Recalling the Army.

I’m running a bit behind on written articles in the blog, or perhaps a bit ahead on videos.  I forget which.  In any event we’ll discuss the last two videos simultaneously and at the same time, concurrently, together, and in aggregate, as a group, together. In our video of January 17, 2019, we open up with the final 3 minutes of our video from May 17, 2009.  Yes, we approach 10 years of video publication at EVTV. I had some small experience and some small success as a writer and magazine publisher over the previous 30 years.  But my estimation in the spring of 2009 was that the ad sale for printed magazines was difficult in a very new and different way.  Basically you couldn’t get anybody in the business world on the telephone anymore to explain what you were doing. This is like sales cold calling, but it isn’t nearly as cold.  At Boardwatch Magazine, most of the people we contacted by telephone were pleased to take the call.  Either they knew all about us and would readily speak to us, or they knew nothing about us and were delighted to learn we existed at all.  I was fairly certain that a publication about electric vehicles would be received similarly.  Understand we don’t bother calling people we don’t think would be interested in the first place.  B2B is slightly different than selling life insurance via unwanted sales calls. But the world had gone through a phase shift regarding telephones.  Company land lines were essentially abandoned.  IF you didn’t know the cell phone number of the individual already, he didn’t want to talk to you.  And basically the modern communications have so enhanced our ability to interact with people, that instead of communicating with 10 or 12 people directly in a day, everyone could now interact somewhat cogently and directly with 50 or 100 or even 150. That’s an amazing increase in productivity.  But it renders everyone feeling as if they were going 800 mph with their hair on fire ALL THE TIME.   So if you DID have their cell phone number, realistically they probably still didn’t want to talk to you.  Actually, whatever their desires, they’re simply UNABLE to talk to one more person today than they’re already talking to.  We’ve hit the wall. And so the concept of a video series magazine.  I saw a guy in New Zealand doing a bit on a very bottom feeder approach to building an EV – Gav’s EV.  Short videos.  Very low resolution.  And he built such a bad car he couldn’t get it licensed in New Zealand because the frame was rusted away. So how about feature length HD video?  At that time, it wasn’t QUITE HD – 1280 x 720, but WAY beyond the 360 pixel stuff commonly on line.  There was not nearly enough bandwidth to carry it.  And indeed most of the often aging PC’s widely owned didn’t have the horsepower to PLAY such a video if it was already on the hard drive. Worse, it was a huge learning curve for me personally to edit video.  And indeed, once edited, it could take 17-24 hours just to RENDER and output the video.  Our little rPi Battery Display today has more horsepower than my very expensive desktop full blown computers of 10 years ago. The progress in both bandwidth and computer speed and storage over the past 10 years has been astonishing. I saw the adoption of battery driven vehicles as single stroke solving a good half dozen problems at once.  Heat, vibration, fossil fuels, trade imbalance, military oil colonialism, and the unhealthy effects of vehicle exhaust among them.  You DO know that a good way to end it all is with a car and a closed garage door?  So why do you think a billion of them doing that is ok as long as it is out of doors? Suck starting an Oldsmobile through the exhaust pipe just doesn’t make sense to me. Al Gore had just released a documentary titled An Inconvenient Truth predicting that we would all be dead from Global Warming by this time.  It didn’t of course happen, but it has left a very wide cult of very confused adherents that rather fail to notice none of the predictions turned out.  This has morphed into a political sect seeking to control entire populations with this witch hunt.  But at the time it seemed plausible and so our first video was titled A Convenient Response to an Inconvenient Truth. Brian Noto and I had built a fully functional fiberglass kit-car replica of a 1957 Porsche Speedster as an electric car using newly available Chinese LiFePo4 batteries and an enhanced Warfield forklift motor from NETGAIN.  We used a Kelly PWM controller to manage speed and power.  We started in September 2008 and drove it Christmas day.  It rather exceeded expectations.  I drove it up to 94 mph on the first drive and it achieved 110 miles on its first charge. And my story since has been that if a 54 year-old unemployable with ZERO automotive experience, can build an electric car that does 94 mph and can go 110 miles on a charge, working half days falling down drunk in yellow shoes, then what we have here is NOT precisely a technical problem. This being AT the time of the home mortgage financial meltdown, which I am certain derived from the six months of $4.50 per gallon gasoline summer, my question was why aren’t there dozens of electric models available from those like General Motors and Volkswagen that DO know something about cars. And the ONLY OEM I could find proposing one was curiously named TESLA, and their car had become a standing joke of delayed delivery with people doing satires on the ever coming soon TESLA which of course just never quite seemed to be actually available. And so the original mission was to enlist 100,000 garage tinkerers and innovators and focus their attention on the problem of building a custom electric car themselves.  In the process of demonstrating that it could be done, and exhibiting the enormous advantages of electric drive I had already experienced to their friends, neighbors, and ever supportive brides. Having survived the introduction of the PC, and the Internet, I rather knew what the response would be and counted on it.  First, the status quo would try to kill it.  And if they were unable to do that, to somehow figure out a way to have invented it. Elon Musk’s approach was to do it himself.  The problem with that is that it provides a convenient point at which to kill it. My approach was to have a diffuse group of unmanageable individuals around the entire planet EACH do it separately, and in demonstrating the to me obvious advantages, acculturate the population to an idea they were inherently resistant to.  The problem was essentially that EVERYBODY knew entirely to much about BATTERIES and the experience was NEVER GOOD. Lithium ionic batteries being the key.  But I first had to kill something myself – the deeply ingrained tradition in the small but already existing group that DID build electric cars already – with inexpensive lead acid batteries.  They did their best to ridicule and abuse me out of existence.  But compared to FidoNet Network 104 and the newsgroups on the Internet, they just didn’t know how to be abusive enough to get the job done. Indeed, they were by contrast genteel and polite in the extreme, though blissfully unaware of what an online dogfight REALLY looks like.  I  had already been engaged in these e-mail imbroglios since 1983 or thereabouts. But this approach from the grass up doesn’t provide the status quo with a good point to kill it.  It’s everywhere.  Laws don’t matter.  Threats don’t matter.   These tend to be crusty old guys with a garage, a ball game on the radio, a garage reefer full of beer, and kind of an attitude anyway.  And an electric Corvette or Beetle would be sufficiently astonishing that they quickly became local “Edison” celebrities just by building it. Understand virtually ALL of them actually build much better cars than I do.  Some of these people are artists and want each individual wire to march across the firewall in perfect parallel and then curve down in perfectly symetrical arcs.  Many used to build hotrods and show cars.  If I could show them the electronics and the batteries, they were universally much better at actually building cars. And they DID take them to car shows.  And they were met with a really odd polite resentment from the other hotrod builders as the crowds would simply draw to and focus on the new guy – with the all electric fully restored Pinto.  They literally stole the show at every car show they attended. Not everyone feels equipped to build a car from scratch in their garage.  But this created a latent demand of “low hanging fruit”.  By the time the Leaf and the Tesla Roadster were available, there was a small group VERY ready to buy the initial offerings of these new OEM electric cars.  And I believe that this formed the early group that bought Electric Minis, Leafs, and provided the much needed oxygen for a $110,000 Tesla Roadster to get Tesla off the ground.   [jwplayer streamer=”rtmp://” provider=”rtmp” file=”news011819-iPhone.mp4″ hd.file=”news011819-1280.mp4″ image=””  width=”850″ height=”522″ html5_file=”″] We’re a bit past our sell-by date here.  The electric vehicle has passed from the tinkerer and innovator stage of the adoption curve described by Everett Rogers and Geoffrey Moore.  Classically, at 2 to 2.5% market penetration, you are considered well and safely into the “early adopter” stage and at this point Tesla by itself enjoys that kind of penetration.  So we are at the point where demand turns vertical on the curve and grows exponentially. Right on time, the status quo OEM’s are scrambling to get in the game.  The latter phase will be their herculean and usually remarkably effective efforts to rewrite the entire history of the thing so when you think about it, they really invented it from the beginning.  This is as much predictably part of the adoption curve as all the rest. And so in this video, we take a victory lap and congratulate the many who actually did the work and built the cars and so without doubt and without exception (and sadly without reward or recognition) really DID directly change the world for the better.  You will be forgotten widely, but will remain forever my personal heroes, joining the cadre that built the Internet and the online world – DESPITE BillGatus of Borg. So what’s ahead for me?  Well 50 years of Camel cigarettes and Kentucky Fried Chicken have taken their toll.  But I fear I may  have a few more miles to go before I sleep. Having built the largest residential photovoltaic array in the world in 1998, I rather thought the solar thing had progressed heroicallly by now.  Instead, I find a shitshow of recalcitrant utility companies furiously rolling back the clock, a squabbling industry of go nowhere lost dazed and confused inverter and charge controller guys who remain tiny in the face of growing demand, and just a mess really.  Because they never did address energy storage. I had a 50kWh Trojan industrial lead acid battery pack in my Morrison Colorado home in 1998.  It featured an absolutely FOOLPROOF automatic transfer switch that allowed us to have power when the grid went down without putting ANYTHING out on the grid and cost a paltry $400 of the $275,000 cost of the installation.  UL1741 and the other regulations established by the Utility Companies have NEVER had ANYTHING to do with safety of anyone.  They were and are a land grab, seizing your assets without compensation. So I am mystified to find an entire solar industry completely lacking in leadership or clue. Nothing interoperates.  The utilities control everything.  And with HEROICALLY falling prices it has progressed really VERY LITTLE in 21 years.  And all proponents are scrambling manfully to dig fallen quarters out of the grass while rivers of hundred dollar bills flow through the air above them SEEKING a home. It is madness. And the central issue with solar power is simply that the planet blissfuly rotates on its axis every 24 hours.  And the rain falls on the good and the evil in like amount.  And utility grids are comically poor candidates to act as energy storage devices.  They have ever been plagued with load management issues of their own for over 130 years. The solution is laying on the ground in front of you.  Magic rock photovoltaic panel seeks magic rock lithium battery for long walks in the moonlight. And so once again, it is ALL ABOUT THE BATTERIES. Right on time we have the exponential growth in electric vehicles.  But along the way to success, they had to make an enormous concession.  We never did quite get everyone over their poor experiences with batteries.  Indeed, specifically with cars, what is the most common symptom of a failed gasoline powered car?  You turn the key and it fails to start – dead battery. Now it could be caused by many things.  But for the not very mechanical public at large, the experience is “the battery is dead”.  And whatever repairs are needed, the battery also needs recharge or replacement. So to address this, and to assure the buyers that LITHIUM batteries were different, the manufacturers had to make a  huge concession.  A ridiculous warranty on the batteries.  Minimum 8 year 100,000 mile warranty on THE most expensive part of the car. My wife drives an early 2013 Tesla Model S.  It was out of warranty last year.  But the BATTERY WARRANTY continues to 2021 – another 3 years. And what that means is that essentially every electric vehicle that has been sold thus far, ALL of them, are STILL under battery warranty and will be for years to come. So if anyone actually HAS a battery problem with an electric vehicle, they call the manufacturer.  And they replace the ENTIRE battery for FREE.  This isn’t a lead acid car battery.  Nothing is “prorated” by time or miles.  You just get a brand new battery.  And they install it. But EV’s are wrecked like any other car.  And I could make the case that Musk & Co. have gone to extremes to make a very HIGH PERFORMANCE electric vehicle that about 1% of the drivers owning them are competent to drive them at all. The result is what looks like a demolition derby under the influence of bathtub gin. Enter the auto salvage industry.  This is an integral part of our automotive ecosystem.  They buy wrecks and either restore them to operation and sell the now usable car or part them out.  But in the case of THE most expensive and valuable part of the electric car – the battery – there is essentially ZERO automotive replacement market for these parts.  ALL EV’s are still under battery warranty.  So no one is going to buy a battery from the junkyard to repair their car. And so EV’s make a perfect source for relatively low cost lithium batteries for solar storage.  I’ve been singing this song for about a year and a half and it seems our viewers have learned the tune. We’re selling a lot of our bms controller for Model S batteries these days as well as MOdel S battery modules which have established a pretty steady at this point price of about $1300 per module or $250 per kWh. But I am actually seeing the more numerous Model 3 batteries going for a premium.  People are scarfing them up left and right at ridiculous prices, and then rushing to the keyboard DEMANDING to know when I’m going to have a controller done for the Model 3.     [jwplayer streamer=”rtmp://” provider=”rtmp” file=”news012519-iPhone.mp4″ hd.file=”news012519-1280.mp4″ image=””  width=”850″ height=”522″ html5_file=”″]   Flattered or offended? I can’t decide. But it IS important.  These batteries have very high energy densities and are simply quite dangerous.  Tesla has a HUGE motivation to NOT have vehicles bursting into flames and so for their entire history, they’ve put more effort into battery management, with some of the best engineering minds in the field, than any other aspect of their cars. In this video we do show you what happens when a cell is punctured or overcharged.  So we think it is IMPERATIVE to use the Tesla BMS to the greatest extent possible.  And so we’ve devoted a truly deranged amount of resource to try to produce a safe “controller” to operate the Tesla BMS.  Note that we simply do NOT attempt ever to actually design a Battery Management System.  We do a CAN controller to communicate with the BMS boards on the Tesla modules, and indeed have such a controller for the entire pack (which I prefer strongly.) And yes, we are working on a similar port of our ESP32 controller for the Model 3 modules. As these use custom Tesla chips with a lot of secret sauce, I can’t say we will ever get it done. History being what it is, I’m hopeful we stumble onto something as my experience is it is better to be lucky than good. But IF all that works out, a tested product would be toward the end of the year. ALl of you scarfing up those cheap Model 3 batteries at $16,000 will be able to buy the same thing by then for $7500. They are building, and wrecking, a LOT of Tesla Model 3 cars. We bought the FIRST wrecked Model 3, not in very good shape for $28k and our most recent, nearly running Model 3 for $22k. We talked to a guy in North Carolina that bought one he thought he could repair at $15k. There are 16 on Copart right now. In this latest video, we came across a PART of a Model 3 module, and so took one of the cells down to parade rest and show you what’s inside and how it compares to the Model S 18650 cell. We have a very limited number of these to offer as examples – simply something you can keep in the glove box to show people what one looks like in conversation. We also discuss the theoretical chemistry of the cells, but also the MANUFACTURING chemistry – the actual commercial battery materials used to make a cell. It rather explains why Musk prefers to refer to these as Nickel/Graphite batteries and points to the largest cost component as nickel. We are pleased to see we are not the only savages on the buffalo hunt. A group in California Tech-Direct is focusing on Leaf Cells – their BMS efforts are probably a fire waiting for a victim but they appear to be working on it. And we would predict a day when ALL EV batteries will be repurposed for solar energy storage. We do pay attention to economies of scale and cost trends. But we care little for the actual price of things at this point as they are subject to almost daily change. The garage built electric vehicles never paid for themselves with savings at the gasoline pump, though there were savings. Similarly experimenting with EV batteries is unlikely to make economic sense for many years in reducing your electric bill. But I am convinced that in a nation with 250 million cars and 100 million residences, eventually remaindered car batteries are scalable for the future of solar energy storage. And without that storage, the promise of two magic rocks will remain unfinished. We serve to enable, abet, and encourage the tinkerers and innovators who do not want to be among the masses who change a light bulb. We need the MEN who will take responsibility for and work to CHANGE THE WORLD and in no small way. Not talk about it. Not dream about it. Not be part of the political movement. I’m an old man. I only have time, patience, and will to lead and confer with those who use their HANDS and their MINDS to actually CHANGE things, starting in their own shed and on their own rooftop. I believe only they have the ability and the will to change the world, leaving the lightweights and the girls to vote on shit and try to get some facetime on CNN. IT’s kind of like the weather. Everybody talks about it. Who’s doing anything about it? So for the corporations who want me to consult, and the YouTubers looking for a good cat video, please stand aside and don’t get in any of these guys way. We don’t need your money, and we don’t have time for your silly malformed ill-informed fantasy opinions. You should view EVTV ONCE for a few minutes, and move along quietly. We are far too long and far too boring and far too old and really really fat for you. Jehu needs 10 million viewers and a Youtube income so he can try to get legal and get a green card. We don’t. I note a blip in this latest video among the 24-35 age group. We never get any of those. You need to move out of mom’s house, marry, raise your children, etc. When you’re done with all that, you can come back and join the men. Till then, this stuff just probably isn’t good for your head. Remember…safety first… Jack Rickard

27 thoughts on “Recalling the Army.”

  1. Hi all.
    Have not read any past articles yet, but just wanted to tell you that this is the first day I have had my computer up and connected to the net. I live in the east side of Panama City in a small area called Parker next to Tyndall Air Force base, and we had a bad Hurricane come trough here as most of you know, and just today had my power back up in my shop, and now attempting to get my stuff back up. What a mess.

    My home is one of the only hurricane homes left in this area, and I build my shop one street over, with hurricanes in mind, and have metal straps crossed in all the walls. My home and my shop one street over has no damage except lost a few shingles at the shop, the house has a flat roof with stones and tar. Btw this was a 200 mph hurricane.

    Anyhow, I’m so happy to be back. Have a lot of past reading to do here.. lol.


    1. Roy, glad to see another guy from the Florida Panhandle. I’m out here in Gulf Breeze where we got essentially nothing from the hurricane and I feel for you and your neighbors. Read all the past stuff; it’s great and tells you how Jack got to where he is now.

  2. Great Last Video Jack. Talking batteries. It was like the good old days. 🙂

    I was very excited to see you had a Model 3 battery apart. I thought you covered a lot of stuff in the video, but I was surprised you didn’t really seem to want to test the cells. I would have thought the C rates the cells could do were one of the major hidden details about them. Everyone is wondering how fast the next version Superchargers will be. Also I guess it’s interesting to find out how much Tesla have software limited the cars acceleration to not overshadow the Model S.

    I vote that you do some watching paint dry cell bench testing. Half or more of the Youtube viewers will comment the video is super boring and then you can insult them in the comments. You’ll enjoy that. The electric vehicle people will think the tests are great.

  3. To me, the beginning of EV craze was a TV program made by a guy calling himself Reverend Gadget. He, with a small team has converted a gas car to electric in extremely simplistic way and yet this thing was driving great. So I thought: if such a gang of morons is capable of doing this, what would car manufacturers be able to achieve, if they only wanted to? From that point I was 100% sure EV thing is inevitable.
    Btw, you can see very bad copy of that program here: (There was no further episodes, as the garage bursted to the flames soon afterwards; I think it was rather lack of safety standards, not Big Oil…)

    As for Gav’s EV aka KiwiEV, what I liked most was how his cute young wife was excited about that converted car. There is not many hobbies that make one’s spouse excited apart maybe making money in large quantities… So again – poor execution, pretty good outcome.

    I think something like that is needed for Selfish Solar, like being the only house in the neighborhood with electricity during a blackout, with housewife hosting her friends who’s husbands are less savvy in a nice HD video. Something along these lines.

  4. Gilbert J Arguelles

    What are the length and width of the unrolled cells for the 18650 and 2170 batteries that you opened up? Your gave the length of the 2170 at 69 ” .
    18650 ___X ___
    2170 69″ x ___
    mm dimensions would be ok

  5. Hey Jack – in your latest video, you mentioned it was difficult finding CAN in your Model 3. My utility (ConEd) have me a doohickey to plug in to my Model 3 (presumably CAN) so they can give me back $0.10 cents per kWh if I charge between midnight and 8 am. It came with a Y cable, with an ODB connector on one end to connect to a FleetCarma ODB dongle, and the two other ends were used to to connect into a “Tesla Diagnostic Connector” underneath the USB ports/air vents for the rear passengers. It involved disconnecting and existing bus cable connecting, then inserting the Y cable between the two ends. I can send you a scanned copy of the installation instructions they gave me if you’re interested. – Mark

    1. As Mark W above said (and you probably know), there is an easily accessed connector for the entire center console located at the rear of the console behind one panel. There is a group of people on the Model 3 Owner’s Club forum that has been using this connector to decode the Model 3 CAN bus messages. ( They have sourced the necessary connectors to create a “man in the middle” tap for this connector. Their current list of Model 3 CAN messages is kept up to date on a Google spreadsheet: (

      On the topic of Model 3 garage door control, I had similar problems the first week (September, 2018) that I had my Model 3. After searching Internet forums, I found advice to do two things: 1) drive my car so that it was about 40 feet from my garage door and then select “reset location” for my garage door opener settings, and 2) set the “auto-open when arriving” distance to 40ft. Once I did these two things, my Model 3 has never failed to close or open my garage door automatically. Maybe this would help in your situation. – Steve

  6. can you please put the video back up : “Tesla Model 3 Battery Cell Internals and Disassembly”
    I watched it the other day, I went back today to digest some of your comments and its gone!!!
    Its not the actual teardown I went back for, it was your chat about how batteries work which I
    wanted to go over.
    What was in the top of the cell, no internal fuse etc? Any closeups of that part?
    Your ability to digest difficult research papers and then explain it back in understandable manner is something
    lacking on the net on lithiums, hence my request for reposting that video. Why did you remove it?
    If it was because you opened a near full charged cell, just edit that bit out !
    Particularly interested in the role of the plastic electrolyte sheet, how does the lithium interact with it?
    Does the lithium pass through that barrier?

  7. the magnet at top of the cell might effect the results, there will be a force created as the current flows through the magnetic field,
    some energy probably lost to that force f=ILB, whether its negligible or not I’m not sure.

    1. It is beyond negligible. It essentially doesn’t exist as a practical matter. We are loading the cell and measuring the current. We don’t know what the load IS or care. If the magnet requires energy the constant current load simply adjusts for it so we are still drawing 1.25 amps. Whether it is in the fields or in the switching and resistance of the load device doesn’t matter at all.

  8. Proud member of Jack’s army here. I discovered EVTV sometime after I had laid the plans for my first conversion, but your video publication gave consistent encouragement and instruction as this crusty old guy was climbing the learning curve. As I post this, I’m sipping decaf from my EVCCON2014 mug and remembering the good times and great friends we all enjoyed through your sponsorship of that gathering for us solitary garage guys. EVCCON lifted the isolation and replaced it with shared knowledge and experience, made us feel we were part of something bigger than ourselves.

    Although I’m one of those “car guys”, I still follow your blazing a trail through the solar storage wilderness. My home is ill suited for solar – we have some ancient and huge live oaks that shade our roof and give their own thermal benefit from the Texas sun. Our local electric co-op started a program last year of sourcing power from wind and solar farms out west and offers members the option to sign up for that at a (very) slight discount from the standard rates. I have no illusions that all my power comes from renewables, but it’s a warm fuzzy. So until the day my trees succumb to oak wilt, I’ll follow your adventures with interest.

    Thanks for all you do, Jack! Camels and KFC aside, I wish you long life and much happiness from an even older crusty old dude.

  9. Pingback: Recalling the Army. - EVTV Motor Verks | EHM

  10. I have a Tesla 3 out of warranty and my battery is down to 0 and I assume the computer does not let it to charge. Is there a way to charge this battery. Some people suggested to open the battery and charge its module?

    1. How do you have a Model 3 out of battery warranty? They have an eight year warranty and they’ve only been available for two years. So you must have a LOT of miles on that car.

      If the computer does not let it to charge, being out of warranty isn’t the reason. You probably have a failed cell. Unless you are quite competent in this area, I would suggest NOT to open the battery and NOT to charge its module. You should have it analyzed at a Tesla Service facility, and if it is something simple they can fix it. And if it’s not, you need a new battery. And you can buy one from Tesla and they will install it for you.

      The design is such that if you do have a failed cell, it is simply not repairable. I don’t think Tesla would attempt it. Adhesives and packaging are just not conducive to repair at that level.

      1. Thank you for your reply.
        The car with 390 miles on was on an accident with a salvage title. The small dealer who bought it, fixed the body work but did not charge the battery for more than 6 months. Also I get a message from the car’s computer about the airbags reset. I took it to Tesla and Tesla wants $20K to replace the battery! which is out of my budget for a new battery. If I do not do it, Tesla does not want to do anything with my car if I do not spend the $20K first to replace the battery and then they will look into it!! I am thinking to replace the pyro-fuse first before I try to charge the battery. Where can I find the tool that unscrews those strange screws that hold the cover of the penthouse??, or how should I get them off?

        Any advice is more than welcome as I spent too much money on this car and seats park outside of my house!

        Thank you again

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