This winter NUsolar will be hosting several outreach events in local Chicgo-area schools. Later this February we will be traveling to Orrington Elementary school to talk to give a hour-long presentation on the solar car. This is a really exciting opportunity to get young children interested in STEM and talk with them about solar vehicles — something the’ve probably never even thought of before.
We are also partnering with a FUSE program run by the Northwestern Office of STEM Education Partnerships. The FUSE program encourages kids to get involved in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics by providing mini-challenges and competitions for the kids to participate in. Participants work on their projects for several weeks and then upload a video or report to the FUSE website, where they are assessed and given coments by mentors.
One of the new FUSE challenges is to construct a small cardboard “solar car” and design it to travel as fast as possible. We will be visiting one of the schools participating in this contest with SC6 sometime in May. Kids really love solar cars (see right), so this will be an exciting opportunity for them.
We also have been working on fancy new publicity materials, including an acryllic-embeded logo (no picture, sorry), and new 3D-printed models of the solar car:
This one still needs to be glued, but once complete, these models will hopefully allow us to give people a lot better idea of what our solar car is when we’re attending winter outreach events (like the ones mentioned above).
NUSolar is back in action for Winter Quarter!
Last Quarter, NUSolar hit 80% of its project milestones, surpassed its expectation of grant funding, and found a new sponsor.
This quarter, we aim to work on the SC6’s Steering Wheel Board, Driver Control board, among other items. So far, the SC6 is turning out to be promising!
It’s time to get back to work again: another exciting school year has started. This year NU solar is focusing on preparing SC6 for FSGP 2015 where we hope to be highly competitive. We are also begining the design process for our next car SC7! This next generation solar vehicle will be a four-wheeled car with a steel frame and designed for durability and reliability. We’re very excited about this new venture, and we hope that you will join us.
If you are interested in solar power technology, alternative energy, or you just like working on cars in general, please join us. The first team welcome meeting will be held:
Sunday, Sep. 28th, @ 12:00 pm in Ford Design Center.
(Date is subject to change; we have an outreach event on Saturday)
We have many teams, and we need new members for all of them:
- Electrical / Software
- Sponsorship and grant writing
- Publicity, Communications and Web Administration
- Public Outreach
Head over to the Join Us page or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
As the final weeks of the school year wrap up, we have finlly begun to seriously test SC6. On Saturday, following our weekly work session we took the car out on the first on-road excursion that it has been on in three years–top shell and all. The car performed very nicely, and there were no gliches in either the electrical or mechanical systems. On Sunday, then, we planned a slightly further excursion north eighteen miles to Lake Forest, IL, and back.
We drove past the Bahai Temple and then up along Sheridan Rd. with a lead and chase car clearing the way. On the road, SC6 got plenty of wowed looks from passerby. The nice weather and long weekend meant that there were lots of bikers and pedestrians outside who saw our vehicle. We had the chance to interact with an interested family during one of our pit stops. The young boys thought that it was cool that our car didn’t use gas.
Once again the car performed very nicely, even on some of the most pothole-laden streets. We successfully made it up to Lake Forest in 2 hours, making only two preventative stops to make sure the car’s systems were all working. Round trip, we put about 36 miles on the car. We plan to do many more excusions and to improve on this figure before the school year is out.
NUSolar is back on the road (almost)!
After a long and cold winter quarter, the sunshine is greatly appreciated by both SC6 and the rest of the team. Over the past four weeks we have had the car out and about under its own power several times. Work on the array stand and canopy are still not finished, but we have installed a new touch-screen control for the driver as well as new, long-lasting batteries for the car’s auxiliary systems.
- Heavy lead-acid batteries served as replacements for our old Lithium-ion cells during testing, but will not be permanent.
The car’s software is continually being updated by the telemetry team. We recently installed a new steering wheel-mounted touch-screen to host the driver controls. In addition to horn and drive/reverse switches, this system will also give drivers live feedback of battery levels and other vital signs of the car. As always, the process of incorporating this new system is fraught with bugs, but we’ve been able to sort them out quickly and get things running.
In mid-April, we took the bottom half of the car out for a test-drive around Northwestern’s campus. Starting from Ford we headed down via sidewalk to Norris, where we topped up the tire pressure. The car performed very well accelerating both the inclines and planes. We also got plenty of interested looks from passerby’s.
Before we can take the car out on the road, we still need to get a license plate. Nevertheless, we’re really excited about the way things are shaping up, and we look forward to a great summer.
Preparing to test the car