Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Back from space dock

The starship is back from space dock... well, OK, from the good folks at Fisker of Vancouver/BMW Store.

Great service again today, thanks to Nick (Mechanic) and Garett (Service Advisor).  I particularly enjoyed my brief chat with Nick just after I rolled the car into the service bay in the morning.  He also provided a full report for me to mull over at the end of the day.  Being a tech guy, I like such engagements to be detailed and informative - engineering (of all kinds) is an honest profession after all :-)

So, apparently the car's BECM (Body Electronic Control Module??) has been reprogrammed with a post-615 software update.  I was told that this should avoid the engine fault flags getting set that were illuminating the engine light (#1 on my 'Rough Edge' list).  On my drive home, I toggled Sports mode a few times, with some decent intervals of Stealth mode.  So far no engine light.  I shall do the same tomorrow morning on a full battery charge, as this may have been the condition of the vehicle when Sports mode seemed to trigger the fault codes before.  We'll see...

Nick et al also had a look at my Touch Screen System (TSS on the report).  I'm told that cases of this sort of display corruption are known, but that my case is rather extreme.  Specific details from my case (essentially the screen images I posted here) are now attachments on a filing to Fisker HQ.  Apparently, as I thought, the issue is promoted by switching screens (which presumably is when texture/display memory is updated for the new screen).  With this report into Fisker, it is now clearly a waiting game to see what resolution they might come up with for this defect.  I'm somewhat concerned that my experience should be worse than the general case, as these touch screen modules ought to have no variance in hardware.  This isn't like 'tolerances' in physical systems were you can expect a certain limited range of experiences.  Unless other people are actually seeing exactly the same effects (albeit random), my money would be on a dodgy display memory or graphics subsystem.  Anyway, there's due process for the technical people to properly digest and diagnose all this first.

While I was there, I also mentioned the poor Bluetooth handsfree phone streaming audio (with various audible digital artifacts), the apparently inoperable Solar Energy screen and the intermittent cabin set up issue.  All of these are apparently 'known issues', which I had already understood from other sources.

Aside from actual vehicle stuff, today I decided to endow the Red Carmelon with its own wireless hotspot.  I've heard that in-car wifi is beginning to make an appearance as a standard feature in some models, but the 2012 Karma isn't quite on that list.  However, thanks to an amazing little Sierra Wireless device, high-speed internet connection is possible while out and about with an LTE to wifi bridge.
LTE - 802.11 bridge (actual size)
This little device sits perfectly in the centre console storage compartment, where it can be plugged directly into power too, in order to get charged whenever the vehicle's electrical systems are powered up.  It has its own lithium ion battery - good for 6 hours usage.  While Karma does seem to be an electrically/RF noisy environment, as is obvious by occasional motor noise audible over weak radio signals, I doubt this will be an issue at the microwave frequencies of either LTE or 802.11 wifi.  I'll have to road test this with a passenger browsing the net while cruising around.

I have plans for a Raspberry Pi project that could also eventually be situated in the centre console compartment, joining this networking hardware... but I have to get a hold of a 'Raspi' unit first, and they seem to be like gold dust at the moment.

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