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This episode we had little going here in the shop. Brain’s done a bit on the Carmen Miranda and I’ve been playing with a recalcitrant module on the GEVCU3 which has me reduced to trying to install a serial port on an ancient Windows XP laptop, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Volkswagen has long been an annoyance as they by rights should be the leader in the electric vehicle movement. We’re kind of a VW shop and it has been painful to watch them issue dozens of press releases about new electrically powered offerings apparently with no intent of ever actually producing any. I was gratified to have a viewer alert us to a video done by VW describing their research efforts and particularly explaining battery technologies. Actually I was astounded. After years of following the very closed proprietary march of Tesla, and the utter nonsense issued by Nissan and General Motors, the VW video was a breath of fresh air. Largely accurate and with fantastic graphics, it was truly an education about batteries, albeit pretty much the one I’ve been giving. In any event, we included the whole thing.

Some video being better than others. Jehu Garcia is becoming a favorite. He really lets you in behind the scenes of succcess and failure and the learning curve he’s going through to bring his Electric Samba to life. It’s just very engaging and very real. He also has an innate sense of video and his talking ankles segment in this weeks version is actually just precious. I’m struggling to picture what Brian Seymour thought they would look like on video, and actually viewing it this week. It’s art Brian. I know. Had you known, you would have worn your good socks. But it was still terribly effective as we could watch the foot action as you drove. And hear the results. I know of no other way to capture that in quite that way. I think Garcia is an unrecognized video genius and I just haven’t figured out a way to make sure we get a segment every week.

Finally Mark Emon and his 914. This is an interesting segment in that you get to see a guy struggle with a build that has gone on too long. But he IS winning. Winning on the electric car build. The video camera is another matter. Not since Royce and Karen Wood graced us with their Blair Witch project Mercury build videos and broke into a production fight on camera have I seen such. In both cases I think they’ll wind up with excellent cars. But not a new career in video.

But we are actually having a ball and I’ve been on something of a shopping spree that has caused kind of another major investment out of the cookie jar and into EVTV.

As you know, we have contracted to have a 24.4 kW solar panel system put on the roof. Not as hard as I make it look actually. We had a new white rubber roof put on our top a month or so ago, and we’re using a remarkable mounting system called DynoRax.

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DynoRax flat roof system consists of some very lightweight fiberglass devices that are kind of matrixed together and then burdened with concrete blocks to hold them down. The thing is very easy to install, no holes in the roof, and very strong once it’s all matrixed together.

We’re waiting on permits and paperwork while Ameren UE struggles manfully to AVOID paying us the $2 per watt fee and holds us off to the end of the year when the rebate goes to $1.50. I don’t think they are going to win this one but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag on this. Suffice it to say I’m routinely sickened by the corporate greed and ongoing desire to coerce government into sharing their monopoly powers over the individual. Once we get everybody driving electric cars and making their own electricity, we’ll have to move to an ongoing battle to retain the rights to our own roofs and keep the government from awarding those rights to the very deserving utility companies. It’s enough to cause you to vomit.

I’ve kind of felt under attack here recently with the bizarre behavior of our own GEVCU team, our own intern Hauber and the EV West guys, who we buy stuff from all the time, and the near disappearance of Sebastien Bougouis and the EVnetics crew. I’m like “Do I have bad breath here or what’s going on?”

Someone finally pulled me aside this week and explained it to me. We’re winning.

Winning? Duh. Winning what?

Just winning.

The explanation was kind of complex, but it is a bit bizarre and I do recognize the truth of it. I think most WANTED us to “win” to a certain degree. Mostly because in their estimation, it was so hopeless.

Ok, I admit it strikes my sense of whimsey to note that there are 160,000 gas stations, 25 states that tax gasoline, the Federal government that taxes gasoline, 17 OPEC countries, and the top 5 largest corporations in the world, along with the body politic of automotive manufacturers arrayed against us, so why do I feel we have them surrounded. My answer, from the beginning has been because we do.

I didn’t realize I was the only one who quite believed that.

But today, as the TEsla phenomenon marches on, and one by one the automotive manufacturers kiss the ring and mark in, it is apparent how it is going to come out. So I had another wave of viewers deeply concerned that if anyone could buy a store built electric car, we would be obsolete as there would be no need to build them ourselves any more. Errr.. so why does Summit Racing have 24 loading bays at their $100 million per year business selling components to people who build and customize cars now? ANd how come you can’t SEE all of SEMA in three days of tireless walking?

So I think it has become apparent that we called it starting years ago and are kind of “winning”. I don’t know what they quite imagine we are “winning” or what that looks like here locally. BUt it remains pretty much all outgo cash wise and now we appear to be beset by the politics of envy.

There is no master plan to take over the world guys. We think we’re winning when you’re winning. But it has become apparent that I’ve somehow schemed to corner the market on Siemens Motors. First, there are a lot of motors, and most are not Siemens. Second, my scheme was apparently to get a twice a month e-mail from David Pope at Siemens asking me if I wanted to buy 100 motors. In every case I told him that I had no inverters for the 100 motors and couldn’t imagine what I would do with them. Maybe if Siemens equipped me with an inverter……..NO WAY click.

The way I finally cornered it was he called up and said he was under orders to dump them and what was the number he was going to get. I repeated the same song. He said all that was over, what did I want to pay. I told him here was all I COULD pay given that I don’t have a clue what we’re going to do with them. He said ok. We’ll send them to you.

A brilliant and Machiavellian scheme. ANd now I have 145 of them sitting here. Had to buy a new roof just to keep them dry. Freddy’s Flat Roofs to the rescue.

But yes, while not precisely what you view it as, we ARE winning. Winning in finding more and better toys to spread ourselves thin over. I may have mentioned we found some very thin, very light, very efficient solar panels that they are virtually giving away at twice the normal price in China, using U.S. made cells ironically. Perfect for boats and RVs and docks and so forth. We’ve ordered 50 and are adding them to the store.

sunpower flexible solar

But did I mention that we found a small, light, 20 HP outboard electric motor?

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It’s so cool. I bought a couple. They run on 48 volts, and guess what? I was strangely moved to build a battery module for a golf cart of….48 volts. Actually over 50. It will work GREAT with this outboard.

But maybe we want an inboard. They also have a 10kw permanent magnet motor that weighs like 11 kilograms and will squirt 20 kw briefly – brushless DC. That’s what’s in the outboard and they have an inverter for it for less than a grand that does 840amps at that 48v.

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Did I mention I found a UPS inverter that will charge the batteries off of either AC or solar, and generate AC if grid power is lost WITHOUT the goofy anti-islanding BS that has been in all the inverters we’ve looked at?

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So now we have almost all the components you need to make a solar powered electric boat. It’s not that hard. This one, named Turanor “sailed” round the world:

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Ms-Turanor-PlanetSolar-departs-Monaco-27-September-2010-courtesy-of-PlanetSolar

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So we’re adding a whole line of 48v boat and golf cart style gadgets that I’m quite excited about. Meanwhile, we’ve been using LED tailights and headlights for years. All of them excreble in all respects. Suddenly we have headlights and tailights that are quality stuff all the way around and a delight to install and use, if not to pay for.

SO its raining toys. And it is true our mindspace in the EV community has never been higher. Indeed we are winning. And we were always going to. I worked out how to do that in publishing during the last rodeo and I’ll share the secret with you. You publish each and every week for five years with no hope of actually making it work economically. Never an encouraging moment. And suddenly sometime in the sixth year it rains everything.

This month marks the completion of four years of weekly publication of EVTV. We’ve got a little UNDER two years to go. And suddenly we’ll be an overnight success story. I mentally image this as crawling through 40 miles of piss, blood, and razor blades to suddenly be discovered as an overnight success story. And it pretty much works every time. But there are always those who want to move their hands theh same way, wave a video camera or page layout program around in just the way they see us do it, and take part of it away from us, maybe by marking it down a little.

I don’t know what to tell you. We had them in the Boardwatch days and we’ll have them now. A minor annoyance not marked in the history of anything. But it always surprises me when it comes from friends we’ve helped along the way. The politics of envy.

What I see over the next two years is some serious inroads in finding more and better toys YOU can use to build ever better cars and boats and planes and dirigibles (a brazillian dollar business THERE if anyone ever thinks to ask me about it) and more – hopefully at ever lower prices. As we sell YOU more, we BUY more and that is making a lot of radar screens. I’m not having to work so hard with the Chinese these days. They are finding us and pitching their products quite artfully.

And slowly, even the “we only sell to OEM” guys are coming around wondering if we could really move 40 or 50 of them in say, six months. MayBE. SHow me what you got.

The problem with the DIY electric car gig is that it is too widely distributed and has no nexus where you can even get a picture of what it IS, beyond EVAlbum which tends to be run over with electric bicycles and lawnmowers.

I have Chris working on a database now that will allow you to upload full resolution photos and descriptions of your vehicles. We will also have “judges” who register to vote for their three favorites. Kind of like the EV contest. We’ll wind up with an EVTV TOP 100 BUilDS and revert to form, printed publishing. We’re going to do a BOOK with 200 pages covering the top 100 builds along with our catalog of components in the back.

What this will do is let us put something in a person’s HAND that pretty much illustrates that it is a WORLDWIDE phenomenon resulting in THOUSANDS of gorgeous cars and other vehicles built by an ARMY of tinkerers and innovators. Kind of a Stars and Stripes for the EV Army. I kind of plan on publishing this twice a year.

All you have to do to beat me at this is take the idea, pretend you had it. Then publish and mail this book at excruciating expense to anyone who will look at it, twice a year for six years, with no hope of profiting from it. But then YOU can win and you won’t have to spend your evenings sitting around envying me like a young communist living at Animal Farm.

The irony is, that while THEY will find it a painful process, I live for it. I can’t wait to hand this book to somebody and watch their reaction. I never get over it. It’s simple. We give it away. We make YOU the stars. And somehow we win. I love it every time it works. But I think it will open a lot of eyes to “what’s going on” that they didn’t ever really understand that THAT was going on. They saw a couple of week on the show. That’s an aberration. But if they hold 100 in their hand, THAT is a movement.

You see the world can’t stand someone who gives stuff away. They have to either envy them and destroy them, or bring it all back into balance by supporting them and returning it ten-fold. The imbalance itself cannot be tolerated. The resulting Kharmic rule is this: You can’t give it away FAST enough. It’s just not physically possible. And its hard to destroy a guy that isn’t deriving anything from it anyway and lives on nothing. What do you cut off?

And the guys who prefer to GET, who wheedle and whine over very every tiny bit of every advantage real or imagined? Gathering all the “free stuff” they can find? I dunno. Generally you just never hear from them again. I’ve never seen one wind up a winner. Ever.

Stay with us. You’re all winners. And I’m going to tell the world about you.

Jack Rickard

Oh, and the Elon Musk bobblehead doll. A total mistake. We were trying to make a bobble head doll of Charlie Priest, our maintenance guy. See what you think.

Here’s the photos we submitted of Charlie. He’s 72 years old

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Now here’s what the CHinese think Charlie looks like.

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I don’t see it myself. I don’t think it’s that close a resemblance. But oh, well. It’s designed to hold an iPhone behind Charlie’s head on the dash of my Tesla Model S. I suppose it will still do that.

I wonder if I did one of Brian, would it come out looking like Barry Soetoro?