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Steps and scripts for turning a Raspberry Pi into a useful USB drive for a Tesla
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README.md

teslausb

Intro

You can configure a Raspberry Pi Zero W so that your Tesla thinks it's a USB drive and will write dashcam footage to it. Since it's a computer:

  • Scripts running on the Pi can automatically copy the clips to an archive server when you get home.
  • The Pi can hold both dashcam clips and music files.
  • The Pi can automatically repair filesystem corruption produced by the Tesla's current failure to properly dismount the USB drives before cutting power to the USB ports.

Archiving the clips can take from seconds to hours depending on how many clips you've saved and how strong the WiFi signal is in your Tesla. If you find that the clips aren't getting completely transferred before the car powers down after you park or before you leave you can use the Tesla app to turn on the Climate control. This will send power to the Raspberry Pi, allowing it to complete the archival operation.

Contributing

You're welcome to contribute to this repo by submitting pull requests, creating issues, and joining this Slack team.

Prerequisites

Assumptions

  • You park in range of your wireless network.
  • Your wireless network is configured with WPA2 PSK access.

Hardware

Required:

  • Raspberry Pi Zero W: Adafruit or Amazon

    Note: Of the many varieties of Raspberry Pi avaiable only the Raspberry Pi Zero and Raspberry Pi Zero W can be used as simulated USB drives. It may be possible to use a Pi Zero with a USB Wifi adapter to achieve the same result as the Pi Zero W but this hasn't been confirmed.

  • A Micro SD card, at least 8 GB in size, and an adapter (if necessary) to connect the card to your computer.

  • A mechanism to connect the Pi to the Tesla. Either:

    • A USB A/Micro B cable: Adafruit or Amazon, or
    • A USB A Add-on Board if you want to plug your Pi into your Tesla like a USB drive instead of using a cable. Amazon, or
    • A PCB kit if you want the lowest profile possible and you're able to solder. Sparkfun

Optional:

  • A case. The "Official" case: Adafruit or Amazon. There are many others to choose from. Note that the official case won't work with the USB A Add-on board or the PCB kit.
  • USB Splitter if you don't want to lose a front USB port. The Onvian Splitter has been reported working by multiple people on reddit.

Software

Download: Raspbian Stretch Lite

Download and install: Etcher

Set up the Raspberry Pi

There are four phases to setting up the Pi:

  1. Get the OS onto the micro sd card.
  2. Get a shell on the Pi.
  3. Set up the archive for dashcam clips.
  4. Set up the USB storage functionality.

There is a streamlined process for setting up the Pi which can currently be used if you plan to use Windows file shares, MacOS Sharing, or Samba on Linux for your video archive. Instructions.

If you'd like to host the archive using another technology or would like to set the Pi up, yourself, continue these instructions.

Get the OS onto the MicroSD card

These instructions tell you how to get Raspbian onto your MicroSD card. Basically:

  1. Connect your SD card to your computer.
  2. Use Etcher to write the zip file you downloaded to the SD card.

    Note: you don't need to uncompress the zip file you downloaded.

Get a shell on the Pi

Follow the instructions corresponding to the OS you used to flash the OS onto the MicroSD card:

Whichever instructions you followed above will leave you in a command shell on the Pi. Use this shell for the rest of the steps in these instructions.

Become root on the Pi

First you need to get into a root shell on the Pi:

sudo -i

You'll stay in this root shell until you run the "halt" command in the "Set up USB storage functionality" below.

Set up the archive for dashcam clips

Follow the instructions corresponding to the technology you'd like to use to host the archive for your dashcam clips. You must choose just one of these technologies; don't follow more than one of these sets of instructions:

Optional: Allocate SD Card Storage

Indicate how much, as a percentage, of the drive you want to allocate to recording dashcam footage by running this command:

 export campercent=<number>

For example, using export campercent=100 would allocate 100% of the space to recording footage from your car and would not create a separate music partition. export campercent=50 would allocate half of the space for a dashcam footage drive and allocates the other half to for a music storage drive. If you don't set campercent, the script will allocate 90% of the total space to the dashcam by default.

Optional: Configure push notification via Pushover

If you'd like to receive a text message when your Pi finishes archiving clips follow these Instructions.

Optional: Configure a hostname

The default network hostname for the Pi will become teslausb. If you want to have more than one TeslaUSB devices on your network (for example you have more than one Tesla in your houseold), then you can specify an alternate hostname for the Pi by running this command:

 export TESLAUSB_HOSTNAME=<new hostname>

For example, you could use export TESLAUSB_HOSTNAME=teslausb-ModelX

Make sure that whatever you speicfy for the new hostname is compliant with the rules for DNS hostnames; for example underscore (_) is not allowed, but dash (-) is allowed. Full rules are in RFC 1178 at https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1178

Set up the USB storage functionality

  1. Run these commands:
    wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/cimryan/teslausb/master/setup/pi/setup-teslausb
    chmod +x setup-teslausb
    ./setup-teslausb
    
  2. Run this command:
    halt
    
  3. Disconnect the Pi from the computer.

On the next boot, the Pi hostname will become teslausb, so future ssh sessions will be ssh pi@teslausb.local. If you specified your own hostname, be sure to use that name (for example ssh pi@teslausb-ModelX.local)

Your Pi is now ready to be plugged into your Tesla. If you want to add music to the Pi, follow the instructions in the next section.

Optional: Add music to the Pi

Note: If you set campercent to 100 then skip this step.

Connect the Pi to a computer. If you're using a cable be sure to use the port labeled "USB" on the circuitboard.

  1. Wait for the Pi to show up on the computer as a USB drive.
  2. Copy any music you'd like to the drive labeled MUSIC.
  3. Eject the drives.
  4. Unplug the Pi from the computer.
  5. Plug the Pi into your Tesla.

Optional: Making changes to the system after setup

The setup process configures the Pi with read-only file systems for the operating system but with read-write access through the USB interface. This means that you'll be able to record dashcam video and add and remove music files but you won't be able to make changes to files on / or on /boot. This is to protect against corruption of the operating system when the Tesla cuts power to the Pi.

To make changes to the system partitions:

ssh pi@teslausb.
sudo -i
/root/bin/remountfs_rw

Then make whatever changes you need to. The next time the system boots the partitions will once again be read-only.

Meta

This repo contains steps and scripts originally from this thread on Reddit

Many people in that thread suggested that the scripts be hosted on Github but the author didn't seem interested in making that happen. I've hosted the scripts here with his/her permission.

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