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This is one of the longest shows we’ve ever published and in some ways perhaps the best. I have a few interesting views on publishing, forming over the past twenty years. When a publication serves best, it serves mostly as a mirror – relecting the readership or in this case viewership, and allowing them to see themselves in as faithful a fashion as is possible. That means a fairly flat smooth mirror with little bias.

The conccept of Jack Rickard without bias is a bit comical, because it is a bit in conflict with another publishing precept. I often have clearly strongly held, if otherwise uqualified opinions. It might surprise you to know they are not quite as strongly held as you might imagine. But I have learned that it makes the transmission of often somewhat monotonic technical information both more palatable and more memorable.

If I say I just can’t stand a vacuum pump and show you a vacuum pump and why I dislike them and on and on in a rail against vacuum pump, almost exactly half of you are going to say “That’s right Jack. You go. I feel the same way.” Almost exactly the remaining half is going to say, “Wait a minute I like vacuum pumps and I intend to use one, I don’t care what that fat jerk says.”

In even the short run, it already doesn’t matter. You both were a bit entertained about vacuum pumps, and we all know a bit more about them than we did. Had I stood in front of the camera and read you the spec sheet on the vacuum pump, even I wouldn’t be able to stay awake for the whole thing.

Back to the publication as a mirror. Everyone likes to see themselves of course. But that is not precisely what a mirror in this case accomplishes.
Many of you labor long and hard on converting a beloved automotive model to magnetic drive. Usually somewhat alone, in a garage, with few to share the experience with. Sometimes that can seem like being the only savage on the buffalo hunt. And so it is heartening to see others like yourself, with the same interests and doing broadly the same work.

Better, in seeing what is really a co-creator or peer is doing half a world away, whom you would not otherwise be aware of or know, you might just see THEIR solution to a problem you may have. And like the vacuum pump, that can either result in your adopting it or devising something to avoid the problems caused by that solution. Like the vacuum pump, it hardly matters. It has ACCELERATED your knowledge and progress in what you are doing. Along with the of course pleasant recognition that you are not truly alone in the world.

I see further because I stand on the shoulders of giants. This works in big obvious ways, but even more so in many small ways. And so in a world where it is commercially of advantage to keep EVERYTHING YOU LEARN OR DEVELOP A TOTAL SECRET, you can see how that kind of stifles innovation. But when info is OUTED in this fashion and shared, it is not so we can all copy each other, it is because it leads to more numerous and rapid advances.

And so any industry served by an excellent trade publication that effectively mirrors developments within that industry, will find its forward progress aided, abetted, and often accelerated because of the publication itself – the sharing of the info. Availability of tools and components others can use to extend FURTHER there own personal progress – shared back then leading to yet MORE progress.

And as I say, I don’t think anyone is truly cognizant of the dear price we pay for trade secrets, patents, and the protection of intellectual property.
Everyone can see how those policies encourage innovation, at a child mind level. But few recognize how deeply it STIFLES innovation. And so the balance of the free flow of information and trade secrecy is a constant standoff of opposing forces.

In my younger days in print, it was pretty easy to reach people by telephone. I would talk to them, correspond a bit by e-mail, and maybe wheedle a photo out of them now and again. THen I would write the story rather in complete control and often even getting parts of it right. In a more contemporary world of a global internet and high definition video, that doesn’t work quite as well.

And so the concept of a mirror publication is a bit of a lurch into the unknown. The past few weeks with viewer contributed videos such as Michael Neuweiler’s spin of his Brusa motor and inverter with the GEVCU, Jehu Garcia’s cheerfully whimsical Samba Van, and this week with Paulo Almeida and Celso Menia with a virtual visit to the Institute of Engineering Lisbon, complete with SMD soldering tutorial I’m seeing really quite high quality video with perfectly tuned information content that is a joy to view. And so it feels like “I” am now not the only savage on the buffalo hunt.

And the more I learn the better I like it. Not only do I now know the secret to seeing SMD soldering (USB microscopes), but I’m now a big fan of Ana Mouro and indeed the FADO genre. Fado is kind of an older folk music form of Portugal celebrating the soulful suffering of the downtrodden, happy to be sad, and angry to be so calm. They have Fado houses where people sing these convoluted whimsical songs of contrast. The title of the song on Paulo’s video is DesFado – meaning UNfado. The heart of Fado is kind of like GNU is Not Unix – a self referencing paradox. As it is difficult for me to even know what the words mean, my new found love for Fado is inevitably destined to be a little basic, but there you are.

Back to the mirror. The picture that emerges is of a truly global and kind of tight knit little clan of Ass Clowns building electric boats, planes, cars, busses and lawn mowers at ever higher quality. It is ironic that as chief flag waver and rain maker for the electric vehicle movement, I have been in the very strange position of being entirely negative on lead acid batteries, junk cars, battery management systems, the CHevy Volt, and the Nissan Leaf. ALL of those rather give the WRONG message about electric vehicles. They can be delightful, quite simple, very robust, and a pleasure to own and drive. Finally, the OEM’s are starting to come my way with the TEsla Model S and the BMW i3. But similarly, the average enthusiast around the globe is moving to better components, more desireable classic cars, and better builds. I would love to fancy that we’ve been part of that because it leads to a body of DESIRABLE VEHICLES that the surrounding community can become more familiar with and develop a DESIRE to become a part of.

Picture acres of Samba’s gathered for a meeting, with one lone electric example still in primer and largely without glass. Guess which one will cause the most attention and desire.

And most of all, instead of me standing like a steer in a feedlot and TELLING you about all that’s going on in the world, now I can SHOW you what’s happening, literally around the world. In multiple lands and peoples. Boats. Cars. GEVCUs. Busses. In dark sheds in Switzerland and in bright industrial labs in Lisbon and of course in Rancho Cucamonga California.

Our European component sales continue to grow with EVTV.EU and Anne’s build company, NewElectric continues to garner attention with his gorgeous boat builds. We are keen to announce, hopefully soon, a SECOND EVTV affiliate with EVTV.UK. The careful growth of this global warehouse network is part of the plan of providing nearly instant gratification on quality build components to further fuel the fires.

And work on the Generalized ELectric Vehicle Control Unit (GEVCU) continues. We rewired the THING to take advantage of Collin Kidder’s precharge function that was recently added and it worked perfectly the very first time we keyed it up with the ignition. Michael Neuweiller is continuing to fix up the WiFi configuration web page and I even added some tooltips and so forth to that myself this morning. So team EVACI (Electric Vehicle Ass Clowns International) continues to forge new tooling.

Pundits continue to debate whether Tesla can continue to compete in the automotive market. They still don’t get it. Tesla is DESTRUCTIVELY changing the automotive market forever. I delight in the fact that these disruptive innovations almost always come from some humble garage somewhere. One of the EVACI members pointed me to a photo of anewly renovated garage that in 1941 served as the birthplace of Hewlett Packard. In looking into it, I also found the ELEVEN RULES that were established in those early days at the birthplace of Silicon Valley. I kind of combined them in Photoshop to produce a poster suitable for framing and we now have it hanging in the showroom.


I guess we started in a garage. Since the sign is gone from the garage at home, I used the photo of our current shop as the backdrop, adding our own little set of rules.


We’re having both printed on colorform plastic at 18 x 24 inches suitable for framing and hanging in your own garage.

No real interest expressed in our BMS contest – which looks like ti will save me a slick $10K or so. Not sure what’s different about that from the GEVCU. We’ll have to study on the matter.

Stay with us….

Jack Rickard