Spring Semester

Hi Everyone!

Spring semester has arrived - that means it's time for the training to end (although we're never done learning) and the design to start. We're all looking forward to seeing what our new car will look like, but only time (and lots of hard work) will tell!

Aerodynamics Team

Aero Team has been hard at work coming up with shell concepts. The shell is probably the part of the car that takes the most evaluation of design - the team comes up with dozens of different styles and shapes of car, which all have to eventually get pared down to one final design that is, among other things, integrated with Mechanical Team's chassis design. In the process, we have been learning the CAD tools for doing the shell and fairing design - surface modeling is one of the most difficult parts of CAD. We have also been preparing for the layup process, which we hope to get done this coming summer. There is an extraordinary amount of logistics, acquisition and research that goes in to making a composite part, especially one as large of the shell.

Array Team

Fresh from learning about Centaurus I and Borealis III’s solar array through the fall semester reverse engineering exercise, we have begun discussing our approach to the solar array for the next car. Due to the significantly larger size of this car’s array team over the previous design cycles, it has been possible for us to explore several innovative options in terms of cell type, size, attachment procedure and expense. In this procedure, we have consulted many industrial companies for their expert advice in producing viable concepts and prototypes. We have also been collaborating with past and current electrical team members to create a most efficient way to connect the solar array to the car. In the near future, we plan to develop and test prototype modules of solar cells as proof of concept to ensure the final array is efficient enough to power our car to victory. Aside from researching solar array options, the team has begun discussion with the aerodynamics team about various shell design requirements regarding solar cell integration. This will be critical to the team’s success due to the intricacies of collecting enough solar energy to participate competitively during race time. As a result of all these efforts, we plan to make a final decision about the materials for our array by spring break, 2009.

Electrical Team

The display team is trying to keep up with current technology by using an OLED display, featuring extremely low power: always a plus on the solar car. The downfall is it will take more time to write the code for it, but they are up to the task. Telemetry is looking at different radio types and adding some telemetry functionality thatwill be well-used by the Strategy Team. The battery team has been talking with several companies, attempting to obtain the latest in battery technology for use on the car. We don't have any samples yet but hopefully we'll get some within the next few weeks. Some are not in production yet, but it is possible we might be able to get samples anyway. The battery tester should be done within the next week or two, and the new Power Tracker Controller is well on its way to completion. The Motor team is researching researching additional motor controllers for use as backups.

Mechanical Team

The 15-20 members of the Centaurus 2 Mechanical Team are off to a healthy start. Building off of last semester's reverse engineering and research experiences, we are working this semester on design. Concept design has started, with a special focus on introducing innovation into systems that have been used and refined in previous cars. By coordinating our efforts with Aerodynamics Team and looking for inspiration in unlikely places, we hope to maintain a tradition of excellence in mechanical design while adapting such systems as chassis and front suspension especially to accommodate new aerodynamic designs. We are also introducing a new aspect to our team's goals which we believe will allow us to build a very reliable car even with innovative design: to build a dynamometer that will allow us to do more testing in the shop. With hard work, we believe we can meet our goal of having a rolling chassis by the end of this year.

March 4, 2009 | Permalink