Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trim replaced and more on "carpet formers"

I had to postpone the trip in to Fisker of Vancouver by a day, but today the car was in for about 40 mins having its dodgy window trim replaced and supposedly new "carpet formers".

The service was excellent as usual... friendly, professional, organized.  The trim was replaced in less than half an hour while I enjoyed coffee and breakfast pastries.

The remaining time was apparently an attempt to locate the guy responsible for the carpet formers.  Apparently what this is all about is that the initial shipment of floor mats from Fisker were all black.  I had some black ones installed on delivery of the vehicle.  However, apparently the intention was to have more colour coordinated mats and these have since been shipped from California and received at the dealership.    This was all somewhat moot today as the organizer of the mats wasn't locatable right away once the trim had been fixed, but frankly there's also the simple question as to whether I wouldn't prefer to keep the current black ones.  Black actually works quite nicely with the earth (tan) interior.  Moreover, black is probably rather better at hiding mud and stains that are par for the course with vehicle floor mats.  I suppose I'm curious as to exactly what colour mats I'm supposed to have and maybe if this was a darker colour I might like it.  However, black is far from a bad choice.

Apparently the next firmware installment (2.6?) is being readied for deployment, so it will perhaps not be too long before the next jaunt in to have another little upgrade.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Space Dock

Starship Red Cameleon is in space dock on Tuesday for the window trim replacement and to have some "carpet formers" fitted.

As this point I have no idea what a "carpet former" actually is, or why I would want one.  I guess I'll find out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Still no CEL, the next Town Hall meeting

The check engine light has stayed off since the last patch, which is great.

I understand that the most likely reason for an error condition causing it to light was in fact the opening of a door while the vehicle was in its charging cycle.  This is almost certainly the cause of the light in my case, as having just received the vehicle I had all sorts of people wanting to take a look at it while it was parked and charging - not to mention my own forays into the car in order to experiment with and configure the preferences/settings.

Anyway, this is allegedly what was fixed in the last patch that was applied recently to my Karma and I have certainly had cause to enter the car while it was charging since then without seeing the return of the CEL.  So it certainly looks like that's the end of that.

In other news, I have signed up for my first Fisker Town Hall meeting (webinar) since I acquired the vehicle, so that should be interesting.  The meeting is at 1pm (PST) tomorrow (Wednesday 23rd May).  Hopefully I'll be able to listen to at least the first half before my work itinerary interrupts.  I hope they provide lots of juicy info on the continuing development of the Karma... we'll see.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Plans for onboard computer

Some more info on what I plan to do with a little onboard computer.

The next-generation, 'starshippy', feel to the Karma inspired me to think about what I could do to get the car connected to the internet and have both location and operational data streamed to the car's own monitoring software and web page.

The centre console provides the perfect little cache for the equipment in the vehicle.  It's almost the ideal size to accommodate a small single-board computer, a LTE wifi bridge and any additional power or signal adapters that might be required.  The console cubby is supplied with 12v, a USB port and the audio aux-in port.  The cubby is lined with a soft material clearly designed to protect the equipment that you're supposed to connect to these interfaces (flash drives, iPods, iPhones etc.).

My basic plan is as follows:
  • Obtain operational vehicle data via a small wireless OBD2 adapter (there are wifi and bluetooth versions of these things available).
  • Obtain internet connectivity via an LTE/wifi bridge.  Power this from the 12v outlet.
  • Acquire a Raspberry Pi single board computer, running Linux.  Power this from the 12v outlet or USB
  • When the vehicle is on, collect a stream of interesting OBD2 telemetry, buffer and then send to a collector hosted on my home server. 
  • Read incoming SMS messages into the LTE/wifi bridge and apply text-to-speech into the audio-aux.
  • Read traffic news/info and announce this in the car via speech synthesis when the car is started
  • Track GPS from the OBD2 (if available) or the LTE/wifi bridge (though I doubt it can fix satellites in the console cubby).  Send this to the home server.
  • Accept messages from the home server and read them out in the car
  • On the home server, implement a web site (I want to learn the Yesod framework for Haskell, so that's a useful intersection) that shows vehicle location and stats and allows messages to be queued for sending to the car.
  • If the charging station produces interesting data, integrate that with the vehicle data.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Charging station

My Eaton charging station arrived yesterday from California.

It doesn't seem to be packed with much padding, so hopefully it has made it through the rigors of logistics without something breaking.  In particular, the actual charging unit itself is just resting on the bottom of the shipping box.

This unit was what the Fisker dealership in Vancouver recommended and indeed helped to order.  It does seem to be semi-official as it is branded "Fisker Automotive".

The supplier was (via the Yahoo! store).

The next step is to find a domestic electrical contractor to install this.  Hopefully that won't cost and arm and a leg (maybe just an arm!).  I'll probably get them to install a few 220V outlets in the garage while they're at it.

I now get to find out if British Columbia's rebate scheme for EV charging stations actually pays out.  This is supposed to refund $500 on the cost of a domestic recharging station.  They seem to be using it partly to find out who is installing the equipment (address and electricity account!).  You have to be installing a charger model on an approved list, for charging a vehicle that's on another approved list.  You need to supply copies of the charger invoice and the vehicle transfer document.  I'm actually not quite in possession of the right invoice at the moment as the order was made via Yahoo and the only receipt I got was an email that didn't include the supplier name/address/phone number etc. that the invoice is mandated to have.  Hopefully the evconnect folks can supply a more righteous invoice for my rebate application needs!

Also, they're just rolling out electrical smart meters in our area right now, which I believe will eventually have the ability to network with specific loads/equipment to get a breakdown of electricity usage - and maybe even allow controlled consumption times.  I doubt these chargers are ready for this yet, but I imagine all this is coming.  You can imagine the electricity companies having schemes to control when different residences' EV charging occurs overnight, offering discounted rates in exchange for this control - so they can better manage the demand on the grid.  I've seen discussion on a UK forum about washing machines, dishwashers and other sundry household appliances all being fitted with the requisite controllers to enable this kind of remote controlled operation.

Hopefully all this extra electric equipment and the radio communications to link it all up doesn't adversely affect one of my hobbies: being a radio amateur.  I haven't noticed anything untoward yet, but I'll have to undertake a survey of the HF bands when the Karma is charging (soon, on the 220V system).  Hopefully there's nothing nasty propagated in RF, or indeed back through the household supply.

I've noticed that the Eaton charger has an RS232 port for outputting diagnostics.  Should be fun to plug a terminal into that, when its all installed, to see what sort of output it produces.  Maybe I'll integrate this data with my planned Red Carmeleon web page.  The latter should show vehicle travel and stats - once I've figured how to source all the data and have received my Raspberry Pi (just ordered!).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chrome window trim - quick update

Fisker of Vancouver are attempting to source a new window trim piece following my discovery and report of the minor bubbling of a small section of the trim beneath the front passenger window.

No news yet on my #2 rough-edge, namely the texture corruption on the touchscreen if you change screens.  Possibly that will simply be fixed and rolled into a new software patch at some point in the future.  I read today that there's another patch on its way already, but I would be surprised if that included a fix for this issue unless they had already been working on it.  I hope there's a way to get the 'release notes' for future patches, but maybe that requires talking in person to a friendly mechanic or service advisor.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Trunk warning light, window surround chrome

Couple of new issues for this post, albeit minor.

First, I have noticed that the trunk needs a hefty bit of force to both latch it and avoid finding the trunk open light illuminated when you get back to the vehicle.  On quite a few occasions now, I have apparently closed the trunk lid (it latches, looks and stays closed), only to find the warning light on.  Another go at closing the lid invariably fixes it.

Last time I had a sedan (a Lexus GS), the trunk had a pull down latch, so there was literally zero force required to close the trunk effectively.  I'm fine with the less advanced latch, but this odd condition where the lid appears closed, but the sensor shows otherwise, will need to be watched.  It might be that the sensor is miscalibrated or aligned, or maybe the lid can latch in some safe, but not completely closed manner.  I doubt this, but I'll try to take a good look next time this happens.  Either way, the Karma (or at least my Karma) currently requires a surprising amount of lid velocity/force to get it closed and latched correctly at the moment.

I could be persuaded that this force is by design and I would adjust my habits accordingly (suspending disbelief that the amount of force could actually damage the latch or something!).  However, the closed-but-not-quite-enough condition is a bit suspicious.

Secondly, over the last weekend, while taking a few more snaps of the car, I happened to notice that the front passenger door's chrome window surround has some hairline scratches/fractures, some of which had started to bubble slightly.

Look closely and you can see fine lines/cracks running vertically along this section of the window surround
Another angle, showing the bubbles that are developing from the cracks

I think this issue is limited to this one part.  I'm not sure how such an aberration can develop, nor exactly what the material is underneath the chrome finish here.  However, I would imagine that if the material is plastic then there's a good chance that flexing the part after manufacture (such as during installation) might create the hairline cracks, which I would imagine are a precursor to the bubbling.

As far as I could tell, the issue was very localized, but I need to do a really close inspection of all the chrome pieces sometime.

I have already contacted Fisker of Vancouver, and they responded quickly.  Looks like I'll get the Karma in for them to take a proper look sometime soon.

Monday, May 14, 2012

No CEL, great ride, fun economy games

Well, it has been a while since the last patch and I can thankfully confirm that the CEL has stayed distinctly OFF.  I have tried cycling between Sport and Stealth mode at various points during a drive, without provoking it at all.

The Red Carmeleon is my regular commute ride and I really look forward to the drive to and from work each day.  Fisker have done a stellar job in making the cabin a very pleasant place to be.   The ride is so quiet and smooth but the car is a distinctly capable performer.

Cornering is actually amazing.  The Karma has the poise and 'on rails' sensation that the R8 had.

While it can't compare to the R8 in terms of overall 0-60, it takes off at a nice pace, thanks to all that torque, and in Sports mode it definitely feels quick.  The other definite thing you notice is the continuous surge of power, with no gear changes punctuating the acceleration.   The R8 was not fitted with a dual clutch, so gear changes under real power were a little rough.

I really like the feel of the suspension in the Karma.  Maybe I was ready for a change from the bone rattling R8 (even when not in sports mode!).  The ride is damped enough for comfort, but you can still feel road.  I can't discern any roll, but there is a little pitch with hard braking.

One of the fun things about having an electric car with the inevitable range gauges, regenerative braking and an indicator for energy flow is that you can play little games with the indicated measures.  I'm really not a fan of all the little graphical trinkets that I've seen appearing in other EVs (green glowing balls, blooming flowers and butterflies!) to motivate you to drive economically.  However, on a regular commute you tend to get an idea of how many indicated 'electric km' it takes to do the journey - so inevitably there's a sense of how any give drive compares to the average or personal best.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A few more miscellaneous photos

A few other photos, highlighting some design details and also some fun shots.

Side exhausts

Karma door sills
Lots of geometry


Yao Ming's eye view 
Unique proportions

Built in hotplates for cooking ;-) 
The 'coy' look

Those diamond details

More diamonds

Very bright reversing light (for camera) and rear speaker

Reversing light

Low-ish profile Eagle F1s

Nothing untoward in the neighbourhood spotted from here 
Photon capturing Fisker logo

Saturday, May 12, 2012

More Karma, er... pr0n (Cabin)

Everyone knows what to expect from the interior of a starship.  Fisker delivers...

Rear passenger comfort
"Earth" colour scheme

Two-tone interplay

Rear centre console

Parcel shelf speaker set 

Oooh... art

The inside curves

No trees were harmed in the making of this wood(!)

The office

Starship control (asleep)

Comfortable pilot's seat

Front console controls - and more leafy artwork

Pilot's office again

Detailing on the door pillar

Front cabin vista (Passenger) I

Front cabin vista (Passenger) II

Front cabin vista (Pilot) I

Front cabin vista (Pilot) II

Eject button with calming artwork

Pilot's hatch

More Karma, er... pr0n (External)

Some more eye candy, thanks to the realization of Henrik Fisker's pen strokes (and team, I'm sure).

These are more external shots, I'll post some cabin shots separately.

Gateway to the soul

Cat's eyes
Proud brand

No yellow-eye removal on my camera


The ever-popular hind quarters

Yet more curves 
All that sparkles... is glass

So much light-play
Iridescence - variations on the theme of red 

Paintwork with depth

A riot of more curves
Starship bow

Fender/wing depending on your tradition

Illuminated quarter panel (rear wing)

Curve Cornucopia
Abundance of wheel for the body to wrap around

The Light of Horus

EVer, so nice