Day Two at the Track

Posted on July 18, 2014 by Toni Carlstrom.


The team completed 53 laps today by minimizing down-time and maximizing efficient driving practices. This leaves us with a total of 86 laps, only 4 short of qualifying for the American Solar Challenge (ASC) today. We will need a minimum of 37 laps tomorrow to meet the requirement of 90 laps over two days, and it looks like the sun might show itself. We are currently in 2nd place overall for the Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) and placed 2nd for the day! Despite the overcast weather we are still getting power from the array.

We qualified two drivers today – Michael Ellis and Graham Krumpelmann. We were pleased to see more teams pass scrutineering and join us on the track. It will be a quick-paced race tomorrow to qualify, because the University of Michigan is the only team currently qualified to race in the American Solar Challenge. We received one penalty lap Thursday due to pushing the car up the large hill at the start of the track when it didn’t get enough of a running start.

The electrical team experienced two minor failures today and acted quickly to rectify them. The first problem stopped the car on the track. In less than 10 minutes, the team assessed the problem, drove out to the car in a rescue vehicle, and replaced a faulty battery protection board. The second failure was a fuse, and also stopped the car on the track. That was easily replaced in a similar timeframe. In addition, the horn was working off and on, which has been frustrating to the drivers who must honk to pass any car on the track.  This problem has now been solved.

Mechanical team practiced quick tire changes in the hot pits today. A tire change for both front wheels requires about seven people. Tire changes truly are a team effort. Four people are required to lift the top shell from the vehicle, one person operates our jack, and two people change the tires. On this track, at the current target speed, we need to change tires once a day to avoid blowing a flat. This saves time, because the track is three miles long, and it would take a long time to transport all the people and supplies to repair the flat.

 Centaurus III comes up on another car racing on the Formula 1 Circuit of the Americas Track.

Centaurus III comes up on another car racing on the Formula 1 Circuit of the Americas Track.

 Centaurus III is looking amazing with its new vinyl wrap and logos!

Centaurus III is looking amazing with its new vinyl wrap and logos!

We would like to thank our sponsor of the day, PTC, for their continued support. Our vehicles are designed with the help of PTC Creo, a CAD software which allows us to easily modify our designs. The aerodynamic shell of Centaurus III is an enormous part of what allows us to keep driving on such an overcast day, because it minimizes energy used to drive. In addition to aerodynamic drag, the car suffers both mechanical and electrical losses which account for a smaller portion of energy loss at cruising speeds. PTC Creo allows us to neatly and easily package all of the components of a working car inside of our shell, and we make both parametric and moving assemblies to see how things work and interact with each other. Thank you PTC!

 UMN is 1st on the scoreboard for the day!

UMN is 1st on the scoreboard for the day!

 Electrical team members stand with the car before the start of the race on day 2.

Electrical team members stand with the car before the start of the race on day 2.

Team Highlights:

Kee Onn found a footbridge that crosses over part of the track. The majority of the track is visible from that vantage point. Someone will be placed there with a radio tomorrow to inform the drivers of upcoming obstacles.

Arlo is proud of his team for the rapid repair of battery module 19. He is very pleased that the car was back on the track within 10 minutes of the failure! Steph is also proud of this feat – especially for how prepared electrical team was to fix the problem and how efficiently the solution was executed. Toni and Nick Bower also enjoyed helping with this repair, and standing on a new part of the track and watching the solar cars coast past.

Mitch is happy to have fixed his PCB which controls Centaurus III’s horn. Ellis enjoyed driving along the straightaway and seeing the team in first place on the scoreboard. Graham is proud to have passed Michigan to take first place in the daily standings for a while, as well as cooking a delicious lunch. Jake was pleased to see our team first on the scoreboard for a large portion of the day!

Ethan talked to other solar car teams about their array stand designs and how they attached the solar arrays to them. Nelson enjoyed talking to other solar car teams about the design process and what works and doesn’t work when building a solar car. Nick Sloan also enjoyed the camaraderie between teams; especially the heated discussion about favorite slurpie flavors between our team, a race official, and Iowa State.

Bryan was pleased with the temperate weather, and the efficient driving today by Ellis in the morning.

Luci is glad to be here, and thinks that all of the solar cars are awesome!

Mason had fun with the double-tire change quickly and efficiently performed in the hot pits today. John enjoyed using AstroGlide to replace tires on the rims.

 Centaurus III speeds along the straightaway to make it up the hill.

Centaurus III speeds along the straightaway to make it up the hill.