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Strange week. A lot going on. Reminds me of the early days of Boardwatch Magazine.

First, the contest. We’re launched. And we’re getting a very encouraging number of entries. Reading through them, as I noted in a recent post, I’m not sure I’m up to this emotionally.

We’re probably going to quick scan 100 promising ones out of the pile at about 19weeks. I’m going to give this list to our sponsors who can then each pick two. We’ll pick two. That’s 10.

Then we’re going to ask them for further videos, photos, writeups, whatever they want to provide for the finals.

We’ll post that and let the viewers decide.

This week’s video.

This video marks a first. Our first paid advertiser, as part of the contest sponsorship of course, is Netgain Motors LLC. We intend things will go well enough that they will take some pride in the future to be cunning enough to be our first supporter. The Netgain “commercial” is our first paid commercial.

The motor bears the tale. has come out with a total of 26 improvements to the motor, and as we’re using a couple of them in the Escalade we’re pretty much excited about them. An optical port for a sensor on the fan is pretty interesting. The new brush design and the 192v limit George does NOT want to talk about, because it hasn’t been tested yet, is exciting. And the new fan is supposed to improve air flow 50%. We need all that.

This week we also announce we have settled on EVnetics Soliton1 as the controller you’ll be getting. A bit of agony here getting to this. I thnk the Zilla is what the viewers would want. But the Soliton1 is newer technology, uses components that weren’t even available when Zilla was designed. It’s supposed to do 1000 amps. And the build look is just really quite cool. I like the hard core fittings for the water cooling instead of plastic. And I just think these guys deserve a shot. They’ve done a good job with this design. THere’s enough running it to indicate a chance at a good one.

I think these guys are a little strange. Now put that in context with ME and OTMAR OBBENHEICH. Who isn’t strange? But their device oughtta get an industrial package design award if it doesn’t work at all. It’s configurable. It’s in software that can be upgraded. IT uses the latest IGBT’s, and I suspect they are the 1400 amp IGBT’s giving us a little head room. Even the old fashioned bakelight terminal strip is just easier for me to deal with than tiny crimp pins and trick plugs. I like it. And it’s my show. So that’s that.

Is Ryan Bohm/Netgains just as good? Probably. We had to make a call and Netgain already had the motor.

Anyway, welcome EVnetics You’re the SECOND advertiser in EVTV history. If I seem to be a little hard to deal with, it’s because I am. No one suffers it more than me, lacking it might be my wife or Brain. In any event, I admire your engineering and that’s that.

Speaking of being me. Mix a little Alzheimers, a quart of whiskey, and high voltage and what do you get? A 2009 Mini Cooper Clubman. We did a little experiment with the little exciter ring and magnetic pickup from the origianl Mini engine and low and behold, would you believe the DME started showing the tachometer display AND turned on the Electronic Power Assist Steering (EPAS) all in one smooth move.

I got so excited I changed the brake regen and accelerator regen and replaced the exciter ring with the ttach output from the TIMS600 controller.

Unbelievably, it all worked. Well more or less. The tach was live but didn’t read right by a factor of four. The EPAS doesn’t come on until 600 rpm so that meant 2400 real rpm. But we went and drove it and it was a different car. I was actually pretty pleased with the way it drove before. But by lengthening the brake regen PERIOD to 3 seconds from two and increasing the TORQUE to 70% max from 50% the brakes were PERFECT.

By decreasing the throttle regen zone from the first 20% to the first 10%, suddenly the throttle regen felt right for the first time. Better, we apparently got both into a zone where the 5K pot on the dash started to make sense and for the first time I could “tune” this to perfection.

I thought I didn’t need the EPAS while driving, but was aware that in a parking scenario it was way to stiff for most humanoids. Yah, well. It felt MUCH better at ALL speeds.

Was I excited? You bet. But the tach wasn’t right so I had an even BETTER idea. We would steal the 64 bit encoder signal from the motor right out of the controller box and use THAT to drive the tach.

Would you believe it worked? Oh, I wasn’t set up to make sure it was to the RPM. But the tach indications suddenly made sense – approximately right. ANd the EPAS kicked in at 600 rpm instead of 2400. But the motor had a little different noise and the tach would magically drop out after 10 minutes.

So I played with some resistor loading between the encoder signal and ground. And things REALLY began to get better. I was on a roll. So I quickly threw together a little darlington pair driving an opto isolator to really separate these two.

To quote the famous electronics engineer and inventor, Scooby Doo, – RUH-ROW.

And that’s the last the MIni ever peeped. Absolutely dead on power output of any kind. It would talk on the serial port, and reports an A3 POWER ALARM. We looked that up in the truly superb Swiss Italian gibberish documentaiton that came with and it very cleverly defined the A3 POWER ALARM as being the A3 POWER ALARM. Not another word in the book.

No help from Victor or MES-DEA of course. Do you think those guys just don’t LIKE me anymore?

We replaced the encoder in the motor. No help.

So, we have NO controller. We also tore it all down to put the exciter ring and magnetic pickup in the adapter plate where it always should have been.

A door is closed. But a window opened and I think this will be a LOT of fun for you guys. Maybe less so for me at about 10 grand.

A little birdy told me that Larry Rinehart of Rinehart Motion Systems had a little bit of a business breakthrough recently. It seems that Remy, a division of what was DELCO REMY, has a very interesting motor. IT’s termed a Hybrid Vehicle Hairpin motor. It’s used in some of hte GM hybrids and is buried in the transmission. This is a very intereetsing, and somewhat problematical motor.

You can actually get these hybrid transmissions on eBay now. They don’t give em away but given the prices of AC motor systems for EV’s there’s a lot of room there. The problem is the motor really doesn’t have a housing. It sits in the transmission and is literally bathed in the transmission fluid for cooling.

But it is a very cool motor. The stator windings use a unique hairpin design that allows about a 70% fill instead of 40%. That translates into a tighter flux and more torque in the same sized motor. Or higher current levels, rather depending on both how you look at it and how you wind it.

But they don’t have a controller of their own. And therein lies a tale. Apparently they have actually invested some MONEY into Rinehart and word is this controller, now $9500, may go into a more assembly line kind of production getting it down into the $4500 range. Now the motor is hardly free. Actuallly there is a line of motors. And Rinehart is apparently working on a 150kw controller in addition to the 100kw unit they have. How all this will shake out is anybody’s guess, and I would guess Larry and Remy and everyone involved aren’t really nailed down as to where it can go themselves. But it looks like a pregnant partnership. Remember where you heard about it first.

Too late to do us much good. But we are talking to them about a 100kw Rinehart for the Mini and it looks promising. They have a couple laying around and I have already spoken for it in decimal. We’ll likely have to send them the motor to get it configured. But it’s worth a try.

For one thing it moves our controller support function to Wilsonville Oregon instead of whacoville Metric Mind or the Swiss Italian alps. The documentation, which looks pretty good, is in English, which I still favor as my native tongue.

And so there is the POSSIBILITY to examine, using our Mini disaster, which is mega, to explore a real AC controller and motor system that COULD BE purchsed for cash at a useful power level sufficient to do somewhat larger vehicles than the HPEVS system. As we’ve kind of reached a command level decision to just start studiously ignoring all the pie in the sky unobtanium in favor of products where you can get documentation, spares, replacement and support, this is as Martha always says, “a good thing.”

Speaking of unobtainium, I DID stick in a little piece on the Audi eTron appearing at the Paris auto show. Why? Because it’s cool and chicks dig it, of course.

Stay with us. I’m hoping to have some further coolness in the way of a brand new charger entry for our contest….that you’ve never heard of before….

Jack Rickard