>Not Everything Works the First Time

>Interesting show this week. Mostly a rundown on our additions to the EVTV test bench, which is coming along quite nicely.

We’ve added a control panel for the generator, with a contactor, current shunt, control switch and voltage/current displays. This allows us to turn on the generator or leave it off, depending on what kind of load we want to put on it. And we can measure the current back into the battery pack.

I’m once again disappointed to report that we get less power OUT of our perpetual motion machine than we put in. But it gives us a bit of a load we can cut in. I’d kind of like to add a PWM circuit or controller to this eventually so we can dial in just how much of a load. But the 150 v battery pack doesn’t present much of one actually. We have to turn the generator up to a couple of thousand RPM to really get 80 amps or so out of it.

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We also added a control panel to the input side, quite a bit more extensive. It has a Speedhut tachometer with the RECHARGECAR magnetic pickup to display RPM. We used a handheld laser RPM counter to check it and it probably reads about 50 rpm low – very acceptable. We’re using this at 4 pulses per turn and it is working well with the tach.

We’ve also added a vernier 5K potentiometer to act as our throttle control. And we use a precharge resistor/contactor/shunt box originally used on our first Speedster. The control panel has a switch and a light to turn this power on. And a 1000 Amp 50mv meter that displays the current through the matching 1000 amp 50mv shunt in the box.

This gives us a little extra safety. We can of course turn the ignition voltage off to the controllers from the panel, but we can also cut off the power through the contactor. Turns out to be a handy feature as you’ll see in the video.

We wired up the two Soliton1 Controllers to the two Netgain Warp 11 motors. Therein lies a tale but also one of the reasons for the test bench during the Escalade conversion.

The EVnetics Soliton1 is a relatively new controller and has some very interesting features. Most importantly to this application an IDLE function that maintains a low level RPM control on the motor with the throttle off. We know of no other controller with this feature.

Normally, with Siamese motors, a series/parallel two speed electronic shifting system is used. This requires a lot of contactors, and at the powers we are applying, that is a bit of a problem.

The advantage is of course that you can apply the full current from the controller through both motors at low speeds. This allows you to get maximum torque from both motors since in series they both get ALL the current put out by the controllers through their series armature/field windings.

The disadvantage is that it drops the voltage applied across each motor in two. So a 192v pack putting out 1000 amps would put a little over 95 volts to each motor at 1000 amps or 95kw each for 190kw. But as the motors turned up in speed, they generate back EMF (electro-motive force). Think of them as also acting as generators in the reverse direction. These motors normally would start to drop in torque at 3600-3900 rpm at 192 volts but with half the voltage, the torque dropoff from BEMF would also decrease – maybe 2500 rpm or so.

And so once your vehicle is up to speed, you would shift into parallel mode. In parallel mode, the current output of the controller is applied to each motor separately, or in parallel. The advantage here is that each motor receives full voltage and so can move the torque drop off back up to 3600 rpm. The disadvantage, of course, is that each motor only sees 500 amperes maximum. This really is NOT a terrible disadvantage, because by the time you are going down the road at 2500 rpm, your need for power is quickly diminishing in normal driving, and 500 amps is generally a lot, particularly from two motors on the same shaft. It’s still 192kw.

I don’t like the system. THe problem is:

Complexity
Failure items
Shift points
Operational complexity

The wiring is simply more complex with several contactors required. The system is of course switched with the car underway and so the contactors have to break some current. The contactors can do that – up to a point. Generally we use contactors ( a misnomer really for a high current capacity relay) to apply power or remove it but in normal operation they are not carrying ANY current at the time. You close it when you start the car. You generally open it when you shut it off. And you are parked both times and drawing near zero current.

In a pinch, you can use the contactor relay to break current in an emergency and shut down the system. The Kilovacs we use, can break up to a couple of thousand amps – about once. And they DO fail. Ergo the mechanical disconnect switch backup. There have been real incidents of contactor relay FAILURE to break current in a high current situation.

It certainly decreases their life expectancy when they are opened with significant current and this is spelled out quite graphically on the data sheet of the contactor. The mechanical life is a million cycles. At 200 amp current you get 12 cycles. At 2000 amps you get 1 cycle, maybe…..

So they become failure items.

Then too, you have to have some means of initiating all this shifting. And indeed, THEN you have to actually do the shifting. This of course COULD be automated. But now we have a controller and series of relays to control our contactor relays and so complexity builds again.

How about we just use two controllers.

We put one controller on one motor and the other controller on the other motor. Now each motor can have the full 192v AND the full 1000 amps all the time.

Of course, we have the cost of the controllers. And then they have to have pretty similar outputs. You would think they would have to have exactly matching outputs or the two motors would fight. I didn’t think this was the case. Both are applying torque in the same direction on the same shaft. Even if one was applying half torque while the other was applying full torque, you should get the sum of the two torques. There is no war going on here unless one is commanding it backwards.

But I had never heard of anyone doing it.

Basically, it ought to work. The outputs of the controllers really can’t feed each other, they are on entirely separate sets of windings. The only common point would be the batteries and the control inputs. But having never tested it, it was kind of a theory, not a knowledge. As I stress over and over, your EV does not care IN THE SLIGHTEST what you THINK about it’s operation. Your theories might entertain you, but the car just does not give a shit. It will follow the actual lawas of physics as it interprets them, which is generally a might differently than how YOU interpret them.

Ergo the test bench.

And we did learn quite a bit rather quickly. One is that the output of the magnetic pickup is probably two light for two Solitons’s and a tachometer. Our Soliton’s were giving some erratic and very erroneous RPM readings – generally 100-150 rpm high, but also not very stable. I might be able to dress this up with some resistance value across the output. We’ll have to play with that.

We did cal the two controllers to fairly precisely measured voltage outputs from the 5K pot. We tied the 5v and signal grounds together, and then the 5v signal as well. And calibrated each controller separately for 1.00v min and 4.00v max. That gets us off on the right foot. The motors turned very smoothly and had no apparent problem working out the torque sharing at any rpm. Even noise potentially fed back to the input just wasn’t a problem. The controllers obviously have some capacitors on the input to smooth things a bit and we might be able to augment that (future Top Secret video). But it doesn’t seem to be a problem at all.

The other target of opportunity was the idle. Obviously idling we don’t NEED two motors and two controllers. To turn the transmission pump, the steering/brake pump, and an air conditioning compressor should only require 2 or 3 horsepower. So EITHER motor could be used. So we set up ONE controller with idle and the other without.

The idle function in the Soliton1 is pretty cunning. It uses a PID algorithm to seek the target RPM and provides whatever current is necessary to get there – up to a limit you can actually set separately. I like the design.

This simple concept, maintaining RPM through the controller, is actually a black art and heinously problematical. It looks easy, but any correction tends to overshoot, and cause another error input, which causes another correction, which of course overshoots again. The cycling can hit all sorts of resonances and self enhancing oscillations. Generally lumped under the term hysterisis.

This from Wikipedia:

A proportional–integral–derivative controller (PID controller) is a generic control loop feedback mechanism (controller) widely used in industrial control systems – a PID is the most commonly used feedback controller. A PID controller calculates an “error” value as the difference between a measured process variable and a desired setpoint. The controller attempts to minimize the error by adjusting the process control inputs.
The PID controller calculation (algorithm) involves three separate constant parameters, and is accordingly sometimes called three-term control: the proportional, the integral and derivative values, denoted P, I, and D. Heuristically, these values can be interpreted in terms of time: P depends on the present error, I on the accumulation of past errors, and D is a prediction of future errors, based on current rate of change. The weighted sum of these three actions is used to adjust the process via a control element such as the position of a control valve or the power supply of a heating element.
In the absence of knowledge of the underlying process, a PID controller is the best controller. By tuning the three parameters in the PID controller algorithm, the controller can provide control action designed for specific process requirements. The response of the controller can be described in terms of the responsiveness of the controller to an error, the degree to which the controller overshoots the setpoint and the degree of system oscillation. Note that the use of the PID algorithm for control does not guarantee optimal control of the system or system stability.
Some applications may require using only one or two actions to provide the appropriate system control. This is achieved by setting the other parameters to zero. A PID controller will be called a PI, PD, P or I controller in the absence of the respective control actions. PI controllers are fairly common, since derivative action is sensitive to measurement noise, whereas the absence of an integral term may prevent the system from reaching its target value due to the control action. “

The Soliton1 allows you to individually specify the proportional, integral, and derivative values. I wouldn’t have a clue if you e-mailed them to me. I took the defaults. It works pretty well. By cutting in and out the transmission and the generator, we could vary the load. And while the Soliton can’t accurately measure RPM, it did a good job of maintaining it.

All of this scratches my ongoing itch for subtle ironies, which I mostly use to entertain myself. In this one case, I’ll share. A Soliton is a standing wave, first observed in a canal of water. The soliton phenomenon was first described by John Scott Russell (1808–1882) who observed a solitary wave in the Union Canal in Scotland. He reproduced the phenomenon in a wave tank and named it the “Wave of Translation”.

I rather associate this with the wavy pattern in the Soliton heat sink. I would have named Soliton Jr. the Compacton instead, but there I go.

In any event, this PID idle control was why we selected the Soliton1 for the contest and the Escalade, NOT the purported 1000 amp output. And it appears to work very well. I think it’s a unique feature they almost added as an afterthought, but promises to differentiate their product from most others. Simply holding a throttle input with the A/C kicking in and out, and the transmission cycling and who knows what else would not really make this work in any satisfactory fashion. It would have required an entirely additional circuit just to control the controller had we wanted to do an automatic transmission without it.

The one fly in all of this is that to START the idle, you first have to blip the throttle past your target RPM. I don’t like this and I do not think it is necessary. It might be salutory to have a separate input to start it. In this way, we could use the START signal, separately from the ignition signal, to start the idle. But if the Soliton powered up on an ignition 12v input and established idle after a brief delay, there really isn’t an issue here. Automatic transmission vehicles really only let you start them in Park or Idle anyway. They did not need to take this “safety issue” on themselves.

THe problem is that it makes operation of our car nonstandard. In an ICE engine vehicle with automatic transmission, you turn the key and the engine starts and idles. Period. In our Escalade, we’ll have to turn the ignition key and then give it some throttle to “start it.” How do I explain this useless feature to my daughter. She’ll turn the key. Nothing will happen. And she’ll get out of the car and ask me why it is broken.

I think we should build our cars where they operate as expected. These standard operational issues were worked out over the past 100 years without any input from me, and I don’t think they need to be reworked by the crew at EVnetics.

The controllers and motors worked quite well on our test bench. Unfortunately, the transmission somewhat less so. We had it completely full of very good transmission fluid. We had no external heat exchanger but no intention of operating under any serious load, for any appreciable length of time, or at anything over about 2500 rpm. But Matt noticed early on some heating of the shell, which I measured at a peak of 140F. This is hardly warm by transmission temperature standards, but we were on the other hand hardly turning it. At one point, I pulled 80 amps out of the generator – maybe 14 horsepower – through a transmission purportedly capable of handling 800 horsepower.

But it appears to have failed anyway. At about 2000 rpm while filming, it suddenly threw on its own load and started a rather noisy vibration from within. We quickly shut off the system. Restarted it at VERY low RPM’s and was immediately able to isolate the problem to the TCI transmission. We’lll be contacting them to see if they have any thoughts on the topic this morning.

You’ll no doubt enjoy the onscreen panic that ensues. Kind of a KeyStone Cops meets the transmission shop.

Jack Rickard

Posted in Uncategorized | 53 Comments

>This week we talk a bit more about our EVTV test bench. This is going to come slowly but I think is a necessary part of our Cadillac EXT project and will be quite useful in the future as well. It’s kind of like building a really slow electric car, with extra instrumentation and controls.

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The rest of the show is mostly about our battery pack. We talk a little bit about the various and generally confused Lithium Ion battery chemistries, why it matters, and what really causes the decrease in capacity over time when using these cells, which have a MUCH longer life cycle than the cells we routinely see them confused with online.

The confusion between these chemistries puzzles me no end and I guess I think a lot of those online and even some of our viewers have kind of missed the point. BECAUSE the U.S. battery developers don’t really have a production line, they are generally just trying to sell Intellectual Property upstream, we have all kind of stumbled onto the Chinese suppliers of “lithium” cells. This has been most fortuitous and I don’t want any of you to miss the point.

In my estimation, the LiFePo4 type chemistry is THE most ideally appropriate for vehicle use at this time. We kind of lucked into it by availability. And I actually see a segment of our community lusting after Lithium Cobalt Oxide and Lithium Manganese Oxide chemistries for their greater energy density and because larger entities such as Nissan, Chevy, and Tesla are using them.

It is my unqualified, but nonetheless strongly held opinion that generally THEY are going in the WRONG direction and WE by accident of availability have landed on the much superior solution. Our cells will last 10X longer, endure much more in the way of misuse and vehicle vibration, temperature extremes, and general bashing about, with an order of MAGNITUDE greater safety, at only a slight penalty in energy density. We did not brilliantly deduce this, but rather lucked into it. I have always been clear on this – it is BETTER to be LUCKY than SMART.

These cells are leggo blocks of amazing capacity. And they will last for tens of years – making the paltry 200,000 mile demonstrated endurance of the truly finicky NiMHd cells look like disposables.

ANd so we also announce our selection of the Winston Battery Company WB-LYP400AHA cell as the official battery of the 2008 Cadillac Elescalade EXT conversion.

We would also like to thank the Winston Battery Company Ltd for sponsoring EVTV over the next year and additionally for the contribution of the 70 400 AH cells specifically for the Elescalade. This marks kind of a leap in a number of ways. Ultimately, EVTV must be advertiser supported and the addition of such a major sponsor alters the landscape somewhat dramatically in favor of our continued operation.

But it’s also a kind of sea change in the marketing of Chinese products in the United States. We were privileged to correspond directly with Mr. Chung on this topic and found him remarkably progressive and insightful on this topic. It is not precisely the Chinese way, but Mr. Chung is making a number of moves in the U.S. He is a true believer in the necessity of altering transportation for clean energy and battery power and has been in the battery game since 1982 with his invention then of a maintenance free lead acid cell. He actually holds his own patent on the LYP cell which essentially removes him from the patent wars over the Goodenough patent.

More recently, he has acquired a 48% stake in U.S. company Balqon who now serves as their exclusive distributor in the United States. And he’s provided a $10 million endowment to the Bourns College of Engineering at University of California Riverside.

We would present Winston Battery as sponsor as a direct acknowledgement that Winston Battery is aware of what you, our viewers, are doing in Universities, entreprenurial developers, and individual garages and shops all over the country and that they wholeheartedly approve of and encourage such activities where and how they can. They are completley aware of you as a market for their cells, the difficulties you’ve had purchasing them in the past, and they are working to address that in every way possible. It’s all about you.

Another area of constant interest is selection of a car for conversion. My theory has been that you need to select a good car to start with if you intend to wind up with a good electric car in the end. This has been emotionally tested in the past. We winced hard in starting a conversion with a brand new 2009 Mini Cooper Clubman. It was just that good with an internal combustion engine in it that we discussed the crime we were about to commit before we ever first drained the tank. And I have to tell you the first steps were tremulous.

Worse, we encountered no end of difficulties and missteps in selecting suppliers and components for the car, and indeed had to redo our own design of the mounting structure and adapter for the drive train. We’ve lost cells to parasitic loads from instrumentation. And we’ve even found it difficult to learn all the buried features in this car. Further, we’ve never quite finished it. I still think I can get the fuel gage on this car to work – somehow. We still need to build an OBDII spoofer to turn off the check engine light, the tire pressure light, etc. I still want to integrate brake pressure with our controller, and tie the air conditioning compressor and water heater more closely and automatically to the environmental system.

ALl that said, I have used this car as my daily driver through this winter, and it may be the most delightful car I’ve ever owned in essentially ALL respects. It has all the modern conveniences, and is as smooth and quiet as I’ve ever experienced. Smooth acceleration is very pleasing. And I’ve got all the creature comforts. Our heating system actually works very well, and seems to keep the controller and motor cool at the same time. My point is, by selecting a GOOD car to start with, we wind up with an EXCELLENT car in electric drive.

And this takes us to the Elescalade. I already REALLY like this car. And I’m hesitant to crack it open and convert it. But knowing what we’ve learned from the Mini, that’s a GOOD sign of good things to come.

Stay with us on the journey….

Jack Rickard

Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Comments

>It’s TWINS…..

>It’s Christmas at EVTV. We’ve received a couple of long awaited shipments.

The most exciting is of course from Jim Husted – our Siamese Twin Netgain Warp 11 motors – assembled onto a single 100mm shaft. This motor has beefed up brush connections, beefed up field windings, and the new Helwig split brush redtop brushes. THESE brushes have been thoroughly preseated to the commutator. To save length, we have had the fans removed, making external blowers mandatory for cooling.

The result is stunning, a shiny black jewel of some 32 inches in length with brushed metal appointments that absolutely shines. It is a work of art in metal and destined to be the “Iron Man heart power pack” for our 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT which ALSO sports a shiny black with shiny chrome motif.

The device weighs 512 lbs with the test stand it is on. It’s a monstah. Ballinz.

Congratulations Mr. Jim Husted on a job well done. I don’t even care if it works. We can get it to work. What I can’t get is this kind of artistry in metal.

Total cost? Right at $20,000 including the dual Soliton1 controllers which we also got from Mr. Husted.

We’re continuing to scratch our heads (and other extremeties) over the transmission issue. We’ve discovered a number of pretty basic items on the vehicle that are tied into the existing 6L80E transmission electronics, including our status indicator, backup camera and collision avoidance radar, our backup lights, and I’m frankly not sure what all else.

As a result, I’ve talked Mr. Hauber into at least trying a trial mating of the Husted Siamese Twins to our existing 6L80E transmission.

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All motors and drivetrains make claims as to power and current and voltage and torque and horsepower and kilwatts and all manner of things. We really have not had a good way to test all that. I talked with a company about a dynomometer but it started at $80K and quickly got expensive so we never did pursue it.

Mr. Hauber had a Siemens 1FV5139-6WS28-Z generator that he inherited from a company that had received it damaged in shipping. He offered it to me at an attractive price, and we negotiated down from there. I bought it for $1000 plus shipping and he had it shipped out and it arrived on the same day.

The concept is to build a test bench for electric vehicle drive trains. This really involves EVERYTHING in an EV, batteries, charger, controller, 5k pot, motor, transmission, DC-DC converter PLUS some sort of load to keep from over revving the electric motor. Pretty obviously, a generator would do that.

Not only would it do it, but our case is a bit peculiar. We could of course measure the output of the generator, correct for RPM and generator efficiency, and with enough badly written software calculate the power input to the generator shaft in Horsepower, Torque, and Killowatts. So we’ll do that.

But unlike a standard dynomometer, we can take the output of the generator and put it BACK in the batteries. My own version of perpetual motion. Of course, we’ll get out less than we put in, but it will still be useful energy instead of heat that has to be washed away with massive amounts of cooling water – which is how they mostly do this with dynomometers.

And so before ever doing the Cadillac, we’re going to lay out all the pieces and get THEM working well on the bench. After we move the controllers and motors to the vehicle, we will still be left with a working test bench that we can use with OTHER motor/controller combinations, or DC-DC converters, or whatever.

I’m pretty jazzed about it.

I’m also pretty jazzed about our newest sponsors. First, Masterflux has signed on as an advertiser and is providing a unit of their Sierra series for our electric vehicle contest. We talk a good bit about this device, an air conditioning compressor with a wide input voltage AND a wide BTU output that we used on the Mini Cooper to get our air conditioner going – and quite successfully so.

Not mentioned in this video, because it has just been finalized, is our selection of a battery pack and a new major sponsor of EVTV – the Winston Battery Company. We tried to get their newest LIthium Sulphur batteries for this project, but simply failed by virtue of the fact that there won’t be any until the first half of next year, according to Mr. Winston Chung, head of Winston Battery Company (previously THundersky).

But we did work out a bit of an exciting deal – 70 of their existing Lithium Yttrium cells of size 400AH to power the Cadillac EXT. We’ll build the vehicle, and of course test its range, power output, acceleration, etc with the Yttrium pack. Next year, when the Sulphur cells are available, we’ll swap them out with the Yttrium’s and do the same tests. This should be a fantastic opportunity to compare the newer LSP cells to the existing already excellent LYP cells to learn first hand the differences.

And of course, on exactly the same vehicle. Our many thanks to Ms. Amanda Cheung, who helped us communicate directly with Mr. Chung.

Of course, we’ll be dealing with Winston Battery Company’s new North American agent, Balqon Corporation of Harbor City California. This company was previously a large customer of Winston Battery Company. Mr. Chung has basically acquired a large holding in publicly traded Balqon, and indeed has ordered $15 million in drive trains from Balqon to install in electric busses in China. In the process, he has turned over all sales in North America of Winston Battery Company cells to Balqon.

The Thundersky group forum online has erupted into a total mess as a result of one extremely bizarre and apparently disturbed man who is posting 30 messages a day again with dire warnings of all that will befall you if you fail to employ a proper BMS and top balance your cells.

I was going to respond to all this when it occurred to me that I already had. So this morning I went and reviewed our show from November 13, 2009 – has it been 15 months ago? It really walks you through the entire thing with really quite unassailable clarity on the topic of top balancing and cell drift. There’s very little added since then of any import. So instead of responding ad nauseum to the newbies reigniting this debate with all the energy of those who think they have discovered something, I’ll simply link to the show again. I can’t add much to what I said then. It’s conclusive. It’s clear. ANd in the intervening 15 months no one has come up with anything cogent refuting it beyond the admonition that in their opinion, they don’t agree???? No data, no test results, no reports of inability to duplicate. As such, I have no further interest in the discussion unless someone somewhere can come up with something more arftful than “is not, is so, is not, is so”.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 51 Comments

>A Little Local Coverage…

>

EVTV is distributed on the Internet of course, using Amazon’s Cloudnet service. We now have regular viewers in 115 countries and about 45 percent of our viewers are outside of the United States and Canada.

Even here in the United States, the vast majority of our viewers are of course where the vast majority of people are, California, Texas, Florida, New York etc.

Missouri is quite centrally located, but hardly one of the “blue” states. The climate or environment is mostly a matter of curiosity over the weather during deer season. It’s actually a great place to live – the Heartland. But electric cars are not really all over the place here. A few golf carts and indeed a couple of GEM’s on the road here. But it’s not Yorba Linda as Rush would say. Actually, this IS where Rush is from.

So we have the odd, but often pleasant reality of a very international, even global reach. But hardly anyone here locally in Cape Girardeau even knows what we do or why we do that.

I left Cape at 18 years of age to see the world and seek my fortune. Things went well, and about 10 years ago I returned. I have many friends here from my early days, and it does indeed engender a sense of belonging, and history, and indeed to a degree tradition.

Of course there were a lot of people moved in here during the 28 years I was gone. And it’s true I may have changed some over those 28 years.

But I’ve been back some time now. But I’m a bit of an oddity to most of the locals that didn’t know me before I left. And the general rule is that I’m a lot more fun to talk ABOUT than I am to talk TO. I hang out in my garage, make my own whiskey, shoot golf balls into the river. I’ve mostly eschewed formal dress. I have no visible means of support. All in all an odd character.

And so I’m kind of the weird old guy that lives down in an older poorer section of town under the bridge, talks to himself a lot and is always tinkering with “radio waves” and what not.

But Jeff Cunningham, a local television anchor and feature story writer for our local KFVS television station kind of took an interest in what we were doing a year or so ago with the electric Porsche replicas and did a short spot on us in his FULL THROTTLE THURSDAY segment where he talks about cars. It’s a popular local segment.

A couple of weeks ago he came down to see what we were up to so we showed him the shop and let him drive the Mini. He’s a “car guy” and likes cars generally and has had some success with an occasionally irregular feature he calls “Full Throttle Thursday.”

He did a pretty lengthy story on us for the local news station – over four minutes – and I thought it quite good. In the past, local television news reporting on electric cars has been pretty garbled. But it appears to be getting better. He fully understood and artfully conveyed about all that could be conveyed in a spot this length. I was quite pleased with the story. http://media2.ev-tv.me/kfvs5.mov.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

>Buyer Beware

>Not much going on this week. We’ve been suffering component and supplier setbacks and it is a reminder of the environment we are unfortunately in.

The James Morrison EVCompnents case is devolving into a legal morass that has gone on for a year now. Forty three customers were bilked outright of their money – checks cashed but nothing shipped in a kind of bizarre bankruptcy fraud exit model designed by Mr. Morrison. In a world where Marthaa Stewart can do six months without being charged with a CRIME other than lying to the government (technically a Constitutional obligation actually) no one in Washington State has ANY interest in this case, including the judge in a filed lawsuit who has just continued the case for another couple of months.

But we’re having it here left and right. Our PAIR of 400 watt DC-DC converters from Chennic, which they market as an 800 watt converter, made it about a week and failed. We have piles of failed components, and often the reason they are failed is mostly Jack Rickard. So we submit very few warranty claims. In this case, they had only operated for aweek. It’s true we were operating at the top of their range voltage wise, but we WERE within the published specs, and they published them, we did not. They seem to agree, but want us to pay shipping for the replacements, which is actually more expensive than the devices in this case. You already know the details of DHL’s comical 12 day express delivery. DHL informs us the refund must be applied for from the shipper. They have decided it’s too much trouble and have declined to refund our delivery on the ORIGINAL DC-DC converter.

It just comes down to people selling things, and when they go wrong, they just don’t want to do what they said they would do BEFORE you bought and paid for it, after it’s actually happened,

What’s amazing is they just don’t even blink about it. The excuses are not even creative. It’s just they don’t want to do the expense and what are you going to do about it? It has become a WAY of business.

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We contracted with Jim Husted for two controllers and two 9-inch motors at $14,000. We changed our minds and at George Hamstra’s anxious urging, given the visibility of this project, asked to change this to 11 inch motors. WE supplied both motors at our cost. Revised pricing: $14,000. ?????

Oh well, Jim’s an artiste, and kind of a starving one at that. We had kind of fumbled around on what transmission and of course changed horses, so to speak, mid stream. He HAD had a shaft made, but not much beyond that at the time. So whatever.

But the six weeks became six months, not a near miss. And last week we were assured it was going on the truck the next day, and of course please send a check. We noted we would send a check when Fedex had the item and we had a tracking number. Whoops, did we say TOMORROW. Oh, we don’t have any brushes for it. So much for Jim’s vaunted testing. He had never run the motor. Had no brushes for it, and apparently had no intention to ship it.

Finally this week they were shipping it. The freight? $1750 or thereabouts. Seems like a lot as we shipped motors and transmissions and so forth for $600 or so before. But the final result IS heavy and comes in a box five feet long. But he was REALLY REALLY going to ship it now and to prove it, he sent me the bill of lading and copy of the check to fedex – $1350 or thereabouts – forgetting that he had just invoiced me $1750 for freight.

Busted. Instead of an apology, I heard a litany of all he had to go through to build this motor, the weather being bad, losing his cat, problems with the wife, and all he’s striven to DO for this community over the years. Nothing, not even an apology, over the $400 disparity But he DID want me to know it would be ok if I also split the cost of the brushes – which somehow, someway, in his mind, never was included in the $14,000 estimate, for two motors he didn’t provide – WE did.

The ability of the human mind to rationalize all arguments in favor of their own pocketbooks is just without limit.

We also heard from Dennis at Crystalite. No the motor is not ready, and that 3-6 month estimate was perhaps optimistic. He assured me that companies do that in the United States MILLIONS of times per year. Oh, and rather than cover the cost of the controller, his boss had decided that they were spending enough on the motors, and whatever we discussed in the beginning, they had “decided” that I should pay for the controlller.

One of the things we discussed early on was the controller. At one point I actually cancelled the entire concept because they wanted to use a Kelley controller. Now we have used Kelly controllers and throttle pedals and a few other things in the past. I would not say successfully. The controller on the original speedster more or less worked, but it did have heat issues. And we had a couple of the throttles fail outright – again Kelley simply ignored their own warranty and explained they weren’t going to do that because they didn’t know how the throttle was used.

But we’ve also had a number of reports from viewers who had worse experiences with Kelley than ours. And while some of them were clearly operator error (turning on the maintenance switch with the ignition on is one way to blow any controllers input caps) there were enough of them we had decided to avoid their products generally.

So Cyrstalite was going to do their own controller or had another one in mind and wanted us to do this wheel motor thing. I was absolutely clear there would BE no Kelley in the car. They agreed. Six months later, all that has fallen through and they just HAVE to use the Kelly controller. Oh, and I have to pay for it.

We have put off a project I already had some $20,000 in, specifically to accommodate THEIR insistence that we should do it with wheel motors that were not only unproven, but had never ever been built or attempted by them. A six month delay, and THEN they want to change the game in all respects. And they’re “shocked” that I dont’ want to play anymore. I’m very happy to have not funded the motor part of this fiasco.

I have no idea what we’re to do or when with the Smart ForTwo. Mercedes Benz has since replaced Penske group, which sold all of 5200 Smarts in the U.S. last year. Mercedes Dealers are going to represent Smart and the hopes for the vehicle are actually pinned on their Smart Electric. This is actually a great move and a great car. The Smart is a fascinating vehicle with the absolute worst internal combustion engine and transmission I’ve ever seen and examined in person. By replacing it with electric drive, it becomes a great car almost by accident. It doesn’t belong on a freeway at all. But for city driving and parking it is actually a design example.

So six months later, the electric Smart ForTwo project almost doesn’t even make sense. The manufacturer is going to do what we were doing, and indeed is actually delivering cars before we got started. Thanks Crystalite.

EV’s have actually developed into a bit of a hot topic over the past two years. And everyone wants a piece of the action. That makes us, and you, a target. And not everyone is in it for the love of the game. All emerging industries attract a share of opportunists and fast buck artists. And the business ethic of even established firms has just eroded over time and economic pressure where it’s basically ok to do whatever you want to do in dealing with customers.

Its not ok. And ironically, I’ve never heard of one actually succeeding. The irony is that bottom feeders never do leave the bottom. With NO success stories to point to, it always mystifies me why the concept attracts so MANY players. But here’s the real deal. You cannot grow a business to success on the “there’s a sucker born every minute”
school of business.

This is not so Jesus will love you. Veteran entreprenuers viscerally know that the realistic margins that can be achieved on the value add of any product, never quite covers the cost of new business. What this means is that to succeed and grow, ALL businesses, and there just arent’ any exceptions, have to have a flow of cash from residual returning customers. In fact, this is so ingrained that a signficant and indeed usually central element of valuing any business is a concept called “good will”. This is an accounting attempt to value the “momentum” of a business based on a loyal customer base who return time after time for new purchases without the high costs of advertising, marketing, etc. They already have your number. And they need another one. Their friend needs one too. After awhile, they really need to keep a couple on the shelves.

This is true of ALL businesses and often MORE true of those you wouldnt’ think so. Running a hotdog stand is just selling hotdogs to random passersby. Anyone who has ever run one though can tell you that it doesn’t work at all unless you are at the SAME place at the SAME time for your regular customers whom you quickly get to know and have something to say to or ask about EVERY time they show. The new business is almost a distraction. You need it, but it isn’t where your bread comes from.

EVTV is a good, though counterintuitive example. You would naturally assume that our mission is to get more viewers. Actually not. Our mission is to make about 6 billion viewers go away. Leaving us with a handful that are intensely interested in electric cars. Not people who think electric cars are cool. People who think about electric cars all the time. That’s a market. Every time someone watches one of our videos I’m out a quarter. If they watch once and go away, I’m not out that much. If they stay, they must like two hour videos about ultracpacitors and DC-DC converters and how to implement J1772 for $300 dollars instead of $5000. Since most of the six billion don’t know J1772 from Jay Leno, they have to be “fired” as customers.

As to advertisers, we are having a hard time getting industry players onboard, and actually attracting bizarre requests for general ads. We can’t advertise weight loss on EVTV no matter how heavy you guys really are. Why? We can’t do them sufficient value add to make them “stick” as an advertiser. We would have to have a constant flow of new ones. There’s no business there. We have to find products and companies that will actually benefit getting the message to THIS group of viewers. Otherwise, we are selling too hard all the time and the cost of hte new business will ALWAYS swamp the value we can add…

Unless.. .. we MIGHT be able to pad the freight a little…..

Oh, the show. An introduction to capacitors and we build an Ultracap aux battery to smooth the 12v system. We got the motor temperature switch hooked up to the Soliton1.

OH and the best part, not really stressed in the video because we hadn’t really tested it at the time…. We now have a FULL SWEEP fuel gage, this is a beautiful little lit fuel gage whose needle goes from about 5 clock position to about 7 clock position the long way around, tied to the Zeva2 AH counter. We can easily compare this with our EVision AH counter. It appears to be QUITE accurate, quite visual, and very familiar to those who have driven a car before. It is a little counterintuitive and non obvious as to how to set this up, but if you pursue it persistently, it works MARVELOUSLY. I know it seems ordinary. BUt it is a breakthrough to me.

Finally, we give you a peak at our new showroom. We now have three porsches, two gems, a Green minivan, and a 2009 Mini Cooper in electric drive. And we’re starting our Cadillac Escalade project. Both for reasons of cost, and as importantly for reasons of space, we just can’t keep acquiring electric cars indefinitely So we’re going to open a show room, kind of phyiscally modelled after Special Editions’s new show room we saw in Bremen Indiana. And we’re going to backdoor out our completed works to make room and funding for new ones. So I guess, in an odd way, we ARE in the electric car business. Since you all are builders, you probably wont’ find it of much interest regarding a car purchase, but you might like to stop by and try our NINCO FOUR LANE slot car track. We have two Speedsters, a Spyder, and two minis on it at the moment.

Jack Rickard

Posted in Uncategorized | 27 Comments

>On The Road Again….

>Well, we kinda/sorta have the Speedster Redux back on the road again. We’re a little ginger with the new motor/controller combination with the brush seating issue. But even at a 2000A/sec slew rate we got a 10 second 0-60 time. Hardly anything to brag about I’m afraid. I think we can improve it, but the much touted performance hoped for is probably not to be.

I’d guess because we’ve become a tad bit obese – probably a little blood pressure issue as well. I don’t know if that’s me or the car.

In any event, we are a portly 2385 lbs with the additional 21 cells in the car. Our front/rear distribution has moved a tad to 38/62 from 40/60 in Speedster Part Duh.

The heavier weight makes it a smooth ride and the center of gravity is sufficiently lower you can indeed feel it. The electric speedster never did “roll” in a turn nearly to the degree of the ICE version, but now it just doesn’t lean at all.

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The Chennic chargers we’ve used very successfully at lower voltages in the past didn’t last the week. They just crumbled in front of us with an audible and alarming snap crackle pop sound eminating from the rear engine compartment for 15 minutes. No smoke or fire. But no 12v either.

We’ve replaced the Chennic with a homebrew – three Vicor bricks obtained on eBay. Tom Alvary has pointed out that these come from Troy Gaud who in fact works for Azure Dynamics. The legend goes that they ordered a brazillion of these from Vicor for an Azure Dynamics DC-DC converter and are remaindering hundreds of them on eBay at $24.95 each. Such a brick direct from Vicor would be about $172.

The VI-251 series is supposed to be a 150v input 12v output module. It should handle 85 to 215 volts. But according to Tom, these are ‘special” made for Azure and indeed they are marked for 200v input. He tells me that he has it on authority that they are good from 130v to about 250v. They put out 200 watts each.

So we cobbled three of them together on a heat sink for a steady 12v output. Unfortunately, with the headlights on we’re doing about 11.4 volts and the EVnetics Soliton1 errors out and shuts down. Jeffrey Jenkins notes 11v is the trip point in actuality and indeed, our HID headlamps might kick it down that low when coming on. So we had a problem.

Fortunately, the Vicor bricks can be trimmed for different output voltages – all the way DOWN to about 2.5 v but up as well to about 13.2v maximum. We put a 470K resistor between the T terminal (trim) and S+ terminal (sense positive) on each of the three bricks. The result is 600 watts right at 13 volts.

We are further advised that anything we can do to stabilize that 12v rail would be a great boon to the Soliton1 and indeed some concern of DESTROYING the Soliton1 on noisy 12v spikes. I rather think that should be EVnetics problem, and point out that the automotive spec indeed is to operate down to 9.6v. But it gives me a good jumping off place next week to start talking about capacitors and ultracapacitors.

I’ve put this off for some time. And I’d like to put it off further. I fear my views on supercaps are going to seriously disappoint many of our viewers. And it appears its kind of like the regenerative braking thing. I’ve got Siemens and Maxwell and several universities all publishing reports of 30% gains in efficiency. Iv’e been playing around with it a bit, and I guess at this point I think it is ENTIRELY BULLSHIT. And i mean ENTIRELY. No such gains. And they leave clues in every report – mostly noting that even HIGHER gains can be obtained with regenerative braking and with the “proper algorithm” to predict regen periods and driving cycles.

We seem to paint ourselves into these corners with great regularity. I read all the typing I can. Get all excited. But if I can’t make the meter move, I can’t make the meter move. And all the kings horses, and all the kings men, cannot show me HOW to make the meter move, except to suggest longer and longer strings of tasks I can endure that somehow with JUST ONE MORE THING will get it there.

So I take on the dragon. And for months get screamed at by everyone who’s ever been in an online forum and just KNOWS how it is and how its supposed to be and cannot imagine WHY Siemens or Maxwell or whomever, with ALL their brilliant and educated engineers who ALL eat right and exercise regularlly and are much trimmer than me and have LOWER blood pressure to boot – people who clearly are NOT little and ugly and whose wife dresses them funny.

And I don’t know, my knees hurt and my elbows hurt and I just don’t know if I want to charge in on another fairy tale deflating confrontation with the entire population of the planet. So I’ve put this off and put it off. Maybe I can put it off some more.

But ultracaps DO make marvelous filters. And I think we have an astounding insensitivity to just how much electronic noise these cars make and how that impacts everything in the car. Worse, it is very difficult to deal with in that it goes to longevity – ie DC-DC converters for example. But also controllers and batteries in general. And so it’s hard to make a case for something that preserves the life of your components for 20 years when the car is two weeks old. How do I explain it and worse, how can I prove it and finally, how can I show THAT on video. We struggle to communicate the BMS issue with CARS bursting into FLAMES all around us.

So its not a topic I really relish.

We do hear from a lot of viewers about the Lee Hart Batt Bridge concept. It’s easier. I still kind of hosed up the explanation on the video, but close enough for government work. The issue here is we don’t use them. Actually we do. We just don’t do it that way.

Speedster Redux has an old version of Victor Tichonov’s EVision and it performs the batt-bridge function quite well actually – displaying an LED bar graph that comparies one half of the pack to the other. I myself am going a different way with a Roving Networks sensor and some Objective C software on a Macintosh that will give me the same dislpay.

But neither of those are really available. And the Lee Hart Batt-Bridge is both easy to implement, and costs about a dozen dollars. It accomplishes most of what the BMS crowd is trying to save us from – sudden infant cell syndrome where a cell mysteriously fails of its own volition. We haven’t had much of that, so we’re not quite as tuned into the need as they would like us to be. But the concept has bare merit. And for $12 you could implement this and it would probably work to accomplish that.

In any event, I’ve had so many requests for a detailed explanation that I finally did one. The original writeup and diagram has always been online and really covers it as well as it needs to be covered.

During our ride, we went out to the airport and happened to catch my daughter Jennifer in the act of committing aviation in our little MD-500C helicopter. This was another one of my little obsessions where I spent a million dollars on a $300,000 helicopter to wind up in the end with a very solid little $300,000 helicopter.

Probably spent that on the daughter as well. IN any event, after a VERY rough adolescence, she has emerged as a remarkable young lady on the Dean’s List here at Southeast University, majoring in anthropology and she’s been taking helicopter and scuba diving lessons. She likes the field work and presumes to displace Indiana Jones in the search for the Holy Grail and so needs to learn to scuba dive, fly helicopters and the rest of the James Bond repertoire to adequately compete. I’m actually very proud of her and might advise Harrison Ford to keep his grungy little deHavilland DHC-2 Beaver out of harms way if he knows what’s good for him. She’s already got a pretty heady reputation locally for bar brawling and sport fighting – but I’m hoping Southeast University can put a little polish on that. I do digress. My own fault. She really WAS cute at the Tai Kwon Do gig at age four. I just had no idea it would take….

Enjoy the show. 105 minutes as I recall…

I understand that the Jimerico dual 11 motor ships this morning… Hopefully we’ll have it in hand by the end of the week.

Jack Rickard

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>This is the longest show we’ve done to date at about 2.5 hours. Kind of beyond “feature length movie” all the way to “made for tv mini series.” I fear it may be an endurance test.

But we did some neat things. We did describe in at least vague terms the theory of operation of a DC series motor and what a PWM controller is actually supposed to do. These little chalk talk sessions are risky. Too little detail and I get clobbered by every designer on the planet on all the stuff I’ve left out, including the part they consider MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL. Too much detail and I just walk away from those without the basic electronics and electricity fundamentals. Actually those are the viewers we’re doing it for. The designers already know how it works.

So it’s kind of a no-win for everybody. But I do read my e-mail and respond to what I can. And a basic undestanding of a series DC motor is in order and a basic understanding of a PWM controller and why that’s what is almost always used is useful for some viewers. It kind of sets up the background of what we’re looking for in a GOOD PWM controller and what is not so terribly important.

tm = new SWFObject(‘http://media.ev-tv.me/player.swf’,’flashContent’,’414′,’256′,’9′); tm.addParam(‘allowfullscreen’,’true’); tm.addParam(‘allowscriptaccess’,’always’); tm.addParam(‘displaytitle’,’true’); tm.addParam(‘stretching’,’none’); tm.addParam(‘displayclick’,’fullscreen’); tm.addVariable(‘file’,’http://media2.ev-tv.me/news012811 – iPhone.m4v’); tm.addVariable(‘image’,’http://media2.ev-tv.me/news012811.jpg’); tm.addVariable(‘plugins’, ‘adttext,hd-1,gapro-1,tipjar-1’); tm.addVariable(‘width’,’635′); tm.addVariable(‘tipjar.title’, ‘EVTV Tip Jar’); tm.addVariable(‘tipjar.text’, ‘If you would like to further our cause, you may make a small donation via PAYPAL’); tm.addVariable(‘tipjar.business’, ‘mjrickard@gmail.com’); tm.addVariable(‘tipjar.item_name’, ‘EVTV Bandwidth Donation’); tm.addVariable(‘tipjar.show_pause’, ‘false’); tm.addVariable(‘tipjar.show_complete’, ‘true’); tm.addVariable(‘viral.callout’, ‘none’); tm.addVariable(‘viral.onpause’, ‘false’); tm.addVariable(‘viral.oncomplete’, ‘false’); tm.addVariable(‘viral.functions’, ‘link’); tm.addVariable(‘viral.link’, ‘http://evtv.me’); tm.addVariable(‘viral.embed’, ‘http://evtv.me’); tm.addVariable(‘viral.allowmenu’, ‘true’); tm.addVariable(‘viral.allowdock’, ‘false’); tm.addVariable(‘hd.state’, ‘true’); tm.addVariable(‘hd.file’,’http://media2.ev-tv.me/news012811-1280.mov’); tm.addVariable(‘viral.onpause’, ‘false’); tm.addVariable(‘title’, ‘January 28, 2011’); tm.addVariable(‘description’, ‘EVTV Weekly News Show’); tm.addVariable(‘date’, ’01-28-11′); tm.addVariable(‘gapro.accountid’, ‘UA-9098110-1’); tm.addVariable(‘gapro.trackstarts’, ‘true’); tm.addVariable(‘gapro.trackpercentage’, ‘true’); tm.addVariable(‘gapro.tracktime’, ‘true’); tm.write(‘jan28’);

And that sets us up for the review of the Soliton1. There are no perfect controllers and I can spend the next hundred blog pages and a career in online video listing all the things I wish this controller did. Excitement about additional features that just need a LITTLE MORE to be perfect is a sign you have a good product.

If everyone dogpiles you with ways to fix what you’re doing, you must be doing something right to get their attention. If you do something and nobody complains, then it probably wasn’t worth doing at all. I suppose the same could be said of videos.

But watch the video. We basically howl in glee over the Soliton 1. It’s a great package and I can say that without reservation. Since the video was made, we’ve done some further testing, and found a few peculiarities. But we’ve also demonstrated 1000AMPS for real out of this thing. Measured by the Zeva and displayed in real time on a new 10K tachometer I had to get just to show 1000 amps where I could see it for sure.

Bottom line is the physical package of this Soliton1 ought to get a design award somewhere. Sure it’s big. It has to heat sink a 1000 amp switch 8000 times a second.

The configuration software is what configuration software OUGHT TO BE universally. It’s very easy to configure and you can do it with any computer really, LInux, Mac Windows. It’s very intuitive and for what it accomplishes, really quite simple. Late in the video, I even found provisions for updating the software via a text file upload through the browser interface. I really COULD have used a Mac laptop to upload the update.

Wiring it in was probably the easiest hardware install we’ve had of ANY controller. I just detest the crimp pin connectors we always have to deal with on these things. Do the terminal strips look a little old school? Sure. They’re also legible, readable, and large enough even for my eyes. And you can make sure you have a good connection.

In operation, we have some questions. A mysterious but effective limp mode has appeared when we were trying to use a motor temp switch input. The device is CURIOUSLY sensitive to 12v. 11.6 volts just doesn’t cut it and it throws errors if your DC-DC isn’t up to Soliton’s expectations. The RPM cutout is a little touchy. But these are minor. In operation it will really draw 1000 amperes of current from the batteries and apply some portion of that at least to the motor. It will do this at 188 volts, and we’re told at up to a little over 300 volts. And the “control” is really quite smooth with regards to low speed control and you can easily configure the pedal, the power curve resulting from pedal input, and the build rate (slew rate) of the application of power.

Today, we did some 0-60 tests and got 10.0 seconds flat with a kind of portly 2385 pounds of vehicle, plus 450 pounds of people. So we were over 2900 pounds. That’s at a slew rate of 2000 amps per second.

As our brushes seat and we gain confidence in this setup, we’ll gradually increase that slew rate. The max is 25000 amps per second which would get us from 0 to 1000 amps in about 40 milliseconds. I’m going to guess we get a pretty nice 0-60 at something shy of that. As I said, we’re currently spending a leisurely 500 ms to build to 1000 amps.

Our ambient temperatures are sub freezing right now. The Soliton and the motor hardly get to body temperature. The pump doesn’t even come on – with a 40C snap switch on the pump ground.

So on packaging, configuration, installation, and operation this Soliton1 looks like a winner all around. They are regularly updaing the software. In fact, if you watch closely on the video we “update” to version 1.2. Actually we’ve already updated again to the January 9 1.3 release. So minor input/output questions etc. are easily dealt with in the normal cycle of things. We’ll be unlikely to come up with much they are not already hearing from their growing user base.

We’ll have a bit of a drive, and hopefully a much SHORTER show next week wrapping Redux up. We’ll talk about a few things and update you as they get worked off, but we’re pretty much done with the Speedster Redux rebuild. We added 21 cells and 350 lbs but we should be able to do 150 miles in this thing now.

We’re planning on taking both Speedsters and the Spyder to the Carlisle Kit Car and Import show in May in Carlisle Pennsylvania.

We learned a bit about the Soliton1 on this build, and it is with much relief and joy I must say. Because what is coming next will be the most daunting build we’ve ever considered and it must needs be doomed to failure on so many fronts I get weak in the knees.

And that is the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT. This will use DUAL Netgain Warp 11’s and DUAL Soliton1 controllers.

Voila! First pictures of the completed Jim Husted (Jimerico) dual Netgain 11 assembly. He’s painted them gloss black with polished metal accents to match our vehicle. He asked us a number of times for what “EVTV” logo we wanted on them. I asked him to just “sign” the motors with his signature instead.

The idea has apparently grown into a new SIgnature Series. Very well, let it be scribed on all temple walls and obelisks throughout the realm, EVTV is using the FIRST of the new Jimerico Jim Husted SIGNATURE SERIES motor, based on TWO of the Netgain Warp 11 models in our Cadillac Escalade EXT build. They look gorgeous and we’re hoping to have them next week.

If you think we have a secret plan for this vehicle, you’re reading messages from God in cloud formations. We do not.

We have an assorted collection of ideas and notions we’d like to try out on a large vehicle to see if it can be done. We want to wind up with an effective ride for 4-5 adults with some cargo space and a good all season environmental experience – full heat for winter, including heated steering wheel, seats, and heated washer fluid, AND full blown air conditioning literally blown up my skirt through the seat cushions.

We’re going to try to develop:

1. An effective blower cooling system for the motors.
2. A REALLY effective hot water heating system from available junk.
3. A heated battery box.
4. Most likely a largish sized ultra capacitor box.
5. Pretty good sized Vicor DC-DC converter.
6. An aux shaft accessory plate with our Air Conditioning compressor and a fluid pump for both power brakes and steering.

I kind of plan on buying a couple of benches just to mount the transmission, the motor, the Solitons, the cap box on to get all of it running and do a little bit of turn testing BEFORE mounting it all in the vehicle.

So this promises to be a long conversion, with a lot of interesting new things – automatic transmission, etc.

Stay with us. There’s more to come…

Jack RIckard

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