Apple iCar and the CAN Primer for GEVCU/EVIC – The Only Constant is Change


In 1985 I started a ragged little newsletter titled Denver PC Boardwatch in Denver Colorado listing 218 electronic bulletin board systems. Over the next five years it kind of grew to encompass all that was going on online including online services such as CompuServe, GEnie, and what would become America Online. In 1987 we did a story on TCP/IP networking that really didn’t have much of a name. Most just called it the Network or the Internet – a network of networks.

11 years later I sold a four-color 168-page monthly magazine, quarterly directory, and two trade shows a year to Meckler Media, and then Meckler Media to Penton Media, all in a six month period and found myself entirely cashed out at $38 million.

I was also more or less unemployed. I hung out for a few months, but no one really wanted to hear how I thought it ought to be done any more. So we parted ways mostly amicably. That they slowly tortured and then killed what I had spent 13 years building doesn’t bother me much – any longer.

And so from 1999 to 2008 I was mostly the world’s worst retired person. Me and a set of golf clubs at some of the world’s most exotic resorts is just not something anyone should have to see live. Kind of like a pig with lipstick on a set of roller blades.

Fortunately some interesting batteries led to an even more interesting electric drive 1957 Porsche Speedster replica and here we are – living retirement-free one day at a time.

Along the way, Denver PC Boardwatch morphed into Boardwatch Magazine and actually went through several “changes” of life. You see when we started covering the Internet, it was an impossibly small niche within a larger online community. In 1992 we started to tighten focus on just the Internet. There was great angst in the BBS community and among the commercial online service enthusiasts that we had somehow “abandoned them”. It was actually pretty gradual. We continued covering both to the degree they remained interesting. But Boardwatch soon became entirely about the Internet.

But the Internet grew and pretty soon there was Wired Magazine and Internet World and most computer magazines began covering the Internet. In 1994 Mosaic was released and we did the first story on this new “graphical” web browser along with the definitive tutorials on how to install Trumpet Winsock on your Windoze machine and get Mosaic up and running so you too could “see” Tim Berner-Lee’s “world wide web” of hyperlinks. But very quickly the body politic went to the matter of purchasing wine online and how to find a burp gun for your cat on the Internet. The Internet became very cool.

So we dramatically tightened our focus not just on the Internet, but specifically on the technical heart of the Internet – the large backbone networks and some 7500 “Internet Service Providers” who provided Internet service to the public. We did very technical articles on wireless networking, backbone architectures, routing tricks, and about the onslought of ever newer ever more magical hardware and software allowing faster Internet.

In doing so we became the darling of the netheads in the back room – the guys actually building out the network and frankly that is just exactly where I wanted to be.

In 1997 we developed a very unusual technique for measuring Internet connectivity at a time when it was considered entirely homogenous. To say it was controversial is an understatement. We published our first findings and subsequently endured six months of anger from almost every corner of the network, including multiple and credible death threats. In showing that not all Internet access was created equal, and actually graphing all the major backbones by performance along a series of interesting criteria, we managed to alienate almost every single player in the Internet space at the highest levels of management and of course this put enormous pressure on essentially every single network architect in the space.

It rather blindsided most of them, which was not my intent but could scarce be avoided. There were myriad lofty documents by some of the top PHd’s in networking showing in excruciating detail how terribly and deeply flawed my methodology was and an earnest effort at a coalition to declare the entire measurement theory as bogus and me personally as anathema. There was even talk of having Boardwatch “disconnected” from the Internet. That proved kind of hard to do. The Internet technically sees censorship as damage and routes around it.

The break came with enormous irony. AT&T called several times, first enraged by the poor performance depicted in the story. But eventually we got a call inquiring more collegially into specifically how we performed these measurements. I entertained it and was surprised to find the person I was talking with not only exhibited no ire, but an apparently genuine technical curiosity. Finally they revealed that they had found a router in Chicago that had had a serious programming flaw dating apparently to installation. They wondered if we could help them detect if that was the cause of the performance hit by more accurately narrowing the measurement range.

I acknowledge having all the data to do that, and entered a side bet that I could detect the exact moment they fixed the flow within a one-day time frame given the month they attempted the fix. And the bet was that I could publish the results and they were to back me up on it if I could. If I lied, they would swear to it. They agreed.

We were actually surprised at the results ourselves. We could see an enormous jump in connectivity the MINUTE they minute they pressed the ENTER key. I graphed it rather luridly. We published the before and after performance graphs and good as their word they actually issued a press release acknowledging the routing error and our detection of it. AT&T was unquestioned in the heirarchy.

At that point, it was over. We had indeed put a meter on the Internet and you could use it to detect and repair network faults. It had never been done before. We had measured the immeasurable – and all the theory of why it wouldn’t work by the very august chief priests and pharisees just didn’t matter at all. They trailed off to mumbling and muttering and eventually silence. And they didn’t MISS an issue of Boardwatch after that. It became the holy script. And if your network didn’t show up in the top 10% of backbones, there would be hell to pay.

The company we used to actually make the measurements, which involved about 10 million date points per month, was called Keynote Systems and they went on to do an IPO and provide measurement services to essentially every signficant backbone in North America. I owned a small piece of the company early on and so did rather well post IPO, but eventually disposed of it all and I’m not sure whatever became of them.

This was kind of a big deal all around. At the time, there were some enormous issues revolving around “peering” – who freely exchanged traffic with whom, where, and why. A company called Savvis Communications had entered the fray with what was dismissively termed “checkbook” backboning by actually becoming a customer of MCI, UUNet, Sprint, and several others. You HAVE to exchange traffic with your customers of course. But this tiny group in St. Louis went straight to the top of the charts on performance, and subsequently used this to do an IPO and become a successful backbone provider. But it also established that the MORE you interconnect with other networks, the better your Internet service was. The measurement series kind of ended the debate. In a network of networks, the more networks you are connected to, the better your network – DUH!

All of that to explain the always painful decision to do the same thing with EVTV. It is one of those times to tighten the focus of our publication and basically “fire” some of our admirers.

How do I know it’s time? With some melancholy. George Hamstra of Netgain Motors has kind of relocated north to better fishing and pretty much left day to day operations of Netgain Motors to his son Hunter. And most of the business has gone OEM specialty with clients such as Zamboni – the ice grooming machine.

Sebastian Bougois has closed the doors on long time converter and parts house REBIRTH AUTO. The EVnetics sister company DOES continue in business – mostly doing huge PWM controllers for railroad locomotive applications – though they will still build you a Soliton1 if you need one. He’s focusing mostly on his solar installation business these days.

A few years ago we sent our intern Matt Hauber west to find his dreams in San Diego with $1000 we gave him for a Siemens motor we had no actual use for – or even a pinout for though he PROMISED to get us one (still waiting Matt). He quickly found financial backing from Michael Bream after converting Michael’s pickup truck – founding EV West. Why is it EV West? It’s west of EVTV.

We learned this week that after pouring his soul into this startup day and night, young Hauber has left EVWest and gone out on his own doing conversions. A conversation with him yesterday indicates he couldn’t be happier. He is doing VW conversions and was working on an H2 Hummer hybrid project that could wind up being a huge deal. He has a new finance he rather fancies (actually he’s gone goofy over this lady), bought a condo in Oceanside, and life is good.

While that rather guts the technical expertise at EVWest, Bream and a new investor, Hutchison, have teamed with an early EVTV contributor Jesu Garcia to do a brand new EV show titled, comically enough, the EVShow. It’s young. It’s Hip. It’s got good music. And it’s very SoCal. And apparently about young guys in Southern California with cool electric cars. Very polished. I was impressed. Technically a train wreck with Jehu apparently providing the brains, his description of batteries is comical. Don’t try ANY of that at home.

But I must say that Bream is a talent on a skate board and driving around in the San Diego sun in an all electric Factory Five Racing model 818 and sunglasses is definitely cool – edgy and hip all around.

In my mind, being a 59 year-old multimillionair genius with a gorgeous black wife who has a PHd, a Huey helicopter, a Lear jet and two DC-3’s, ratings to drive them, FIVE gorgeous daughters and a shop to play with electric cars all day, and a bedroom office overlooking a cliff onto the Mississippi river, I’m a couple of light years past cool. I am so cool I can wear yellow shoes and pull it off.

So it’s time to concede pseudo cool to the newbies, and move on. We take it as a sign of the time to move on to a tightened focus at EVTV, though a not unpredictable one. We are going to basically cease promoting electric cars as cool too. I think that is much more established than it was when we started in 2008. We’ll let Starsky and Hutch manage that in the future.

We are going to focus on more modern AC drivetrains, controllers, batteries of course, and the deep electronics needed to integrate that smoothly and effectively in your custom electric vehicle build. We will be, if anything MORE technical and MORE boring to the masses seeking environmental nirvana and perpetual motion.

The only constant is change. And this one is for us, both necessary and foreseen early on having been through it at Boardwatch. Time to tighten the focus and up the game. But I do struggle to picture how the environmentally concerned plug-in america types, along with Nicky Gordon-Broomstick will view our description in this episode of how CAN works between the GEVCU, JLD505 and EVIC – all acronymious enough to glaze anyone over.

This kind of means a sad farewell to some of our loyal viewers but it is just inevitable. I’m just not taking calls anymore on how to get a terminal program up in Windoze. If you don’t know, you should really see EVShow – it’s kind of designed for you. I was sorry to see some of our very ardent BBS operators leave us, and I am truly sorry to lose you too. But we adapt or die. And as the genre grows, we have no aspirations to own it all. We just want the dead center of it where what WE think is the cool stuff happens.

This episode is mostly about what I’ve actually been doing the past two weeks. Battling the GEVCU and CANDue code to set up a simulation of a vehicle with a UQM Powerphase 100 inverter, a JLD505 battery monitoring device, and Brian Gallagher’s brilliant and evolving Electric Vehicle Control Interface EVIC. I can’t wait to get one of these installed in the Yellow VW Thing.

But a battle it has been. To let you in on a little of the back room stuff, I have had the CANdue code crashing horribly for a couple of weeks every time the CAN traffic got up to speed incoming from the GEVCU. And it wasn’t just a matter of finding one of my typos in the code. I determined that very oddly, the system worked perfectly if compiled with Arduino version 1.54 and crashed horribly with version 1.58 or the JUST RELEASED version 1.60.

It took DAYS to discover “this was the problem” and it was a bitter discovery. The 1.60 version cuts a full 20KB of executable from the GEVCU load. Now we are only using 125KB of 525KB available now. But we have to keep an eye on it as the program grows. And to suddenly chop that to 104KB is a big deal. It also takes out a lot of other little bugs and fixes along the way. But it appeared to MURDER my program.

I have to say that Collin Kidder is just becoming key around here. The guy is brilliant. The problem was a lockup when I had debug on and was printing to the screen all the data coming in. The program worked flawlessly without debug. But the whole concept of simulation is that you get to SEE the simulation. He suggested moving to the native USB port from the programming USB port. I thought “fat chance” but tried it anyway. Easy enough to check.

The Arduino Due has two USB ports. One goes through an auxilliary ATMEL chip and uses a serial port on the ARM SAM3X processor. The other is “native” or goes directly in pins on the SAM3X which actually has USB built into the chip. I tried his suggestion with a #define Serial SerialUSB statement which simply reroutes all printing out the SerialUSB (native) port rather than the Serial (programming) port.

The problem went away.

The question is why? All of our CAN work uses what I think is the most elegant library in all of Arduino-dumb, can_due, which was actually written by Collin. At my urging and behest, he had added interrupts to can_due. He calls them “callbacks” as can_due is interrupt driven anyway. But normally you have to poll for inbound traffic and then if it is available do something with it.

I wanted incoming CAN packets to automatically route themselves by interrupt to the exact function in the program designed to deal with THAT particular CAN message ID. In this way, incoming CAN messages would actually interrupt the main program, process themselves, and then allow the main program to continue.

This allows me to have a kind of a state machine with common variables that to most of my code, appear to simply update themselves in real time by magic. Objects that just exhibit the properly updated state all the time. Communications is actually sealed off behind its own walls. This is a favorite architecture of mine and understand, I’ve been dealing with Serial communications since 1979.

Interrupts, unfortunately, involves its own world of pain and tends to go to the heart of the operating system – in this case Arduino itself. And as Collin states, where interrupts come into play “beyond, there be dragons….” So while he gave them to me in can_due, he doesnt’ actually use them himself.

The problem was, when the interrupt stopped the main program, it allowed the serial buffer to overrun – murdering my program.

I’m not used to having compiler issues. A bit beyond my paygrade. But he somehow determined, initially by guess with me verifying the outcome, that there was a conflict between the programming serial port interrupts and the interrupts can_due was using. As the SAM3X actually supports nested interrupts, this was a puzzle.

He actually had to go into the Arduino code to determine an interesting phenomenon. While the SAM3X supports nested interrupts, Arduino doesn’t use them. Arduino treats ALL interrupts equally. By default, it has them ALL set to the highest priority.

Even more esoterically, he figured out how to CHANGE the interrupt. I don’t think I could figure that out in a hundred years.

So the real fix was to set the CAN interrupt to a LOWER value in can_due and he did it with ONE line of code.

NVIC_SetPriority(m_pCan == CAN0 ? CAN0_IRQn : CAN1_IRQn, 12);

Might as well be magic for all I know. I can’t even read it. A one line fix. I’m totally in awe.

Actually this goes back six months to some strangeness we noticed in the UQM Powerphase object module. It would run for 10 minutes and then just quit. The UQM is a bit odd in that it needs its torque command every 10ms – which is kind of a short time period for CAN messages. Using any compiler after 1.54 we would have this problem so we’ve just been using 1.54 ever since. I have not confirmed this on the bench yet, but I would bet $100 that when I do, I will find 1.60 to work perfectly now – with the new can_due. And of course with a 20kb smaller footprint.

Software is its own world of pain – and joy. I actually love to code but other duties normally call. With GEVCU, I’m kind of driven to do it myself often. And so it occupies more of my time. I would not have THOUGHT that building electric cars would get to be C++ intensive, but that’s where we are circa February 2015. As I’m a little rusty, I would be lost without Collin to go to for adult supervision.

Bottom line, make sure you update your can_due library if you are doing any GEVCU or other CAN code on the Arduino Due.

THAT is about as technical as it will ever get, and not likely to be discussed on the show in any event.

For this episode, I attempted to take the mystery out of CAN and show it in action between three devices with a couple of “CAN busses” (two twisted wires) between them.

CAN is actually very EASY at one level. You have 3-digit message ids. That ID defines what the message IS. Nothing to do with sender or receiver. It defines what it IS.

And then you have eight bytes of data in the payload. That’s what it HAS.

If you have a device that has the knowledge to THROW that message ID, and another device that knows to CATCH it and what to do with the data, you’re done.

And it is important to note that all of that can easily coexist on the same two wires that has LOTS of other devices, and lots of other messages, firing back and forth. Practical limit? Say 30 devices on a 500 kbps bus.

The messages DO have a heirarchical priority in the event of bus contention. The lower the message ID, the higher the priority. So your inverter has 0x200 series messages and your display might have 0x600 series messages. Actually ours do.

If you are doing the software on both ends, it couldn’t be simpler.

Reverse engineering is another matter. There are endless ways to represent things in that eight byte payload. In fact, the entire 64 bits could be bit-encoded. If bit 37 is on, the windshield wipers are on. And if it is 0, they are off. If bit 52 is on, your reverse light is on. If you turn it off, they go out.

We covered two ways to represent negative numbers in two byte integers, as well as how to represent decimal numbers in two byte integers. That’s the sort of thing you run into. When reverse engineering, you have to see the action, and observe the changes in CAN traffic, and then try to devine how it is encoded.

This is kind of like working a crossword puzzle. And it works best in collaboration. In doing the UQM Powerphase, I kind of quickly got to how torque was defined in the command message. Mark Wiesheimer kind of quickly got to a sequence number in the right fourbits of one of the bytes, but it took him some further investigation to determine that the left four bits of the same byte set whether the inverter was enabled at all or disabled, and whether it was in reverse or forward.

With all that worked out, there was a last byte in the payload that varied with each message. And if we didn’t have the RIGHT number in that byte, the UQM would simply not work. We fed commands copied from logs in a captured stream from an operating CODA and it ran perfectly. But if we tried to make up our own torque commands, it wouldn’t work at all.

The reason was we didn’t have the magic security byte at the end. This byte ONLY existed to KEEP us from doing what we were trying to do – run the inverter without being part of the CODA design team. It was a security encryption. A cyclic redundancy check byte that used an external polynomial to calculate the result – a password. Alan Turing being otherwise occupied in the next life, Collin Kidder worked it out.

After he explained how he did it, I still don’t understand how he did it.

And so I see a period of CAN reverse engineering as being the key to using OEM power trains and other devices. And GEVCU and EVIC and JLD505 and other devices as how you actually wire them up and use them.

I’m sorry – an AMR motor at $22,000 is not a solution for someone building an automobile. The concept was absurd when AC Propulsion wanted $25,000 for their drive train. It was absurd when UQM wanted $15,000 for their drive train. It was absurd when we PAID $13,000 for the MES-DEA electric drive train. And it is absurd today. I guess I think it goes beyond absurd actually to insulting. There’s nothing there to account for that price. The devices just don’t cost that much.

If you wreck a Tesla, or a Volt, or a Leaf, or an i3, or a Kia Soul, it is extremely unlikely that the inverter and motor even got the word – much less were damaged by it. And currently, in the used/salvage auto market, these devices are TOTALLY without value. So much so that they are mostly being traded in for the metal value in them. The salvage guys aren’t even pulling them and stocking them for the most part. A few are starting to. But an entire drive train is commonly available for less than $2000 and in many cases you can buy the entire wrecked car for that.

We’re currently charging between $5000 and $10,000 for a 100kw drive train. And it was not TWO YEARS AGO that a 100kw AC drive system for under $10,000 was just UNOBTAINIUM. Roving bands of gypsies wandering the land looking for such a thing – no hope.

And so I would predict a collapse in the price of drive trains, IF we can enable that. It is true we are kind of cutting our own throat here in a way as we derive our operating capital from component sales. But we intend to lead it.

Why? You have to keep your eye on the ball. Our mission is to convert all the cars in the world to electric drive -not to sell parts. We think when we reach the point where all in, you can convert ANY car to electric drive in expert fashion, on par with new electric car operation, for $10,000 in components all in, the market for that will be HUGE. There are millions of beloved models out there begging for restoriation – and new life using electric drive. That’s going to require a bit of a decrease in the cost of batteries as well, but we see a perfect storm over the next three years where that is exactly what is achieved.

This is actually very interesting. If you are going to all the work to re-engine a custom car today, you would never dream of using a salvage engine. First, it’s already dirty. But second, it also has wear on it. AC electric motors just don’t work that way. The difference between a brand new one and one with 10,000 miles on it? You know the one with 10,000 miles on it works. If you are just too fastidious for belief, a set of bearings for the motor runs $50 or so. But I would personally prefer the broke-in bearings myself.

We will of course continue news and developments from OEM land as it sets the tone for the future. This week’s article by the Wall Street Journal noting Apple’s probable entry to electric vehicles caused a strange tsunami in my mailbox. Wasn’t this totally bogus and didn’t I agree? Must be 30 e-mails of that sort. Why would I think it bogus? I predicted it coming on three years ago.

Apple now has $178 billion in the kitty and has not come up with a solution to their biggest problem. In order to be a darling high-tech growth stock, they have to keep growing. And the law of large numbers has them in a Mexican death clutch at the moment.

Here are their gross revenues by year

2014 $182.795 billion – growth 6.95% or $11.885 billion
2013 $170.910 billion – growth 9.20% or $14.4 billion
2012 $156.508 billion – growth 44.58% or $48.249 billion.
2011 $108.249 billion – growth 66.36% or $43.179 billion
2010 $65.070 billion – growth 78.07% or $28.53 billion
2009 $36.54 billion

How can $12 BILLION dollars in increased revenue be a problem? When it represents a growth of 6.95%. This company five years ago was growing at 100% per year. You can see from these numbers the rapid DECELERATION in growth.

True, they added a signficant dividend – basically an admission they DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THE MONEY!!!.

To get back to even a MODEST 10% growth they have to find $18.27 BILLION in NEW business this year. Investing in Apple is becoming more of an exercise in buying cash balance than it is high-tech growth investing. And the valuation metrics are VERY different.

To get back to their salad days of 44.58% growth way back in 2012 – they need $76 billion in new business. The ENTIRE automobile business worldwide is only $85 billion if they got ALL of it.

Anything they can acquire in their space that would bring that kind of revenue is an instant visit to Federal court in the U.S and a more aggressive court in Europe on antitrust issues. They badly need an ADJACENT space. That is one that is entirely separate, but will let them use their core competencies to advantage.

And they have $178 billion to spend. Do I believe the story?

I think that if they did as I instructed in 2012, and acquired Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City in a stock swap and immediately pumped $80 billion into it, today they would be on the verge of owning THE satellite network running all of the Internet at gigabit speeds, accessible from anywhere on the planet, and have all three Tesla models in production – mostly at other auto plants in Asia. The Model S would be the original $55K Elon first touted. The Model X about the same. And the coming Gen 3, about now, would be $32,000 – the average car price with a 200 mile range. They would be selling 250,000 cars per year and GM and BMW and VW would be shrieking in terror like eight-year-old girls at a Brownie cookout under attack by boa constrictors.

The Western United States would be entirely solar and moving east at 12 miles per hour.

I don’t think we’d actually be on Mars yet, but if we did eventually go, Apple would own every acre of it.

Steve Jobs basically left his company to an accountant. And that’s just where we are. Seven percent growth and a gold watch – coming in April.

For my money, they are too little, too late, and too lame. But it will STILL be an absolutely industry crushing car.

I’ve never adequately gotten across the chasm of communicating how DISRUPTIVE new technologies are. The concept of the end of land line telephone, spoken in the early nineties, only got me hoots of derision and explanations of how very little and ugly I truly was and how very funny my mother dressed me. That my $5000 360 dot per inch digital camera would do anything to the film camera market was ABSURD in 1994 and I have the very cogent considered e-mail of the experts of the day to prove it.

I say again and only for those with an ear to hear. Picture General Motors and Ford as the walking dead. Toyota – no more – gone in a flash of hydrogen. VW and BMW – goosestepping to irrelevancy. Disruptive new technologies are not very good at live and let live. They don’t coexist with dinosaurs. They cause EXTINCTION. They are toxic to the established order. That’s why we term them “disruptive”.

They couldn’t be touched – way too big to fail:

Western Electric
U.S. Postal Service
Motorola Cell Phone
Full service gas stations with repair bay.

The walking dead now:

Hewlett Packard
Dell Computer
General Motors
Cable Television
All automobile dealers
All book stores
Network Television
Non-satellite radio stations

The question never WAS whether Tesla Motors and Apple computer can compete in the auto market. It is WHOM among automakers can scramble onto the electric drive raft fast enough to survive. I mean even continue to EXIST under that name. AT&T truly did die. They were broken into seven companies, reconstituted under Bell South, morphed into a cellular company, and nothing of the original company and little of their landline business remains at all.

So you CAN survive as a dinosaur, if you drop the whole scale, teeth, reptile, and roaring noise gig entirely and go in disguise morphing yourself into a bird. But most just die.

For them, and for us, the only constant is change. And the Internet itself has not only accelerated the constant, but is constantly accelerating.

Jack Rickard

78 thoughts on “Apple iCar and the CAN Primer for GEVCU/EVIC – The Only Constant is Change”

  1. The ultimate insult – Nerds kicking the grease-monkeys out of their own garages…

    Other than manufacturing economies of scale, electric drive trains should cost less than the ICE/Mechanical Rube Goldberg contraptions we currently flog down our highways.

  2. Tour de force Mr Rickard – a real roller coaster read around so much of it all – and I’m sad to read EVTV is to be unplugged. I’m a simple S&M guy – no shame I tell everyone I meet – but over these past few years I’ve learned a surprising amount from you of the EV thing I love so much. Where will it all end? Where indeed? I particularly like your case for the prosecution in the summing up – as I agree with almost all,of it. I’m both surprised and disappointed we don’t have more folk around like Ian Wright of Wrightspeed – he’s on the money as much as Mr Musk – if not more so. So Jack – fare ye well sir!

  3. This weeks show was pure magic enlightenment for me – thanks Jack. Allan and I have been working on the instrumentation stage of my project and that CANbus plug on the HPEVS harness is calling to us! I have recently moved house – the car is at a storage place with no power and the progress has ground to a crawl, but I have got the power steering completed and I’m working on wiring up the controllers now. Stay tuned for another video update soon.

      1. Jack
        Loved the show this week. The only thing I wished I could seen would have been an analog cluster displaying the same data at the same time using the same CAN messages. I should have sent you a cluster to play with. Also, the data examples pointed to a few minor holes in my software such as a divisor for RPM data etc. Easy to fix.
        Thanks again!

  4. “young Hauber has left EVWest and gone out on his own doing conversions”

    Wow, that is a surprise. I was just at their shop two weeks ago and saw Matt. We did not get a chance to talk much since it was right at closing time. I figured we’d get a chance to talk more on my next visit. Best wishes to his new company…any links to his business online yet?

    1. I get the idea Haub is done with the parts business and the product support desk that goes with it. He’s just having a ball with a new H2 Hummer hybrid concept that even has my attention, and I don’t do hybrids. But this is pretty cool. I don’t know what he’s planning on an online presence. But we are promised video once he’s moved into his new shop. And I think this is going to be something special.

  5. Love the show Jack! Very informative on the CAN messages. Makes me want to get back to looking at the CAN data for the LEAF Inverter and Charger. I was not able to make much progress and I got bored so I went into the garage and installed the motor in the car.

    Thanks, Jim

  6. Jack,

    Its been a pleasure to ride along side with you! I will continue to do so in the future. I am switching from a Warp9 to a AC50. The Warp9 brushes lasted 10k mile and failed, which took out my Soliton1. This had happened once before and EVNETICS had to replace all the IGBT’s. While electric cars may never be maintenance free I feel the AC solution is the best one.

    All the best,
    Aaron Lephart

  7. Jack,
    big thankyou for the electric toy railraid you built to explain CANBUS. Now it fits together.

    Half OT: I got SSR, Simple Screen Recorder working on my i-MiEV remote dashboard. Gentoo, Layman and a lot of other tricky stuff. For those of you experimenting with video it might be worth a try. Probably means the end of RecordMyDesktop and VLC and its halfbred cousin of the avlib tribe.

    Karin and me are missing Brian and Richard.
    Do not repeat that experiment from April 29 2011 with CHAdeMO. I mean the electrically assited precision wirecutter.

    Fuses, shunts and lightbulbs, they are all the same and together with long wires they change roles. That is what I learned when our Christmess Tree shed lights as soon as we changed a burnt one and now I understand why some fuses never blow – not even after a short circuit.

    Peter and Karin

  8. Jack, I don’t know the difference between a GEVCU and a Twinkie-will never know. You are there to figure it out with your elves and that’s all that counts. I am beginning a DC sandrail project with minimal technology and have faith that you’ll help when it comes to the motive system. I’ll keep watching and listening because You Da Man, Dude.
    Thanks again, Rich

  9. Jack, I thought this week’s show was the best in months, but I’m an instrumentation geek. The EVIC is epic. Took me back to 2nd year Computer Science hardware data representation. I agree with the deep tech focus, you’re 5 years in and the EV universe is evolving. I do miss Brain, I hope his parents are doing better.

    I’m still working on getting my GEVCU wifi board firmware flashed, had to install dual-boot real Windows XP, flash the little Arduino transfer program, got about 1 minute into ConnectOne wifi firmware flash then got a comms error… When that’s done I’ll get my Android app talking to it, likely via HTTP GET message(s), no CPU burden on the main board and no add-on Bluetooth dongle, GEVCU web setup screen in an app tab as a bonus…

    BTW, you forgot to mention Anne and his break for independence and upcoming Cheese expo. I’m wondering about the boat he’s building for you…

  10. Jack,

    IMHO, the more technical you make the segments, the better. I’m all in.

    Bring on more of Ed Klausen, more Paulo Almeda, more of your whiteboard/graphics, and more submissions from all the other viewer-makers of their MCU projects for our viewing pleasure. Guys: show me how you go about designing your circuits, how you select components, how you layout a board, how you use you solder-paste tricks for SOT and QFPs, the theory behind it all.

    Bring on more of the “other” Collin (and other code-whisperers), as I would love to see a detailed explanation of how he tamed the magic and illusive Coda-byte and also the MCP2551. I would love to see more discussions around algorithms that process the priority of CAN messages, as well as filtering. Show me a few snippets of code on how to read a temperature sensor or a voltage output. Show me the I2C interface magic on reading that current sensor IC.

    About a year and a half ago, I would have probably told you differently — that I would love too see more about how to bolt an adapter, clutch, and flywheel together — that I would love to see how to connect a controller to a cooling plate, that I would love to see how to build a battery box out of 6061 aircraft aluminum. Back then I couldn’t tell the diff between a CAN o’ Beans and a CAN o’ Bus. But this slight change in EVTV direction, evidenced since the first ponderings of “how do we interface to this DMOC thing?”, has awoken a sleeping EE in me that hadn’t touched a soldering iron in about 30 years, since having converted to the software side way back when. I now find myself ripping around Digi-Key, Newark, Adaftuit, Eagle, and Oshpark, and am actually working on something amazingly quite similar to the Evic, although still pretty custom-built for my specific vehicle and HPEVs set-up. Probably a bit of JLD505 in there, too.

    This all closely, eerily, kind of brings be back to the early 1980s when I bought an Apple II and then proceeded to create an interface card connected to a breadboard with about 2 dozen 7400 series logic chips on it (all purchased from the now defunct Radio Shack, speaking of too big to fail) to run the lights and switches on my Hornby HO gauge model train set. And yes, the Hayes 300 Baud Smartmodem closely followed, and by your history lesson above we know how all that turned out. So today I find that the train set is replaced by a Porsche 911, and the Apple II is replaced by an Atmel MCU and some MCP chips, but the rest of this is like deja vu all over again. I’m livin’ the dream, one 8 mil wire trace at a time.

    – Collin (the Canadian one)

    1. Other Collin here,

      I’m pretty happy to hear of the new direction as well. Obviously I’m a big fan of technical videos. 😉 This week’s video was pretty interesting and I think it will awaken the sleeping giant that are the technical viewers. We’ve already got a good number of us techie people doing reverse engineering and getting things to work but the shifting focus of EVTV toward these technical issues is bound to bring more people into the fold.

      I think that Jack did a good job of explaining canbus in a way that brings it out of the clouds. I did a presentation at the last EVCCON about how I cracked the UQM and Azure security codes but I think it was overly technical in too little time. I saw a video of it after the fact and I did talk for something like 55 minutes straight. But, I essentially condensed both a data algorithms course and hardware structures course into 55 minutes of per mathematics and technical terms. I felt that to explain “how the UQM code got cracked” I’d have to explain how you even get to the starting point. But, it was very fast. So, I can certainly see that it would be beneficial for people to get a much more gentle introduction to it all. I think that the full explanation of how to go from normal person to cracker of canbus codes would be several hours. Personally I think it’s a very interesting several hours. And then there are the other things you mentioned: using I2C, sensing voltage, etc. The potential is there for hundreds of hours of videos explaining all sorts of things. And, sure, if that’s what people want to see I’m willing to submit some video clips.

      In many ways what is going on both at EVTV and out in the rest of the world is very much like the 1970’s through mid 80’s (from what I’ve heard… I was a little kid in the 80’s). At that point you had people assembling their own computers and RadioShack and the like where the places to be. Ham radio was more popular. There was a maker movement. That movement died when consumer electronics hit their stride and economy of scale made it economical to just buy whatever you wanted. But, now we see a maker resurgence where people are willing to tinker again. The success of Arduino and other hobbyist platforms is testament to the new age we’re in. No longer is everyone content to sit back and buy what companies tell them they should. We now have a growing tide of people who want to build.

      So, I’m happy to hear that EVTV wants to go in a more technical direction and I’m happy to hear that so far it sounds as if the rest of the viewership likes the news.

      1. I would thoroughly enjoy a redux of your tech session at EVCCON (mostly because it was a half day before I showed up this year and I missed it).

        My Vote is Aye.

        1. Jack you are cool… we love you and all… but you aren’t really pulling off the yellow shoe thing as cool! I think your coolest moments are driving the ev convertibles with the tops down and the technical sessions at the board.

        2. It is indeed most like the early days of personal computers, when if you could get them to do anything useful, all were in awe and amazement. And almost everyone who bought a computer was a coder. No one else would buy a computer.

          They became more of an appliance and most of the things we were trying to do are now in the operating system or the “suite” from the computer maker. Not much point in writing another one.

          Saleable software tends to be enormous, Autocad, Final Cut Pro, Solid Works, Adobe Photoshop. Just a huge amount of code for one person to duplicate.

          And so the personal computer and the smartphone became appliances.

          Cars and the CAN bus kind of lend themselves to tinkering. And we are of course at the point where all electric car owners ARE tinkerers, much as all PC owners in the early 1980’s were also programmers.

          And yes, the multicontrollers now are very much like the PC was in 1982. They DO have more real world inputs and outputs however – although as pointed out, not so different from the Applebus hardware expansion slot.

          I see programming the multicontrollers and using CAN as a way to access modern vehicles, but more importantly the way to repurpose the sensors and components used in modern cars for building custom vehicles. But that is kind of in the eye of the beholder. A lot of that same knowledge will be used to design little add-ons and geegaws for the Leaf and volt and so forth.

          I guess I think all cars, and most obviously electric cars, have crossed some threshold where they HAD computers to do specific things, to the point where they ARE computers that do lots of things. In any event, the computer geek of 1985 has finally discovered automobiles and I think it is very very interesting.

          I was relating our natural progression as a publication – as the universe grows, we retighten our focus on the center, and we will go through several phases of that. And that’s where I think we add value best.


          1. Sorry, why do I associate appliance and bathroom?

            Maybe it is because I am not a native english speaker. We do have appliances in the german language too but I have only heard about software appliances and only in salesperson talk and I have always asked them whether they are made of porcelain.

            My first computer was a Univac back in the 1960. It was my dad’s computer not mine and my dad was only the boss not the owner of SITA in Frankfurt Main. That was when I went to school for the very first time. Apropos my dad was not the big boss only a litte one but at home he was the big boss.

            Today when I see a computer I cannot programme makes me look for a cord hanging from the ceiling, the flush.

            I did not programme mainframes every day but working for Software AG I did finally. Softpro a much smaller company specialised in OS/2 for the pc, IBM and Hewlet Packard Unixen and IBM big irons like the famous IBM 360. I was working with the pc mostly and I joined classes learning AIX the IBM Unix. Mainframe was on sunset already and the company told me I was too young for the the mainframe.

            In that company the mainframers were old mages with no idea about programming and real computers like the pc. They did not even know how to switch a pc on. We had two mainframes, a small one far too small to do anything useful but it filled two garages in two buildings outside and you had to walk a long way to visit all the parts you needed when booting. The big computer was only as big as a household freezer and it used an OS/2 pc as its console and to switch on its various power supply units.

            The mainframers always watched the IBM hardware maintainers of the big iron and they reengineered the maintainance console. They programmed a real live IBM maintainance console at home and the brought it to the company and ran it on that very OS/2 pc. It took the ignorant IBMers half a day and quite a lot of coffee until we told them how to stop the emulation.

            Ok, it was regular maintainance spending a day drinking coffee. No harm done, no time lost but having a lot of fun. My first computer, the one that really belonged to me was a microprocessor of coarse. But I cannot imagine a computer that I own and that I cannot programme.

            Karin, my wife owns a rather peculiar computer powered from Lithium batteries and a very modded case you can ride in and transport vegetables in it. I am her driver and technican and it is only natural that I am breeding a remote dashboard as a maintanance console.

            I am fond of Damien Maguires video where he replaces one part after another in his still ICEd BMW and feeds in a simulation of an ICE engine to his ECU until it sounds like the motor was running but there is no fuel no exhaust gasses only the spac coils making noise like the old motor was still running.

            With Jack’s model railway on CANBUS I should be able to drive Karin’s i-MiEV without moving it and maybe CHAdeMO it with a chain of 9 volt batteries. Some 36 2/3 batteries should do the trick depending on what they have inside.

            The parts I have got right now are a Gentoo linux notebook with awesome desktop and the Löve library meant for games in the first place but I am glad because of the Lua programming language it seems to become part of the desktop and it can record videos with simplescreenrecorder.

            CANBUS still missing. Little steps first but our WLAN infrared camera is working. A rearview camera not mounted to the rear bumper but to the window in the second floor can be a real help when mooring your car.

            Peter and Karin

      2. If you know enough to know how to do it, generally you know too much to explain it. That’s what makes documenting things so frustrating and a challenge. And that is also mostly what I’ve done with my adult life. Enough have valued that to let me live comfortably and pick my targets freely. But its an area where we can only fail, and winning looks like failing in a lesser degree.

        So don’t feel badly about an overly technical EVCCON presentation. They’re hard to do. The basic approach is to back up and think, “if I knew nothing of this – what would be the most important thing to know to start?” Ok, then what’s the second most important thing. You have to go through a series of these prioritizations.

        And then you cast it in kind of a classic presentation

        INTRODUCTION – why anyone would need or want to know this
        Part 1 – Here’s what I’m going to tell you.
        Part 2. – Telling you.
        Part 3. – Here’s what I just told you.
        END – so long and thanks for all the fish.

        I think a series of 30 minute videos on GEVCU architecture and foundations would be interesting – which could be followed by a kind of step by step on how to write a new object module for GEVCU. With the tickhandling, prefshandling, devicehandling and canhandling, I’m not seeing anyone in Arduino space doing anything APPROACHING this thing. Explaining it would be a challenge.

        But video wise it’s actually prettty easy. Apple’s Quicktime actually let’s you do screen movies while recording voice. There are similar programs for Windozer.

        Jack Rickard

        1. You’re right on all counts really. People who know enough about a topic tend to speak over the heads of other people. But, Einstein did once say “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” So, that’s sort of humbling. But, I do think that I could do it. And, well, the proof is in the pudding. I wouldn’t expect anyone to believe one way or another but I do think I have what it takes if I slow down and follow your basic outline. So, I think I’ll see what I can do. If the first step works then there might be a second, then a third. There are lots of topics to cover in the reverse engineering and GEVCU worlds. 55 minutes was a bit fast for covering everything but a series of videos might be kind of interesting to attempt.

          And, I’d like to mention that I’d still love to see videos like this from people like Paulo (if he has time and wants to). I can design circuits and I have plenty of times in the past but I am not an electrical engineer. I can pick chips to use but maybe I don’t always know the proper way to do so. I can design circuits but I could use pointers. I don’t know a lot about circuit analysis. I probably design circuits like I’m writing software. Is that the proper way? I wouldn’t know. It’s worked for me so far but I don’t know all of what I don’t know. I’d find EE topics to be very interesting if anyone is interested. Another idea would be for someone like Byron to talk about how to diagnose broken equipment. I try to dabble in that as well to mixed results. And, fixing broken electronics is an important skill. We aren’t getting more DMOCs. We may some day run out of cheap UQM controllers. Someone could burn up their charger. It is handy if you have the skills to fix it. I’d love to see equipment autopsy videos and equipment repair videos. Wolf does these sorts of videos from time to time and they’re interesting to watch.

  11. If GM and Toyota are the walking dead, it won’t be because Tesla knows how to make electric cars — that’s their current advantage. They have wrestled a monster to the floor in the form of cells that are both delicate and dangerous. But as you point out Jack, that will change. Future batteries and components won’t just have better performance, they’ll be *easier*. And when that happens, they’ll be just as much a no-brainer for GM as they are for the fellow who wants to restore an old classic with something more sensible than a petroleum-burning calliope. Bolt a few dependable and affordable pieces together — easier, cheaper and better than a gasoline car.

    By the time that happens, Tesla’s advantage won’t be the “special sauce” that let’s them harness seven thousand nickel-cobalt cells. That’s their temporary advantage that will let them reach the large auto manufacturer arena. Their ultimate advantage will be having reached it without the 100 years worth of outdated corporate baggage.

    Case in point… If there’s something on my Nissan LEAF that needs a software tweak to improve, there’s the off chance that Nissan may, at glacial speeds, eventually get around to releasing an update. You can see the calendar pages blowing away like in an old movie. Then I’ll be given the opportunity to schedule an appointment where I have to leave my car for the high-priest to sprinkle the holy water, swing the incense and make the incantations to get those precious bytes into my car. Meanwhile, Tesla gets a call from a customer, develops the software patch and beams it to their car while they’re still on the phone!!

    It won’t be lack of technical expertise that kills them off, but terminal inertia.

  12. Jack,
    Looking at this page’s side line with statistics on global energy composite, energy from fossil fuel still dominates at 87%. Apple can have larger space to play in Solar/Energy storage/Efficiency management at home than electric car. Don’t take me wrong. I am a strong EV supporter. But until our generation shifts to renewable energy, electric car plays a very limited role in reducing fossil fuel consumption and global warming. We should spend more attention immediately on how to improve energy efficiency of the grid/car instead, energy storage for the grid is one and stop-start/hybrid is another.

    1. The problem is the grid. It does not scale. One thing every radio amateur knows, electricity has a limited speed speed. The grid looks like an ocean. You have waves riding in every direction not up and down a hose.

      Put two antennes side by side and 1/8 wavelength apart you get a directional antenna. That happens to the grid when the power company feeds energy in at the Rocky Mountains and Jack’s solar feeds at the Mississippi. Some people will get a power outage others get fried.

      That did happen in Germany when they cut a cable over a bridge to let a big ship pass under the bridge. People like me warned but I still got a fried computer and the town next to ours had the power outage. No compensation because it was not a spike due to a thunderstorm and it was nobodys fault because nobody could know. 1/8 wavelength at 50 cycles is some 500 kilometers probably less because in a hose the wave travels slower than light.

      Feeding energy at one end is not a problem but feeding energy spread all over the grid is. We have so many independent little suppliers that there is no way to let computers calculate what happens where. With few suppliers it worked. With 3 phases and turbines as flywheels things worked to stabilise itself but with crystal controlled electronics that works no longer.

      We must say byebye to the grid. Either they are doing things they dont even tell us or they are plain stupid and without a clue. Both cases and with prices for electricity rocketing we must say bye and make our own electricity. Energy consumption is rising for our cars in particular Jack’s Escalade is a good example. They dont have enough juice in the grid to feed our cars and dont tell them about superchargers that are already too small and too slow for our future energy demands.

      Peter and Karin

  13. Global warming is about 387th on my list of good things about EVs. Most UK city dwellers now live in an atmosphere with levels of air pollution deemed unsafe by the WHO, mostly because of car exhaust. There are strong suggestions that this, among a myriad of other problems, stunts brain development in children. The situation is orders of magnitude worse in some cities outside Europe and North America.

    For this problem the EV is the killer app. It is what gets me out of bed in the morning. We have become so fixated by CO2 we have taken our eye of the ball

    1. So, we are all in violent agreement that the real issue is Tesla’s batteries, an alternative energy system, an ailing grid, and unhealthy exhaust fumes. This is what we called in the Internet 12 blind men around an elephant, all feeling her up with her hands and arguing about what she looked like.

      I do not think real change will be allowed until we take the candy away from some very large players. And that’s why I start with the EV – it kind of drives a number of things simultaneously – air pollution (as John says, CO2 is relatively harmless), battery development, our personal transportation. It’s the stone in the soup. If we attack that point, and win, everything will come into play.

      The problem with alternate energy is there is no way to store it and the sun doesn’t shine at night. I’m alarmed at the number of advocates that apparently miss this point. The cars will drive development of the batteries which eventually can buffer the power.

      The grid is not anything. It is organic. It gets changed every single day and it can change to be what is needed, which eventually is a tax collection service and a power mediation/management system. Ultimately it is one very largeBMS for solar/wind/batteries.

      The Tesla thing is STILL very poorly understood but Apple should provide clarification because it can eliminate the purported “magic” Tesla’s secret sauce. It isn’t ABOUT the car. It is about CARdumb. ALL of cardumb. How they are designed. How they are produced. How they are sold. How they are serviced. ALL of it. It’s a package. There IS a car in the center of it. But it is an entire ecosystem way of life way of doing business that is being remade by a very disruptive very technological group of people. GM thinks they can just make a car that competes on price and range. They don’t get it because culturally they cannot. It’s POSSIBLE technically and logistically. It is NOT possible culturally.

      Tesla has a ‘factory” Apple doesnt’ even do factories and they are entirely unnecessary to design, produce, sell, service, and upgrade phones, tablets, computers or cars. Dealerships are nonsense.

      As that succeeds it will violently displace. And a lot will fall out of it, including the way we produce, store, and distribute energy. But I think the car is the chrysalis in the supersaturated solution. If we break that, all will follow.

      This might explain my almost total disinterest in range, and charging infrastructure. It can be whatever you want it to be, just not now.

      And I do NOT think range and infrastructure are what are keeping people from adopting electric cars en masse. It is an acculturation issue of the most clear cut and simple kind. If they knew and understood them no advocacy is necessary. They would automatically want them. Your job Jim, should you and your mission impossible team choose to accept it, is to show them. At the tipping point, it is over.

      Just like the Internet, once it is built, it will of course be obvious to all. It was once a totally foreign concept to almost everyone. I recall when it was controversial even among network engineers as to whether it was a good thing to “interconnect” their networks. Some saw it as thoroughly unacceptable, impractical but also impossibly dangerous. Allow connection to THEIR network? Carry somebody else’s traffic? The idea was patently absurd.

      Today, when you describe what had to be done to get here, people glaze over with a kind of quizzical “how else would you do it – duh!.

      Apple’s entry validates and may well one up Tesla’s. I expect Google to announce within weeks.

      Microsoft, perhaps the most innovative, will as usual show up late with an electric dump truck with tiller and a robotic horse pawing the ground in front of it, Windoze for the road… Windoze AE (Automotive Environment).

      Jack Rickard

      1. That Apple thing …
        That Tesla thing …
        That EVTV thing …

        merge it and print the result on your 3D printer.

        There are some minor things to be resolved by individuals but printing your own EV – that is it.

        Car companies? Sunset!

        The microprocessor used to be something that only big companies could make but today everybody can build his own retro C64 including the cpu. Same for all the other beauties of the past. 3D printers to print all you need for your conversion are not exactly on our doorsteps but maybe behind the next bush.

        Printing a working kludge or a working CHAdeMO plug may be tricky right now … but as soon as we have found out how to put the magic smoke into it and how to keep it inside the rest is software.

        Peter and Karin

      2. Jack:
        Well done and how can thinking people disagree. if I may, I would like to see folks that follow your work, educate those who do not know about renewables and EVs; by posting on their non-technical community websites, like local newspapers. If nothing else, when one runs across mildly technical media that might educate, post the link. And, as you have urged many times, take your neighbors and kin folk for an EV ride.

      1. Jarkko – One of the nice thing about EVs is that they play to several agendas. By promoting EVs on grounds of atmospheric pollution, I am also incidentally doing good by the standards of the AGW enthusiasts (which I personally am not): and vice versa.

  14. Jack – all I can say is you’ve come a long way since the days of PC Boardwatch when you wre working with Brad, Carolyn & myself. We still have fond memories of you demolishing piles of chicken wings at the Kings Garden restaurant.

  15. Some interesting numbers to think about. The US uses 368.51 million gallons of gasoline per day. A gallon of gasoline contains ~34 KWh of energy. So we use about 12529.34 GWh of energy per day in gasoline. If electric cars are ~5 times more efficient then we would need about 2505 GWh/day of additional capacity to run all cars on electricity. If we were to try to do it all with solar, assuming about 1KWh/per per panel per day, we only need … (a shit load) of panels. About 2.5 billion! If we use traditional power plants of about 1GW capacity then we would need around 100 such plants. Please check my math and assumptions. Perhaps not all gasoline is used for cars?

    1. David – as far as the grid is concerned it is partly an issue of timing: there is a vast amount of spare capacity at night so even an all electric fleet would (with the right incentives) add much less peak requirement because (unlike lighting and heating) EVs can time shift.

  16. I’ve been thinking about Elon’s comments about introducing a stationary battery pack for home use.
    “Some will be like the Model S pack: something flat, 5 inches off the wall, wall mounted, with a beautiful cover, an integrated bi-directional inverter, and plug and play.”
    Of course they will be like a model S pack, because they WILL be model S packs.
    What to do with all those packs that have reached their 70%-80% capacity?
    Swap out the electronics, put on a fancy cover and re-brand them as stationary packs.
    An 85kwh pack will become a 68kwh stationary pack.
    Weight is not a concern for stationary packs so this would be the perfect application for those “used” packs.
    And I’m sure they will be priced so Tesla makes a profit for a second time on these packs.
    I’m curious what the cycle life would be on a used pack being used until it’s down another 20%.
    Is it linear or does the degradation flatten out.
    When John Hardy finishes up his original testing his batteries, it would be interesting to see how many cycles
    it would take to drop another 20%.

    1. I did one pack to 2000 cycles and the decline was linear that far. I agree it would be interesting to push it further but maybe using a cell chemistry with a shorter life span so that it doesn’t end up taking five years to complete.

      1. Once upon a time BMW built a few Mini E. Of coarse there was no space where they could charge. That is why the invented the wall unit, a battery that would slowly charge while the car is away and it would quickly recharge the car when back home.

        After a year testing all cars and all wall units were destroyed.

        wikipedia: “/wiki/Mini_E”

        In modern buildings I have seen an i-MiEV pasted to the wall, battery, BMU and CHAdeMO socket only. They dont need a grid and they can plug in more than one i-MiEV both for charging and for running the electrics of the house.

        Peter and Karin

        1. Today was one of those days. Yesterday I left the cable inside, it looked like bad rain. This morning it was snow and the windows frozen again. Got some heat from a fan and heater nevertheless. But in the evening hanging it on the wall and cleaning it with some water would have been a good idea.

          Living on a farm, charging without a roof and all the horse manure. I’ll never put that cable in our trunk.

          1. Jake in Ontario Canada

            Everything ok Jack? No video this week? I checked the shop cam at 2:30 pm on a Monday and it’s empty…..did you fire everybody….again? You’re going to need to finish a few of those cars so that you have a test bed for all that fancy code you’re writing. It looks pretty on a bench but is it going to work in a bouncing, rattling car?

  17. While my question is a little off topic, I am hopeful that those of you who know more about about AC motors than I do will have a quick answer. My air conditioning compressor went out on my 2000 Ford Ranger EV. I purchased this replacement:

    The new replacement compressor appears identical to the old one except for the wiring harness. The old has the hard wired connection at the Inverter and the plug at the compressor. The new has the hard wired connection at the compressor and the plug at the Inverter. So I will need to wire the new to the old. That is my problem. The colors on the wiring harness are slightly different.

    The colors on the existing cable (old Sanden compressor) are: Red, Green, Orange, White, Yellow, Blue

    The colors on the new compressor cable are: Red, Green, Orange, White, Yellow, Yellow

    I am assuming that it is safe to wire: Red to Red, Green to Green, White to White, and Orange to Orange. That leaves me to figure out which of the two Yellow wires go to the Blue on the old cable, which will leave the remaining Yellow to Yellow.

    When I check for continuity, it appears there is continuity between Yellow-Blue on the old compressor, and Yellow-Yellow on the new compressor. So, perhaps the Blue on the old wiring harness, can go to either Yellow on the new wiring. Is that correct thinking? Is there something else I can check to make sure I am rewiring this correctly?

    I have asked this question of the Sanden manufacturer in France, and the distributor here in the US. Neither of them has found it necessary to even reply to my emails.

    Any help you can give would be appreciated.



    1. Hello Ed,

      that looks like Yellow-Blue is an encoder telling rounds per minute and shaft position. If that is a simple switch, nothing optic, then both yellows are the same. The other 4 wires look like 3 phases and return. Return most likely is not connected to frame ground. So an Ohm meter can find the 3 coils and their common return. Same colours, connecting them is ok. That switch again usually is not connected to frame ground, so no difference between the 2 yellows.

      They dont connect to the frame ground to keep enterferences low.

      We dont have a Ford in our family but I am sure they all cook their coffee with the same kind of water.

      Peter and Karin

    2. The yellow and blue is more likely a temperature sensor, just a open/ closed switch. I don’t think the Sanden used speed feedback. The Masterflux units certainly don’t, just 3 phases and then 2 wires for the overtemp switch. That being said, do you see any conductivity between any of the wires and the case of the motor? IF so, then that wire is certainly NOT one of the phase leads, likely a shield ground. Is there any difference in the wire gauges? Are the yellow and blue wires smaller?

      I used a Sanden unit on a University HEV conversion in the late 1990’s. The Sanden units were the ticket back then, nothing else existed. I thought they were unobtanium now…

      1. Brian,

        The six wires in the wiring harness are all the same gauge. The orange wire is wired to the case on the new compressor, so that is the ground. Based upon ohm resistance readings, I believe red, green, and white are L1, L2, and L3 (not necessarily in that order). So it makes good sense what you say the two yellow wires are for a temperature sensor. I have a pdf of the Ranger EV service manual and it says, “The compressor has a maximum speed of 7812 rpm and is protected by an over-temperature sensor.”

        Yes, the Sanden electric compressors are available. A distributor in Reno wanted $525. With a little searching, I got it for $200 less here:

        Thanks for your help,


      2. Brian,

        There is additional information. I just received the connectors I was going to use from Allied Electric. When I pulled back the corrugated covering on the new wiring harness, to splice it to the old wiring harness, I was caught off guard. What I saw as two yellow wires at the connector, after about 6 inches, one yellow wire looped back to become the other yellow wire. So, there are only 4 wires that actually make it to the motor: red, white, green, and the orange ground.

        Now I am left to wonder if there will be problems in just connecting those 4 wires to their corresponding color in the old wiring harness, and then the yellow and blue wire coming from the inverter will not have any connection.

        Even though the motors appear to be identical, why are those two wires shunted to each other in the new wiring harness? Should I just do the same and connect the yellow and blue wires coming from the inverter to each other?

        Any insight would be greatly appreciated.



      1. John,

        Thanks. That is a good suggestion, but I have already looked at the wiring diagram. On p 54-7 of the Ranger Wiring diagram all it shows is 3 wires going from the Air Conditioning Inverter Motor Controller (IMC) to the AC compressor. That diagram doesn’t fit the actual conditions on the truck, and shows the wrong color on one of the 3 wires. So much for getting help from the wiring diagram.

        Don’t get me wrong. I am very thankful for the pdf manuals I do have on my truck, but as this case shows, sometimes they have incorrect information.

        I am just going to have to go ahead and hook the 4 wires up (L1, L2, L3 & Ground) and see what happens. Since the new wiring harness didn’t care about the other 2 wires, they must not be necessary.


        1. I reverse engineered one of these for my ’93 Ranger conversion. I think the two wires that won’t be connected go to an over temp switch inside the compressor. Your new wiring harness just bypasses it. I believe there’s an external one also, so they may have eliminated it in the new compressor. I used Pin point tests C and F under the A/C diagnostic section in the shop manual to try to figure out what the wires did from both the inverter and the compressor. I also opened up the inverter. It was educational but I don’t think it’s necessary for you.

          1. John,

            Thanks. I am not too concerned about connecting up the 4 wires that have direct color to color correspondence. What I am not sure about is the other 2 wires (yellow & blue) coming from the IMC. I am first going to just cover them up and not connect them to anything. I guess if it does not work, I could see if they need to be be connected to each other to spoof the temp sensor circuit. Does your educational investigation of the Inverter give you any insight on this?

            Again, thank you for your advice. Unfortunately, I have received absolutely NO help from Sanden, the distributor I purchased the compressor from, or even from the Ranger EV forum on Yahoo Groups, which is usually a good source of advice. I love my truck, but it is sometimes more work than I anticipated.


          2. Ed,
            I had to refresh my memory by looking at the manuals, Yes there are some errors. From what I remember from looking inside the inverter there was a circuit that looped through the inverter and down to the comp. and back. These were overheat switches, not to be confused with the temp sensor on the outside of the comp. If the new comp. doesn’t have those wire connections you may have to splice the DB and YE wires from the IMC together to get it to work. I don’t think it would be a problem because the IAA still gets temp info from the temp sensor.

      1. Inspired by another viewer, I crank up a Windows batch file on Sunday which checks every hour. Normally I wake up on Monday morning and it’s waiting for me.

        I invoked for this week with: getjack 022015

        I got wget from

        wget -c
        timeout /t 3600
        goto loop

        P.S. I was at the US Embassy in Bangkok on Monday to get a notary stamp and the guy behind me in line was from Cape Girardeau. Small world.

    1. Beat me? Jehu, you just never quite get it. The “fools in the west” are a sign of the times. They (you) are as inevitable as rain. Late comers who ape/copy the concept without any understanding of what it is – seeking fame and profit. Good on you. You go girlfriend.

      We are winning. And it is time to once again concede the copper foil helmet crowd of new dilletantes who now think electric cars are “cool” to the amateurs, and refocus our efforts on the center of the technology.

      Meanwhile, the 818 in your latest “happy cruise” has been sold to a guy in China – the guy who owned it found it just didn’t do the thing for him. And what technical expertise you did have (Hauber) has actually left to go out on his own.

      Your technical presentation on batteries was valiant – and deeply technically flawed. I hope you don’t hurt anybody with that.

      I’m hopeful your show will draw off all the calls we get seeking perpetual motion nirvana, green apostasy, and kewell. That should calm things down here a bit so we can get on with the hard work of mapping the future and developing the tools to get you there.

      And to the obvious – you’re welcome. Don’t mention it.

    2. When did this become a competition?
      We’re not trying to see who can change the most lightbulbs the fastest. We’re trying to change the world!
      Check your egos at the door. We have work to do.

      1. Been offline for almost a week because of a soaked DSL line, did I miss something?

        Almost given up, discovered the video last night, still downloading. But yes, it takes long and there have been breaks downloading. One break was my isp disconnecting every 24 hours.

        Breaking my computer, downloading and compiling a new gentoo when the line went down.

        Avian Carriers!

  18. David Seabury


    I had to laugh when I saw the show. I was sitting here with a step drill by my side drilling holes for USB ports in plastic cases for the prototypes I promissed you. You certainly have much better fabrication skills and assembly technique than I do. Wish I had seen the video before I started, it might have saved me some time! I am much better at software engineering than manufacturing.

    David Seabury

    1. Ah, then you see the problem. And to our discussion. Now do you see that your “idea” is safe with me. We don’t need an idea. We need the boxes. I’m inordinately pleased to receive them from you, mark them up modestly, and present your very useful device to our viewers. A box that they can feed CAN commands and drive legacy instruments – brilliant.

      We have the CAN Due boards ENTIRELY assembled and soldered and built in China. The Arduino Due boards are readily available and quite inexpensively. The rest is common piece parts and a plastic box and some wiring and heat shrink. How hard can it be?

      Well now you know. It’s 15 or 20 minutes to build one IF you have all the parts and tools laid out. To get all that out and get started with the first one is about an hour.

      We need just enough of them that it is too much for me to do at all. And so few that I can’t really pay someone to come in and train them to do it.

      1. Understood. All too well!
        I naively thought the process was something like this. Order the boards, snap them together, put them in a box, and ship them to Jack. The actual process could fill a book, but so far is something like this. Order boards and boxes. Find out boxes are backordered indefinitely. See a box at home depot that might just work. Take it home and an Arduino fits with plenty of room to spare. Problem solved! Finally receive the boards. The mosfet boards are kits and need to be assembled. About 100 solder joints per board, 10 boards, ~1000 solder joints. Also, the boards require a couple of small mods. No big deal. Finally get all the boards assembled and snap them together only to discover that the mosfet board hangs out about 1/2 inch over the Arduino. Do a test fit in the box and discover that the assembled modules do not fit by exactly… You guessed it 1/32nd of an inch. Ok, so now I can either find a new box, or find a way to make the modules fit. Turns out the mosfet boards have an unused area that normally supports a molex connector and which has no copper under it, so all I have to do is trim the boards by 1/32nd and I am all set. So I think an exacto knife scoring the boards and snapping off the extra should solve it. Turns out these boards are really thick and no amount of scoring is going to let me snap them off. I end up hand cutting each board and sanding them smooth. Ok, so now they fit, time to test the Ardunio and CAN board combination. Load the software and discover the can bus will not initialize. After some investigation it turns out Seeed Studios has done a new rev. of the CAN board and changed the chip select pin from pin 10 to pin 9. Unfortunately I cannot just change the software because I need pin 9 to drive the tachometer mosfet. So I need to make a mod to each of the CAN boards. No big deal. I decide that it would be really nice to have labels on the boxes for each wire instead of labeling each wire individually. I print out labels and stick them on each box. Then I drill 10 holes in each box under the labels for each wire in 10 boxes. OK, so now I need a way to get at the USB connector on the Arduino. I have no way to make a square hole so I opt for a step drill and figure I need a 3/4 inch hole. In order to make the boxes weather proof I decide to get hole plugs for the USB hole. I check every hardware store in the area and cannot find 3/4 inch hole plug that will work. At this point we need to leave for FL so I pack everything up and we make our way south as far as Grand Rapids. Go to a local hardware store and amazingly they have a nylon 3/4 inch hole plug that will fit. Then on to FL. Drill 10 3/4 inch holes by hand being careful not to go too far. Now I need 20 AWG wire so I go to the local NAPA store and discover that they only handle 18 AWG wire, but they can order it for me. The red wire comes from Orlando, the green wire comes from Atlanta, etc., but they promise it will all be here by today. In the mean time I think it would be nice to send these units in individual boxes and start looking for 6x4x4 cardboard boxes. No one locally has them so I order them through ULINE. The ones I want come in quantities of 100 or 1000. I need 10. I finally find one that works and I can order min of 25 @ .25 a piece. Sound great, but the shipping is $25.00. I misspell my password and cannot get confirmation of the order, and I receive no email. I keep faith and they do arrive yesterday. Assemble the cardboard boxes. Now all that is left is to pick up the wire cut and strip and connect 100 wires, load software into each unit test each unit with a real cluster, pack them into the boxes, finish the documentation and print it (need to get ink for the printer), put them all into a larger box, and ship them to Jack.
        No problem!

        David Seabury

    1. Yes Jack your hard work is appreciated. Now getting back to your last video where you assembled the box to eventually program the salvaged dc/dc converter. I am not exact on the the metrics here but this 2.2kW Delphi converter could be programmed to charge a 12 volt battery from a battery pack of ? 368 vdc by boost? but could charge up to 423vdc. Can you enlighten us all to what that means how the Delphi dc/dc conveter work above 368 vdc to 423 vdc.? I notice that converting above 368 vdc? was not an option in the software that you presented..
      Thank you,
      Mark Yormark

      1. First, we never have quite gotten “Boost Mode” to work at all. But the concept isn’t to charge a 12v battery from 368volts. It is to charge the high voltage pack, up to 368volts, FROM the 12v battery. boost from low voltage to high voltage. It is limited to either 600 or 900 watts in that direction – I’ve seen it listed both ways.

        Of course, you would never do that. But you might want to use the output of a solar panel in that voltage range to charge your HV pack at up to 358 volts from that.

        In the other direction, a DC to DC converter always converts from the high voltage pack to 12v. And the input limit there is 422v. Output is optimally 11-15.5v and is adjustable.

        Jack Rickard

  19. Nikita Sidorov

    Hi Jack, the law of large numbers is not what you are talking about:
    “In probability theory, the law of large numbers (LLN) is a theorem that describes the result of performing the same experiment a large number of times. According to the law, the average of the results obtained from a large number of trials should be close to the expected value, and will tend to become closer as more trials are performed.”

    Maybe what you are talking about should be called “the curse of large numbers”?

    All the best,

    1. Financial Theory vs. Statistics. Two different ‘Law Of Large Numbers” theories.

      “Assume that company X has a market capitalization of $400 billion and company Y has a market capitalization of $5 billion. In order for company X to grow by 50%, it must increase its market capitalization by $200 billion, while company Y would only have to increase its market capitalization by $2.5 billion. The law of large numbers suggests that it is much more likely that company Y will be able to expand by 50% than company X.”

      1. It’s something about the way I speak. As I eschew the usual trappings and affectations, an annoying percentage of the body politic assumes I have no idea what I’m talking about. I suffer a constant inflow of very well intentioned, if condescending, correction.

        it’s all good. In trying to present to a very wide mix of backgrounds and experiences, I have to grab what I can to communicate it, and that gets a little out of the box at times I admit.

        The other side of the coin, I’m probably the best there is at it….

        In this particular case, the Law of Large Numbers cited is sufficiently esoteric to be nearly non-existent. And the financial reference is by far the more common. Apple is not just suffering it, they are demonstrating it in extremis. We don’t even know what it means at the Trillion Dollar Capitalization level. They’re literally pushing the boundaries here into new territory. No one has ever have had to come up with $200 billion in new business to double.


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