominal and 65 AH. That’s 23.4kWh to me but they call it a 22 kWh pack. I have two 40 ft containers arriving New York on December 16 I’m told. Haven’t seen them or what shape they are in but most are supposed to be new and unused. I’m curious what kind of pricing you would find really attractive\ for such a pack. It’s kind of an enormous outlay and I’d like to move them briskly.

            They would be ideal with our Siemens motors and DMOCs. But I think they are kind of big square things and I’m not too sure how you work em into a car. But a pickup truck would be pretty easy I would think.

            Jack RIckard

      3. Not to mention used batteries have different capacities and current draws. You might run into the issue that John Metric had with wires melting because cells in parallel pull different currents when they are not of the same age and capacity. One would have to drain and fill every cell to get an idea of the capacity left in order to properly pair them up or else make the wiring twice as big as needed. Who knows what other problems might arise.

        1. Jack,

          As you say, that is a big cube of a pack. Do you know if it is comprised of smaller modules that could be rearranged into a different shape? I have searched for pictures of the Better Place battery pack. Do you have any URL’s for pictures?

          I would rather not use the bed of the truck for my replacement battery pack. Here is a picture of the enclosure I will need to shoehorn these batteries into:


          1. Hi Ed,

            I might well be mistaken, (usually am!) but from the pictures I’ve seen of better place facilities with labelled up Renaults on site, these might be the same packs as used in the Renault Fluence, (Google for pics). If so, they are made up of individual modules (themselves made from 2S2P pouches) in aluminium cans as used in the Leaf packs. These are a nice form factor and quite stackable to suit once taken out of the main assembly.


  8. Absolutely..
    When I saw 5AH for an 18650 I could barely believe it. Blogs that test these things and owner/reviewers find capacity marked is rarely capacity found. The A123’s are a bad show. One died on it’s own and another puffed up also for no reason. I’ll be selling them to Boeing at this rate.
    Leaving it to Elon 😉

  9. Got the gearbox spinning yesterday then came in to watch EVTV and had to bury my head in my hands while my antics played out on the living room tv. Movie review included! Sorry the videos are long and boring. Just kinda happens that way and the post production guy is an idiot. Now I have to program the arduino controller hook it up and see what happens. Three shift solenoids , four pressure modulators , two speed sensors , one temp sensor and my programming skills. What could possibly go wrong ?…. Oh and more adapter plates will be sacrificed to the hole saw gods lest they become angered.

    1. Damien, next time you might try a router with two different guide diameters so the bit doesn’t get caught in a single width path. Step the cuts down 3-5 mm at a path. Your videos are great!

    2. Oi! Stop that Damien.
      Self deprecation is supposed to be an English disease. Being Irish, that’ll stop you from saying that again 😉

      Yah the trouble with hole saws, they are ok for sheet metal because they don’t bind when breaking through the other side. If you can find a local college that actually has a functioning engineering/machine shop would be great. Tell them what you want. Loan the gearbox & motor as a template and they will snatch it off you faster than you can say thanks.
      They used to love a challenge. Lads doing the HNC part #2 practical would fight for it but collection will have to be after Xmas for marking an appraisal 😉

    3. I liked your segment. Burning a big hole saw in aluminium is painful….

      You might want to look for and indexing table and cut the large diameters out with an endmill. It takes longer, but it it a lot more quite and easier on the equipment….

    4. You’ve learned long and boring from the master Damien. No need to apologize. It’s reality build TV. And the more real, the more valuable. We are very conscious here NOT to get too slick with it. And I’m personally very interested in an Arduino based shift controller for automatic transmissions. Even my 6L80E has a whole map in the book of which solenoids in what order to do which shifts. Kind of complicated, but documented.

      1. Now have the arduino controlling the solenoids and pressure regulators. This afternoon I wrote some extra code and added two buttons for up/down shift. 1st , 3rd , 4th and 5th engage fine but 2nd locked up solid! Bugs to be ironed out …….

    1. Now why did you have to go and post that. Now I really want to build a 65′ Mustang. That should easly shave about 300-400lb off of the car. The best part is you could get a rust bucket to act as the parts doner…

      That would be one heck of a build…..

      1. I had two thoughts here. Interfacing with the TCU in the 6l80e would be an excellent task for the gevcu, The other being that the scariest thing about running 3200 18650 cells is bottom balancing 3200 cells.

        1. You only bottom balance the 154P bricks. So it ends up being only 26 bricks in Jehu’s case. The scariest thing is having one cell go into thermal runaway because it would take all its neighbors with it.

          1. In my view the scariest bit is 6400 cell connections with zero error rate: although Jehu’s design looks clever – provided the cells are a consistent length and/or there is some compliance built in. Still Tesla churns them out by the million….

          2. I stupidly managed to blow up a Valence Battery, these are also made up of layers of small cells, welded into banks then folded over into a pair of layers, each battery having four layers. mine was a 125 battery . What I didnt realise was that the around 9 v I saw was equivalent to three layers, when I applied 12+v the voltage rose and so I thought all was well, I then left it charging at around 4 amps, buat in reality, one cell in the layer was shorting. Eventually it hit its thermal runaway point melted the case of those around, eventually resulting in an explosion, covering my workshop in aluminium foil, and carbon/ lithium dust. But fortunately no fire. Thats a selling point of the Valence battery. These cells have no safety device like the Panasonic ones. With cells of unknown condition I fear Jehu may have a potential time bomb on his hands, they need to be in small packs and contained in metal boxes just to limit the potential damage.
            I do have some photos of the dead valence if anyone is interested in sharing my foolishness.

  10. Jehu might be on to something.
    You know I used some of those same cells from lease return Lenovo laptops I picked up from work to upgrade the batteries in my son’s Landrover Defender. So far the results have been great. They put out plenty of power and he now has much better range. I’ve been charging to 4.0 V / cell which is a bit low but I am using a cobbled together charger for now which I’m not very comfortable with. Granted it’s just an RC but my son is thrilled with the results.

  11. Great show as usual; one of the nicest times of the week, and the only TV of any kind I ever watch these days

    Re the ECC batteries, one approach I’d suggest is to put them in a long tube. As we are not using a BMS with a wire to each module there is no rule about not using long strings. Here is a shot of my first Headway test pack which used this approach

    This makes the cell junctions small neat and light; and (Anne) you cannot forget to torque just one of them (you torque all or none)

    A two metre tube would hold ten of them for about 32 volts. A couple of three metre tubes fastened under the floorpan would be a 96 volt pack

      1. You don’t want them to come loose so the temptation would be to use a lock washer between them but then the lock washer would be the current carrier. And that isn’t going to work too well at high currents. My gut feeling would be clean the ends and use a stainless threaded rod with thread locker just the right length so the ends mate nicely. A crush washer of aluminum or copper between the cells might aid conduction. Another choice would be a threaded conductive rod made of brass or even copper and a lock washer. Lastly you could use a conductive threaded rod and not worry about locking the cells together. Instead provide a positive torque on the whole length with an elastic tensioner of some kind so the tendency would be for a slight tightening of the stack. This might be a good question for the manufacturer since they may already have considered this and already have a solution or give reasons why this would be a bad approach. (Lateral loads on the cell ends could rip open the cells.)


        1. John,

          I tried to e-mail you some months back at your covey books contact link, but never saw a reply.
          My question was about the device that TC Charger sent you to reset the charge parameters.
          Did you ever use it and can you provide any details as to what the device is?


          1. Hi Mark – apologies for that. I always reply to any non-spam email that comes in that route but must have missed it.The TC charger resetting device is a small plug in board a few cm square. I haven’t used it yet because it is a one time way device.

            If anyone else on here wrote via Tovey books please try again if you didn’t get a reply

      2. Hi Larry,

        I didn’t explain – one of the photos is of the hardware I used with the Headways: a short length of threaded brass rod with a brass nut soldered in the middle. I could have machined them from hex bar but life is a bit short! I used a couple of lockwashers. I also added a Lucatr tab so I could monitor voltage at cell level as it was a test pack. You wouldn’t want that in a car

        And Doug is quite right about lateral loads. The cells needed to be loaded into some kind of carrier as you are connecting them up or you end up with a snake of cells that would be damaged by its own weight.

        Worked for me with the Headways at low current

  12. Just finished watching the Nov. 22 news video. Another great piece of work even at 2 hours and 48 minutes in length. I’m very curious about the TCCH charger interface. Are there any schematics and or technical data for the interface. The TCCH thread on the EVTV forum is empty.

    1. I traced them out… mostly. I didn’t do all of the control board but We got all the power board and most of the control board traced out. I can post them to the forum or send them to you.

      1. DRdove,
        Please post what you have to the forum. I have a dead Elcon PFC-3000 charger and would like to see if I can revive it.

        On the show, you mentioned an issue with a precharge circuit. A relay and some resistors burning, causing the charger to not power up. Can you please provide more specific info.

        Thank You,

      2. I’m interested in making a small PCB. Out the right side is a short cable that pugs into the TCCH charger. On the left side is a USB type “B” connector to plug into a laptop running a Microsoft, Apple, or Linux operating system. On the board is a FT232RL chip a ADUM1400 and whatever level converter circuitry is required for the TCCH. I would never leave off the isolator chip. They aren’t super cheap but they are way cheaper than laptops in case something goes wrong. Friend of mine has lost to laptops to thinking it was isolated but wasn’t. It’s not just the hardware but the software is several hours of work restoring and the unrecoverable data files.

        1. To interface to the Elcon/TCCH you will need to emulate the opto-isolator and DC/DC converter that is in the Elcon/TCCH CAN adapter.
          That will take care of your isolation concerns.
          I’d suggest reading Coulomb’s posts at the AVEA forums as a guide for the circuitry.
          You MUST have a CAN programmed version of the charger.
          You don’t need the FTDI232 if you use an Arduino DUE as you can use its internal serial port.
          The commands are documented in the Elcon/TCCH CAN programming guide.

          Or…ask Jack to sell you the adapter alone. It already has all of that and more.
          You will probably need to explain that you have a CAN version of the charger first.

  13. self selection would be my view as well. Range anxiety exists for those who do not have an EV, and so when purchasing (hence not owning yet), folks selecting the Leaf are those with the shortest daily average to be sure they have enough range.

    The other interesting thing among most all Volt and Leaf owners is that they almost all want to upgrade to the Tesla for better performance and particularly for the greater range. Those that can afford it jump to the Model S, but I know lots of Volt and Leaf owners that are awaiting the third generation car from Tesla. I think that will be the car that “crosses the chasm” so to speak and gets us to the 5% of all vehicles sold are EV (if you include the Leaf and other sales along side it). I myself am waiting for the gen3 car so I can trade in my Leaf. Conversion (914) is not for sale…I’ll probably always own it.

    1. How about a conversion?

      We did not find the car we did not even look for a new car when an i-MiEV hit us.

      I have been thinking about electric cars for a long time but buying one?

      I have been thinking about Renaults and the Leaf but an i-MiEV?

      Driving an i-MiEV for more than a year now we see that is the right car for us and we could not buy a better one but we can still improve on it. It’ll make a nice conversion. It was Karin’s idea after all and she loves the idea of improving on it.

      Jack’s LY50AH LiNiMnCo02 batteries, four of them to replace the 12V lead acid and maybe the dc-dc converter as well. If I cannot get the dc-dc out, I can at least put it to sleep. 14.4 volts should be enough. The charger will be next and inside the charger the dc-dc is hidden. So sooner or later I’ll get it.

      With some 100 of Anne’s famous round cells in the trunk our i-MiEV will become a BMW killer. Same range as an i3 with range extender. Three times as fast at a power socket. It’ll even outrun Teslas in Germany at least. Wait until they are flooding us with quick chargers but maybe I can find a charge port at a bone yard sooner or later.

      I have done a lot of small things, nothing spectacular, I am still learning and trying forget everything mentioned after “dont do that”.

      Having opened the shell and looking inside the egg I guess it is a lot easier to start converting an i-MiEV than beginning from scratch or trying something bigger like an i3 or a Volt. After all I can drive it and it is already electric.

      I have checked my 12V battery with a pliers type ampere meter today only to find my battery was empty (the battery of the ampere meter that is). I have seen enough to say it is worth the trouble to rip out the 12V battery. Lead in a lithium car …

      Ever tried to quick charge your 12V battery with an arc welder? I may have to do so or quick charging the high tension battery may not be worth the trouble if I have to wait in the first place.

      Peter and Karin

  14. Hi all!
    Just want to clarify the reason for avoiding alterations to the car for a conversion ie drilling holes, cutting away metal, welding on car etc. If I ever want to produce a bolt in kit It will be easier for the builder if he or she has very few alrerations. Plus it would be a lot more alluring to have a bolt in kit. Since we made the movie I have to confess I have made two notches in the engine compartment and I cut down the battery tray to accommodate the V-24 battery racks to see more click the pic of the porsche. I truly am not interested in ever going back to ICE again.

          1. I actually ran with Micheal at Laguna Seca in 2011, He placed First in our catagory and my Bradley placed Third
            out of five cars, two of which didn’t finish. Michaels blue is a nice build.

    1. Well heck, thats a no brainer. He ignored the warning light and kept right on going. Exactly what we allude to when we say When not IF. Yes, for sure a top balanced pack driven past the safe bottom range. Can’t fix stupid. And he even says you could use lead acid for a cheap fix. What a dolt.

      1. I agree, the guy who owns the car is a dolt for continuing to drive with a warning light, no question. However, were you able to guess who the converter was who set him up for failure with the top-balanced pack with BMS? The reference to Boulder, CO, is another clue.

        1. Whats to guess? The video for the car was posted by Zach Tyler of Classic Electrics, and who is also associated with Boulder Electric Vehicles (that is the facility where the video began from) which is a company that converts electric trucks.

  15. Just watched your 29 Nov. news show. I have an idea for your DC/DC converter start up problem. Will the DC/DC start with 9 volts? If yes, a very simple circuit with 2 1N4004 diodes (10 cents), a 9v transistor battery ($2.95) and a SPST-NO push button switch (99 cents) will do a wonderful job. The 9v only has to provide current for 2 seconds. Once the DC/DC is running the 13v supersedes the 9v and it disconnects from the circuit. Since every mini-mart and grocery store in the country carries 9v batteries, building a start up power system is about $4. Way cheaper than anything you mentioned and you don’t have to worry about the recharging of the battery.

  16. This is not related to the recent EVTV video, and btw thanks Jack for the holiday video, the Crabtree video you included was an eye opener of what we could see in the future.

    Something I have been wanting to ask for some time, and that is the TC chargers. When I bought my TC charger some years ago, I had the choice of it being programmed or include the CAN bus. I decided that I just wanted the preprogrammed model, for no other reason than simplicity, KISS. And since my conversion was converting a brand new vehicle from lead to lithium, using most of what was there and the room provided, I wasn’t going to put in anymore cells than I had room for, so the reason for plain charger.

    The vehicle (pickup) had exactly room for 30 cells in the framed space where five lead batteries were, and I installed 30 but only intended to use 28, due to the limit of the controller. The charger was preset to 98v, which gave me 3.5v per cell. I left the other two in there, for it gave me two spares in case, and it filled the space completely, were I had to just use very little fastening to keep them solid.

    After driving the vehicle and getting the typical ev grin, even after driving the vehicle for some time with lead, the lithium’s made such a difference, that I actually had a second grin. So after driving a while I thought that since I had two extra spares, that in theory, I could actually add another cell, for 98v divided by 29 come close to 3.38v, so I could do no harm in trying it. So I bottom balanced all, and charged till the charger cut off at 98v, and all was well.

    I dint really expect any difference in performance, but figured it would give me a little more range. To my surprise it made a noticeable difference. At first I couldn’t figure out why, but while driving and looking at my voltage gauge, it became obvious, the voltage drop was less, therefor more voltage, more speed….but I digress, back to the charger question.

    I realize that the can bus model is very configurable, but the question is, why is it, with all the electronic expertise we have available, Arduino boards and all, why has not anyone figured out how these TC chargers are programmed. And since they can be send off to California the get reprogrammed, you would think we could figure that one out. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the can bus idea, but here we have an electronic device, controlling an electronic device, that can already do it on its own and is not needed.

    Kind of installing a battery management system, that isn’t needed in the first place, if done correctly.

    Someone is going to ask why I don’t look in to it. Well I only have one TC charger, and it needs to stay so I can drive my vehicle, and besides, even though I know a bit about electronics, its a bit over my pay grade at this time, and I need to learn a bit more about the digital age…..who says an old dog cant learn new


    1. Roy:

      The CANbus version is pretty simple. It operates from serial commands received over the CANbus to charge to a set voltage and hold it. You can set it with a command. So we do. And it works very well. We wind up with this odd little box and the problem of course is getting it to come up at the same times as the charger, but we’ve worked it all out.

      The guy in California DID figure out how to reprogram it. And on the preprogrammed, that’s what you need to do. Download the machine code from the mutiprocessor in the charger, and reverse engineer it into some sort of readable source code. Or more likely just find the table with the values in it for the charge curves and be able to replace them, then write the software back out to the charger controller. Usually done with a JTAG programmer.

      After figuring this out, he justifiably wants to profit from it. So he charges people to do it, and to make sure it stays a proprietary secret, you kind of have to send the charger to him to have it done. He does other things as well, so it can be some time before he gets a ROUND TUIT.

      So that’s where you are.

      Marc was going to take a look at what he coudl do with one of the preprogrammed ones, but I don’t know that he ever got anywhere with it. He’s had some work related time constraints recently and so forth.

      So once again we have a greater good if SOMEBODY would do it. And most somebodies don’t know how. It can get into a lot of work for the somebody’s that could conceivably do it, and then everyone on DIYelectric and EVTECH and EVDL pretty much vote on it and guess, what? It comes out pretty much the same each time. It really ought to be free.

      This is why the EV community/industry/whatever it is has remained mired in drek for such a long time. Nothing comes from nothing. No effort. No resource. No result. And those who do produce actual products simply don’t want to deal with us at all. We have a very very BAD name as a bunch of whiner bottom feeders.

      Today I feel the same way. Couple of minor betrayals and so forth for literally pennies when it is in their interest to do so. Their very very short term interest of course. I suppose it is just the competitive nature of life. I struggle with the EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF concept frankly. But it appears to be almost universal.

      I have had a LOT of requests for the controller from people with TCCH chargers. I lack confidence they know which model. Or that it is the current firmware IN the charger. Etc. etc. and I’m loathe to start burning cars to the ground to find out. So we sell it with new chargers that we know work with it. I had one guy just INSIST he had to have it. So I told him sure, I’d sell him one for $995.

      That seemed to satisfy him as he went away without further word. I’m pretty sure if I had offered it to him for FREE we would still be talking….

      It has ever been so. Maybe not quite as much so, but ever so nonetheless, and so much less.

      In any event, we now offer the TCCH charger and we profit from every single sale. It includes the controller, and so of course it is at a higher price than the charger by itself elsewhere. I’ve got quite a bit of time and money in it, and I guess the lesson to be learned is not to put a lot of time and money into such things. We’ve all examined it carefully. ANd it really should be free. And it doesn’t make sense to put a lot of time and effort into something that is going to be free. And so there you are.

      I’m also mired in development with the GEVCU and already getting the same pressure – it really SHOULD be free because of course it is open source, and so somehow the hardware should be produced, by SOMEBODY, for free as well. And I don’t even have the first batch back from assembly, or the cables we’re having made, or the enclosures.

      Ah, well. Whine whine. It must suck to be me, eh? Actually not. We’re having great fun and I shouldn’t let the riff raff get me down.

      Jack RIckard

  17. I reread my post to make sure that I did not imply free. So let me make it clear I would be more than happy to pay for any software cord or dongle required to program a TCCH charger. I would have purchased a charger from EVTV if it had met my requirement. Since only need 98v on 100ah cells, I did not have the need for a 4kw, not to mention without major frame modifications, didn’t even have the room for such charger, and I chose the 2kw one.

    If I have given anyone the idea that I wanted someone to labor for free, I apologize, it was not my intend.

    I know to well of what you speak of Jack, for I run an appliance repair business, and I get diy calls every day, asking me how to fix their appliances, even though listen to them I’m aware they have no clue, and not to mention the basic knowledge to do so, and I decline for I don’t need the liability.

    I realize there are some who want to adjust their chargers, with upgrading in mind, and there are some like me on this particular vehicle, who don’t.

    Again I apologize if I gave the impression that I was seeking free, for their is no such thing as free.


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