Tesla road trip 2020

Written on 7 August 2020, 12:16pm

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See also: road trip 2018, road trip 2019

The annual road trip with my Model S is done. Over 2000km and 10 supercharging stops – this roadtrip covered only two countries this time – Belgium and France:

Brussels – Provence – French Alps – Brussels

Some notes along the way:

  • for the first time since I bough my Model S, I noticed a queue at one supercharger. A good sign, I suppose (Tesla fleet increasing), but also a worrying one – the supercharging network must be expanded quicker so that it doesn’t become a victim of its own success
  • charging tip: if you use a power extender, make sure you unroll the cord. Leaving it rolled while you charge will make the extender’s thermal protection kick in, especially under the Provence summer heat (the extender will also have a restart button which you can use after it cools down).
  • another charging tip: while supercharging I started to turn the cabin climate off. Walk away from the car, let it supercharge, and then, a few minutes before I go, stop charging and then cool the car. This way I avoid putting pressure on the cooling system; as I learned the hard way last year, there are parts of it that cool both the battery and the cabin.
  • uphill roads will eat up the range pretty quickly. For instance, an elevation difference of 1200m over 21km ate up about 90km of range. Doing the same trip with an empty car doesn’t change things too much.
  • the increase in speed will eat up the range in a non-linear way. An average of 110-115km/h will keep the ‘consumption’ under 180 Wh/km, even with a full car. Going up to 130-135km will take that up to over 220 Wh/km. Non-linear, as I said: the speed goes only 17% up, but the consumption increases by 22%
  • the only incident during this road trip: the driver’s door handle is now stuck half-open and I can no longer open the door from the outside. The problem is not uncommon apparently:

Tesla Model S doors, in fact all Tesla doors, are opened electro-mechanically. When you pull the door handle to unlock the door you are not mechanically releasing the door, you are actually making the door handle close a micro-switch which then triggers an electronic component to release the door. What can happen is one of the microswitches (highlighted on the picture) or the wiring coming out of it can fail and the signal either doesn’t get created or doesn’t get transmitted to where its needed.

https://tesla-info.com/blog/tesla-model-s-door-handle-repair.html
The window is left open so that I can open the door from the inside 🙂
The trip segments – 2283 km in total

Random links #17

Written on 7 October 2019, 02:49pm

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Electric planes

Air travel is bad for the planet—and travelers may finally be getting the message.
The change in mindset is due to increasing awareness of the issue thanks to attention-grabbing protests, like when activist group Extinction Rebellion shut down Heathrow Airport and climate warrior Greta Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic in a zero-emissions yacht to speak at the UN’s climate summit.

Does flight shaming work?

Solution? Hybrid or full electric planes. Also tested by NASA.

Heavyside, from Kitty Hawk is really silent and has a range of about 100 miles

Radiation in space is a big deal

If we want to prepare astronauts to fly to Mars, then we have a lot of problems to solve when it comes to health and well being. There are both psychological (isolation, confinement, sleep disturbance, etc) but also physiological (micro-gravity long time effects, radiation) factors to overcome. One of the most important is the radiation.

Radiation on Earth is about 4.6 mSv/year. On the Moon – 300/400x. On Mars – 1000x.

How can we reduce the radiation impact? Medical selection of the most resistant individuals, shielding (the ISS has 3 highly shielded areas) and medication. Hibernation is also an option, not explored yet.

Radiation sensitivity decreases with age. A teenager is 2 times more sensitive than a 30-years old adult, which is in turn 2 times more sensitive than a 50-years old.

Space travel affects the astronauts’ immune system. Various factors play a part in this process, i.e. weightlessness, cosmic radiation, isolation and the inevitable stress. At the request of European, American and Russian space agencies, SCK•CEN tests the blood of astronauts when they return from a long space mission. We perform analyses using advanced biochemical and molecular techniques.
Long-term exposure cannot be avoided during long distance missions, e.g. to Mars – for which the return flight takes 18 months. Sensitivity to cosmic radiation varies considerably between people, and consequently also between astronauts. 

The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre

Time matters

The Tesla dashcam writes its rolling clips in the /recent folder. The manually saved clips are stored in the /saved folder. Recently Tesla introduced the Sentry mode, which automatically saves events when the car is parked (ex. a person or a car is passing by).

The Tesla engineers thought that it’s appropriate to save these clips not in a dedicated folder (like /sentry), but in the same /saved folder where the manual clips are saved.

The outcome? When I want to look for a video that I manually saved, I have no easy way to find it. Sentry mode produces a huge number of videos, sometimes 10 videos for a half an hour spent in a busy parking. Finding the right folder among literally hundreds of other folders is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Compare this to the following bit:

One day Jobs complained to Larry Kenyon (the engineer of the Macintosh OS) that it was taking too long to boot up. Kenyon explained why reducing the boot-up time wasn’t possible, but Jobs cut him off: “If it would save a person’s life, could you find a way to shave 10 seconds off the boot time?”. He then showed on a whiteboard that if the Mac had five million users and it took 10 seconds extra to turn it on every day, that added up to 300 million or so hours a year — the equivalent of at least 100 lifetimes a year. After a few weeks, Kenyon had the machine booting up 28 seconds faster.

Steve Jobs Insane Productivity Secrets

Tesla road trip 2019

Written on 1 September 2019, 12:00am

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Writing this post some months after the trip which happened in August 2019

2800km through France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany
The trip segments – 2773 km in total

The road trip was mostly ruined by a faulty piece – the chiller – which led to the AC not working for a few hundred kilometers in Southern France.

By ‘reduced’ it meant ‘not working’

Here are some notes that I sent to Tesla back then:

There are a number of shortcomings in the way Tesla provides support, I am detailing them below:

1) the alert message was simply wrong (the AC was not ‘reduced’ but simply not working anymore)

2) the alert message does not provide any indication on the next steps I could take (like the ones communicated on the phone 16 hours later). Why not put these troubleshooting steps on the console when the alert appears on the screen? Or, even better, send a ranger my way?

3) the waiting times for the call center are simply ridiculous. On 12th August I tried to reach the Tesla roadside assistance from 16:00 to 19:30, without any luck. This is simply unacceptable to me, since I had an emergency

4) the instructions received by phone are contradicting the ones from the Service Center. Not only they were wrong, but they put into danger my safety (by encouraging me to drive along in a potentially unsafe car) as well as the battery life (the Aix en Provence SC said that the battery could be irremediably damaged by continuing to drive)

5) Tesla mobility solutions are ineffective and inflexible. I understand that finding a loaner at 17:30 on the day before a national holiday in France is not easy, but Tesla should be more flexible and better prepared for such cases

6) the Tesla parts distribution network has a lot of room for improvement. Overnight delivery in Europe should be a lot easier than in the US, and in the worst case, you should have a clear indication when an ordered piece will arrive at the SC

7) your European branch seems to be significantly understaffed. I am talking about 1) call center staff 2) SC technical staff (it took almost 4 hours to diagnose the problem) and 3) SC customer support staff (the SC manager told me that he has very few people who could help me with the issue).

In the end, after more than two days of waiting and uncertainty, the Aix Service Center found a solution to my problem:

  • either the faulty piece ordered on 14th of August PM arrived on 16th of August AM from the Netherlands (15th of August is a bank holiday)
  • or (more likely if you ask me), the SC simply replaced the faulty piece in my car with a working one from a loaner, while waiting for the original piece to be delivered from the Netherlands.
One of these is the chiller