EV charging in Iceland / Chargers for electric cars

Helmut Neukirchen, 2. May 2022

Now that electric cars have a reasonable range, driving around the ring road is no issue anymore. Therefore, some information for tourists (and Icelanders new to EV charging) who want to use an electric vehicle (EV) in Iceland and want to know how the charging situation is. Basically, the charging infrastructure is as follows:

  • ON (the former Reykjavik utilities company): Across Iceland, the most dense and most powerful charging points (High-Performance Chargers with Alpitronic chargers, some old 50 kW tripple chargers and AC chargers: some with fixed Type 1 and Type 2 cables, some with the usual Type 2 plug), you can spot them easily as they are orange. See their map. They issue their own RFID charging keys, but you need an Icelandic ID number ("kennitala") for it, so no chance to get these as a tourist. Luckily, the Plugsurfing key works as well (I can confirm that the key works), but the Plugsurfing app does not work as well, so for sure, you need an Plugsurfing RFID key/cars. In case of problems at the charging station, do not hesitate to call ON 24/7 hotline (they are very helpfull), e.g. to make them restart a fast charger.
  • Ísorka: they mainly offer owners of AC chargers to take care of the finances, i.e. the chargers are not owned and operated by Ísorka. As such, the costs of AC charging are decided by the owners of each charging point. In addition, Ísorka has also a few fast chargers (using their blue-white design). See their map. You should not need an Ísorka RFID key as the Ísorka app works typically always. In addition, Ísorka is part of the Virta network, so Virta-related keys and apps should work as well (not tried, though).
    (There was some controversy around Ísorka when they filed a complaint against ON which did lead to that while the complaint was processed, ON had to shut-down curb-side AC chargers on which many EV owners relied on. First, Ísorka denied that the shut-down was due them filing a complaint, but later it came out that the opposite was true. ON tried to act in the interest of EV owners who relied on these chargers owners by making then charging for free, but again Ísorka complained about this as their point was not that ON were not allowed to make money, but rather about ON installing the chargers, instead of Ísorka or other competitors installing the chargers via a Europe-wide competition. Once the complaint was processed, it was confirmed that the shut-down would not have been necessary. ON celebrated later that the ruling was finally in their favour by making use of these chargers for free for a couple of days.)
  • Stoppustuð: Sometimes, you find (in particular on the country-side) some purple chargers marked STOPPUSTUÐ. These charging points where once given by the company Orkusalan for free to, e.g., municipalities. It is up to the municipalities how much they cost, but typically, they are for free (but some do not work at all as no one maintains them). Often, you still need whatever RFID chip (could be, e.g., you Plugsurfing key/card or anything else that has RFID) to start and then use the same RFID to end the charging session and release the charging cable. Most Stoppustuð are listed on Plugshare (which is anyway from the crowd-sourced maps the one mainly one used in Iceland).
  • N1: A gas station operator that started offering EV charging by taking over old 50 kW fast chargers from ON (when N1 terminated the rental contract based on which ON was able to set up fast chargers at N1 gas stations) and painting them in red. See their map. Some of them are for free, others require to pay: either using the N1 card (that also works for gas) or AFAIK (I never tried) the chargers might even take ordinary credit cards. Sometimes, people complain that the chargers are unreliable and when they called the N1 hotline, people claimed that this was not helpful.
  • Of course, there is Tesla with Superchargers (in contrast to other countries, they are sill Tesla-only at time of writing) and destination chargers (those who do not know it: if there is only one destination charger, it is Tesla-only, but if there are more, then the others are also for non-Tesla EVs).
  • In addition, some guesthouses have their own AC chargers for their guests.

In general, finding a 50 kW charger is not a problem (often, these are ABB tripple chargers, where it is often possible to use Type 2 AC charging in parallel to either CHAdeMO and Type 2 CCS). Typically, there is only one 50 kW charger at a place, i.e. you may have to wait for it to get free. High-Performance Chargers are just slowly being added, but the ones operated by ON come typically as twins, i.e. two chargers are installed and in addition, these are the modular Alpitronic chargers that have two or three 75 kW modules, and if one car uses only 75 kW, then you can charger another car in parallel with 75 kW. As always, leaving a phone number visible in the car to be reachable while charging is a good practise.

For those coming with their EV via the ferry: the first AC charging point (Stoppustöð) is on the camping ground in Seyðisfjörður and the first fast chargers in Egilstaðir ((N1 and Tesla, see Plugshare map -- but ON has just announced to improve in Egilstaðir where they have currently only AC chargers) and your car has to climb a mountain pass to reach Egilstaðir. Note that there is no electrical power grid along the ring road between Egilstaðir and lake Mývatn that would supply enough power to operate a fast charger, so take this into account.

The Westfjords are not covered well by ON, so again, have a look at at Plugshare for the available fast chargers offered by others.

Of course, also Iceland suffers from the bad habit of dinosaur-blood consuming ICE cars (and even EVs not charging) blocking EV chargers. Unfortunately, you can only request legally to get them towed away if they are marked with an official sign (which is typically not the case).

Vehicle to load (V2L) adapter

Helmut Neukirchen, 20. April 2022

Luckily, more and more Electric Vehicles (EVs) support getting electricity out of the drive battery again. In future, this can be a key to use the energy stored in EVs during peak-usage (Vehicle-to-Grid). For the time being, I use it to have electricity when camping or during power outages to power my fridge.

For example, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has (only if it has not a heated windscreen as the same cabling is used) a dedicated Schuko plug (rated at 1500 W -- by the way: it has no fuse: if you draw more amps, then simply the voltage goes down)

MG and Hyundai/Kia do this via the Type 2 charging connector (well, Hyundai/Kia do support also an internal Schuko plug, but the Icelandic Kia importer decided to offer/order only configurations without that internal plug). For the Type 2-based approach, a proprietary Type 2 to Schuko adapter is needed that is pretty expensive if you buy the OEM version.

Luckily, some re-engineering has been done that shows that only cheap passive electronics is inside. But be aware that the adapters are slightly different for MG and Hyundai/Kia. And in addition to DIY solutions (concerning the resistor, I did some research: a 0.25 W resistor is sufficient should be enough), third parties start to offer way cheaper adapters: currently only for the MG, but supposedly soon for the Hyundai/Kia as well.

New LaTeX templates for theses at University of Iceland / LaTeX sniðmát ritgerðar/lokaverkefna Háskóla Íslands

Helmut Neukirchen, 25. March 2022

Finally, the new (2021 and later) thesis title page examples are available at the HÍ Corporate Design web page and I just finished creating a LaTeX template based on it.

You should find the most recent templates at https://gitlab.com/uice.

But you can also download it: UniversityOfIcelandMScThesisV2.0.1. (I have submitted it to Overleaf as a template.)

The PhD thesis template has also been updated: uiphdthesis_V2.1.0.zip. If you started already your PhD thesis, it is in principle enough to

  1. replace the old ui-phdthesis.cls by the new one and
  2. replace the two files HIlogo.pdf and UIblueribbon.pdf by banner.png
  3. add \thesislicense{All rights reserved} to your .tex file (or update to the license you want to make your thesis available).
  4. Also check the comments at the start of file uiphd_template.tex for possible further additions (\numberwithin and \UrlBreaks).
  5. In contrast to Version 2.0.0. version 2.1.0 moved the bibliography management out of the cls file into the tex file where BibLaTeX is now used

While the old template used the school-specific colors (e.g. VoN had orange), the new color scheme suggests to use these school-specific colors only internally, but work targeting people outside the university (such as a thesis) use always blue independent from the school (this was by the way already always the case with PhD theses).

The PDF version is used by a print shop when printing and binding the thesis: the normal M.Sc. thesis pages are printed using A4, but the cover page (with the blue) will be printed in A3, with the front page on one side and the back page on the other and the spine (bókarkjölur) in the middle (so in fact, that page is even bigger than A3 to accommodate the extra space for the spine). All the A4 pages are then glued into this A3 sheet. The inner side of the A3 remains blank: to simulate this in the PDF, the second page is simply empty (BTW: that empty page is missing in the official Microsoft Word template) and it is then followed by a page that serves as some inner title page, i.e. it repeats all the information from the title page, just with a slightly different layout and without the blue graphical elements. After that follows a page with copyright information, and only after that, your real contents starts.

This means, when you go to a print shop, the title page generated by you gets anyway ignored (and therefore, the LaTeX template does not even bother about generating a back page -- the print shops use the back page to add their name there).

But as the thesis is also electronically archived using the PDF that you submit, your self-generated PDF with the title page matters for that version.

The fact the Word template (to be used by students) looks less professional than the PDF (to be used by print shops), hints at the PDF version is the serious one (and I can only recommend to use not that Word template. If you use it, try match the PDF generated from my LaTeX template).

See my older post for further information.

Communication with buoys using LoRa (CommBuoy) project funded by the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration Research Fund

Helmut Neukirchen, 7. March 2022

LoRa is a long-range, low-power (but also low-bandwidth) wireless communication suitable for IoT, such as transmitting sensor data.

This one-year project Communication with buoys using LoRa (CommBuoy) received 1.8 million Icelandic krona funding from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration Research Fund. Together with me, Sæmundur Þorsteinsson from the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering and my Computer Science collegue Esa Hyytiä are investigators in this project. Should any student be interested to work in this, e.g. as final M.Sc. project, please contact Helmut.

Software Engineering versus Programming

Helmut Neukirchen, 24. February 2022

The book “Software Engineering at Google” (curated by Titus Winters, Tom Manshreck and Hyrum Wright, O’Reilly, 2020) is officially available for free online at https://abseil.io/resources/swe-book and I can only recommend reading it to get an idea of how Google delivers high-quality software. Of course, their solutions that fit a company as big as Google do not necessarily fit smaller companies.

As I did already in my post Why you should study Software Engineering cover the difference between Software Engineering and programming, I found it interesting that the above book covers it as well:

We believe it is important to differentiate between the related-but-distinct terms “programming” and “software engineering.” Much of that difference stems from the management of code over time, the impact of time on scale, and decision making in the face of those ideas. Programming is the immediate act of producing code. Software engineering is the set of policies, practices, and tools that are necessary to make that code useful for as long as it needs to be used and allowing collaboration across a team.
(“Software Engineering at Google” curated by Titus Winters, Tom Manshreck and Hyrum Wright, O’Reilly, 2020, p. 23)

For my taste, that quote does not cover enough human aspects (the nice thing about Software Engineering is that it does not only include the hard skills, but also soft skills), but that was in fact discussed already earlier in that book:

Another way to look at software engineering is to consider scale. How many people are involved? What part do they play in the development and maintenance over time? A programming task is often an act of individual creation, but a software engineering task is a team effort. An early attempt to define software engineering produced a good definition for this viewpoint: “The multiperson development of multiversion programs.” (There is some question as to the original attribution of this quote; consensus seems to be that it was originally phrased by Brian Randell or Margaret Hamilton, but it might have been wholly made up by Dave Parnas. The common citation for it is “Software Engineering Techniques: Report of a conference sponsored by the NATO Science Committee,” Rome, Italy, 27–31 Oct. 1969, Brussels, Scientific Affairs Division, NATO.) This suggests the difference between software engineering and programming is one of both time and people. Team collaboration presents new problems, but also provides more potential to produce valuable systems than any single programmer could.
(“Software Engineering at Google” curated by Titus Winters, Tom Manshreck and Hyrum Wright, O’Reilly, 2020, p. 4)

Want to study Computer Science, Software Engineering or Computational Engineering / Nám í tölvunarfræði, Hugbúnaðarverkfræði, Reikniverkfræði

If you want more information on our programmes:

Bachelor (B.Sc.)

Computer Science (Tölvunarfræði) -- we added recently the specialisation in Data Science

Software Engineering (Hugbúnaðarverkfræði)

Master (M.Sc.)

Computer Science (Tölvunarfræði)

Software Engineering (Hugbúnaðarverkfræði)

Computational Engineering (Reikniverkfræði)


And of course, you can also do a PhD in any of these programmes. Before you apply, contact a professor: either by a personal visit or -- if you are located abroad -- by writing an old school paper letter (professors get hundreds of email with PhD applications where it is obvious that the same email was written to many professors and thus, these email are considered as spam -- but a paper mail makes an impress)!

Crossover Office and Microsoft Powerpoint presentation user template storage location

Helmut Neukirchen, 5. January 2022

It took me some time to figure out where my PowerPoint 2007 stores the user specific presentation template. Assuming the bottle's C: drive is at ~/.cxoffice/Microsoft_Office_2007/drive_c/, then just copy your templates to
~/.cxoffice/Microsoft_Office_2007/drive_c/users/crossover/Application Data/Microsoft/Templates

Zoom Panopto integration

Helmut Neukirchen, 9. November 2021

Panopto can tell Zoom to copy Zoom meeting cloud recordings to Panopto. You can configure this automatic import/export by clicking in the very upper right corner of https://rec.hi.is/ on your user name and then select "User Settings".

University of Iceland is running Panopto with at least two different storage spaces: the old storage space used when logged-in to Panopto via UGLA (for Panopto videos accessible via UGLA) and the new storage space when logged-in to Panopto via Canvas (for Panopto videos accessible via Canvas).

On https://rec.hi.is/, you can in the upper right corner log out and log in to change between these two spaces. But you cannot copy videos between these two spaces -- but UTS help desk can do so.

For the Zoom integration, the problem is that recordings may end up in the wrong space: whatever the last log-in to Panopto was, sets the integration, i.e. tells Zoom where to store the video for all future Zoom session recordings. So take care that your last log-in was into the intended storage space before a Zoom cloud recording starts. (Or ask UTS help desk to fix it afterwards.)

Ice tea vs. IoT: LoRa

Helmut Neukirchen, 20. October 2021

Ice tea or IoT -- what do you prefer?

When I ordered the TTGO T-BEAM, I liked that it combines LoRa and GPS and it even supports a 18650 battery (18650 cells with internal protection circuit are somewhat longer, but still fit -- although very tight) including a good charging chip to charge the Li-Ion cell -- not LiFePO -- via USB (USB can also be used to power the device without using the battery holder). The ublox NEO-6M GPS chip has a dedicated backup (super)capacitor (looks like a coin cell battery) to buffer the GPS chips' RTC and almanach, but probably only for a few minutes.

Just when the delivery arrived, I found video #182 from Andreas Spiess, reporting that older TTGO designs had some design flaws: the 868-915 MHz versions have passive RF components (coils and capacitors to tune the frequency) that are not specific enough for the 868 MHz that we use here in Europe (some even fixed that) and the LoRa antenna could be better (all the videos by Andreas Spiess can only be recommended, including the LoRa videos). I was then happy to see that in newer designs, including the T-TBEAM, the WiFi antenna is placed better and in fact, the T-TBEAM even has a connector for an external WiFi antenna (but would need some minor soldering); also the LoRa and GPS part is now shielded by a metal cage. I was relieved to find the more recent video #224 measuring the T-BEAM and other newer boards, judging the newer designs to be OK.

I already expected that a better GPS antenna might be needed (and the tiny original one is only fixed with some adhesive tape that does not hold very well).

In summary, the T-BEAM seems not to be that bad (even the passive component that are too generic for 868 MHz turn out to be OK), but many reports indicate that the power consumption is rather high (This whole thread is also a worthwhile reading). 10 mA seem to be the minimum possible even during deep sleep. Concerning the power consumption, there seems to be an issue with deep-sleep. There is also a video on what is possible with ESP32 and deep sleep.

Some people complained that they got only 900m instead of kilometers of range. The comments for video #224 mention that an older library had a flaw concerning the transmit power which did lead in that video to a low transmission power; according to the comments, this has at least been fixed now in the LoRa library by Sandeep Mistry that can be found in the Arduino Library Manager.

A display can also be connected, but to reduce power consumption, it might be better to make it removable by using a female header.

Andreas Spiess recommends in his videos WeMos D1 ESP8266 and a Hope RFM95W LoRa module for which even a PCB is available (recommending as well WeMos D1 as ESP2866 board) -- it however needs SMD soldering. Nexus by Ideetron has elsewhere been mentioned as low power solution, but has only a small user base and thus lacks information -- and GPS can anyway be expected to be the big power consumer.
Concerning the LoRaWAN libraries, MCCI seems to be the only one that it actively maintained and communication with The Things Network needs to save some state information (for joining via OTAA) which MCCI stores in RAM that is not buffered in deep-sleep of ESPs. So for using OTAA, MCUs that do buffer the RAM (i.e. newer ATMEL MCU like in newer Arduino) would be preferable, e.g. Atmega 1284p together with a watchdog for waking up periodically has extremely low power consumption (0.5 μA in deep sleep) but lacks GPS. Other low power designs provide even triple GNSS and acceleration-detection watchdog. In addition to the ublox GNSS chips, there are some approaches that claim to reach lower power consumption by off-loading GNSS solver processing via LoRa to some external clouds server infrastructure or doing extreme A-GPS data compression for LoRa transmission from a cloud.

The really cool thing is that even satellites serve as LoRa repeaters (if there is a clear line of sight, LoRa has a theoretical range of 1300 kilometers, thus even reaching low earth orbit satellites). By this, sensors that have no LoRa connection on the earth, can still reach a LoRa repeater in the sky and forward their messages. (But you probably need an amateur radio license for the used 70 cm frequency band: 435 MHz / 436 MHz up- and downlink.)

I also got two TTGO Lora32 v1.6.1 that have LoRa, a card reader, and a tiny display on the back, but not GPS. On one of them, the WiFi antenna was already loose when unpacking (see the 3D sheet metal in the photo below). Need to check how easy it is to solder it back again (or whether rather a hot air rework station is needed) or is it as opportunity to add an SMA/UFL connector? (There is also an UFL antenna connector, but since it as close to the LoRa SMA antenna connector, I guess the UFL connector is as well for LoRa -- after desoldering some 0 Ohm SMD resistor and creating a soldering bring/reusing that 0 Ohm SMD resistor.)
Even though TTGO Lora32 comes with a cable to connect a battery, TTGO Lora32 version v1.6 had a fire issue where the battery explodes. I checked the schematics: My v1.6.1 has this issue fixed and the TTGO T-BEAM uses anyway a different charging IC that is claimed to be pretty good.

Also, double check the pinout: some complain that the pinout provided by LilyGO can be wrong.

Depending on the applications, I might use LoRa for device-to-device commnication, or LoRaWAN via The ThingsNetwork that has a coverage in Reykjavík, but fair use limits, e.g. 10 messages to the device per day, which could be avoided by setting-up my private LoRaWAN using ChirpStack.

Talking about lora (a popular name for parrots as the Spanish word for parrot is loro): did I mentioned already that the Computer Science department has moved and already a new visitor...?

DIY DVB-T/DVB-T2 indoor sleeve antenna made out of a coax antenna cable

Helmut Neukirchen, 13. October 2021

As the DVB-T sender has been moved here within Reykjavík, I had to adjust my indoor antenna which is simply built by turning a coax-antenna cable into a half-wave dipole antenna (essentially, a variant of a sleeve antenna) : the outer insulation of the coax cable was removed so that the part with the inner wire has a lambda/4 length and the left-over shield was peeled and turned inside out over the insulation so that it also has lambda/4 length (in sum: lambda/2). The aluminum foil that was part of the shielding was removed and finally, the inner insulation removed so that the inner wire remains totally uncovered. Take care that remainders of the shield do not touch the inner wire.

For the details, including the calculations, see: http://www.vdr-wiki.de/wiki/index.php/DVB-T_Antennen (in German, but the calculations work in any language -- note that they use a correction factor of 0.95 for the length of the shield and 0.97 * lambda/4 for the length of the inner wire -- but, well, the antenna needs to cover some frequency range, so these corrections probably matter not that much).

More info on the senders in Iceland can be found at https://vodafone.is/sjonvarp/sjonvarpsthjonusta/thjonustusvaedi/ (see map at the bottom). The sender operated by Vodafone on Úlfarsfell broadcasts on three UHF channels with 8 MHz bandwidth:

  • Channel 26 (514 MHz center frequency): RÚV HD (DVB-T2), RÚV 2 HD, BBC Brit, DR1, Food Network, Hringbraut, N4, National Geographic, Rás 1, Rás 2, Rondo (the latter are not TV, but radio)
  • Channel 27 (522 MHz center frequency): RÚV (DVB-T only), Stöð 2, Stöð 2 Bíó, Stöð 2 Fjölskylda, Stöð 2 Sport, Stöð 2 Sport 2, Rás 1, Rás 2, Bylgjan, Fm957 , Léttbylgjan, Xið
  • Channel 28 (530 MHz center frequency): Stöð 2 Golf, Stöð 2 Sport 3, Stöð 2 Sport 4, Animal Planet, Discovery.

Using 522 MHz, lambda/4 is 14.36 cm which I used for the above DIY antenna.

With the older sender where I had an unblocked line of sight, the reception was yielding almost 100% signal strength and signal quality, but with the new location of the sender on Mt. Úlfarsfell, my reception got really bad (there is a hill and high buildings in the line of sight) and signal strength is even fluctuating, which might be explained by the weather, e.g. rain can be expected to weaken the signal strength.

In addition to the above programmes, my TV receives a far stronger DVB-T signal on on channel 41 (634 MHz -- which means the calculated lambda/4 does not fit perfectly, still the received signal strength is close to 100%) which must be another sender than the one from Vodafone (it anyway broadcasts missionary programmes only).

EOSC-Nordic Knowledge Hub

Helmut Neukirchen, 29. September 2021

The EOSC-Nordic project has a knowledge hub that contains knowledge on using the European Open Science Cloud, e.g. services for storing and finding research data or accessing cross-border scientific computing (in particular with a Nordic focus): https://www.eosc-nordic.eu/knowledge-hub/.