Right to Repair – Why it Matters…


EVTV is an experiment in a publishing concept I originally developed at Boardwatch Magazine. The concept is TOTAL NICHE DOMINANCE and what it means is that you produce a publication so specialized in a specific microindustry and so immerse the publication not only in the journalistic process, but even the industry development process that you become totally niche dominant. In other words, you become so immersed in the industry you cover that wannabe competitors, whatever their other features might be, stay wannabees. They are viewed as outsiders, while you are viewed as part of the industry itself.

This necessarily requires that you eschew the easy work of just interviewing people artfully and avoid acquiring knowledge of the topic itself – the motif of today’s television journalists. You have to learn the industry at the bit banging level.

The whole concept is actually very forgiving of failure. Realistically, whenever you get to a sufficiently specialized area, anyone in the area doesn’t read ONE magazine or ONE news source, they tend to scan ALL sources on their topic of interest – good, bad, frequent, or infrequent. But total niche dominance is kind of the mark that you want to be the 800 lb gorilla in the space. The publication all others are measured by.

I’m kind of pleased with my mailbox these days. We’re up to about 175 e-mails per day. And it occurs to me this day that I should express some gratitude.

You see while I often TRY to put on a positive attitude, much like an ill-fitting coat, I’m actually kind of a saturnine personality. And I’m generally quite negative. Part of this springs from our publishing style. I originally very consciously adopted my favorite computer columnist John C Dvorak’s style. John is known as a “curmudgeon” largely because his way of commenting on the industry is basically to whine about it. Every article is a form of complaint. And that makes it somewhat easy to comment on what should be instead of what is. I fell into the same style so naturally, that for about six or eight of our years publishing Boardwatch, we were actually favored to feature John C. Dvorak in Boardwatch. He didn’t come cheap. But we were thrilled to have him.

So picture the day. I get 175 e-mails, and 168 of them are enormously positive. Three of them simply require fixing some real or imagined slight of a customer who bought something and didn’t get all the screws. Leaving four really negative e-mail messages. Care to guess which messages go through my mind over and over all day long?

In the United States Navy, which I had a brief 74 month encounter with in my youth, we had a saying. “One aw-shit wipes out ten attaboys.” And so I focus on the negative.

Bottom line, I’m a whiner. Some would say a professional whiner.

This week then can only be described as bliss. I am first reminded of the almost embarassing generosity of our viewers. And THEN I get something REALLY big to WHINE about. All in the same week.

In truth, I’m buried in very laudatory e-mails unabashedly thanking me for existing. And indeed UPS literally delivers a dozen boxes a day of t-shirts, ball caps, bottles of wine and beer, bumper stickers, while the e-mails include dozens of photos of builds and smiling builders, videos, links to OTHER people’s videos, etc. It’s like drinking from a firehose.

By way of example, we had two viewers drive EIGHT HOURS to our facility in Cape Girardeau, for the express purpose of repairing my Azure Dynamics built Ford eTransit Connect, which the view of it laying inert on the shopcam apparently offended their sensibilities. And of course, after affecting repairs, they had another eight hour drive home. Gave up their weekend with their family. It’s just impossibly generous. And in this weeks episode, as you will see quite successful.

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At the same time, I’m in full enraged rant and rail over the temerity of the existing automobile manufacturers as they come out of the closet and actually publicly proclaim that THEY own the software and information you need to repair or modify your vehicle, and YOU not only do not, but are patently and by blanket endorsement NOT QUALIFIED to work on your own car and should in a right world be BARRED FROM ATTEMPTING it as a matter of law and good public policy. Only THEY are actually competent to make any repair to your vehicle, no matter how minor. It’s hard to speak on camera in between bouts of PROJECTILE VOMIT. But I’ve had a week of reading through smarmingly greasy legalese couched in unctious appeals to the public good and the safety of poor innocents everywhere greasily coating abject unabashed demands for greed and money perpetuating the victim status of the American consumer. That it is obviously badly written by the grossly incompetent is small consolation. I suppose I am relieved to see that it is so unapologetically self serving that I can rely on the native intelligence of government bureaucrats to readily see through it and rule against them.

I am most pleased to be able to note on this April day in 2015, that twenty five years ago we reported in Boardwatch Magazine the formation of a non-profit organization, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Originally born of the vision of Grateful Dead lyricist and Whole Earth Lectronic Link resident cyberpoet/scribe John Perry Barlowe, this organization was formed to defend our rights on a new “digital frontier”. Barlowe was joined early by Mitch Kapore, a heroically successful for that day entrepreneur and head of Lotus 123, the dominant spreadsheet software program of the time. The third key supporter was John Gilmore, who was Sun Microsystems employee number of five and really at the heart of the very early days of the Internet. So early, his TOAD.COM remains probably among the oldest dozen or so of Internet domains – he still owns it.

We pledged what was for us then a substantial financial contribution in the first weeks of the formation of this group and encouraged our readers to do the same at every opportunity. Indeed, I would make the case today 25 years later that if you place any value on your privacy, your liberty and your rights going into the future, you need to figure out just what that value is and send it in decimal format to EFF.ORG now. Unlike 25 years ago, when we had no idea what EFF.ORG would actually do, we can point now to a 25 year record of able and pointed successes where they have actually had enormous impact on the freedoms you take for granted today.

And they continue to be both relevant and effective. Last fall they filed a proposal for an exemption to the Digital Millinia Copyright Act or DMCA signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1998. And this exemption is SPECIFICALLY to preclude lawsuits and prosecution by automobile manufacturers against individuals who are so daring as to try to repair or modify their own cars. The threat is entirely real. And the exemption is at least partially effective if granted.

DMCA was a very bad law from the beginning. It was so bad that even the people who passed it understood it was bad. To get it passed at all, they defanged almost anyone who might effectively oppose it by granting a sugar candy blanket exemption to all Internet Service Providers and carriers for almost ALL copyright infringement conceivable. This was so tasty, it quieted the room while the dirty deed was done. But it was also so bad that they tried to build in a structure for self repair in the unavoidable event of “unintended consequences.” That is, the Office of Copyright could itself issue “exemptions” to the law to innocents who might be harmed by it. These exemptions could be issued every three years and also reviewed for renewal every three years. Yes, the copyright office can simply make new law at the stroke of a pen, offering relief to anyone that is “harmed” by the law itself.

While that may seem unprecedented, the law itself is as well. It’s not so much that it protects copyrights, it is much much worse. It makes it illegal to ATTEMPT to DEFEAT any protection measures a copyright holder employs to protect their work. Note that this is not to say defeating copy protection to commit copyright infringement is against the law. Attempting to defeat copyright protection ITSELF is against the law.

This was of course intended to protect DRM schemes on CD’s and DVDs. But unscrupulous companies have heroically sought to extend this concept to nearly everything. And automakers have repeatedly threatened individuals and companies with lawsuits based on this premise. There is actually not much case law where they’ve succeeded. But the DMCA is sufficiently broad to cause the THREAT of such suits to cause individuals receiving these threats to scamper for the exits – causing a huge chilling effect on the industry.

Worse, it allows copyright holders to essentially completely gut any legitimate fair use of their copyrgihted works. The central tenet of copyright law is to grant certain rights to “creators” of an original work. But this has always been balanced by a list of exceptions where copyright CAN be infringed for “legitimate” uses. This balance between creative rights and fair use is the backbone of the entire concept. By employing DRM, and relying on the DMCA to enforce it, a creator can essentially make ANY fair use impossible. And almost everyone with any thing that could be deemed a creative work, has found this so attractive a notion, that they simply make up out of whole cloth legal theories as to how DMCA applies to their particular brand of “creation.” Automakers among them. And in general, the DMCA is so badly written, that the threat of legal action is actually generally more effective than the legal action itself.

Indeed, most of these entities don’t actually WANT to actually go to court. That would present an opportunity for a judge to rule AGAINST them on the issue. As long as it is untested, it COULD be true. So it has become an enormous “blue elephant gun” and really a quite effective one. (You don’t see any blue elephants in your area do you?).

There are several bills currently on the table to fix DMCA. The problem is, it doesn’t need fixing. In the years that have gone by, it has become evident that the movies and music it was designed to protect didn’t get protected, and indeed the whole DRMS thing is emerging as an act of gravity defiance. The entire law should be repealed in total.

But in the interim, the EFF application for an exemption for the repair and modification of vehicles, from a law never intended to COVER repair and modification of vehicles, remains idiotically as the most effective step we can take.

At the same time incredibly enough AND predictably enough, if that makes sense, several groups have filed unctious comments AGAINST the exemption, including the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the Association of Global Automakers, the Auto Alliance, Eaton Corporation, General Motors and John Deere. In doing so, they rather publicly admit their plans to threaten individuals and businesses with this law for their own corporate greed. General Motors comments below.

General Motors Class21 1201 2014 (Text)

You can of course find all the March 27 comments at http://copyright.gov/1201/2015/comments-032715

The reason for singling out General Motors actually goes to the heart of this week’s episode. We give you two hours of our struggle to troubleshoot and repair the Azure Dynamics Ford eTransit Connect. Described as INCOMPETENT to make such repairs or modifications by General Motors and the other commentors, we don’t have a lot of choice. Azure Dynamics is bankrupt. We can’t get their “IP”. From what I know, it was sold to Smith Electric Truck, which has ITSELF ceased operations and is going through bankruptcy.

Ironically, I hear WEEKLY from Ford Dealers across the land, looking for any information they can find, to be able to repair these vehicles themselves. Yes, they e-mail and call EVTV constantly seeking parts and advice on repairing these vehicles. And I would say over HALF of the 100 or so eGearDrives we’ve sold have gone to Ford dealers. This week, I heard from another EV conversion shop in Oregon who had an Azure Dynamics eTransit Connect that had been DEAD for about two years – since shortly after it was delivered. He was wanting to know if I had ANY info on how the BMS worked. Basically I don’t.

We had to figure out, using basically stolen diagrams and software, how to repair a TWO YEAR OLD vehicle with 4800 miles on it.

We had to reverse engineer Azure Dynamics “IP” to be able to make effective use of 59 DMOC645 inverters and 165 Siemens motors we rescued from the event.

A unique case? What about CODA? At least 81 individuals paid the $37,500 purchase price for this electric car. The new smell wasn’t out of the upholstery where it had been sprayed on out of the can, before CODA had declared bankruptcy and completely abandoned them. Richard Starr now has SIX of these cars he has acquired. The value of the vehicles has plummeted to NOTHING becauase the owners cannot obtain parts and information on how to repair them. UQM is stuck with $7.5 million in motors and inverters they can’t sell. We had to essentially “hack” the security encryption byte in their CAN bus commands to get the UQM inverter/motor to work. We had to do the same with the Delphi DC-DC converter, and the Lear charger out of the CODA.

ALL of this theoretically illegal under the DMCA, and done by people described in official filings with the U.S. Government Office of Copyright as incompetent to do so and posing an imminent threat of harm to the public. Only the OEM’s are competent to repair or modify these vehicles under their sworn testimony. But there AREN’T any OEM or manufacturers to repair these, and irony of ironies we have Ford Motor Company dealers haranguing US for information on how to do so.

Of course, Coda and Azure Dynamics are not manufacturers of the status of the venerated General Motors. Ahem…. Need I remind you that lacking $80 BILLION dollars of YOUR money, General Motors would have absolutely and without anyone’s exception gone through the bankruptcy process – stranding MILLIONS of vehicle owners of dozens of their models.

IP rights. No. GOOD public policy would be to REQUIRE open source publication of ALL drawings, all circuit diagrams, and ALL source code for any vehicle anyone is PROPOSING to introduce to the U.S. market. Indeed the automakers should be precluded from any ATTEMPT to thwart third party entry into the market with parts, information, or repair or modification services. Anything short of that is supporting the establishment of microMONOPOLIES on each car model.

Meanwhile, you should support Right to Repair laws in your state, much after the fashion of the State of Massachusetts. I’m still dumbfounded that this passed by an 85% majority. That’s the closest thing I’ve ever heard of to a unanimous passage of anything in America at the ballot box. I know of politicians who have run for public office UNOPPOSED who never got near to 70% of the ballot.

And in addition to financially supporting the Electronic Frontier Foundation, I would ask that you go to the trouble of a difficult comment process on the Exemption before May 1 at http://copyright.gov/1201/comment-forms/. This would have the MOST impact – individual messages from those who went to the trouble to conform to the copyright office onerous format.

But my thanks to CHad Oliveiri for contributing the link that I incompetently MISSED. https://act.eff.org/action/fight-for-your-right-to-repair-your-car. This is a very EASY way to add your name to a petition – currently close to 10,000 names supporting the EFF position on this.

OR you COULD do BOTH. Overkill being at all times appropriate.

Finally, I am NOT opposed to the concept of protectable Intellectual Property rights for automakers. I simply think they have lost sight of what that is.

Henry Ford was an innovative and creative guy. He protected for a number of years by trade secret a process he developed to cast a V8 engine block in a single pour – a thing considered IMPOSSIBLE by an entire industry, and leading to a stronger engine block produced much more quickly and at much less expense. It gave him a HUGE advantage over his rivals in the auto industry and I personally applaud that kind of innovation. He SHOULD have profited by it.

But he never did consider it a trade secret that it had 8 cylinders. He didn’t begrudge anyone the information on what the diameter size of those cylinders were. He didn’t deny anyone access to the information as to what size the pistons should be or the rings, or the first oversized rings or the second oversized rings. You needed that information to work on the car.

By way of more recent example, BMW has a significant investment in the technology to produce Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic Panels. And if that gives them a competitive advantage, they should be able to protect it. But if I yank one off and make a panel just like it out of East Indian Brazilwood, it’s kind of my car. They have nothing to say about it. And indeed the measurements and attach points should be public knowledge.

Actually, if I want wings on the back, fuzzy dice on the mirror, and mudders on the wheels, sorry BMW. You’re not entitled to an OPINION on the matter. Once purchased, it is MY car. And yes, unless it can be directly demonstrated that my modification has CAUSED a problem with the car, you should honor your warrantee as well- and be required by law to do so.

Again, my deepest appreciation to Mark Weisheimer and Byron Izenbaard for their heroic efforts to get me back on the road in the wee EVTV van. And indeed for the rarely mentioned but really DEEPLY appreciated largesse of the overwhelming majority of our viewers who share time, treasure, plaudits, and especially the many many tips and links and information we receive regarding the EV industry. I probably got 30 e-mails providing links just on this DCMA thing and you make me look a lot smarter than I quite am.

And for our Ford dealers, I should have a ready stock of WAKE ON CHARGE modules by the middle of this week. Understand I’ll have to jack the price of the modules up about 34% higher than you could get one at an independent repair shop, but you know how it is….

Jack Rickard

72 thoughts on “Right to Repair – Why it Matters…”

  1. As an old school shade tree mechanic I find this movement to shut us out as a very worrisome move. The auto industry needs to remember that we built them, not the other way around.

  2. If you want to comment via the link Jack provided (http://copyright.gov/1201/comment-forms/), you will need to know the class: Class 21: Vehicle software – diagnosis, repair, or modification. Here is my short but sweet comment:

    I am the owner of a 2000 Ford Ranger EV. This is an orphaned vehicle that Ford no longer manufactures or supports. Auto manufacturers should be required to open source information that owners need to repair the vehicles we have paid for. To allow them to claim that manufacturers or owners would be harmed by release of this information is false and a misuse of copyright law.

  3. As I was watching the show, I had to think that perhaps they are right, we are not qualified to work on our own cars, but the reason we are not qualified is because we don’t have this information. They first withhold the information, and then say we are not qualified and show all the examples of how hard it is for shade tree mechanics to work on the car, but the simple solution is to provide the tools for us to make it easy to work on the cars. Simple schematics can go a long way toward making it easier to troubleshoot, and then giving us some canbus tools that can diagnose components and it makes it easy to be a shade-tree mechanic. I agree that it is completely illogical that they wont release this information for the simple reason that it would reduce the number of calls they get for help. As an industrial automation guy, I make sure that I provide a very detailed package of component manuals along with all the wiring diagrams of the equipment and I include a flash drive with all the software as well as a printout of the software code so they customer can troubleshoot the equipment themselves. It greatly reduces the number of calls I get for service and support.

  4. It’s worth noting that one of the exemptions to DMCA reverse engineering is for the purpose of creating interoperable products, like GEVCU. Thus Tesla can’t get pissed off when you create modules that allow the operation of the motors you picked up.

  5. Jack do you have some kind of a ban on YouTube now due to the initial Tesla injunction or did they slap another one on? The 4/24 episode is not showing up. I got it via the Amazon cloud but I’m helping Jason Arnold with his EVTV Index writeups which contain links to the YouTube uploads.

    1. “I’m helping Jason Arnold with his EVTV Index writeups”

      What’s this, then? I’ve long thought that a community-supported and crowd-sourced Wiki for the EVTV episodes would be a great tool for trying to find past tips, tricks, techniques and technical info. Do you think I could ever find the episode where Jeff Southern illustrated how to use PEMS in constructing battery box lids, for example? (I eventually figured it out, Jeff), or what episode Jack went over the GEVCU architecture in detail? I find that often there is a long delay in when information is presented, and then actually needed, since converting a vehicle over to electric power is such a long project for us non-retired 50-somethings who tend to forget where we saw (or put) things.

      – Collin

        1. I have added links to the video ARCHIVES page to make it easy to go to this excellent Index. I was kind of vaguely unaware of its existence. What a huge amount of work – and very well done.

          Thank you.

          Jack Rickard

          1. In the words of Captain Hector Barbossa: “Thank ye, Jack”.

            And, to one and all, sorry for keeping it under my hat so long. The original Indexer, Chris Fisher, quietly passed me the baton a couple years back and I kept adding to and improving it in obscurity, never feeling it was “quite ready” for a debut… but then the work never is, so thanks to Mike for dragging it into the limelight! It’s worth noting that I only update it as my schedule allows, but Chad and Mike have been big helps in keeping the updates timely in recent months.

            For anything pre-2013, see Chris’ recently revamped, but also excellent, “old” Index at index.evtv.me

  6. Given the ancient (and in recent years fairly friendly) rivalry between the UK and France it is encouraging to note that there are about half a dozen superchargers in London and none in Paris

    1. I’ve never been accused of being representative of the “average person”, but to me I’ve not been impressed with the couple examples I’ve seen come from Munro. I’ve not purchased their full report, but everything that is in the BMW videos is either visually obvious when you look at the vehicle or information that BMW publicly stated at one point or another. I’ve seen some other video they did on the Chevy Volt. Specifically, I noticed that they got several things wrong in regard to the DC-DC converter and Lear charger. It sure looks like the EVTV hack team has more info on these components than they do. I highly doubt that they go into much detailed reverse engineering of networks or individual components, but then again I haven’t seen the full report either. If the teaser videos are any indication of what’s in the full report, there’s nothing in it worth reading. Just my opinion.

  7. Re your 12 volt aux battery conundrum: in the Civic (and no doubt many other cars) there is an additional issue: central locking and radio codes. The car needs 12 volts even when shut down to function normally. I started with a 4-5 Ah aux battery, but that was useless because the car burns over 100 milliamps with the ignition off so you burn 2 – 3 amp hours a day. I tried a lead acid motor bike battery but that was still too small and was bulky, heavy and gassed. I am now using 40 Ah lithium cells and plan to recharge from AC mains in parallel with the main pack (i.e. using a 12 volt charger powered by the same AC input as the main battery pack charger). This is mostly because I don’t want the 12 volt aux battery being float charged by the DC-DC converter. I’ll probably put in a low voltage shut off so if I leave it parked for 6 months it won’t trash the 12 volt battery. If it works with the (used) 40 AH cells I’ll probably go to larger cells (I sized the battery box to accommodate CAM 80s)

    1. John,
      Why not just leave the DC-DC converter energized all the time? 2-3 amp hours at 12v is hardly anything at full pack voltage, right? I’ve got a toggle switch under the hood (bonnet??) for my DC-DC just in case the truck ever sits for more than a week or so and I can also unplug pack voltage from it if I ever put the truck in long time storage.

      1. I work on EVs in the UK, I had a Miles in that had the DC to DC running 24/7, with a relatively small battery, the DC to DC was a sevcon unit and it had eaten three by the time I got it. I sell a small circuit board that monitors the 12v battery and when it gets to 12.2v for 20 seconds (So the central locking blip doesnt set it off) it turns the DC to DC on for two hours, if you turn the car on or the charger on then its reset. It saves the 12v battery going flat which a modern car will do quite quickly with central locking radio, etc etc all running in the back ground. These also have a line of LEDs so giving a simple voltage bar from red through orange to green showing the 12v battery state. A simple solution for a pain in the butt, if the car isnt used at least weekly.

          1. Theres is a email address on my website http://www.ev-support.co.uk, drop me a line and I will send you a photo of the board and the simple enclosure I used on the Miles. I dont normally sell them separately, mostly install them for customers, so casings and relays tend to be set up for different purposes. I can show you a few of the different installs. I dont think there is away for me to put the photos on here otherwise I would share the photos. I did send Jack a photo of the MIles install recently.

  8. If you are interested in watching Elon Musk Reveal the Tesla Powerwall I have come across the video on YouTube on this link: https://youtu.be/ZVjW9XdPlhg

    I think that this is very exiting news, and there is a lot more packed in to this presentation than “just” the new products coming from Tesla.

    Enjoy 🙂

  9. I found an article about a gang of morons, claiming that the fact one can hack the car by connecting laptop directly to its canbus is DANGEROUS. So they are working tirelessly on looking for various “security holes” in hope carmakers will eventually PAY them for their findings.
    Of course with full access to the car they could do much more harmful things with a pair of pliers, but this doesn’t seem to bother these guys.

    And you know what? I think carmakers will actually pay the guys. And as a result, they will employ a cryptography in canbus messages. Something like that security bit but much more complicated.
    And they will claim that this is for public safety. And anybody trying to pry into is a criminal or even terrorist. And DMCA exemption is a very bad idea.

    Or maybe I’m wrong.

    The article can be found here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2015/03/25/hack-a-car-for-60-dollars/

    1. Stanley A. Cloyd

      Dod requires right-to-repair in all defense contracts. If you want to withhold the data, Uncle sugar just disqualifies your bid. Uncle Sam won’t even play by the rules they subject the public too because that would wind up being a frequent disaster for national security. What’s sauce for the Goose SHOULD be sauce for the gander.

      1. George Sawyer

        It occurs to me that we should do the same… Before purchasing any new vehicle, require as part of the purchase agreement specific manufacturer documentation. This then becomes a way for dealers to differentiate themselves from other vehicle sellers, while at the same time granting the first buyer access to information up front. After-the-fact acquisition of this type of information isn’t quite as easy – as we are not discussing. If this were to become a standard request by all new car prospective buyers, I suspect we would see some change.

    2. You’re right. People like that are missing the point. Yes, you could do a lot of nasty things with physical access to the car. Did you know that if you have physical access to a car you can commit crimes with it? Drive over people!?! Facilitate robberies!?! Someone should do something about that! Having physical access to the canbus could allow one to do a lot of scary things to to car but so would cutting the brake lines or modifying the shifter, etc, etc. There is a saying in the computer industry that the only secure computer is one which is off and buried in concrete in a secret location underground. And, no one is sure about that one either. Physical access is *always* game over. If you have the object in your possession you can do whatever you want to it. Nothing a third party can do will ever really solve that problem. As most they can slow people down.

      And, yes, this hysteria is likely to cause auto makers to add more and more security to the canbus. Luckily, it’s hard to have that much security since all frames are 8 bytes in length and there is finite bandwidth. As it stands most of the canbuses in a car are busy enough that the engineers wouldn’t feel that comfortable adding 50% overhead for encryption or security. Because of that they tend to use weaker, simpler schemes that keep casual people out. And, that’s good enough. Think of it this way. You have several options for locks for your house. Some people buy really expensive locks with multiple securing points. Some people don’t lock their house at all. Which one is better? Well, how secure are your windows? Do you have a french door? Because, if I want in your house I’m getting in your house. I could open the door, I could pick the lock, I could smash a window, I could drive a cement mixer into the side of it. If I want in I’m getting in. All the security measures you implement could not stop me if I wanted in your house. Chances are you lock your house with simple locks because what you want is to prevent casual intrusion of your house. If the neighbor kids try to go in your house and snoop around they can’t. But, a dedicated burglar is going to rob you blind no matter what you do. It’s mostly pointless to waste time trying to stop that because they’ll do it anyway. At a certain point the effort and expense is more than its really worth. Escalating effort can prevent escalating levels of intrusion but you can’t stop everyone.

      1. Yes, you are right. Securing CANBUS won’t really work. But everyone looking into data transmitted inside his or her car will be treated as a “hacker”. And I mean common, negative meaning of this word.
        Police will draw attention to people buying CANBUS scanners. Just in case.

        1. Stanley Cloyd

          Lately police haven’t even been able to control themselves when faced with a perp running away. Now days only the federal government can buy/own digital phone bugs. I’ve got some old scanners that were very entertaining back when there were still analog cell phones about. Before anyone gets too upset, the statute of limitations has run out.

      1. I even tried the Google cache but it’s deleted too. This is what the story now says: “Editor: At the request of all parties involved, we regret to inform you that we have been asked to remove this article.”

          1. The article about the EV guy who built the gauges for the Tesla Powerwall announcement. Follow the Reply chain back to my original comment.

          2. The NIkki bloomfield article originally posted by Mike (https://transportevolved.com/2015/05/04/how-an-electric-hot-rodder-helped-tesla-pull-off-its-tesla-energy-big-reveal/)

            The story was that one of the Tesla employees called a DIY EV drag racer (Michael Kadie) to slap together a couple gauges for their “running on sunshine” announcement of the power wall. The parts that Tesla had ordered for this display did not show up on time, and I bet the Tesla Employee just got it done, rather than deal with the bosses “Where are my gauges?” wrath. Here is a picture of Michael Kadie from the article


          3. It looks bizarre, but is not. Employees of these companies love the idea of a little limelight, but on second thought are always terrified for their jobs if their name actually appears or anything that would identify them. The guy that put in the gages of course doesn’t work for Tesla and was delighted with 15 minutes of fame all around. I’m sure after the story came out, the Tesla employee that brought him in probably mentioned that he woudl be very easy to identify and terminate for that matter. Backtracking from there.

            I would love to report paranoia. But unfortunately, it’s only paranoia if they are NOT out to get you. Mr. Musk is known for his take no prisoners approach to press control.


  10. Hi Jack hope you are well, I wasn’t sure if you were aware but while sending some information over to my state senator about right to repair I found that there has been a sell out already. It seems the party’s involved have come to a Memorandum of Understanding, which has put independent auto repair facilities opposing any new state right to repair laws. But it also claims to have forced members to the agreement to provide the same information nationally that the Massachusetts law requires. I was lobbying my Senator to include an Escrow agreement in the right to repair legislation, which would cover us in the event of bankruptcy.


    There are four interesting pieces of this MOU and agreement:
    1. Whether a product or service is provided by a manufacturer on “fair and reasonable terms” depends on a number of factors, including the net cost charged to dealers, the price charged by other manufacturers for similar information, the ability of the aftermarket technicians or shops to afford the information, and the means by which the information is distributed.
    2. The agreement anticipates that on-board diagnostic and repair information will be available on an onboard display by 2018.
    3. The agreement does not cover telematics services other than diagnostic and repair information, which remain the property of the manufacturer. Such services might include remote diagnostics, navigation information, crash notification, and remote door unlock.
    4. The agreement provides an alternative remedy to independent repair facilities who may feel a manufacturer is not living up to the MOU: any such facility can appeal to a “Dispute Resolution Panel” which, after attempts to resolve the dispute, issues a nonbinding decision. After this decision, if the manufacturer and repair shop still cannot reach an agreement, then the repair shop can proceed with “whatever legal measures are available to it.”

    1. The automakers point to several totally unenforceable “agreements” in preference to R2R legislation. Indeed if you read this it basically precludes these organizations from supporting R2R legislation. But it has almost no effect on individual automaker members of the groups involved and indeed few of them are even aware of the MOU.

      They actually refer in this document to another “agreement” they often point to as making R2R unnecessary. Indeed in Massachusetts, they went as far as to actually have the legislature pass a “Right to Repair” bill that basically made sure you had no right to repair. Only after the ballot initiative was passed by an 85% margin was the ballot initiative “reconciled” with the purported Right to Repair/No right to repair bill, did the legislature do the right thing and throw the automakers under the bus.

      Meanwhile, by all means contact an automotive manufacturer from either of those groups and request to purchase the same diagnostic tool used by the dealership to flash VCU’s and analyze/diagnose the car.

      You guys read it on the web and it must be true. This is why I spend half the day chasing “unobtainium” devices our viewers send me. It always sounds good. And 99% of the time it is simply Webware with no reality component at all.

      If the automakers were onboard with R2R with this memo, why would they oppose R2R legislation at all? Much less spend a lot of money filing responses to a simple EFF proposal for exemption under the DMCA?

      I actually do NOT know why and indeed would make the case strongly that it isn’t even in their own interests in either the short or the long term. For any given model, the more repair and modification information is available, and the more third party aftermarket parts and add-ons are available, it is clear to me that the more likely it is to become a popular model or even a cult car. In other words, you kNOW your car has made it when the carbone fiber hoods and dress up kits appear for it. Nobody develops those for loser cars.

      The irony with regards to TEsla is just too much to take. The head of the corporation has several times said, and actually in the Homepower announcement REPEATED their intention to “open source” their patents. It is NOT possible given Elon Musk (the man, not the fragrance) background, for him to be the slightest bit confused what open source means. I think he should open it ALL with the lone exception of over the air access, which should obviously be secure. And if I make a steering while mounted button to let me change from econo to sport to insane mode without taking my hands off the wheel, why would he care? And if I reconfigured the stereo volume button on the wheel to raise and lower the car, why would he care? All of that INCREASES the desireability of the car.

      As an automaker, you can only aspire to the legacy of the 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, or the 1967 Ford Mustang. You can only dream of being the Ford 9 inch rear end or the Mustang steering gear/front tackle. No one gets to be the Ford F150 except Ford.

      The guys from Coda who KNEW the code for the security CRC byte in the inverter CAN messages LAUGHED at me when I asked them for it. They said they MIGHT use it on future products somehow and what did I think THEY owed to a bunch of people that bought their car and no could not support it? Collin broke the code and the FIRST guy that wanted to download an of course FREE copy of the code was ANOTHER ex-Coda guy who did NOT know what it was.

      I live in the land of the auto-insane. Where up is down and wrong is right and where Right to Repair means Right for Auto Manufacturers to prevent you from repairing. Demonstrably, empirically, even AFTER the automaker has themselves gone bankrupt and are no longer in the business at all!!!!

      EVTV is gradually becoming the go-to source for FORD DEALERS to get parts to repair eTransit Connects. It is laughable but at the same time deeply deeply sick.

      Fortunately, in America it is just so deeply ingrained in our “car culture” that I have little doubt of the outcome. I recall distinctly the dismay of mechanics who would never be able to repair these new fangled cars with those “computerized” ignitions when the solid state ignitions came out. Within months, there were third party solid state ignitions available from JC Whitney and they were obviously much easier to deal with than the original ignitions.

      The magic sauce smoke and mirrors which allow the automakers to portray the average guy as “incompetent to make these advanced repairs” goes away with the smoke. As soon as he has access to the repair information, he’ snot longer “not qualified.”. The whole argument is circular and self referential.

      Jack Rickard

    1. That is awesome. I don’t even think EVTV has discussed chrysler in any video. They just dont do noteworthy EV’s for the news section of the show.

      1. oh, and in case these comments don’t make sense because they cleared up the complaint and its working again, the April 18th 2014 show is now blocked on YouTube and the message is “This video contains content from Chrysler, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

  11. During your talk about solar/wind/hydro power, you mentioned that if every car/truck went to electric, the amount of electrical energy would double. Not true…at least not entirely.
    If all cars go electric there’s no need for gasoline refineries. The electricity that would have gone there could go into peoples cars.

    1. Actually it is still very roughly true. The oil industry pretty much operates their own powerplants to generate electricity for their refineries. In fact, they are the largest industrial producer of electricity as an industry. ANd guess what they use to produce this electricity? Very close to 100% coal.

      They don’t even drink their own koolaid. Coal is simply less expensive than oil to produce electricity.

      1. There is so much waste heat in the refineries that they spin their spare AC motors with steam turbines and use them as induction generators to make the overall process more efficient overall.

    2. Stanley A. Cloyd

      Alternative energy sources are needed not so much as a replacement of utility companies but as a threat when they are considering price hikes. They often can unduly influence a utilities rate commission but with the existence of alternatives they must also consider how much business they would loose to buyers of the alternatives. At that juncture they must not just consider rates of return but also marginal rates of return. The economies of scale argument only works when there is an ever increasing demand. I’ve never met someone that was laid off from a utility.

  12. Also, most EVers charge at night where-as refineries work 24/7. So, EV’s shift power usage to off-peak, which means the power infrastructure requirements are actually reduced.

  13. Hi Jack,

    You’ve mentioned you’ve lost or EVTV has lost Brian and Jessie?

    Whatever happened to them?

    Appreciate any info as I am left without a clue whatever happened to them guys.

    Last info I have about Brian was that his parents suffered a mishap

    I guess he is with his parents?

    As always, I love your show and I always look forward each week for every new episode

    I love your take on technology it’s always very informative to me

    More power to your show

    Marlou Jasmin Madrio – Singapore

  14. Just watched the 8 May episode – yes the Ampera aka Chevy Volt heater installation is the worst part of the car. The software must have been written by a former Microsoft employee as it is constantly intervening to set the environmentals to what it thinks you might like rather than what you asked for, and the output is usually pretty wimpish. If you end up doing a kit where you can just tell it to set a temperature I might just try a retrofit….

    BTW I finally got the Civic through the MOT test this week, sorted insurance and tax today and hope to do a first proper drive tomorrow. I’ll try to sort some video thereafter.

    1. We haven’t had an update video on the Civic in a very long time John. Last we saw, you had stuff laid out on a test bench. We’d love a walk around video of what happened.

      I tested the heater the other day and was unable to get it to rise beyond 56C under a load (two heat exchangers with the fans blowing). It was putting out pretty good heat, but more like 4400 watts than 6000. The 6000 is with inlet coolant at about 0C. We’re heating the whole system up and 6 or 8 degree drop through the heat exchanger. So yeah, I can see it being a little weeny. WE can be more aggressive on the software, but we can’t make it come on harder than full on.

      The good news is I found a nice PID library for Arduino that is really quite good at holding it at a temperature when you turn the fans down and have the car warmed up.


      1. Jarkko Santala

        That sounds a lot like the heater in i-MiEV/C-Zero/iOn. It is a similar electric liquid heater and only seems to go up to around 55 Celsius. It’s also around 5kW. I don’t know who manufactured it. I know the temperatures quite well, since I had to install an ethanol burner to keep the car usable in our rough winters and it has a display for the liquid temperature. The 55˚C is simply not hot enough to keep a car warm when it’s below freezing outside. The ethanol heater will go up to 75˚C.

        As for the effect on range, on my C-Zero with it’s 16 kWh pack and 5 kWh heater, the heater will easily blast at full power when we’re in the quite common -20-30˚C range. This will easily eat a third of the range. Even the GOM on the vehicle will reduce a 100 km range to 70 km if you just turn on the heat. Admittely, the 16 kWh is on the small side and so the heater has a greater effect on the range.

        But I’d say, as a rule of thumb, a 5 kW heater will use 5 kWh, if the weather is bad enough. How much that is in range, will depend on your pack. Which is why they’re moving on to heat pumps, because they will only use third or fourth of the energy to put out the same amount of heat.

        1. Some claim the EV1 came with a heat pump. The two obvious draw backs were that it takes while for the system to come fully on and, below a certain ambient temperature one is just better off using a resistance heater directly. They work great in Oklahoma but not at all in Michigan. Where you are determines whether you’re better off (weight wise) lugging around a heat pump , or, just more batteries. One size does not fit all.

        2. We have insulated the doors and lids back and front. That reduced noise from other cars and got me a ticket for speeding because there is no more audible indication how fast we go. Before driving I heat it up with a 2 kW portable electric heater. 1 kW is not enough but 2 kW gets it really warm and we can easily keep the temperature when driving. That heater helps digging the car out of the snow and deicing the windows.

          We had to drive home at night when it was frozen but with the insulation the heater did it. Without? I dont think so. Our first winter was terrible but since we got it insulated it is bearable.

          Our does not have preheating but with a 3.3 kW charger and a 5 kW heater I do not really miss it.

          Peter and Karin

  15. The John Deere story just made this week’s News Of The Weird, referring to the wired.com article.

    Fine Points of the Law

    * John Deere became the most recent company in America to claim
    that, though a buyer may have paid in full for a device, he may not
    actually “own” it. Deere claims that because its tractors run on
    sophisticated computer programs, the ostensible owner of the
    tractor cannot “tamper” with that software without Deere’s
    permission–even to repair a defect or to customize its operation.
    Already, traditional movie videos may come with restrictions on
    copying, but the Deere case, according to an April report on
    Wired.com, might extend the principle to machinery not
    traditionally subject to copyright law. [Wired.com, 4-21-2015]

  16. Jarkko Santala

    I just learned that the latest firmware version of DBT (a Nissan partner) manufactured CHAdeMO charging stations no longer work with vehicles manufactured by Mitsubishi. They’re trying to figure it out between Nissan and Mitsubishi in Japan. Keeping EVTV CHAdeMO Kit in operating condition could end up being a constant process of circumventing new bugs introduced by new station firmware. On the plus side, at least there is something you can do – get the CAN logs and try to make it work. On an OEM vehicle you can’t do anything, like I found out this morning.

    1. Oh dear.

      I am glad the only CHAdeMO chargers I have ever seen and used are from e8energy. I know they took pains to understand the cars (Leaf and i-MiEV) and tweak the protocol to make a 20 kW charger almost as fast as a 40 kW unit.

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