Gasping for Oxygen at the Well of the Dragon.


I wonder at the parameters of our day and our age. They are in any other generation a miracle. There is a kind of magic in the global pooling and sharing of information as well as commerce deriving from the Internet, and increasingly from the miraculous devices that implement it in every increasing utility.

I had a conversation with some of the resident Chinese students here at the local university. My wife, who teaches information sciences at Southeast University often invites a group of them to dinner on Sunday evening. In all modesty, I make the best iced tea in the world.

I discovered, as a hod carrier in 1973 Southeast Missouri July, that lemonade or iced water or soda pop liberally applied to the stomache when you worked hard above 104 degrees fahrenheit would generally come back up as fast as it went down. Oddly, thin iced tea would stay put, and seemed to greatly aleve dehydration that can actually be fatal under those conditions if not addressed.

I have worked on this recipe for iced tea now for 42 years. Kind of like the battery straps, it doesn’t show as it is elegantly simple. Take four bags of Twinings Earl Grey tea and place in a drip coffee pot. Add one stick of stick cinammon and ONE clove. Not two. One. Pour through the normal clear water to fill the pot. Let steep for 3 minutes. Pour over ice with 1 cup of Splenda sweetener.

I would say probably bimonthly I experiment with this tea recipe and have tried many teas from around the world, and many variations of it. At this point, after 42 years, precious few make the cut. The addition of a single clove, for example, was made four years ago and did make the cut. It was the last “change” despite ongoing experimentation.

Now how can that be any good? The response to it is universal and cross cultural. And the Chinese students were immediately raving over it. They normally prefer hot green tea of course but since we were drinking the iced tea, they had kind of joined in, to their delight.

A wide ranging discourse and discussion of tea followed with the merits and processing techniques for green, Oolong, and black teas ensuing.

There is a natural heirarchical nature to humanoids. In all things, there is a “best” at the top followed by a pyramid of lessers down to a very wide ranging base at the bottom of everything. Baseball players. Musicians. Beer. Wine is famous for it. And so it must needs be for tea. So I inquired what is considered the BEST of the best tea in China. They seemed uncertain so I asked them to research it and return the following week with the answer.

Instead, they came with tea. Tea from Taiwan. And Kirk, the apparent leader of the pack, rather sheepishly told me that the tea in Taiwan was probably better now, because of all the air polution in China mainland. As an island, Taiwan has most of its more obnoxious fumes blown off by ocean breezes.

We tried the tea, a bland oolong of no particular note, and I explained that I wasn’t really seeking TEA per se, as information about tea from the point of view of tea connosieurs in China. I explained the dominance of Dom Perignon for centuries despite arguably better wines akimbo. After awhile, brand recognition tops reality.

Indeed this applies to all the tea in China as well. And indeed he then knew exactly what I was after and had no difficulty with the question. “It is Longjing Tea. The Dragon Well.”

A quick check of Wikipedia confirmed his answer.

Longjing tea was granted the status of Gong Cha, or Imperial tea, in Qing Dynasty by Chinese emperor Kangxi. According to the legend, Kangxi’s grandson Qianlong visited West Lake during one of his famous holidays.

He went to the Hu Gong Temple under the Lion Peak Mountain (Shi Feng Shan) and was presented with a cup of Longjing tea. In front of the Hu Gong Temple were 18 tea bushes. Emperor Qianlong was so impressed by the Longjing tea produced here that he conferred these 18 tea bushes special imperial status. The trees are still living and the tea they produce is auctioned annually for more money per gram than gold.

Longjing, which literally translates as “dragon well,” is said to have named after a well that contains relatively dense water, and after rain the lighter rainwater floating on its surface sometimes exhibits a sinuous and twisting boundary with the well water, which is supposed to resemble the movement of a Chinese dragon.

Legend also has it that to achieve the best taste from Longjing, water from the Dreaming of the Tiger Spring, a famous spring in Hangzhou, is to be used. The water quality of the spring now is certainly very different than before. The tea takes its name from the eponymous “Dragon Well” located near Longjing village.

The best of today’s available Longjing seems to be Xihu Longjing – literally West Lake Dragon Well. Interestingly, this is the area where Jacky Ma and Alibaba are headquartered.

More amazing, a quick trip to eBay revealed dozens of tea merchants now operating there with by far the majority IN China itself. I quickly located one, and literally within minutes after our Sunday dinner, had 500 grams (about a pound) winging its way toward the Casa Rickard – albeit at about $75 per pound. Dragons don’t just crap this stuff for free apparently.

I cannot adequately share with you my amazement at what has come to pass as the result of the Internet, knowing full well that it was a fully formed vision in the late 1980s with just a few hundred souls really promoting it at the time. We saw all this coming, but to live to actually see its full effect is actually startling to me. Individuals and very small companies trading and sharing knowledge on a global basis. English emerging as the lingua franca refuting the Tower of Babel. And all of it without much control or permission from the powers that be.

But those powers do not go quietly into that dark night. They have become more furtive and more careful. But they still desperately want to control and mostly they want ot control YOU.

Given all of this, understand that I am naturally a big fan of disruptive technology. The disruptive communciations technologies of the last 30 years have opened enormous opportunity for many millions of people and of course it has all been VERY good to me personally. Mature industries tend to follow a “big fish eat small fish” ecosystem until in the end, they are entirely dominated by huge corporations – the haves, who then use their power and resource to FURTHER disadvantage the small fry (me) and consolidate their position.

But if you introduce a new technology that makes that entire industry totally obsolete and economically irrelevant, it opens opportunity for all and in fact, the entrenched and advantages are always at a DISADVANTAGE, ensnared in their own cultural and economic biases and assumptions.

And the only way to thrive in an environment of continual technological change is to reinvent yourself every day.

It is no news that I have cheered Tesla on from its earliest days as potentially disruptive of the entire automotive system. And indeed have strongly advocated for their battle against automobile dealers, along with their disruptive posture on sales, ordering, payment, delivery, design, manufacture, communications, etc. Indeed, most of the debate about Tesla’s company and future and stock price simply assumes it is a car company. I rather view it as changing the automotive ecosphere forever and in all directions at day’s end.

Recent events have given pause.

Tesla, as it turns out in its annual report, lists its risk factors but they have added a new one. The threat of their customers hacking and modifying their car, causing liability to purse and reputation and all manner of evil.

And when I look over the developments of the last 15 years in the auto industry generally, I see a very dark side to it that Tesla almost REPRESENTS at this stage. And that is a very strong move toward disposable automobiles. A harrowing attack on the ability to even make minor repairs to an automobile. And the implication is that once the warranty has run out, you should really buy a NEW car – not be fooling around with that old piece of junk. You might hurt yourself or others. Come buy a NEW model.

I have been in a battle with Daimler Smart over a Smart ED and getting a battery for it. That soap opera continues, film at eleven. But I was startled to hear from a viewer in Switzerland that there, there ARE no parts available at all. Indeed there are NO salvage vehicles less than 10 years old. You can get some wrecks and parts if they are OVER 10 years old, but it actually doesn’t exist anywhere in country ANY salvage of newer vehicles.

This is the same old furtive moves by the entrenched power structure to further disadvantage the lesser fish. Or in my case minnow.

If you think it cannot happen here, I would urge you to reflect on the history of television sets, radios, stereos, etc in this country. At one time all were repairable, parts were readily available, indeed stereos were essentially component systems for decades before reintegrating into essentially disposables today. You can’t get your big screen repaired at all and you can’t fix it yourself. There’s not a replaceable part on it and if it goes bad, in ways minor or total, you have TWO possible remedies. If under warranty, take whatever the will give you – usually a coupon to apply to a new one. Or just buy a new one.

To me, that this would apply to an item as expensive as an automobile, now averaging over $32,000 per car, is unthinkable. But all the signs are there.

And Tesla, and many OEMS are basically bent on disassembling really a miraculous global ecoplex of automotive parts availability. Still at this point there are thousands of points around the globe where you can buy replacement parts for your automobile. Indeed every town and village has a nearby “dealership” where Mr. Goodwrench will sell you a genuine GM part. But next door is inevitably a salvage operation or “junk yard” that buys wrecks, removes the parts from them, and sells them off one by one.

Converting a car to electric drive to this point has been a bit ad hoc and made do. The most popular motor for years was a repainted Forklift motor from Warfield Motors branded the Netgain. One tiny mom and pop shop made the DIY produced Zilla controller for it, and gave way to another tiny group EVNETICS who did the Soliton1. DC-DC converters were most often just 12v switching power supplies meant for 240vac input. We applied the high voltage pack DC in the input and it routed through one half of the rectifier and the thing sorta/kinda worked. Oh, there were also a few Chinese numbers. Manzanita, a floppy disk company had come out with a charger, again out of a mom and pop shop. And you kind of cobbled all this together as best you could. Excide lead chemistry batteries were the norm.

Today, George Hamstra has largely retired (again) and turned Netgain Motors over to son Hunter, who mostly sells motors to people who make Zamboni ice grooming equipment. And this week we learned that EVNETICS/Rebirth Auto basically is no more. EVNETICS kind of continues furtively making controllers for railroads, but we prefer to forget their life among DIY electric car enthusiasts. Indeed we heard from one viewer who was shopping for an HPEVS AC system for his truck because he just couldn’t get any support for his Soliton1. They do not answer our calls at all.

When EVTV started in 2009 there were NO production electric vehicles in the world. Read that as ZERO. Hard to picture at this point. But yes, six years ago there were NO electric cars to buy. The closest thing available was an enhanced golf cart with a horn, a rear view mirror, and headlights purporting to be a “Neighborhood Electric Vehicle” or NEV. They were designed with a top speed of 25 mph for geriatrics residing in retirement communities.

We have spent the past six years in a daily wrestling match to get something better going with isolated and less expensive chargers, dc-dc converters, throttles, motors, and controllers. And of course from the beginning we have championed the Chinese prismatic LiFePo4 lithium cell as the battery to use in a car and have literally had to devine how to use and care for these batteries by experiment. The original documentation we received from China with our first set consisted of a half a sheet of paper imprinted with the fabulously useful and informative notice that “Your glad acceptance is our warmest happiness. Best quality. Best service.”

NO other information at all.

Today, individuals world wide are building much better electric car conversions and enjoying them more and longer and I like to think our efforts have aided and abetted that happy occurence. Further, today there are dozens of electric cars in production and hundreds announced on paper, if you believe the paper. Your persistance in building such vehicles and showing them to people has, I believe, been the largest contributing factor to this change. The “powers that be” don’t want any “movement” to escape them or their control. And the picture of you guys converting existing cars to electric cars that don’t use gasoline is beyond threatening. The whisper of it inspires panic. You can judge just how MUCH panic by carefully observing the response to this blog entry and how off the mark I am on this- we’ll hear about it alright.

Recall my admonition – you have to reinvent yourself everyday.

Things have changed. The Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt have sold 150,000 electric cars between them in the last five years. Daughters and sons being what they are, that means 15,000 wrecked electric cars by now.

The best way to heat an electric car was an RMS liquid heater. It came from a new defunct company MES-DEA in Switzerland. It cost $750 and there was no parts or availability really here in the U.S. Warranty? Support? A laugh.

Our little reverse engineering group has been in the throes of wrestling with a very small, advanced PTC liquid heater by Ebenspraecher that appears on 75,000 Chevy Volts. It is available at any Chevrolet dealer for $466 brand new. Mark Weisheimer announced last night that he had it heating, although he literally had to rebuild a CANdue with a new chip to do the low speed single wire GMLAN stuff to feed it CAN commands. They sure don’t make it easy.

The point being that we are at the cusp of a new period where the motors, controllers, chargers, DC-DC converters, and eventually even the batteries will become repurposed standard OEM car parts. And the good news about that is that they will be readily available at dealerships, on eBay (just like tea) and through salvage. And at roughly half the price that we’ve BEEN PAYING to get parts to convert cars.

My first charger actually WAS from Switzerland – a Brusa. We still sell them today but that is what we used in the first 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster replica we converted. It cost $3700 in 2008. It went over $4500 subsequently due largely to some currency exchange gyrations.

Today we ship Rich Morris two Lear chargers and a DC-DC converter from a Chevy VOlt. We’re CHARGING about $1500 each for these OEM grade 3.3 kw chargers, with a custom controller with software, harnesses, etc. The controller actually controls both chargers operating together and a dc-dc converter. He can easily set them to do what he wants in his 1962 Studebaker pickup truck build.


I have alluded to the advantages of HIGHER quality at LOWER cost that all of this brings. I’ve been hesitant to bring the rest of the story because it is kind of eradicating to the other existing players. The REAL advantage has nothing to do with higher quality and lower cost.

The reason this is all important is that it changes EV conversion forever. In the past, when you built an EV you pretty much wore it. There was no way to resell it because nobody could work on it, or even locate parts for it when it died. Typically, once the conversion guy got done with it, most of the parts were obsolete by then anyway.

Eight years down the road, Mr. Morris’s studebaker loses a charger. Well a Chevy Volt Lear charger is going to be on the shelf at every little wide spot in the road with a GM dealership at it. By then they will be showing up in NAPA parts stores. Same with the DC-DC converter. Commodity auto parts readily available inexpensively anywhere in a global auto parts ecoplex. It’s actually an ENORMOUS infrastructure in support of maintaining automobiles.


And so EVTV is in the process of reinventing themselves. We intend to develop the glue – integration devices, allowing you to make use of used or new auto parts in building your electric vehicles. We are not goint to GIVE it away, although I am already besieged by those begging for it AS LONG AS IT IS FREE. We have a team of very talented guys who are taking an evil pleasure in thwarting the proprietary designs of the “powers that be” that seek to disadvantage you.

That is a good work and should be supported. If you will get behind it, it exists kind of solely to further itself – with more instructional videos and more efforts to reverse engineer things, deriving oxygen from the sale of the OEM parts paired with the controller devices and more infuriatingly the CONNECTORS which are now ALSO PROPRIETARY. You cannot buy most of the connectors for these devices ANYWHERE by design of the OEMS god rot them all. They all use DELPHI connectors made captively for THEM and actually KEYED for them so you can’t connect to them. Not to make anything on the car BETTER. JUST to deny you access to it.

That’s how far these very furtive, to my way of thinking “criminals”, have gone to move far beyond planned obsolescence toward a replaceable irrepairable automobile. And any time they are busted they unctiously mouth that it is all for YOUR safety and beware of HACKERS who might maim or kill you with their incompetent installation of cup holders, window tint, and tiny dashboard statues of Jesus. I actually get the heaves when I hear this utter NONSENSE. I regularly see know nothings online buy into it and repeat it – Well you wouldn’t want to have people able to hack your drive train for example.” Hell I wouldn’t. How about MORE TORQUE. When did we develop this desire to NOT have flames shooting from the tailpipe?????

If you exchange your ducats for an automobile, it should become yours. You should have the right to modify it, customize it, repair it, at will. You should have the RIGHT to do so without voiding your “warrantee” if your modification didn’t very obviously cause the failure itself. The seventy five pages of fine print now accompanying an auto purchase should be declared illegal on printing.

So that’s kind of the position and the plan. We live to steal our own parts. And make them do what we want them to do. The year 2015 is really the time when the first OEM electric cars come off lease and the prices of used Volts and Leafs are already plummeting. It is not unreasonable to expect to be able to buy these cars and make adjustments to maximiize your value, use and utility from doing so. They’re certainly ready to accept your money for the car.

As that trickles down into the parts business, we intend to one by one pick off the most useful parts and develop methods and strategies for resusing them to convert existing gasoline vehicles to electric drive, and to some degree repair and modify existing electric vehicles. I received an e-mail, ironically from a Ford dealer, seeking assistance in repairing TWO Azure Dynamics eTransit Connects. Now what am I supposed to do with that?

Well, we need a large capture of traffic from ours. And we should probably develop a replacement battery pack that will make all those noises to the rest of the car.

I am looking a little ragged at the moment. I’m disabled by the loss of my friend and enabler, Mr. Noto. At precisely the moment when the mountain of work before us in attacking all of this is becoming visible and apparent. The result is I’m a little overwhelmed at the moment. And so little things like some poor hapless yuck trying artlessly and inelegantly to work a deal on an HPEVS 50 because his Soliton is gone, complicit with a tiny brained belly bucking testosterone moron parts seller wannabe makes me a bit snappish.

YES, you CAN have a deal on HPEVS. We’ve put the whole line up on sale at enough above dealer cost to avoid the criticism that we’ve leaked the dealer cost. It will remain on sale until HPEVS cuts us off or I get over the offense of tiny little minds who know only ONE note in the symphoney of life “me, me, me, me, meeeeee”. We’re facing MUCH bigger fish to fry.

On another note, the debate about global warming and CO2 continues. I don’t entirely buy it, nor entirely deny it. I think this is taking our eye off the ball. I have long suspected that vehicle exhaust has some much more imminent and personal problems. And that we are straining at a mote with a beam in our eye. We do know that shutting yourself up in a garage with a 12 cylinder BMW is a good way to off yourself. Why that would be better open air and in the hundreds of millions rather escapes me.

I was touched by a young woman of 31 who had left what has to be the most glamorous dream job in China. She was reporter and host of China’s Central Television service, the state run television. She left her position and was not heard from for some time. In the interim, she had a daughter and turned into some sort of helicopter super mom dragon lady. And the object of her wrath became the air and water pollution reaching epic proportions in China. She spent $160,000 of her own money on producing a one hour and forty three minute documentary on this.

The environmental “advocates” in the U.S. do themselves and their own mission a crippling disservice with their demeanor. They “advocate” which to them means shrilly and rudely demanding free attention from the media, using every sort of whacko device possible, all in an effort to get somebody ELSE to spend some resource on improving things. They do nothing themselves. THey only “advocate.” They are repulsive to almost everyone they encounter and so counterproductive to what could be an extremely important issue.

Ms. Chai Jingh appears in this documentary, again produced at her own expense and with an obvious level of effort, as a very graceful, indeed elegant “advocate” seeking address such disaster in China that good tea can only come from Taiwan. She is polite, calm, but very firm and I was enchanted at every level with this piece. It recieved over 200 MILLION views on the Chinese equivalent of Youtube and became the SOLE topic of conversation across 1.3 billion Chinese all of last week. On Friday, March 6, the Chinese government pulled the video and all mention of the video down from their social media. It just disappeared entirely.

Fortunately it persists on YouTube and they can’t pull it down there, at least for us. Friday it had 200,000 views and Tuesday morning today it is up over 500,000. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I’m afraid I’m quite in love at this point with Chai Jing. She is at this point formally invited to Sunday dinner.

We’re serving Longjing this week you know. Both hot and iced as it happens.

Jack Rickard

47 thoughts on “Gasping for Oxygen at the Well of the Dragon.”

  1. As an Englishman, “Iced Tea” sounds rather like “warm beer” does to an Aussie; but actually it is a very pleasant beverage just so long as you don’t think of it as tea.

    1. I kind of got the same reaction from the Chinese John. They like warm and green. But a new generation is coming. And I’ve trained a half dozen of them to go for the pitcher coming in the door now.

      Come visit in July. We’ll lay a few brick. Haul a little hay. And I just might bring even a dour English country gentleman around to Twinings Earl Grey. And understand, this isn’ t European style with two lonely little pathetic cubes swimming around on top. Iced tea here is a glass FULL of ice, lightly flavored with thin tea. Tea flavored ice really.

      By the way, when WAS the last day it hit 104 Fahrenheit in the shade in your town? And you’re right. I get a little lost on your local geography. Somewhere near where Shakespear worked. Stratford on Avon or Avon in Berkshire or Surrey in Kent or something.


      1. 104 – a July weekend in the Mediaeval Warm period maybe (or maybe the Roman warm period – in Roman times, southern England was a wine growing area).

        I once worked through a hot season in Chad – air temperature of 120. Not much fun in a metal hangar.

        And near Shakespeare works well: I am just over the county boundary – think of Worcestershire sauce.

        1. Once upon a time when the Vikings ruled the North of Britain. My local hill was named by them as “Vin for” (wine hill). Now we call it Winter hill. An apt name. Often 2 to 4C colder than the English town below.
          The last time it 104F in that town, someone set fire to an old cotton mill.

  2. We certainly live in interesting times!
    As usual, Jack, I appreciate your overview and I hope your helpers return soon.
    I’d like to clarify one point as you seem to imply that the Zilla controllers “gave way” to the other guys. The reality is that we have never stopped supporting Zilla controllers and other than a couple periods of difficulty years ago they have remained available. The good folks at Manzanita Micro are standing by to build you a super reliable “good old Zilla” in the flavor of your choice for those that need to replace controllers made by others who may have given up.
    In the 21 years that I’ve been making motor controllers I’ve watched a number of competing controller manufacturers come and go. I’ve lost count if Soliton is the ninth or tenth one we’ve outlasted. I do feel bad for those many people stuck with broken orphaned controllers.
    I do admit that I’m proud of this persistence even if it hasn’t resulted in profits. 🙂
    Have a wonderful week!

    1. Hmmm.

      Welcome Otmar. Ok, I’ll take the sword on this one. My recollection was that the devices were almost impossible to get for about a year and a half with waiting times in excess of six months. Then they weren’t available at all for about a year and a half while you worked something out with the guys up in Issaquah that I will say no more about. And then on to Manzanita which does appear to be making them available and supporting them.

      So the “availability” has been a little more ragged than you quite portray it.

      That said, you did continually support it via Cafe Electric and even upgraded one for me during that period. So I take the sword.

      In the past couple of years, the EVNETICS Soliton1 has been pretty much the duty controller. I actually have an order sitting here for a Soliton Jr. and no idea what to do with it. They won’t return a call. So I guess they are gone. And yes, when this happens, people are orphaned.

      When I came on the scene, the Zilla was THE item to have no doubt. The Z2K was top of the heap. But you could get old waiting on one. SO our first build used a Kelly controller.

      Your persistence and longevity are indeed a marvel at this point though.

      My blog is basically a note as to the passing of an era. I think forward is all about commodity components that are the opposite of unobtainium, more like universallyobtainium.

      So are you ready to head the Tesla Hack Team?

      Jack Rickard

      1. Thanks, I appreciate your clarity on this.

        It’s an easy mistake to make since the Zilla was pretty hard to get for some time. Fortunately Manzanita has been doing a great job of building and supporting them for over four years now. Wow, time flies when you’re having fun!

        I appreciate your view of the future of commodity components and of hobbyists using high volume parts with adaptor boxes. And I realize that’s the real point of the whole post. Sounds right to me.

        I also am also not in support of the trend toward disposable cars. That’s a part of the closed “Apple” model that feels wrong to me. I understand that it’s much easier for the manufacturer, but easy if often not right.

        As for heading the Tesla Hack Team, not yet. 🙂

        1. Has it been four years. Quite possibly. You’re right the time do fly.

          Think Tesla Hack team. I’ll make T shirts. We can build a fort. Sekert meetings. Special handshakes. Decoder rings. The full metal jacket deal. Secret swearing in parties. It will be THE maker team of all time. Free coke for the kids. BALLOON ANIMALS.

          Clowns. oops. Did I say clowns?

          I always underestimate the creepiness of the clowns….


  3. I also read the Tesla note about hacking worries, they whimpered about any accidents caused by it would “hurt the over all progress” of EV adoption. Do you think once they get to a point where they are not supply limited on sales, they could turn around and really open up? Or are they already too far down the rabbit hole?

    1. I expressed my guess about this motivation some time ago in my last Stretchla post:
      Described is the reason I still don’t drive the “Wreckla” on the roads, though I must admit with Tesla’s lack of communication and the beautiful weather lately I’m tempted to change my mind.
      I sure hope they do lighten up policy. Today, with a couple Model S deaths gone by and no big news or stock crash around those events I think the time is ripening. Unfortunately I can also see how a closed system is much easier to support. At this time when they need every resource to grow I’m not sure they’ll take the extra time to go the harder road.

      1. Well, as far as Tesla hacking goes, they’ve only got to stay out of the way. Of course, they don’t stay out of the way. They go out of their way to stick their nose into what you’re doing with the car. That’s actually the harder road. It’d be far easier on them if they just turned a blind eye to it. But, they can’t even do that anymore because they’ve already put the world on notice that they *can* be overbearing so now they must or they probably will risk some liability. But, all signs point to them being somewhat lazy on a protocol level so chances are you could easily make the inverter work even after they’ve locked the car out. I’ll bet all they do is lock the main ECU out and it then refuses to validate anything else. Thus, a capture from a working car should unlock the world. But, time will tell.

    2. German cleric Ewald Georg von Kleist and Dutch scientist Pieter van Musschenbroek of Leiden (Leyden) in 1745–1746 never whimpered about any accidents caused by it, “the Leyden jar”, hurting the over all progress of EV adoption why then Tesla……

  4. Hi Jack,

    If you have not already tried it, cubes from pure distilled water make for great iced tea. They are solid clear and the crackling as you pour on the liquid is visceral — intense and sharp with an almost metallic ring as entire cubes fracture suddenly and clear-through. And then you’re left with the beauty of these brilliant clear floating cubes shot through with starbursts from the cracking, making facets to play with the light. You might also try making the tea with distilled water also but I can’t say whether that will be an improvement; depends on your local water and how its minerals get along with the tea.

  5. I was very sad to see the Eventics obit on their home page after reading in today’s blog post about them, and I certainly feel for everyone out there who has a Soliton One/Jr. in their EV right now. Ditto for what’s going on at Netgain. I remember when I was at a past EVCCON, there were a lot of beautiful builds utilizing both of those brands, and I’m sure a lot of hard-earned dollars to boot.

    I luckily opted to go for the HPEVS route, and the day they announced the AC35x2 setup pretty much sealed the deal for me. It’s been a relatively easy install — pretty much plug and play, and the support from Brian Seymour over there has been first rate. I’d strongly encourage anyone on the fence about doing a conversion, or for those stranded by their current DC-vendor components, to jump off of the fence and directly onto EVTV’s limited-time mega-price discounts on the HPEVS line (the whole dang lineup, it looks like).

    Note that I am in no way “rubbing it in”, as small companies like HPEVS could just as easily tire of the complaining and lack of support from the “DIY crowd”, much as we’ve seen with other vendors — witness Jack’s grousing about some of the “me-me-meeee-want-it-freeee” calls he no doubt gets by the boatloads. I doubt he’s alone. Well, I guess recent events somewhat prove he isn’t.

    On the other side of it, I’m all over the opportunity to reverse engineer OEM EVs out there for their OEM electrical innards, if not to enable “shooting flames from the tailpipe” [without using a BMS]. Especially if this does cause a lower price barrier to entry for joining the Custom EV movement. I’m sure I’m not alone here when I do the well rehearsed show and tell on my build, and almost instantly convert everyone who sees what I’ve done in my swept space in the garage. The world “almost” being the snag here, since as soon as I mention what the base components cost (let alone all the EV “bling” I’ve adorned the car with), I see the interest die on the orange wire loomed vine.

    As for tea, I am currently hooked on a green tea and walnut blend from this loose-leaf place down the block. I’m not sure it would take to the cubes, though…

    1. Jeffrey Jenkins

      Otmar, at least restrain your glee; it is unseemly to gloat over a competitor’s demise… at least in public, as you have done.

      That said, we are stopping production of the Soliton controllers effective immediately, but we aren’t going out of business and we aren’t abandoning our customers. Indeed, we have both a legal and ethical obligation to honor our warranty and provide support for as long as Evnetics remains in business. Note that we could have decided to liquidate Evnetics and reincorporate under a new name to produce the locomotive drive system (which we are making a full capacity, not furtively) so do keep that in mind before any of you take another swipe at us.

      1. Jeffrey,
        I apologize if what I wrote came across as glee, it is not how I feel about the situation and I apologize if that’s how it seemed.
        Earlier comments implied a lack of support and yet when I go to your home page I don’t see the the referenced “Obit.” I’m glad to see you are still around at least to the extent of warranty support and I hope you’ll also continue out of warranty repairs since that’s important to people who have invested your controllers.
        I do really like you guys, enjoyed hanging out with you in Florida and wish you the best in your ventures!

        1. The obit I’m referring to is at

          I do see that the site is still up, but the last post seems to be a year and a half ago. Jeffrey, I’m also glad to see you are still supporting Soliton customers, but you may want to add a quick new posting on your home page or a more recent Evnetics News post to clarify any further confusion that people like me are causing.

          I also wish you a great success in the locomotive powertrain industry, and hope perhaps one day you will get back to the EV space with a killer AC controller to rival what you folks did for DC with your Soliton line.

        2. I’d like to happily reply, that evnetics is repairing controllers, so soliton owners don’t panic. My out of warranty jr was diagnosed, repaired and apparently shipped this morning after about a week. Can’t wait to get it back, spring is in the air, and wheels need to get moving

          1. Dang jack,

            you now have me on a mission to find $4600(+20% to make up for the sinking Canadian dollar) for a nice ac76 which my bus should have in it. Hopefully I find it before they’re all gone. As for the new focus of evtv, I couldn’t be happier, the ability to utilize oem components in our builds, is probably how the original hotrodders felt in the 50’s when they started pulling newly designed, small, yet powerful V8’s out of pick ups and large sedans of the day, to put in they’re ’30 roadsters as go fast parts. A whole new industry was created, the parallels seem undeniable. Thanks for spearheading the birth of our modern magnetic drive hotrod age

          2. I guess I would liken it more to the time when factory remanufactured shortblocks started to appear and then morphed into “crate engines”. That is an entire engine in a box, at a price, delivered on a pallet. That really made custom cars easy. And of course all the parts on the crate engine were very commonly aviailable anywhere.

            Up to this point, we’ve been adapting farm tractor motors to cars. Painfully and awkwardly. Using mostly custom made one-off pieces.


      2. The skin seems thin here. Nobody came across at all as taking a swipe at you. If anything, it’s a wake and sadness that you’re gone. I don’t even know you are gone, but nobody is returning phone calls – I think Deidre even tried to order a SolitonJr from you all this week and couldn’t raise a flag or get a call returned.

        The notice guys was on the Rebirth site. The EVNETICS is still up but nobody apparently home by phone.

        We were big fans and sold a lot of your stuff and loved it. We’re sorry to see it go…

        Jack Rickard

  6. Jack,

    I just want to thank you for writing your blog. I don’t comment that much but I watched all your videos and read all the blogs. Summing up all your blogs from 2009, heck I may have read volumes of books already with topics not only about evs but also about pigs, teas, chicks and wine and so on… In a way you kind a shared some of your “wealth” to us already. so, thank you.

    Btw, I do component level troubleshooting, if that would be of any help 🙂

  7. I always enjoy reading Jack’s blog in order to find out what I am currently doing. 😉 For the past few weeks it was reported that I have retired and turned the business over to my son, Hunter. While Hunter has been with the company for >7 years and has become an integral member of the team, I have simply cut-back on my time to 50-60 hour, 4-5 day weeks – which Jack may consider being retired, down from my 80-90, 7-day efforts. Certainly Hunter has stepped up and taken on a greater role and handles all 1st level technical questions, plus the daily questions from the people who want to put generators on all 4 wheels and charge their batteries as they drive – I’ve had enough of those over the past 16 years. NetGain Motors continues to provide the high level of service and support we have been known for. Yes, Jack is correct that various OEM’s make up > 97% of our sales, but the EVs make up 97% of our fun. NetGain Motors is doing very well, but I now concentrate on OEMs (thus less fun), we do have a new motor that is “almost” ready to be announced (and YES, you heard it here first…), and more really exciting things in the works.

  8. Thanks for the shout out Jack. However, to clarify, it is a 1960 Studebaker and I live in Madison, Wisconsin, no that god awful Minnesota 😉 I suppose keeping 1000 details isn’t any easier for you than it is for me…. for anyone else, my project is at We are having fun and greatly appreciating Jack and EVTV’s support and advice. Cheers, Rich

    1. My apologies for my failing grasp of detail Mr. Morris. One of the many joys of Alzheimers is that you get to meet so many new people each day – starting with “that woman” on arising. But we are enthused by your project and hopeful for some video as it gets further along.

      My grandfather, Mason Emerson was a little crusty and worked for the Cotton Belt railroad while farming on the side. He had a 1954 Studebaker pickup with curious wind deflectors on each side. He referred to it as the “flop eared sonofabitch” and at age four, proud to be along, so did I. This caused some stir among the stern Catholic matriarchs heading the clan. Leaving me with a lifelong softspot for Studebaker. I kind of think the “right” ’54 might come along someday. But there are unfortunately very few survivors as they were a curiously badly manufactured vehicle and subject to the vicissitudes of oxidation.

  9. Thank you again Jack Rickard for what you are doing, and thank you Ms. Chai Jingh for that powerful documentary.

    I’m not a player in the electric car zone, but I have watched all of your shows. I like the geek stuff and can even understand some of it. I also find your commentary on other subjects very informative. I think the direction you are going with recycling used OEM components to make a repairable vehicle is exactly right.

    As an aside, I met Damien Maguire when I was in Ireland. He did me, a total stranger, a big favor. In Ireland the biggest compliment you can give a man is to call him a gentleman and or a lovely man. Damien is indeed a lovely man and a gentleman.

    I may not be a car guy, but I’ve had an electric bike since 2009, and am now riding an electric Yuba Boda Boda cargo bike. It makes me smile.

    Be Well and Cheers

    1. You are the third I’ve heard from this week, so in my mind trending – all with the same claim. How can you watch 264 videos averaging two hours each and not be a “player” in the space? I’ve spent more time with you than I ever did with any of my kids. What is it that I DO have to say to get you into a project?

      One by one, I’m even winning the kids over into electric vehicles. Apparently, the age of 30 brings with it some dawning glimmer of sentience and the no doubt painful first awareness that maybe the old guy isn’t so crazy after all.

      Mr. Maguire is indeed a lovely man. I’m very pleased to announce he will arrive here in Cape Girardeau on the occasion of our coming Wednesday evening, and be with us until Friday. Hopefully some video will occur between whiskey to commemorate this, our first meeting.

      Yuba is a growing phenomenon. You’re definitely cutting edge.



      1. Jack, sorry to hear about the age-related memory issues. I suffer from an equally vexing problem. You see, I have SEX DAILY. I mean, um, DYSLEXIA. Or maybe both; I can’t remember. Did someone mention something about Alzheimers?

  10. I’m old Jack. Quite literally old enough to be your father. Don’t even have a car, and I let my license expire. I also live in a bicycle friendly town with excellent public transportation. But I do spread the word. Almost every time I’m out riding people ask me questions about my bike, and thanks to you, I can answer them, and can also debunk ridicules falsehoods about electric vehicles.

    My next project will be a 3 wheeler when my balance goes, and after that ________________.

    1. PaPaLee, After your 3 wheeler you can get one of those 4 wheel mobility scooters. They are getting quite popular and range is fairly good. I’ve seen people driving them down the side of the road when there weren’t any sidewalks. This past summer I saw a guy take one through a DRIVE THROUGH at the local McDonalds.

    2. I had a guy 94 here in the shop from Illinois threatening to do a 2003 Buick. He was really sore about the engine going out and GM not covering it 12 years later.

      I told him most of our builders were kids – probably averaging something like 74 years old. I didn’t think a 94 year old guy could do one by himself. He seems to have taken it as a challenge so we’ll see.

      So jack up your Hoveround. Let’s put a UQM Powerphase in it.

      1. Jack,

        six horses for a coach that is more than enough. The 10 kW BLDC should do and six of them should even get you out of the mud. You dont want to go on the highway with a stage coach, do you?

        On the other hand, there is no risk of being escorted to the asylum. A guy driving a stage coach pulled by six electric horses would spoil their guests, the doc including.

        I’d like to see that video. Not the asylum, the electric horses and the coach.

        Peter and Karin

  11. Jack,
    Hopefully you enjoy your Longjing tea. I have tasted quite a few Chinese green teas during the years and none have surpassed Xihu Longjing imho as long as one doesn’t go below Grade I. I like it so much that it has been my main tea for the last ten years actually. I think you got a good price as my local tea store charges 130 euros for 500 grams which I gladly pay for both the tea and the service they provide.

  12. “Tesla, as it turns out in its annual report, lists its risk factors but they have added a new one. The threat of their customers hacking and modifying their car, causing liability to purse and reputation and all manner of evil.”

    I wonder if Tesla’s concern over hacking isn’t directed more at autonomous driving features they are planning for the future, rather than batteries and traditional automotive components. . It seems that Elon inferred in the interview at the following link that, in the future, drivers may be outlawed. A burning battery pack is bad publicity but a Model X diving head first, into the path of a semi is even worse!

  13. + 1 on the DS18B20 temperature sensors.

    I used one to capture ambient temperatures on the 2000 cycle CALB test rig and use 8 for terminal temperatures in the fast charge rig. They are cheap, small, accurate, reliable, robust and very easy to use with the Arduino. The only downside is that keeping track of the identifiers is a pain if you have lots of them and want to know which physical sensor is producing which reading

    1. I find it handy to record the number on a label that I attach to the wire. And from the detritus of another project I put together an Arduino mini with a 1 line LCD display and a small terminal block that I can connect a DS18B20 to and it displays the identifier on the LCD. If I used more of them I would probably interface it to a label printer.

          1. The seek is nice, but since the plug is a fixed direction, works well for samsung, but for HTC’s its a selfie. Hopefully they make a third version with the plug fliped 180 degrees

  14. Oliver Kuttner from Edison2, winner of the XPrize has some interesting views on the future of cars and automated driving. I think these views have a lot of merit, and we should keep an eye out for this possible change in direction. He gave a talk at the University of Virginia at a TEDx event.

    I spent a few hours with him in Emeryville CA where we talked about his plans for building the VLC 4 (which never got off the ground due to lack of interest from VC.) The design he had for the suspension on the VLC was a work of art. He had a demonstration case with a suspension for a VW Golf size vehicle and it was so light and compact. What a thing of beauty. He could not convince any of the manufactures to adopt this change. They all want to continue to use the McPherson strut design that exists on almost every car built today. The frunk in a Tesla would be absolutely enormous if you remove the strut towers from the suspension. After our discussion we went out for drive in the VLC electric version, and what a great car that was. It certainly gets attention as well. Everyone is looking and taking pictures of it.

    video is available for viewing….starts about 14 minutes into the video.

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