Driving began after a fuse blown on our lights board was quickly replaced by electrical team and ended, after an uneventful drive, in Norman, Oklahoma. It is very hot here! We have been spraying our solar array with deionized water, because when the water evaporates it cools the solar cells. Solar cells operate more efficiently at lower temperatures, so we were able to gain some extra power from this effort!

We are currently in second, behind the University of Michegan and followed closely by PrISUm Solar Car. It is still a close race, as the top three finishers from the stage came in within an hour of each other.

Our total elapsed time for this segment of the race was 12:43:47. The next stage of the race is also a two-day stage, beginning in Norman and ending in Overland Park, Kansas. The first day of two-day stages consists of 9 hours of driving, which is a long day for the crew. However, depending on the weather, the team’s target speed, and the length of the stage, the second day usually ends earlier than the first. Our team rolled into an Oklahoma University parking lot in Norman at about 12:30 pm. This allowed us to have time to take naps and time to eat lunch, after charging for half an hour. Teams then charged from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, to keep the race fair.

Thank you to our sponsor of the day, Altium. The team uses Altium to design the schematic and layout of electric printed circuit boards, or PCBs. The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project is proud that almost all of the circuitry on the car is student-designed and student-built. Without Altium, this would not be possible. In addition to designing and building all of their circuit boards, our electrical team writes the software that runs on the microcontrollers and tests their circuitry on the road. Electrical team is what makes the car move! Thank you, Altium!

Team Highlights:

It was an uneventful day after we began driving, and everyone is pleased with that.

Everyone was pleased with how early we completed the stage, and the ice-cold water that was handed out by the officials.

Arlo and Mitch, electrical team members, got to take a long nap in air conditioning.

Many mechanical team members greatly enjoyed shakes and food from Sonic.

We would like to thank both Iowa State University and Western Michigan University for giving us 1 Amp fuses. We are blowing them a lot and are thankful for their generosity, as we are running alarmingly low. Good luck to everyone on the race!

Wish us luck as we rayce the sun! Thank you for your support! Pictures will be added when there is time.  Stay tuned for more posts about each day of the race!

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Our starting position was fifth in a lineup of ten cars, and we started ASC 2014 at 9:04am. With a total downtime of 20 minutes for electrical repairs, the team is making good progress. We stopped for the night in Bowie, TX. Tomorrow we will finish the stage to arrive in Norman, OK. We are in the race for the top positions with Iowa State University, Pincipia, and the University of Michigan, who is currently in first place. All of us arrived at the stage stop in Wetherford Texas within 30 minutes of each other, so it is indeed a very close race!

Centaurus III approaches the University of Michegan’s car Quantum during ASC on a busy road.

Centaurus III approaches the University of Michegan’s car Quantum during ASC on a busy road.

On our day of rest, we worked hard to prepare backup circuit boards, organize our supplies, and prep our support vehicles. This paid off today, as we had no issues we could not quickly and easily solve. Our team worked well together in their race crew positions to minimize downtime, and the weather was sunny, which always helps!

For those of you who are new to solar car racing, the American Solar Challenge is a staged race. This means that we have to make it to certain cities by a certain date to continue racing. Once we reach those locations, we are done for the day besides charging the battery off of the solar array. There are also control stops, which the officials use to keep tags on all the teams. Control stops consist of a total of half an hour of solar charging and half an hour of rest. Teams must make it to control stops within a certain time frame, or else then will likely not complete a stage of the race.

Team members, wearing matching safety vests, create a human array stand at the checkpoint in Wetherford, TX.

Team members, wearing matching safety vests, create a human array stand at the checkpoint in Wetherford, TX.

We would like to thank our sponsor of the day, PAR Systems, for their help in cutting our chassis.  Our chassis is made of fiberglass panel, which is a sandwich of fiberglass sheets and Nomex honeycomb core.  The chassis is how all mechanical components are integrated into the car, and we would like to thank PAR for helping us cut out the shapes needed to make it!

Team member Luci Baker talks to the driver before the start of ASC.  Western Michegan University’s solar car is visible in the background.

Team member Luci Baker talks to the driver before the start of ASC. Western Michegan University’s solar car is visible in the background.

Please look for the ASCsolarracing #ASC2014 and our UMNSVP twitter feeds for updated information. Otherwise, we will continue to update this blog when time permits!

Team Highlights:

The team was proud to see Centaurus III lined up with all of the other solar cars on the starting line!  We are one of ten world-class solar car teams!

Principia solar car team does a final shell lift and checks on the starting line of ASC.

Principia solar car team does a final shell lift and checks on the starting line of ASC.

Everyone is proud of the progress we have made, and how efficient and organized our pit stops have been. They are the best ones yet, and we are working well together as a team!

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The final day of the Formula Sun Grand Prix began with us arriving to a wet pit. There had been a battery charging overnight which unfortunately caught fire. The Circuit of America’s track had excellent fire protection in their pits and the fire did not spread. We were lucky that Centaurus III was covered with a tarp, as that prevented it from getting wet. However, much of our supplies and some of our circuitry was out in the smoke and water, and was damaged. The officials delayed the start of the race, and teams unaffected by the fire helped us to move out, clean, and then move our supplies into another pit. We were very thankful for the help, as our pit was drenched. Things held in cardboard boxes had to be put into plastic ones.

Rolls of 3M sandpaper dry out on our day of rest after being soaked by the sprinklers.

Rolls of 3M sandpaper dry out on our day of rest after being soaked by the sprinklers.

We began charging, and plugged in a circuit board that had been in the fire and then had been cleaned. This board caused a lot of the circuitry on our car to malfunction. We still do not know the source of the issues, but managed to fix it in time to get on the track. Due to the delayed start, the officials decreased the number of laps necessary to qualify for ASC. However, due to a breakdown on the track in the last hour, we were unable to legitimately complete the required number of laps. Only three teams qualified legitimately. The officials met and discussed handicaps to apply to all of the teams. Overall, ten teams will be racing in ASC.

Visitors to the third day of FSGP see the chassis and shell of our car as we are troubleshooting problems with the electrical system.

Visitors to the third day of FSGP see the chassis and shell of our car as we are troubleshooting problems with the electrical system.

In the meantime, Aero team did lay-ups on parts for our fairings from Stratasys! They are lighter than the current parts and have holes in the proper places for the new parking brake calipers! We would like to thank Stratasys, our sponsor of the day, for their continued support by supplying 3D-printed parts, this time just in time for ASC! Stratasys also printed our ventilation ducts for the drivers and all of the battery holders and prototype parts to check fitting. Thank you Stratasys!

Aero team members Kee Onn Fong, Nick Sloan, and Luci Baker prep for layups on 3D printed parts from Stratasys on the third day of FSGP.

Aero team members Kee Onn Fong, Nick Sloan, and Luci Baker prep for layups on 3D printed parts from Stratasys on the third day of FSGP.

After FSGP, there was a dinner and awards ceremony on the Campus of the University of Texas. Our team tied for third overall with Western Michigan University. We were both affected by the fire, and are proud to have made it to the podium!

Team Highlights:

Though the team was saddened to find parts for the car and personal laptops, phones, and cameras soaked with water, everyone was impressed with the response of the officials, the track staff, and other teams for their quick, thoughtful, and thourough job cleaning up the pits after the sprinklers had gone off. We would like to thank them for their time and efforts, which also helped us get back on the track! We would like to thank PrISUm solar car team from Iowa State University for lending us their power sully and the use of their generator to debug our electrical system. Also, we would like to thank SIUE for the use of their tools and supplies to replace our secondary pack. Thank you everyone for the help! See you on the rayce!

Centaurus III is back on the track on the third day of FSGP!

Centaurus III is back on the track on the third day of FSGP!

We are proud to stand next to the University of Michigan, Oregon State University, and Western Michigan University on the podium! We put in our best efforts and it paid off. In addition, qualifying for the American Solar Challenge was a major highlight, because we did not make the official number of laps required.

Stay tuned for more updates, and wish us a sunny rayce!

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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.

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 qualified two drivers today – Michael Ellis and Graham Krumplemann. 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.  Check here for the current standings. 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.

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

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.

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!

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

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

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.

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

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!

Team member Mitchell Rogalsky installs a modified PCB while the team holds the shell at the starting line.

Team member Mitchell Rogalsky installs a modified PCB while the team holds the shell at the starting line.

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.

Day two of the race, the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project finished first for the day with 53 laps!

Day two of the race, the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project finished second for the day with 53 laps, but was in first for part of the day!

Stay tuned for daily updates, and check out our flickr account for more photos of the team!

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The Formula Sun Grand Prix is a track race for solar-powered vehicles that spans 3 days. Teams are required to complete 60 laps in one day or 90 laps in two days to qualify for the cross-country American Solar Challenge. This year, the Formula Sun Grand Prix is on the Circuit of Americas Formula 1 track in Austin, Texas. We have successfully completed one day of racing with Centaurus III, and started on our second day. Our team has four drivers, and each driver must complete 15 laps on the track to drive in the American Solar Challenge.

After arriving in Texas, we have worked day and night to prepare the electrical system of the car. We have entirely replaced our electrical system, and are using this race to prepare the electronics for our next solar vehicle, which will race in the World Solar Challenge 2015. Our hard work has paid off, as the team started the race yesterday along with 9 other teams, and made it to the starting lineup again today.

Team members Stephanie Wilson and Arlo Siemsen work together to modify the cabling to the lights board.

Team members Stephanie Wilson and Arlo Siemsen work together to modify the cabling to the lights board.

The team holds the shell in the air as last-minute testing of the horn is completed by electrical team, right before the Centaurus III began the race.

The team holds the shell in the air as last-minute testing of the horn is completed by electrical team, right before the Centaurus III began the race.

Yesterday involved additional electrical debugging and a tire change for mechanical team. The electrical problems were solved by replacing a fuse in the battery pack and securing mechanical connections. We were back on our way after making the fixes. We completed a total of 33 laps and qualified two drivers – Alex Nelson and Mason Trang. In addition, we tested out our new array stand and got some light charging in in the evening.

The weather is not excellent for solar racing – but it could be worse. Our array is covered in a special coating from 3M which is excellent for capturing the diffuse sunlight produced during cloud cover. We had light sprinkles yesterday, with temperatures in the 80s. The sun peaked out occasionally. Today is very similar, with a light breeze coming through the pits. It hasn’t really rained during the day, but last night it rained cats and dogs and most of our tents leaked. We hope things dry out a bit today, as we are continuing to camp at McKinny Falls State Park.

A big thank you to our sponsor of the day, for the first day of the race, 3M! We would like to thank them for their continued support with raw supplies and solar array encapsulation. The top film on the encapsulation has small riblets which refract indirect light onto the solar cells. All of the cells on our car were connected by hand-soldered leads and carefully laminated between layers of EVA with a clear backing and the riblet film on top.

Team Highlights:

Everyone was cheering when we watched Centaurus III go up the hill on the first turn of the track, for the first time. We barely made it into the starting lineup, completing the dynamic braking test early in the morning before the race began, and ensuring that the electrical system was good to go!

 

Team Member Stephanie Wilson Smiles as we leave Centaurus on the starting line.

Team Member Stephanie Wilson Smiles as we leave Centaurus on the starting line.

Kee Onn, Nick Sloan, and the whole of Mechanical team are proud to have successfully changed two tires in under 10 minutes.

Bryan, team lead and crew chief, is proud that we were able to complete the last 28 laps of the race without an electrical breakdown and that the only down-time we had after fixing our battery problems was for the tire change and a driver change.

Centaurus III speeds along the straightaway.

Centaurus III speeds along the straightaway.

Arlo is pleased that the team managed to get almost 8 hours of sleep last night. And everyone is happy that we went out to eat as a reward for completing the first day of the race.

Stay tuned for more updates! Also, check out our Facebook account under University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project and our twitter account, under UMNSVP.

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Posted on by Greg Nash

Last Friday(4/25) we had the opportunity to display Daedalus to over 2000 6-8th grade students at the University of Minnesota CSE Expo. We were one of more than 60 hands on, student built projects representing areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. Thank you to everyone who came out. Goldy the gopher even stopped in to try his hand at being a solar vehicle driver!

 

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Daedalus just completed a 3000km journey across the outback of Australia. Our coast to coast journey took us from the hot and humid Desert in the North to the cold windswept plains of southern Australia. On Friday we crossed the official end of timing for the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. It was amazing hearing the applause of all the teams and spectators when we crossed the official finish line.

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While traveling through the outback we encountered problems like many of the teams did. While it was incredibly difficult we stood together and completed the course on Solar Power and took fourth place in the Cruiser Class. We will post more details on the crazy events of the race soon! And a bunch of photos

 

 

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Posted on by Greg Nash

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Here is a recap of our past week. We logged about 1000km on Daedalus on our way up to Darwin through the outback. Aside from a flat tire Daedalus performed like a champ in the shinning sun of the outback! Daedalus had no problem on the hot roads, road trains or any of the other random surprises in the hot desert.

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While traveling the Stuart highway we encountered wild kangaroos, night time wind storms, beautiful scenery and a wonderful views of the Milky-way at night. Many of us can not wait to get back to the remote stretches of the Stuart highway to see the stars at night after racing Daedalus.

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We arrived in Darwin last Saturday and went straight to the race track to perform our pre-race checks. What we found was amazing! Around 40 other solar vehicle teams are at the Hidden Valley Raceway preparing their vehicles to compete in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge!

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We have been putting in long days, rising before the sun is up and leaving long after it has set it. It s a lot of work but it is all worth it.

 

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On Thursday we went through Static Scrutineering. All of our in-vehicle systems passed! We had one minor problem with our battery lock-box that was promptly fixed. We are hoping to get some track time today after Dynamic Scrutineering to get out there to max out our systems and do our final checks.

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Daedalus is performing like a champ. She is so fast that our chase vehicle is having trouble keeping up with it on the racetrack!

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Tomorrow morning we begin the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge! We can’t wait to begin.

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After putting Daedalus away in the rain and the cold, it was a delight to bring it back out to this:

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This was when we were about to drive on the Stuart highway for the first time. The Stuart highway is a 3000 kilometer road that runs from Darwin in the north of Australia to Adelaide in the south. It’s where 99% of the World Solar Challenge driving takes place. It’s absolutely beautiful.

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Because our car was shipped to Melbourne, it is necessary for us to drive north to get to Darwin. Although it takes time, it’s a great opportunity for testing along the actual race route. We had opportunities to test out all of our drivers, and do some actual race-style driver changes, roadside repairs, and tire changes (We didn’t actually blow a tire, but you’ve got to get practice in somehow)

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Daedalus has been performing excellently. although braking tests have been more than a little rough on the tires. The good news: the car stops.

As great as the Outback is during the day, it’s even better at night. With no cities around for up to 200 miles at a time, the night sky is brighter than you could believe. We could have stayed in a hotel last night and had showers for the first time in 3 days. We didn’t. It wasn’t a hard choice.

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We’re well on our way and should arrive in Darwin in the next couple of days. We can’t wait to get started back down the Stuart Highway. this time on the race!

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Our race crew has been hard at work the past few days getting ready to make our drive from Melbourne up to Darwin! We are all super excited to get to compete in the World Solar Challenge in just 15 days from now! We have the car just about ready to go after unpacking it!

IMG_1282eLuckily for us the weather has become absolutely wonderful and is helping our efforts in prepping Daedalus for the World Solar Challenge. Over the past couple days we have completed our enclosed trailer for transporting Daedalus, completed installing components removed for shipping and are excited to get on the road!

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IMG_1281eOur completed enclosed trailer to protect Daedalus while being transported to the race!

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Sadly, we have not seen a kangaroo.

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