Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Toil…. The Thing About Things and Military Life.

I have to tell you, I just never do get over it.

This week we attempt to illustrate the pleasure of driving the VW THING. Like all our builds, we fail. We simply fail to convey the sense of magnetic electric drive. The simplicity. The quiet. And the sense of power. The sense of freedom. And the sense of release.

I have been pretty much full time in the act of communicating technical information to humanoids since the late fall of 1979. That’s 35 years guys. All day every day.

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And I have to tell you, in all modesty, I’m the best there is. By 1983 I really was among the best in the business by anyone’s account and enjoyed employment and compensation far above my peers at the time, while getting to work on some of the sexiest, and often quite secret technology programs of the day. I’ve stayed after it literally every day since.

It is inherently a task of relative failure levels more than success. I’ve succeeded by being less eggregiously bad at it than most of the technical people on the planet. And of course, for many of the best and the brightest, English actually IS a second language. So no shortage of work there.

But again this week, I’m reminded of failure. This is why I need our viewers – the 100,000 man army. The only way that I KNOW works to convey the power and future of electric drive in personal mobility is for you to build one, a good one, a bad one, an ok one, it hardly matters – and go demonstrate it for someone who has not had the experience.

I cannot type words to do this work. I cannot record video to do this work. I have no medium that I have yet discovered to convey this information. It can only be done by demonstration.

We have had all manner of visitors here at EVTV. Hard core hot rod clubs with members in their sixties and seventies who have vowed to smell the fumes and listen to the roar of the V8 unto death. I turned 22 of them COMPLETELY in one evening. Actually the score that night was 22 and 0. I’ve heard from both the well intentioned and the enviously venomous one thousand tiny cuts on why what I’m doing is a waste of time and will never work and blah blah blah. ALL – that is to say 100%, walk away with a different outlook on it with almost no effort on my part. If I can show them the actual stuff, and let them ride in the actual vehicle.

I have no failures to communicate there. THey ALL get it, eight to eighty, crippled, crazy or blind. They all get it on actual CONTACT with it. I have a brother IN the oil business for 40 years. He gets it. He can hear the clock tick. The guys he works with don’t. And no words he can say will change any of that. So he doesn’t bother of course. And as long as oil is $100 barrel, it’s “Rock on Wayne’s World” in their world. But in the background is the faint haunting sound of the clock ticking…

Let’s get real. The VW thing was NEVER a great car. It wasn’t even a good car. It wasn’t even a SAFE car. It was banned in the U.S. after two years. The windshield was too close. It squeeks. It rattles. It rusts. It rolls precariously. THe suspension is a joke. It’s overweight for a VW frame not meant for all that. The steering is vague and loose. The slab seats are uncomfortable. The seat doesn’t move back far enough. The acoustics are terrible. Grossly underpowered with a rattling smoking four cylinder engine.

This car is a JOKE as a vehicle. I would never recommend it to anyone. Unsafe at any speed. Lacking every notion of creature comfort. With the stylistic panache of a five gallon bucket, which it was originally named for. Kubelvagen. Bucket car seems apt. Actually it was originally Kubelsitzvagen referring to its bucket seats. But this was quickly shortened to Kubelvagen and the play on words was lost on none.

So of course it suits my sense of whimsey. And we aren’t driving the pan American highway in this thing. We needed a test bed for the newly acquired Siemens motor and DMOC645 controller and of course the Generalized Electric Vehicle Control Unit – GEVCU. Everything on this build is easy to get to and easy to work on. We can swap the GEVCU out in about five minutes. The motor in 10. The DMOC would probably take a half an hour. I can measure each and every of 100 cells in 20 minutes and none are hard to get to – at all. Indeed, I have a USB jack in the BUMPER of this vehicle to plug in a laptop.

Unveiling at EVCCON 2013 was an embarassment. We barely had the GEVCU turning the motor. But we had no brakes it turns out. Most of the lights and turn signals and so forth didn’t work. Paulo Almeida kind of jimmied and jacked with it to get it to work at all and it was of course precarious.

But in the intervening months we did get some brakes working on it. Sorted out the lights. Upgraded the GEVCU. And added a heater. Blew up about six contactors with precharge issues. It was a lift queen from fall to spring.

Imagine my surprise when we launched it a couple of weeks ago. It took about two passes of the GEVCU web site configuration screen and very suddenly this thing was dialed in. The regen was perfect. The acceleration exhilerating. And some sort of magic happened between the SIemens motor, Sebastien Beugouis VW adapter, and a careful spin balance of clutch and pressure plate. It is TOTALLY vibration free from the drive train. We’ve had these run pretty good on several cars. But never like this. There just IS no sense of a motor spinning. Wheels turn. ANd you move. But the motor is eerie. If you miss getting it in reverse, and take your foot off the throttle to stop the motor to put it in gear, it is always a surprising to hear the gears grinding violently when you were certain it had stopped because of the total lack of noise and vibration. If you goose it a bit in neutral, you can barely hear the motor whine at all from the drivers seat in a quiet garage. I mean BARELY hear it.

And so predictably enough, it is a SHITPOT full of fun to drive – albeit in grave danger of life and limb. So it’s been my daily driver for nearly two weeks and I just cannot get enough of it.

The reaction in town has been phenomenal. Of course, it IS painted electric yellow and it’s not as if it was going to “blend in” anyway. But it’s a head turner. I can’t get out of my own DRIVEWAY without delivering a sermon to the people in the park first. And while I’m telling them to love one another and forgive each other and just eat the damn fish and not worry about where it came from or if it has mercury in it, all THEY want to talk about is the electric yellow THING.

How far does it go? It goes wherever I tell it to go. I’m the driver.

How long does it take to charge? How would I know? I’m asleep then.

How much does it cost? This is the point where the eyes avert and the feet shuffle and the mumbling and grumbling begin… that much????. Yeah. About that much.

I received an e-mail this week from a gentleman pleased to be in the 100,000 man army and an avid EVTV viewer. He wrote that he was an engineer and had a converted Ford Focus with a 45-50 mile range and a one way to work of 34 miles. His employer, a large unnamed corporation had allowed him to charge at work. But “word came down” this week that they were no longer allowing “free electricity” to employees and charging at work would no longer be allowed. He said he planned to appeal the decision and wanted some words and inspiration to include in the “appeal” noting that many of his coworkers were sympathetic.

Some days I wonder if I AM communicating. What specifically does the term ARMY imply here?

First, we don’t “appeal”. We are not seeking permission from our leige lords to ease our labor on the fiefdom. And we don’t need our coworkers “sympathy”. What we are after here is their unbridled ENVY. We want to foment desire for the freedoms we enjoy as guerrila patriots involved in an all out war. While they may not feel able to step up and take both responsibility and command of the world around them, we can. And we do. And we don’t appeal to anybody. The battle cry is not “please may have another bowl of electrons.” It is more properly, need I remind you, FUCK OFF AND DIE BITCH.

To make that stick, does involve some use of ammunition, heavy artillary, and yes, noise and smoke. My advice to him was to put in more batteries. There is nothing in a FOrd Focus limiting it to 50 miles of range. Indeed 100 should be relatively easy in this vehicle. So you built a car to do just what you wanted it to do. They changed the game. You changed the car. He did admit that it was the expense of batteries that had him stymied.

I did say I wanted 100,000 to go into their garages and build an electric car and demonstrate it. I didn’t say it would be cheap. And I didn’t mean build a WEENY car that won’t do what you want it to do. The concept is a power demonstration that you will no longer be a victim, that you can build your own damn car, that you do not and never DID NEED General Motors or British Petroleum. You chose their products when it was convenient for you and so CHOOSE NOT NOW THAT IT IS NOT as is of course your right to do. It would have been wiser had they not called your undivided attention to this problem. But they did. And game on.

Would you be money ahead to just pay the pump tithe? I can assure you, in all cases you would have. IT would have made more economic sense in the short run. As I’ve pointed out many times, life is about choices and the average price of both bass and deer meat isn’t something you want to inquire into either. And there is nothing at stake with regards to deer hunting or fishing.

I personally believe there IS something at stake with electric vehicles. I think our economic future is poised on a knife edge based entirely on the price and availability of fossile fuels and the coming waves of shortages and price spikes. After the activities of 2008 global economic collapse may be determined by one camel sneeze in the middle east.

Many of you believe climate change offers even more grave dangers and after recent weather events, I’m not sure you may not be onto something. I’ve been kind of agnostic on the topic, but felt it didn’t matter as I see some real potential for undetected health impacts deriving from more local and pressing emission issues. Kind of hard to prove given we don’t have a high population low gas vehicle zone with similar health care levels to compare it too for the past 100 years. We could all be dying from gasoline and how would we know? Compared to what? The number of vehicles has climbed steadily for 100 years and we don’t have a control group to compare with. They are everywhere the population is. Alzheimers, autism, cancer, diabetes – I don’t know WHICH modern disease, largely unheard of 100 years ago, to go after here. But largish weather events do seem to be becoming more common. There’s a once in a century event now once every year. What’s that about? I may not be good at weather math, but…..

The bottom line here is I see some clear and present global macro events shaping up here. ANd I see no sign our political or social structures are entirely aware of, concerned about, or taking action on, any of it. Indeed they seem oblivious. Is your wife going to take this on? Your kids?

The “greatest generation” clearly had a strong tendency for the men of that time to take responsibility for and command of the world around them and felt obligated to “do something about it.”

In my generation, we’ve been mostly focused on sitting on the couch, watching TV, drinking beer, and complaining that nobody is doing anything about it.

My internet odyssey in a past life afforded me a unique view of some key things and the most impressive was how totally the world changed at the behest of 35 socially awkward computer nerds connecting their PC’s basement to basement in the night to exchange data bypassing the 25 cents per minute the telephone company was charging them. ANd understand, there was no accidents. They didn’t stumble on this. The Internet you enjoy today was a FULLY FORMED VISION with these guys by 1988 when there were 4000 of them. They predicted THEN everything you see on the world wide web today. They didn’t accidentally build it at all. And they were totally devoted to it in the face of unscalable resistance from the telephone and cable companies, Microsoft, the Federal Government, the state governments – read that EVERYBODY else.

It was ALL guys. ANd ALL the gains and expertise was passed man to man in virtual secrecy at the time. It grew organically. There was no “organization”. No advocacy group. No lobbyists. Vinton Cerf was a one man IP ON EVERYTHING five star general. And it was VERY expensive to play any role in it at all. A PC with significant storage was over $5000. A single modem was always over $2000. A 1.5 kbps data line was $2000 per MONTH. A router was $5000. As an Internet Service Provider (ISP) $50K was a starter kit.

So it is you. Guys. Guys who will pay the price. Who CHOOSE to pay the price. To change the world. There has been an implication that the battle is over and you can go home. Tesla builds cars. So does Nissan. It’s all ok. Go back to the couch. By now the sales numbers and the aspirations of all this “press release fantasy” world should be obvious to you. It is illusory. It is preparatory to the “failure of the electric car – again.” They already have the headlines written. The articles and video reports are pretty much put together. It didn’t work. You don’t need it. I saw the other day a story about electric car owners tiring of their cars.

We live in a media world of illusion. If you watch the boob tube, you will be convinced that there are 2500 people in the whole country, and 1800 of those are very attractive thin 24 year-old women. Of the 700 guys, over half are crazed gun nuts intent on murdering and sexually molesting your kids. The rest are abusive and should be arrested in any event.

100,000 men is precisely 0.00285 PER CENT of the world’s population of guys. It’s also pretty much the tipping point.  I think we are at about the 5000-6000 mark at the moment.  Don’t be discouraged.  It’s kind of a violently progressive growth curve. It’s actually a really GOOD place to be right now.

But yeah, if your employer won’t let you charge, the answer isn’t to beg. It’s rebuild your car where you don’t NEED the recharge at work.  And I’m sorry, I’m just unsympathetic to what it will cost you.  Step up to the plate or return to the couch.  I need 100,000 MEN.  Not boys.  If you just want to save money and avoid paying for gas, you’ve stumbled onto a very poor way of doing that.  Each electric car, built or bought, is a declaration of war.  Not a household budgetary maneuver.  You’re fighting on the wrong side, for the wrong reasons, and you won’t survive the march.  Go back and sit with the civilians and the girls on the couch.

For the rest, return to our FIRST video.  I really haven’t added squat to that in all the videos and all the blogs I’ve done in the past five years (this month actually).  We’re doing better builds these days, and so are you.  Components and batteries are better and more available.  Techniques are more understood.  The BMS skirmish is largely behind us, though I got another straggler in this week with a perfectly good Volvo 30 with mangled batteries and of course a BAD MANAGMENT SYTEM.  Ironically, after I told him precisely how to fix it and drive it and enjoy it without problems, he wanted a recommendation for a new BMS as well.  We can bring the good news.  We can’t make you listen.

We are working tirelessly on new components, lower costs, and better cars.  And boats.  And maybe a quadcopter.   But for the foreseeable future, I promise you only blood, sweat, tears, and toil — and at no small cost. … and in victory you will be TOTALLY FORGOTTEN — completely written out of the history of the whole thing…

Except of course for the one part…. it being a SHITPOT FULL OF FUN. More fun than you are normally allowed to have with your pants on.


I’m in a very dangerous VW THING and I KNOW how to use it.  Lead, follow, or get the fuck out of the way….


See Michael Brown in this episode. Real men move to Thailand and figure out how to build an electric elephant…










66 thoughts on “Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Toil…. The Thing About Things and Military Life.”

  1. Hi everyone,
    Well, I decided to bring my 39 dodge brothers pickup truck to a car show in Kentucky.
    Somerset Kentucky has a very large car show the third Friday of each month through the summer months. At the April car show they’re registered 1026 vehicles. Of the 1026 cars there were only two electric vehicles, my 39 dodge pickup truck and a rather basic conversion of a Volkswagen bug using very large fork lift motor and lead acid batteries.
    Before going to the show I printed up two different handouts, the first was a single sheet containing the vital statistics about the vehicle on the front and five pictures on the back.
    The second was a 12 page document printed on both sides with lots of pictures with comments showing the progress of converting the old truck to be an electric vehicle.
    As I was driving home from the show I realized that neither of those documents had any links or references to places where people could get more information about electric vehicle, like EVTV.ME.
    So for the show this month I will include things like that up front and center on the documentation I hand out to people.
    I also thought that I should print up some business cards with a picture of the old truck on one side and links to Internet sites that provide a good reference material for beginners on the backside. Also I’m going to include links to my you-tube videos.
    The thought being, that when I come out of Lows or Home Depot or Kroger’s and there are people standing around the truck I can at least give them the business card, as I do a show and tell of the vehicle.
    If we all did this, it would be a great grassroots promotion of the electric conversion vehicle effort.
    So If anyone even looks at your converted vehicle, give them a bushes card. You never can tell what they might do with that information……..,
    Al Gajda

    1. Al:

      Bravo. You go girlfriend.

      As to the links and so forth, I appreciate the sentiment, but don’t cloud the message. Ever hear of Boardwatch Magazine? No. Ever hear of the Internet? Of course. We had almost total mindspace among the real netheads that built the thing and ran the thing. 100% readership. You’ve never heard of it. There’s a reason.

      These guys were experts in their own right. They had the plan and they had the answers. They got that from a number of sources, and Boardwatch may have been one of the more effective ones. But they were spreading the word about the network and of course about their businesses. Not spreading the word about their sources of knowledge. To some degree, we were a proprietary secret.

      It is the same here. YOU are the EV expert in your part of Kentucky Al. And you need not apologize for it – you’re DRIVING the freaking TRUCK to prove it. I didn’t build your truck. YOU did.

      And of course probably MOST of the cars I’m seeing in our database are better builds than we do. For several reasons, but they are.

      You have no idea how very far and how very fast and how very powerfully those connections you’ve made travel. Largely because very few are ever going to return to you and tell you what they did with it. You don’t get to hear the resultant conversations nor their future plans affected by it. It is a strangely thankless act in a way.

      Likewise our work. I prefer that you think well of us and support us financially. But we are simply a resource to aid and abet and enable YOUR role as the “expert” on electric vehicles in Kentucky. You bought the ticket and earned the chops. Explaining where you got the info isn’t part of the gig. Don’t cloud the message. Here’s the TRUCK. And you’ll be happy to knowledgeably answer any questions about it.

      If you want to give em a link, give em a link to YOUR website and Youtube channel.

      EVTV will be fine. I learned long ago that whatever you do, you can’t give it away fast enough to AVOID it coming back full measure, overflowing, and pressed down. Nature of the universe.

      Jack Rickard

  2. Hey Jack, in the show you talk about using the Power Glide as EV West has done and I wanted to mention another possible option. B & J Transmissions and Lenco Transmissions build what is a planetary transmission. Somewhat like and automatic in that it uses planetary gear sets for the ratios but they don’t have the hydraulics and the torque converter. There are options that include pump with inputs so you can run a converter but you can also run a clutch. Drag racers use these type transmissions for clutchless shifts in racing. Just pull the lever. They typically come in sections so you can build how ever many ratios you need. and the section on the tail is the reverse section. There are a few guys on the EV Album that have made use of these, & being a couple of them. While they are primarily racing transmissions they do build a lighter version for street use. The Power Glide looks like a good option just that you have to run the pump and with this you can use a pump/converter or a clutch or you could go clutchless just depending on your setup and you don’t have the amp draw of a pump. You can of course run the power glide converter-less also, roundy-rounders have done it for years, but you still have the amp drag of the pump. You may already be familiar with these but I’ve not seen them mentioned and thought I would bring it to your attention as a possibility.

    1. We looked into the Lenco two years ago and found it was hopelessly expensive. The magic of the Power Glide is that they really aren’t very much. Matt is doing a racing version at over $4000 and but you can put something together for $1500 or so that will work fine.

      Jack Rickard

  3. I would just like to add my 2 cents on the item regarding the Engineer whose employer is cutting the cord for EV Charging… Get an old RX-7 (or RX-3, Cosmo etc.) with worn out apex seals and start driving that to work. Time your arrivals and departures to lead the decision making execs by several seconds each day. The James Bond Smokescreen effect should cause a reversal of this policy change in less than a week.

    1. I believe this was a problem up to the 2006 or 2007 model year. So much so that there are at least three RX-8 builds going on at the moment and we actually ahve a Forum for them on our forumes area with some fascinating information provided by Paulo Almeida of the Institute of Engineering in Lisbon Portugal.

      The cars are available for almost nothing because of the horrible engine seal issue, and they make great conversions.

      Jack Rickard

    2. Doug Ingraham

      A better way to get them to change the policy would be to simply let them drive your EV. They don’t know they want one until they drive one.


  4. I have been driving my EVThing almost daily for two weeks. Yes I own a Model S and yes I prefer to drive the EVThing when distance allows. Yes it is far more dangerous, Yes it is hotter in the summer and colder in the winter, Yes it rattles and squeaks… Yes the Stereo only has 30 watts total… Yes it is the slowest car I have ever owned… Yes the seats are a little hard… No it does not leak in the rain…

    AND I LOVE IT!!!!

    I drove it to one of our satellite offices about 50 miles aways yesterday. I needed to charge some to get home. I went to home depot and made a 30′ ten gage cord with L6-30 connectors to extend the distance of my portable clipper creek EVSE. We were doing a training class and I took one of the ladies in the office for a drive as she loves old cars. About ten minutes later EVERYONE (about 20 people) were lining up for a ride. All of the students left the class to get a ride. I actually had to charge the car for an extra 30 minutes to get home after driving so many people around…

    I do find it odd that we sale three brands of EVSE units (we are and electrical distributer) but we do not have one charging station at any of the four branches….

    The wife more of less snags the Tesla when I am not around… It is a GREAT car, but nothing compares to driving you own creation….

    1. I don’t think 30 foot of cord will get you home. You need 50 miles of cord don’t you?

      Same message as with Al. The rides you gave travel farther than the electricity quite supports. In all directions. And we are all MUCH more connected than the illusion allows. Much more connected. You are literally changing the world.

      Beyond that, your THING build is far beyond mine in fit finish and fitment. But I am with you 100%. I would stand on the hood of my Model S to get a better look at my THING. And so would most of the people we encounter.

      ANd I’ve got a wife. And she drives the Model S.

      Jack Rickard

  5. I’m just loving the Land Yacht. Its my best effort to date. I drive 35.6 miles each day to work.At speed. No 40mph efficient driving nonsense. I do charge there but don’t have to. The yacht would just bludgeon its way back through another 35.6 miles of tarmac ocean. No aero mods , 205/65/15 no name tyres with the efficiency of super glue.Almost two metric tons of German metal and Chinese sub batteries barrelling down the motorway at 70mph for over 100 miles all built in a shed by a moron who cant even put on two identical socks. The refuelling starts at 11pm every night to the sound of the fuse board humming under the strain as the yacht absorbs energy for the next voyage. Sail on.

    1. Technically Damien, in the EVTV Army you’re what we term a psychopathic serial converter. We’re putting you in charge of a special Assassination Unit of sharpshooters who love to kill. Your a menace. An inherent threat. You glow like a spanner shorted in the night. Oil company executives are furiously adjusting their neckties at the mention of your videos and furtively glancing around to locate the nearest EXIT sign in case of emergency. They are afraid…very afraid…. one menacing stutter from you could end entire divisions of British Petroleum and the careers they rode in on. ANd secretly, they know it. They’ve been overheard whispering to each other “my God man, he melts spanners…on purpose…just to hear them scream…..what kind of heartless…..”

      And I’m with you all the way girlfriend. That’s what the Escalade is about. Big iron with creature comforts. You can hardly afford to drive one with gasoline – about 9-11 mpg in town. And it’s true, it makes the neighborhood transformer hum when I plug it in – about 1 kW per mile in town though it tames to a nice 600 wH per mile at 70 mph. But the magnificent increase in energy efficiency of magnetic drive train shows up to a GREATER degree on these “land yachts” than it does on the diminutive Speedster. Air conditioning, heated steering wheel, heated windshield washer and peltier cooled seats akimbo, we rock down the road in 4 ton splendor. Usually just to haul me and a camera maybe.

      We rigged it to do 100 miles on the freeway and it will do it. But in town, in truth, had I to do it all over again, I would have half the batteries. I can literally charge it once per week the way I drive it around town. ANd face it, there aren’t going to be any cross country “road trips” in this vehicle. For me it’s all about ease of entry, comfortable high seating, great visibility, and creature comforts. Stereo and heat and air conditioning. I have a larger fuse on my 12v system than some of you guys have on your drive train. It takes TWO Vicor 1500 watt power supplies to provide 12v power. Unlike the thing, the six way power seat pretty much goes anywhere in the vehicle I tell it to go.

      Truth to tell, at night, around the campfire, we tell young recruits Damien stories just to scare the shit out of them…

      Jack Rickard

  6. You always do this to me, Jack! I just sold the RX7 because it was a hopeless rust bucket and would have cost a fortune in time and money to make right. I’m leaving NJ in about 18mo and that’s time I don’t really have. Now, after reading this (and being “re-Blued” as we say in the Air Force) I’m thinking I might need to sell what TSLA stock I have left to double my pack size and follow the original plan to convert the ugly old beat up Ranger. I need a bigger pack because a 40mi truck just won’t cut it. The RX7 would have made a ‘cooler looking’ conversion but I don’t really care about that. I’ve out grown that. I want practical. I want something I can roll eRokon in back of or haul some rocks or a couple sheets of plywood…maybe even tow a little trailer. A 48S2P pack should give me all that.

  7. Hey, did anyone else pick up on the CALB lady at the Taiwan show saying the little 25 Amp CAM Power cell doing 4C continuous and 20C for 10 seconds?

    This seems like a big upgrade in discharge power, we need that in a 100 Amp cell…

      1. I think this is stillborn. We have a house rep looking into it and a group of Tesloids already descending on the capital in Jefferson CIty, in their Teslas.


    1. Thomas Wright

      I am the unidentified engineer that Jack posted about above that was told to unplug his Ford Escort from the garage at work. I have an announcement about this situation:

      I (and we) have won.

      The company has realized that their position on Electric Vehicles didn’t make and sense and has revised it. I am now allowed to drive my car and plug it in in the company garage, using all of the company’s electricity that I want.

      Jack: I know that you strongly advised me to man up and put some more batteries in this vehicle so that I can show the world that I don’t need their stinking assistance, but I think this resolution is even better. Here’s why:

      1.) I like the way this vehicle handles right now. An extra 300 lbs. of batteries would turn this back into the lead sled is was before I took out the lead acid batteries.
      2.) An additional $6000 dollars worth of batteries makes this car more of a “rich man’s toy” instead of useable, functional, everyman device that anybody can have to do their daily transportation. Because of this cost reduction for the total package, I will be able to convince more of my coworkers to sign up for your 100,000 man army.
      3.) I don’t need any more batteries to do anything but get to work. All of my other transportation needs are satisfied by this vehicle, except for the work transportation issue. This resolution fixes that.
      4.) The decision that the company has made is not only for my local location, but is being extended world wide. This means that the Electric Vehicle needs of 40,000 of my coworkers is being met.

      Jack: I hope you agree that not all battles have to have shots fired. Some of them can be won at the negotiating table, before anyone gets hurt!

      1. I don’t entirely.

        But I do agree that this is a good outcome if it has persuaded your company to provide charging services worldwide for 40,000 co-workers. And I deeply appreciate your closing the loop and advising us of the outcome.

        And I agree that lightly is goodly. Our first builds were all 100 mile plus range cars because we wanted to demonstrate that it could be done. But in practice, here in Cape Girardeau our range needs are so modest, we found ourselves charging these cars once or twice per week while driving them daily and more or less constantly.

        We’re tending toward 60-70 mile range targets now with small cells, higher voltages, and effectively smaller packs. The results are pleasing.

        But I think range will continue to be an issue up to about 150 miles per charge. I actually think beyond that, most people AFTER they become acculturated to electric car use, will choose lower prices over more range. Once you become aware of what you REALLY drive in most instances, I don’t think most people will pay more to go further. The electric car is just not destined to be a road machine for cross country trips.

        I applaud the demonstration of the MOdel S as eliminating objections as part of the acculturation process. But as the market matures and the body politic becomes more familiar with the cars, the need for range compared to the value proposition will be more in the vein you have struck already.

        I haul around 1700 lbs and $34,000 worth of batteries in an Escalade to do 100 mile range in an 8000lb vehicle. Answer: because I can. But in practice, I drive it every day, go anywhere I want, and charge it once per week. It’s almost a joke. I could get by on 1/2 of the 76 kWh onboard easily.

        People with a 100 mile roundtrip commute to work have some problems beyond their choice of car. But I find a 70 mile roundtrip longish but reasonable and the car ought to be able to do that. I reject entirely your assertion that the batteries required to make a Ford Focus do that would return you to the weight you had with lead acid. THe numbers just don’t work out.

        But if you like it, I love it. It’s your car and your drive. But what WE are about is not so much seeking that the world make special accommodation for US, as it is building cars that meet our needs independently. I believe this can be done.

        The “rich man’s toy” assertion I have heard so many times I just wince every time. This is just nonsense. All technologies cost more for early adopters, tinkerers and innovators and this is an established adoption curve you as engineer should certainly be intimately familiar with. ANd I literally know people here in town that anyone would consider relatively lower working class that have $20G tied up in a fishing boat. The cost of conversions put it in the “choice” range. Hardly reserved for the wealthy.

        I had a guy in the shop yesterday who has 16 VW hulks in his possession and indeed I bought one from him yesterday. He works for Caterpiller maintaining electric fork lifts out at Proctor and Gamble and is a classic self-educated working class stiff. He also drives a 36 Chevy pickup hotrod in nice weather. Of course he built it himself and financed it one part at a time. He’s going to sell that and start his firtst electric build immediately. Your gratuitous class reference simply doesn’t hold water friend. It’s bullshit.

        And it further improperly assumes that people who DO have an excess of resources are idiots and do not measure the value proposition with the care you feel you do. I’m always amazed at this. It must be a comforting delusion that rich people are stupid – they don’t have to be “smart” like us. How do you imagine they obtained their wealth? Lucky I guess? The rationalizations for mediocrity and failure in life are legion.

        I started so poor I couldn’t even pay attention. So lacking that I had no opportunity to SEE sufficient wealth to be cognizant that we WERE working poor. My father, a bricklayer, was brilliant on all topics but money. But he built our home one brick at a time with his own hands. And he was resourceful. We had ENTIRELY flourescent lighting in 1959. There was not an incadescent light bulb IN our house until I was 12 years old or so. Of course I thought regular light bulbs were cool. They didn’t flicker.

        I’ve since made and lost three fortunes. Hold a good thought on number four.

        There is room for variance. We show people how WE build what we build and I rarely come up short with opinions generally. But we do not tell people what they should build or that how we do it is the only proper way – with the lone exception of the BMS thing of course. If you have built a car you are happy with, bravo.

        But the message of the 100,000 man army remains a no compromise message. The mission is not to tell, not to pontificate, but to DEMONSTRATE that life driving an electric car really doesn’t require “sacrifice” or “suffering” for the cause. It will do 99% of what an ICE car will do and essentially 100% of what you NEED any car to do. Eventually, with fast charging and better batteries, even the cross country road trip becomes feasible. But if I really want to go to California, I’ll probably fly.

        I personally abhor long road trips. I go to sleep at the wheel literally and my idea of hell is trying to stay awake on a long drive at night fighting off an overpowering desire to nod off.

        Jack Rickard

        1. Jack,

          there are people who deserved their wealth and others who inherited it. Some great inventors only could afford inventing because they were wealthy. “We” usually dont see the wealthy guy in people like Jack and Elon but if somebody succeeds in making a fool out of himself we see. If he lives from other peoples money we take him for a wealthy guy. People can be so disapointing in their ignorance.

          As a buddhist I learned it is not the fortunes you make that counts, it is the fortunes you lost. You dont actually lose but you do invest, in learning, in improving your personal environment by sponsoring people who might later help you. The outcome may be different from what you expected. It most of the time is.

          I tried making a video. Our cam does make nice photograpies and it knows how to get pictures moving. It can even do HD but ofter 9 seconds fini. So 640 by 480 is better than nought but then I heard my voice. If only I could sound like Damien or Anne but no, even Schwarzenegger sounds preferable to me.

          Keeping a camera from making your stomach turn is another story. I inherited an ancient triple leg from my dad who used cameras that were heavy. The heavy triple leg on my shoulder feet extended and pointing backwords, allows for a moving camera without your stomach complaining – and then it started raining. The caravan park where we were charging became a bog – oh, I still have to clean my cables and store them away again. If somebody else had made a video of me making a fool out of myself. So much about running an i-MiEV far from the cities and charging in the wild.

          Seeing Damien fight Mennekes plugs and cables. It is so easy. CEE plugs three phase or single phase are cheap and robust. You can get them everywhere. They are meant to be used outside and they dont easily break. XLR connectors might be good for pilot and proxy signals. They are used in rough environments like Glastonbury Mud Festival. Well, two plugs and sockets in the place of one – but it does not justify more than ten times the money and with cheap but reliable connectors you can adapt to anything.

          Peter and Karin

          1. Congratulations to Anne and New Electric on their success with the electric Delta. I’ve never been a boat guy, but… Damn! Seeing that boat take off like a bullet from a gun, you just have to laugh at how much better electric motors are. It won’t be long before young folks look at gasoline engines in the way that the current crop looks at rotary phones. As in, “how in the world did you ever put up with THAT shit”?

          2. That’s been my take on electric cars for several years.

            Electric car: Warp factor seven Mr. Sulu

            ICE Car: Jethro, make sure granny is tied down good in back.

        2. Wow Jack love your passion. It took me a while to come to peace about the money I spent on my EV. Yes it was a lot but I worked for every bit of it, slowly over 25 years. Saving those nickels add up and watching others break into an EV grin is just priceless. Then when I pull out a picture to show I charge it on sunshine it is wonderful to see them speechless.

    1. The viewer stats were solely from our EVTV. ME web site. Youtube has been an off again on again battle wiht YouTube. We upload it to there largely because there are some mobile users that can’t work out how to run our videos from the web site. YouTube is good at converting videos to a lot of different formats. But I think about just dropping YouTube almost every month. They complain unceasingly about our “copyright infringements” and should have thrown us off long ago, but everytime one of our viewers throws us a video with some music in it, their copyright detector goes crazy.

      I won’t deal wiht it or even reply. So I don’t know where that leaves us other than about once a month I threaten to just not fool with them any more.

      Jack Rickard

      1. No problem with u-tube in Germany. They are censored. I mean they censor themselves. No videos that do include music. No videos that might include music. No videos that might be interesting – viewed often. No videos about anything of interest because somebody whispers copyright even if it is not true. The outcome is so loopsided that the worst newspapers are more tolerant and balanced towards other opinions than u-tube is.

        For me DSL 1 Megabit, u-tube is mostly useless. Jack’s videos take me some 10 hours downloading but I am allowed downloading and I can view them whenever I like and in high quality.

        Jack, I just came from opening my third removable harddisk for your videos. I hope I have got them all but I’ll keep an eye on the old ones in case I have missed one.

        I am missing compressed air. Maybe it is good only for hydropneumatique Citroen and trucks but I am afraid when Anne starts converting u-boates we might have to face it. We have got it in our wheels and using a foot operated inexpensive pump might get us more water than air into and the result will be rust.

        Peter and Karin

  8. Why would such a simple transmission as the egear dive be damaged by running on ice? Over speed? Would that be something that rev sensors and the GEVCU could prevent?

    1. When I hear “ice” I immediately think loss of traction. Looking at exploded views of the egeardrive, I doesn’t look like a limited slip or open differential. It is possible that is is more like a “locker” differential and both wheels spin together. If traction is lost on one wheel and the other wheel still has good grip on the road, when the driver accelerates, all the torque goes to one axle. This probably brakes, or bends something in the egeardrive if this is so.

  9. Jack/Ed,

    Loved the segment on GEVCU v5 — I like the plans for the new version, including the Cinch enclosure. Good find — I have been looking for small weatherproof enclosures myself for my 7 different CAN “mini” nodes that I am creating for my HPEVS build (2 down, 5 to go). I had a chuckle when I caught the model lineup name: “ModICE”. How fitting…

    Can one of you gents tell me if you have been able to easily open and close the enclosures without having to buy all of the tools that they show in the assembly instructions? I’m guessing you’ve found a way using a screwdriver and a 5 or 10 lb sledge.

    BTW: The way I am solving my external weatherproof USB mounting with the Bulgin Buccaneer series (IP68 rated):

    You can get them on DigiKey. I am going to probably have to cave and go with “mini B” (second link, part# PX0443) rather than “B”, since you only need a 16mm (5/8″) hole in the case to mount the former, but I figure that I won’t be flashing new code that often, and it means I can go with a shorter case height. It comes with a 5 pin 0.1″ centered molex on a short 4 1/4″ cable, and the PDF shows the part number for the straight ot 90 degree board headers. Looking at the Cinch “ME Mini” (another chuckle), looks like this may fit there, although the drawings seem to be missing the above PCB height to the top of the case. Maybe installing in the back is also an option.

    – Collin

    1. Hi Colin, Ive used the Buccaneer plugs for a few years at work and on my boat. Generally very good but we were not always convinced about the IP rating, so we usually filled the back shell with soft potting, Silicon bath sealant worked well.

      1. Hey, thanks for the suggestion on the potting, Mark. Great idea.

        I had also looked at the Buccaneer RJ-45 plugs to run the CAN and POE to/from each node (x2 for in and out CAN daisy-chaining):

        However, it does again mean I have to go with a case height of more than 2″ (may as well go back to a full USB “B”). But I’ve also ordered some of these instead, which may save on some of that height, only needs a 20mm (13/16″) hole and takes 25mm (an inch) of external case height:

        – Collin

  10. Just finished watching the May 9th episode. Enjoyed it greatly as usual. Many thanks to you both for your unceasing commitment. Like the paying forward thing, you will never know the good you do. With 1 in 12 deaths worldwide attributed to air pollution, you may just be saving more lives than polio vaccine.

  11. Could be an issue with being over brittle. Shock loads that happen from accelerating on ice when the tyres (tires) suddenly run on grippy tarmac.

  12. The trouble with these copyright loonies is the simple fact they are actively working to ensure the best songs are quickly forgotten, which affects overall sales.

  13. Jack, just saw the new CAM72 cells listed on your site, I know it’s a bit early to hope for test data…but do you have any yet? They look awesome!

    1. That’s kind of what I’m doing this week KEvin. You probably want to watch our VIDEO this week. Maybe something on that, eh?

      Jack RIckard

  14. Jack!,

    You continue to offer the most up-to-date items with the inclusion of the CAM cells! Please never grow stagnant or bored of the EVdom. There are still so many fruitful years ahead.

    Like the HOT-RODDERS from the 60’s people will grow bored with OEM offerings and continue to make them “there own”. That’s what America is all about! There will be people who get the OEM offerings, and good for them. But it’s the people who CONVERT cars they grew up from yesteryear that continue to induce my interest!

    You may or may not appreciate or are even fully aware of your impact on people around the country. KNOW THAT YOU ARE VALUED!

    Just today I was reminded by the renewed interest locally in my city of my car. I did nothing different then the past. It’s the rise in gas price that motivates the masses. WHATEVER IT TAKES, I say. Please stick around for “the long haul”!

    All the best,
    Aaron Lephart

  15. There is something that this change in transportation will bring about, and that is, how are electric vehicles going to contribute towards road taxes. It will eventually come up as more and more electric vehicles get to be the norm on our highways. It will even include hybrids, for their gas tax contributions are minimal, considering that most can be driven in an urban environment, with use of fuel.

    The question is how it will be done, paying for roads per mile driven is already being discussed in some states, not because of electric vehicles per se, but since gas mileage is getting better and better, states are feeling the pinch, and looking of ways to bring in revenue.

    And if this is where its going, than the only way would be for all vehicles ice or electric, to have a need for a monitoring system, in order to measure usage, something I shudder to think about, for it brings up visions of another excuse to track us in another way.

    I have been thinking about how to come up with a way to do this without tracking, and the only thing I have come up with, and that’s to shift road taxes to sales taxes. At first it would look unfair for those that don’t use roads, but then again, even if one never drives our roads, all items that we need to live by, gets transported in some way by road, so paying such taxes via sales taxation, isn’t so far fetched idea.

    What say you.


      1. Roy – I’m sure you are right.

        A Chinese friend told me that his Mum spends about as much on road tolls as on petrol. That is a possible model. Here in UK you have to get a “tax disk” every year for a car used on the road. This varies from £0 for an EV or plug in, through about £30 for an efficient diesel to several hundred for my GT40 replica with a Ford 302. This structure could be re-used. That’s another model. With number plate recognition cameras the powers-that-be can already track us (and no doubt do). London has a congestion charge which you need to settle before driving into central London (currently free for EVs). Cameras nab you automatically if you drive in without doing so. That’s a third model.

        One model that clearly would not work would be to tax electricity at the same rate as fuel. You can dye fuels that have different tax rates for different purposes but that would be something of a trick with electricity

    1. I’m pretty much eaten up with concern for the states and the federal government losing money and “feeling the pinch” with regards to gasoline taxes.

      But a sales tax is a brilliant idea. Why don’t we apply it solely to one product – I know GASOLINE. I’ve advocated a $5 national sales tax on gasoline for several years Roy. It is of course unthinkable to our heroic cadre of brilliant political leaders.

      I lived through the gasoline shortage of 1978 in San Diego California. Had today’s electric vehicle conversion capabilities been available then, people would have lunged at it immediately. We’re one camel sneeze from this anyway.

      Phased in over the course of 20 years, it would have minimal negative economic impact and probably maximum positive economic impact. Oil would return to $20 per barrel on announcement. So for the first three years gasoline would actually be less expensive. But everyone, planet wide, would know where it is going then. Everyone would have time to adjust and motivation to adjust.

      And the stimulative effect of “the adjustment” would be enormous.

      While we’re at it, the average american home uses 970 kWh of electricity per month. Why don’t we levy a 50 cent per kWh tax on all electricity consumption in excess of an 800 kWh threshold. And let’s lower the threshold by 25 kWh per year. Hmmm. Let’s exempt solar and wind generated electricity. What effect might this have – beyond everyone suddenly learning to turn the lights out in rooms that are empty 22 hours per day.

      And similarly natural gas. Insulation and better windows would suddenly make economic sense. LED light bulbs wouldn’t seem so dear.
      The efficiency of air conditioners could be improved. The ability to improve it has languished on the technological back shelf, available to any who cared to pay for it, and no one willing to pay for it because electricity is so inexpensive.

      Energy, disease causing pollution, and global warming are not intractible problems Roy. They’re not even particularly problems. They are waste products of waste. Flagrant and wanton waste not to improve our lives or live more luxuriously. Waste for its own sake. The stuff is too cheap to bother. To cheap to bother turning out the freaking light? Flipping the switch?

      Truth to tell? My house and yard are lit up like a freaking airport. You can see my place from outer freaking space. Yet, a few photo cells and all LED builbs reduces the electricity use to almost negligable. I live 240 yards from the Mississippi river. With a 150 foot deep well (that’s not a typo) I could cut my heating and air conditioning costs to about a third of what it is now. I now STOCK and SELL solar panels that weight 6 pounds, are 3 mm thick, flexible and over 20% efficient. They make no economic sense, unless you are a truck or RV or boat. But they would if electricity were popularly priced.

      The very distance people live from where they work and shop is a function of eggregiously inexpensive gasoline. If it were at all expensive, they simply wouldn’t do that. They would move closer to their place of employment. Period.

      I don’t think you have a true concept of what a half trillion dollars looks like, or why e-mailing it out of the country every year is a bad thing. It’s a LOT of money. The cost of a solar Interstate highway system is not so very high after all. Fast charging not so hard after all. Electric cars not such an agonizing choice after all.

      Noise. Dirt. Fumes. Jethro. Granny. All of the past. Part of our history and legacy but of the past. And absolutely full employment getting us from here to there. A nation at work making it happen. Sun. Wind. Water. It surrounds us and envelopes us. Yet we nitter and niggle and whine and complain that we are running out of firewood for our stoves and haven’t a clue what to do about it. We must travel further and further just to poach the King’s wood. Something must be done. If only somebody would do something…oh woe be to us….

      How are we to fund our roads? Seriously….

      And what of the wanton slaughter of innocent blind people by these stealthy death cars of silence. I know, we’re require them to make noise. It will be mounted on the steering wheel and we’ll call it a HORN.

      Humanoids have a lock on SILLIEST SPECIES on planet I do fear.

      We have it IN our garages NOW the ability to hurtle ourselves and our groceries at 100 mph in any direction we choose for a radius of 50 miles sitting down and getting down with our badself to the dulcent tones of Garth Brooks or Basil Poulidoris – powered solely by sunlight. And between us and that are a pallet of hardware components commonly available online that can be delivered to our driveway. Now. Not in 2020. Not when General Motors gets its head out of its ass. This afternoon.

      Jack Rickard

  16. Curtis Youngberg

    Jack, and EV’ers everywhere. Today I break my silence, and declare my desire to join the 100,000 Man EV army. It’s my expectation to have finished gathering and submitting my enlistment papers (money) by next year. In the mean time I’ll be cutting my teeth on a solar charged diy Go-Kart for my soon to be 6 and 4 yr olds. Then early next year with a little luck I can start earning some EV stripes along side the rest of you. May we always be proud of the sweat, anguish, and thrills of this EV Evolution.

    Curtis -Payette, Idaho

    Funny Story –
    In June 2008 my Wife gave birth to our first child, a beautiful little girl. The naming battle was intense, and I couldn’t figure any way to make Tesla or Roadster sound feminine, so instead I submitted my vote for the name Elise (read Lotus). I’m quite fortunate my wife isn’t a mind reader. Because had she suspected that my reason for wanting the name Elise was primarily it’s connection to the electric vehicle revolution and more specifically the Tesla Roadster I would have most assuredly lost the endeavor. And to this day it is one of my favorite victories.

    I share this story here in the hopes that after nearly 6 years, at least one person besides myself will finally be able to understand the pride I have for my Firstborn’s name.

  17. Hey Jack
    Been thought experimenting, again.
    If Jehu’s experiment goes well would you considering to bulk buying suitable 18650’s kitted with all the bits to make automotive packs? I’ve seen the energy densities and they are amazing. Up to 10KWH per cubic foot.
    Obviously a top price option for those who have volume or weight restrictions.
    Buying enough would expand the income base for selling fewer cells (hobby/trial) for more money which will help spread the gospel to the true path of the home brew vehicle.

    1. I’ve looked at it Andy and I have worked out kind of a neater way to do al lthat (I think) than the little plastic jobbers. It would take $1500 or so for the aluminum form but that’s not the problem.

      The current output of these cells is rather small. Seven or eight amperes comfortably. So you need rather a lot of them to do say 500 amperes each module has to be 60 or 70 cells.

      Let’s say 50 cells will do 350 amperes and that probably works for the AC systems we’re doing. And let’s price them at $7.50 each. That’s $375 per module for basically a 150 AH cell. Do you start to see the problem coming here. I sell 180Ah cells for $249 now and they are really 200Ah and put out 1800 amps. And that is just the cells. We need copper plates on both ends, wire welded to the cells, and plastic to hold them together.

      A 400v pack of course at 150Ah is indeed 60kWh. And 5000 cells . But you’re talking $37,500 in cells alone. And probably more like $50,000 with the rest of it.

      In the quantities Tesla buys them, they are probably getting them for $2.50 each. That’s more like $125 per module, but still $12,500. They undoubtedly have $20K in their pack.

      So there is kind of an enormous difference between Tesla buying millions of them direct from Panasonic, and me buying thousands of them from a Chinese trader who is buying them from Panasoic, marking them up and selling them to me. Then I mark them up and sell them to you.

      Do I exaggerate? Here’s some at about $10 each. These are the cells. You can get them on eBay now.

      I love Jehu, but if you follow his builds, nothing ever really turns out for him. He’s a little too tricky by half. And the multiple cells isn’t really going to work out either. He’s starting with laptop packs nobody wants for a laptop. Discards. You can’t really do that with batteries guy.

      His charger didn’t really work. His instrumentation is flashy, but it doesn’t really work. Even his AC-50 had to go to the factory to be set up personally by Brian Seymour. You’ll see video of him going down the road using these modules. But he wont’ drive that bus far before the batteries have a problem. We’ve kind of joked him into making a couple of changes so it wouldn’t fail in a fireball.

      His spirit of adventure is infectuous. His engineering is not the best.

      And the economics of this is not good.

      We continue to look at it. But I really have never thought those cells were the way to go, and I still don’t. They are much more dangerous than LiFePo4 cells. And harder to engineer a good battery pack. The energy density is of course very nice.

      We played with A123 cells a lot because they offered such a stark increase in power density. These cells offer a similar increase in energy density.

      For cars, we like prismatic LiFePo4 cells. I’m finding my better place pack nearly impossible to bottom balance.

      The new CAM cells are a step function in energy density.


      1. Seen a ghost in Jack’s garage.

        Is he part of the video?

        Daydreaming of batteries Jehu style. They promissed a 100 kW battery and more than 600 miles range for the i-MiEV – in ten years.

        Jehu could double my range today, would fit in the same space. We need people like Jehu to keep our spirits and his dogs seem to trust him.

        In the meantime trying to Arduino my ancient PS15 power supply unit into a charger and bottom balancer. Not for 18650 cells.

        Peter and Karin

      2. Doug Ingraham


        I did what I have been thinking of as an express bottom balance on my pack and it survived an event handily. What I did was to set my hobby discharger to its highest discharge rate (30 amps) and a cutoff of 2.5 volts and discharged every cell that way once. I reasoned that fine tuning the bottom by voltage is not actually doing anything productive. When you drive your car to a standstill you are doing this at some reasonable battery current. With this technique the cells are bottom balanced taking into account the voltage sag characteristics of that particular cell at a reasonable discharge current. The one variable you can’t account for in a bottom balance of any kind is temperature but this doesn’t seem to be much of an issue and unless you want to build a temperature controlled and insulated battery box you can’t do anything about it anyway. I don’t think polishing the discharged resting value hurts anything because the amounts of charge you are adjusting are only a few mah anyway. I suggest an experiment to see if it matters with the Better Place cells. Use the Power Lab to discharge each cell to 2.5 volts at the highest current it will do. Do this with four cells and then wire them in series. Instrument with four volt meters and cycle with your rig at whatever rate you deem comfortable recording the last few minutes of the volt meter reading on video. The cells should all track down at the same time in the last few seconds despite the fact that the discharged resting voltage is not precisely the same. The LiPo type cells seem sag more at low SOC and to be more springy than LiFe. It probably has to do with clutter in the nightclub slowing people down coupled with the level of inebriation when they are trying to go home .

        Like Kevin I am looking forward to watching CALB CAM batteries discharge in this weeks show.


  18. Brian McDaris

    I have a question about the idea of antennas buried in the road bed. Back in the late 1990s I was on the wrong end and entirely too close to a set of radio jamming equipment and was cooked a bit for my trouble. For perspective, it was a lot but for only a few seconds. How many watts would these antennas be emitting?
    Brian McDaris

    1. Brian, big difference in effect between microwaves and VLF. The latter is more like an extremely fast spinning magnet against the other which resembles deep heat.

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