All Your Drive Units Really ARE Belong to Us.

We did somewhat better selling Bug-A-Salts this week than we did Tesla Model S reservations. We had ordered 24 Bug-A-Salts and they were gone the first week. Fear not. More arrived yesterday.

Yes, it was mindless drivel but I certainly had fun shooting the rambo segment in the jungle and talking about houseflies. And no I’m not really ok yet. I have Bug-A-Salts spotted here at work, at home in the kitchen, in the bedroom, etc. I’m getting to where I actually LIKE houseflies as the indoor hunt continues. Josh Randall. Wanted, Dead or Alive. (Old Steve McQueen western television show from 1960).

Why? Somehow, blasting a half gram of Morton’s Table Salt nearly four feet into the air, makes me feel POWERFUL instead of feeling like a victim. House flies are an annoyance, but what can you do? Part of life. Suffer gracefully as a victim. NO MORE. A stupid plastic gun that shoots salt and suddenly I’m Rambo. I know I know. Pathetic. But it explains a lot about me, and a lot about our viewers.

We’ve never made the claim that building your own electric car made economic sense. And with gasoline today at $2.65 a gallon, it certainly does not. But again, it’s about feeling EMPOWERED to do something about a deeply integral part of your life, driving around, that you otherwise simply feel like a VICTIM of forces beyond your control.

Forces like oil companies. Automobile manufacturers. Government regulations. Global Petronomics.

I intensely dislike the feelings and trappings surrounding the whole concept of “victim”.

We don’t have to put up with houseflies. There IS something you can do about them. And we don’t have to put up with gasoline and gasoline fueled vehicles. There IS something you can do about them. And you don’t need permission. You don’t need a warranty. And you don’t finance approval. You go into your own garage, and you build your own damned car. And if so much as a housefly has any questions about all that – he had better be salt proof. If not, he’s about to have a bad housefly hair day.

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Bug-A-Salt is kind of a 21st Century Mare’s Leg – the chopped Winchester 72 Josh Randall used as a handgun. It makes dealing with flies not only easy, but you’ll gain an intense feeling of personal satisfaction blowing those little MFs away.

We don’t exactly have a Bug-A-Salt for electric cars. It’s not particularly easy. And it’s not particularly inexpensive. But it IS a kind of sure-fired path to relief from being a VICTIM and that first drive in a car you built from scratch to BE electric has a much greater and more intense feeling of personal satisfaction. It’s not a car. It’s a statement. I put up with your shit if I CHOOSE to. And if I choose NOT…… here’s what I do about it. It’s a guy thing in both cases….

And it’s actually more effective because it DOES NOT make economic sense. Their victimization of YOU is based on their knowledge of what you will do facing a very simple economic decision. If you don’t play that game, they are de-fanged. And there’s the rub….what price freedom? What are you willing to pay to NOT be a serf on their turf? And the fewer that are willing to pay that, the more uniquely precious the experience becomes.

A $46 flyswatter? Really? Yeah. Really. Because I choose NOT to be a victim.

You know Jack, you really cannot get ALL the houseflies in the world. They are too many. Yes, I know. Now, the ones that want to mess with me, please fly forward….you little motherless bastards…

It’s not about THEM. It’s all about me. What price would I pay for me? Well, check it out…

EVTV isn’t about making electric car design and construction easy. It’s about making the result better. BEAUTIFUL cars, gliding smoothly and effortlessly through the throng. And it’s not about making it cheaper. It’s about getting more for what we do spend.

And I do sound the alarm and make no mistake, there are concerted, designed, planned strategies among our automobile manufacturers to make you a victim again. It has to do with right to repair. And if you put new tires on your Tesla Model S that are maybe a bit different size than the stock tire, they are quite serious about you taking it to a service center and paying $300-$400 to enter two digits into a tiny screen so that your Speedometer is LEGAL.

Now how would YOU predict that I am going to react to that?

And so we have reverse engineered the Azure Dynamics DMOC645 and made it ROUTINE to install an OEM grade Siemens AC induction motor and not only make it work, but work BETTER and make it trivially easy to configure and tune to EXACTLY how you want it to feel.


And so we have reverse engineered the UQM Powerphase 100 motor and inverter and made it ROUTINE to install an OEM grade Siemens AC induction motor and not only make it work, but work BETTER and make it trivially easy to configure and tune to EXACTLY how you want it to feel.

And so we have reverse engineered the CODA Delphi DC-DC converter and made it ROUTINE to install an OEM grade DC-DC converter and not only make it work, but work BETTER and make it trivially easy to configure and tune to EXACTLY how you want it to work.
And so we have reverse engineered the Chevy Volt Charger and made it ROUTINE to install an OEM grade battery charger and not only make it work, but work BETTER and make it trivially easy to configure and tune to EXACTLY how you want it to charge.
And so we have reverse engineered the Chevy Volt Accessory Power Module and made it ROUTINE to install an OEM grade DC-DC Converter and not only make it work, but work BETTER and make it trivially easy to configure and tune to EXACTLY the DC voltage you want to power your windows and seats and wipers and radio.
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I will confess I have drank the kool-aid. I’m not given to being a groupie, but I have owned a Tesla Model S for two years now. It really is the best car I’ve ever been inside of. In all respects. After two years I can report TWO complaints. It’s a little narrow to get into. And the turn signal and cruise control are misplaced/swapped. Beyond that, the Volt, the Leaf, the i3, none of it COMES CLOSE. Just not in the same league. The car is a phenomenon and at the absolute apex of not only battery electric plug-in vehicles, but just personal transportation period.

And yes, the batteries are interesting and the super charger is cool and the onboard chargers are kewelle too. And if I can “whistle up Trigger” and have him whinny and come pick me up like Roy Rogers, I’ll probably get onboard the autonomous driving thing as well. I DO love turning on the air conditioner from my phone before going outside into the withering heat to get into a hot (black) car.

But the glistening glimmering bling at the heart of the beast, and so at the heart of an industry movement, is the Tesla Model S “drive unit”. This integrated inverter/motor/gearbox is hardly bigger than a Ford 9-inch rear end and indeed occupies that part of the car. And so we have a trunk as we are not rear engined, and a frunk because we are not front engined either, and indeed we don’t have an engine but a drive unit between our rear legs. This is where 0-60 in 3.8 seconds comes from. This is how 4600 lbs can do a 12.6 quarter-mile. To me, it is the most beautiful piece of engineering ever designed. The bling. The shining bauble. The ornament on the TOP of my Christmas tree. It’s smaller, lighter, more powerful, more integrated, and just way COOLER than anything available anywhere in the world.

Mark Wiesheimer pointed me to one on eBay in April I think. I couldn’t click fast enough. Just to have it as a dead prop on set was worth the $5500. Indeed I’m sure that that was less than Tesla had in the thing. What would anyone do with one? In a very real sense, it is a 300 lb boat anchor. Totally totally useless for any known purpose. Complete junk and often sold by salvagers for the 300 lbs of metal in it at the scrapyard. All because Tesla Motors Inc., after announcing that they were open sourcing their car, would categorically and emphatically decline to reveal the eight, count em, eight CAN bus msgID’s necessary to make it do anything useful.

Understand that the information describing those message ID’s weighs less than the salt in a single Bug-A-Salt shot, and costs the company about the same amount of money as a single shot from a Bug-A-Salt. That this might become known has the potential for doing NOTHING to them or to any Tesla owner, other than making wrecked cars more valuable and so decreasing the insurance rates Tesla owners pay. Any conceivable scenario to the contrary requires heroic straining only seen by a chuhuahua trying to pass an avocado pit.

But it is what it is.

We somewhat slowly and methodically began mounting the drive unit on a spanking new Maple workbench from Sam’s Club. We did access Tesla’s schematic diagrams and connector cross index on the web site – available ONLY to Massachusetts residents as a direct result of their RIGHT TO REPAIR law. So we wired up the connectors and found the right throttle from a Ford Fusion. We rigged up a circuit to simulate the brake input. And had switches and lights and meters to allow us to precharge and connect a Better PLace battery pack to the drive unit and measure the voltage and current into and out of it.

I have a Tesla Model S so we actually kind of developed from scratch the CAN tools to capture and analyze the traffic. In June we hosted a party at the behest of Byron Izenbaard to convene the EVTV hack team and map out a plan. Instead, on the second day they got the motor spinning by playing back the recorded CAN traffic from the car.

And so I was excited, and quite willing to spend the next 10 years puzzling out the 192 CAN messages in the bus capture to figure out how to make it work.

Instead, I’m pleased to report in this episode of EVTV, and indeed to demonstrate, full operational control of the Tesla Model S drive unit. Indeed, beyond full operational control. We can actually vary regenerative braking levels at will from 0 to 100% – something I can’t do in the car itself. Forward, reverse, neutral, creep, all of it.

And this is not done by mindlessly playing a recording. Collin and I wrote a 700 line Arduino sketch that actually forms the messages necessary to control it, and indeed reads the messages from it necessary to get rpm, torque, throttle level, from the inverter. I whined in this episode that I still hadn’t found temperature. Since filming Friday and Saturday, I’ve found SIX temperature bytes and can now read more temperatures than I can quite understand. Found them on Sunday while waiting for the video to render and upload.

It all runs on the EVTVDue CAN microcontroller – about the same size as a pack of camels with a total of two CAN wires connected to the system.
And I guess I’m still stunned in disbelief.

Within a day, we received an invitation from one of the top “Goon” DEF CON organizers. It seems DEF CON was mostly about automobiles and CAN this year and he expects that trend to actually accelerate near term. They want us to do a one-hour presentation next August 4-6 in Lost Wages Nevada. I haven’t been there since the last COMDEX I attended in the nineties.

I’m not disparaging the organizers. That’s what they call themselves. Goons. And I’m not much given to the rigors of travel these days. I’m too heavy. I chain smoke. My air force is in disarray. But hopefully I can get the King Air back in annual by then or maybe a DC-3 and get current in time to fly out.

Why? It’s kind of poetic. In 1992, Phil Becker and I hosted the first ONE BBSCON – a convention of BBS operators. That eventually morphed into ISPCON as the BBS operators morphed into Internet Service Providers – over 7500 of them actually. In 1993, some guys with Platinum Net – kind of a Fidonet affliliate, started DEFCON – a hackers convention. The thing they were onabout in those days was software copy protection – which I detest to this day. It does nothing about software piracy but makes software terribly inconvenient to use for those who actually bought it. As far as I’m concerned this is another area with only one side to the argument. I’m totally deaf to the concerns of the software developers.

So we’re a little past being on the same page. We both started in the same space before any of it was written on a page. But I have just never attended a single DEFCON. There’s no reason. Just haven’t gone. Don’t care much for Lost Wages Nevada, but I did go to a number of COMDEX conventions.
But if they are going to take on CAN and automobiles. I’m onboard. I’ll try to talk Collin Kidder into going out with me, and any Hack Team members we can round up. Should be a good place to show off Collin’s excellent due_can library and SavvyCAN. Maybe we’ll host a Hack Team hospitality suite in a hotel out there.

There is still some work to be done to productize this into something you can drop into a car. And some concerns. The whiners have already begun bringing up legal issues. And another hack team has come up with an entirely different CAN capture purportedly on the same model car. It has 107 messages NOT in common with ours. Which is troubling. We’ll have to test our work on a variety of salvaged drive trains.

And I am on notice by the supplier of one of our drive trains. As soon as we make it usable, he intends to double the price. Should be a strong market for it he thinks. Hmmmm….. So we are going to have to step carefully here. There lie beasts in those waters….

But for the moment, we have full control of a Tesla Model S drive train, and I’m not going to let such thoughts dampen the glow of the moment.

My thanks to the EVTV hack team for making this happen.

Jack Rickard
Editor Rotundus

62 thoughts on “All Your Drive Units Really ARE Belong to Us.”

  1. Congratulations all on conquering the Tesla drive train.

    I *REALLY* want to convert a one-ton truck – maybe a Dodge to take the noisiest beast around and make it quiet. And now there is a drive-train that I can do that with!

    1. Michael, The issue I see using a TESLA Model S power-train in a Dodge one ton truck is the gearing.It is a given that the diameter of the tires for the truck are greater then the Model S and top speed of the TESLA is what? 130 m.p.h.. Alas a possible solution a 1.92 to 1 at wheel reduction from a Hummer H1. Her is a picture of the the H1 independent rear supension. I wonder if there is room for the TESLA motor and inverter?

    2. Michael, Somehow you have to create an independent rear suspension for the TESLA drive train with custom half shafts to the 8 lug wheel hubs, (lots of engineering since there is no stock 1 ton truck IRS). or an easier conversion would be a front wheel drive truck using an existing four- wheel drive independent front suspension. example given of a front wheel driver: GM front wheel drive 3 axle motor homes from the eighties. The Model S gearing maybe a little too high for a 1 ton truck that will have bigger diameters tires, but I do not see a possible way of lowering that ratio using the Tesla moter/inverter gearbox differential assembly.
      Mark Yormark

      1. The stub axles/half shafts on the TESLA drivetrain are a different diameter than the one-ton axles. One of our local sales reps has stated that he can couple axles in the range of 7/8 to 1 and 7/16, in the torque range up to 1400 foot-lbs? This is from memory – I have a quote for the parts somewhere. This is what I was planning to use to couple the TESLA axles to the on ton axles … but I’m not really a mechanical person. As I said .. perhaps a less mechanically intense project would be a better fit for me.

        1. Michael,
          Understand the difference between independent rear suspension like the Tesla Model S and the rigid rear axle you have with your Dodge 1 ton pick-up.
          Mark Yormark

          1. Just an outside the box idea here….Turn the tesla drive 90 degrees, lock out the differential and drive the existing drive shaft. This would place the Tesla drive somewhere ahead of the rear end, or possibly behind it. This way the original rear end ratio might bring things into reasonableness.

          2. Josh, Here is your idea in actual gear ratios if one was to able lock-up the differentials in the TESLA Model S gear box and run it longitudinally with a drive shaft to a one piece rear axle like that found in a Dodge one ton truck. The highest gear ratio attainable for a Ford 9″ ring and pinion is 2.47 to one. Notice in the following chart to of the metrics, one is the most common size for wheel diameter for this one ton truck which is 32″, the maximum motor rpm is 15,000 r.p.m. although the maximum horsepower of this motor is about 5,500 r.p.m. and the rear end ratio for a TESLA Model S gear box is close to 9.5 to one.
            All these values/metrics of the following chart are interactive so one can change the values.
            You be the judge.

            Mark Yormark

          3. I don’t have the Dodge as yet. I should likely have kept my mouth shut, since I have obviously not done enough research. But maybe a solution will be posted by someone in this group?

            I’m also not set on a Dodge … the Cummins diesel is the loudest and most obnoxious engine that I have experienced, the Dodge one ton the truck with the least sound insulation I’ve experienced .. so I thought the contrast to electric would be striking.

            Josh – Locking one side of the TESLA drivetrain and using the other to drive the rear end would be an interesting solution. It may cause other issues eventually? The Dodge rear ends appear to include 3.73 or 4.10 to 1 as a typical ratio (quick google search). So 130 mph on a 3.73 ratio becomes 35 mph with the same tire size. Larger tires would get me closer to a 70 mph top end .. which is OK for me. Hmm.

          4. MIchael:

            You’ve kind of been drug off into the weeds on this one. At 16000 rpm, you’re swimming toward 42 mph and it would be a very strange feeling ride. Lots of torque on the low end though.

            There are several companies that make IRS systems and some specifically for pickup trucks. Try Arthur Morris.

            Unfortunately, it would not be inexpensive.

          5. If one were to lock one output shaft it would double the output speed of the other shaft…numerically halving the final gear ratio.
            That’s not a horrible thing if you run it into a factory differential but I’m 100% sure the little pinion gears in the Tesla diff will not last very long.

        2. Michael,
          There is a solution for adapting a longitudinally mounted TESLA drive connected by a drive-shaft to the Dana rear-end in 3500 Dodge, but I must say it is a heroic effort to say the least. It would mean changing the ring and pinion gear in the DANA Spicer 80 to 3.31 to 1, ( the highest ratio I could find). But the over the top solution is to have 4 GEAR VENDERS connected in series running in .78 to 1 overdrive and then multiplying by .78 for each up shift.

          Basically you would be driving around in 5th gear most of the time, but if you ever have the occasion to pull a train, you have gears for that too. 🙂
          Nothing has been said about all the energy inefficiency with this over geared configuration.
          The GEAR Vendors are north of $2500 each and then you have to adapted them to each other . Long story short It would be about $12K for this gearing solution. If it were me, I would think my money better spent taking the TESLA Model S gearbox to a big machine shop that specializes in making gears and seeing if there is enough room in the existing gear box to change the ratio from 9.5 to 1 to about one third that value or 3 to 1 final ratio with a yoke for a drive shaft. I would market this final converted TESLA gearbox to make-up my costs. Then other builders only has to determine the available rear end ratios and tire size to make his EV work with the proper motor r.p.m. range.
          Mark Yormark

          1. Thanks Jack and Dennis. Changing the truck to independant rear suspension may be the way to go. Artmorrison appears to have been around for quite a while, so parts should be available as required.

            Mark, thanks for checking on the rear end gearing available.
            Stacking GEAR drives in series is a creative solution. But it sounds large, expensive and complicated.
            Leaving the TESLA gearbox stock so that spare parts are available is obviously the first choice.

          2. My ignorance on this topic knows no bounds but I have a vague recollection that the vehicle weight and tyre size acts as a crude torque limiting device so putting a gearbox into a heavier vehicle with larger tyre diameter risks letting small fragments of metal out of said gearbox.

    3. Michael.
      Let us all know how the the experience with Art Morrison Enterprises pans out. AME is about 30 miles from my home and I am very much aware of what they offer and how much it costs. Currently AME does not offer in essence a TESLA Model S center section on a cross member that bolts of to the existing frame of a Dodge 3500 to make a independent rear suspension.
      AME has a catalog of adapted custom frames to many older popular car for hot rodding, so there catalog pricing is base on vehicles that they have already digitized and something they can sell for more then one vehicle. The top hot rods in the world use their components and they can charge a premium price for them.
      So what from what I understand now you want to do is have a one off, which would mean some how you would have to transport the 3500 Dodge truck along with the TESLA power-train to Fife Washington and then AME would have to measure and digitize both, and then then would have to design the suspension geometry for this unknown vehicle. This design is all for not if you cannot spindle for the control arms if it exists for a 1 ton vehicle. In one word, huge engineering cost if it can be done if AME if they can find these spindles for the control arm.
      If after all of this cost, it could be done, then the existing gear ratios are geared for a TESLA Model S with smaller diameter tires and a higher top speed. To add to that the i.c.e. Dodge 3500 weighs about a ton more then the TESLA Model S. Geared with higher gearing because of the larger diameter tires of the Dodge 3500 and weighing more is not a design that you would be happy with considering the potential money that you will be putting into this project.
      I still think the the money would be better spent investigating a longitudinal motor with a drive shaft yoke and re-geared from 9.5 to one to 3 to 1. before you buy the truck.
      Mark Yormark

      1. You may be correct about the engineered solution. But 9.73:1 with Tesla tires equals 138 mph. Larger tires means HIGHER speeds and less leverage. 160 mph. Now if you go to 3:1 16000 rpm is over THREE TIMES the output shaft speed or 480 mph. You’re going the wrong way.

        3 x 9.73 would give you nearly 30:1 not 3:1 now we’re at 50 mph. Great torque, but not a great top speed. 20:1 is about what we total gearing to the wheel here.

        That said, at 9/73:1 although you would have a huge top speed, you have 310 kw here and I think it would move the truck just fine.

        None of this works.

        Morrison’s muililink IRS does NOT have to be engineered to the vehicle by them. You kind of have to fit it to your vehicle. It WOULD have to be customized to accomodate the Model S Drive Unit. I have no idea what they would want for that.


        1. Jack,
          I think you are missing my points. If the TESLA Model S gear box can be reworked to change the the ratios from 9.73 to 1 to one one third of that reduction to 3.24 to 1 with a drive shaft yoke then it can be attached by a drive shaft to a factory rigid axle rear end (4.11 to 1) like the Dodge 3500 already has. This installation is far less complicated and more forgiving for people who want to convert their own vehicle.

          But of course the TESLA power plant will now have to be mounted longitudinally and not traverse like its normal orientation in the Model S.

          I am not aware of a I.R.S.spindle that will accept a 8 lug wheel like the Dodge 3500 which weigh about 7000 pounds . There is no factory vehicle of this 8 lug configuration that has IRS unless it is the H1 Hummer which will not work because it has a 1.97 to 1 reduction then makes it too low of a reduction. Although there still is the possibility of taking a 4 wheel drive Dodge 3500 with independent front suspension and making it front wheel driver, but still a lot of work adapting making custom half-shafts and motor mounts all in the proper geometry.
          If am happy what you have done to hack the TESLA Model S power-train, but now this power plant has to be adapted to many vehicles to make it work. Because this TESLA power-plant has so much power it opens the doors to many heavier vehicles that could not have been considered for conversions before you successful hack.
          AME makes great products, but an IRS solution is not possible now because the TESLA power-plant has not been measure and digitized.
          How is AME suppose to get this information to make this IRS? Somebody, like you has to send AME the Model S power-train to measure.
          Still the IRS solution is an expensive options for someone who wants to convert? Although, it is not know yet if the TESLA Model S gear box can be reworked and re geared to a ratio of 3 or 4 to 1 so that it could be adapted to more common drive trains using a drive shaft to a solid rear axle like many of the classic cars.
          If the standard TESLA Model S gear box can not be re-geared there are other options for custom gearbox. I know SCS could make a gearbox with many ratios available that the TESLA Motor and inverter could be integrally mounted . My favorite would be a 1 to 1 reduction that one could use with a flywheel and transmission and at the other end a accessory shaft..
          Mark Yormark

          1. And that sounds like a mess to me Mark. A thorough mess. I know of no way to “convert” the gear ratio in the Model S Drive Unit. And mounting it longitudinally sounds heroic. Even the concept of locking one side and driving the other is very different from the intended design and purpose of this gearbox.

            I’ve said this several times. There isn’t a good way to “adapt” this drive train to be anything other than what it is – an IRS drive train. It is highly integrated design-to-purpose. You can’t “separate” the controller, motor, and gearbox.

            I don’t really see our viewers adapting it to “larger” vehicles at all. I think we’ll see them wanting to adapt it to “smaller” vehicles like Camarro’s, Corvettes, and perhaps vintage pickups. ANd yes, we are actually talking to AM about a marriage with their multilink IRS which I think would be a great fit. Though perhaps not to a Dodge 3500. But a 53′ Chevy pickup? Quite likely.

            Broadly, if it can do a 3.5 in a 4600 lb vehicle, it should be able to do it just as well in a 3000 lb vehicle or a 3500 lb vehicle. I don’t care to kill myself with speed, and if I did, I would use a Lear 24D, but there is certainly that desire among our viewers.

            But you are probably right that a Dodge 3500 won’t be the model of choice for this drive train.

            Jack Rickard

          2. Jack,
            I am all about converting 53 CHEVY 5 window pick-up as a rear wheel powered by the stock TESLA Model S drive-train which would be cradled in a Art Morrison Enterprise independent rear suspension. Obviously this is a very complex design and the final IRS for the TESLA center section would appear quite different. I have all the faith that it could be done successfully by AME. This will be a very exciting project!
            Mark Yormark

          3. The H1 sounds like a great conversion. Take out the engine/transmission and longitudinally mount the Model S drive train where the transfer case was. What’s the theoretical top speed of a Model S? A 1.97:1 reduction doesn’t seem like a problem…unless you wish your H1 to go 170mph. I’d be happy with an 80mph H1 with enough low end torque to drag a Ram 3500 Cummins around any parking lot.
            If you wish to adapt a full-size truck, convert a 4wd version. Send the differentials out to get the tallest gearing available.
            Why not take an IFS from your Dodge 3500 and adopt the stub axles and spindles into an IRS? Absolutely TONS of work and fabrication but if that’s what you want then get ‘er done!

      2. Since I’ve been way out of my league on the details since the beginning of the discussion I won’t offer an opinion on which solution is technically best.

        I will say that if there is/was an independent rear suspension package that has enough room to house the TESLA drivetrain available off the shelf (or close to it), it would influence the year and the brand of the truck I would convert to electric. I may be convinced to drop back to a 3/4 ton or a half ton instead of a one ton. I don’t really haul frequently enough to justify a 3/4 ton, much less a one ton. I would change from a Dodge to a Ford or GMC. The truck could be vintage or relatively new.

        This topic has certainly inspired many people to comment. Perhaps there is a market for such a package .. where you lift up the rear of the truck, replace the rear end with TESLA bits, then put it back down.

        1. Upon contacting AME and speaking to Steve he suggested contacting No Limit Engineering in Tennessee.
          Tina at No Limit did respond positively for Rob to my email asking if they were interested in doing the engineering to mount a Tesla Model S IRS in other vehicles.

    4. I’ve got a 3 1/2 ton Medium duty Hino that I’d like to introduce to electric. It won’t be soon because I have a tractor waiting first. However, if you get the dodge going due a good youtube of the whole project.

  2. Jack,

    Congratulations to you and your team! You really have advanced the cause by providing us access to the many OEM products for our builds.


  3. To Jack and the other members of the Hack team:

    I am pleased you guys got it all figured out! Grats! So where do I go to get one (Tesla drive unit)? That seems perfect for my next conversion project. (A Binford 300k conversion.) I am good with $6000 for the Motor/Inverter and gearbox. At double the price, not so much. I expect the pricing to wander around for a while and eventually end up around $3000 at the salvage yard. In 100000 quantities that would be around the cost to manufacture for that assembly as a new item.

    See you all at EVCCON.

    1. Yes, that’s an interesting hack. The car itself wasn’t specifically vulnerable by itself but a little insurance dongle that hooks to OBDII was vulnerable. But, to make matters worse apparently the car has a bunch of the canbus traffic right there on the normal OBDII port. That isn’t the brightest move ever. It highlights the cavalier attitude that automakers and dongle makers have toward security. But, this was still a “we got physical access to the car and did bad things” sort of hack. Even if I were using an insurance company dongle it’d be tough to take over my car unless you knew the telephone # of the GSM module in that dongle. Absent that info you can’t access it. Though, I don’t consider lack of knowing the telephone # as much security.

  4. I wonder how ESP is managed in Tesla. I think it should require information about front wheel rotation (and rear ones as well, if not detected at the differential) being passed to the drivetrain. Interesting that lack of that info doesn’t make any problems for Jack.

    Another thing: Tesla “D” versions: it would be interesting to hack the front drivetrain so it may be used to power some lighter car. Someone would need to give / lend Tesla “D” to Tesla Hack Team though.

    1. In the single motor cars the ESP would probably mostly be a function of per wheel braking so the motor needn’t be terribly involved. It would probably be a good idea for the car to be able to limit torque from the motor but otherwise the motor could do its thing and the brakes do theirs.

      If anyone wants to lend me a Tesla P85D I would selflessly accept it and test it out for a while. 😉

  5. “And I am on notice by the supplier of one of our drive trains. As soon as we make it usable, he intends to double the price.”

    I have seen this before. After publishing an info on DIY electric car forum that I managed to make Chevy Volt inverter run in my application, there was immediately an overpriced ebay offer on “Chevy Volt inverter – ready for conversion, build your electric car”. I did contact the seller, asking him how does he intend to make it usable anywhere, and if he can provide a guide.

    Obviously he had no idea, but apparently knew about me. His profit on selling this salvaged inverter was higher than what I could get by selling the actual system enabling this in the first place. It didn’t feel right, but that’s economics 101.

  6. Great work on the Tesla drivetrain by the whole team!

    For those tracking the Model X delivery rollout. The factory is now apparently closed for tours as they tweak the production lines for Model X. I just had a factory tour confirmed for September 10th at noon, so I can only assume the lines will be locked down and producing again by at least that date. That easily makes a worst-case September 30 roll-out party possible. Now, what volume they’ll be coming out at is another question. I’ll post quickly with whatever details I can learn while I’m there.

  7. Jack,
    I’ve never responded before but I’ve been an ardent viewer and reader of your philosophies since the beginning. Once I read your latest article here, I just had to drag myself up out of the cesspool and dry out long enough to write you. In other words, I’m inspired by your words! After nearly 17 years as a power delivery engineering manager for Intel, I’m retiring the end of this month and am glad to be through with it for a whole host of reasons… all of which can be found in your dialog above. A bit different industry to be sure, but all the players and all the sins are the same. I’m saddened to see total EV sales rates drop so drastically (same as with my IT industry) which absolutely does point a finger at how most auto manufacturers just don’t get it. Trying to sell an EV because it doesn’t depend on gas – particularly when gas prices are dropping anyway – is ludicrous! Never mind the fact that big oil is artificially positioning gas prices to undermine EV sales all along the way. These auto mfg guys just don’t get it. To that end I absolutely agree with you that for this reason alone Tesla and Musk are the only ones that do get. And they’ll continue to get it well into the future when they’re the preeminent car manufacturer in the world (EV or not) long after gas prices once again drop below a buck a gal. Hopefully by then, big oil will be stupid enough to bury themselves with the misinformed notion that customers by then still care about the cost of a gallon of gas. That’s where you come in Jack, leading the consumer education charge in helping everyone to understand true value based on facts and not lies. Selling the overall value proposition is the key, not just emphasizing one minor factor that’s based on artificial competitive positioning! That’s like trying to sell computer servers because a particular brand can simply eek out a few wisps of higher speed more than the competition. Who cares? What does it matter these days if the IRS can calculate your return a tenth of a second faster with my brands of server over competitive brand “B”. Remember the Edsel and IBM I say. But I digress. At any rate, I totally agree (and always have) with your particular brand of politics and I must say thanks for your mentorship and guidance to the rest of us! Consider me one who will be in the front of the line when EVTV Motor Verks gets the whole drive train package ready for misfits like us who don’t dare trust anyone but you in this arena. BTW, I’m still paying $3+ a gallon here in Puget Sound WA (and a dollar more for diesel mind you) all well within the shadow of one of the biggest refineries in the world. But I must say I agree with you again when I yell that I don’t care if the gas price drops to a flat 35 cents a gallon again in my lifetime. I’m still not going to bend over and say “thank you sir, please may I have another”. That’s why I drive a highly customized 2010 Prius with a bucket-o-my-hacks and nearly 200K miles on it now. Perhaps one of these days, I can afford a Tesla. But until then, I’ll keep looking to you for inspiration, and future technical developments so I can shoot salt at big oil, and at our own poor misinformed government. Please excuse me now as I have to go online to order my own Bug-o-Salt from your store.
    Seriously, thanks Jack for all you and your team do! And please no more comments like “I don’t need to work.” Actually you do. Not for the money mind you, but you’ve accepted the responsibility to inspire and mentor the rest of us, and now you don’t have a choice! It’s that important.
    Looking forward to shaking your hand at EVCCON.
    Bob Fort

  8. Congrats on the CAN-taming of the Tesla drive train, hack-team! Each maple bench seems to take exponentially less time than the one before it. So, the Volt drive train once strapped up on the table will take about 17 and a 1/2 minutes to decode.

    In other news, Norway is now employing a trial of non-silent EVs:

    – Collin

  9. $2.65 a gallon really!!??
    We’re at $3.65-$3.89/gal here in the OC, CA.

    Congrats Hack Team on the Tesla drive train success.

    Jack, if you really can’t find a proper conversion project for one of your Tesla drive trains, I’ll bet I can.

    I was going to go with two Coda UQM 100s for my SSR to HVR conversion.
    One for each rear wheel, but that would just be a short term solution.
    My ultimate drive train of choice would be the full compliment of drive trains from a Tesla P85D.

    The Bad Ass 500HP LS2 Corvette V8 In the SSR needs a equally Bad Ass electric replacement for its HVR reincarnation.

    Of course, since I don’t want to run over any blind pedestrians, I will comply with the law & make sure the HVR is not totally silent.
    I will record the exhaust sound of the SSR V8 & play it back as a sound track when I drive the HVR.
    If they still can’t hear me coming, I’ll just crank up the volume! LOL

    I gotta get me a BIG HORN for my Coda & HVR. ROFLMAO

    1. And our UK petrol is down to “only”$6.73 equivalent per US gallon and everyone thinks it’s cheap!!!

      Congratulations Jack on getting the Tesla drive train up and running 🙂

      1. Up here in Canadia, we had a run down to about $2.65/USG back in winter when oil was dancing around $50/bbl. Now at $40/bbl we’re paying $4.50/USG. Funny how soon people forget. I live in the heart of the oiosands business community though, so people probably feel some sort of (misplaced) patriotism when getting gouged at the pump :/

  10. Cap’n Jack, As a side note, I live about twenty miles from the EVTV headquarters, and would be willing to donate my time to the EVCON if you need any free labor. And no, I don’t have enough Ducats to attend.

        1. Although EVCCON isn’t cheap, it’s still a very good bargain. If you add up all the meals that Jack provides, and have some idea on how much catering a meal for an event costs, the meals alone cost nearly that of the registration fee.Then there’s the cost of the hall, beer truck, etc. I go to several different conventions for work per year, and usually the cost per day is higher, and meals are not included. The last couple years my hotel bill was larger than my EVCCON registration fee, so if you are looking to save money, look for less expensive hotels and book early as Hotels fill up fast in Cape year round.

  11. “And another hack team has come up with an entirely different CAN capture purportedly on the same model car. It has 107 messages NOT in common with ours. Which is troubling.”

    May it be possible that each car (i.e drive unit) has its own unique CAN message ID’s, algorithmically determined based on VIN or something? But then again, your test bench codes are based on your running car. Maybe there are batch differences: model based (test unit and your car are P85 correct?), year, season, outside temp that day?

  12. I’ve found an interesting thing: the list of new Apple employees for Project Titan:
    – Robert Gough, a former Autoliv
    – David Nelson, a former Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) engineer
    – Pete Augenbergs, a former mechanical engineer at Tesla
    – Hugh Jay, former transmission and mechanical design engineer at EMCO Gears
    – John Ireland, former senior power train test engineer at Tesla
    – Mujeeb Ijaz, former director of automotive at A123 Systems Inc.
    – Rui Guan, a former Drive train engineer at Ogin Inc.
    – Al Golko, former Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI) employee
    – David Perner, former product engineer for Hybrid electric vehicle systems at Ford
    – Jim Cuseo, former powertrain engineer at MIT Motorsports
    – Fernando Cunha
    – Lauren Ciminera, former Lead Recuriter at Tesla
    – Sawyer Cohen, former Control Engineer at Concept Systems
    – Phil Hobson, former employee Tapwave
    – Brian Lynch
    – Kurt Stiehl
    – Dillion Thomson, former Lead Designer at General Dynamics
    – Sebastian Marineau, former BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)


      1. Stanley A. Cloyd

        For the 1-ton Dodge truck convertor: One of the Soon coming EVI vans will find a tree planted 40 years ago. When it does, the UQM Power Phase HD220 will also be a CAN bus orphan on the salvage market.

        1. Stanley A. Cloyd

          I can see from the photo how to correct the rear tow-in on this IRS unit. It is not obvious where one would correct or adjust camber as the rubber bushings wear and age. OEMs also commonly fail to provide for this. With rear MacPherson strut units one has to slot the top shock hole to get 0 degrees camber after a few years. Eccentric bolts are sometimes available to fix these types of units as they age.

          1. Stanley A. Cloyd

            Upon further review, it appears they provided eccentric locking washers on the lower control arms just behind the diff cover. Over all it looks hell-fer-stout although defiantly not a least weight design.

  13. Jack,
    Well it has been a couple of month since you hacked the TESLA Model S drive-train, Have you become aware of any builds that will use your TESLA Model S drive-train with its 9.73 to 1 gear box? I suspect not. As we are all aware this not an easy conversion because of having to design the independent rear suspension for this power plant.
    You stated this in previous reply to me:
    And that sounds like a mess to me Mark. A thorough mess. I know of no way to “convert” the gear ratio in the Model S Drive Unit. And mounting it longitudinally sounds heroic. Even the concept of locking one side and driving the other is very different from the intended design and purpose of this gearbox.
    Have you actually looked into my idea before you dismissed it? Big cities like St Louis have gear manufacturing machine shops which make custom gears and would be able to change the ratios and eliminate the differential. One really does not know until you take a TESLA Model S gear box to a shop and open it up to see if it is physically possible. Remember, if you can change the ratio from 3 to 4 to 1 then it can be paired to readily available rear axle ratios using the OEM suspension.
    Mark Yormark

    1. Mark:

      We have not and will not investigate this concept. No one has implemented a Tesla Drive Unit into a build to my knowledge. Further, as far as I know we are the only ones on the planet with a good start on reverse engineering the control of this drive unit and we haven’t completed the design of a control system. So the liklihood of a build is a bit remote, and has nothing to do with adapting the drive unit to an IRS suspension.

      The integration of motor and inverter and gearbox is rather complete. I don’t see a path to separating them.

      No doubt the gearbox could be regeared. To what end, I remain a little vague. Given the size of the unit, a “sideways” Tesla drive train makes little sense to me.

      Jack Rickard

      1. Jack,
        Well my thought is out there, maybe somebody else can pursue re-gearing the TESLA gearbox. In the meantime I know it would be quite useful for your prospective buyers of your control system if you came out with a drawing with accurate dimensions of the TESLA Model S power-plant assembly so your buyers will know if it could possibly fit in there prospective EV conversion.
        Keep up the great work that you are doing. You are providing a exciting possibility for all us wanting a larger more powerful electric vehicle.
        Mark Yormark

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