ASC log 7/5/12: The Tenth Day

The whole team gets underneath the top shell to investigate a wiring problem.

 

Oh boy. Today was not the best day.

We woke up early and headed out to the elementary school – this was to be the first and only day that we could do a test drive all the systems working before scrutineering. As you can probably expect, that did not happen. We ended up spending a good portion of the day trying to debug some miscellaneous electrical problems, such as a portion of our solar array not drawing power, and one of the rear brake lights flashing on and off.

Before we knew it, it was already getting late in the day. A couple of us went to go pick up a 10th member who just arrived by train, who was bringing a multimeter which would allow us to debug the issues with the solar array. In trying to prepare for his arrival, we rushed to produce a set-up in which the array could be monitored with the multimeter, and in our rush we accidentally broke a key connector. We spent the rest of the day trying to deal with that + fix the array + fix the brake lights, and somehow we even forgot to order a key part in replacing the connector so we will not get that until Saturday at the earliest. Saturday is the day when we get our electrical system tested in scrutineering. Yeah…

On the bright side, we did get the array working. However it’s hard to look on the bright side when we never even got to do a test drive – the first day of ASC will be the first day that Impulse drives on public roads in its current state.

Another cool thing that happened is a professional racecar driver drove by our car in the elementary school parking lot and came to check us out. Apparently he’s driven for something like 13 years and gets millions of dollars of sponsorship. He talked to us about our car for a bit before leaving, but not without giving us his card first. So that was kind of cool.

Brian and I went out to get supplies and food, and then we came back to the hotel and I cooked fried rice for everyone. It is difficult to cook for 10 adult males on a single propane stove, with one pot and one pan and zero cutting boards, sharp knives, or scooping implements. I also learned that people want a lot more meat than I was willing to buy / cook. I thought a whole pack of bacon would be good enough, but I don’t think it was. Lesson learned for next time I suppose.

Scrutineering starts tomorrow. Scrutineering is basically the process by which professional engineers review the solar cars to determine whether they are fit to rayce (rayce = solar car race).  There are 7 different stages that each team must undergo:

 

Body/sizing:

Make sure that the car’s size, weight, etc. meet regulation, and will involve a bunch of measurements and calculations.

 

Driver:

Weigh the driver, determine ballast, test egress (make sure the driver can leave the vehicle quickly in an emergency situation), etc.

 

Electrical:

Brake lights, turn signals, rear view camera, horn, forward and reverse,  insulation of wires, bomb switch (shuts the car off immediately),  etc. must all work, and some other stuff.

 

BPS:

Battery Protection System is the full term. Basically this is a system that monitors the batteries and prevents them from blowing up. This has its own section because it is very important. The batteries are easily the most dangerous part of the car, since if they go boom, it’s over.

 

Mechanical:

Suspension, wheels, roll cage, steering, parking brake, pedals, etc al mustl fit regulations.

 

Array:

Our array must be wired correctly and actually do things, and must fit within the required area.

 

Dynamic:

Here we test the functionality of the car, so the drivers need to do things like a slalom test, figure-8 test, and braking test.

 

Each stage takes an hour, and each of the teams need to go through all of the stages, so they have a schedule with different blocks that they have organized us into. For instance, Saturday we have Electrical at 11 and Driver at 4. Tomorrow (Friday), even though it’s the first day of scrutineering, we don’t actually have anything scheduled. All of our tests are on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. So the real challenge begins Saturday. However, tomorrow is very exciting, well at least it is for me, because for the first time I get to meet other teams and see other solar cars besides our own. I will be talking to a lot of people and taking a lot of pictures.

As expected, we do not meet all regulations right now, but we’re very close – we’re going to have to hack some things together last minute, but I think we can get it done. This is the biggest test for us, because if we don’t pass scrutineering, then our trip was for naught. I would rather rayce and do terribly than not rayce at all. So I really hope that we pass scrutineering, if nothing else.

Alright, that’s it for me. Tomorrow we’re registering at 2:30 PM, and that’s when the fun begins.

 

It’s Thursday, and Scrutineering will last throughout the weekend. I guess that means you could say that we’re working for the weekend?

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