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Tesla Roadster talk and the TechShop

I finally got to see both the Tesla Roadster and the TechShop last night, two things I have been looking forward to for some time. The Tesla talk wasn't the most charismatically delivered talk that I've been to, but it was a talk that any engineer could appreciate. The talk was given by an electrical engineer who worked on the Power Electronics Module (PEM), which handles charging as well as transfer of power from the batteries to the engine. I don't think I've ever been to a talk where the answers to questions were so perfectly detailed to include the parts supplier and the specs, if that's what the questioner desired. While claiming to not be really able to answer the mechie questions in detail, he still came up with interesting details to please us nerds. I won't bother re-transcribing specs that are probably locatable on their Web site (and if they aren't, our speaker indicated that they are responsive to questions posted on their blog).

Most of my questions and interested related to how the lithium ion batteries would hold up over time. I didn't get quite the answer I wanted, but the salient details were: * it's guaranteed for 100K miles, though you probably get some prorated discount if it fails before that * people with lead feet (aka their market) will not get 200 miles range on the battery pack * the battery pack is rated for 500 full cycles (100% -> 0%) of charging * an HVAC unit takes care of keeping the battery pack at ideal temperatures for usage, thus prolonging the life * a separate Tesla energy group is exploring licensing the battery technology elsewhere * with their special charging unit (requires rewiring of your electricity) you can fully charge in 3-4 hours. Wall charging will take ~4-5x as long. There is a mobile charging cord that fits in the trunk.

The car itself was interesting with it carbon fiber body and Elise-like size. I managed to squeeze in the cockpit, where the notable elements were the 2-speed transmission as well as a small LCD screen to the bottom left that indicated battery life. m and I took a peek at the log book which detailed the bug list for the current firmware, which reminded me that we are in the frightening age of cars running software.

The TechShop tour was also fun. It's clear that it is not a mature operation just yet -- they are still getting in more equipment -- but they have quite a lot as it is and I could imagine having a lot of fun there. The multiple laser etchers and the welding classes are the real attraction for me. The laser etchers are more a novelty that I'd probably get over after I had imprinted every gadget I own, but the welding (and other) classes open up a whole new realm of skills that a computer science education failed to impart.

I'm stealing a photo out of m's photostream (I borrowed his camera for the shot). He has many more photos of the car.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on May 4, 2007 4:08 PM.

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