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Open Vehicle Monitor System (OVMS) Quick-Start guide?

Stuart

Roadster#326, ModelS#1409
Supporting Member
May 23, 2009
79
3
San Jose, CA
A couple of years ago I was planning to get the OVMS module for my Roadster 1.5, and discovered that I’d waited too long and the v1 hardware was discontinued because the v2 hardware was in development. So I had to wait until the v2 hardware came out. Then I got my Model S and forgot about it for a while.

I’ve got used to the remote monitoring my Model S has, and decided it’s time I got the same for my Roadster.

Now I come back again to look at getting the OVMS for my Roadster 1.5, I find it all quite confusing. The Tesla Motors Club forum has a thread on OVMS with 605 posts in it — hardly a quick reference for what I need to do.

When I go to http://www.openvehicles.com/ I find lots of stuff you’d expect to see at an open source repository, but no Quick-Start guide. There’s a link to the Roadster User Guide, which is great, but doesn’t tell me what to buy or where to get it. I notice that the OVMS v2 box appears to have a connector marked “GPS”. The Roadster User Guide talks about installation and positioning of GSM Antenna but makes no mention at all of a GPS Antenna, not even a comment to the effect, “Ignore this; you don’t need it.” Do I need it?

It took me a while to realize that the FastTech link on the left of the page is not just just an advertising link from a sponsor, but is actually where you get the hardware.

So, I’m getting closer, but... the FastTech product page lists not just the OVMS Car Module v2 but a bunch of other stuff too, that I may or may not need to get:

  • GPS Antenna: SMA
  • GSM Antenna
  • OBD-II OVMS Cable: Left
  • OBD-II OVMS Cable: Right
  • OVMS Tesla Roadster Cable
  • PICKIT 2 Compatible Programmer
  • PICKIT 3.5 Compatible Programmer
Which of these do I need to get?

I’m thinking “no” to the GPS Antenna (it uses the Roadster’s GPS, right?) and “yes” to the GSM Antenna.

I’m thinking “no” to the two OBD-II OVMS Cables and “yes” to the OVMS Tesla Roadster Cable (which is ironically not available — I hope that’s just a temporary situation).

Do I need the PICKIT 2? PICKIT 3.5? What's the difference? Do I need both? Neither?

If someone could post a quick OVMS shopping list for Roadster 1.5, that would be a huge help to me and people like me looking to install this in our Roadsters.
 
Last edited:

markwj

Moderator, Asia Pacific
Apr 10, 2011
4,620
1,256
Hong Kong
Stuart,

Best links are:

Shopping list: Vehicle Support | Open Vehicles
User Guide: https://github.com/openvehicles/Open-Vehicle-Monitoring-System/raw/master/docs/OVMS_UserGuide_TeslaRoadster.pdf

You will need the module, the vehicle cable and the GSM antenna. The Tesla Roadster already has GPS, so no need for the GPS antenna.
http://www.fasttech.com/products/1099/10000001/1000300-ovms-car-module-v2
http://www.fasttech.com/products/1099/10000001/1000400
http://www.fasttech.com/products/1099/10000001/1000500

We strongly recommend you get the PICKIT-2 (or have access to one from another owner nearby). That is required for upgrading the firmware, or installing the Tesla Roadster specific firmware (with cool features such as logging and Advanced Charge Control).
http://www.fasttech.com/products/1099/10000001/1002200

Fasttech are currently out of stock of the tesla roadster specific cable. PM me if you are in a hurry and I can airmail you one directly.

Regards, Mark.
 

Stuart

Roadster#326, ModelS#1409
Supporting Member
May 23, 2009
79
3
San Jose, CA
Thanks for your quick response.

May I suggest adding some introductory information prominently placed at the top of the home page? Consider the plight of a first-time visitor. When I visit openvehicles.com today, what I see is things like “Vehicle firmware v2.6.5 has been pushed to github” and “New Github Location”. Huh? As a first-time visitor to the page I have no idea what this thing is or what it does, and the first thing I see is that there’s a new version of the thing I don’t know about, and the thing I don’t know about has moved from somewhere I didn’t know about to somewhere else. It’s very focussed on the people who already know all about this, with little to bring newcomers up to speed.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 13.46.02.png

We strongly recommend you get the PICKIT-2 (or have access to one from another owner nearby).
FastTech also lists the PICKIT 3.5. It costs a little more. Is it better? Faster? More capable in other ways? More future-proof for other PIC microcontrollers I may need to reprogram in the future?

That is required for upgrading the firmware, or installing the Tesla Roadster specific firmware (with cool features such as logging and Advanced Charge Control).
What firmware does the OVMS Car Module come with? Am I okay with that firmware, or is installing the Roadster-specific firmware pretty much a necessity?
 

supersnoop

Tesla Roadster #334
Mar 24, 2014
1,111
222
Pflugerville
One word of warning; I purchased the OVMS, GSM cable, and Roadster cable two weeks ago. The tracking shows it was processed through a sort facility in China, with no other update in the past two weeks.

I didn't purchase the PICKIT, and I'm not sure if I'll regret that decision. My main concern is getting a SIM set up and running with the device. I hope there are better instructions to be found on that topic.
 

wiztecy

Active Member
Apr 29, 2012
2,905
566
Santa Cruz, California, United States
Thanks for your quick response.

May I suggest adding some introductory information prominently placed at the top of the home page? Consider the plight of a first-time visitor. When I visit openvehicles.com today, what I see is things like “Vehicle firmware v2.6.5 has been pushed to github” and “New Github Location”. Huh? As a first-time visitor to the page I have no idea what this thing is or what it does, and the first thing I see is that there’s a new version of the thing I don’t know about, and the thing I don’t know about has moved from somewhere I didn’t know about to somewhere else. It’s very focussed on the people who already know all about this, with little to bring newcomers up to speed.




FastTech also lists the PICKIT 3.5. It costs a little more. Is it better? Faster? More capable in other ways? More future-proof for other PIC microcontrollers I may need to reprogram in the future?


What firmware does the OVMS Car Module come with? Am I okay with that firmware, or is installing the Roadster-specific firmware pretty much a necessity?


I believe the issue is that OVMS is a non-profit opensource model with limited volunteer resources. If more people contribute in their own area of expertise, these suggestions you made above are within range to get accomplished, otherwise, its being supported by the coders hence the talk git-hub and the current infrastructure. However taking a quick google search one can educate themselves and find out how all this stuff works. I did and many Roadster owners have, and when they got into trouble they asked :) Also it didn't take me all that many searches to find a "quick start" series of steps to get my OVMS running and I documented what worked and what didn't for others.

Again its a matter of having the resources. There are code changes/enhancements/bug fixes, same the firmware changes, and if/when a quickstart guide is made, it too will change in time and need to be maintained/revised to be accurate. Right now the resources are focused on the code-base and supporting the existing users as well as the infrastructure.

Possibly you could work with Mark on the quick-start guide and possibly maintaining it? Usually a new person is the best person to write one up from a newbee point of view. Also it appears you're a pretty good writer too :)

Another issue is that people just don't use the TMC search feature in the upper right corner, or if they do they don't have adequate search skills to find all the useful information buried in the TMC forum/database. There's actually two "real" threads that exist on the OVMS on TMC, one is about the OVMS installation the other is the Technical discussion that discusses about software updates, changes, SIM cards, providers, issues,etc...

OVMS Installation
Open Vehicle Monitor System (OVMS) - Technical Discussion

One suggestion would be having the OVMS as a sticky thread, but then if every important thread is sticky then that too is not all that helpful and we're back to the seach tool again.

Good suggestions. I hoped I made sense with it all, Mark is the best person to elaborate. I'm commenting from my own personal experience as well as the experience with open source software.
 
Last edited:

Stuart

Roadster#326, ModelS#1409
Supporting Member
May 23, 2009
79
3
San Jose, CA
I believe the issue is that OVMS is a non-profit opensource model with limited volunteer resources.

Yes it is, and like many open source projects the web site is perfectly competent, with the one small exception that the people maintaining it are so deeply involved with the project that they seem to forget what it was like for them as a newcomer encountering it for a first time. And being accessible to newcomers is important — that’s how you get new people involved and grow the pool of volunteer resources.

Web site design is not my strength (my own personal page was writen in emacs in 1994 and hasn’t changed much since then) but if they want to give me write access to the page I’m willing to make a try at a introductory description. I think the main issue is one of layout — useful information is there, but it’s not headlined at the top of the page where it’s easy for a first-time visitor to find.
 

markwj

Moderator, Asia Pacific
Apr 10, 2011
4,620
1,256
Hong Kong
For PICKIT2 vs PICKIT3, our recommendations are:

For general end-users just wanting to update firmware, we recommend the PICKIT2. It is cheap, reliable, simple to use, and does the job for OVMS. Software is a simple standalone app download and very very simple to run. Firmware update instructions for PICKIT2 are available here:

OVMS Firmware Update Guide

For developers, we recommend the PICKIT3. It is newer, supports more processors, but is much harder to use for just updating firmware. Software comes with the full microchip development environment, and is much more advanced and complex.

Regarding the website, and 'welcome' to new users, wiztecy and others are correct. This is a hobbyist project, with people volunteering time, expertise, money and resources. It is not a commercial entity, and we rely heavily on donations. A good example is the SMS provisioning system, where we charge ZERO, but rely purely on optional donations to pay for the SMS traffic. Everyone involved in the project has regular day jobs, and I continue to find it amazing what we have accomplished in our collective free time. We have tried our best to do what we can for novice new users, but the core issue is that the support load for new, non-hobbyist, users is relatively high and falls largely on me. We have some amazing regional and per-vehicle support, but that is not global. If we charged three times as much, we could have regional distribution resellers, certification, and local support. But, then users would be paying $300 rather than $99 for the module. This is something that is being actively discussed, and there are some hard decisions to be made.

Perhaps at this point in the project, the 'news stream' format of the website is not the best, and I would be more than willing to support anyone who wants to take a stab at improving it and changing the direction to be more supportive for new users. My eMail is mark (at) openvehicles (dot) com.
 

supersnoop

Tesla Roadster #334
Mar 24, 2014
1,111
222
Pflugerville
I just want to follow up and say how easy it was to get this all configured. I finally found my way into an AT&T store yesterday, and got everything working in a matter of hours. The module, according to the VERSION? command, was already loaded with the 2.6.5 Roadster firmware.
 

Stuart

Roadster#326, ModelS#1409
Supporting Member
May 23, 2009
79
3
San Jose, CA
I just want to follow up and say how easy it was to get this all configured. I finally found my way into an AT&T store yesterday, and got everything working in a matter of hours. The module, according to the VERSION? command, was already loaded with the 2.6.5 Roadster firmware.

Yes, I did mine today. Total time was under 90 minutes, not counting permanent installation of the antenna, which I’ll do later.
 

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