We’ve Gone PLAID….


They say it is an ancient Chinese curse – “May you live in interesting times….” And so it seems.

We were remiss in our video publishing efforts last week. Truth is, I got up last Saturday and went to the computer, sat down in the chair and promptly nodded off. Indeed I slept most of the day.

This week I turned 60. In all truth, probably not as young and pretty as I once was. The defection of Brain in January was jarring. I tried a new guy (BOB) for a month, but it just doesn’t work. Everyone that wants to work here who is sufficiently grizzled to have useful knowledge, is also pretty much set on doing things their way and “showing me” how it should properly be done. I may not be a control freak, but I am certainly a control enthusiast. warrantytape
And dealing with the condescension they almost universally adopt while teaching me, and at the same time so far removed from where they are actually at with their “know and don’t know they don’t know” is just a huge energy drain. The learning curve they face, coupled with the intense desire to be an authority on SOMETHING at that age, is just beyond my level of patience to deal with. I don’t have it to give.

I actually have faced this in the past from the other end. On sale of Boardwatch Magazine, I purposely sought a field where I would be the student instead of the teacher – aviation. Five years of full time all day every day effort, and I did indeed pick up single engine, multiengine, instrument, Lear, helicopter, and DC-3 type ratings and a hangar full of toys.

Along the way I truly had to humble myself and NOt hold forth on all that I knew. My initial flight instructor was 22 years old at the time. It was frustrating for both of us. But by the time it was over, I had more dual instruction as a student than anyone flying for any commercial airline. And it was widely known that any flight instructor with a light schedule book could show up and get paid for a few lessons from Jack if they knew anything interesting about aviation or at least have some good hangar stories.

So I am familiar with the challenges, I just don’t have the patience or energy to deal with them anymore. We have some young people in shipping and receiving that are sufficiently in awe they think I can make lightning from aluminum foil and salt, and they are getting pretty good at shipping the right stuff in the right box to the right place. If we could get UPS to do the same, we might be able to operate for awhile. But I give up on gaining any useful help in the shop or the show. It’s kind of me and actually I rather like working more or less alone.

In any event, we are moving more into microcontroller work than we are motor mounting issues these days. Christopher Fisher has worked with us for several years now from Sweden on our Amazon sight and blog and web store etc. That works pretty well since he doesnt’ actually have to endure my foibles first hand and in real time. Collin Kidder now works with me on coding issues very nicely as we rarely meet. And we have a good bit of volunteer help from the EVTV hack team at this point. Byron and Mark have dropped support for UNITED WAY and have adopted EVTV as their favorite charity now.

So we’ll just go with the new model and work it.

The WEEKLY nature of EVTV may be under review however. Whatever we shoot, it comes out to two hours and this week of course is more like two and a half. We originally WENT weekly at the sole behest of Brian Noto, who insisted that frequency was just a requirement if he was to sell any advertising. Subsequent to that, I sold a couple of ads but Brian never sold any anyway. Subsequently we have rather inverted the advertising supported video model. We buy product from our “advertisers” and sell it to our viewers, which puts us in a very different position with our advertisers and I actually enjoy the severe limitation on advertiser whining this rather naturally imposes. Indeed, I haven’t had a single solitary supplier threaten to pull their ad in years now…

I regularly hear from viewers that are a “show or two behind”. And so I’m seriously considering changing our frequency to every two weeks rather than weekly. I also thought about going daily but decided against it. I know our closest mimic, EVWest, was working monthly and now apparently with summers off, so maybe they are on to something…

In any event, like Rick Moranis, I kind of feel like we have gone PLAID, need to stop, and then take a five minute break – smoke if you got em.

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So what was signficant this week?

Well I am of the school that you should never ascribe to conspiracy what can be marked up to incompetence. But it is a competitive world and apparently they reward people in large corporations for coming up with stupid and evil ideas. The ever present oil industry is no news. They constantly bleat that gasoline prices are simply a function of supply and demand but the $4 per gallon gasoline prices of 2008 seemed strangely disconnected from supply or demand and the profits they posted later were just unbelievable – a joy to shareoweners world wide. This past month of June saw an INCREASE in gasoline usage of 9.6% over June of 2014 but gasoline prices were a full dollar lower. I smell fear and blood in the water. That less than 300,000 cars could inspire this kind of fear tells you what they think of our electric car ideas. We really only have two kinds of followers, the ardent in support of electric cars and the oil companies. Both groups are devout believers.

But talk about a BUMBLING conspiracy? How artless was Chrysler’s? In the month when the copyright office is expected to issue a waiver of the Digital Millineum Copyright Act for those seeking to learn about and repair their own automobiles, would you believe that two notorious “hackers” have successfully hacked into a Jeep Cherokee in St. Louis and posed a grave threat to life and limb of the driver by completely taking over control of the vehicle. And two congressmen, also supported by Chrysler, are introducing legislation to address this severe threat to the cyber security of our nation of people hacking into cars? The article appeared in Wired Magazine and they didn’t even bother to hide the fact that the genius hackers had direct access to the vehicle for months and indeed had installed different firmware in the vehicle? Or that they were paid by Chrysler? And that Chrysler had issued a recall just hours before the event assuring all owners they could be secured from the security breach at no cost? There is so much wrong with this story that I scarce know where to begin, but due to the George Carlin effect no doubt a sufficient number of innocents will buy into this manufactured pap as to pose a real problem.

Chrysler, and indeed virtually ALL automotive manufacturers want you to buy a car from them, have it serviced EXCLUSIVELY by their dealers, and that the car be scrapped the moment the warranty expires and you buy a NEW one.

Here’s the problem with that: The average price of a new car is now nearly $33,000 and the median income fo the average family necessary to afford that exists in precisely ONE county in the United States. That was Alexandria County Virginia but now know as Alexandria County D.C. Yes, our politicians and lobbyists, the new royalty of America, are the only ones that can afford a new car every three years.

So making them disposable, after the fashion of big screen televisions, is bad public policy. And it woudl be a notorious screw job for the average American, who buys used cars and maintains them themselves or with the assistance of the much less expensive corner independent garage/repair facility.

I’m fairly confident of the deep seated culture of automobile ownership in America and the long standing traditions of modification and repair to eventually squash this evil. It is with deep irony that the particular vehicle used in this stupidly conceived stunt was a Jeep. The Jeep history and culture almost personified the ideal – it could be entirely maintained by ANYBODY with a crescent wrench and screw driver. Indeed, there is a parade military demonstration where they march down the street, stop, TOTALLY disassemble a military jeep, then totally REASSEMBLE it in the street, and continue marching alongside it.

But there is another sea change that could complicate things. I’ve been looking for this for several years and it is finally happening. Oh, there have been any number of electric car startups. But most ill concieved and poorly funded. Tesla has defied all odds and actually brought a car to market. And it has done so so successfully, that it has outsold EVERY luxury car in its price class, and won every award available in the automobile industry. It as at this point accepted as the BEST AUTOMOBILE EVERY BUILT.

And it was done in Silicon Valley. Despite all the angst over dealership issues in various states, by far the majority of Teslas are sold via their online web site. They are individually delivered. Individually serviced. You never SEE a big lot with hundreds of cars and plaid jackets, free coke for the kids or a SINGLE balloon animal. Their “recalls” are done discretely in the night over GSM. They don’t have dealers. They are designed and built using quite the latest available processes. It is not just the car, but every aspect of the purchase and ownership of the car that has been redesigned. I actually predicted this in 1995 in Boardwatch Magazine. A total flattening of distribution networks and the end of geographic dealerships. I actually described specifying colors and fabrics and engine and trim level via website, and having the car delivered to your door a few weeks later. It has come to pass.

Now you would think with a 20 year notice, the existing automobile manufacturers would have plenty of time to adjust. But you have to work IN one of these large corporations to really comprehend the level of corporate HUBRIS. They exist, therefore they AM. Any dissenting voice from the corporate party line is asked to cast their gaze skyward at the dramatically lit corporate logo – symbol of long running success. History. Tradition. Success. And you think you have a better idea… than FORD?????? It’s humbling. You quickly stifle any further comments about changing anything, and learn to go along with the party.

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry features a display of the Pioneer Zephyr. All Aboard the Silver Streak invites you to go back in time—to May 26, 1934—as a passenger on the Pioneer Zephyr. You won’t want to miss this record-breaking “ride” from Denver to Chicago. On your 20-minute guided tour, you will explore the baggage, smoking, passenger and observation compartments of the Pioneer Zephyr. You can also view the engineer’s cab, supplemented by a computer interactive that allows you to “drive” the Pioneer Zephyr. The exhibit also features newsreel footage that will take you back to 1934.


This was a sleek, aluminum, futuristic looking train that ran much faster than the trains fo its day with diesel generators and electric motors. It caused such a sensation that it birthed the Art Deco design movement and you could scarce buy a toaster or vacuum cleaner or clock for a dozen years that didn’t look a lot like the Zehphyr.

Donald Douglas introduced the DC-2 in 1934 followed by the DC-3 in 1936. It too was sleek and futuristic and all of aluminum. It didn’t use any better, worse, or larger engines than the Zephyr.

Indeed, there is absolutely no reason that Burlington could not have invented and built the DC-3 and they certainly had much more resources in the way of design engineers and money to do so than Donald Douglas. Obviously, the aircraft could make it from Chicago to San Francisco faster than the train. So why didn’t they?


They were real busy that day being a railroad. And at the top of the railroad game, why would they want to build an airplane that would never carry much or amount to much in the grand scheme of things?

But we are about to move into a new phase I’ve been looking for for some time. Google currently has about $70 billion in cash and short term investments laying about. Apple reports some 201 billion of the same. This is not total valuation of the company or “assetts”. We’re talking about CASH ON HAND. General Motors was BAILED OUT of bankruptcy by the government just a few years ago. They are relative paupers by comparison. Offering to clean your windshield for $5.

The world is not going to let Elon Musk be the sole Silicon Valley “new” style car company for very long. If he doesn’t break out in hives, develop pancreatic cancer, and die a horrible death on tv from this process, there are others who would like to duplicate the feat.

In this episode we describe an early arrival – Faraday Futures. They have money. They’ve hired people. They have a concept for a car. How is this going to come out?

What we didn’t talk about this episode was sent to me by viewer Bill Hoopes. I only mention him because he sends me little tidbits on a regular basis which I rarely acknowledge but do appreciate. This is the Youxia. A Chinese knockoff of the Tesla Model S that is really pretty eggregious in its lifting of design features. It looks like a dead ringer, offers similar range, 17 inch screen – it’s a CHinese Tesla. And they plan on introducing it in 2016 at $48,000.



THere will be more. The sales numbers will be small in the context of the global market. But the number of players will increase. Their fortunes of course depend on their ability to win well-heeled early adopters into the fold in greater numbers.

And that brings us to our tale of two bicycles. Bill Bayer picked up a new bike on an Indigogo crowd funder for $500 that will be widely available for $700. That crowd funder raised over $5 million and not a one of them were concerned about range or batteries. Bill Moore of EVWorld, a long time advocate of electric bicyles, nearly enough peed his trousers and immediately put up his own – at $1975 per bike. With 16 days to go he sports $5,575 of his $275,000 goal and the number hasn’t moved in 10 days.



And that gets us down to the value proposition. Bill Bayer couldn’t be happier with his purchase.

I found it so surprising I didn’t see any way they could deliver it in those numbers by their May 1 date. Actually they didn’t. But under the circumstances I’m going to take mid-July as a very near miss and fall on my sword anyway on this one.

The point is – price is variable – graven in Jello. But the value proposition at whatever price DOES matter. The commonly held belief is that the American Consumer has REJECTED electric cars because of range anxiety and battery issues. I’ve said all along that neither would be the case. Might I SUGGEST, that the issue is actually value proposition. And selling a $14,750 Nissan Versa as a dolled up $38,500 Nissan Leaf or a $21,000 Chevy Cruz as a dolled up electric Chevy VOLT at $45,000 is probably NOT GOING TO WORK OUT FOR YOU.

But a $90,000 Tesla Model S might. So the price doesn’t really matter, but the VALUE PROPOSITION DOES. By the way, we had previously reported that there was a glut of used Nissan Leaf’s, Chevy Volts, and Tesla Model S’s headed your way. The Leaf’s and the Volts, it is now apparent to everyone and appearing universally in all the interested press, is real. The Tesla Certified PreOwned (CPO) program, on the other hand has cleared a LOT of the used Teslas to eager buyers – leading to much higher resale values comparitively.

So it’s ok to sell a Mclaren F1 Supercar match at $110,000 – much LESS than the McLaren, but it probably is not going to do to sell a $23,000 Ford Transit Connect for $58,750? Who knew? I’m glad I was here for THIS mind opening revelation.

I guess you CAN fool some of the people some of the time. But the future acculturation of the buying public and the adoption of electric vehicles is going to go right to the heart of answering the value proposition question – we all love the eTransit Connect at $6500. Those that answer it convincingly will prosper. Those who don’t, won’t. And it has little to do with range anxiety, fast charge, infrastructure, or batteries. Those are builder problems. NOT buyer problems.

And speaking of builders. The Mercedes SL190 drive is impressive. They took our UQM Powerphase 100 and GEVCU and did 108 miles an hour the first day on a direct drive to a 3.91 differential. They’re so wowed by the drive they are now talking about replacing the entire battery pack with more modern cells and a truly excellent car is in the offing.

And we continue to slog ahead with the Tesla Drive Unit CAN puzzle. We have actually been working on tools more than anything else – SavvyCAN and GVRET and EVTVDue and CAN Due Teodora and JLD505. Both hardware and software and captures.

And frankly the task is non-trivial. We have found signed 13bit numbers, and very specifically clocked modal signals with bizarre security strings that had to be decoded. But we have it down to about seven or perhaps eight messageIDs that actually control the inverter, and 23 inverter responses probably 10 of which simply don’t contain any data at any time that we can detect. At this point the outcome is clear to me. We will be able to control the mode and operation of the Tesla Drive unit using simple hardware and software. I’m kind of making it hard on myself starting with the EVIC ADM-MILKY hardware to serve as the core of our controller and quite a learning curve to master there. But the outcome is kind of moving out of the risk zone and into the “work to do” area.

Not certain just what kind of TV that is going to make as this goes more technical. And at least for the moment, the deluge of Tesla Drive Trains isn’t quite happening. I scored two in as many weeks and thought they would be falling from the skies. I suspect a lot of people ARE picking them up and ratholing them waiting for us to work out how to use them. But the number of crashes keeps climbing and as Elon keeps dropping the 0-60 time, it continues to cause fear and trembling, shock and awe, among trees and guard rails everywhere.

I was pleased to note that Mr. Musk appears to be paying more careful attention to EVTV than I would have thought and has taken great care to modify his talking points on autonomous vehicles to be more in line with “autopilot driver assist” now – hoping to avoid the somewhat inevitable confusion over what caused the wreck – the driver or the car.

But I must confess I’m quite pleased with their recent and ongoing improvements to the car and more to the availability and cost of repair parts. I’m still hopeful their excellent maintenance support web site will be made more widely available to everyone – even those of us who do NOT reside in Massachusettes. I actually AM quite sympathetic to the ongoing deluge of just utter nonsense he has to endure on a continous, daily, and very in your face basis.

My advice? Relax. Open it up so it is the MOST maintainable and extensible car platform available. And just keep on incrementally improving what is already the greatest car ever built. If you improve just two things a month on that car for a certain serial number of months – you win. Everything else winds up being noise and not particularly interesting noise in the blowsey past. And why would you car whether that number of months is 6, 60, or 200. It would be remarkable to have the same model in production for 200 months.

Everybody on the Internet is now an expert and desperate to offer the benefit of their wisdom to anyone who will listen, even if and often particuarly if they have no idea about how much they don’t know, about what they don’t know about.

Myself excepted, but of course……

Jack Rickard

51 thoughts on “We’ve Gone PLAID….”

  1. I don’t know if it is covered it in the show and I missed it but Eric Evenchick works at Faraday Futures. It is truly a small world. I wonder if he knows about the stuff we’ve been doing or not? You can’t swing a dead cat and not knock into a story about him or the Jeep hackers. Both groups seem to be the topic du jour in the hacking world.

    I think that a wide variety of people will be interested in the technical details behind what we’re doing. I’ve had people tell me that they are. Doing a video every other week isn’t a bad thing at all. That week to week rush sometimes seems to make it tough to have much to show for your week. With the Tesla hacking, SavvyCAN, etc some weeks there is a lot to show and some weeks we’re all banging our heads into the desk until blood pours out our ears. So, two weeks is probably a bit of an easier target.

    We do truly live in interesting times. There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon.

    1. Every couple of weeks seems fair, a weekly show must be a grind sometimes. As for, watching 2+ hours of can bus debugging and coding, I’m all in. My 12 and 8 year old nephews spend hours watching other kids play the same video games they do on line, I guess this is kinda similar, if you’re into it, then you’re really into it.

      Hey Colin, I had assumptions/ hopes that a boosted assist on the brakes system, could be voided out by having the regen tuned?? It’s a part of my DC drive bus I’d love to get rid of, when I go AC. I’ve had to replace the booster twice already.

      1. Well, yes and no. On the 190SL I’m doing we’ve got the regen turned up fairly high. I have it start at 60% of max forward torque and progressively back off based on RPM. Otherwise you hit a point where the regen torque is so heavy that it literally locks up the tires. I have done this. More than once. Way more than once. You don’t want to do that. It’s possible to tune the regen such that it is sufficient to nearly bring you to a halt in a safe distance. But, regen doesnt work that well at low speed. At 15MPH or less you probably aren’t going to get the regen tuned exactly right. The brake will always be there both because regen can’t totally be tuned to every situation and because you do need it if you’re about to hit a cement truck.

        But, I know what you’re saying, it’d be nice to use regen for 90% of your stopping needs and the brakes for 10%. Yes, you can do that with properly tuned regen and after a little practice. On the 190SL I have the pedal set to max regen when the pedal is all of the way up. It drops in regen power as you push down, hits a freewheeling zone, and then goes into motive power mode after that. So, you can adjust the regen pretty accurately and use it in lieu of brakes. I’m a fan of doing this as you otherwise are going to waste the power as heat anyway when you brake. If you can reclaim half that power via regen (and that really is about all you’ll get) then you at least are 50% ahead from using the braking.

        And, yeah, brake boosters suck. It’s hilarious to have to keep rebuilding them time and time again.

        1. Thanks! I guess at this point, it’ll always be trail and error, and application specific. Always nice to watch you and Sr. Have at it, And share a lot of the struggles and successes that come along with builds.

        2. Have you tried varying regen torque dynamically with motor speed? Like having more torque at lower rpm’s and less torque at higher? This would be more like a KW level regen, than a torque regen. Even though it was my idea, I don’t think I like it. I usually set up regen to emulate an automatic transmission in an ICE vehicle. Even that I don’t prefer, but it usually passes “consumer acceptability” better than other methods. People are so used to driving ICE cars with auto transmissions. For the life of me I can’t see how auto transmissions ever got to market with the severe safety flaw in that if you are sitting at a stop light on level ground and your foot slips off the brake, the vehicle rolls forward and mows down crossing pedestrians. If I were designing a propulsion system I think I would have it NOT move unless I pressed on the “go” pedal…

          1. “Creep” was actually added to the Tesla Model s quite after it had been out for awhile. I love it and mowing down pedestrians, while good sport i suppose, isn’t really the goal.

            This is what I love about E cars our GEVCU. On the Model S, it is a slider CREEP to OFF for you. That easy.

          2. Creep – yes curious when you think about it but it does make hill starts a lot easier. Electric drive can implement a “no roll back” feature which would be tough with an ICE engine: this would be better than creep. I.e. the drive provides enough torque at rest just to hold position

            On the other hand I guess the proof of the pudding is in the body count (or maybe the bent bumper count)

  2. Jack,

    I enjoy your posts almost as much as the shows even though it always seemed like a weekly show was an excessive amount of work for you but indeed, have enjoyed them all over the years. The CAN programming work really are important but the purpose for all of that is to be able to drive an electric car and I hope your new focus does not abandon that part of the equation.

    I will be joining you in the 30 dual revolutions around the sun, in October and must admit, it has been a hell of a ride. At this point I am looking forward to getting my Fiero conversion ready and transported to EVCCON in September, so I can finally experience the joy of being a CO-Hostage at the show. Just to let you know, your show has been the resource for most of my knowledge and and passion for EVs and hope they continue long into the future.


  3. Jack,

    I’d like to throw in my penny ante and say that a show every 2 weeks would be a great idea. Much better than the option of 0 shows every 1 month, which you have already attributed to a certain copycat. You could even be less apologetic about releasing 3.5 hours shows if the frequency is halved.

    Very surprised and sad to see Bob go, and only after a few shows. From this side of the screen, he certainly seemed to be checking a lot of the boxes, dare I say maybe even a few more than The Brain did. I do think the show does need a co-host to add balance in The Force, though.

    For instance, once that Tesla drive unit has been CAN-tamed, you may need someone that swings a mean wrench to get it into the Corvette/818/Porsche Cayenne/Mustang/Carbon fiber speedster/56 Chevy/50 Merc/Fiero/Camaro/F150/_________/etc. etc. etc.

    As you (ergo we) move into higher voltage AC, we may need to see the equally interesting feats of engineering, component mounting and retrofitting in EVTV’s ever growing fleet of test mules to help us civilians know how to install this new bling in our own builds.

    – Collin

    1. +1 for the idea of making the show fortnightly (sorry; every two weeks).

      And I would agree that segments on live conversions are helpful: Installing the Volt heater in the green Thing for example. I’d be interested in the feasibility of raiding the latest Leaf parts bin for the heat pump cabin heater. There are outstanding loose ends on pack heating which are relevant to those of us whose cars perforce live outside.

      1. One of my favorite units of measurement for speed is of course the furlongs per fortnight scale.

        Yes, there are many things to talk about. Byron is preparing a project for EVCCON on liquid heaters.

        Jack Rickard

        1. Jack, a big thankyou for giving us a video mostly every week but …

          I need to buy yet another disk to keep them. Although I dont know what to do when not waiting for and downloading a video I would like to save investing in harddisks. Your blog is as precious as your videos and I might have more time reading.

          For Karin and me fortnightly would be a good compromise between not knowing how to spend our time and buying yet another harddisk.

          And maybe I could spent some more time on our i-MiEV remote dashboard. An i-MiEV does have an awesome storage compartment as long as no more than two people are inside it. But still there is no space where I could put in a 10 inch display not to mention two of them.

          Karin and me have been buying a wardrobe recently. The packers offered to wrap in our car together with the furniture. You should have seen the expression on their faces when we slid in 7 feet of hardware and Karin got in behind me. 7 feet that is from the rear lights to the glove compartment but it did fit in and I did close the lid.

          I should have made a video.

          Peter and Karin

  4. Jack, I couldn’t agree with you more on the fact that there is a huge “knowledge gap” when it comes to summarizing what you or I are doing. And people are CONVINCED that they know everything there is to know about Tesla.

    Some of my favourite emails and comments that I regularly get:
    “What a waste of time, hacking Tesla. Elon released everything as open source!”
    “Don’t you know that all Tesla patents are now free? Aren’t you following the news?”
    “Induction motor? What is there to hack? That thing is ancient!”
    “Tesla released everything, you’re and idiot”

    Anyway, if people don’t know the difference between patent, documentation, source codes and open source, there is not much to build on. Fortunately there are some great people out there that have very constructive comments. For those it makes sense to continue with the effort.

    Also I feel sort of flattered to hear my name in almost every Tesla CAN related episode – even though it is usually to state the fact that Tesla already has a controller inside, and that my board is too big (not anymore – it is now less than half the original size and it will fit in! 🙂 Also it does not need CAN to operate at all. Some people still seems to prefer not using CAN, so I respect that with my project. Anyway, I do realize that it should have been out already – that’s the problem with doing development for yourself as a hobby – it is so easy to get sidetracked, keep adding new cool inverters, motors, and release date is moving and moving..

    I’m in the middle of my holidays now, but trying to keep up with the show. Your ‘once per two weeks’ schedule sounds reasonable.

    1. You keep coming up because people keep bringing it up. As if it were a competition or something. If the mission is to tame the Tesla Drive Train, I think our way is better. I didn’t think you were even seriously aiming at it.

      But if you are, you now say your board will fit in teh can. Ok. How many connections do we have to make to it, that are already on a plug on the stock unit? And if it isn’t controleld by CAN, how DO you intend to control it. You DO intend to have a CREEP mode you can turn on and off do you not? You DO intend to have REGEN to two levels, or hopefully an adjustable level. You DO intend to let people put it in reverse, or forward, or park. There has to be a human interface somewhere to operate the car! So however you do it, you still have to have an external controller to control your controller.

      My point is the inverter in the unit already HAS a control board and it operates fine. If we can work out the CAN codes, wew just put it into a touch screen display and go. How would we NOT need that with your inserted control board?

      As I’ve mentioned a number of times and to you directly, I love the idea of a universal control board that can work with any electronics and any motor. But I wouldn’t use it on the Tesla Drive Unit. I need it really for the Leaf motor/inverter. Or perhaps the Volt.

      And frankly, I have more Siemens motors than I quite have Azure Dynamics inverters. So at some point I need another inverter. Your board and an off the shelf SkiM come to mind. But yes, I would need it to do CAN at this point.

      Beyond that, none of us have ever met a release date either. ANd for that matter, neither has Elon.

      Jack Rickard

      1. Except for the throttle connection and a couple of safeties, I want to have everything CAN controlled. But quite a lot of people approached me if it could be used without the CAN in a somewhat limited configuration. So just a couple of switches for different things (regen, reverse). The rest you would have to configure over the USB every time you are not happy with the settings. Okay, if people wants something like that, it’s not too much work for me to repurpose a couple of IOs for it. Not a big deal.

        I don’t take it as a competition or anything. There is no real market to fight for, grants or anything like that. Maybe an internet fame. But people will move to the next cat video and at the end, who cares.

        I was always serious about using the UMC Drive in my Tesla/Mercedes drivetrain. I want to use it in a project – didn’t pick up the car yet, but my friend is pushing really hard for the Porsche Boxster. Apparently you can get them for very little money (bad engines?)

        Sure, there are a couple of connectors you have to crimp. Pain in the ass if you ask me (never liked making connectors) – but hey, if someone wants to build a car, a couple of cables will probably be the least of their worries. As for other people’s Tesla projects, if someone decides to use it like I do, I’ll help them do it. It’s not like there is a market with the Tesla parts that could save me – even if each and every Tesla drivetrain used my solution, we are talking about maybe 5 boards sold for that purpose 🙂 That’s why the Volt, Leaf, Prius, Remy motors (just got two as a present) are so much more interesting. The potential there is just mind blowing.

        You have mentioned another interesting thing – that there are so few Tesla electronic parts on the second hand market. I also wonder, what are people doing with it? Maybe you are right and they are just stocking it up, waiting for someone to provide a solution to use them. But even chargers, DC/DCs and other modules are not showing up. Weird..

        1. It’s not a COUPLE of crimpss Michael. It’s quite a bit of wiring.

          But yes, I’m a bit curious about where the parts are going on all these salvage cars. The cars cost quite a bit as salvage – typically $35-$45,000. I know some are selling the batteries out for $20K or so. Obviously some of the panels, hood, rear hatch, doors, headlights, are showing up on eBay. I HOPE the rest isn’t sold off as aluminum scrap. But I kind of secretely fear it. They have to get their money out of scrapping the cars. And really no one knows how to work one of these motors or chargers or DC-DC converters. So what would you do with them if you were scrapping out the car?

          I fear they are getting shredded. If you can imagine it.

          Jack Rickard

          1. Stanley Cloyd

            And if so, the flat-forehead club will be large when their resale value becomes better known. The salvage yards play a very short range game.

          2. Both Michal’s approach and the reverse engineering of the Tesla gear are worthy, but somewhat divergent projects. I’m interested in Michal’s controller due to the future benefits: ability to be used with arbitrary induction motors, a somewhat standardized drivetrain interface, and anticipated ability to introduce features and fixes not available in “off the shelf” proprietary controllers.

            What I like about the Tesla reverse engineering is that it is available (well, almost) right now. It’s proven, it’s the best engineered drivetrain package I’ve yet seen, and it appears to be readily adaptable to existing cars. (I’m still wondering about how we’ll manage the half axles and brakes…). Putting this in a smaller car would be… interesting.

            What I really don’t like with Michal’s current controller incarnation is the lack of CAN controls – but that’s something that that can be retrofitted later. Michal’s approach might breath new life into the 3rd party controller market (thinking of an AC version of the Zilla and Soliton products).

            Interesting and very exciting times.

        2. My 2¢. Elon Musk is good friends w/ Larry Page, aka Google SEARCH. Is it inconceivable between the two of them they’ve wrote a web crawler which instantly notifies Telsa when one of there pieces shows up on the Web and they hoardingly snatched it up to rebuild, re-issue, keep from prying eyes such as you guys?

          1. Inconceivable? No. Likely? Not really. If Elon or Tesla in general were buying up all of the crashed cars I think you’d hear about it. It’d be hard for any one entity to buy too many before word gets around that said entity seems to be buying up all of the cars. Of course, maybe they have a gag order in place. That’s a bit tin-foil hat like though. I think the two guesses which are more likely are the scrapping it guess and the “random other people are buying them up and hoping to make a buck” guess.

    2. Michal, What if I had an application for your board, in a mobile application, but not a car… What if the reason I wanted to install your board was that the existing inverter I owned, the “brain” either did not have the functionality I needed, or it kept faulting for no good reason. I would need to keep the same power electronics due to packaging so replacing the entire inverter was not an option… Just asking.

  5. FREE Tesla Model X

    I’ve fallen in love with my Tesla Model S. Yes, it was a trick to learn how to wedge my 300 lbs through the door by folding in half and backing in butt first. But I’ve got it down pretty well now and I love this car. The big surprise was the air conditioning. It actually works superbly. And the phone thing. My phone just links up and starts playing my music. And I can turn on the AC a few minutes before I go out to get in – with my phone.

    I was letting the wife drive it exclusively. Now, she kind of has to share. Particularly as we are doing a bit of CAN capture using it. Or that’s my excuse.

    In any event, Elon has made an offer I thought I would share. If you buy a new Tesla Model S between now and October 31, 2015, and you use my personal link to do so, you get $1000 off the purchase price. And I get a $1000 credit toward maintenance and accessories. Yawn.

    But If EVTV gets 10 referrals, we get two tickets to the Gigafactory opening.

    Better, if we are the FIRST 10 referrals in North America, we get a free Model X.

    I like the Model X. I may even buy one. But EVTV is about our viewers and promoting the adoption of electric cars. And it is true I’m kind of electric car poor at the moment anyway. The place is reeking with electric cars.

    So we are going to take our 10, if we get em, and raffle off the free Model X among the 10 who pulled the trigger. That’s a 1 in 10 chance on a free Model X? Winner will have to pay our income taxes on the car, but that’s it.

    So how do we make out on that? I guess I think if we are the first to score 10 sales for a Tesla Model S in North America, we pretty much make the radar screen at Tesla. It would be nice to matter to them. Could lead to good things.

    And If we can sell 10, we can sell another 10. We’d love to be the first to crack Tesla’s “we don’t advertise on TV” story.

    And dreaming further, if we do get the first 10, I’m thinking of putting on some pressure for 10 tickets to the Gigafactory opening instead of two, and hosting a Tesla Owners EVTV party in Reno for that. So at least 10 of us can get likkered up, play with some high voltage, and go for a drive around Reno. Good clean fun that.

    The Tesla Model S is now recognized pretty much world wide as the best car ever made. I guess, ascerbic that I am, that I would say after two years with one, it pretty much is the real thing. About the best I’ve been able to come up with in two years of whining is that it’s hard to get into and the turn signal is in the wrong place. That does probably qualify as the best ever made.

    I agree. It’s a lot of ducats. But for me, the value proposition really was there. It’s kind of like a million dollar McLaren with creature comforts for $100K. And it’s an experience with a car I never would have had without it.

    And instead of getting used to it and taking it for granted, I like it better every day.

    And I’m kind of in tune with our demographic. Your kids are raised and gone. You’re not missing any meals. And you’re saving it for what exactly? Estate tax donation to Uncle Sugar? Leave it to the kids? Another year or two and your kids are going to be as old as you are.

    IF you’ve been noodling on it anyway, I would like to ask you to pull the trigger and make EVTV matter one time in a row. Click the link and enjoy the easiest buying experience you’ve ever had, built your way, and delivered to your door. It’s a bang down statement on how you want the world to be, and in support of EVTV.

    I’m going to ask you to NOT think about it. Just do it. Step up to the plate and assume responsibility for your world. Your EXAMPLE is the only thing that counts. There are plenty of talking heads talking shit 24×7 and leaving enough of their “wisdom” scattered around the Internet to last a thousand years. What there are NOT enough of are grown men plowing up off the couch and DOING anything about it.

    This is an opportunity to do it, and own the ride of your life. Maybe TWO of them. Here’s the link and I thank you for considering this request. http://ts.la/marion1544

  6. “Might I SUGGEST, that the issue is actually value proposition. And selling a $14,750 Nissan Versa as a dolled up $38,500 Nissan Leaf or a $21,000 Chevy Cruz as a dolled up electric Chevy VOLT at $45,000 is probably NOT GOING TO WORK OUT FOR YOU.”


    1. Except that my Ampera (UK Volt) is the best car I have ever owned. A Cruz (whatever that is) won’t make the young sprog in an Impreza wet himself when you beat him across the lights ‘cos his turbo wasn’t spooled up. The instant (and silent) availability of maximum torque means you can drive like a hooligan at every stop light and no one notices

      I agree absolutely that the collapsing residuals are an issue. It doesn’t affect everyone though: my preferred approach is to buy a car new or nearly new and toss it in the skip ten years latter when it starts smoking. I’m more concerned about long term repairability which may turn out to be a killer with the Ampera/Volt. With UK prices, a saving of $250 a month in petrol over 10 years is $30k. Plus no road tax. Plus no London congestion charge. Plus fewer brake pads and discs. Plus (if you get one as a lease car through work) almost no taxable benefit.

  7. As much as I enjoy the show, Jack, I really do enjoy your writing. Reminds me of a musician friend of mine — He’s quite good on the saxophone. But when he launches into the clarinet, well… I have seen crowds of people come in off the street.

    So I think alternating weekly between a show and an (essay? editorial?) could be a good balance and keep your audience engaged.

    1. I’ve never even finished watching a single show. Don’t have time. I’ve read a ton of your articles, though, Jack. I can do that in a few minutes. Cheers.

      1. Well, you’re no doubt a very important person with very important things to do. I can see where you just wouldn’t have time like that to squander on something like EVTV.

        Hopefully, there are those less important less busy people who do occasionally make time to watch the show.


  8. Mr. Green jeans

    No one can replace Brian, not even Brian. But you do seem to function well with ‘teams’ that come in for a few days–fix it, feed ’em, flush ’em down the road. EVCON might be a suitable venture to get the green thingy runnin’–just sayin’.

  9. Jarkko Santala

    If I may be so bold as to suggest that the hands-on technical stuff would stay on video and the monologue would be in written form. Perhaps to speed up the video show a little and keep the length in check. Just my two euro cents.

  10. I appreciate the effort you put into producing the show and understand changing the schedule. As a busted-knuckle cretin I also appreciate greatly the usefulness of conversion information of a mechanical nature. Thanks again for persevering and maintaining such high quality!

  11. Jack, you mentioned in the video how BMW and VW have the tools to get in the technology game but, like GM and Ford and others, they won’t “put wings on a train.” Why did you single them out? What makes them different?

  12. Jack, I have been programming in c/c++ for years and years, and when it came time to need the .net stuff (mostly for GUI stuff) – rather than go fully into c# I began using the c++/cli from Microsoft. CLI is the common language interface from Microsoft and it allows all the .net functionality to be accessed from c++, visual basic, and c#.

    There are some funny new concepts for managed stuff in c++/cli, but the syntax is much closer to regular c++, than c# is.

    I guess it will depend on what the EVIC libraries look like – it may be easier to go straight into c#.

    Michel Bondy

  13. Jack Somerville

    Jack I will miss my weekly fix of EVTV but I certainly understand that it must be a grind to meet that deadline with such a quality and entertaining product. As for time to watch it they say the busiest people have the most time they just know how to prioritise. I know I have spent manay a night after 12 with a cognac and a good cigar out in my back yard watching EVTV on my laptop. I value both the blog and the video so perhaps alternating weeks would be OK and easier on Jack. I am also of the persuasion that having a sidekick (even the most annoying one – no names) added something special to the show just as a counterpoint to the oracle. Perhaps you holding forth on electrowidget minutiae and your sidekick on assembling the beasts – as someone suggested. Anyway kudos to you for providing this great service to those of us who need a forward scout to push the envelope. Please keep it up. Cheers, Jack

    1. Range has dropped from 144 kilometers to a dramatic 142 kilometers after only 5 years.

      It is not a C-Zero it is an i-Miev and depreciation has helped us when buying it almost new. It is still raising my hairs a bit but we have bought it to drive it and not to sell it. All my cars stayed in the family for a very long time. We bought them new and drove them until we could not afford driving them any longer. With ICE that meant taxes, insurance fees, repairs in that order.

      Special regulations for oldtimes in germany is a fraud. If our i-MiEV was an oldtimer with special license plate I would pay more taxes than I do now. Even for ICE many people driving oldtimers dont go for the special regulations. There is nothing to win but a lot to lose. So many nice would be oldtimers are driven until they fall apart and then they are given up.

      The i-MiEV is a look and feel oldtimer. There is a lot you can play with it like insulating doors and lids to keep a bit warmer in summer. Dont take my 142 kilometers serious. Karin and me have been driving 120 kilometers without a charge twice. We had to get back home again somehow but we do not want to repeat that experiment. The car can do it but my nerves dont.

      The car and me are oldtimers and they are treated like that. That might mean the i-MiEV will be the last car Karin and me will ever buy. Was it a good choice?

      We have got rid of a Volkswagen Golf Stationwagon. It was 13 years old when we sold it. Looking inside the i-MiEV it looks very much like a car I have been driving some 30 years ago – except it is all new. I know how to keep that old car alive today. I used to do that for some 20 years.

      There are a few modern parts inside an i-MiEV. Some of them are easy to replace others may need a bit software engineering but I am taming a Gentoo Linux after all. No problems expected. In a few years our i-MiEV will look like yet another conversion. Replacing the batteries with something better will be the smallest problem. Explaining to the TÜV people why our dashboard looks peculiar will be another story.

      Depeciation will help to keep it running. Imagine a Tesla drive train in an i-MiEV. Dont worry it wont drive any faster with that old inverter and batteries and it wont fit in in the first place. But the batteries may be.

      Peter and Karin

      1. That has always been my strategy for minimizing vehicle costs. Buy a 2 year old car with 10000 miles on it. Pay cash. No payments. Minimal insurance. Maintain it yourself. And drive it until there is nothing left to get into…

        1. I’m sure Jack would love to have you. You could probably sweet talk him into letting you put an inflatable mattress in the battery testing corner of his shop. 🙂

  14. Pingback: Elio Motors, The Next Big Thing?!!... - Page 114 - Fuel Economy, Hypermiling, EcoModding News and Forum - EcoModder.com

    1. First time making a comment here. Every other week would fine. I would miss my Sunday evening ritual. This would give me a chance to go over some of the older episodes, I have been watching and building since the beginning. Every time I watch an old show I am reminded about something that I have forgotten over the years. I am a little older than you Jack and I appreciate all of the work you have done for the EV community. I suppose I build because of my love of cars and my fascination about high voltage…whats better than the two combined. Many success in the future wherever the show leads you, and us!

  15. Hi Jack, I’ve been watching EVTV since you first advertised on EVCast. It’s like a bad habit, must watch as soon as it comes out even at 2AM. Having a weekly show gets us in the habit of watching, but the show doesn’t need to be 2 + hours long.

    As an EVTV junkie I would be happy with just a 45 minute show every week, or 15 minutes in a pinch. That is sufficient enough for my weekly fix. Some of your longer past shows could have been split up into 3 or 4 shows. Only the news segment needs to be current, the rest can be in the can for future weeks.

    My worry with an every other week show is that people will lose their habit or bad habit of watching EVTV every Sunday. EVTV is like my Sunday Church sermon that I don’t want to miss. If I can’t watch my Sunday EVTV every week I may backslide and rebuild that Chevy 454 in my garage.

    Not asking you to work harder, just more frequently.

  16. Pingback: Hacking a Jeep's electronic control systems - Page 3 - Fuel Economy, Hypermiling, EcoModding News and Forum - EcoModder.com

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