Share →
  • rickard

    As-salamu alaykum. Peace be Upon You. In the current hysteria over ISIS and Donald Trump and San Bernadino, we thought it usefully irreverent to announce the new radicalized EVTV. We are now officially a sleeper cell for the militant wing of the Salvation Army.

    What does this mean? Well, we advocate carpet bombing of all nations with woolen blankets and cans of U.S. Government commodity peanut butter for one thing. And we advocate the overthrow of all governments in favor of a volunteer soup kitchen model.

    Under this model, everyone is a volunteer. All politicians would be banned from spending any money to be elected, but also would draw no salary or be allowed to accept contributions while in office. We think this will eliminate the gold-digger class from our ruling body of best and brightest and pretty much eliminate the 30 year squatter “career politician.” If you can’t make any money doing it, it kind of leads to its own term limits. Many could probably take 2, 4, or even 6 years and devote them to national soup kitchen, but no one can really afford to do 30 years of it.

    We are also calling to an end to Cali-Fake – that is the compliance car issue where automakers only provide products to markets such as California to comply with CARB quotas.

    If nothing else, all these keywords should bring us a new and welcome viewership among the NSA, who are now kind of honor-bound to monitor our every move, and so every minute of every video to prevent some sort of U.S. government commodity peanut butter incident that would threaten life or limb here in the U.S. Never mind the woolen blankets – which note if you burn them give off a deadly chlorine gas. Welcome NSA. You might consider converting your personal vehicle to electric drive. It is a very rewarding pastime and they are a hoot to drive.

    As to philanthropy, I’m repulsed by the palatial livings afforded to the leaders of United Way, UNICEF, and the American Red Cross. They live like politicians. UNICEF CEO, receives $1,200,000 per year, (plus use of a Royal Royce for his exclusive use where ever he goes, and an expense account that is rumoured to be well over $150,000.) Only pennies from the actual donations goes to the UNICEF cause (less than $0.14 per dollar of income). Marsha J. Evans, President and CEO of the American Red Cross… her salary for the year ending in 2009 was $651,957 plus expenses. Enjoys 6 weeks – fully paid holidays including all related expenses during the holiday trip for her and her husband and kids. including 100% fully paid health & dental plan for her and her family, for life. This means out of every dollar they bring in, about $0.39 goes to related charity causes. Brian Gallagher, President of the United Way receives a $375,000 base salary (U.S. funds), plus so many numerous expense benefits it’s hard to keep track as to what it is all worth, including a fully paid lifetime membership for 2 golf courses (1 in Canada, and 1 in the U.S.A.), 2 luxury vehicles, a yacht club membership, 3 major company gold credit cards for his personal expenses…and so on. This equates to about $0.51 per dollar of income goes to charity causes.

    And so I’ve become over the decades a fan of and contributor to the Salvation Army. In addition to an annual check, it’s hard to waive a red can in a grocery store in Cape Girardeau without landing a C note from the fat kid. This all goes back to some sandbagging incidents in a flooding Mississippi River some 45 years ago, where the Red Cross was selling sandwiches to the wet, freezing high school students lugging the sandbags, and the Salvation Army was there with hot soup and sandwiches – no charge. The Salvation Army’s Commissioner Todd Bassett receives a salary of $13,000 per year (plus housing) for managing this $2 Billion dollar organization. Which means about $0.93 per dollar taken in is available and goes back out to local causes… Along with Frau Farbissina, I of course ride with the militant wing of the organization.


    Like Trump and Putin, we also received a visitor this week from Russia. Oleg Kononenko is putting together a prototype for some sort of electric van in Russia. He found himself at the last minute with a DMOC645 and GEVCU that didn’t work. And on a Sunday night, flew to St. Louis and drove down to Cape Girardeau to pick up a new DMOC645 for his project, returning to Russia the same day. Ever thrifty, Oleg had picked up a DMOC645 on eBay for much less than we sell them for. And was disappointed to learn it didn’t work with our GEVCU.

    We run into it a bit and yes, it does stroke my sense of whimsey, but it is not precisely what you think. The DMOC645’s were manufactured by Azure Dynamics. They would box them up, pallet them up, and ship them to Livonia Michigan and to their facility in the UK for installation in the Ford eTransit Connect’s they were assembling with electric drive. But there was no purpose in loading firmware into them. Once the car was assembled, the firmware would be flashed to the Vehicle Control Unit and to the DMOC645 using whatever the latest code was THEN. This code was generally under constant revision, so it didn’t make sense to put it IN the device until they were ready to run it.

    We bought like 69 of these DMOC645’s at the auction. And we developed the Generalized Electric Vehicle Control Unit specifically to run this one device, although we were thinking far enough ahead to design it from the beginning to support multiple obect modules, one for each of a variety of inverter controllers. Today, it supports DMOC645, the Coda version of the UQM 100, and the Brusa.

    But to get it to work on the DMOC645, we did have to install some firmware in the DMOC645. There were tools for dealers readily available and we obtained the firmware image as the latest they had at bankruptcy, along with a Kvaser Leaf Lite which was the only hardware it worked with. We wired up our test bench so we could flash this firmware into the DMOC645.

    Along the way, we learned that the DMOC645 also has hundreds of “parameters” you can set in this firmware that might be important. One was a CAN challenge/response pair for security purposes which we promptly turned OFF. But there were others. We kept after it until we had the yellow VW Thing running pretty successfully using DMOC645 and GEVCU. Then we lined up ALL the DMOC645’s, and flashed the entire group in one two-day marathon. Literally opening the boxes, tilting the device, plugging in a plug, and going through the flash procedure, closing the box back up, and marking the date on the box. Now ALL our DMOCs had the same firmware with the SAME parameters in it. And we’ve never made any changes since.

    Meanwhile, others scarfed up varying quantities of DMOC645’s at the Livonia Auction, but also in some quantity in auctions in the United Kingdom. Unable to make them work, they sold these for very little to whomever they could.

    And so we have a string of people who come to us hoping to get a GEVCU to run one of these things, while avoiding mentioning that they got it elsewhere. This hasn’t turned out well for most.

    I’ve since lost the Kvaser, the wiring rig, the laptop the software was on, and most recently the test bench. I suppose I could flash a DMOC645 if I had to, but it woudl probably be two weeks of work tracking everything down again and then I’m not certain I would get all the parameters right. We did all this two and a half years ago.

    So there’s no real glee in it nor am I punishing anyone for not buying them from us, but I have no way to support these blank DMOC645’s if I wanted to. And it is true I’m not heroically motivated to do so.

    I’m kind of facing the same thing with a more recent purchase of air cooled DMOC645’s that were set up to use the AC-90 motor. So far, we have been UNSUCCESSFUL in flashing one to work with the Siemens motors or the GEVCU. I bought 95 of the things at a price that was “very” attractive. Actually for less than the aluminum recovery cost. But the guy I bought them from didn’t know what to do with them and frankly I don’t either. Anyone with a clue or a plan, drop me an e-mail.

    The thing I would like you to pick up from this discussion is that there is no magic sauce here. There are no “geniuses” at work. The Siemens, the UQM, and now the Tesla Drive Train, are a handful of dedicated individuals who do just a shit pot of hard work for very scanty rewards, most of them non-monetary. We DO try to get the end user to fund them and I believe they should be PROUD to fund them as it is kind of a group effort to get it done and without it, it simply does not GET done and we are victims of large corporations with the resources to call the tune. If your mission is to beat EVTV out of a few ducats, you’re on the wrong team and not looking at the larger picture. We’re still hoping for a breakeven year – someday. But all our efforts are to attempt to put YOU, an individual or small startup, on an even footing in accessing technology and components to make YOUR ideas and dreams come to life in the garage. My observation is that the disruptive new innovations ALWAYS come from two guys in a garage. I want them to have the right components when they build the next great thing. I simply ASSUME that everyone understands this and is on the same page. But I’m regularly reminded that many don’t understand any part of it.


    We are literally fighting individual bits in individual bytes in single CAN messages to get each function to work in every drive train we do. Nobody really gives us anything to start with. Ok there actually WAS a .dbc file in the original documents we got on the Siemens DMOC645. It was incomprehensible and undocumented but we had SOMETHING. In every case since, nothing at all. We’ve not only learned how to do it, but had to build our own tools along the way – hardware and software. Those tools are readily available in our web store and no, they are not free. We use the proceeds from them to make more of them. And I don’t even take Todd Bassett’s $13,000 Salvation Army salary per year out of it. But we did hire a United States Air Force veteran this year.

    For all our new NSA viewers, I would mention that this week’s video is unusually packed with stuff. You might want to watch it twice to scan for sekert meanings and messages to the co-conspirators…etc. You don’t want to overlook something that COULD be significant…

    Collin Kidder’s father stopped by to announce he had bought Collin a Nissan Leaf. This was of interest to us as we had a Leaf motor and inverter sitting here on the floor looking at us accusingly as we’ve had it for over a year and haven’t really even looked it over well. We put it on the truck for Sparta Michigan and Collin already has it, along with the Leaf needed to capture data from. I would be disappointed if a Leaf object module for GEVCU was not forthcoming in a month or so. It would just be unlike him given his innate talents and natural curiosity.

    He hosts a bit of a clip showing the finishing touches on the Mercedes Benz SL190 they were delivering to California with a slick new UQM Powerphase 100 drive train.

    We show a Chevy Volt 16.5 kw battery system we have received. What is notable about this is that it appears to be functional and in good shape with a DELIVERED price of less than $2000. And we noted we had just that morning ordered a complete Tesla 85kw battery pack from a car with 16,000 miles on it for $11,999. That’s about $140 per kilowatt – Chevrolet’s TARGET price for LGChem batteries en masse two years from now. It’s also probably LESS than the cost of lead acid cells. And so we are kind of announcing to the world that the promised cornucopia of OEM components we started talking about two years ago is pretty much here. We’re more or less out of the battery business. Oh, we’ll fill what orders you send us. But I seem almost all DIY builds and even the majority of new prototypes using used batteries from the OEM slushpile pretty much from here on out. I would predict the OEMs themselves, seeing this become routine, will “get over it” at some point.

    And so in the throes of our winter of discontent, with oil prices now firmly beneath $40 per barrel, I’m looking for 2016 to be the year of the electric car, for us anyway. Out of the doledrums and into the gale so to speak. I think it will be feasible to put an OEM grade AC drive train in a conversion, along with lithium batteries, for less than $10,000. That’s the magic number at which a huge number of auto enthusiasts suddenly want to play. And garages worldwide turn into a boiling cauldron of innovation and ideas regarding personal transportation and battery electric magnetic drive.

    At one time, for $20-$30,000 you could put up a multiline BBS with some significant hard disk storage capability. And people did. Thousands dialed into them. But it was a pretty dedicated group that built them at that price. It really went kaboom when you could do it for about $10,000. And I think we are on the verge of a similar price point inflection where an entire new generation of builders that have been sitting on the fence, mulling their ideas on how to make a car go, finally throw in the checkbook and “do it.”

    Ironically, it will be some of the SAME GUYS believe it or not. Welcome home. You see I really never left you. I just went where you didn’t know you wanted to go yet. No I DO know. No need to apologize. Needs of the service, etc. etc…family mumble mumble, …..the wife….. harumph harumph… I got it. Me too. It’s all good. Welcome back.

    Speaking of Tesla battery packs, we came across a young guy in Hickory North Carolina that has put together my dream solar system. And when I dream, it is generally pretty advanced. IN 1998 I HAD the largest residential photovoltaic installation in the WORLD at a cost of over $275,000. Still operating today. Jason Hughes, a 31 year-old day-trader actually took SEVERAL Tesla packs and wired them up with eight Outback Radian inverters and 17 Midnight Solar 200 MPPT charge controllers, along with 102 Sunpower 435 watt 20% efficient panels in his new home in North Carolina.


    Even more on topic to our current activities, Jason has taken an interest in reverse engineering Tesla CAN traffic. He’s set up a Tesla Instrument Cluster (IC) and Master Control Unit (MCU) and has it up and operating. We worked with him on a couple of necessary speed/current/voltage messages to get his dial working. He’s subsequently gained root and is running the system in the factory development mode, and it COULD be a huge breakthrough in decoding the entire Tesla CAN message digest. We’re now including him in our very informal Tesla hack team (just private e-mail traffic, there’s nothing to join – but you DO get a T-shirt if I can find them).

    We received another Tesla rear subclip with motor and inverter. We’re already advised by one viewer that there is indeed a difference between the 310 kW P85 and the standard 85 motor/inverter assembly. The P85 has larger coolant lines. We’ll see. In any event, it will be interesting to note any differences in CAN control of the unit which is largely why we bought it. I’ve drawn up an entirely new harness system to accommodate our GEVCU, the PKP2400, the EVIC display, etc along with a harness for the subclip to replace as necessary – there are three different ones used on Teslas that we know of. All to do the same thing on the same inverter pins apparently the same way, but using different wires to get there. The harnesses are being assembled in China and I’m not going to work to hard on custom ones here in the shop until they get here, as anxious as I am to get to it. It IS coming Christmas. Big gig for the St. Mary’s Cathedral Youth Choir you know. My wife is the orgasmist. I do the basso profundo gig between coughing fits.

    Since filming, I may have worked out a sekert solushun to the Tesla cooling problem. We’ll see.

    Finally, we have the curious and perplexing case of Mr. Michael Walstrom of BIG LIMOS. Mr Walstrom purchased a brand new Model S and began converting it to a 60-inch stretch limo for none other than Intel corporation. Tesla has kind of thrown a fit refusing to assist in any way, and at first report APPEARS to have actually taken active steps to disable the car over the GSM interface. If so, I think they have just shit in their own mess kit – big time.

    Tesla has taken a harsh position with regards to providing any assistance to vehicles that were wrecked and sold off as salvage – at one point again actually disabling a vehicle or so it was reported. (I still can’t actually believe they are so stupid as to DO that but I can’t prove it.) But I suppose that once a vehicle is totaled and sold off as scrap, their obligations to warranty OR provide service are theoretically terminated. They actually claim they WILL service them for a fee.
    But in this case, we are not talking about a wrecked Tesla. This was a brand new Tesla purchased for cash. The owner is modifying it. But Tesla has both warranteed it and of course has an obligation to service it in any event if called on to do so.


    Automakers routinely attempt to wrap themselves in important sounding legalese about any attempt to modify, reverse engineer, or otherwise repaint their vehicles….etc. etc. DO understand this is almost ENTIRELY for their own entertainment and I hope the vague notion that the buyer wouldn’t otherwise know. In spite of the ongoing rulings from the very qualified “judges” and sea lawyers on the Tesla Motors Club, none of that really jives with U.S. law.

    The Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act (P.L. 93-637) is a United States federal law, (15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq.). Enacted in 1975, it is the federal statute that governs warranties on consumer products. The Act was sponsored by Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington and U.S. Representative John E. Moss of California, both Democrats, as well as Senator Frank Moss of Utah, who co-sponsored it with Magnuson. According to the Report of the House of Representatives which accompanied the law (House Report No. 93-1197, 93d Cong 2d Sess.) the Magnuson–Moss act was enacted by Congress in response to the widespread misuse by merchants of express warranties and disclaimers. The legislative history indicates that the purpose of the Act is to make warranties on consumer products more readily understood and enforceable and to provide the Federal Trade Commission with means to better protect consumers.

    The statute is remedial in nature and is intended to protect consumers from deceptive warranty practices. Consumer products are not required to have warranties, but if one is given, it must comply with the Magnuson–Moss Act. Moreover, one of the key aids to the effectiveness of the Act is that a prevailing plaintiff may recover reasonable costs of suit, including attorney fees.

    Warrantors of course do not have to cover the cost of the repair if it can demonstrate that the action of the vehicle owner, including failures to act such as not following maintenance schedules, are DIRECTLY the cause of the product failure. But in case law, this has been interpreted that the onus is clearly on the warrantor to prove this rather unequivocally.

    If Tesla actually disabled a car themselves, they’re going to have a difficult time proving it was the owner who caused the problem. In any event REGARDLESS of the cause, Tesla kind of has to perform the repairs if necessary to get it working. Whether or not they do so for free is the subject of the discussion as to whether chopping the vehicle in two with a sawzall was the cause of the failure.

    Walston’s story is that all the wires and tubes were extended properly, and the car should work and the entire problem is in the firmware settings in the car. But Tesla won’t even look at it and has threatened to terminate any employee that dares assist him.

    This is bizarre. First, why would Tesla NOT want a high visiblity high quality stretch build of their car out there. This guy isn’t an experimentor. He’s successfully stretched Hummers, Lincoln Navigators, Escalades, and even a Nissan Leaf for some very high profile clients. But if they didn’t, the guy bought a brand new car from them. And they are more or less obligated to service it for him. Unless they can show that the 60 inches has CAUSED a failure, they actually have to pay for it.

    And its not like Tesla needs another legal battle. So far they’ve lost EVERY SINGLE JURISPRUDENCE EVENT in which they’ve participated since the origination of the company. So Mr. Walston can pretty much take this to arbitration, state court, or in this case even Federal court (minimum $50,000 – not an issue here) and I dare say it would be a FIRST if Tesla prevailed.

    I would predict, that INEVITABLY after a brief conversation with their own legal counsel, they are going to want to settle this thing quietly, so why not skip to the chase. It shouldn’t be that hard to get the car working, and for all I know, Walstrom may be willing to pay the actual expenses to do so.

    I do not expect anything from Tesla in our efforts to reverse engineer their work to get their drive unit to be useful in another vehicle. We haven’t even bothered to try to contact a local service center or anyone at Tesla for that matter. But we’re dealing with junk out of the salvage pile that no one else has so far developed any particular plan for making these things useful.

    Mr. Walstrom is the owner of a brand new car, purchased from Tesla with cash money hard-come-by. That’s a horse of a different color as they say in The Wizard of Oz. IF you add a cup holder or a different set of wheels, Tesla can’t legally comment on it. True, cutting it in half with a sawzall is a bit more extreme, but does not necessarily PRECLUDE their responsibility for it. THEY have to show it causes the car to be unrepairable. And as it’s done every day to all other cars, I think that’s going to be an interesting case to try to make.

    Finally, the ISIS attacks appear to have panicked the American body politic. And this brings to the surface the apparently unquenchable desire for our government to gain more control of its population, deliberately reducing the freedoms we enjoy in a free democratic society. The debate over such things as encryption and whether Apple should be FORCED to remove encryption from iPhones (the conversation has already been had) so the government has some sort of “right” to monitor our communications routinely and en masse, is back again. While I view ISIS as a threat, I view this government position as TREASON. But they repeat it apparently at every opportunity. It is a trade with the devil. They offer increased safety if you will only surrender your liberty. A fools trade. They cannot make you SAFE from anything. They can’t even prevent credit card fraud. They can’t prevent food poisoning. They can’t prevent drought. They can’t prevent Anthrax in the mail. Or deranged mentally ills from murdering school children. It’s not that they can’t make you safe. They can’t even effect your convenience. They are powerless in the face of everything.

    But if you will simply empower them to remove your liberties, like guns, basic privacy, and to be secure in your persons and property, somehow something will get better. It’s comic.

    If we would all include the keywords they are searching for in ALL of our e-mails and blogs, that would be the end of that. If we ALL encrypted our routine e-mail, that would be the end of that. And that they would seek to strong arm corporations to do their dirty work for them, should be a source of national outrage.

    ISIS as an enemy does not particularly frighten me. It is unfortunate. Annoying. But I think even a lightweight like Donald Trump can handle that. But the U.S. Government and their ongoing assault on individual freedom does. They never deliver on their end of the trade. You give up liberty. But they never make you safer.

    As-salamu alaykum

    Jack Rickard