BATCON 2014…And a Good Time was Had by All…


Ok, it was pretty small. We had four people here for Batcon2014. Mark Weisheimer, Brian Couchene, Phil Becker and his son Adam Becker. But we had a ball. Mark and Brian arrived on Friday while we were dismantling our first pack with Phil and Adam joining us early Saturday. We had dinner at Ray’s of Kelso. We started out feeding EVCONN’s with about half a dozen different restuarants catering the event. We are pretty much down to Ray. He simply had better food, better team, better price at every meal he did.

At the heart of every successful entrepreneurial activity is an overcontrolling, micromanaging, detail obsessive asshole driving it. Ray does it better than most. And he wears crocs. His team is terrified of him, and love him at the same time. Funny thing. Everybody loves to win. There’s nothing worse than working for a loser company constantly struggling to stay alive working for a really great boss. You feel bad about your job, bad about your company, bad about the economy, bad about the country, and sorry for your really nice boss. While losing every day. Waiting for the final paycheck when they go out of business.

If you work for a prick that wins every day, you feel great about your job, great about your company, great about your customers, great about the economy, and kind of pissed at your boss most of the time. Until you have been there about three years, winning every day, and a glimmer of a clue starts to leak in. Yes, he’s still yelling. ANd yes, he’s still purple in the face. But now you can clearly see him fighting back the smile and that its mostly for show. Pretty soon you’re in the conspiracy yourself, telling the new kid “Oh yeah, he fired the last three in your position. One of them tried to kill himself….” You start practicing your own sarcastic sneer, and thinking maybe someday….

Anyway I just like to be in the room with excellence. And a really excellent smoked prime rib with au jus and horseradish is kind of a mood brightener for me too. That’s how you get to be 304 lbs.

[jwplayer streamer=”rtmp://” provider=”rtmp” file=”news030814-iPhone.mp4″ hd.file=”news030814-1280.mp4″ image=””  width=”850″ height=”522″ html5_file=”″]

Anyway, not everything goes right most days. We moved a lot of those cargo packs out of there last week. One hapless yuck has already received his – a complete pack with NO battery modules in it at all. Yes, it was a grab bag and yes, no promises, no guarantees, and as-is where-is, but in that event I kind of had to cough up one of mine and we sent it to him. UPS confirmed the shipment was only 222 lbs and so we started weighing all of them that went out to ensure that if they WERE junk, they at least got the full 720 lbs of junk they had paid for.

I kind of pooh-poohed the gross overengineering of the packs in the show. And it is absurd to have a 640 lb battery pack, 236 lbs of which isn’t batteries at all. But keep in mind that these were supposed to go IN and OUT of a car many times and one of the problems I had with the whole battery swap concept is how you keep from just wearing the hardware out handling it. Apparently build it like an Abrams tank is the approach favored by the Automotive Energy Company. And on closer examination, I have to say, in some ways this is kind of a work of engineering art you will not often see anywhere. Fit, finish, detail, access, simplicity, it may be one of a kind. I’m a little in awe. I still can’t put all that in a car. But I can stand and look at it a good long while. With a kind of vicarious pleasure.

It’s also odd that by pulling one out of the fray at complete random, the one we opened was obviously brand new, had never been used, and was just gorgeous in all respects while it appears that some have had some use.

One recipient reports a very beat up package – hasn’t tested the cells yet. But we’ve heard from one guy in Europe who has bought a Renault Fluenze without the battery lease and is desperate to buy a renegade pack. I can do nothing. We reserved 10 for Europe and Anne already has 20 on the list for them. I can do nothing.

One guy from a very interesting program called MINDDRIVE in Kansas City did indeed call early and often regarding the packs. He wanted 10. We promised him nothing, indeed noting we were dubious that we would ever receive them at all. Last week he read me the riot act of 1934 with particular attention to the subparagraphs outlining my less than stellar business ethics because he really had a RIGHT to those 10 packs because he telephoned us a really really lot and had notified us that he wanted 10. He designed his Karmann Ghia builds around them and at the final hour, right before their deadline I had thrown him under the bus. I think I did mention that whatever he was on I’d like to try some just for a day or two. Not make a habit of it. Just try a few. I can handle it (right).

Another, who had berated me cruelly for being a bait and switch used car dealer for daring to increase the price we had never set, and indeed as it turned out never lasted long enough to sell any for, wrote a brief apology on Thursday and then contacted Brain four minutes later to try to get in an order. I think Brain took it, but alas there were none left and he had to refund the money.

It was an eye opener all around and I suppose we learned a lot, I’m just a little vague on what. First, price matters. We have worked a deal with CALB to help liquidate some obsolete SE series cells at $1 per AH. They are in the store right now and we have booked quite a lot of them. They are NOT as good as the CA series by a good bit, and of course these Nissan cells are not as good as the CALB cells by a good bit. But they are less expensive by a good amount. We think it’s worth carrying a second line, although we only have these in the 100Ah size. Still, it adds up. You could do a little 100Ah pack of 48 for an HPEVS system for $4800 which is much less than the CA series of course. If you went with the 120v pack for the 7601 controller you’d be on the road for the same $3600 in batteries as the Renault packs.

Domenick Yoney did a very nice piece on the event in Autoblog Green. Many thanks Domenick. I thought so much of it that I kind of pieced together a little press release with the particulars and sent it to GreenCar Reports and EV NEWs. Bill Moore did send me an e-mail offering to talk about it for 15% commission on the sales. I found that very odd coming from a journalist and we of course declined his generous offer. Apparently it hasn’t worked out for him anyway. He’s kind of wandering off into electric bicycles.

Recall my mention of a daughter who had put me off onto eBay about 15 years ago about auto sales on the service and me subsequently doing rather well in their stock, whilst amassing nine MG cars in the process. Well she’s another interest now that she’s a mommy with two kids in Cambridge. Her husband has left the US Navy and is attending MIT there.

Cambridge/Boston is just a fright. Everyone there loves it and I can’t imagine why. They have no garages, no parking, and too many cars. So bicycles are quite the thing. She asked why we didn’t do electric bicycles.

There’s a couple of reasons but the central one is they don’t need us. I told her there were 20 million electric bikes in China and they would be everywhere here very soon. eBay has hundreds of pages of batteries and kits for them now and it is just a matter of time. I can neither add nor detract anything from this phenomenon. But anyway, I’m a bit past my sell-by date and 25 lbs over the maximum on most of them so it was kind of moot for me.


She spoke of CARGO bikes. She sent a photo of her with her two kids, all helmets and winter jackets etc. akimbo on a regular bicycle. But lusting after a cargo bike. These are kind of heavy bicycles, re-engineered with all manner of brackets and shelves and racks and so forth to haul kids and cargo – groceries etc. She figures with a CARGO bike she would be styling with her two kids, maybe a couple of the neighbors kids, the dog, six or eight bags of groceries, and her golf clubs all on the bike.

The 800 lb gorilla in the space appears to be the YUBA bikes which are almost unobtainium because of demand. I checked it out and learned they were just releasing an electric version with a rear hub motor devised by one of their customers who actually rode their product and had designed the electric and used the bike to haul a couple of kids.

So I ordered one for her. Actually probably one of the first ones they’ll deliver. She tends to be kind of a generation millineal bellweather on these things. So look for about a brazillian young mommies with kids and groceries in tow on bicycles here in a year or two.elmundobionx-rear-med

This kind of goes to my interest in another vehicle. The SCROOSER. These guys set up a kickstarter funding program on the service to raise $120,000 to start making these very unusual electric scooters. I guess I think the vast majority of Kickstarter campaigns are seriously lame, lacking in vision, and never reach their financial goal so they don’t really have to perform. A lot of it is just “look at me” crap. Scrooser actually raised $186,000 and are purportedly in production.


This looks like something even I could ride. You sit down. It doesn’t go to fast. It’s obviously strong enough to carry me. Probably doesn’t tip over too easily. An urban assault vehicle. Go a few blocks in good weather.

I actually tried to order one and they seem to be taking orders. They want me to wire the money (right) and so forth. I contacted them and I’d really like to sell them here in the U.S. Of course, I’ll hear something about how that can’t happen. Which is ok. I only steal after they won’t sell it to me. Then it doesn’t look like its too hard to engineer. A couple of golf cart wheels and tires and some TIG work on stock tubing.

My point is, if you are looking for a way to innovate yourself into a business, this doesn’t look bad. Let’s start from the premise that the electric bicycle is going to be hugely popular. And that it scratches an itch, but doesn’t QUITE get it scratched. I want something MORE than an eBike. Something that doesn’t hurl me to my death like a Segway. Something new and really useful in an urban environment where traffic is heavy, parking is nonexistent, you can walk faster than a taxi, and you might have to carry an armful of something or other. Let’s call it the Next Great Urban Assualt Vehicle or NGUAV. What would that look like?

As a business entry, it would be MUCH less expensive to design, prototype, build, and manufacture than a car or even Neighborhood Electric Vehicle. I really think they have to come home for less than the $5000 the Segway did.

I remain very optimistic about boats or maybe I just lust after one. Anne is supposed to get me fixed up with Delta flyer though it will cost me. I’ve also resurrected our discussion of a year ago with Aristocraft about their 16 foot Torpedo with a drive out of a jetski for this tiny boat. Jeff Southern actually did a pilgrammage for me to their factory and returned a glowing report. These guys have been doing a small wooden boat since 1946. torpedo

We are increasingly optimistic about the GEVCU and now for prospects of getting it to work with the UQM drive train. I’ve ordered five more of the drive trains despite the fact that it apparently hasn’t met the Renault battery sniff test on price as we’ve sold ZERO of them. Mark Weisheimer bought the aux pack with the two chargers and the Delta DC-DC because he wanted to see what was inside them. But the CODA liquidation so far hasn’t worked for us. I’m going to stay after it. Something about the length, girth, and lack of weight in this motor haunts me. I want to put it IN something. It would take 1250 lbs of CALBS to build four of them into a quadrocopter so that may not be the trick.

Our first live show was reasonably well received despite being a technical disaster. After setting up all sorts of cool cameras and microphones and green screens and so forth, the regular show was still uploading both to YouTube and to Amazon at ten minuts until 2:00 PM. So I had to scramble to get a simple webcam up in bad lighting on a second machine in time to have it at all.

Then with no structure or plan, we chatted until about 5:40 PM – almost four hours. I will try to limit it to two hours next week. Feel free to join us.

I still don’t get the live thing. But as I said on the show, I don’t want to walk away from it until we’ve given it a chance. I get a chill thinking what Boardwatch would have been like without Letters to the Editor, and I distinctly recall not wanting to do that either back in the day. So have your questions ready and let’s try to do something a bit more rapidfire and relevant.

Jack Rickard

102 thoughts on “BATCON 2014…And a Good Time was Had by All…”

  1. Just checking in … Pack arrived yesterday about 6:30pm. I opened the sarcophagus and it looks brand new, but no safety switch. Went out this morning to get a T30 star drive and opened up the can after reviewing your video. Thanks for blazing the trail, saved me a bunch of head scratching.

    Measured on my cheap pocket multimeter, the top and bottom banks both show 126.7 volts. Since I don’t have the safely key, I measured the two halves of the middle bank – left 63.4, right 63.3 – which adds up to 126.7 oddly enough. Sorry yours was so out of balance ;^).

    Still don’t know what I’ll do with these, but I’ll start bottom balancing with the PowerLab I bought myself for Christmas. Maybe by the time I’m done a worthy donor will have appeared.

    Many thanks for taking one for the team on this. I’ll be back for the rest of the bits soon. I’m also intrigued by the Coda drive train, but I’ll have to wait until you have the GEVCU coded and debugged. I spent 35 years in the computer industry, but my programming skills are pretty rudimentary. Not much call for RPG II these days.

    Now for the real question: what does everyone plan to do with their sarcophagus? It is quite a sturdy thing, must be some creative ideas for home use. I was thinking it would be a great doghouse for a very large dog or maybe winter storage for lawn furniture. Other thoughts?

    1. Sounds like you got a good one Fred.

      The CODA stuff is gorgeous. Not very useful yet. But I think it is going to be pretty easy. I have a couple of guys GEVCU’d and working on it.

      Me? I’m going to make a boat out of mine. WIth a CODA and three of these modules it should really go fast too.


  2. Going to be a storage locker for me since our shed is getting too full, it will be nice to create some space by moving out some items that are rarely used. I’m still waiting for mine to arrive. I guess its a long way from MO to CA

  3. Jarkko Santala

    The Sunday Live doesn’t seem to be available anywhere for later viewing. I stumbled upon on it as it was running, but since I still hadn’t watched The Show I didn’t join it right away. As a comment I think it would be nicer if I had time to watch The Show first and then possibly attend The Live. All participants could then discuss whatever as on the show that week. As it is you’ll end up watching the show after the live.

  4. Interesting fact connected to mysteriously lost MH370 airplane: there is only 30 days to find flight recorders, because that’s how long ultrasound beacon operates. This is ridiculously short.
    There was a plan to extend that period to 90 days, but is was blocked. Reason: Lithium-Ion battery used for the beacon would reach the size banned from transport by air.

  5. Honda have announced the end of their CARB compliance electric Fit. GM will only sell Sparks to Californians. Jaguar Land Rover say they will do hybrids and maybe even an EV by 2025. Toyota seem to be saying Fuel Cells er sometime. Are they hoping that if Tesla can somehow be neutralised they can shove the genie back in the bottle for another 15 years citing lack of demand/long tailpipe/expense/bromide of choice?

    As an Englishman I particularly despair of JLR. Haven’t they noticed Elon Musk’s tanks parked on their lawn?

    1. Those of us serving out our sentence in dying companies use to put up the drawing of an ostrich with it’s head in the sand. The caption below it was: ” Don’t confuse me with the facts, I’ve already made up my mind”. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The quote was from the author Ashley Brilliant of Monterrey, CA. Management of sick companies can’t change anything in a positive way even with a gun to their head.

      1. I agree Stan – odd isn’t it?

        My slight worry is that if they are all thinking the same way and if they manage to organise a tragic accident involving Elon Musk, then they might still be able to re-write the future to hang onto their IC engine investment (JLR’s new engine factory in Wolverhampton is ramping up ahead of producing its first engine in 2015 – just in time for JLR sales drop off a cliff if Tesla pull off their Model X in 2015).

        In other words, that we might not have won the war yet

        1. Their head being so deeply placed in the sand, they have no idea that Elon has no fear of OEM’s. If you have not heard about this, it is an interesting watch. Elon explaining to the U.S. Department of Defense that the Boeing and Lockheed Martin Alliance for space launch has been blowing taxpayer money with the current monopoly.

        2. Even if some skulduggery prospered there would still be us energy insurgents out there tooling around on batteries during the next camel sneeze. People with fuel ration cards would finally call Congress out to the wood shed for a much needed attitude improvement session. When that day gets here I’ll be adding insult to injury with my privately owned solar panels. A film released in 1983 predicted our current energy planning disaster completely. It was: “Three days of the Condor”. Redford was good as the star.

    1. Regarding 787 battery smoke. I suggest fitting a whistle in the vent tube. This way the ground crew can immediately tell when the APU has wrecked another.

  6. Enjoyed the latest show – The low down on the behaviour of the Leaf/Fluence cells was fascinating

    Jack, sorry that your experience of Royal Navy cooking was a bit mixed. By way of compensation you are welcome to dinner any time you are this side of the pond (my cooking is brutal but effective).

    1. Mr Smith/Jack could you expand on the casting the motor adapter? Casting intrigues me. Did/does Mr Smith have access to industrial casting or did he do it on a small scale?

      1. Hi, yes. I do have access to industrial casting facilities. I used to work for Ford NZ making alloy wheels for the Taurus and Mercury Mountaineer. My friend Steve and I started there on the same day back in 2001 but we have both moved on and he now owns a small jobbing foundry. In NZ a production run can be considered as 2 or more units so I did get 2 castings done. If your object is simple enough, like my adapter, you could actually make your own patterns but just remember to scale it up to allow for shrinkage (1.3% in my case) and add plenty of draft (taper) to the vertical sides.
        The casting was actually overall a cost saving over machining out of billet. CNC machining time can run from about $85 to $120+ per hour. I would have been looking at about $300 in materials and maybe another $600-800 in machining and the same costs each time I made another one. Machining of this adapter plate cost $250, castings were $200 each. I did invest about $800 in the pattern but it should be good for maybe 20 good quality molds before I would need to look at it again. Multiply my numbers by 0.8 for approximate US dollar cost.

        1. I did some aluminum casting in high school shop. The base plate of the fluenza battery has enough donor metal. Plans for a small oven are available. The weed burner head I use with propane would supply enough heat. Most of us have the wood working skills needed to make a pattern and construct the flask. I like the very large sprue and riser Nick used. No doubt very low porosity that way.

          1. The crucible and furnace sizes would need to be scaled up a bit to do an adapter. The lift and pouring handle becomes a two man affair with two hand holds for each worker to handle the weight safely. The guy in the video really doesn’t have enough PPE on. (personal protective equipment)

  7. Gary Livingston

    Jack, could you comment on the voltage drop of the LY50Ah NMC cells at 15C rate? At 20C rate? I looked for this info for a while, sorry if I missed it but couldn’t find anything on it. Have a nice little build coming up that this cell would be well suited for.


  8. If Jack will excuse me going off at a slight tangent, there may be some who might be interested in weird behaviour of some cells – and maybe the wisdom of crowds might suggest a mechanism for what I’m seeing.

    For the last year I have been deliberately float charging a 4S string of Headway cells at just above their natural open circuit voltage. Jacks theory was that the 787 battery fires may have stemmed from unwitting float charging by hooking them up to a bus bar running at over their OCV. The Headways are a more stable chemistry and the cells didn’t catch fire: but after tearing the pack down, their OCVs were way above the expected 3.38 or so: 3.95/3.58/3.99/3.75. Three days later they were still 3.84/3.53/3.87/3.72 i.e. they have only subsided 5 – 15 mV in those three days.

    Can anyone suggest an electrochemical explanation for an OCV of 3.99 volts for a LiFePo4 cell?

    I plan to monitor the cells for a week then attempt to cycle them. My brother’s laconic suggestion was that I leave a video camera running for the inquest

    1. Interesting results, and germane to a discussion occurring on Jack’s favorite forum:

      My question for you is, what was the actual float charge voltage, and did it drift upwards over time? That is to say, did the voltage across the battery with the power supply connected reflect the higher-than-expected OCV of the cells, or did the OCV of the cells shoot up *after* the charger was disconnected?

      1. More or less neither. And germane to your discussion – the OCV of the cell is a galvanic constant established by the choice of anode and cathode materials. The natural potential of graphite on copper and the electropotential of the cathode material. In CALB/Sky ENergy/Thundersky cells, we think of this as 3.40 volts. Experimentally, I have come to believe 3.38 more likely.

        My story is that if you hold those cells at ANY potential above OCV, you are charging the cell. That you are lonly slightly overcharging it over time does not eliminate damage that is both cummulative and irreversible. And so the theory that the 32v bus voltage of the APU in the Boeing was overcharging the eight cells in the battery pack, and that it took from 9 to 12 months for them to burst into flame, depending on how much time was spent on ground running the APU.

        John took some headway cells, which I know nothing about including their OCV, and put them on what he believes is a slight overcharge for a year. They didn’t burst into flames. But now they are hung at what clearly has to be a higher voltage than OCV. How much capacity was lost has yet to be tested. I think he’ll find them pretty damaged. Proving mostly that LiFePo4 cells are simply tougher than LiCoO2 or LiMn2O4 cells. But the damage is still cummulative and irreversible.

        But I’m trying to let him draw his own conclusions and followup tests to see what springs up.

        In answer to your question, it didn’t float up after removing the charge. It simply failed to drop in the usual fashion to 3.38 or so. AND they hung at different voltages.

        Jack Rickard

        1. Oh, and for entertaining battery theories entirely made up from whole cloth, DIY is a distant second. My favorite is Endless Fear. Very creative minds typing themselves smart over there. They actually DO do experiments, and then wildly guess at what it means in a kind of group grope circle jerk that just can’t be beat for raw comic relief.

          DIYhectic is relatively tame, but with a bitter edge of negativity and defeatism permeating it that leaves a bad taste. An outgrowth of EVIL Deal, home to the truly bitter and angry old men of the EV landscape. They basically just hate each other in print and snarl at any of the newcomers who are hapless enough to stumble onto them. DIY kind of a nextgen Evil Deal spawn.

          The history and entropy of these forums is fascinating up to a point – usually the point where newbies get lead off into the woods spending ducats on nonsense. We try to avoid the entropy by starting an entirely new online forum each week. Then next week we kill it and start another one. It has a difficult time devolving into the usual quagmire, unless it can do so in less than 7 days. This has worked sufficiently that I’ve come to view the halflife of the usefullness of online discussion as being inherently about a week.


          1. Greetings! Drove my 914EV today for the first time. My license plate is appropriate. EVSMILE. Very fun. Pics on the way. Much work left to do. Brakes, suspension, paint, etc. Appreciate your parts and technical assistance. EVWest was instrumental in getting me on the road. Still grinnin. Unbelievable. Indescribable.

        2. You (sort of) answered the side question I asked, and avoided the main one; namely was the float voltage applied to the 4s battery of LFP cells 15.27V (or higher) the entire time of the experiment, or did it start off a little lower and slowly drift upwards (perhaps because a lead-acid float charger was used rather than a “lab grade” power supply)?

          1. More interesting then. John, what kind of power supply did you have on the headways and was the voltage stable over the course of the year?


          2. @ Jack, Jeffrey. Yes the voltage of the power supply did drift around a bit but not by a great deal: of the order of 10 – 20 mV. It was a seriously cheap and cheerful transformer/rectifier. My voltmeter is also cheap and cheerful so that is of the same order as the cumulative error in my cell voltage measurements. It is also worth bearing in mind that they were outside in a (relatively mild) winter.

            Wondering whether to try the test again with lithium cobalt

      2. @ Jeffrey – thanks for this. I hooked the cells up in March 2013 (through an ohm or so of resistance) to a power supply that was delivering just over the combined OCV. The voltage wasn’t supper stable (crude power supply). Voltages on 18 March 2013 (i.e. a year ago) were 4.11/3.69/4.01/3.46. Voltages on 28 March 2013 were 4.03/3.78/3.99/3.48. When I finally disconnected them last week their voltages initially appeared frozen – 10 minutes after disconnecting them the total voltage of the four cells was still within 10 mV of the ocv of the power supply

        1. The plot thickens… okay, first I want to thank you for taking the time to conduct these tests which, frankly, seem to be all of one angstrom higher on the excitement scale than watching paint dry.

          That said, I would classify the testing you did more as abusive, rather than reflective of real-world usage. The main reason is because you applied a “float” voltage that exceeded the maximum recommended per cell OCV by any manufacturer, whereas the float voltage for lead-acid batteries is *lower* than the maximum charging voltage (typically 13.8V and 14.4V, respectively).

          A lesser reason – but one which was compounded by the high float voltage you chose – was not using a true regulated-voltage (CV) power supply, which would otherwise prevent any fluctuations in the mains voltage from being passed on to the test battery. For example, if your nominal 220V mains rose to 226V that would result in a 0.1V increase in voltage across each cell, thereby taking the high cell that was at 4.11V above the absolutely verboten level of 4.2V.

          Thus you were subjecting your test battery to a mild, but continuous, overcharge and it should come as no surprise that one year later the cells are all trashed. Personally, I don’t see much utility in such tests, as they don’t really reflect real-world conditions or applications. If you want to see how much capacity degradation results from intentional overcharging a 4s LFP battery then more power to you, I’m just saying that such tests aren’t relevant to the vast majority of installations in which such a 4s pack is subjected to 13.8V to 14.4V.

          1. Jeff:

            Sorry you didn’t find the test relevant. The reason you didn’t was actually the reason FOR the test. The question is, if you hold a cell above it’s OCV but well within the charge envelope, will this overcharge the cell anyway and cause damage. It is not precisely “float” as Lithium cells don’t float at all and this left over lead thinking is part of hte problem addressed. The charge procedure is formulaic. It doesn’t rely on a specific cell reaction such as hydrolysis to terminate. You charge to THIS rather plucked out of thin air voltage and hold there until THIS reduction in current and you will more or less fully charge it. IT’s just a procedure. Another would work as well as long as it doesn’t exceed a voltage causing electrolytic side reactions.

            That float concept has crept into the lithium world and specifically the Boeing people believe it is ok to “float” the cells above the OCV as long as the peak charge voltage is not exceeded. My position was ANY charging after full charge, at even a minor voltage above OCV, causes cummulative and irreversible damage, potentially including fire.

            In a year, we burned nothing. But the damage to the cells seem apparent. Half a loaf for us. Apparently nothing for you.

            The small variations in the power supply did nothing to negate the results at all.

            Jack RIckard

            PS. After a complete redesign, the Boeing battery recently had another overheat incident. THey have not solved the problem at all yet. The issue is what I call ABUSIVE and apparently you do as well, Boeing views as routine use. That’s the heart of the problem – and the test.

            Would have been more exciting had they burst into flames.


          2. @ Jeffrey – yes I agree it is not relevant to anyone who knows anything about lithium cells. I hoped that it might prove relevant to Boeing however. The test had a narrow purpose: I was attempting to replicate (albeit with a different chemistry) what we believe Boeing were doing in the 787 i.e. leaving the cells permanently connected to a bus bar at a voltage just above the OCV. My hope and expectation was that we would eventually provoke a fire which would have replicated the result that Boeing achieved. Of course we knew that it would probably trash the cells.

            As a side issue I’m intrigued by what the heck is going on electrochemically

            I may yet retry the experiment with lithium cobalt: doubly irrelevant to most EV people who wouldn’t use lithium cobalt in a hedge trimmer let alone a car or (heaven forfend) an aircraft

          3. @jlgh49: Thanks for the clarification, and for indulging me when I did not realize that you were intentionally trying to replicate Boeing’s stupidity. At any rate, my previous comment about needing to use a proper voltage regulated power supply still stands.

          4. Hi Jeffrey – no problem; I probably didn’t make my purpose altogether clear. A well regulated power supply would as you say have been nice but then again we don’t know how much variation from nominal there is on the 787 APU busbar so it was all something of a shot in the dark with equipment I had to hand.

            Are you coming to EVCCON this year? I can highly recommend it having been at the last two

    2. John, thanks for running such experiments!

      Could it be explained by the capacitor effect? Maybe when the cell is fully (100%) charged, there is nowhere for the surface charge to go and it just stays as such?

      It would be nice to see the voltage curves as you discharge them.

      1. That’s an interesting idea Nikita; In other tests that I have done though the surface charge dissipates quite rapidly with the cell simply resting: much of it has mostly gone after 15 minutes or so. But if you use Jack’s analogy of the surface charge being like a crowd in a bar jostling to get everyone fitted in, maybe you can have a state where there are newcomers trying unsuccessfully to press in the doors. Or maybe I am pressing the analogy too far and talking nonsense.

        I certainly hope to get discharge/charge curves. I suspect they may be a bit dull: that the cells deliver a few watts then turn into doorstops. I have been monitoring their voltage for the last week and they are all losing a few tens of millivolts a day

        1. I was about to second guess exactly what Nikita said. So, how much residual charge remains after a slight discharge co.pared to a new cell? Obviously these cells are like capacitors until any residual charge is taken up in the ion exchange.
          No ion exchange. … Somethings up!

          1. The cells continue to confound my predictions – more news/data when it is in. Headline though is that I’ve cycled the first cell several times at 1C and it is delivering about 85% of nominal amp hours. I am now letting it sit for several days after a full discharge to see if there is evidence of internal soft shorts

          2. Wouldn’t an internal soft short pull the voltage down and down? If post charging voltages remain high and there is a loss of capacity, I’d assume a Lithium plated cell makes for a better capacitor.

    1. Hi Roy, having a Leaf bought in 2013 but a MKI fire sale. I completely agree with the report, unless the heater is not turned on.
      I can do say, 50mph at 10KW but put the heater on and it adds another 4.5KW. The under bonnet losses of heat are so large that cycling the heater on and off makes no saving. The later versions of Leaf/Zoe etc. with the reversible aircon are far, far more economical.

      And battery

      1. I’m aware of the negative effects that extreme temperatures can have on lithium type batteries. It was the blanket statement that “electric cars loose 50% of their battery power in cold weather”, that made me shake my head. Look I don’t care what factory EV’s that they were referring to, the fact is that if I build an electric vehicle, I design it in such way to mitigate or account for such weather conditions, and factory build EV’s should do that same, if not, then that’s a failure on their part.

        Much of it can mitigated by proper design, and one of such mitigations can be done simply while charging the pack. One can heat or cool a pack while connected to the charging station, not to mention insulating from the outside environment, urethane foam is a wonderful and light product.

        Also electric vehicle specification should include the variations in mileage while using them in extreme environments. I can assure you that such extreme environments also effect ICE vehicles in of course lesser extent, when one drives with the air conditioner on, one looses mileage also, and as I mentioned in a lesser extend.

        Just for an example look at the fluenza packs that Jack had, what would happen if such a sarcophagus was lined with 2 inches of foam and had cooling/heating lines running to it.

        But the comments below that article from the public shows how many are totally ignorant of present day technology, and I have a feeling there is an agenda behind such articles, as Jack has mention several times in his videos.


      1. The Leaf owners way up north have adapted well in some cases. The equal challenge for us desert dwellers (with Leaf type cells) is to plug in where possible and pre-cool at every opportunity. Once the pack is back into the sweet zone for longevity (65-85 degrees F) switch to pre-cooling the cab for more range with comfort. Not only do you want to start out a trip with a full charge, you want pack internal temperature and cabin temperature to contribute to extended range in the out years and in the here-and-now respectively. Much like Jack, I’ll only really have to charge up every three days but thermal management will be a daily exercise with the Fluenza pack.

  9. More on the Jan 2014 787 battery incident “On checking the battery, encased in a steel containment box, they found one of eight cells had leaked a liquid. A relief valve designed to open when pressure rises inside a cell had opened, JAL said.”. White smoke as well.

    Er, a bit like that cell that was terminated at EVCCON with extreme prejudice.

  10. Mark Jolley:

    Kind of lost on what you were replying to so I’ll just take this on to the front or the back.

    Congratulations on getting your 914 running. Mark has a Volt but has been working on the Porsche 914 for some time. Apparently it is rolling at this point and he’s doing the EV GRIN thing.

    It’s actually kind of hard to describe the feelling on that first one…

    Jack Rickard

  11. Just a quick question about bottom-balancing the Renaul/Nissan pack. Jack, in the video you mention a voltage of 2.7 to bring the cells down to. In each module are 4 cells, 2s 2p. Can you access them separately without opening the cans? Or are you taking the whole module down to 2.7, which would mean 1.35 volts per cell, possibly explaining the spongy behaviour?

    1. First, it wouldn’t explain the “spongy behavior” at all. But second, no. The center terminal allows you to access each of the 2P cell segments separately and these are nominally 3.9v. We can discharge them down to about 2.5 and release to try to get a static OCV of 2.75v. That is the process.

      The terminals, and specifically those center terminals, are much smaller than we are accustomed to in dealing with cells of this capacity and current capability. But we can deal with it.

      Jack Rickard

      1. I just got my four range digital control voltmeter form EVTV store. I can’t get it to measure voltage. I can get into the 0036 and 0001 menus and change all the setting no problem. Any of you guys have any insight into what I’m doing wrong. Can’t wait to automate my battery balancing process. I’m using my cell pro 8 now and it’s kind of tedious.

        1. Well so far, I don’t have any insight into what you’re doing at all. So what are you doing? Did you read the documentation? If you want it to read DC volts, I think you need to put it in mode 2 first, and make sure you have the input wired to the particular range you want. Then set the range to match it. What are you doing now, and how is it varying?

          Jack Rickard

          1. I have pin one connected to the positive terminal of a 12v battery and pin two connected to the negative terminal of a 12v battery. Pin eight (Com) I have connected to the negative terminal of the 3.2v battery I’m trying to read the voltage of. and pin six to the positive terminal of the 3.2v battery I’m trying to read the voltage of. Yes I read the documentation, but I don’t see anything about mode 2 or mode 1? I wish that I had heard about before I bought my GBS cells, your CALB cells seem much more stable. When are you going to start selling the new CALB cells on you’re site? I dig you’re show and watch every week it’s the number one non narcotic sleep aid.

        2. Well, I guess there ARE 8 pages to the document so it must be pretty easy to miss PAGE FIVE ENTIRELY. But that’s where you will find the instructions on entering code 0089 to select your MODE and you will of course want mode 2 so that you can read -2v to 10v on that pin 6.

          I guess I’ll have to rewrite that document to improve the clarity???

          Jack Rickard

  12. You win some and you lose some. For anyone who has been following the saga of the 787 simulator (4 Headway cells float charged for a year), my prognostications are, so far, way out. I have discharged the first cell and got about 9.5 Ah out of a nominally 10 Ah cell. This was at 0.05C however. When more data are in it will be interesting to see what voltage sag under load will be like. I suspect high. I will also check for self discharge.

    I still think it would have been very different with the Lithium Cobalt Oxide chemistry Boeing are using

  13. Would someone disassemble the Siemens/UQM motors a bit more? Maybe one that failed? I would like to see how they are water cooled and any other internal details. I know taking apart a working one isn’t productive.

    1. That sounds like an EXCELLENT idea Kevin. Unfortunately, we’ve had none fail. Tell you what. Why don’t YOU buy one from us. We’ll deliver it promptly. You take it apart and video it. And send us the video. We’ll air it.

      Fantastic idea actually.


      1. Taking apart the siemens motor isn’t a major problem except that you risk the possibility of coolant leaks if you can’t get it to seal properly when you put it back together. Taking apart a PM (Permanent Magnet) motor can pose a serious injury risk. Just as you’re removing the last couple bolts in the end bell the rotor can move violently and suddenly, in, or out and to one side. The rotor or stator could be damaged when they smash into each other. Once it’s disassembled it’s extremely difficult to get back together. When they are building the motors they have special fixture equipment that holds the rotor in position while affixing the end bell bolts. I don’t remember seeing such a warning in UQM literature but I have seen warnings in Remy literature warning the dangers of disassembly. That said, I have watched a Remy motor be taken apart that was known to already be bad.

        1. Stanley A. Cloyd

          How true. I’ve got two 3hp PM motors with a broken magnet in one. As some have said, these are “washing machine motors never intended for other uses”. The side forces in a UQM must be awesome because even these little R&D test mules can generate enough force to be of concern.

          1. Stanley A. Cloyd

            When these test motors go together a Teflon sleeve will be pulled just before the second end frame goes on. Clearance is critical so the sleeve must be less than 0.030″ thk.

  14. I think those two EV ads are more the same than they are different. Work hard, work smart and you’ll be successful. I can see his firm helping her manage her investments and her advising him on what kind of car to buy before getting down to business. I don’t see the two caste thing in them.

  15. I took apart a failed 100Ah LiFePO4 cell if you want to see the video I can send it. The copper had dissolved in solution and then completely plated on both side of the aluminum. All you can see of the aluminum is the tab at the top.

    1. I’d be interested to see that. Under what circumstances had it failed? Had it been driven into voltage reversal or had it been overcharged or did it just quit on you?

      1. Really not sure. I had been driving the car on a regular basis for for 9 months and had put about 7,000 miles on the vehicle. I noticed the negative cable getting hot. I was going to modify some parts of the vehicle and so I started removing the cells and had a loose connection on one cell and it had been arching. This cell was fine but the failed cell was next to this cell. May or may not have anything to do with the failure. I didn’t find out till a week or so later when I was bottom balancing the pack that this cell read 0 volts. Wish I knew what had happened but I do not. I did take the pack down to around 2 volts per cell once when I first drove it. I also have a TCCH PFC charger that is manual controlled with an enable. Originally I was letting it go till it shut off then I read that if the light flashes green it was in trickle charge mode. At that point I put a four range meter Jack sells on it to disconnect the enable line when it hit CV mode. I could not measure any current on the line with a clamp meter when the light was blinking green at the end of the charge so not sure if it was actually trickle charging the pack. I thought the copper negative terminal dissolves in the electrolyte when the cell drops below 2 volts and then plates on the aluminum positive terminal when a positive voltage is applied.

          1. Geez Jarkko all these times I had to watch at youtube, cause that dang Flash video wont play in my Win7 64 or my wife’s XP machines, I feel stupid.

            And all I had to do is tag the description under the video, in the archive, and it will play in the Windows player.

            I’m grateful as hell for that info.


          2. Jarkko Santala

            That should work on any modern Linux, UNIX or OS X, as long as you have wget installed. The while-loop just keeps retrying until it finishes succesfully, so it’s optional, but allows you to start it early and it’ll just do it’s thing when the file becomes available. You will of course need to change the episode date. If you don’t have wget, for example on vanilla OS X, you can use curl instead: curl -O

  16. Just watched the April 4th news video. I’m getting such a kick out of Jack’s description of how he plans to use a Siemens AC induction motor as a load generator for his test benches. I know that IT WILL NOT WORK. The rotor is just a spinning piece of iron with no internal magnetism. That Siemens generator actually has a magnet for a rotor somewhere.

    In order to use an Induction motor as a generator you have to provide an excitation field. Jack described the concept of slip where the rotor has to spin slower than the field. When the rotor is spinning at the same speed as the field nothing happens but when the rotor spins faster than the field you generate electricity. You could use a DMOC645 in regen mode and simply control the amount of regen as the load.

    Someone who could probably help with Permanent Magnet Alternator (PMA) (aka generators) is Jeff at Missouri Wind and Solar in Seymour, MO. He even makes his own PMA’s in the 3,000 watt or less category but being in the business he could defiantly put you on to sources for new or used larger generators.

    Sorry for posting this here but I don’t have time to deal with the so called live show where I could point this out and discuss it further.

    1. Your strong conviction of CAN”T DO is a real negative Randy. And you seem to take such joy in it.

      Of course it will work. We can of course use simple capacitors in a wye arrangement across the 3 phases for excitation. It is trivial and done everyday. IN fact the majority of generators in the world are simple asynchronous AC induction devices just as described.

      That said, Paulo Almeida and a couple of others have kind of persuaded me to invest another DMOC645 for each bench to provide the excitation. Two advantages pointed out – one I can easily ADJUST the output and so the load torque. The second being that I can actually display it on the GEVCU dashboard screen.

      Kind of leads toward some specific GEVCU code to display horsepower, efficiency, etc and truly make it into a dynomometer type test bench. And so I’ve found those arguments much more persuasive than your adolescent squeal of delight that IT WON’T WORK.

      Of course it will work.

      Keep a positive thought. I sometimes feel there is a small cadre of weenies out there in a continual hopeful state that we will fail or somehow drop a comma or a period editorially. What I dont’ understand is that we so obviously do that on a daily basis, wherein comes the joy?


        1. Scott Nicolai

          No residual magnetic field in the rotor it only takes a tiny little bit
          If they had never been spun and i would assume siemens tested every one then yes it might not work, highly unlikely
          Battery cannot feed the motor windings through a rectifier as they are just three phase bridge diode which block voltage in reverse

      1. Yes Jack and sometimes there is too little residual magnetism left in such asynchronous AC generators for them to come up to voltage – particularly if they are left unused for some time so you can flash them up using a battery and a couple of wires!

    2. Randy, driving an i-MiEV I can confirm running downhill when the car outruns the motor the motor makes electricity.

      I am living close the the shutdown Biblis Nuclear Power Plant. Other than our i-MiEV they do not use permanent magnets in the Dynamo Moteur but they could coldstart that very machine without a mains connected and I am afraid they still can.

      Ever watched the behavior of paramagnetic stuff? It does not know what you know. That is why it is silly enough to generate electricity when you drop it through a coil.

      Jack dont mind. Randy is right but we are lucky enough our electrons dont know and scientists dont even know why they dont know and dont want to learn, silly electrons after all but maybe that is the reason why silly scientists insist we have to connect a BMS to Lithium batteries or those silly batteries would not self discharge proving those scientist silly in the first place.

      Sorry my rant but blind people talking about colors, in theory at least.

      1. Stanley Cloyd

        My DC welder self excites from residual magnetism. My 3-phase induction generator has a wye set of capacitors sized to create a no load voltage of 240. I have three other sets of wye capacitors hooked to 3-phase contractors that pull in or drop out dependent on load. The Siemens motor is much higher in efficiency than my home brew 50s era stuff so the width of the magnetic hysteresis loop would be narrower. Even if it wouldn’t auto generate a electrical perturbation like that of a 9 volt transistor battery hooked to a momentary contact push button would send a spinning motor off to the generator races. When a DC generator losses it’s residual magnetism I just flash it with a 12 volt battery and a 15 amp glass fuse thus restoring it’s residual field. How can it loose it’s field? When when you drop one on the concrete floor………

    3. I should of stated “IT WILL NOT WORK as described”. I didn’t say it totally can never be done. You just have to do more than simply slapping a diode pack on the stator windings. These are not BLDC motors with built in magnetism.

      Yes I’ve seen ceiling fan motors converted into windmill driven AC generators. But they are hooked up to the AC line where they get their excitation. As they spin faster they do produce electricity that has the proper phasing to make the electric meter run backwards. But they do not do it on their own.

      The advantage of making your electricity this way is when the grid goes down the windmill shuts down and wont back feed power out to the local grid. Thus powering your neighbor’s house or injuring power company personnel. The transformer on the pole can be used in reverse so the 110 volts you’re putting in on your side gets turned into 4,000 or more volts on the grid side.

  17. Very impressed Jack with the look of the display interface on the GEVCU and the ease of control and values setting! Do you think the GEVCU would be the proper control device for the E-Gear Drive parking pawl or something else? Those new inverters for the Siemens are another great addition as well. Love the show!

  18. Scott, in my quest to make a cheap 1.8V source, (a long time ago). I wired three diodes in reverse plus the current limiting resistor. Unless the bridge rectifier is like a schottky device, there is no such “block” as you imagine.

  19. Pingback: Yeezy Boost 350

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Verified by MonsterInsights