Sunday, January 19, 2020

DIY FAIL - Aftermarket Tesla Logo Door Puddle Light Projectors

I installed these on my Infiniti and it added a little class, they were nice and bright, so I figured why not do the same for the Model 3.
Oh boy was I wrong! Not only were these units super cheaply made (no doubt to get to market quickly), but disconnecting the stock puddle light from the Model 3 gives an error message and invoked manual door release. This caused the glass to come down and not go up until a light was replaced.
Great idea, bad implementation
This indeed had further important quality implications ...

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Gen 2 Key Fob and DIY Key Holder

I find the lack of a key fob rather disturbing! Okay, simply more annoying than anything. I have 3 issues with the card key - 1. I don't want to fatten my wallet any more, it is already literally a pain in my rear when I sit on it, and 2. while I use the phone extensively as the key and like it, I don't have a place to carry my house key and gym card and I fear breaking or losing my phone on a trip and then being stranded at the airport.

Luckily, the second generation Tesla car-shaped key fob had just come back into stock when I bought my Model 3, so I immediately ordered one and got it in just 3 days.

Passive entry automatically locks and unlocks the Tesla when the paired key fob is within 3 feet. Same with the trunk. Additionally, pressing the top once to lock your Model 3 and twice to unlock; press twice on the front or rear trunk to open them.

This item is simply a thing of beauty compared to regular key fobs. Way-to-go Tesla, making something humdrum rather interesting again. I think the last key fob advancement was perhaps the flip out key.

Coupled it with an after-market silicone sleeve and a quick release aluminum clip gives me an instant key fob with key chain holder. I can easily swap out keys and take it with me as a backup in my laptop bag.
Tesla gen 2 key fob with silicone sleeve and aluminium quick-release clip
First lets look at the key fob box, this is a thing of beauty:

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

DIY - Selectng a USB Drive for Sentry Mode & Dashcam

I have been testing a few different combinations of recording device options and I can share some results.

I started with a Transcend 256GB JetDrive that I used to use on my Mac with a Trancend USB 3.0 Card reader. I had read on forums that GPT was better than MBR in terms of partition choice. (Note that most SSD cards/ USB drives come formatted as MBR with FAT32 or exFAT if  greater than 32GB).
Trying to reuse some hardware laying around. GPT was too slow. Adapter ran too hot

Unfortunately, this combo above only worked for a few minutes before I got the dreaded too slow error. GPT I suspected was the culprit.

There are a number of tools that I use verify this are a combination off dd command on a linux box or Crystal DiskMark for Windows. For formatting, I use Gparted on a Linux box to format large devices with FAT32.  I used diskpart (via command line not powershell) to convert between MBR and GPT. Unfortunately, nothing on windows compares. If you want to use a hypervisor, I recommend VMware Workstation (trial) as that is the only one I have found (compared with VirtualBox and HyperV) which allows direct USB access and therefor proper formatting.

So I check this combo with a simple dd test using sequential large blocks and it ran 1.3MB/s. I converted it to MBR and reformatted FAT32. DD ran about 11MB/s writes and 78 MB/s read. It gave no errors for TeslaCam with 1 day of driving around, but ran too hot. Too hot for my liking and I did't like how it stuck out of the USB port, could be prone to accidental breakage when using the storage space. So it was time to investigate some options and run some test and found that I am not a fan of USB to SD card adapters.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

DIY - USB-C Charging Cable

I was a little bummed when I took delivery of my Model 3 that it did not come with a charging cable for my phone.Seems that some prior deliveries had the option of either a USB-C or whatever Apple devices use-these-days cable. However, they had run out of stock, so a Model 3 license plate frame was my free give accessory. Little things like that annoy me, just have these accessories in stock at delivery centers and I bet most people would plop down a few hundred bucks easily for the convenience of  mats, cables, key fobs, etc. being immediately available.

I did, however, have a 12V USB-C fast charger, but I found the location of the 12V outlet inconvenient and wanted a cable free look. Unfortunately, because the cable was out of stock and I needed to charge my phone - a Google Pixel 1 with a slim case on it - I scoured amazon for a suitable cable, but none were listed as being compatible with the Model 3 as part of the description. So a little trial and error lead me to finally settle on this cable.
DIY Cable installed since Tesla cable was out of stock.
I was looking for some simple traits:

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Nitrogen Fill of Tesla Tires (and Spare)

My Nissan GT-R is the first car I ever owned that came with Nitrogen filled tires from the factory and required N2 fill for tracking the car. There are a lot of myths and urban legend about benefits of nitrogen filled tires, especially at a cost. This is also a very confusing and controversial topic in the automotive community.

So what is the main reason for my N2 setup - consistency. The second benefit I have found over the years is simply convenience. Lastly, I have concluded after 12 years of using N2, on my motorcycle and winter tires that degradation is reduced considerably specially when tires life outlast thread life.
This tiny little Nitrogen tank lasts over 1 year, with 4 cars and 1 motorbike.
The Wh/mi of the Model 3 seems to be rather sensitive to tire pressures, so having a quick and convenient way to ensure consistency is helpful. The typical advertised benefits of Nitrogen or N2 are often stated,

DIY Body Colored Splash Guards Mud Flaps

For wet weather and snow driving, I think it is an absolute must to have some decent mud guards on the car. Just on the drive from the Tesla delivery center to back home, it was apparent that the lower part of the front doors and the rear quarter panel took a beating from road dirt, grime, road construction and other road gunk. I could only imagine at that time, what impending rain, snow and slush would do and not to mention chips occurring over time.

Luckily, I found these body color matched mudflaps listed on amazon for $35:
Body color matched low-profile mus flaps with har
Not sure why this is not a factory option offered by Tesla, but then I guess most people in warmer states like CA would never need these. I have always but OEM ones on all cars. Installation was a breeze. Overall the color is almost the same, but hard to tell the difference, at least on blue, and it does require 1 hole to be made in the plastic under-body which was not a big deal. The profile was low enough to not increase drag. The instillation was done as follows:

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

DIY - Spare Tire Kit for a Little Peace of Mind

The spare tire is a controversial topic these days. Obviously, the accountants for major auto manufacturers have made this decision for us. Most new sedans don't come equipped with one - even with a temporary compact spare. I'm sure cost, weight, probability of flats, lack of knowledge by owners to change, safety, liability, road-side assistance access, blah, blah, blah, excuses can be given. Ever since I was about 13, my dad taught us to change a flat, because well... $hit happens and it has happened over the years.

Thinking back to the numerous times that I have pulled over (even while on my bicycle) to help clueless drivers change their flat tire makes me sure that I always want one handy for myself.  Personally, I don't want to be stuck on the side of a road in a remote location over a holiday weekend with the family in the car and be completely powerless to do anything, but wait for someone to show up and tow me. So I have always built a spare kit for every vehicle that I have owned, and my Model 3 is no exception.

Luckily with some DIY ingenuity, I was able to re-purpose a kit for my Model 3 using the kit from my previous Infiniti. Having a spare is only the the half of it, knowing how to change it safely is the other half.

Net result, an 18" tire/wheel that matches very closely with my Tesla 19" sized tires, has the adequate weight capacity rating and is an exact fit around the hub and studs. Coupled with that a scissors-jack, lug wrench, jack adapter, lugs and spacer kit.

The keen eyed will noticed that it is balanced and filled with Nitrogen.
DIY 18" Alloy Spare Tire Kit for Model 3- Success!
Of course this kit is not complete without a set of proper spare tire tools to actually be able to change a tire:

Monday, January 6, 2020

DIY - Aluminum Pedals and Covers

I wanted to match the pedals of my Model 3 to those provided as stock on the full performance upgrade. So I opted for this much cheaper aesthetic DIY mod. Also the stock black rubber pedals makes the car look so cheap.

For the accelerator and brake pedal, my only requirement was to have them sturdy and well fitting so as to avoid and unexpected acceleration or braking snafu. I purchases these from amazon for $16:
Replacement Pedals for Model 3

Aluminium cover for Model 3 dead pedal.

For the dead pedal, it was all for aesthetics, so fit and finish was important and I purchased this, again from amazon for $14. Installation was super easy, took about 10 minutes in all...

Sunday, January 5, 2020

DIY - Install of Tesla Wall Connector

Tesla has a habit of making the difficult easy, so why should installation of a Tesla Wall Charger (TWC) be any different? Of course it was not, rather this was one of the smoothest electrical projects that I have done (...and I do quite a few every year).

It took me a day to get it all done, start to finish, and that included running almost 50 ft of cables & conduit, securing everything down, making the electrical connections, and configuring and installing the TWC per electrical code requirements.

I would not recommend doing this as a first time electrical DIY, unless you are familiar with NEC and local electrical codes, have obtained a permit and inspection scheduled from you local building authority, and will not electrocute yourself, or worse damage your Tesla .

TWC Installed between garage doors behind my motorcycle parking spot.
This project really started a year before I got my Model 3. I had my heart initially set on a Model S, but decided that I did not want to drive a vehicle on electricity that was produced by the local coal-powered plant. So I decided to get a 7.32 kW solar panel system installed first, since price difference between a Model 3 LR AWS and Model S LR AWD easily pays for a solar setup.

In order to facilitate solar generation, I had to do a DIY install of a 150A sub-panel in the front (far end) of my garage from the main panel, which is walled in and in the basement of the house. After trying and failing multiple times to find an electrical contractor who would do this sub-panel work, it ended up being a DIY project too. My installation passed city inspection with flying colors. This allows for a 40A breaker to be used for the solar converter also installed in the garage and left 110A to be used for other items such a TWC (or maybe even two in the future). 

The quick summary on solar based on 1 year of usage (despite the snow covered panels during winter)  is that we broken even with all the electrical usage of our home as the meter went back to ZERO in 1 year. We have monthly net metering and no tiered billing, so I can pretty much change an eV at any time of day.

Since the ground work was laid with a sub-panel installed, I now had to get power to the back of the garage as close as possible to the Tesla charge port without having TWC cables along the ground at any point. To accomplish this I ran:

Saturday, January 4, 2020

DIY - All Weather Tray Mats for The Model 3

For those of us who live in the snowy states and need to transport kids with their sloshy, slushy, snowy boot and still want somehow keep our Model 3 clean, we really have to be particular about the choice of floor mats.

The main feature I look for is maximum coverage for all areas of the foot wells and a tray design to allow for pooling of melted dirty ice/snow from the boots. This allows for the water to be sponged up easily without slowing into and dry salt can be hosed out when dry.

For these reason the Tesla Model 3 factory all-weather mats and also many other after market mats do not suffice. Instead, after much research, I ended up purchasing these mats:

1. For the cabin these mats:
Inter front and rear tray mats
Great fitment for both the front and rear:

Friday, January 3, 2020

Taking Delivery - easier than buying a new phone.

When the day finally came, I was as excited as Augustus drinking from the chocolate river.

The amazing thing about the whole process of buying a Tesla is that, while only a small deposit was needed to place the initial order ($1000, which I believe has gone down to $100), everything else was done online - from filling out all the personal details, to uploading a scanned copy of the my drivers license and auto insurance information. I did not have to deal with people at all! This is a huge departure from traditional wheeling and dealing with car dealerships and I love it!
Doing everything online is the only way to buy a car.
A simple text message to Alvin ensured that I the appropriate referral codes applied to get the free supercharging credits and deals was applied to my purchase.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

About my Tesla Model 3 - A Quest for the thin Red Line.

Upon finally completing test drives, as a family, of both the Model S and Model 3 back-to-back, we unanimously liked the 3 way more than the S (though I was the only one who truly appreciated Ludicrous mode).
All the Tesla models that we test drove.
I had a difficult purchase decision to make in order to fulfill both my driving desires and daily (snowy winter) necessities. Should I:

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Welcome! & Thank you!

Who am I?

I am an engineer, I am a software programmer, I am a husband and parent, I am car geek, I am a DIY-er, and I am a tinkerer. If something can be done with technology to make life better, safer, or simply more convenient, then I most definitely attempt it. Not all my ideas make it to projects, not all my projects succeed (primarily because of time or resource limitations), but many do and many are still a work-in-progress. I want to share with the world projects related to my Tesla Model 3 that succeed, so you may also choose to deploy them.

I have been a Nissan (and by extension - Infiniti) vehicle owner and DIY-er my whole life and the Tesla Model 3 is my first deviation from that loyalty. I have owned over 15 different Datsun/Nissan/Infiniti cars from '72 Datsun 1200, to R32 Skyline, to (older generation) Pathfinder, to an Alitma SE-R, to a 6-MT G35-Coupe and most recently the first generation Infiniti Q50S HEV. I like cars that have some unique "personality". The Tesla Model 3 definitely fit that bill. My Q50 Blog and Nissan GT-R blogs are still active and have been a help to the community. I still own and frequently drive my first US generation Nissan GT-R and love every moment of it.

I hope you find this blog useful and informative. Thanks for reading.