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
We recently received the suspension components we redesigned. HyTech Spring and Manufacturing in Plainwell, MI machined them for us.
Here’s an overall view of the front mount plates.
The plates now have curves on the tabs to distribute stress that we had difficulties machining in-house previously.
We also received some new linkages.
We’d like to thank the General Motors Foundation for their recent support of our team!
Here’s an overview of the GM Foundation’s charitable activities, as shown on their website:
“Since its inception in 1976, the General Motors Foundation is dedicated to giving back to communities across the country. Over the past decade, the Foundation has donated more than $315 million in grants to support nonprofit organizations within the areas of Education, Health and Human Services, Environment and Energy and Community Development.
Today, the Foundation focuses on investments in education that support the next generation of leaders and innovators, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Beyond supporting the education of our nation’s youth from pre-school to college through initiatives like the Buick Achievers Scholarship Program, the Foundation gives students hands-on experiences that further their environmental studies and cultural experiences within their communities. In addition, the Foundation has a 15-year partnership with Safe Kids Worldwide to provide programs that lead to safe habits both inside and outside of cars.”
It’s that time of year. Classes are over, finals are here, and we wrapped up our last solar car meeting for fall quarter this past Saturday. While not a lot of work was done on the car itself this quarter, we have accomplished much in terms of planning for 2014. We’re planning on installing new updates on the car, including
- A new BMS board with updated software.
- New M12 cables for our telemtry and communication systems, thanks to Balluff’s kind donation.
- A new canopy designed by David which will be more aerodynamic and give the driver better access to the steering wheel.
- An integrated brake/parking brake system.
- A back wheel fender to keep water and debris out of the cockpit.
Several of the freshmen are also working on designing a new array stand to help us better recharge our batteries during the Rayce, when we are only allowed to use whatever power we can capture from the sun at the end of each day. The new stand, like the one it replaces, holds the entire top shell of our vehicle, allowing us to angle the solar cells more directly towards the sun as well as giving us easy access to the wiring on the underside should electrical issues arrise.
During the winter it is difficult for us to test the car on the roads due to the high amounts of snow Evanston receives, so one of our projects for winter is to build a dynamometer to enable us to simulate road driving while keeping the car indoors and stationary. Advisor Dana is heading up an independent engineering 399 with several of the team members and hopes to have it completed by the end of winter quarter.
Have a happy new year!