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MSU SRT 2018-19 School Year Updates

With school back in full swing, MSU solar is back working on our new vehicle. After much deliberation we have decided to go with Aurora, named after the Ancient Roman Goddess of Dawn. Aurora is a cruiser class vehicle with a much sleeker and more practical design than Leonidas, with over double the capacity in the battery pack. We should have the full body and array ready around the beginning of the spring semester and she should be entirely operational by the end of the school year and ready to compete in the FSGP this coming summer.

As the new year begins, we would like to welcome all of our new members to the team as well as thank those who have moved on from Michigan State, including Vice President/Mechanical Team Lead Aaron Feinauer. With his departure, Gregory Stark, former Electrical Team Lead has taken full control as President and relinquished the title of Electrical Team Lead. An election was held and Lauren Chance and Shubham Shedge will be the Mechanical and Electrical Team leads for the 2018-19 year, respectively.

Both of the new leads gave a short statement about their reactions to becoming team leads and their hopes for this coming year:

Lauren:

“I was really flattered to be nominated for the mechanical team lead, but to be given the position is such an honor. I know the role is going to require even more time and energy but I’m happy to give it. I’m pumped to give up that last sliver of my social life that is left and dedicate it to the Solar Racing Team. I care a lot about the success of this team and I look forward to seeing what we are capable of as we come to the end of the design phase of our two-seater car, Aurora, and are starting production. There’s a lot to get done and I’m excited to get to know other members of the team better over the next few months that I didn’t work with as much last year, as I spent a lot of my time with my sub-team (shout-out to the chassis team!).

I hope to inspire new members that join the team to stick with it and get as much out of it as I have. There’s so much experience to gain and cool people to meet; I want to make members feel comfortable to come to me with whatever and I truly just want to do right by the team; I have some major shoes to fill after our last mechanical team lead! That being said, I am so honored to take on the role and all its responsibilities and am so excited for the year to come. Go green!”

Shubham:

“The thrill of being a part of a huge project that is fueled by the passion and commitment with my fellow peers has already made me excited ever since I joined the team as a young freshman. As newly elected Electrical Team Lead, I only have one main goal ahead of me: to get this new project car finished and running for the summer competition in 2019. With a completely new and innovated battery pack, optimized design for a battery management system, sleek and efficient solar array design, accurate telemetry system, and state-of-the-art driver controls system and experience, the upcoming car’s electrical systems will keep our team on the level if not higher than our competitors come 2019. I am excited to see what the 2018-2019 school year has to offer and the final result of everyone’s hard work.”

Shubham and Lauren in Nebraska for the Formula Sun Grand Prix in 2018

Congratulations to both of these fantastic and dedicated members! We look forward to a strong 2018-19 year!

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MSU SRT E-Week

During the week of February 18th – 24th the Solar Racing Team was able to participate in several events through the College of Engineering’s E-week. SRT members were there for Introduce a Girl to Engineering, Science Night, Spartan 300, Impression 5, and the Engineering Expo. At these events the team was able to interact with an audience ranging from elementary to college students. Sponsors for the events include Ingersoll Rand, General Motors and General Electric.

As the MSU College of Engineering describes it, E-week intends to provide “students with dynamic career networking opportunities, while introducing young people to the potential of engineering as a career.” MSU SRT aligns with this viewpoint and throughout E-week collaborated with other Engineering groups on campus while looking to instill wonder in students about the growing potential of solar energy and solar racing.

“It was great to talk with students of all ages about the team and the scientific principles behind what powers the solar car. Our goal as a team is that, as a result of this week, more students are aware of the MSU Solar Racing Team and may in the future look into joining.” – Alex Konopka

The SRT’s main interactive event of E-week was a miniature solar car racing contest with the students. Attendants each had a mini solar car and a flashlight and would use the energy from the flashlight – converted by the solar panel into mechanical energy – to race their cars down the hallway similar to the process of how the full-size car looks to convert incoming light into motion.

MSU Solar Racing Team extends a large thank you to the College of Engineering and all the other sponsors, the members of our team who volunteered, and the volunteers from any group who came together to make a dynamic and educational E-week.

 

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We’re Back!

MSU Solar is back and better than ever!  With a fresh leadership team in place (Greg Stark: Electrical Team Lead, Aaron Feinauer: Mechanical Team Lead, and Michael Mazza: Business Team Lead), our team has swelled to around 60 members and enthusiasm for the project is at an all time high. This influx of fresh faces and enthusiasm has prompted some changes for the team. We have a new name, a new logo and most importantly, we’re beginning a new car! We are now MSU Solar Racing Team, or MSU SRT for short.

MSU SRT is full of new faces and fortunate to have the experience and expertise of its returning members. We are more equipped than ever before to build a successful, race-worthy vehicle.

So what have we been doing these past 10 months? First and foremost, over the summer we competed in the Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

In Austin,  the team fought against incredible adversity as our Tritium Battery Management System and Driver Controls system both failed unexpectedly. Through the hard work and extreme dedication of the Electrical team, we were able to repair a spare BMS with parts from the failed system, and create an entirely new Driver Controls system with an Arduino. This concluded with the triumph of passing scrutineering with 10 minutes left in the event, and taking Leonidas on his first ever lap around the Circuit of the Americas racetrack. While this is not the outcome we had in mind, it was a crucial step in the right direction for our team, and it allowed us to bring back a core group of experienced members that have become the backbone of this year’s team.

And what’s ahead? With a new lead for almost all sub-teams and a stronger collective team than ever before, we are poised and ready to start our next car to replace Leonidas.  The new designs are already well underway. Stay tuned for the next blog post where we are excited to announce some details about our new project!

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Team Update 31st January, 2017

Heading into 2017 the team received a very generous donation from General Motors, which will be used to further improve the car and get it ready for competition. This week, the team is working on the to make improvements towards the suspension and the battery box. The competition is fast approaching and the suspension team will be having their lathe and mill training in the next few days to implement a new suspension system for the car to better fit the competition regulation. The President of Solar Car, Jesse Ouellette is working with members of the suspension team in order to bring the car up to speed.

Picture: Solar Car members Adeesh Shrestha and Tommy Tsuchiya work on taking the old suspension system apart.
Picture: Solar Car members Adeesh Shrestha and Tommy Tsuchiya work on taking the old suspension system apart.

Meanwhile, the electrical team is currently working on the arduino board to further improve the battery box. Also, the team is working on dwindling the number of cables required by the car in order to improve safety and to ensure that multiple problems cannot occur.

Many improvements will be added over the few coming weeks as things pick up in terms of workload for the MSU Solar Car team.

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November 8th, 2016 Team Update

This week, the new recruits finally received their time in the shop working with and learning from the veterans of the team.  Prior, however, the team was split between mechanical and electrical with each new recruit given the option to choose what aspect of the car they would like to work on.  After choosing, the new members would meet within their subgroups to get directions as to what is needed to be accomplished before racing season.  Now that the assignment of jobs is finished, the solar racing team can now make a big step in production of the new car this year.

Sunday, November 6th, was the first time the recruits stepped foot into the shop to actually work on the car. “It was a great experience,” mechanical team recruit Sam Jacinto said, “I received a lot of hands on experience and the veterans had no problem helping with things I didn’t understand.”  All of the car has been stripped besides the chassis so that the sub groups can work on all projects of the automobile.  The team is well underway to accomplishing all of it’s goals by racing season.

 

Veterans; Dong Feng, Greg Stark, and Ian Grosh, show the new recruits the internal workings of an electric motor
Veterans; Dong Feng, Greg Stark, and Ian Grosh, show the new recruits the internal workings of an electric motor
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There’s the Voltage- The Electrical Team is Up and…

MSU’s Solar Car team is officially ready to work! After being introduced to one another, assigned roles, and taught safety protocols, the electrical team is now ready to jump in on the action. After a formal safety training, safety measures will be taken seriously and carefully to ensure our team is safe at all times. Ian Grosh, the leader of the electrical team, showed the basics of how the car should be set up, the battery, and safety protocol in regards to electricity with the new electrical team members. Also, Solar Car will begin production at a quick and smooth rate to ensure we will be more efficient than ever. Work hard, work smart, and never quit. SPARTANS WILL!

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Michigan State Solar Car Team and Saturn Electronics to…

The Michigan State University Solar Car Team will collaborate with local PCB manufacturer and team sponsor Saturn Electronics to cover expenses of participating at the NAIAS 2015. This will be the first participation of the MSU Solar Car Team at the show after the team was re-launched in 2007. “Participating at the NAIAS is of great significance to us as it gives us a platform to showcase the team’s most innovative designs and cutting-edge technology advancements within the renewable energy and automotive fields.” Ali ElSeddik – Project Manager of the Solar Car Team.

Saturn Electronics will be covering the team’s logistical expenses related to exhibiting at the show. Saturn has been donating all the printed circuit boards for the Solar Team’s latest car: Leonidas. Together, MSU Solar and Saturn are working on advancing technologies used in the team’s solar cars to further realize the team’s goals.  “As a MSU graduate and  stakeholder in the State of Michigan’s economy I feel it’s important to support our educational institutions and programs like the MSU Solar Car and hope that other Michigan based companies will step up to the challenge and contribute as well” Raj Sutariya –V.P. Saturn Electronics.

Exhibition Details: 

Press preview: January 12-13
Industry Preview: January 14-15
Charity Preview: January 16
Public Show: January 17-25

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About Saturn Electronics:
Saturn was founded in 1985 by Nagji Sutariya. From the beginning, Saturn’s mantra was to focus solely on quality and to learn from, but never repeat, mistakes. From this seemingly simple philosophy Saturn grew from a humble 3 person operation at an average rate of 25% per year to become a top 10 PCB fabricator in North America.

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About MSU Solar:
Re-launched in 2007 after an unsuccessful initial founding in 1999, the MSU Solar Car team is a student-run organization dedicated towards the design, building, testing, and racing of entirely solar-powered vehicles. Compromised of undergraduate and graduate students at Michigan State University, the team gives its members a hands-on multidisciplinary experience within the engineering, business, and management fields.


Contact
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To learn more, please contact:

Michigan State University Solar Car Team
solar@msu.edu
www.msusolar.com
Facebook.com/msusolar
Twitter.com/msu_solar

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Flakeboard and Demmer Corporation

The MSU Solar Car Team would like to extend a very gracious thank you to Flakeboard for generously donating all of the mold material for the body of the solar car. The team had a lot of trouble finding a proper supplier for mold material, and we were extremely fortunate to connect with the great staff over at Flakeboard.

Furthermore, we would like to thank the incredible members from Demmer Corporation that helped us machine our car’s design out of our mold material. Without Demmer’s guidance and assistance, our car’s body would never have gotten close to its potential. Thank you!

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Images of the MDF (medium density fiberboard) that Flakeboard donated to the team and Demmer Corporation machined for the team.

 

Sheets of the MDF were glued together and cut into the shape of the solar car’s body.   It was our team’s goal to create a competitive solar car, and a very important aspect of that goal is to have an aerodynamic body that can support the solar array. While creating Brasidius III for ASC 2014 the team was forced to use an in-house designed manufacturing process to create the body, resulting in a less than stellar product. However, thanks to Flakeboard and Demmer’s help, the team will be able to create a much more aerodynamic and aesthetic solar car body.

Go Green!

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Array Encapsulation Testing

Michigan State is one of a few schools that encapsulate their solar array by hand. Manually encapsulating, although more work than buying panels, gives us not only more flexibility in our design and ability to fix issues with the array but gives team members a greater understanding of how solar technology works and the challenges with creating a good product.

You can see in a past blog post the encapsulation process we used for our last array which used a continuous baking process to protect the cells between layers of EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate). This year we are looking to bake our cells statically in a standard oven with more layers, a back sheet and a top glass layer, for greater stability and protection.

Before we go and try baking sheets of cells in an oven we are doing single cell test runs in a small toaster oven to see what will work to get the best finished product.

Here you can see we’re preparing a single cell to be baked. The blue tape around the edges is to seal the materials in order to create a vacuum while the in the oven.

 

The toaster oven and vacuum pump set up.

 

One of the biggest difficulties is baking the cell under the right pressure and temperature conditions to have no air bubbles trapped in the EVA after it has cured. You can see in the final result of the first test run below that air bubbles were a problem.

Final Result
For the next test we used fresher EVA, monitored the temperature inside the oven more accurately and baked the materials in between two 7″x 7″x 1″ Aluminum plates for more consistent applied pressed.
Letting the Aluminum plates heat up before inserting the materials.

 

The packaged materials
The final results!
Looking at the results from both the tests side by side, as seen below, there was a major improvement in bubble reduction although still not perfect. By continuing to further tweak the bake and cure temperatures, times and pressures we should get it down soon!

 

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Test Cockpit Construction

Finals week has just ended for Michigan State, which marks the beginning of the most exciting process for our team: design finalization and fabrication!

Yesterday and today we assembled a rough mockup of our chassis and butt bucket based on our current frame designs. The primary purpose was to determine how well our designs conform to Dan and Scott, our drivers.

Based on the mockup, we were able to determine that we needed to reduce the width of our butt bucket significantly, as well as decrease the depth of the butt bucket for visibility purposes. Additionally, we were able to obtain measurements for use in designing our roll cage to meet the ASC 2014 regulations as well as minimize frontal area.

Early construction

 

More construction

 

Where soccer conditioning comes in handy…

 

We can’t see out of the car based on our current designs

 

Optimal distance for foot location

 

Optimal foot location and angle

 

Measuring distance from helmet to roll cage bars (must be >50 mm according to ASC regs)
Simulating the array for visibility testing