Tesla Claims To Have Open Sourced The Roadster

In an interesting step for anyone who follows electric car technology, the automaker Tesla has released a trove of information about its first-generation Roadster car into the public domain. The documents involved include service manuals, circuit diagrams, and technical details, and Elon Musk himself Tweeted posted on X that “All design & engineering of the original @Tesla Roadster is now fully open source.

We like the idea and there’s plenty of interesting stuff there, but we can’t find an open-source licence anywhere and we have to take issue with his “Whatever we have, you now have” comment. What we have is useful maintenance information and presents a valuable window into 2010’s cutting edge of electric vehicles, but if it’s everything they have then something must have gone very wrong in the Tesla archives. It’s possible someone might take a Lotus Elise and produce something close to a Roadster replica with this info, but it’s by no means enough to make a car from. Instead we’re guessing it may be a prelude to reducing support for what is a low-production car from over a decade ago.

When it comes to electric vehicle manufacturers open-sourcing their older models we already have a model in the form of Renault’s open-source version of their Twizy runabout. This is a far more credible set of information that can be used to make a fully open-source version of the car, rather than a set of workshop manuals.

Tesla Roadster, cytech, CC BY 2.0.

Teaching A Mini-Tesla To Steer Itself

At the risk of stating the obvious, even when you’ve got unlimited resources and access to the best engineering minds, self-driving cars are hard. Building a multi-ton guided missile that can handle the chaotic environment of rush-hour traffic without killing someone is a challenge, to say the least. So if you’re looking to get into the autonomous car game, perhaps it’s best to start small.

If [Austin Blake]’s fun-sized Tesla go-kart looks familiar, it’s probably because we covered the Teskart back when he whipped up this little demon of an EV from a Radio Flyer toy. Adding self-driving to the kart is a natural next step, so [Austin] set off on a journey into machine learning to make it happen. Having settled on behavioral cloning, which trains a model to replicate a behavior by showing it examples of the behavior, he built a bolt-on frame to hold a steering servo made from an electric wheelchair motor, some drive electronics, and a webcam attached to a laptop. Ten or so human-piloted laps around a walking path at a park resulted in a 48,000-image training set, along with the steering wheel angle at each point.

The first go-around wasn’t so great, with the Teskart seemingly bent on going off the track. [Austin] retooled by adding two more webcams, to get a little parallax data and hopefully improve the training data. After a bug fix, the improved model really seemed to do the trick, with the Teskart pretty much keeping in its lane around the track, no matter how fast [Austin] pushed it. Check out the video below to see the Teskart in action.

It’s important to note that this isn’t even close to “Full Self-Driving.” The only thing being controlled is the steering angle; [Austin] is controlling the throttle himself and generally acting as the safety driver should the car veer off course, which it tends to do at one particular junction. But it’s a great first step, and we’re looking forward to further development.

Continue reading “Teaching A Mini-Tesla To Steer Itself”

Jailbreaking Tesla Infotainment Systems

With newer cars being computers on wheels, some manufacturers are using software to put features behind a paywall or thwarting DIY repairs. Industrious hackers security researchers have taken it upon themselves to set these features free by hacking a Tesla infotainment system. (via Electrek)

The researchers from TU Berlin found that by using a voltage fault injection attack against the AMD Secure Processor (ASP) at the heart of current Tesla models, they could run arbitrary code on the infotainment system. The hack opens up the double-edged sword of an attacker gaining access to encrypted PII or a shadetree mechanic “extracting a TPM-protected attestation key Tesla uses to authenticate the car. This enables migrating a car’s identity to another car computer without Tesla’s help whatsoever, easing certain repairing efforts.” We can see this being handy for certain other unsanctioned hacks as well.

The attack is purported as being “unpatchable” and giving root access that survives reboots and updates of the system. Since AMD is a vendor to multiple vehicle companies, the question arises as to how widely applicable this hack is to other vehicles suffering from AaaS (Automotive as a Service).

Longing for a modern drivetrain with the simplicity of yesteryear? Read our Minimal Motoring Manifesto.

Tesla Door Phone Decoded (Not That Tesla)

[Danman] has digital door phones manufactured by Tesla — or at least, a Tesla, as they’re not to be confused with the carmaker, though. The problem is if someone comes to the door when no one’s home, there’s no remote indicator. The answer? Reverse engineer the protocol and fix it.

A quick dump on a storage scope showed the data clearly, but it wasn’t obvious what protocol it was using. After a little analysis, it proved the datastream used 4 PWM pulses as symbols with three symbols: one, zero, and stuffing sequence.

Once you can read the bits, it is easy to determine that each frame consists of a 16-bit destination and source address, along with a command byte and a checksum byte. Each station can have an ID from 000 to 999 although you can only dial up to number 323. Some nodes are special, and there are ways to address particular units.

Connecting to the hardware took a transformer for isolation. Honestly, unless you have this exact hardware, this isn’t likely to be something you can directly use. However, it is a great example of how you can figure out a specialized device and bend it to your will.

We love reverse engineering projects. In some cases, it is easier if you have a CT scan.

No Acid: Open ICs With A Tesla Coil

We’ve taken ICs apart before, but if they are in an epoxy package, it requires some lab gear and a lot of safety. Typically, you’ll heat the part and use fuming nitric acid (nasty stuff) in a cavity milled into the part to remove the epoxy over the die. While [100dollarhacker] doesn’t provide much detail, he appears to have used a Tesla coil to do it — no hot acid required.

Initial results were promising but took a long time to work. In addition, the coil gets very hot, and there is a chance of flames. The next attempt used a 3D printed cone with a fan to push the plasma over the chip. The first attempt shorted something out, and so far, each attempt eventually burns out the MOSFET driver.

We are always interested in the practical uses of Tesla coils and what’s inside ICs, so this project naturally appealed to us. We hope to see more success reported on the Hackaday.io page soon. Meanwhile, if you have a coil and an old IC lying around, try it. Maybe you’ll figure out how to make it work well and if you do, let us know.

The easiest chips to open are ceramic packages with a gold lid. Just use a hobby knife. There are less noxious chemicals you can use. If you want to use fuming nitric, be sure you know what you are doing and maybe make some yourself.

Build A Tesla Coil With Just Three Components

Tesla coils are beautiful examples of high voltage hardware, throwing sparks and teaching us about all kinds of fancy phenomena. They can also be quite intimidating to build. [William Fraser], however, has come up with a design using just three components.

It’s a simplified version of the “Slayer Exciter” design, which nominally features a transistor, resistor and LED, along with a coil, and runs on batteries. [William] learned that adding a capacitor in parallel with the batteries greatly improved performance, and allowed the removal of the LED without detriment. [William] also learned that the resistor was not necessary either, beyond starting the coil oscillating.

The actual 3-component build uses a 10 farad supercapacitor as a power source, hooked up to a 2N3904 NPN transistor and an 85-turn coil. It won’t start oscillating on its own, but when triggered by a pulse of energy from a piezo igniter, it jerks into life. The optimized design actually uses the shape of the assembled component leads to act as the primary coil. The tiny Tesla coil isn’t big and bold enough to throw big sparks, but it will light a fluorescent tube at close proximity.

If you like your Tesla coils musical, we have those too.

Continue reading “Build A Tesla Coil With Just Three Components”

Tesla Coil Makes Sodium Plasma

Looking for a neat trick to do with your Tesla coil? [The Action Lab] uses his coil to make a metal plasma — in particular, sodium. You can see the results in the video below.

To create a metal plasma, you need a metal vapor and sodium can create a vapor at a relatively low temperature, especially in a vacuum. The resulting glow is pretty to look at, but you will need a bit of lab gear to pull it off.

Continue reading “Tesla Coil Makes Sodium Plasma”