An image describing parts of a Tesla modem board

LTE Modem Transplant For A Tesla Imported Into Europe

When modern connected cars cross continents, novel compatibility problems crop up. [Oleg Kutkov], being an experienced engineer, didn’t fret when an USA-tailored LTE modem worked poorly on his Tesla fresh off its USA-Europe import journey, and walks us through his journey of replacing the modem with another Tesla modem module that’s compatible with European LTE bands.

[Oleg]’s post goes through different parts on the board and shows you how they’re needed in the bigger picture of the Tesla’s Media Computer Unit (MCU), even removing the LTE modem’s shield to describe the ICs underneath it, iFixit teardown diagram style! A notable highlight would be an SIM-on-chip, essentially, a SIM card in an oh-so-popular DFN package, and thankfully, replacing it with a socket for a regular SIM card on some extender wires has proven fruitful. The resulting Tesla can now enjoy Internet connectivity at speeds beyond those provided by EDGE. The write-up should be a great guide for others Tesla owners facing the same problem, but it also helps us make electric cars be less alike black boxes in our collective awareness.

Not all consequences of Tesla design decisions are this minor; for instance, this year, we’ve described a popular eMMC failure mode of Tesla cars and how Tesla failed to address it. Thankfully, Tesla cars are becoming more of a hacker community target, whether it’s building a computer-vision-assisted robot to plug in a charging cable, getting it repaired for a fraction of the dealership cost, or even assembling your own Tesla from salvage parts!

Tesla Model 3 Battery Pack Teardown

The Tesla Model 3 has been available for almost a year now, and hackers and tinkerers all over the world are eager to dig into Elon’s latest ride to see what makes it tick. But while it’s considerably cheaper than the Model S that came before it, the $35,000+ USD price tag on the new Tesla is still¬†a bit too high to buy one just to take it apart. So for budget conscious grease monkeys, the only thing to do is wait until somebody with more money than you crashes one and then buy the wreckage cheaply.

Tesla Model 3 battery monitor board

Which is exactly what electric vehicle connoisseur [Jack Rickard] did. He bought the first wrecked Model 3 he could get his hands on, and proceeded to do a lengthy teardown on what’s arguably the heart and soul of the machine: its 75 kWh battery pack. Along the way he made some interesting discoveries, and gained some insight on to how Tesla has been able to drop the cost of the Model 3 so low compared to their previous vehicles.

On a Tesla, the battery pack is a large flat panel which takes up effectively the entire underside of the vehicle. To remove it, [Jack] and his assistant raise the wreck of the Model 3 up on a standard lift and then drop the battery down with a small lift table. Here the first differences are observed: while the Model S battery was made for rapid swapping (a feature apparently rarely utilized in practice), the battery in the Model 3 battery is obviously intended to be a permanent piece of the car; removing it required taking out a good portion of the interior.

With the battery out of the car and opened up, the biggest change for the Model 3 becomes apparent. The battery pack actually contains the charger, DC-DC converter, and battery management system in one integrated unit. Whereas on the Model S these components were installed in the vehicle itself, on the Model 3, most of the primary electronics are stored in this single module.

That greatly reduces the wiring and complexity of the car, and [Jack] mentions the only significant hardware left inside the Model 3 (beyond the motors) would be the user interface computer in the dashboard. When the communication protocol for this electronics module is reverse engineered, it may end up being exceptionally useful for not only electric vehicle conversions but things like off-grid energy storage.

A little over a year ago we featured a similar teardown for the battery back in the Tesla Model S, as well as the incredible project that built a working car from multiple wrecks.

[Thanks to DarksideDave for the tip.]

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