Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday, June 25

The solar cars came through the Alton, IL checkpoint yesterday on their way to the last stage stop in Normal, IL. Temperatures were much more pleasant than in all the previous two weeks, giving some relief to heat weary drivers.
The Sunseeker team was on site at the Alton checkpoint well before the arrival of the first competing teams. Members of the public who were there waiting for the solar car arrivals quickly came to the Sunseeker display to learn about solar cars and the race event. Our team was happy to be able to provide this service since the competing teams would be too busy to answer all the public's questions while they were at the checkpoint. Our mascot, Arsinie the duckling, was a hit with all the little children that parents had brought along.
When the Alton checkpoint closed, the Sunseeker team drove ahead to the Normal, IL stage stop to be ready for a full day of solar car display and questions from the public. Temperatures should again be moderate and make it a pleasant day for solar car racing and display.
Saturday morning will mark the last day of racing with a finish in Naperville and an awards dinner in the evening.
Sunday, the solar cars will be on display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The museum is located at 57th street and Lake Shore Drive.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Sunseeker team arrived in Rolla, Missouri this evening. The 100 degree temperatures that ruined our chance to drive the Sunseeker have followed us from Texas to Rolla. Yesterday we displayed the solar car at the Topeka stage stop. Today we were at the Jefferson City checkpoint. The temperatures seemed higher in Jefferson City than in Broken Arrow, but it probably just felt hotter because there was no wind here and the humidity was higher. I felt bad for the drivers of the solar cars because in those closed cockpits the temperatures are usually about 15 degrees hotter than ambient. I can only imagine how uncomfortable they must have been driving to Jefferson City.
After the competing teams had left the checkpoint, we drove to Rolla and were grateful for showers and dinner.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Topeka, Kansas Monday, June 21

Sunday morning the Sunseeker solar car was being prepared for the start of the race in Broken Arrow. It was another blistering hot day that dealt us another roadblock in our attempt to race. Our battery protection system gave us multiple random communication errors with the slave modules and kept shutting off the battery. Finally, about two hours after the race had started we decided to withdraw from the race. There would no longer be enough time to make it to the Neosho checkpoint and to Topeka the following day. The team put the car in the trailer and drove directly to Topeka. Today we will be bringing the car out for display all day at the Ramada Hotel stage stop. During the remainder of the race we will display the Sunseeker at all the check points and stage stops.
The team thanks all of the ASC teams that offered their help to get the Sunseeker into the race. A special thanks to the Calgary team who loaned us their spare motor controller after ours blew up and to the University of Michigan who loaned us a rear vision camera after ours failed. A grateful thank you to the officials and inspectors of ASC who went out of their way to help us qualify for the event.

Submitted by Abraham Poot, Advisor

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Conditional Qualification and Travel Day

Sunseeker 10 was granted conditional qualification to the American Solar Challenge!! We are on the road to Broken Arrow, OK just passed through Dallas, TX. Two drivers, Nick and Mitch, were able to complete 51 of the 1.7 mile laps yesterday. The car performed great and we believe we could have completed the required 100 laps. Unfortunately Sunseeker experienced some overheating issues in the 100 degree Texas weather.

We left the track awaiting word on our qualification to the ASC road race. At around 11pm officials granted us conditional qualification, where Sunseeker 10 must make it to the first leg of the race to continue participation.

More updates soon!

Posted by Madeline

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday June 17

Wednesday evening after going through most of the last scrutineering checks, we blew up one of our motor controllers. The cause was likely due to stresses placed on the controllers while we were resolving battery problems, wiring errors and non-working pre-chargers. This incident blew our chances of being able to compete in the track race and the cross-country race. Nicholas and I went to talk to Paul Hirtz this morning to inform him that we would be unable to compete. He suggested we could bring our car along on the race route and display it at all of the check points and stage stops. That sounded like a good idea and the team set out to clean up the car and finish applying the sponsor decals. Everyone was in a good mood and looking forward to a more relaxing trip home to Michigan.
Then the Calgary team offered to let us use their spare motor controller and University of Michigan loaned us a camera for our rear vision system. We decided to take them up on their offer and try to get to the dynamic testing in time to qualify for the track event. We worked hard to get everything ready for the evening testing. We rolled the car out with Nick as the driver and took off for the testing area on the hill. The car sailed up the hill effortlessly and left the rest of the team running to catch up. The first test was the U turn to check for the ability to turn the required radius of 6 meters. No Problem! Next came the figure 8 in which the car must be able to negotiate each half of the figure 8 in less than nine seconds. The driver is allowed to drive the course multiple times to get familiar with it and gradually feel comfortable to negotiate it with confidence. The initial and the final results are shown below. Having passed the figure 8, we moved on to the slalom test which requires the driver to negotiate a line of cones placed 18 meters apart. Nick ran the course in the 11.5 seconds allotted. The last requirement was the braking test. The car must be moving at 30 mph arriving at a wet pavement area and come to a stop within 3 seconds without loss of control. This must be done several times to ensure the brakes are sized to handle the heat buildup from multiple stops. We discovered a little problem with the brakes in that they locked up for a while before the hydraulic pressure would bleed down and allow the car to be driven again. We returned to our pit area to solve the problem and to finish the wiring of the array connector and the installation of the rear vision camera.
On Friday we will attempt the brake test again to finish dynamics and get on the track to see if we can drive the required 100 laps in one day to qualify for the road race.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday, first track day

It has been a few days since we posted events of scrutineering here in Cresson, TX.
They have been very busy and long days trying to pass all the required testing.
WMU currently has green stickers on electrical and array. The battery protection system requires a small software change to be green but currently has a blue sticker which allows the car to go to dynamic testing. The yellow sticker on mechanical means there is an inconsequential item to be completed before a green sticker will be posted. The red stickers on the driver and body sizing should change to green soon as they have been completed. We need to test one more driver for egress and to fix a problem with the rear vision system. We will not make it on the track today but will be able to go to dynamic testing after today's track race event closes at 5 pm central time.
Passing dynamic testing will allow us to be on the track Thursday and Friday to get our required 150 laps and qualify for the road race.
The pictures were taken at the body and sizing station of scrutineering. Courtney is the driver and Alex and Josh also appear in the photos.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

First day of scrutineering

Saturday morning the Sunseeker team left Kalamazoo about 10 am and drove all day and night through pouring down rain storms along the way to arrive in Cresson, TX about 7 am.

Team members were tired from the straight through drive, but everyone quickly got to the task of setting up the tent, unloading toolboxes and supplies to start working to get the car ready for scrutineering.

We had previously heard from our advance group that WMU had been scheduled for the following checks:
9:00 - Battery protection system
10:00 - Electrical system
2:00 - Mechanical systems
3:00 - Array test
4:00 - Body and sizing
5:00 - Driver weigh-in

We had to skip the first two because we were not yet ready for it. We went to the Mechanical system check at 2:00 and were pleased to have passed most of the requirements. We need only to replace hex nuts on a lot of the bolts with nuts that would not require lock wire or pins to keep them from coming loose. We also had to skip the array test and body sizing since we were still working on those items. The drivers were weighed in and received their ballast bags to bring their weights up to 80 kilograms (176 lbs).

The rest of the day was spent adding the finishing touches to the car to allow us to be tested for the remaining four sections of scrutineering.

The team decided to clean our pit area and head for the hotel for a well deserved night's rest after being mostly awake for more than 36 hours.

Posted by Abraham Poot

Friday, June 11, 2010

2010 American Solar Challenge

The Western Michigan University Sunseeker team is one of 17 schools competing in the 2010 Formula Sun Grand Prix and American Solar Challenge. The Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) will be held at the Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, TX from June 16th to 18th. FSGP serves as a qualifier for the road race. Each team must complete 150 of the 1.7 mile laps in two days. Each driver must complete at least 25 laps.

The American Solar Challenge (ASC), June 20th to 26hth, is a 1100 mile drive from Broken Arrow, OK to Naperville, IL. The race schedule is as follows:

Sat, June 19: Travel day / Support Vehicle Inspections in Broken Arrow, OK
Sun, June 20: Start in Broken Arrow, OK; must reach Neosho, MO checkpoint
Mon, June 21: Finish in Topeka, KS
Tue, June 22: Start in Topeka, KS; must reach Jefferson City, MO checkpoint
Wed, June 23: Finish in Rolla, MO
Thu, June 24: Start in Rolla, MO; must reach Alton, IL checkpoint
Fri, June 25: Finish in Normal, IL
Sat, June 26: Start in Normal, IL; finish in Naperville, IL