Some Days an Inch, Some Days a Yard, Some Days a Mile or Two.

  • rickardI should probably mention how deeply we appreciate the many electronic mail comments received the past few weeks in support of our efforts. But I must confess a bit of guilt from them. All seem to express some concern about our health, our commitment, and the possibilities of EVTV as an ongoing concern. So it is probably timely to describe a bit of life at EVTV and share the ongoing events transpiring. I’m fine. We’re fine. Indeed, it is probably the most exciting time we’ve ever had here. But we have to reinvent ourselves every day. And that is part of what you are noting.First, let’s talk about health. I was miserable this week with a two day stomach virus of such horror I will not describe it further. So Friday’s show just didn’t happen.

    Beyond that, it is true that I hack and cough and huff and puff and snort and blow and carry on something terrible. I am 300 pounds now and I simply do not have the energy to do 16 hour days any longer like Elon Musk. I often nap in the afternoon now and some days it does seem like with a little dab of oatmeal on the chin and maybe a pair of fuzzy slippers, I might really be in the old boys club at last.All that said, I have to report my ongoing EMBARASSMENT at how deeply and tragically good my health is.

    I recently underwent a $22,000 series of heart tests, not because there was anything wrong, but to prove to my wife that I wasn’t going to keel off on her with a heart attack after the fashion of an earlier husband. It started with a sonic examination of my heart activity. When it concluded they recommended a stress test. I thanked them for their recommendation, but kind of insisted they fill me in the results of the first test before we went on. Well, it didn’t really show any anomalies. The efficiency was a little low. What is good? Oh, we like to see 50-55%. What was mine? 49%. Having sat in a chair in front of a computer for the last 35 years smoking a camel, my response was “I’ll take it. We’re good.”

    But they insisted a stress test was in order. I asked them why? Because of other “risk factors”. What are the risk factors? Well, you’re 60 years old, 300 pounds, smoke two packs of camels a day and you’re diabetic. Diabetic? I’m not diabetic. Oh yes, you have to be diabetic. Why? Because you’re 300 lbs. I’m 300 lbs because I’m a gourmet cook and my wife is even better. Well anyway, you should have the stress test.

    After learning a bit of the stress test, I confess I was intrigued. Basically, they inject you with radioactive dye. Then they put you on a tread mill and try to kill you. Failing that, they mount you on a bed that does a 360 degree scan of your chest. The die emits radiation that is picked up by the camera, and all the veins and arteries in your chest light up like a Christmas tree. Ever the gadget geek, I just really wanted one of those pictures. Of course, dark areas are important because they indicate an arterial blockage which does not allow the radioactive dye to pass. And so they can basically photograph areas of blockage. Kind of cool. Not really new. But cool.

    So I had it. After receiving the results, they strongly recommended I have an angiogram. Uh-oh. What did we find. Well, often these don’t really show well on “large” individuals so the results are not really conclusive. I asked to see the picture. I was lit up like a Macy’s Day parade and indeed, was literally glowing with health all over. What’s going on here? Well, Mr. Rickard, there are other risk factors. Like what? Well, you’re 60 years old and 300 lbs and you smoke cigarettes and you are diabetic. Hold it, I am 60, I am 300 lbs, I DO smoke cigarettes, but I am decidedly NOT diabetic. Never have been. None in the family. It’s impossible. Well you have to be. You’re 300 lbs. No, I just like to eat…

    Anyway, an Angiogram is nearly enough an operation. You’re kind of drugged out of it. They feed a camera up through the wrist and into your chest and look around. They warned me they would probably have to run a roto-router through there to clean out all the crap caused by my smoking and diabetes and might even have to install a stent or two, if that was alright with me. Oh yeah. Give it your A game big guy.

    At the end of the day, I did finally get to talk to the doctor presiding over all this, instead of the general body of underlings. He was clearly pissed. What did you find Doctor. “Ah….hmmmm…I suppose a few “anomalies” but nothing of concern…really no blockages at all..” I waited. “Ok it was remarkably clear….Ummmmm… actually it was unnaturally clear. Can I ask what you eat?” “Various combinations of pork lard, flour, sugar and salt – the usual four basic food groups making up a Twinkie” was my reply. But I do also eat a lot of Kentucky Fried Chicken….

    Hmmm…hmmmm….And you don’t exercise?

    I just looked at him. Riiiiight….. I watch a little football on TV doc. But not like every game.

    And you’re diabetic…..

    NO I am NOT diabetic.

    Oh you HAVE to be diabetic.

    Well you’ve got my blood sugar listed in there somewhere from this morning don’t you?

    Hmmmmm…94…Well that can’t be right.

    Why can’t it be right? They measured it this morning. It’s either “right” or it’s “not right”. It’s a numeric measurement. What are you showing on the combined choleresterol?

    Hmmmm… well that can’t be right either…it shows 148. We’ll have to retest that.

    You already DID retest that. They retest that every time. I’ve never had a single blood test in my life. They ALWAYS do it twice.

    Well forgive me, but in my professional judgement, 148 just doesn’t make sense for a 300 lbs 60 year old smoker.

    Well, ok. In your “professional judgement” how does it jive with the angiogram you just completed yourself?

    Quite well of course…. but this is just highly unusual…

    I have a brother who weighs 170 lbs and runs three miles per day.

    And I suppose you’ll tell me his cholesterol is 375?

    No. I already told you. He’s my brother. 148.

    Well your arterial walls are completely clear…I cannot account for it…. but you needn’t worry about heart disease. I would still urge you to give up smoking and lose some weight.

    What for?

    That’s all I have Mr. Rickard…

    The session ended badly. The Doctor was clearly ANGRY at me for being in good health. And I was a bit nonplussed at his lack of professional curiosity or dedication to science. He suffered a bad case of already knowing everything, and any facts that inconveniently didn’t fit, could be dismissed as a personal insult. Sounds like battery guys all over again.

    My grandfather, Mason Emerson, was wheezing and blowing about like I do now, and at the same age. Overweight. Three packs a day. So starting at age 4, I sat around and listened to all the women folk and friends talk about what was to be done when Mason “passed.” I don’t recall a single week where this conversation wasn’t held.

    And one by one, I usually went with him as he buried them over the years. Until they were all gone. At 81, he WAS on oxygen, when he passed peacefully – with a camel in his mouth. I was left being very good at attending funerals and generally I enjoy them. I see more friends and family there than at any other single gathering.

    We live in a world of behavioral medicine. And I’m kind of an embarassing reminder that it is mostly based on myth and superstition. I have a sister who has been a vitriolic anti smoker and avid runner most of her annoying life. Today, she suffers from fibrosis, a terminal lung disease. Our mother died of it at 75. It is the only lung disease acknowledged by the medical community to have nothing whatsoever to do with cigarette smoking.

    The truth is, I am very very rarely sick. To the point that Im a big baby about a common cold, a boil, or a skin rash. The few bouts of influenza in my life were only terminal in my description and going on and on about it.

    So yes, with an absolute abhorrence of any kind of physical activity that could be described as exercise, two packs of camels a day, and an immense appetite for good food, good wine, good whiskey (and handsome women), I suffer pangs of guilt as dear friends and acquaintances fall from all manner of truly horrifying health problems. As best I can tell, I’ll be the last male left in Cape Girardeau with a prostate which should make me very popular among the soon to be seventy-something chics. And I don’t care if I do die in my sleep I am NOT going wear one of those ridiculous CPAP machines at night. No we can’t do the sleep study. It’s just not happening.

    It is not to crowe about. My father, two of his brothers, and one of his sisters each suffered seven or eight years of Alzheimers before passing. After observing this, I have to tell you, if I COULD purchase a heart attack for cash, I do have the ability to write one final check. But as fate would have it, my HEART will probably beat for four days after I’m dead before it finally gets the word gives me up as a goner.

    Not to be gloomy. You do get to meet a lot of new people every day. But I can kind of tell it hurts that lovely woman that brings me coffee every morning when I’m a little vague on what to call her.

    Bottom line is that my respect for the medical profession is not high. Like most of what I have looked at in life, it is hide bound in passed on misinformation with very little original work or even basic observation taking place or having any impact on Pharmaceutical Corporate literature and handouts.

    Bottom line…my health is embarassingly good. Thanks to for all the guidance. I know many of you think you know better…. it is just not so. I’m now officially an old guy. But one of the younger healthier ones.

    On staffing and restructuring of EvTV itself. With but a handful of us, it is not robust. Any changes in personnel can be devastating to such a tiny group and we’ve stumbled a bit in 2015. But Bill Bayer has done a marvelous job in two short months. He and Daphne appear to have the shipping and receiving going the right way and I’m pleased to report that if you order something now, you have at least a 50% chance of getting the right device within the first couple of attempted shipments.

    A young man named Preston Briggs, totally lacking in any form of education, theoretically home schooled but appears to have raised himself as a feral child, has proven remarkably adroit at learning electronic assembly and to manufacture connectors and cables – my least favorite thing in the world. He learns like a sponge and is unfailingly willing to take instruction and pursue things to completion. Attitude being 90% of everything, this guy is going to go far.

    And for a few months, we’ve added Sun Jialu, recent graduate of Southeast Missouri State University who’s headed for a graduate MBA program at Berkley in the fall. He theoretically will make it easier for me to communicate with the Chinese. So far, he seems to be learning from me how to talk to them. But hopefully that will invert soon. The Chinese can be hard traders as he is learning quickly. It is engaging to watch a Chinese in America learn to trade with the Chinese in China, viewing it from the American perspective. It strikes my sense of whimsey and more so that he is entirely conscious of the ironies at play.

    Patrick Somerhalder is an intern still attending SEMO. He stops by a few hours each week to chat and tell me all he knows, and I pay him minimum wage to do so. It reminds me what it was like to be young and know everything already. I often yearn for those days fondly myself. We mostly discuss the future opportunities in local food production, using the techniques developed to grow indoor plants during the infamous cannabis bubble of the 2016-2022 period. I predict that in a few years there will be thousands of empty warehouses available all equipped with grow lights and hydroponics after the price of cannabis collapses and big Pharma has taken it over. Perfect time for vine ripened tomatoes grown indoors. Fresh lettuce in February that DOESN’T have to travel 2500 miles to the grocers shelves.

    Collin and I mostly do software and documentation and that partnership has turned out remarkably symbiotic. As he also continues with the family business at K&K Manufacturing, indeed his father Tim Kidder has developed further interest in the electric side of automobiles and I’m hoping for a very exciting announcement there as a result of a JUST PASSED Federal Highway Bill. This past June Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma) and Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) introduced the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015, legislation that SEMA points out it had pursued since 2011. replicavehiclebill
    The act received strong bipartisan support and was inserted into the highway bill. When the bill passed last week, it became law, meaning low-volume car manufacturers can produce turnkey replica vehicles for customers nationwide, SEMA said. This bill allows manufacturers of turnkey cars some of the same freedoms of kit cars – exemption from crash tests and many other regulations. As long as total volume is 325 vehicles or less per year.

    It is interesting the cars DO have to pass emissions test. But they can use “approved” OEM engines to do it. Electric versions just don’t have the problem. This is kind of like the Billy Carter bill that allowed the home brewing of beer and wine and spawned hundreds of microbreweries across the land. By opening this little hole in the space/time fabric of federal vehicle regulations, there could potentially be hundreds of little electric car companies doing replica vehicles in electric drive. A small lean outfit can do pretty well on 325 vehicles per year. This would be like our electric Porsche Speedster. Or Hauber is doing an electric Beetle out in San Diego. But an electric ’57 Mercedes Benz 190SL would be very cool….with a Tesla drive train, cooler yet.

    Details to come but I THINK you have to register with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and I THINK you can then issue Vehicle Identification Numbers – allowing the cars to be registered.

    The implications to this for small electric vehicle startups could be enormous. Instead of trying to be General Motors – try making and selling 100 cars a year. It won’t terrify Elon Musk. But it could be a living. Electric Samba replica? Or a 67 Mustang? Picture Microbrewery vs. Annheiser Busch. If you gain a small following…..

    And then there is the transition in role of EVTV itself. We published weekly for six years for a single reason. Brian wanted me to. We were in theory a publication. He was actually an ad salesman. And that is what we knew and did best and had some history of success in the past. But the EV industry, compared to the development of the Internet, has actually been slower and well..kind of retarded in a way. Brian never sold an ad. The outcomes for startups have been a bloodbath. All players aimed for the moon and generally got slaughtered. Everyone wants to be the next GM or Tesla. There is no middle ground. And the noise of the Internet kind of drowns out all sanity.

    So we kind of transitioned from publication, to publication/product sales. We began selling components about five years ago largely due to just some egregious thefts and frauds that left builders simply paralyzed to make a purchase for fear of being swindled out of ten or twenty thousand dollars.

    And now we evolve further from product sales to product development – designing and producing tools and devices to adapt OEM components for use in conversions and startup prototyping activity. Along with just finding odd bits that do useful things.

    Here’s an example.EVTVDue5-2

This is a very simple thing. It’s an Arduino Due we redesigned and had manufactured with just a couple of minor changes. We eliminated one redundant USB port and replaced it with an excellent Texas Instruments CAN transceiver and a set of screw terminals. We also added an EEPROM. The Arduino Due didn’t have an internal EEPROM, so there was no way to really store persistent variables between power cycles. The SAM3X multicontroller already had two CAN channel controllers onboard. But you have to have a transceiver to actually connect that to a CAN network. So with the transceiver and screw terminals, it is trivial to connect this with a CAN network and do anything you want.

Collin has done a CAN library titled due_can that makes talking to CAN networks in C++ VERY easy. He’s also done a CAN analysis program that just keeps getting better termed SavvyCAN. He has versions for Linux, MAC OSX, and Windoze. It lets you capture, record, playback, and analyze CAN traffic in ways you don’t even know you need until you use it to learn more about CAN.

If you add a simple enclosure and a wire harness with the right connector, some more software, you get SavvyCAN for Tesla.TeslaCANN2-1-2 Indeed we’ve written a very short open source program to display 96 cell voltages and 32 module temperature sensors in your Model S.

But if I put some different software with THAT and a slightly different connector, I can offer it with the charger out of a Chevy Volt.Lear-On-Board-Battery-Charger_medium

Or a Delphi DC-DC converter out of a CODA. neweagledcdccon_medium

We recently found a new device from Germany. The ISAscale IVT Module lets you measure 1000 amps of current, really up to 2000 amps for 10 seconds, with remarkable accuracy even at low charging levels. It also measures up to three pack voltages and your shunt temperature – all over CAN. We carry it in the 1000 amp version and the 300 amp version which covers more of our electric motors and controllers. But we needed 1000A for the Tesla Drive train. Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 3.09.22 PM-2

We are also now in full stock and shipping the PowerkeyPro 2400. This is a CAN switch panel that is very rugged, very weatherproof, and let’s you read the condition of eight switches. You can also light them in amber, green, or red, or get them to blink between those colors in various combinations, all over a CAN network. We ship it with 8 blank black lens covers for the switches. You can take these to almost any print shop now and have them laser etched with whatever you want on the keys for about $2 per lens. So a custom CAN keyboard can be part of your system on whim.

All of this is simply sharing the tools and toys we are using on a grander mission. That is the reverse engineering to make available ALL of the excellent components coming to pass as large volume OEMs struggle with the electric car equation. These are EXCELLENT components. With the exception of the batteries, generally MUCH better than the specialty item mom and pop shop we’ve had to make do with in the past. Much greater reliability, better design, and gradually more ubiquitous availability. They are actually MUCH less expensive and run the risk of becoming EVEN LESS EXPENSIVE IN THE FUTURE. This IS the path to enabling innovators and entrepreneurs to really play effectively in developing solutions for the future.

In Great Britain, a long standing culture of very small car manufacturers do a few hundred, or in some cases a few dozen cars per year. All of the SUPERCARS coming out of Italy are generally measured in the HUNDREDs never the thousands. The only thing the U.S. has had is a kind of nasty little ghetto of kit cars. In truth, our favorite, Special Editions Beck Speedster, has for years done 125 cars a year and 111 of them are turnkey cars. Hardly anyone takes it as a kit. And no one has actually made it as a “kit car manufacturer” per se but you have to hide there to play at all. And it is difficult to get them licensed under the “kit car” thing. 640_DSC00848

IF implemented correctly. The Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act COULD make a huge difference in the world. It COULD for example support VINS and make licensing in all 50 states as simple as any car. And this is literally microbreweries all over again. A huge boom in tiny car companies. It has ONE itty bitty tiny flaw in it as written. You have to use an “approved” engine in it.

Hah. We don’t need no stinkin engine AT ALL. As it turns out, I don’t think electric drive is going to have that problem. The EPA should be delighted with electrics. And there could literally be hundreds of tiny car companies five years from now. Who wouldn’t want a 1968 Camaro with a Tesla Model S drive train? Or a 1967 Ford Mustang? They actually make BRAND NEW steel stamped bodies for them now. I cannot adequately convey nor persuade how big a thing this could be in the future. How many jobs we are talking about. And what a great diversity of vehicles to choose from in the future. This could unleash a golden age of electric car innovation over the next decade. I mentioned last summer and fall that there is always this really “dark period” in the emergence of any really significant new technological trend. And that while awful, you almost seem to have to have one to get to the next level. I see us breaking out of that now into a future of devil take the hindmost.

The amazing treasure chest of OEM parts has ONE wee tiny bit of a problem. They are TOTALLY USELESS until we learn to make them work in a car. Absolute boat anchors. And technology being what it is, non-trivial to perform.

I hope this explains my apparent absence from the wheel of blog and video. We have a LOT going on. I haven’t been GONE. I’ve been BUSY. I’ve virtually ignored sales and shipping and video and blog.

I’m pleased to announce we have an early indication of a working Tesla 10kW charger under CAN control.

And the large sled of full Tesla Model S subclip I’ve been glaring at you over for the past six months does now turn. Indeed, no anomalies noted. Turns just as good as the one on the bench. It’s all going to come out GREAT and there will be some fabulous cars built because of it. But converting all that from “works” to something I can give somebody and ensure THEY can make it work is non-trivial. The Tesla Model S drive unit is so tightly integrated into the car, you basically have to build a Model S around it to get it to work.

First is the interface. The key to controlling is it is the controls. You have to select Park or Neutral or Reverse or Drive. But also turn CREEP off and on. And set the parking brake. And change the regenerative braking. You need to be able to see what your RPM and MPH are, current and voltage would be nice, power output, state of charge, charge remaining. It goes on and on. We don’t have a 17 inch screen. We have 7. So we add an external switch panel to augment all of this and make sure you can actually put it in gear sunlight or no and moving or no.

The wiring becomes extensive. Something like THIS.

And so we drew it up and sent it to China to have some harnesses made. We’ll correct and adapt those and eventually produce them so they come as part of the kit. You’ll have six or seven wires on one connector to interface to the car.


Tesla has actually made their drive unit available to other OEMs including Mercedes Benz with their B-class electric and Toyota, with a very limited number of California compliance models of the RAV4-EV.

Indeed Tesla has left a very unique legal door open in proclaiming their technologies “open source” and publicly announcing that they will not pursue legal remedies against anyone making use of their patents to develop electric vehicles. You could literally manufacture the Tesla Drive Unit without fear of legal issues with Tesla.

And you can use the Tesla Drive Unit in your prototype designs without fear of legal action by Tesla. That means under the Love Volume Vehicle Manufacturers Law you could use salvaged Tesla components and Tesla can’t say much about it. IF you can get them to work.

But they have been much less receptive to requests from individuals and small entities. And for a pretty ordinary reason. The drive unit is very tightly integrated into the car in every way. It takes a significant amount of engineering to get it to work at all outside of its native environment IN a Tesla Model S. And so Tesla is very hesitant to work with anyone that might be doing just a handful of vehicles. The engineering support effort is too vast to invest in any entity not resourced to reach a successful outcome and potentially many thousand vehicles.

An example of the problem. The Tesla Model S features a computer controlled Anti-Lock Braking System(ABS) and Traction Control System. Speed sensors in each wheel allow this computer to modulate brake pressure to prevent skidding in the case of braking and to maintain torque to both wheels in the case of traction control. As a result, the drive unit itself features a simple open differential in the single speed gearbox. I had misspoke this earlier as using the parking brake system. It’s the main braking system of course.

To put the drive unit in another vehicle or just any vehicle, without traction control, you have up to 310 kW of power and 600 Newton-meters of torque going to an open differential that would normally lead to a potential tire smoking acceleration on ONE wheel. This is a recipe for disaster – indeed a ticket to a wreck in many situations. Basically, it’s unsafe at any speed.

I have been talking about the high number of wrecked Model S’s (leading to the rainfall of parts) even WITH traction control. And I have kind of mentioned that not everyone is suited to putting 310kW to the rear wheels and doing zero to 60 in 4.2 seconds. Actually, what is MORE dangerous is “punching it” when you’re already going down the road at 45. That’s how Elon wrecked his McLaren. The response from our viewership has been if anything condescending. Clearly I’m just not in your NASCAR league when it comes to driving.

Actual I’ve got more dual than anyone at United Airlines and I fly jets guys. And helicopters. I drove the USS Midway one beautiful evening on the Indian Ocean. So you can smirk all the way to the emergency room. Check out this little compilation. About half are perfectly in control vehicles on clear highway that just had the ass end break away from raw power and wrecked the car.

SFR is right. For myself, power and balance and weight etc. are all about elegance of design and more power isn’t just the deal. It should all blend into a delightful balanced whole. But I’m IN the minority. Everybody wants mo power. And I have no doubt putting Tesla Model S drive units in smaller lighter cars is going to be huge. But with the open differential and no traction control, I don’t see a good outcome.

EVTV, working with Doug Yip of Oregon, has actually contracted with RT Quaife Engineering of Otford Kent U.K. to custom design a version of their Automatic Torque Biasing Limited Slip Differential, as a drop in replacement for the Eaton open differential in the Tesla Drive Unit. The ATB is a proven performer in vehicles such as the Porsche Cayman S and essentially ALL BMW models and is actually one of the most popular upgrades available for a BMW.

Indeed this differential would dramatically improve handling of the Model S WITH the electronic traction control. Fully compatible with manufacturer electronic traction control and anti-lock braking systems, the Quaife ATB differential offers a number of key advantages in both functionality and service life compared to conventional plate-style LSD units.

Silent in operation (even during low-speed parking manoeuvres) the Quaife ATB limited slip unit never ‘locks,’ making it progressive, safe and user friendly. Unlike plate-style LSD designs there are no clutches, ramps, springs or other wear prone components to replace at regular intervals, because the Quaife ATB’s well-proven system of helical gears is extremely durable, plus it’s designed to use standard transmission oils.
quiafe copy
This makes the Quaife ATB limited slip differential a genuine ‘fit and forget’ upgrade that offers compromise-free performance and unbeatable reliability on the street, strip, stage or circuit, backed by limited lifetime warranty.

Precision manufactured from certified steel billets and inspected to ISO9001-2008 standards, the key performance features of the Quaife ATB helical gear limited slip differential include:

Safe, progressive and seamless in action, the Quaife ATB differential never ‘locks’

Controlled power is transmitted to all driven wheels, to maximise traction and minimise wheelspin, particularly in slippery conditions

Fitment greatly reduces unwanted torque steer, understeer or oversteer

Designed to work in harmony with road car electronic stability and traction control programs

Improves braking performance on front wheel drive cars by reducing lock up and minimising ABS intrusion due to torque transfer action

Reduces tire wear, especially on front wheel drive cars

Gear operated with no service components to replace – ever

Direct replacement for factory standard ‘open’ differential unit

Retains normal axle lubrication systems and maintenance schedule

In this way, we can achieve a safer and more capable drive system with excellent handling characteristics for cars WITH traction control or without. Since 1988 Quaife has shipped over 100,000 ATB units and has become the darling of the race circuit and performance crowd.

And so EVTV has found that simply lifting a Tesla Drive Unit from the salvage yard and providing the correct CAN messages to turn it on was simply not viable for any practical application. A means of selecting drive modes, monitoring various aspects of operation, and wiring the unit into another vehicle have all posed challenges beyond the basic safety issues of the open differential. But one by one, we’ve worked each of them off – leading to the ALSET drive system package. It’s not TESLA, but it’s close.

Finally, Version 1.00 of anything just never does quite work. Design is unfortunately a reiterative process and the only ones who think otherwise have not suffered many successful designs. I mean, that’s just the way it is. But we think the Tesla Model S drive train is the crown jewel of all EV components. I would love to offer it to our viewers and lay awake nights dreaming of the cars THEY are going to build with it. But we’re trying our best to envision all the gotchas we can up front, work off the obvious problems, so we at least have a “good” 1.00 to launch from. That’s taking more time and effort than I would like. I’ve annoyed and frustrated everyone I’ve worked with on it. I’m sure Tesla didn’t take this long to do it from scratch. But at this point, I can smell the finish line. And it’s going to lead to some breathtaking electric cars – beyond anything I knew to envision starting out. Along with a few wrecks probably.

Not all has been serious here at EVTV. Recall I have been fascinated with a device original proposed on a crowd funding service termed the SCROOSER. Well I finally after three years received notice from them that they are ready to build my $5000 electric scooter.

Apparently it took them that long to get the Yingyan scooter factory in China to manufacture them for them. And thanks to Sun Jialu, we received 13 of them this week from China at much reduced cost. Both the German and the Chinese envision this as the next great thing for young, affluent urban metrosexuals. And of course they are probably right. I’m picturing it with a milk crate to carry your groceries or small hardware purchases for guys in their 60’s – old koots as it were. So we’re calling it the “Kooter” and offering it WITH crate mounted at $1799. Probably a version with street legal lights at $1999. We don’t need those in the state of Missouri but would you believe my home town of Cape Girardeau passed an idiotic city ordinance requiring them anyway? Gak. Sea of tiny minds.

So we have a dozen in stock now and you can play and enjoy crazily the Kooter. The Scooter for Old Koots. Or of course young urban metrosexuals who like milk crates.

We also received our first shipment of FIREBANE Fire Extinguishers. If it warms up enough around here for outdoor sports we plan a special Lithium Battery Cookout and Barbecue which will terminate with a Firebane extinguisher to find out if it really puts out any fires. We’ll have those in the store at a breathtaking $895 each this week. I know. Good lithium battery fire extinguishers are hard to find at a good price. If you don’t buy them, I’ll have plenty. And for reasons previously discussed, that’s ok. I’m a believer now. And I sincerely hope you never have to become one. So its all good. I plan on selling them to those who HAVE had a fire and dont’ want to face another one unarmed. Less quibbling that way. Don’t ask me how I know.

I promise we WILL continue the videos and blogs. A little bit overwhelmed and underwater at the moment. But its all coming together.

Jack Rickard

61 thoughts on “Some Days an Inch, Some Days a Yard, Some Days a Mile or Two.”

  1. J Cornelius Tillman

    IMHO you are one of the true Renaissance men of our time. I have watched all of your updates, not so much to actually build an electric car, but to enjoy your academic and philosophical prowess. I just wish I would have taken you “buy Tesla” advice. I am glad for your now acknowledged good health and wish you the best.

  2. Glad to hear all is well at EVTV Jack, and it seems like you kind of uncovered the state of our health system here in the US: It seems like there is much more focus on generating revenue than taking care of the patient’s real health needs. There must be something wrong, we will just keep milking your bank account until we find it.

    Very exciting news about the micro-auto manufacturer and that could really open up the doors for some really cool classic car electric cars.

    As always, really good reading your insights on life and the EV industry.

  3. I smoke, and had a doctor get angry with me for having good arteries and lungs at age 69. And that was in Ireland where doctors and dentists are way way nicer than their equivalent in the USA. I would suggest that people don’t start smoking though.

  4. Damn you! Now I’ve got an Alset Sportster earworm.

    Thanks for the update Jack. Well crafted and amusing per usual.

    Love the bit about logic and society today. Lazy thinkers are frustratingly uncreative, and dangerous when in healthcare positions!

    Little off topic – here’s a fellow who talks about Radon. I share because its beautifully written and thought out discussion of Risk – I guarantee you’ll enjoy:ínConnell

    If you REALLY enjoy that, here are 2 more:

  5. Jack, so excited that you are in good health, we need you. My own advice to myself is to keep away from doctors and hospitals. Even though it works for you, I don’t believe I will be taking up smoking camels. Keep up the good work.

  6. I had these same procedures done about 5 years ago and it cost about $20K, but I had insurance. I only paid about $700. How did you end up paying $22K? I thought you said your wife was employed or retired from a local university. That coverage should be pretty good.

  7. Yes. His younger brother Ralph was Bill Emerson’s father. So he was the uncle of Congressman Bill Emerson.

    Ralph was killed in a construction accident in Dallas Texas when Bill was just a year or too old.

    Jack Rickard

  8. Congratulations on confounding your doctors. They’re pretty good at diagnosing common situations but anything more than 1 standard deviation from the mean results in a lot of head-scratching and multiple trips to specialists. Beyond 2 standard deviations chances for an accurate diagnosis are slim. Went through endless specialists as a kid until my mom finally demanded “a doctor with white hair”. Upon which one materialized and made a correct diagnosis within 30 seconds.

  9. Jack, since you brought up the topic of health, the New England Journal of Medicine just published an article based on the Framingham Heart Study data — — that strongly suggests that the rate of dementia has actually declined on a per capita basis since the 1970s. The rate of decline may mesh pretty well with the overall cleanup of the American landscape, especially the elimination of leaded gasoline and intermediate pollution particles. I haven’t seen a creditable report before about the long term dementia trend.

  10. Eric:

    Thanks for sharing. Fascinating. I’ve been talking about this for years. As the ICE vehicle gradually has taken over the world to the tune of nearly 2 billion of them, IF we accept that ONE in a closed garage will KILL you how do 2 billion of them outdoors do anything good for you?

    And how would we know how many modern diseases are a function of these exhaust gasses? Where do you find a control to compare with? The cars are everywhere the medical facilities are available. It is actually a VERY difficult thing to study.

    The lunacy of our estimations of risk and safety are just insane. I recently attended a music presentation in a building that was strictly no smoking, and they brought in a machine to make smoke for the presentation. Had to have it. Now they are banning vape pens that don’t make smoke. Why? Well it’s LIKE smoking… but without the smoke.

    Are humanoids defined AS totally irrational?

    From my point of view, they have ALL been neurologically damaged by something. Could be diesel exhaust….

    Or lead in the water if you are in Flint….

    Jack Rickard

  11. My irony meter was swinging in three dimensions.
    Jack, they banned our smoke machine we used for firemen practising sessions. The reason? It hadn’t been assessed by H&S.
    So there you have it. Smoke machines are allowed (with no safety assessment) but your vape which keeps you off smoking is not.

  12. Jack, I’ve considered your lifestyle and medical rest results and it’s clearly the tea that is responsible. Wasn’t your premium blend of ice tea coming to the store soon? I’ll take two cases.

    1. John:

      Without an extreme environmental issue, again I just don’t believe in behavioral medicine. DNA trumping all.

      But it is true that I drink what is probably an unusual amount of heavy coffee in the morning, and well over a gallon of tea each evening for many years.

      Soda but very rarely.

  13. Germany is kind of a unique case and Mercedes will have a bit of difficulty in applying their “applied art” argument elsewhere. On the other hand, the new law specifically refers to getting manufacturers permission unless the design had clearly been “abandoned” for 3 years.

    I wouldn’t have a guess as to how all that turns out.

    If I were an automanufacturer, I would probably do whatever I could to encourage the kind of activity Porsche and VW have enjoyed on their obsolete no longer manufactured models. But I’m not one, and I cannot explain the mindset of those who are.

    Jack Rickard

  14. In regard to Mercedes Benz and replicas: Well, I don’t think they can or will stop us. The main business I work at manufactures reproduction body panels for these cars. We make 190SL parts, 113 chassis (230/250/280SL), and 107 chassis (the mercedes most people know – 450SL, 500SL, 560SL, they made hundreds of thousands of these cars). Mercedes not only hasn’t stopped us from reproducing their parts but even purchases our parts for use in their own restorations in Germany. They’re well aware that we exist. We sometimes fight with them because they’ll raise the price of parts on a whim, sometimes by huge margins. When that happens we tend to try to make it ourselves. At this point I’d imagine we could damn near build a 190SL out of parts we make and it’d be a total replica. So, it seems like the situation in the US is that they cannot tell us no. We’re totally in competition with them and yet the only time we got in trouble is when we started to use their trademarked star on one of our ads. You certainly can’t do that. Basically, so long as you stay away from the star you’re OK (in the US at least). Germany is more complicated. I’ve heard of someone buying and restoring a 540K (millions of dollars) then importing it into Germany and getting it taken away because it was essentially a spoils of war kind of thing and illegally taken out of Germany after WWII. The owner had no way of knowing that and more than 50 years had passed but it doesn’t matter. Germany is serious about that kind of thing. So, we probably can’t sell repro kit cars in Europe which sucks because that’s where a bunch of Mercedes fans live. But, the US is a big place too.

    For what it is worth, I don’t think any company could really top Mercedes in terms of support for their older cars. You can still buy new parts for 190SL even 60 years after it was built! Some things they don’t make anymore and so they even buy from us but some things they do. They have classic centers specifically for supporting their older cars. They publish schematics and parts breakdowns. They have service manuals (still). But, sometimes they’re weird about certain things. Older Porsche cars seem to be reasonably well supported as well but perhaps not so much by Porsche. We make a lot of Porsche 356 and 911/914 parts too. We’ve also never been dinged for reproducing half of the body of a Porsche.

    BTW, they’re aware we built an electric 190SL as well. My father even drove it to the classic center in California and showed it to them. They weren’t necessarily impressed at seeing all the custom body work but a lot of purists aren’t.

    So, there are still talks of building fiberglass body 190SL and antique Porsche reproduction cars. They’d probably be on some chassis we can readily get but I don’t know which yet.

  15. Sinan AKAY (from Belgium)

    I second Mr. Tillman’s comments (he describes exactly what I have in mind, only with better english:) Although, I read and listen your insights every now and then without any concrete project or so, and never give a sign; although, we probably will never endorse the same political color: You are my American hero ! Like JW (John Wayne:) or so !

    Cheers Mr. Rickard, I wish you a healthy and wealthy future !

  16. In response to the video about replacing the 4 Leaf battery modules….
    Let’s take votes to see who things the root cause of the failed cells was
    A: tapping power off part of a pack (likely with no BMS balancing system)
    B: the DC-DC converter was left on….

    Whenever I see somebody tapping power off part of a battery pack, no matter the chemistry, I just shake my head and walk away. There’s no way I can convince them that it’s a bad idea because they don’t have the mental capacity to understand it.

  17. If I got it correctly the trouble was overcharging.

    I almost panicked watching the video. My priorities would have been
    1. get them out really quick (out of the garage and away of anything.
    2. disconnect all straps. A short to case of two cells is enough to make a big short.
    3 dismantle and get rid of distorted, overcharged and low voltage cells.

    Before trusting my life on those cells remaining I’d like to see them discharged, recharged and rebalanced

    Oh, yet another battery fire. I had a little fire on my desk. Days after charging one or more AA size NiMH cells again tried to put my desk on fire. Lot of smoke and smelling but other than the bleeding mess no damage done. Those NiMH cells seem to be even more dangerous than Leaf cells.

    Charging with asymmetric (big charging little discharging) AC got me stalactites or stalagmites. It is good for reviving lead acid but it kills other cells in the long run. The things like a knife destroy the diaphragm and short circuit.

  18. Sorry to hear that Peter. For me, NiMH have been the most trouble-free battery chemistry I’ve experienced. Of the 1st-gen EVs that weren’t crushed, the NiMH chemistry seemed to have held up for many years and quite favorably in that regard, compared to the Lithium chemistries now used. Lithium does have the big advantage in terms power density, of course. I would have used NiMH for my mower project but there were no large-format cells readily available. Which is a whole other story —

    For consumer cells (AA, AAA, etc…) there does tend to be a lot of crappy NiMH out there. I switched to Eneloop cells some years ago and they have been quite good and do not rapidly drain themselves sitting in storage. Assuming one has a good NiMH charger, the main thing to be careful with is over-discharge, particular with multiple cell packs, in devices which do not have low-voltage cutoff. Voltage reversal is a killer for most any battery chemistry.

  19. I was lucky, they did not do much harm.

    It were cheep cells AA and they were more than a decade old. I guess they were old enough I most likely have treated them with AC charging. The trick is AC with a pike about double as high as the cell voltage. 1 R in series with a diode and 10 R parallel to the diode. I could charge cells that would normally take no charge and they got some capacity back. But in the long run the cells would short. Some 12 volts and a big capacitor could burn out the short. But again that was not healthy.

    Yea, you might still say those cells were reliable for years and it was not much damage they did. Other cells have shorted while charging and they did develop a lot of heat killing one slot in the charger. Most likely the trouble was the (cheap fast) charger not the batteries.

    We used AC charging in hamradio for about a year until we found about stalaktites growing but that was the reason why we could put more charge into the batteries and could charge them faster without rising the cell voltage.

    Again those cells were really old, all of them and they showed aging in their capacity as well. I should have got rid of them. My fault.

    I still have my anode battery, 10 blocks of some 9 volts each. Those are the batteries that exploded in John’s lab. I guess they unfold very much like electrolytic capacitors do. Making a lot of noise and an awful mess to clean up afterwards.

    Trouble in the lab not in the car and besides the batteries nothing damaged.

    Thank you John
    Peter and Karin

  20. Hi, very interesting and entertaining read, thanks.

    Regarding health, I know a large lady who you’d think should have all sorts of health issue’s. Her whole family is large (from the UK), and doctors are astounded after giving them health checks…. perfect health. Meanwhile I’m just a little overweight and have Diabetes (self-controlled so no injections, but still). Freaks of nature is probably the best term 🙂

    On electric cars, is there a way to convert a large 2 tonne car (Nissan Elgrand E51 in this case, 8 seater van with a 3.5l V6 petrol engine (VQ35DE))? Would LOVE it to be a hybrid or full electric.

  21. Jack can you come up for some air and answer some questions for me, because inquiring minds want to know.

    1 If you are not caring HPEV motors what is going into the Ghia?

    2 What is the weight difference between the Doka ice engine and transmission vs the Tesla rear power train?

    3 Is there any update about the Smart fortwo battery?

    4 Can all the batteries you will need for the Tesla drive train fit into the tool box?

    5 Is there a car that is getting the UQM motor?


    1. The Karman Ghia still has an AC76 motor Brian selected as the drive train. These were discontinued by HPEVS as they tended to overheat in continuous operation. We’ve since dropped HPEVS from the product line, but the Ghia still has an AC76 in it.

      The Tesla rear drive train is just under 300 lbs. I don’t know what the Doka engine and transmission total but I would expect it to be within a few lbs of that.

      We’ve never taken the Smart for Two back up to St. Louis to have the battery serial number flashed.

      Yes, I think we can adequately drive the Tesla with what we can get in the Toobox on the Doka. If not, there is plenty of room under the rear seat as well.

      The Green VW Thing has a UQM motor in it now. Bill has actually been working on this project the past few weeks and we hope to have it rolling soon.

      Jack Rickard

  22. I’m looking forward to hearing what you decide on the Doka battery. 1000 Amps is 100 Ah cells at 10C, 100 CA 100s would be a nominal 340 volts and 750lbs. Maybe a couple of packs from a KIA Soul in parallel???

  23. Had not looked at shop cams in awhile and have not finished the current episode but, glad to see the VW DOKA away from the Tesla bench and in the shop work area. Even if it is blocked in by the machines of the wild kooter bunch

  24. Finally bottom balancing the last Better Place module and getting ready to incorporate it into the Fiero pack. Thanks for all of the good information and guidance on batteries over the years!

          1. Who are you now voting for? I’m interested since you wrote a blog post about your support for Carson. I think the Missouri primary is today from what I have gathered.

  25. Jack,

    I am bottom balancing the third Better Place module before adding it to the other two modules already installed in my Fiero conversion. I believe you said you were bottom balancing them to 3 volts per half cell but post fire, wondered if your procedure has changed any.


  26. Just watched the March 16th show. Did you figure out the dash F motor/inverter issue? I suppose once you have checked for /the bad connection/the thing you forgot to hook up/the switch you forgot to throw/ all that is left is a different dialect of CAN: it is as if you are telling it “go” in English but it only understands Portugese, Swahili or Mandarin.

    1. The F unit is nothing special, it’s all the same HW, just minor mods. To my understanding Tesla quite recently introduced and deployed on all cars a new special firmware. One of it’s ‘features’ is an encryption for mission-critical systems. Sort of like when you insert your credit card in an ATM. Not just a simple checksum. This is quite evil and scary – I can’t think of any reason why would they go through all the trouble to make that happen (unless they target specifically the salvage market). I’m really curious how will EVTV get around that.

      1. Jarkko Santala

        If it’s been deployed on all cars, shouldn’t Jacks Model S also have the new firmware and his captures show that? Unless it’s only on cars made after certain date. Just guessing here.

        1. I’m pretty sure Jack’s car has it already. But the old units he has are just ignoring that part, as they simply don’t need it. The new units will just not run without the handshake done properly. And that cannot be done by simply capturing and replying data (challenge-response).

          1. It is evil and it is scary. My sense on how to attack it is to find a way to flash an older version of the firmware on the new hardware with the new firmware. Basically revert to the previous version. It will be interesting to see how difficult that is.

            But yes, we already have a motor on the floor that just will not run using our current software. It does start out with a large number of frames with an ASCII string advertising what appears to be a version or date or serial number. We’re still looking at what response it needs to cease and move on. On the bench version we get 396 of these frames. On the car, it sends one and seems to get what it needs as a reply and moves on.

            I can tell you that we got a large amount of advice from Tesla Motors Club and some surprising participants thereof that have essentially already been eliminated as total bullshit. But what I’m seeing would tend to match your description Michal.

            It may be that we have a handful of units here on the floor that can be worked, and that it is indeed a showstopper. But I have to tell you we were pretty much stopped on the DMOC, then stopped on the CODA, then stopped on the Tesla, and somehow we stumble on something and get past it.

            Time will tell. And of course a lot of poseur wannabees on Tesla Motors Club will tell also but they’ll probably be wrong.

            If you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear them.

            Jack Rickard

  27. If your doctor would have said “It would save you 10 watt hours per mile” after you said “What for?” about losing weight, I hope you would have had a good laugh.

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