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  • rickard

    The winter of our discontent. Pioneers in the EV space continue to take on arrows almost as a new fashion statement. Oil lingers at $41.45 per barrel in the face of a brewing war in the Mideast. Chevrolet and Nissan have both rolled out their much improved September offerings – barely by the end of November. And indeed Nissan immediately declared a firesale of brand new 2016 Leaf’s at $10,600 after everything but the kitchen sink. Still, it was an inauspicious start to a new model.

    Tesla introduced their long awaited fabulous gull wing SUV – and apparently the entire planet yawned in amazement. The stock sagged. True, VW is scampering into the EV space with strong eGolf sales, announcement of a VW Phaeton and a Porsche supercar in electric. But it is a bit like the puppy wearing the “cone of shame” around its neck after being a bad dog. Are electric cars where car makers go when they are being punished?

    So what’s happening? I believe it is a combination of battery suspicion, range, and the expected value proposition. Tesla survives with a strong battery warranty, a range that is regarded as “about sufficient” and the value proposition is weak but appealing to enough early adopters to make the sale. And the interest IN Tesla among those who just cant afford it promises to offer some price support in the secondary market – preventing the price collapse worn so proudly by Nissan and Chevrolet in depreciation.

    Rather than evade change, we kind of have a policy of embracing it. We may actually be a little out in front of it in some ways. We still get a lot of orders for CALB batteries for some reason. I have ceased stocking them but we can get them in a day or two from CALB in Pomona so no problem. But guys, its over. I have an entire Chevrolet Volt battery pack sitting on our floor that was less than $2000 delivered and is fully functional.

    No it’s NOT as good a battery and indeed it may be dangerous. And it is certainly inconvenient. Quite a bit of work to disassemble it and get it in a car. But it doesn’t matter. It’s $2000 delivered. The same capacity in the CALB series would near $7000. We finally have lithium batteries at a lead acid price. That’s what you wanted. It is here. I see no point to pursue battery sales at all. If you want em, we’ll get em. But I havent’ even walked up INTO the battery lab in months.

    The OEM discards and salvage will be good enough. And I really expect them to “get over it” here in another year and just sell them through their dealers to anyone and everyone that thinks they can use them. A brand new set at Nissan is listed at $5500. You can’t order them now. But in the future they are going to get the Kentucky Fried Chicken religion and realize that “parts is parts”. Nothing more. Nothing less. We view it with the same consternation as if they had decided to restrict carburetor sales because they thought it was a secret or something that they used them. They are just a tad overawed with their own technology for a company with a battery factory operating at 10% capacity.

    So if they have them stacked up and going begging 500 miles from my lift, why am I importing them from China? Ultimately, the irrational does become rational unless gravity completely fails us. But it does on occasion take a bit of time.

    I have been chanting for a year – OEM components. After losing some in the fire, I ordered three brand new Chevy Volt chargers for stock. We can sell them and make money at $1800 each – less than the price of the Brusa orphans we carry and same power. But much better. Liquid cooled. Very simple setup. And if it blows chunks, you just turn it in at any Mr. Goodwrench location for a new one.

    In a few months, we’ll be offering 10kW Tesla chargers at less than $3000. We have Volt DC-DC converters at $1000. And so the price falls and the quality goes up. Better, we gain access to worldwide parts distribution and availability by availing ourselves of the automakers supply chain.

    But beyond this, I think we’ll gain a lingua franca of EV design. Instead of every home built EV being impossible to sell and impossible for anyone else to maintain, I think within just a year or two you’ll see knowledgeable young Haubers looking at something someone dragged in and instead of shrugging his shoulders helplessly, he’ll be noting “Oh yeah, Leaf drive train, Chevy charge system, Tesla DCDC converter – I know what this guy did. We can work this out. LOOK it’s got one of those early clunky EVTV controllers. This is a collectible.”

    In other words, tribal knowledge of the components and wiring necessary to use them. Not exotic tribal knowledge. Just commonly known things.

    Knowing where we are going is important. Getting there can be problematic. Our work on the Tesla Drive Unit continues unabated and unrequited. We’ll get there, but it is a bit of a grind. I’m rewiring our test rig to where it can be stretched out across the shop and used to run full subclips on the test stand. It dawned on me I might as well have 20 of them made up in China. The wiring instructions will be extensive for those that have to make the connections themselves. We should probably offer a wiring harness with the system. And as I sketched it out, it kept growing.


    We kind of have an informal waiting list already of builders who want to use the Tesla Drive Unit. One wants to develop a serious race car using the drive train. It points up how integrated and specialized the Tesla Drive Unit really is. It works great in a street car. But there have been reports going back to the Roadster of attempts to use Tesla’s on the track that simply don’t work out well – on temperature issues. I fear it will remain so.

    Inverter/controllers/powerswitch IGBTs usually start getting pretty sick at 85C. So they often have current limiting strategies that start coming into play at 80C to keep them below that temperature.

    AC Motors are somewhat hardier. They can operate at 150C or even higher – 175-180C in good shape. In my mind, this is pretty simple – simply route the cooler coolant from the heat exchanger through the inverter first and then into the motor. In practice, the nature of thermal dynamics simply doesn’t work like voltage and current. If I put a temp gage at several locations in the loop, they ALL seem to measure the same temperature. I assume this is simply because the coolant is very very good at moving the heat around in a small system.

    In any event, the heat exchanger has a large effect on the temperature of the system. But where anything IS in the loop doesn’t seem to matter. So we wind up with the motor heating the inverter until it shuts down.

    The Tesla design is very integrated. But it has the same basic flaw. The motor and inverter are on the same loop. We’ve had better success having entirely separate coolant loops for the inverter and the motor.

    The past few weeks have been somewhat blurred by activity. In addition to the fire, I sold off N341A, one of my beloved DC-3 aircraft. I remain fascinated by the technology of the 1930’s. The DC-3. The Zephyr train. The Hindenberg Dirigible. It was a time of enormous technological advance, but also of technological optimism. With the world in an economic depression, technology seemed to offer the promise of a utopian future that reached a crescendo at the 1939 World’s Fair. This shaped a generation of Buck Rogers fans as well as Commander Cody and the Radar Men from the Moon. The 10-year olds of 1939 wound up manning the panels in Houston for the 1969 landing on the moon. And of course that led to all things microprocessor based – basically our world today.


    And so in our very first video I outlined the obvious advantages to us as individuals and to society as a whole worldwide in simply adopting battery electric vehicles for transportation purposes. And I tried to enlist the aid of the same techno-geek experimenter/garage tinkerer to get it done. The message was pretty simple – here this would fix a lot of our problems. Here’s how you get started. Get off the couch and get started.

    Bill Bayer was sitting in an Air Force prefab in Afghanistan, seriously connected to the Internet with a bit of time on his hands between issuing flight weather briefings. He watched THAT video, and got religion instantly. He made the connection. Instantly reached the same conclusion. Six and a half years later he is on set IN this week’s video. Taking a few minutes out of his efforts to rewire the entire center section of our building after the fire.

    Those connections extend tens of thousands of different directions all over the globe. And understand that I’m not in some sort of delusional ME bubble. YOU then each become the center of your connections – and every move you make and every syllable you utter then extends to tens of thousands of others across the globe. Even our little gathering of 50 or so in October featured people from all over the world, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Thailand, and beyond who had actually physically TRAVELLED here to sign in and plant their spear in the sand with us. But they each return home to extend their connections in all directions themselves.

    It’s not that this will work. This IS how it works really. And the pseudo presentation of the big network TV would have you believe that the world consists of 2500 more or less aetheist young homosexual communists who really will take care of it for you if you will just sit down on the couch, have a beer, and allow them to do it as they know best.

    Or our 535 fearless leaders elected as the best and brightest among us to organize these things. NOT.

    In a world of almost daily mass shootings now, of feral children growing up in our streets without fathers, and under attack by a nation of Islam dedicated by religious pledge to our total subjugation and destruction, I’m really incensed over something seemingly minor. But it is so basic, if they can’t get this right, how can they do ANYTHING about these more serious problems. And that is what to do with the legions when they return to Rome.

    Our servicemen, and now for some ungodly misbegotten reason servicewomen as well, disrupt their entire lives and careers to join the military and serve as our armed defense in areas around the world. This entails no small inconvenience and no small effort. It’s a pretty serious life changing event in the best of circumstances. I spent six years in Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club and am intimately aware of this.

    But in doing so, they are given a lot of responsibility for persons their age, and a lot of resource. You get to play with hundreds of millions in equipment and many thousands of other kids and do a lot of things in a lot of different places. You long for home and your past life while living quite fully in your new one. And things being what they are in time of war, some of you don’t make it. And some of you do, but your friends didn’t.

    After a year or two or twenty, you return home. And there is no place for you. You were accustomed to a regular paycheck, benefits, and the best of medical care. And suddenly you are “home” with no job, no paycheck and with the assurance of medical care that turns out to be entirely fictional. You’re entitled to it, but you cant actually have any of it, until at least March of next year.

    In seeking employment, you find that you have to compete with kids with graduate degrees vying for a minimum wage position with Sunglass Hut in charge of sunglass sales in a mall kiosk. Or a position as an insurance salesman on commission with a ponzy scheme. Manning the night register at a gas station convenience store? Only if you know somebody.

    It is more than disorienting.

    Actually, what it is is treason. Our president, the entire body of Senators, and the entire Congressional delegation including aids – traitors to a nation. This would be an easy issue to fix – nothing on the order of ISIS, mass shootings, the debt, or the economy. But they do nothing, and our Veterans actually become the object of charities that plead for donations on late night television? Our young people. Our CHILDREN, returning from poorly led poorly planned military adventurism on the part of our political leaders – to no employment and no health care even for their injuries? Are you jacking me off???

    Here’s a simple two step plan to fix it.

    1. Fix the Veterans Administration Medical program. How? This is trivial. Congress should simply pass a law making it illegal for the President, his cabinet, all Senators, and all Congressmen AND their families to obtain medical treatment ANYWHERE ON EARTH except the VA. Oh, and they are second in priority right behind the veterans. If they would vote on and pass this one law, we don’t need to check back on the details of how they fixed the VA. It will be a stellar example of medical technology at its finest I’m sure.

    2. There are 4.1 million Americans on the Federal payroll. I don’t know why. I’m not sure what they do. And I’m pretty certain I don’t even want it done. But it’s nothing a returning veteran can’t handle. Simply make it an issue of seniority. Any veteran has seniority over all civilian federal employees. Pick out a job you like, and tap the guy on the shoulder that holds it. If HE’s not a veteran, you get his job. He can stay on for six months as your shadow mentor to make sure you can do it, which will probably actually take six days of training. After that, THEY can go be unemployed and try to find a job outside government.

    There it is. Two step plan. Congress could meet on this and vote on it in an hour. And if they don’t, they are outed. They just don’t give a shit. And we should vote them all out. ALL of them.

    The remaining issues of San Bernadino and ISIS and the economy and why the entire middle class seems to be in a meltdown go to something our young homosexual communist atheists really can’t fix. Because THEY are the problem.

    I am truly bemused and amused at the smug intellectual superiority of an intellectual elite that has arisen in America, exemplified by Barrack Obama, who derisively chide middle America for their outmoded outdated beliefs and recalcitrant reluctance to give up their “guns and Bibles” and join the modern progressive age. These poor, uneducated ignorant savages really do make it hard for really intelligent people like Obama and friends to make effective changes to our society and “fix” this stuff permanently.

    I take great personal satisfaction in viewing in my mind what it is going to be like for these people when truth becomes clear to them and they do really finally “know” something to the degree they THINK they know how things are now. The smug superiority will be instantly replaced by a deluge of tears of shame and regret and embarassment.

    Some 235 years ago, in a small building right next to the site of the World Trade Center, General and newly elected President George Washington led our nation in a profound prayer of thanksgiving to a God who had been so generous to the United States of America that it was almost an embarassment. And he warned of a terrible outcome if our nation every lost sight of the source of these blessings.

    America was built by the free choice and hard work of the American people. But at every step a bounty of blessings were poured over their heads to the point that in 2015 we sport 4.7% of the feet, and 31% of the shoes of the entire planet. Russia and China? If you add them TOGETHER they don’t spend 10% of what America does on our military.

    The entire concept of America and God’s blessings upon it was to serve as a shining light to the world of hope and how to live and love and work and take care of your family and your land and your country. It was an example. A go-by. And in the past few decades I’ve been struck on how absolutely WILLING the world is to follow. If we decide an egg sausage sandwich should not be served at McDonaldss after 10:30 AM, ALL restaurants worldwide, McDonalds or not, simply will not serve you an egg sausage biscuit after 10:30 AM. No amount of pleading can change it. If America disallows cigarette smoke in their bars and restaurants, then within weeks bars and restaurants around the globe adopt the same policy. And so it goes with almost everything. Countries around the world simply ape whatever they see America do in almost hysterical and sometimes amusing fashion.

    In recent decades, we have begun to lose our way. And our tendency toward inclusion and acceptance has been taken advantage of by small very vocal and very organized minorities to turn up from down and bad from good and in a very deliberate fashion have snatched idiocy from the jaws of good sense. As a direct result, our middle class, our institutions of family and religion and indeed the American way of life has become anathema to our own politicians and courts. Bands of thousands of feral children grow in the streets without fathers. We are a nation on Prozac using CPAP machines to breath through the night. And we murder 700,000 of our own babies annually. No gun show loophole can save them. Over 2.5 million of our citizens are in jail today, over half from drug charges. AN entire town in Kentucky was found addicted to Oxycodone.

    And now, mass shootings are a near daily occurrence. People so alienated that they want to end their own lives and take as many with them as possible – not an exception. A weekly occurrence.

    This week, AS we debated whether ISIS operatives could enter our country as refugees undetected and perpetrate something like Paris here in the U.S., they did and they did in San Bernadino – 35 Americans shot and 14 of them rather permanently. Which does nothing to detract from our role as inventor of the Internet and the largest exporter of pornography on the planet.

    And this week too, a major U.S. newspaper decried “thoughts and prayers” as being useless and ridiculous. Which of course they are because the people noting the thoughts and prayers neither actually pray, nor apparently do much in the way of thinking either in all probability.

    There is a solution to all of this. But many of you are not going to like it. We need to start to think. And we need to start to pray. As many don’t really know how, let me assure you both are acquirable skills, albeit you have to apply yourself. Google it. While you’re at it, Google Howard Storm. He had to learn the hard way.

    I really didn’t think it would come to this. I didn’t think we would actually need it. But its gone to far. Too many have done too little, while a very few have led us to ruin.

    So pay attention.

    Each and every one of you is an enormously powerful spirit of unparalleled beauty and grace. You have NO IDEA how powerful you are in the ways of this earth.

    You are all interconnected in ways you cannot perceive but are very very real. Every move of your hand and whisper of your mouth reverberates across the planet reaching essentially everyone and everything.

    It is time for America to lead again and act as an example to the entire world. And that requires an immediate and profound spiritual reawakening and revival. Don’t just DO something about it – pray for it. Here’s a simple formula.

    1. Get down on your knees. That’s the bendy part of your legs. This just shows you’re not a proud vain horses ass.

    2. Tell God you have some fears and concerns about our nation and world. It’s ok to list them. Do this OUT LOUD in a clear voice.

    3. Ask him to fix them for you. And to continue to bless your land – America.

    4. Offer to help if he gets to any sticky parts. It’s a joke, but it will make you look and feel better. And he LIKES jokes.

    5. Sit down in a chair then and listen. Not to anything. And not for anything. Just listen.

    I would then urge you to follow up the next day with some random act of sacrificial kindness. Buy someone a sandwich. Find someone in need and help them. Extend some minor words of encouragement to someone somewhere. Fix a flat tire. You know, extend a hand in some unusual direction.

    There are now 322 million people in America. We don’t need to ALL do it. Just maybe 300 million or so.

    Finally, ask yourself this. What if they did?

    Jack Rickard

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