Driving the Tesla to Montreal

Last Friday, we took the Tesla out to Montreal. On this trip we will really get to test the Supercharger network.

We left Richmond Hill at around 7am with a full charge of 100%. While on the highway, I took full advantage of the basic Autopilot feature, specifically the Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) and Auto Steering. The TACC worked really well, but there were two instances where it did brake for some reason that was not evident to me. The Auto Steering for the most part really take the edge off of driving long distances. However its forcefulness of always driving in the centre of the lane is a bit scary, especially when passing tractor trailers. Normally when I drive and pass a truck, I typically stay more towards the left of the lane. I needed up turning off Auto Steer while passing trucks at times. I hope Tesla can add this lane “bias” as a future software option.

I also got use to passing with the basic Autopilot. I did not purchase the Enhanced Autopilot which will perform automated lane changes. I think this was a good call, as the Auto Steer is already a bit scary for me. We will have to warm up to the automated driving features a little more before we really adopt the new technologies. The jerkiness has improved as I got the timing down between signalling the lane change and re-engaging the Auto Steer once I am on the new lane.

Our first charge was at Gananogue, Ontario at fast Tesla Supercharger.

Tesla Supercharger at Gananogue

This was a very convenient location, as it was close to a McDonald’s. The charger was very fast. The car reported that it was ready to continue on the journey before we finished our breakfast. The charge time was less than 25 minutes, and the cost was slightly above $21. We had 30% on the battery when we arrived, and we left with 85%, which was enough for me to drive all the way to my uncle’s place in Montreal. I arrived with 26% battery left.

I decided to top the car off to 80% so that we don’t have to worry about our state of charge during our stay in Montreal. We went to Cote Vertu mall to perform another charge at its supercharging station.

Tesla Supercharger at Cote Vertu Mall

So the charging station here seemed older, and the handle plugs seemed a bit vandalized. Our first attempt stopped at 50+% for some reason, and I had to return to the car from the mall to plug it in again at a different station, which worked fine until 80%. This was the only “weird” incident I had with the Superchargers throughout the entire trip.

On the way back, we stopped by at the Cornwall supercharger, which was not ideal, because it was pretty far off the highway (more than 3km). It turned out to be a blessing in disguise since there was traffic on HWY 401, so it was good timing. We only charged for less than 10 minutes, just so that we get it top off enough to get to Gananogue again.

Tesla Supercharger at Cornwall

I got back home with around 15% of battery left. I plan to have the car back at home with a minimalist comfortable state of charge as possible because after all, we have solar power to charge the car back up.

While in Montreal, we also played with our J1772 charging adapter that came with the car. This adapter allows us to use a non-Tesla charger. The “Electric Circuit by Hydro Quebec” chargers were peppered throughout the island of Montreal. We found a convenient cluster of 4 chargers near where we stayed (~2km), and slow charged (5kW) our car for $1/hour. We left our car there for about 3 hours and got about 15kWh (~20%+). The slower charge is better for the battery any ways, and we spent the hours at my aunt’s place enjoying congee and more food.

Electric Circuit J1772 charger at Parc Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau in Cote-St-Luc

Another good story to tell is while visiting the Rene-Levesque Park, it was fairly difficult to find parking. However, there were an empty spot reserved for electric vehicles, so I took it! While we walked the park, the Tesla was happily charging at 5kW, so cool. Okay it cost me $0.80 for the charge, so it was not completely free, but can’t complain.

Charger at Rene-Lévesque Park with “Free Parking”

We did not have the opportunity to test our CCS Combo 1 adapter, which I purchased from Tesla just before our Montreal trip.

Combined Charging System (CCS) 1 adapter

The above adapter will allow us to get fast DC charging from a non-Tesla supercharger. Last night, we found one at the Hyundai Canada office near Hwy 7 and 404. This place is close to my parent’s place. The adapter worked well, and we did less than $3 charge there at a respectable rate of 50kW. However being a newbie, I should have charged it up for at least $5, since this is the “minimum” charge. Silly me!

We stayed for about 10 minutes and got about 10% more on the battery.

75 Frontenac Drive – Hyundai Canada

With this new found experience and successful tests of different charging methodologies, I think we are good to go for a cross Canada return trip to Vancouver in September!

Short Road Trip to University of Waterloo

This morning we wanted to show our son what the University of Waterloo campus looked like. This is also an excellent opportunity to get use to our new Tesla Model Y along with its Autopilot functionality.

As the above pictures show, the campus is a ghost town, but it was nice that most of the buildings were still opened and we took the opportunity to walk around.

Aside from the typical Toronto traffic, the drive itself was pretty uneventful. While on Highway 401, I had the car on both Auto Steer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) for more than 80% of the trip. For the most part it worked well, but I did notice a few points:

  • Passing trucks seem to be a lot closer than I like when I manually pass a semi on the highway;
  • When in Auto Steer, the car seem to initiate the turn a little later than what I would normally do; and
  • Finally, one can get really use to TACC and forget to press the brake when TACC is off;
  • I love TACC when in traffic – it is a godsend!

We also took the opportunity to do a quick test supercharge in Cambridge, Ontario at 22 Pinebush Rd, Cambridge, ON N1R 8K5.

We really did not have to charge, since our Long Range model had enough juice to go there and back. We just wanted to experience what supercharging is like. It was super simple! We added 10kWh for $3.93, and that took about 6 minutes. During this time, I showed my wife how to do it.

Another experiment that we did was I ran Waze on my iPhone in concurrent with Tesla’s navigation routing and mapping. Albeit I currently have a sample size of one, but my feeling is that Waze is still better at this point in terms of traffic awareness and routing abilities. Also Tesla maps do not show obstructions, speed traps, and other goodness of Waze. I will be doing more of this comparison on our trip to Montreal next Friday.

Tesla Delivery Day

Today is the day! We departed our house at 10:45 am and arrived at 2 Chrislea Road, Vaughan, Ontario at 11:20am to pick up our new Model Y 2023. I drove into the service centre that was literally filled with Tesla vehicles to the point where we could not park at the service centre. We had to park at the next lot and walked over.

Location of the Tesla Vaughan Service Centre

It was not too bad, as if “someone up there” has arranged to put the rain on pause, while we walked into South entrance.

The first greeting counter

At the greeting counter, I was handed some paper work and told to sign at the relevant locations, which I did. The reception was a well oiled process. After the paperwork was handed over along with my bank draft at the second counter, I was handed the “card keys”, ownership paper, and my chaperone took me to the car. They didn’t even check if I had proper insurance!

Chaperoned to my new Model Y

He helped me to pair my iPhone 14 Pro to the car. Gave me a few tips on operating the wipers, and asked me if I had any questions, which I said “no.” I got into the car and adjusted my seats and mirrors, and we were on our way! I am certain, if I had any questions, he would have been of great help. However, I followed Tesla’s advice and watched all the delivery day videos, so I knew what I had to do. He did tell me that today at this centre, they are going to move over a hundred vehicles. This is more vehicles than any other dealerships in a single month. GM better up their game plan!

I dropped my wife off to her Toyota Prius Prime, and then routed the car to drop my neighbour off to pick up his 10 years old Tesla Model S that was being worked on. My neighbour being a Tesla champion and expert came along with us and was of great guidance to us through the delivery process. Thank you Johnny!

My beautiful wife in front of the Service Centre

On the way home, I established the data link (Premium Connectivity) and turned on Auto Steer. I had to drive a little ways for the car to calibrate itself before I can turn on the cruise control and auto steer. This feature was super handy when I got stuck at a traffic jam on the way home. My new Tesla was able to follow the car in front of me while I was bumper to bumper in the jam.

Once I got home, I tested the Mobile Charger to make sure that it was working and stuck the charger in the trunk, which is where it will live and use during road trips. I added my wife as a second driver, and we added profiles for myself and my wife, and went out for a late lunch. It was very weird to go out without any keys. I can now use my iPhone for both car and home locks.

Now we have two green vehicles in our garage.

Tesla Model Y 2023 (left), and Toyota Prius Prime 2020 (right)

Sorry Subaru Impreza 2013, you will now have to park in the drive way for now.

I have scheduled the charger to kick in at 5am tomorrow so that we can take a small road trip to the University of Waterloo tomorrow. We wanted to show my second son the campus as he considers his options for September.

Tesla charging through the Wall Connector at 40A (~9kW)

One last thing, I also configured the car with my home’s WiFi, and thought it was pretty cute to have the car showing my solar power generation status using my custom power dashboard.

Tesla displaying my solar power generation stats using the in car’s browser

Tomorrow to Waterloo, Ontario, and next week we’ll be going to Montreal! Going to look forward to our Supercharging experience.

New 1.5Gbps Internet Service

On April, 4th, I received a promotional offer from Rogers offering Ignite Internet service at 1.5Gbps plus Streaming for $114.99 per month.

I procrastinated a bit because I wanted to make sure that I can actually make use of this service. However, when I checked my bill for April, I noticed that my total monthly charges is at $102.99.

Note the above price prior to discount is at $117.99. I was curious to see if Rogers can get me a good deal without the Streaming service. I called Rogers support line and received a person who was not very helpful and simply just quoted conditions and deals to me. AI will do a number of these types of people soon.

I decided to try an alternative route by using Twitter (@RogersHelp). I direct messaged Rogers on Twitter and received wonderful help. They offered me the 1.5Gbps service at only $104.99 (with a 24 months commitment). This will be somewhat on par with my current payment and I will get 50% more throughput.

There is another question. Will my networking equipment make use of the 1.5Gbps? My networking setup has the Rogers Ignite WiFi Gateway (ARRIS Group, XB7 Modem) and is connected with a Cat5e cable to my Unifi Dream Machine Pro, using one of its 1Gbps RJ45 port.

Cat5e
Cat5e
Rogers XB7 Modem Unifi Dream Machine (UDM) Pro(Firewall / Router)
Internet
Internet
Home Network
Home Network
Text is not SVG – cannot display

How can we overcome the 1Gbps limit on the UDM Pro’s RJ45 port? Luckily the UDM Pro has an 10G SFP+ port as well. I went to Amazon and purchased a 10G SFP+ RJ45 Copper Module Transceiver.

The above will auto negotiate a 2.5Gbps to 10Gbps connection from the XB7 to my UDM Pro. Of course I will not be getting 2.5G or 10G speeds. These are just the physical maximum per the respective devices. Rogers will throttle my inbound and outbound traffic to 1.5Gbps and 50Mbps respectively.

After installing the SFP+ module and rewire the existing Cat5e cable, I had to reboot the both the XB7 modem and the UDM Pro. Once everything came back up, I had another problem. How do I test that I actually get 1.5Gbps? I cannot do it from any WiFi devices or any wired devices in my house because they are all limited to the 1Gbps port speed from my networking switches. Once again, Unifi had thought of this already and provide a speed test functionality on its management dashboard.

The tested speed seems to be better than expected.

So you can see from the above screen shot, that we are now getting what we are paying for. I also performed a double test from two different machines that are routed to a switch that has a 10Gbps connection to my UDM Pro, and each machine received a 700Mbps to 800Mbps download speed, which is around 1.5Gbps in aggregate. Mission accomplished.

Unifi just came out with a new firmware update that enable the UDM Pro to perform load balancing of more than one WAN connection. When the SkyLink service becomes more economically feasible, we can attach a satellite based internet service as a compliment to the existing Rogers service. This way during a power outage, we can continue to get Internet.

Covid Came Knocking

My self-test on August 24th, 2023

On the evening of August 17, 2023, I started to feel really tired and cold. That evening my body went through periods of chills, and the next morning I woke up with a stiff body and painful joints. It took a lot of energy to check the phone and reschedule my appointments.

By Thursday, the fever is gone and coughing is under control, but the body felt week. Small exertions created a spell of dizziness. There were also random periods of cold sweats during the day. Thursday was also the day when I last took anything for the “flu”.

Others in the family started showing symptoms on Wednesday and Thursday. My wife tested herself for Covid over the weekend and showed positive. I tested myself yesterday (1 week after first sign of symptoms), and also showed positive. My sons did the same self-test with the same positive results.

After three years of avoiding Covid, our family finally caught it, inescapable. I am glad that the symptoms, in my opinion, are certainly more mild than some past flus that I have experienced. Hopefully we will all be back up and running soon.

Subsequent Tests:

2023-04-26
2023-04-28

Still positive 9 days from first symptoms. However at 11 days (April 28), I tested negative!

Tesla Order Update

It looks like Transport Canada has updated their eligible vehicles for their Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles Program.

From Transport Canada

From above, it is clear that the Model Y Long Range AWD is now eligible! This is great news. I will be able to save $5000 from the purchase price.

When I checked my Tesla account, I can see that my order has been updated.

That is of course excellent news. However there is a downside. The delivery date is now pushed out to be between late July and early September, so fingers crossed that we’ll be getting it sooner rather than later.

Above estimate as of April 25th, 2023

Update May 1, 2023:

Above estimate as of May 1st, 2023

Update May 6, 2023:

Received an email update indicating “Final Payment is now ready”. Went to the Tesla site and into my account and received the bank wire info. We will call the bank on Monday to arrange the transfer.

Above is displayed as of May 6th, 2023

Update May 14, 2023:

I received a text message this morning:

I chose the 20th, and we are temporarily booked for 11:30am for delivery. I have not received a VIN number as of yet. Hope to get this soon, as I will need it for augmenting our auto insurance.

The Pursuit of a BEV

This is our journey to buy a full Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).

When Tesla announced their Model 3 back in 2016, I was one of the first to place a $1,000 reservation for one. The promise was for an electric vehicle costing $35,000 USD. In the spring of 2018 when the first delivery to Canada happened, the price was $64,100 CAD for the Long Range Model 3. This is not the AWD version, and with the taxes it will exceed $70K. The on the road – all in – price from one of our neighbours exceeded $80K when his vehicle got delivered. Okay, at the time there was a $15K incentive from the government.

The final sticker shock was a bit of a surprise, and we were still probably not ready for a full electric vehicle at the time. We checked out the Nissan Leaf, the Hyundai Kona, and the Kia Niro. These were all in high demand with waiting lists exceeding a year. We waited for the Subaru Impreza Hybrid, which never made it to Ontario, and the availability in Quebec was spotty at best.

In a moment of pure coincidence, we got hold of a Toyota Prius Prime on October, 2019. This is our first Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). We decided on a PHEV to get our feet wet with EV tech but also mitigated our fear of range anxiety. We felt less stress with a hybrid, and the small plugin battery which offers a limited range of the 35 to 45km. This short range will make do for 90% of our trips, which are mainly grocery runs, errands, and trips to local restaurants. We thought this PHEV will be perfect for us.

The experience driving in EV mode with the Toyota has made gas station visits an extreme rarity. We are talking like two partial fill ups during 2020, and probably less than 10 fill ups to date (all partials), and we are on its fourth year driving the Toyota.

We love the PHEV experience so much that on July 27, 2021, we placed a reservation on a RAV4 Prime at Richmond Hill Toyota and were warned that the wait will be very long.

Hedging our bets, we later placed another reservation on a KIA EV6 at KIA Stouffville on September 2, 2022. We thought the EV6 would be in a similar price range of the RAV4 Prime. You can read more about our reservation experience here.

On March 7, 2023, I received a call from my contact at Richmond Hill Toyota and he told me he had a 2023 RAV4 Prime XSE available. The price was $66,073 CAD all in. In January, Tesla dropped their price on the Model Y Long Range AWD to $69,900 CAD (from $85,000). Since we already have a fossil car, a 2013 Subaru Impreza; and a PHEV, the 2020 Toyota Prius Prime, we decided to pull the trigger and reserved the Tesla Model Y on the same day. Below is the configuration and the price breakdown.

Basic configuration (click to enlarge)
Price Details (click to enlarge)

The $81K price tag is higher than the $66K of the RAV4, but I figured that I will probably not buy another car for a very long time. At my age, I minus will cease the waiting and enjoy what life remains. Assuming Tesla meet its commitment on delivery timeframes, we should be getting the car before July, fingers crossed!

I also pulled the trigger in getting the mobile charger, wall connector, and the All-Weather Interior Liners. As a matter of fact, the interior liners already arrived and the charge accessories have already been shipped. We will hit the ground running (or driving). In the meantime, we are back in the waiting game again. May the EV gods be kind to us.

I am already super addicted to YouTube channels that are sharing other people’s Tesla experiences. My wife and I are already quite excited and may even partake on a few road trips with the new purchase. Perhaps testing out the Supercharging network to Montreal, and then an across Canada trip from Toronto to Calgary and perhaps even to Vancouver. We will see.

I will update with another post when the car arrives!

Playing with Proxmox

Prior to the holidays in 2022, I upgraded my media NAS server as detailed here. After this upgrade, I repurposed the old server’s components and built another PC.

Originally I was going to use this extra PC as a simple online media encoder, since encoding videos in the HEVC codec takes a lot of CPU power. I did this for about a month. My son, Kalen had an old GTX1060 6GB graphics card that he was going to place on Kijiji for resale. I offered to purchase this graphics card off of him so that that I can pair it up with this repurposed PC. The new idea was to turn this PC into my gaming PC. I don’t do many 3D intensive gaming, so an older GPU is certainly good enough for me.

Off I went installing Windows 10 Pro on the PC. I also discovered at this time the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). I thought it would be a wonderful idea for me to have the gaming PC and not lose the ability for the PC to double as a media encoder through the use of a Linux distribution using WSL. My hope is that Linux with WSL will yield near metal based performance. Long story short, the performance of ffmpeg, the tool that I use for video encoding, was disappointing. Apparently there is a bug in WSL v2 that forced ffmpeg to only use 50% of its CPU power. There was nothing wrong with the concept of having a dual purpose PC for gaming and a handy Linux distribution for other endeavours.

The problem is with the Windows hosted Hypervisor, a software layer that usually runs between the hardware and the operating. I know of another hypervisor called Proxmox. This is a perfect opportunity for me to try Proxmox out. Before I installed Proxmox, I maxed out the memory of this repurposed PC to 64GB. It only had 16GB before and I thought this would not be enough.

One of the worries I had was how to get the raw GPU performance from Proxmox? Apparently there is a GPU passthrough option. Before installing Proxmox, I had to make some BIOS adjustments on the PC.

  • Enable IOMMU
  • Enable SVM Mode (same as Intel VT-x)
  • Enable AMD ACS

Only the SVM Mode is required for Proxmox, the other two are required for GPU Passthrough. After I installed the Proxmox server, I followed the instructions outlined in the following sites:

  1. From 3os.org: GPU Passthrough to VM;
  2. From pve.proxmox.com;
  3. And from reddit.

The first site was more clear and was the most helpful. I used the second and third sites as an alternate source and backup reference. Thanks to the above sites, I was able to get Proxmox running and created two virtual machines (VM’s). The first is an Ubuntu distribution called workervm and the second is a Windows 10 Pro instance with a GPU passthrough, called win10. Below is a screenshot of the Proxmox control administration site.

Proxmox control panel (click to enlarge)

Below is the workervm (Linux VM) configuration:

workervm configuration for Ubuntu instance

I had to make sure the processor type is set to [host] to get the most performance out of the virtual CPU’s. The Windows VM configuration uses a different BIOS, specifically a UEFI BIOS. We also have to ensure that the Machine type is set to q35. The Windows VM also has the EFI Disk and TPM State configured, and of course the extra PCI Device to represent our GPU passthrough card. Check out the full configuration for the Windows 10 VM below:

win10 configuration for Windows 10 Pro instance

After installing Windows 10 Pro, the network interface is not recognized. To remedy this situation I had to install virtio-win as described by this site here. After the installation of virtio-win, and a reboot. I had networking, connectivity to the Internet, and the Device Manager output from the Windows 10 Pro instance as shown below. Notice that Windows recognized the native NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB card.

Windows 10 Pro VM instance Device Manager

I tried to test out the GPU throughput with some 3D rendering demos and tested a couple of games from Steam using Remote Desktop. The performance was okay, but not stellar, and could have been better. I did some more research, and apparently Parsec, a virtual desktop sharing tool, is probably better for remote gaming.

I went ahead and installed Parsec on both the Windows 10 Pro VM, and on my Mac mini, which I used to remotely play games on the previous VM. This worked out to be quite well.

Now the repurpose PC is a Proxmox server hosting as many VM’s that the hardware can bear. The workervm instance can be used for video encoding and other generic Linux oriented work or trials. The win10 instance will be used for gaming and hosting our tax filing software, called TurboTax, which only runs on Windows.

In the near future, I will also be testing out Proxmox with virtual containers instead of machines. The containers are more light weight and less resource intensive. It will be another new adventure here.

Panel Snow Coverage

Today is January 13, 2023. We had an icy snow storm last night that lasted until this morning, and I was curious what the roof condition was like. Just how much of the panels were covered in snow?

Solar energy for today

Our peak energy production was at around 11am when we generated a little over 800Wh, which is inlined with what we kind of get on a cloudy, misty, winter day. In contrast, the best we got so far was on January 7th at 1pm. We generated 5,494Wh. That was a sunny day with no snow coverage on the panels.

A quick drone survey of our roof this afternoon at around 3pm.

I was kind of impressed that we got that much with so much of the panels covered. Watch the above video to see just how much of the panels are covered today. Our total production for today is only about 3,400Wh.

Below are the stats per panel.

Per panel generation statistics for today.

As you can see above, every panel contributed even the covered ones! There will be two sunny days over the weekend, so we will see!

Update: 2023-01-14

I did another roof survey with my drone, seeing that today it was a sunny sky day.

Roof survey on Jan. 14 (day after storm)
Solar energy production on Jan. 14

We have generated over 10,000 Wh of energy today about 3 times more than yesterday. The survey was conducted when it was still -6 ºC outside, so way below freezing.

Managing Audio Books with Plex

Library Setup

I have a membership with Audible and I sometimes also get other audio book sources. Recently I experimented with combining all of my audio books into a centralized place. Since I already have a Plex server running, I thought it would be a good place to do this.

I did a little research and came across a couple of very helpful articles:

  • A Reddit article;
  • and some really detail information on GitHub;

The main points are:

  • I have a single folder to store all of my audio books. Inside the folder, each audio book is stored as an “m4b” file.
  • Ensure that audio books have a poster image and that its artist and album_artist tags are set to the author. Where appropriate, the audio book should also contain chapter metadata.
  • Download and install the Audnexus agent;
  • Create a music library on Plex by adding the audio book folder, and set the agent to Audnexus
Note the Agent setting
  • Ensure that the advanced option of “Store track progress” is checked.
Ensure that Store Track Progress is checked!

Each book in the library will be represented as an album, and the author will be mapped to album artist. Once the library is created, you can download and play the audio books from the desktop using the Plex app. However, the more common use case is to listen to the audio books while on the go.

Using Prologue to Play Audio Books

We first have to download the Prologue App. I did not get any of the In-App premium functionality, and just stayed with the free version.

Point the app to my Plex server’s URL, and all the audio books from the library should now be accessible and playable on the iPhone or iPad with chapter, bookmark, and last-left-position support.

This is a really neat solution, and I am impressed how Plex and Prologue together formed a dynamic duo in this manner.