Ok..Maybe it was Just a Little Gas Pain

rickardIt’s been a strange week. Friday is here and we film our video this afternoon. This one includes a major falling on our sword issue over the recently announced project to reverse engineer the Tesla Model S.

We’re a bit giddy here at EVTV these days and it mostly revolves around the Generalized Electric Vehicle Control Unit or GEVCU. There are less than 50 of these in the world as best as I can tell though we have more on order. The detritus of gathering together the little bits of this – the boring part, has proven remarkably onerous. We have a wire harness manufactured for it and it is amazing how infrequently purported professional cable manufacturers are able to actually get the right wire on the right pin one time in a row.

The enclosure should be a no brainer – put the board in a metal box and go. But we’ve managed to make it a big production with end plates that have to be precision machined to accommodate the connectors and antennas, we actually have to CUT the closest box we could get to length, and we make a printed plate showing the pinout to stick on it.

But it is already having a remarkable effect.

The box serves a couple of purposes all revolved around getting YOU access to OEM quality components for your electric vehicle builds. As publisher of a weekly video I’m a little unclear as to how we wound up in the middle of all that, but there is a clear need for a transformation in the components we use for electric vehicles. The venerable series DC fork lift motor has served remarkably well as far as it has come. But frankly the batteries have pretty much disabled it. By that I mean it is now possible to put enough energy storage in a vehicle to drive it at a continuous rate long enough to bring out the underlying problem with the series DC motor – heat. Thirty minutes on the freeway pretty much melts one of these puppies to slag. Not immendiately evident prior because we were not ABLE to go down the freeway for 30 minutes at speed. Now we can do an hour. But the motor can’t. Not with blowers. NOt with anything.

My Cadillac Escalade can theoretically do 100 miles on a charge. It never has. I dare not. It has two forlift motors in it with no internal fans at all. And although we have external blowers, even if we had both, I can tell you that an hour and a half on the freeway and I just wouldn’t have a motor. It’s great bopping around town. But if I took off for St. Louis, my odds of arriving are approximately zero. The batteries would be happy. But the motors would not.

In recent years there have also been some brush issues. And many of these have caused frame leaks on carbon bridges within the motor.

The holy grail among DIY builders has for years been a 100-150kw 3-phase AC system for under $10K. In the past two years, they have emerged and it simply makes the world different. But along the way we found manufacturers of high quality 3 phase systems used by the automotive manufacturer just recoiled in horror at the idea of selling the motors to individual end users. And the excuse given was really pretty good – actually unassailable. In selling 50 motors to a small developer, they have to provide a certain level of product support for them to use it. In selling 1 motor to one individual who will NEVER buy a second motor, almost exactly the same level of product support is theoretically necessary, and as those individuals normally lack formal engineering training and are largely working alone without benefit of supporting team members, the product support/educational load is actually HIGHER for the single unit sale.

And so a two tiered system has kind of evolved where ONE motor and controller is $25,000, and you can have 20 of them for $120,000.

The place where the wheels come off is grandiose plans and promises by startup OEM manufacturers. Azure Dynamics was a high flier and going to sell at least three brazillian eTransit Connects. We bought 60 Siemens motors at the bankruptcy auction. Note that Siemens DELIVERED those motors and more, but most likely was never paid for them in full. And through the miracle of bankruptcy, the motors could be sold to satisfy ALL the debtors, and Siemens got 4 cents on the dollar. Worse, they had 100 more motors on the dock ready to ship to AZD that were never delivered. And they were sufficiently peculiar as to be essentially unsalable to any other would be manufacturer. The new blood is going to have slightly different needs and specifications for their project. And these motors just can’t be used. We wound up buying those too.

CODA presents almost exactly the same story here. And UQM was the victim in this case. They sold 81 cars and filed bankruptcy with impressive haste. UQM was not only not paid for much of the product received, but currently carries an inventory of aging inverters and motors on their books valued at $7.9 million. THey don’t precisely specify just how many motors and controllers that IS, but it’s a problem.

There were around 100 CODAs put together but which had never received batteries. We bought 10 of them and simply had the interesting components removed and shipped to us.

Now back to the GEVCU and the product support issue. The model that has emerged is for the equipment manufacturers to offer a basic set of inverter and motor, or charger, or DC-DC converter, that is controlled via the Bosche Controller Area Network or CAN. This is kind of a very minimal protocol that is designed to be robust in an automotive environment – a pair of wires driven differentially and largely resistant to noise over the short distances used inside a car. Like most networking protocols, most of the intelligence is in the network layer or application layer in the SOFTWARE at each end. So the Vehicle Control Unit VCU is where the intelligence is kept.

With no help from anyone at AZD or Siemens, we (big we – lot’s of people outside of EVTV but largely Collin KIdder and myself) were able to decode the firmware flashing issues and the CAN commands necessary to drive the Siemens motor. And I’m pleased to report that the motor/inverter/GEVCU combination works amazingly well in the probably at this point lone VW THING build that it runs in. I REALLY expected more of a fight. More development effort. It just drives. Quite well in fact. It FEELS good and is LESS complicated than anything we’ve had to deal with before.

And that enables those who have purchased well over half the Siemens motors we had to likewise reproduce this. They won’t get any support from Siemens or AZD. AZD no longer exists and Siemens knows nothing of the GEVCU. So product support is largely a function of the forums and discussions and posted experiences offered by the larger community of users under the open source rubric GEVCU was developed on.

In the case of the UQM Powerphase 100, UQM was understandably a little butt sore on the whole topic of the CODA bankruptcy, but it didn’t matter. This was the OEM vanilla version of the motor and inverter that allowed CODA to rewrite the intelligence in the inverter to match what they wanted to do in their own Vehicle Control Unit. The result doesn’t work like UQM’s normal motors and inverters, and so it’s unclear that they even KNOW how it works to any detailed degree. And of course CODA is long gone at this point.

We were able to reverse engineer most of it, but got stalled on a single byte that was basically designed to prevent us from doing just that. Fortunately Collin Kidder was able to decode it. And I’m very pleased to report that yesterday afternoon, I actually got a GEVCU controlled Siemens/DMOC pair to act as a load in regenerative braking to produce current. And another GEVCU with some code modified specifically for the UQM Powerphase 100 was turning the shaft. I have been able to turn the shaft of the UQM, but as of yesterday evening, I can do so under an adjustable load. And that lets me put it under power. We went to 3000 rpm and 60 Newton Meters yesterday. More to come today.

And so a bit giddy from our success, I announced this week a program to thoroughly document the Tesla Model S. Hoping to bring together an enthusiastic team to embark on this adventure and reverse engineer a car that isn’t actually bankrupt. A vehicle still in production and my pick as the BEST electric car in the world.

The objective, again, is to get YOU access to Tesla drive train and other component parts which will eventually, and really pretty soon now, be readily available as more TEslas are wrecked. Indeed, the Tesla performance is sufficiently “hot” that we’re seeing a LOT of wrecks from a very small body of operating cars. I’m seeing Corvette level car insurance premiums for TEslas if this keeps up.

And to bring a little attention to the process, I launched an Indigogo campaign to raise money for the effort. Actually it was more to raise awareness level and publicity for it.

A couple of things happened along the way. I have been besieged recently by very demanding electronic mail “requests” basically for product support on batteries, motors, and controllers. One guy bought a Siemens Motor CONNECTOR from EVTV, but wanted a full course in how to do batteries, motor, controller, etc. I hate to be too commercial on this, but he was one of nearly a dozen just in teh last week who really feel ENTITLED to our help, on products they bought somewhere else for less money.

I actually have a guy from Moscow, who I kind of like really, crawling up my ASS with hourly requests for updates on our UQM efforts. He did buy a GEVCU from us, to run the CODA hardware he also bought out of the bankruptcy. By purchasing a GEVCU, he is ENTITLED to software that technically doesn’t exist! I haven’t written it yet! I’m working on it now, but its a long way from being ready for prime time. As I said, I got the thing moving under load YESTERDAY.

To top it all off, my POSTER child for teh reuse of Tesla components has to be Otmar Oebenhoech. Otmar had agreed last year to KEYNOTE our EVCCON this year. But his project to marry a wrecked Tesla to a rusty Vanagon fell a bit behind schedule. And so now he has backed out. While I just don’t do such things, I took it in good spirits and tried not to let it bother me. But the one person on the planet a HACK team approach to reverse engineering the TEsla would benefit, turned me down cold on the request to publicly be part of the project. He has “inside” connections at Tesla he is fearful of alienating and as long as he gets his, he really doesn’t care about the DIY guys at all. Indeed, he acknowledge he would be glad to use anything we found but it was to be a one way relationship, he wasn’t sharing any of his hard won knowledge and he was focused on “getting his project” working.

I was suddenly seized with the hard edged negativity of it all and a kind of lonely feeling of being the only savage on the buffalo hunt. I’ve got a few hundred vultures hanging from the trees looking hopeful waiting for the next morsel I turn up for their use, without offering any support at all – in this case even salutory.

When I look around at an unfinished Ghia project, a carbon fiber speedster never begun, a DOKKA project that I actually BOUGHT and paid cash for from Otmar, and a whole series of small but important electronic and software development projects such as the UQM object module, a very exciting BMS project I’m working on with Ed that is going to require a LOT of software, another little JLD505 project I’m working with Paulo on that will require some software, a whole line change we are undergoing on CAN bus controlled chargers, workup of the Scott Controller, a GEVCU object module for the Rinehart Controller (we have less than 20 DMOC645’s left) I went into a full bore panic. I’ve got three years worth of stuff to get done by the end of the year, and I’m announcing that we are going to reverse engineer the TESLA. ANd I’m collecting money (read obligation to perform) from the IndieGoGo campaign. We had already picked up $850 in the first two days with no promotion at all even on our own show – beyond a blog entry here. What was I thinking?

And not for our many viewers and people who DO support us – largely for the meager spirited vultures who are entirely self centered and in it for what they get for themselves.

So I tried to put the IndieGoGo campaign on hold while I worked through the implications of this, and found to my amazement that there is no mechanism to do so. And on conferring with their product support, indeed I found that they don’t let you stop your campaign at all. In fact, even after it is over it is there forever. This is mentioned nowhere in their comeons and exhortations to start your campaign. I’m sure it exists somewhere in the hundreds of lines of Terms of Use that no one reads anyway. But it certainly wasn’t evident. I asked them if they were sure that’s what they wanted and they assured me it was. So I did a little editing and the results are a bit humorous. Now for a mere $5000 donation, you too can be a named plaintiff in a class action lawsuit.

We will of course be refunding the $850 to our supporters in this. Yes, it was a good idea generally. But I’m not feeling up to it at the moment. The negative “dark” side of coming face to face with the “me, me, me, and only me” generation has left me breathless. I always struggle with reality moments and there is a certain side of humanity I normally try to shield myself from seeing. In my world all people are perfect beings made in the image of God and of generous nature and kindly disposition – and of course honest to a fault. Moments of contradiction of that are very unpleasant for me. I’ve been having a lot of those moments this week.

And it should be a very GOOD week. We have first turn with the UQM under load. The software is working amazingly wall and with inordinately good control over the motor. It is very smooth. The THING is a delight to drive. And my focus SHOULD be on GEVCU. It IS the CAN opener that gives us access to those salvage parts ultimately and currently we have three or four versions all badly out of sync with each other. I am literally surrounded by test benches and projects needing immediate attention and indeed I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all WITHOUT the OPEN SOURCE HACKER’S GUIDE TO THE TESLA MODEL S.

I confess Elon Musks manifesto made me a little giddy. He’s not about to “open source” anything. It’s actually a rather cynical ploy to dominate the electric vehicle manufacturers world – not an entirely bad outcome I’ll readily admit. But it has nothing to do with us. We’ll have to pry every part from his clenched fist one piece at a time.

Like the old bull said, “Naw…. let’s WALK down and get em ALL.”

47 thoughts on “Ok..Maybe it was Just a Little Gas Pain”

  1. I totally understand. I would, however, like to offer this: To anyone else – are you interested in reverse engineering of OEM hardware? Do you want to know the inner workings of a Leaf? A Tesla? I’m still up for it. I’ll try to reverse engineer the hardware in anything that a group of people want done. So, the idea is not necessarily dead but I understand why it might not fit into the EVTV plans at this point in time. And, I have no idea if it is possible to crowd source enough money to buy a wrecked vehicle and make this work. Maybe that won’t happen. Still, I’m the curious sort. Even if a plan cannot come together to get an EV for reverse engineering I’d still kind of like to write some reverse engineering tools. So, anyone interested in writing some software -> hit me up for that too. I’m not too terribly hard to get a hold of so anyone who still “has a dream” can come find me.

    1. Reverse engineering of CAN message digests for EV components is pretty much our way of life going forward. I’ve simply pulled back from the concept of tackling the toughest nut in the chest as major and immediate project.

      I think the GEVCU itself could be developed as a CAN logging tool and working either through bluetooth, wifi or serial port, it could be coupled with a laptop and application to be quite a powerful set of tools.


      1. Ok, makes sense. Thanks for the clarification. The GEVCU hardware could be used as a can logging tool. I’m not sure that it is up for serious use though. When I was investigating the DMOC firmware upgrade traffic I could not use the GEVCU hardware to do the data capture. It would miss frames at the speed that the firmware update was going at. The KVaser hardware would not miss frames and it was the only hardware I had access to that didn’t miss any. So, I’m leery of this situation playing out with reverse engineering. However, I suppose it isn’t super critical to get every single message with no misses. If the hardware can capture 95% of them you’d still get a good sense of the bus traffic. The advantage that GEVCU hardware has is that you can load it with custom firmware to make it a specialized reverse engineering tool and have it do some of the heavy lifting for you. It also does have digital and analog inputs so the current sensing idea could be baked into the reverse engineering firmware such that the box specifically reports the sender and receiver of all messages so long as you’ve got enough sensors installed and enough inputs. This would be an exciting feature that I’ve never heard of any other device having. If it worked it would be completely game changing and people would buy the GEVCU hardware just for that purpose alone. Now someone just has to prove that such a thing is even possible to do. I gave it a quick stab and failed but that doesn’t mean it can’t work.

          1. That UQM from the Coda is a super smooth system now that you have the CAN sending at 10ms.
            And my hat stays in the ring. I’m happy to help where I can.

      2. Have you investigated Wireshark for decoding the CAN bus? That’s what we used for an automotive project a few years ago. You still have to reverse engineer the meaning, but at least the parsing is done for you.

        1. To be honest, no. But, it’s because I don’t consider canbus to be particularly difficult to parse. When dealing with it you have an ID and up to 8 bytes. That’s hardly complicated. Sure, there is standard/extended/remote and data length but still the actual protocol is extremely simple. Now, some vehicles might use higher level protocols like CANOpen or J1939. In that case it might be handy to use something like WireShark to interpret the higher level protocol. I haven’t actually seen too many instances of higher level protocols in electric vehicles. Though, I would imagine devices from the big auto makers might use them. Do you know if it is possible to directly use a KVaser Leaf Light with wireshark? Googling seems to suggest that the source code for wireshark has a reference to the leaf light.

  2. Jack,

    I am willing to help and want nothing for my efforts. I am sure you know this, but wanted to make sure that you did.

    I can tell you that the Tesla will be a thought nut to crack without some inside info. I did a quick scan and got a nasty note from Tesla about it…

    I will contact you about the boat. I am sure I can get the motor attached to the input shaft of the the pump with something shinny enough for you to be happy with it… I could even make the battery boxes if you want me too, but I know the motor adapter is the tough part, the rest is basic stuff…

    1. Jeff:

      You’re in. Can think of no one better or that I’d rather.

      Had I known you were available, I would have just had you pick it up in Alpharetta. I thought you were busy. But we can sure go with it now.

      Your fabrication skills are worlds beyond ours and you have more electric boat history than anyone I know.

      Jack Rickard

      1. Jack,
        you are not alone. You have your army.

        If “you” hacked Coda and UQM “you” can hack anything including Tesla.

        Hacking Tesla might even be easier. It is a couple of Linux boxes after all and you can run each of them in a virtual box. The kernel is open. So is most of the software.

        Crypeted commmunication protocols? No way, the are NSA-bugged already. Makes things a lot easier to outguess.

        Always look on the bright side of life and leave bankrupcies to the bankrobbers. They are more accustomed to the dark side.

        Peter and Karin

        1. I’m sure we could do it Peter. My fear is of all the OTHER cool things we couldn’t be doing while it consumed us. My plate is a little full right now. But it would be a tough nut to crack with a lot of mysteries and dead ends. It’s a little too far removed from making things move. But yeah, if I come by a wreck cheap and glean the drive train all this could change in a moment.

          Jack Rickard

      2. I am pretty sure Anne has far exceeded my EV boat experience… Most of my EV boats were displacement boats. I do know a little about high speed planning hulls and how the structural systems should work in a boat… Most of my boating experience is with bass boats. I can show a few tricks to get 5mph more out of one with with a block sander and straight edge…

  3. Jarkko Santala

    I suppose a reasonable thing to do at some point would be to make GEVCU run the Tesla powertrain – just the motor and the inverter, that is – like with CODA and Azure, but perhaps a little later, like once you’ve finished with all of those other little projects you’ve got going there. 😉

    1. Running a Tesla from an alternative software source might be a benefit:

      Some of us are very much afraid of cars calling home before charging, calling home before opening the doors, calling home before running, calling home and telling somebody whom I dont even know where I am and how I am doing.

      That is why Karin and me are driving an i-Miev after all. Ours is bare bones. It has got an ancient radio without CANBUS and navigation and no cellular phone but we have got a hamradio in case we might need charging in a hostile environment.

      Oh, there are lots of ethernet sniffers and BackTrack operating system (a hackers linux). I guess that is where to look at when Tesla is wishing you good luck with a CANBUS analyzer.

      Why not hack an operating system (linux distro) called Edison to run a Tesla?

      It will take one man one hundred years but we can always ask a woman to join us. A mere thousand people can do it in less than a year. The more fun the more people but no more IndieGoGo, please.


      Not a friend but an ally may be? They’d wet their pants for an Android running a Tesla 🙂

      Peter and Karin

  4. I am still looking forward to doing the Hack Team Thing. I can understand priorities and that it was not the right time for EVTV to support it. But do you think that we could still do shirts and mugs and perhaps sell them in the store/ And Or give them away as rewards for data analysis and positive feedback and good hard work? Just my thoughts. Oh by the way it does not matter to me which vehicle we do, but doing something like a leaf would allow more people to participate in acquiring hardware… ie buying an inverter off ebay or a wrecked leaf from auto be yours. I would be willing to do schematic capture and datasheet lookup for any hardware components that we look at, I am in the process of drawing up the Better Place Pack BMS. It is quite difficult due to the high quantity of custom NEC chips in the device.

    1. Robert,

      games are not made for the winner but for the benefit of the losers. Mind the ABBA song “The Loser takes it All”. Wars are not particularly nice games but game theory applies to them all the same.

      I am glad we (germans) lost the war and I am not keen on starting another one for the benefit of others.

      There are far more losers than winners in most games so the right time to start is when your chance to lose is best.


      dont enjoy losing too very much. I am sure the gods enjoy laughing at us a lot more than weeping about us. The time is chosen and Elon is interested as much in the outcome as we are and most likely he will give us a clue just to make things more interesting.

      Peter and Karin

      1. Stanley Cloyd

        I really enjoyed Anna’s last boat video. The changes in it’s noises were positive. I’m sure when he does Jack’s short proposed test plan good info for others will result. Jack’s new boat in the shop will benefit from the jet drive in potentially two ways. Firstly that thrust reverse-r bucket eliminates the need for a gearbox reverse. Secondly the impeller/case has the potential to be designed to run direct drive in harmony with the torque/speed curve of the electric motor. Because of the dreaded banjo effect I’d want, at a minimum, a Goodyear balloon type rubber coupling between the motor and the impeller (laser aligned) even when the pump curve and the motor curves are optimally matched for the hull design it’s all installed in. We know that pumping losses (hydraulic friction) of the enclosed jet pump will always be higher that an open prop but when transmission losses have been eliminated part of those losses are recovered. As far as the efficiency loss that cannot be engineered out just remember I’d rather be around an inherently safer jet drive anytime I’d have to be in the water around a boat. Ask any Florida Manatee why. I’ve always had a spare prop on board when cruising the Mississippi because it tends to be quite trashy and has rocks on the bottom you usually can’t see. I was involved with testing the Army’s ribbon bridge erection boat decades ago. It was an aluminum welded hull as is Jack’s toy under construction. They had twin Ford Saber diesels hooked to Dowtey jet pumps direct drive. When soldiers ran one aground at full speed on a gravel bar it still ran well the rest of the day. Punishment duty for snuffy was to pry all the rocks out of the suction screen with a crowbar after the next morning formation. In durability and acceptance testing there is never any paint left on the bottom afterward anyway.

        1. I guess Jack wants to avoid hitting the ground with a propeller in the first place. With a jet you may slide over banks of sand if not over small islands. Jetting from ship to ship may include crossing coral reefs.

      2. My guess is that Jack doesnt want to void the warranty on his WIFES new Tesla. Or take away any drive time fiddling with CanBus scanning exercises. I faced a similar choice a while back: proceed with with refurbing my EV Rabbit (affectionately referred to hereafter as the RustBunny), or get my darned lawn mowed. My wife decided (correctly) on the latter, and so, I have using my converted electric riding mower for the last several years. But I am biding my time. Soon, the I will have both the time and resources to tackle to RB. Until then, keep cracking them codes, and living the dream. I will join you all shortly. in the meantime Happy 4th of July everyone!

        1. No, I don’t think CAN sniffing would void any warranties and if Tesla differs in that opinion it would be very interesting to litigate and I don’t mind that either. We have plenty of cars and the wife would support it = she’s become quite an enthusiast with regards to the electric cars all the way around.

          But it’s a big task. The crowdfunding sort of brings in another level of pressure and obligation I am not quite ready to deal with. And it dawns on me we just have too many projects going too many directions all at once.

          In a way, its a sign of good times. Lots to pick from. But a little overwhelming. I’m “cavitating” here with too much to do and actually getting LES done from all the strain of “focusing” on twelve things in all directions at once. That is a LACK of focus and so my efficiency curve is under serious attack.

          It was a marvelous notion and I’m kind of crushed by the realization that while it’s imminently doable, it’s NOT doable along with everything else all at the same time. You can have ANYTHING you want but you can’t have EVERYTHING all simultaneously. It just doesn’t work.


          1. Jack – I think you are right. There are times when the good can be the enemy of the best.

          2. I had a similar reaction from the Mrs. when we bought our Ford CMAX. At first she couldn’t understand why in the world we would want to plug the car into the wall. Now, its HER car, and she takes great pride in driving it daily to and from work, bugging her employer for charging access, and rarely having to stop at a gas station. It s a persuasive argument to actually live with an EV-like car for a while. After nearly a year she (and I) are proud to be getting an average of over 65mpg, including trips through the mountains of West Virginia. So, we are not fully electric yet. But we finally got all the 2 cycle engines out of the tool shed and off the property. In the mean time, I am glad to win one battle at a time.

          3. Jack, years ago my old firm made the decision to concentrate on “core business” only. What wasn’t, was sold off or outsourced. Often with the guys skills, equipment, stock and machines. Profitability went up on all fronts and certainly reduced the excess of middle management.
            Think on. Core business only. You are opening up many avenues for business ventures; if people care to take a bite of this apple.

    1. The DOKKA is a 1990 vehicle. There is no data to log really. It is a simpler vehicle from a simpler time. I am considering using a UQM in the DOKKA just because I think it is important to get something on the street with this motor for further testing.

      Jack RIckard

  5. Brian Wightman

    I think the key to getting people off your back (primarily the freeloaders) is to provide sufficient documentation and then point to it when people have questions. The documentation should be written at expert level with little hand-holding. In my opinion, C/C++ code with a few thrown-in comments and a schematic should be more than enough to get someone going in the right direction. Any more than this is a waste of time that could be better spent developing and improving your products. Of course, you can and should give your paying customers enough breadcrumbs to find their way back when they start their next EV project.

    In the video, you seem to hint at a secret-sauce voltage and current sensor for battery monitoring. I’m guessing this is the Sendyne chip that was mentioned earlier. After looking at the specs, I was also impressed and bought one myself to integrate instead of using the more stand-alone JLD404. The fact that they even built in isolation between the sensing and comm makes this just dead easy. I plan to log charge/discharge values over time and post some plots of drift and cell ageing.

    1. Mr. Wightman:

      No, there was no allusion to secret sauce. We discussed the Sendyne at length months ago and said at the time we were going to do a BMS based on it. Indeed, I published a specification for a Battery Management System. We don’t have many “secrets” here. What information to repeat over and over sometimes become an issue.

      The GEVCU source code and schematics are of course available. But the manual even goes into detail on the component choices on the inputs and outputs and why they were chosen.

      So far, they’ve been good choices. I have one GEVCU from the assembly house with four bad outputs out of the eight. Beyond that, no hardware failures as yet.


    2. Hi Brian
      The problem with producing even the best quality documentation is that almost nobody will read it!

      I have been selling instrumentation for over 20 years, when I started doing this the manuals we got from our suppliers were..epic! Manuals from USA suppliers were very good, excellent graphics, very detailed but I still used to get the most blindingly obvious questions from customers..”where do I hook up these wires?” etc etc.

      The problem is that people expect instant help when they call a supplier, not totally unreasonable when they spend £5-£10K on equipment. So why should they expect to have to read a manual!

      What we find now with suppliers, Siemens, ABB etc (the Big Boys as we call them) is that they have, rightly, simplified their manuals, just the basics, anything else, “call your supplier”, that doesnt mean call Siemens! As Jack said previously, Siemens are not interested, but also not capable, of supporting individuals who buy their stuff. Its the reseller who gets saddled with that task.

      Our solution when we sell systems with more than one component is to prep everything beforehand, pre programmed as far as possible, fitted with plug connectors (like the GEVCU) so the customer takes it out of the box, plugs it together and thats it…we hope.

      But they still get it wrong sometimes, and being a small player in this market we help them fix it, usually for free, and they usually come back for more!

      Companies now exist whose sole business is helping users “set-up” their home PC,s, Simply because customers cant be asked to read a few pages of a book or even look at the nice graphic sheet that come with them.

      Maybe a company will start up that visits EV suppliers customers and “holds their hand” while they commission their kit, fixed price for one day? $1500?


      1. Mark,
        The disturbing thing to note about all of this is, if someone isn’t capable of following simple instructions without help, maybe they shouldn’t be attempting to build an electric car at all! I know Jack jokes about anyone falling down half drunk being able to do it, but there are many enthusiastic DIY types who really shouldn’t be let near a screwdriver unattended, there is a minimum level of ability needed for this task and reading instructions is one aspect of it lol!!

        1. I agree Paul. The problem is that the people I deal with really should know what there doing! We have found (in the UK) the general skill level of “engineers” has been dropping over the last 10 years, the engineers that knew their stuff are retiring, their replacements havent “served time” as apprentices, they havent got the hands on experience and that means they have trouble with basic fault finding and problem solving, also there are fewer people going into engineering, it just doesnt have the same status as other (lesser!) professions.

          But having moaned about the commercial world, it must be said the DIY EV world is full of enthusiastic amateurs, some good some not so good but above all, they are enthusiasts, and that is a world of difference to a couldnt care less, so called professional engineer.

    1. There is more about Tesla than charging. Jehu’s idea about Tesla style batteries saved an electric bike right now. 24V lithium and one cell dead. Nobody knows the Bull and Mysterious System integrated into the controller and where to get a replacement. Thrown out one cell and replaced it by a notebook battery pack, gone bad. Bike is like new. BMS and charger have not complained about the higher voltage.

      It is the idea taken from Tesla.

      I guess we’ll find more innovation from “real” car makers, except they really dont make elektric cars. But in a Tesla we can see one example how to put it all together in more than one car.

      And then there are motors, gears, batteries and lots of little things – even computers, you can get out of a Tesla. It is an internet cafe on wheels after all.

      Charging might be tricky because they have a different connector in europe. It is not the original Mennekes because that one would melt for sure. Dont know if they have forced air cooling the plug.

      Peter and Karin

  6. I don’t see why someone who has “inside connections” at Tesla would be fearful of alienating them, just by working publicly on an open source project.

    On June 12th, Elon clearly stated (on Tesla’s website) that his patents “…have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology”. Well, if that’s REALLY the case, than this person has nothing to worry about. Unless Musk is just doing this for publicity. Nah.

    1. Exactly. I don’t personally know Elon Musk but he is a billionaire business man. He is not Linus Torvalds. I’m sure he did it as a publicity stunt. As far as I know a CEO can be sued by the shareholders of a publicly traded company for destroying shareholder value. If he thought for a second that he couldn’t turn this into a media circus that makes the company money he wouldn’t have done it. Sorry to be cynical but I don’t really trust any billionaires. He might be a decent guy – by all accounts he is. But he can’t escape what he is and that’s the leader of a very large publicly traded company. Thus anything he says has to be filtered through the CEO bullshit detector. Personally I think we’re going to need some big front end loaders for this.

      There is a big difference between not suing other billion dollar companies if they want to use some of your patents (say, to use the supercharger network) and open sourcing the firmware for everything in your car along with the electrical schematics. From my experience companies puke out their own spines at the thought that their proprietary comm protocols or schematics might see the light of day. As such, I’m sure he didn’t mean that he’s fine with anyone reverse engineering the whole car. Thus, Otmar might have a somewhat valid concern. It *will* piss Tesla off if we reverse engineer the car. At this rate I’m probably not headed toward these company’s Christmas card list. But, I feel like a person should be able to own the things that they own (so to speak). If I want to modify things I own then no one should be able to tell me I can’t. All too often technology companies act as if they are merely leasing you the hardware you buy. That’s wrong.

      1. I buy everything you say here Collin. I’m sure most do.
        Linus and his teams are waged by the way. Usually from firms who use the core commercially to run things from routers, phones, TV’s, nuke plants to… Teslas.
        Many do contribute from the Linux core all the way out for no money and many fall by the wayside when they lose interest.

    1. Michel, I’m impressed!
      Loving the methods to reduce the dead mass they keep on building in. This cannot be over emphasised to the makers of these base assemblies for performance, range and driving load.

      1. michel bertrand

        The weight savings for each motor is around 13 lbs. for a total of roughly 40 lbs.for the three of them.
        I`m hoping that the real payoff is the reduction of rotating mass in the shaft (titanium) of each rotor.
        Titanium is not a cost effective way of doing this, but it sure allows you to reduce the size of all the brackets and cradles and mounts the hold everything together.
        The next time I try something like this, I might use Carbon fiber ,but there is a whole new level of skills to learn, before even attempting that !…..Before I get carried away in a funny white jacket with long sleeves, I`ll finish this and see if it does not blow up. Still a lot of work to do

        1. The only alternative for me would be an EMRAX motor if I’m to make the motorbike of my desires. We are talking ~15lb for ~100hp max, ~50hp continuous; for the small one. It’s used in powered gliders.

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