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No video this week and I guess I don’t think we’ll have anything in the coming week as well. Kind of a spring vacation for the fat kid.

We shoot on Friday and edit on Saturday in theory. With the brain fully drained and no longer in residence at EVTV, I’m a little pressed wearing several hats. So recently I’ve been mostly shooting on Saturday and editing on Sunday when the rest of the crew aren’t in. That lets me focus a bit without a lot of questions about whether an o-ring goes with the Seimens coupler or not.

As of May 22nd, we will have been in continous production for six years – working seven days a week to do it. Our first video was May 22nd, 2009 and at the time, there was not a single OEM electric car in existence that you could buy. Well, that’s not entirely true. The first Tesla Roadster was delivered in February 2008 to Tesla co-founder, chairman and product architect Elon Musk. The company produced 500 similar vehicles through June 2009. But most of those appeared more May and June-ish of that year. You could BUY one, you just couldn’t actually get it.

Aside from Tesla there was the Global Electric Motorcar company of Fargo North Dakota I guess. The GEM was a 72v golf cartish neighborhood electric vehicle with a top speed of 25mph. Beyond that, you couldn’t buy an electric car. There just weren’t any.

But this Saturday, my daughter Jennifer graduated from Southeast Missouri State University. My wife is a professor there as well with a PHd in Information Systems, and I occasionally appear as guest speaker at a variety of class presentations – though none of my wife’s oddly. In any event, at age 30 and with a 12-year-old son in attendance, my daughter received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology/Marine Archeology, with a minor in mass communications.

She’s basically headed for a career somewhere between Jane Goodall and Indiana Jones and has along the way picked up a helicopter license and a scientific diver’s certificate. She’s made videos of several of her field schools. She fires a pistol passably well. We need to work on the bullwhip thing but beyond that, Harrison Ford hasn’t got a thing on her. In fact, technically Harrison is an actor.

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What fathers want most is adoring daughters who hang on their every word and follow all advice to the letter – with perfect attendance and grades from grade 1 through their doctoral program and never an unladylike slip. The problem is, the fathers that get those have pleasant daughters with little impact on the world.

Strong personalities with mule like stubborness and eggregiously defiant natures are tough to raise. But the heavy metal that causes all the problems in adolescence is drawn to a sharp sword later on. The stubborness matures to perserverance and tenacity. The defiance becomes more genteel, but still threatens the status quo in all respects and tends to be dissatisfied with the world as it is, and rather insistent in the way they want it to be.

Fruit and trees being what they are, my father and I both share this deep tribal knowledge. And so I must confess some deep pride and satisfaction in this late bloomer. I would offer that you might take pains to clear the path in front of her of anything you hold dear. Like a midwestern F5, there’s likely to be little left in the path behind.

She was more than wild at one point. But after three years working in a tavern I owned briefly, cleaning up cowboy vomit, she did turn to higher education. Had I to do over, I would have bought each of my six children a tavern on the occasion of their graduation from high school. Asked them to run it three years and then sell the wreckage using the proceeds for college. Working at the butt end of the world certainly makes almost everything else look attractive.

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So for those fathers suffering at the hands of “problem” kids with hair a little whiter than your age might indicate, I would offer a note of hope. Sometimes the wildest colt in the barn turns out to be the Kentucky Derby winner. In fact, I would guess that’s generally true. Few Ketucky Derby winners were “good” colts with good grades in colt school.

In any event, I’m inordinately proud of her graduation and maturing outlook and can’t wait to see what she does next.

This coming weekend, we’re all going down to Hot Springs Arkansas to meet with my other kids and kids kids and my brothers and sisters and THEIR kids and kids kids in kind of a bizarre family reunion. Tom has found a pensinsula at Hot Springs Village with houses all over it and we’ve rented them ALL as best I can tell. So it will be Hot Springs Rickard village this weekend. Some boating and some golf. And probably a lot of sitting around drinking beer and telling stories that COULD have been true at one time.

Since there is no video this week, I’ll pull the one from last week that never got a blog entry. As you can see we are continuing the CHAdeMO project but it is not just us. This fast charge thing has caught the eye of a number of people worldwide kind of all at the same time. I’d like to think it is because we have declared it possible, but it feels more like one of those serendipity things where everyone kind of lands on the same conclusion at just about the same time. And it’s CHAdeMO.

I was stunned to see Steve West and Nick Smith step out front in Kiwiland to plant a stick in the sand vis a vis 74 fast charge stations at $40k or so each. I was aware Steve was fond of his MOdel S, but wow. That’s planting the flag.

And he’s using a fascinating device by Tritium of Australia. Tritium has been kind of on the border of success for some time. They had an early 3 phase motor and inverter offering but it was a little pricey and not quite ever done, and… and…

Now they have this charging port that looks like a space age soft drink machine. It’s called a VeeFil and it lists at $40,000 which is not untoward for a full power CHAdeMO EVSE. Hopefully Nick and Steve will work out how to get it to drop a Dr. Pepper or refund their money.

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I’m told Steve is going to charge $1.95 plus $0.35 per minute. That’s about $12 Kiwi money for a 30 minute deal. I still think the road to riches is paved with Ho-Ho’s and Ding-Dongs but I guess we’ll see.

Reading messages from God in tea leaves is always dicey business. But I’m better at it than most. I feel the Tesla Supercharger window slipping away, the SAE CCS window never really opening, and CHAdeMO being the default standard because it wasn’t either one of the other two.

The EVSE makers are hedging their bets with dual protocol units, but I don’t think we’ll bother. Ok, I’ll confess. I’ve always had a problem with the Wireline protocol. Lots of CAN chips out there by assorted manufacturers, but WireLine is kind of a one source chip with a lot of learning curve. It’s just too different and expensive. I could probably get over it if the SAE CCS showed any signs of life, but it is largely a press release protocol.

Am actually still aghast at the hubris of General Motors and the Germans. Not invented here and that’s all there is to it. I was certain they would work a four function calculator on this, GET the significance of fast charge, and throw themselves at Elon Musks feet over his fait accompli. They arrogantly insisted on their own, and the net effect is they are stuck with Nissan’s CHAdeMO. A blunder of heroic proportions.

CHAdeMO, initially kind of a members only thing, has published it as a JARS and basically thrown it open to the world in doing so. All else being equal, open and with a user base almost always wins. It can’t be displaced without a huge technical advantage – like faster speed. Like someone introduces a new 250kw standard and makes that open. Nissan barbecue.

And fast charge is real. It used to be that the questions were all, how fast does it go how long does it take to charge. We heard this 7000 times in the first couple of years. Today, the questions have changed. There is a bit of acculturation going on. I had a conversation with a total EV agnostic who knew nothing about them. But she immediately went to “can you drive it cross country.” I asked her when the last time she DROVE cross country and she admitted she couldn’t remember. I’m not sure she EVER has driven cross country. But that was the first question out of her mouth. I’ve repeated this experience several times in recent months. There has been a sea change and the current shortcoming of electric vehicles is that you can’t drive them cross country.

The Tesla you can. I’m not sure it’s practical with our cars with 100 mile range to drive two hours and spend 30 or 40 minutes charging, but it becomes POSSIBLE which I think is all that is necessary to answer the question. I STILL think electric cars are a local solution to a local problem. But it doesn’t really matter what I think. This is currently the issue, so we have to deal with it.

Our LiFePo4 cells take to fast charging probably better than any other. By the time you get to the cutoff voltage you’re 95% charged instead of 80%. I wrote a current taper into our software for forms sake but it really just isn’t needed. It works fine, but mostly for my entertainment. The tape goes VERY quickly once you get to your target voltage as you are basically 95% charged. The other chemistries have a more gradual slope approaching full.

A couple of personnel losses have slowed us at EVTV. But not stopped us. I’ve been working on a full test bench for our periperhals, the Eberspacher heater, the Volt DC-DC converter, the Delphi DC-DC converter, and the Volt charger. All on one bench with a battery and a cooling system and controllers for each. We have connectors for all of them. We do NOT yet have the shields to do the Eberspacher but they are on order.

I may have oversold the Eberspacher. Yes, in theory it is 6kW but it turns out that is with a 0C inlet temperature which in a heating system we’re never going to have. At heating temperatures, it can do about 4kW which is what we’ve had before with the RMS heater from MES-DEA and now with the Kim Hotstart system on the Escalade. Yes, it heats. But you’re not going to be run out of the cabin by it. I put it under load with TWO heat exchangers with two fans – that’s probably double the load you would have in your car. But it couldn’t really push past 56C the way I was taking heat out of the system. Like the Escalade, you kind of have to leave the fan on low until you get up to temperature, and then hope it can hold it.

In any event, this bench will let us build and test controllers, test the units themselves which I’ve pretty much decided to just get from dealers and sell new stock only with our controllers. We may sell the controllers seperately for those that want to dig through the bone pile if you can convince me you know what you’re doing. I’ve always been a little goosey about chargers and I suppose I will extend that to heaters. The DC-DC converters shouldn’t be much of a problem. If you burn up your 12v battery hopefully it won’t be much of a fire. We of course hope you’ll pay the higher price and get new product from us. But the bargains are tempting I know.

More exciting for me personally is work on the Tesla drive train. Slow but we’re getting there. In last weeks video I talk about this with a diagram, which is fortunate because the video camera was badly out of focus for some reason (no cameraman you know).

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It turns out is a little bit retro and not quite as complicated as some would have you think. It is kind of old school in that it uses accelerator input directly – standard two signal analog 0-5v inputs.

The theory here is that you have two different analog outputs. They vary of course between zero and 5vdc with the position of the throttle. But the key point is that they don’t vary the SAME. They will be different. They might be different in direction with one starting at 4.5 volts and decressing to 0.75 volts with an increase in throttle pressure, and the other starting at 0.75 and increasing to 4.5 volts. Often they are in the SAME direction but on a different scale, one starting at 1.50 volts and going up to 3.25 volts while the other starts at 0.75 and goes up to 4.75volts.

In being different, this allows the inverter to perform a sanity check. It will have a table or equation establishing the relationship of one of the signals to the other. If it doesn’t match within about 10%, it throws a fault and shuts down the motor. In this way, if you have one or both signals shorted to 5v for example, the car doesn’t run away with you at top speed in an “uncommanded acceleration event”.

The problem is, there are a number of accelerator schemes out there and I had no idea what Tesla used. The guy I bought the last drive train from promised he’d get me a Tesla pedal. But since its not a high profit item for him, he simply blew me off.

Fortunately, one of our hack team members Jeffry Hino sent me a photo of a Tesla accelerator. It had some part numbers.

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A bit of Googling revealed that the Ford Motor company has used those same part numbers on the Fusion, and the Focus along with a host of other models for the past few years. I ordered a couple and batta boom batta bing, guess what came in the mail?

There is a certain awe of Tesla that leads to wild predictions of imminent failure in dealing with anything as advanced as a Tesla electric car. Bottom line is it is just an electric car. They’re not going to manufacture every piece part from scratch. They’ve always been under huge pressure to get their designs into production. I’m DELIGHTED to see them use standard off the shelf piece parts that are readily available anywhere. In this way, I can replace the Tesla throttle that’s probably about $800 with the Ford model at $65 and still get the same part.

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More importantly to this effort, is we now have throttles we can easily wire up and measure the outputs and determine what the inverter has to have as an input. I suppose we can just USE the Ford throttles for that matter.

The CAN devolves then into some mode signals and possibly some BMS signals indicating that the battery is ok. And that we are in standard or range mode, or that we are in reverse or DRIVE or neutral. Probably some cruise control magic. But we HAVE a model S.

I would put in a plug for SavvyCAN at this point. Our own COllin Kidder has been working on a side project to do a capable CAN analysis tool to run on a laptop. He’s adopted a new development tool termed Qt which purports to be cross platform. And he’s already sent me a working SavvyCAN for the MacPro laptops I use, and which he detests as anything fruitlike in computers with the same passion that I detest Windoze in all its versions. So he will have this for Mac OSX, LInux, and Windoze all at the same time.

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I have long rankled at Vector’s CANalyzer. Its too complicated and too expensive starting at about $5000. SavvyCAN will use our own CANDue shield to capture CAN data, but then it lets you log it to a file on the laptop, graph data, and play back log segments. As you may have followed Mark and I reverse engineering the Ebenspacher, a device can hardly resist this approach whatever the encryption or security device. If it works once from a set of commands, it kind of has to work again from the same set.

I’m hoping he further develops this product as a commercial product that will give us the 30% of CANalyzer features we actually need, with less learning curve and at a tenth the price.

Dr. Charlie Priest, my 74-year-old handyman of the past twelve years or so, has been welding up a set of braces to affix the Tesla drive train to our maple top bench – sorry Damien, we like to lash em down good before we put the quirt and spurs to them. The EVTV Hack Team will be meeting in June and Collin threatens to make it turn then. Don’t know that we will and don’t know that we won’t. But I’m trying to get it ready where there will be power, accelerators, a mounted drive train, and a video camera, in case he does.

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If so, we will be rather immediately pressed to find a donor car appropriate to a 426 hp 310 kw drive train. It would be profane of me to so much as desire to be the first DIY car on the planetoid to run with a Tesla Model S drive train, but I confess I do lust after it. The Vanagon is sitting next to it and I suppose it would do but it would look like Otmar baiting if I did so.

Any ideas? A VW Thing project it is not. And it might be a bit much for the Nash Metropolitan as well. Or the Mini Cooper.

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