Northwestern's Solar Car Team


FSGP 2016, Scrutineering Days

Posted by Alexander Martin on July 26, 2016
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It’s here; we’re finally taking SC6 to a race, after two years of not participating in FSGP or ASC. We are very excited to be participating in FSGP 2016 and hope to give SC6 a good “last run” on the track before we retire her and begin working full-time on SC7.

Ben packs up the trailer

Ben packs up the trailer

On Thursday, July 21st, most of the team met in Chicago to pack the car in the trailer. We took down our array stand so that it would fit in the back of the truck, and packed snap-together Festool boxes with many of the tools and supplies we would need. Unfortunately, we were a bit late getting out of Chicago because our trailer got parked in and we were unable to unpark it for about 2 hours.

We also had a little bit of an delay when our trailer blew a tire about 2 hours into the trip. Fortunately, a kind policeman stopped shortly after and lent us a jack which we were able to use to change our tire. It seems, from what we know of team history, that it’s almost impossible to go an entire FSGP without a tire blowing, so we are glad that ours happened at a non-dangerous time and that we were able to resolve it so quickly.


A blown trailer tire

We arrived at Pittsburgh International Race Complex minutes before the rain started, just in time to attend the kickoff meeting.

Solar Car Teams sitting in kickoff meetingOver the next three days, we have been hard at work gettting SC6 through scrutineering. The electrical team spent a lot of time debugging BPS software and making sure the driver switches and lights and horn worked. The mechanical team attached regulation decals and added some safety features suggested by Dick Roberto during scrutineering.

Ethan checking the battery voltage

Ethan checks the battery voltage durring electrical scrutineering

David applies epoxy to SC6 topshell

Our rear video camera screen broke, so we attached mirrors to the topshell, just in case we cannot get another one in time for the race. They will let us at least pass scrutineering.

On the third day of scrutineering, we had very heavy rains in the afternoon. Before they came, we put the car in the trailer, but had to keep the array outside under our tents. Even so, we all helped to hold a tarp over the array to prevent it from getting too wet. On the plus side, the array stayed more or less dry in the places that mattered. On the negative side, we did not.

Storm clouds over the horizon

The storm front moving in. It was a lot more massive than it looks here.

Team Members holding a tarp and umbrella over the array while the rain pours down.On day four, we got all yellow green stickers in scrutineering, meaning we were able to progress to dynamics testing. For the uninitiated, dynamics testing is where the race officials take your car and attempt to break it, putting it through a series of driving and handling tests to make sure it will be safe taking turns and making stops once out on the track. We completed both the slalom and brake tests yesterday. This is a significant achievement for the car; it has broken down at races twice before, once at each of these two tests. Making it through them means were very confident that we can make it on the track on day 1 of racing, although we might miss a bit of the beginning of the race.

Alexander laughing from inside the car

Alexander jokes with our driver POC (point of contact) over the bluetooth headset in the helmet.

Look for more updates to come in the next few days as we begin racing SC6 on the track.

Spring Newsletter 2016

Posted by webmaster on July 06, 2016
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The race is less than 20 days away, and here is the newsletter from Spring Quarter.


Week 7: perfecting electrical system of this year competing car; building SC 7’s frame as designed

Posted by Hangda Zhang on May 15, 2016
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The mechanical team has finished most of the frame. Check out the comparison of the design and the actual work progress! As expected, they perfectly match!



The mechanical team turns over the frame and finishes the welding spots. Alex Silver, a McCormick junior, designs the frame and spends extra time welding more pieces together after Saturday working session.



Alex Silver is carefully welding his “design baby”.



David Geng, a McCormick freshman, is planning to weld more intermediate rods on the current frame but he is being cautious and checking whether the welding on one connection spot is complete or not.



Ben Donahue (left) and Spencer Williams (right), on the electrical team, are testing the system that detects the current coming from the solar panels and sends to drivers to better control driving performance.


NUsolar team is planing to go on a testing trip on Memorial Day weekends. Stay tuned and get excited for SC 6!