Pirated DVDs!

by Ben N on July 9, 2013


I just found out that my BUILD YOUR OWN ELECTRIC CAR instructional DVDs are being PIRATED!!!! The DVD chapters are appearing as whole videos on YouTube! People won’t pay me money for them anymore when they can just watch on the web for free!

I should know. As you might guess from the photo, I’m the pirate.

Where did this all start? Let’s rewind for a few minutes, shall we?

A few years back I built an electric bicycle, which in a roundabout way lead me to building an electric motorcycle and then an electric car. Not long after that, the economy tanked, and I was out of work for a solid month. Instead of throwing a pity party, I pulled a Dread Pirate Roberts and asked myself what my assets were. While there was no wheelbarrow involved, I did have an electric car, a video camera, and skills and knowledge to use both.

So, I sat down and made the instructional DVD, teaching people how to build an electric car. Basically, it was the video that I WISH I could have just run out and bought when I started my project, but at the time, no such thing existed.

I started selling the instructional DVDs by mail-order, and brought in a very small income. At least it was enough to help pay some of my bills and scrimp by. At Eco-fairs, I’d bring a number of copies with me, and give presentations about DIY electric vehicles, joking with folks that I couldn’t afford dinner, unless I sold a copy. The truth was that I wasn’t joking. There really were a few events that I would get to that were entirely funded by blind faith that I would sell enough DVDs to cover transportation and food!

But the thing is, that I really DO want to get as much good information out to the public as possible! That’s why I go through all the hard work of presenting at events, blogging, and putting in WAY too many hours shooting and editing videos. And the information ISN’T just about building electric vehicles. It’s also about learning, believing in yourself, and making AMAZING things happen that you never thought were possible!

At one point, I decided to give away copies of the DVDs to teachers. Yup, I would send a copy right out to any High School, College, University, or even private school teacher, instructor, or professor, heck, even the JANITOR, if it would get the information in front of students to maximize who would learn from this. All I asked in return is that whoever requested a copy please make a donation in ANY amount to help cover materials and shipping costs, and that they let me know how it goes in the classroom.

What I got was a lot of requests, a few thank you’s, and not a lot else. The few people who DID donate to make that program happen, weren’t even teachers! They were just people who have seen my videos and liked the idea enough to throw a few bucks at it. In the end, I spent a fair amount of money making, packaging, and shipping DVDs out the door. As of yet, I don’t think I’ve heard back from a single teacher about how all their students love the new class or extra-curricular that was set up.

More recently, what I’ve had for DVD sales has really fallen off as well. I think there are two reasons for that. One is that both my electric motorcycle and electric car are DONE. They are both great working projects, but I’m not constantly working on them and blogging and shooting video updates about them. All of those updates are where most of the interest to the DVDs came from. Also, we are just at the very tip of the next great age of electric cars. It’s hard to compete with just running out and BUYING a Nissan Leaf or other car with it’s long range, comfort, speed, and warranty.

So, I think we’ve finally hit the point where what I need to do is simply focus on getting as much information out to the public as I possibly can. (And unlike the Free DVDs for Teachers program, WITHOUT it COSTING me money!) So, what that means is VIRTUAL info to the masses, and the easiest way to do that is to post my videos right to YouTube.

Recently, I heard a radio interview with a musician. She was talking about the big record label she was lucky enough to sign with and how her first record sold 25,000 copies. She was thrilled, but to the record company, the album was a FAILURE! So she completely went out on her own, booking shows, and literally standing in the crowd afterwards selling her albums by hand. On occasion, somebody would just hand her money and apologize for already having her album, which they ripped from a friend’s copy of the CD. So there she was, busking, but with good Karma bringing back to her all the good she kept putting out to the world.

So, here I am, pirating my own Electric Car DVD. I just have the very first section of the DVD on YouTube so far, just the intro. I hope you enjoy it. And even though it’s “free”, please keep in mind that it represents a solid year of hard work, pulling out engines with clothes lines, busting knuckles, learning what a commutator is, and trying to be a positive change on the world.

If you do like it, please consider ordering a copy of the DVD. Besides containing the full video, it also has a ROM disc with lots of other great information, particularly a large number of still photos of details of the project. If you want to otherwise help support my projects, you can always make a donation as well!

So, what about you? Have you built an electric car or motorcycle? Have my projects been a help to you? Have they entertained you at least a little? Let me know! I could use all the positive encouragement I can get!


(First pirated section starts below!)


{ 1 trackback }

Taking Ben's DVDs Open Source!? - Page 2 - Fuel Economy, Hypermiling, EcoModding News and Forum - EcoModder.com
July 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dan c. July 16, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Hi Ben,
I can give you some feedback.
I gave you lunch money (bought a DVD) at an Eco fair a few years ago where you presented on your electric bike. I had been thinking about building an electric car for a while and the offer of a video to show me how to do it cheaply made up my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed the DVD and it provided the info I needed to get started and suggestions on how to get cheap parts. I ended up getting my college aged son excited and involved by having him build the OpenRevolt at school. Since the engineering school had better tools and he had better soldering skills, which I really hated to admit, it made sense. He ended up getting many other students and teachers involved, many of whom ask about the status of the project. My younger, high school aged son is a member of a school based environmental awareness club. The club has a solar powered house and many of my sons friends want to see the car when its done. I’m hoping my presentaion and the car will spark an interest with the students. If so, I’ll donate my copy of your video as a “required reading”.
So yes, your video and projects have influenced me, some engineering students, and potentially a bunch of high school kids.

Oh yeah, my car. It’s a Metro very similar to yours. It’s a 94 with an (almost too big) forklift motor, OpenRevolt controller and lead acid floodies. Everything works and I’ve driven up and down my street but since I live in Pennsylvania it needs to get an ‘enhanced’ safety inspection before I can legally drive it on the road. My second attempt at the inspection station is tomorrow.

2 Ben N July 16, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Fantastic Dan!
Keep up the good work!

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