Tuft Testing at the Alameda Naval Base

Nicole Schauser // // No Comments

Monitoring tuft behavior with a GoPro camera.

Yesterday we had the awesome opportunity to do some aerodynamics testing at the abandoned naval airstrip in Alameda, thanks to Makani Power. For those of you who don’t know, this is the same location that Myth Busters uses, though unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), we were alone on this stormy day.

CalSol used the chance of having a flat, deserted, 1.5 mile long runway to get some data on the aerodynamic performance and rolling resistance of Impulse. For tuft testing, we attached small pieces of brightly-colored yarn to critical areas of the car (such as the leading and trailing edges, and around the canopy) and videoed the performance of these tufts while driving at high speeds. This allowed us to confirm CFD results generated by software and to see where the flow separated from the car. We also performed coast-down testing from high speeds to determine both aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance.

We plan to use this information to update our CFD environment to reflect more real-life conditions and to pinpoint improvements to make for our next car, Zephyr.

We had a lot of fun during testing and would like to thank Makani Power again for this great opportunity.

CalSol poses with Damon Vander Lind from Makani Power.

Impulse on Display at Chabot Space and Science Center

Brian Graf // // No Comments
Impulse at Chabot Space and Science Center

Here is a teaser for what is to come on November 17th at the Chabot Space and Science Center

The Chabot Space and Science Center is having a grand re-opening of Bill Nye’s Climate Lab on November 17th. CalSol was extended an invitation to not only help staff the event, but also to bring Impulse and have it on display throughout the event!

As kids come rolling into the facility they will get to see Impulse front and center in the entryway and for those that have never seen a solar car before it is quite the sight to see. Impulse is literally the kids’ first step of the day at their journey at Chabot because once they talk with us, we will give them a stamp on their lab dash cards, and they can continue on to learn more, play games, and attempt to win prizes!

CalSol is extremely proud to have been invited to and included in an event such as this, so thank you Chabot for the opportunity.

You can learn more about the event and the center itself here at their website: http://www.chabotspace.org

We will see you there, and don’t forget to look for the students wearing CalSol shirts!

P.S. – As one more teaser to come by and check us out, the view from the facility is AMAZING.

View from Chabot Space and Science Center

View from Chabot Space and Science Center

The Next Generation

Marc Russell // // No Comments

This past weekend, CalSol took a trip out to our composites shed for a hands-on training session focusing on composite layups. We had a really great turnout with new and older members from both the electrical and mechanical teams coming out to learn about a process essential to making a competitive solar car.

Group photo after a successful training session! Look at how much fun people had!

The session was part of a continued semi-formal training curriculum that CalSol has been slowly developing and implementing over the past few years to educate our members on various topics necessary to designing and fabricating a solar car. Already this semester the mechanical team has held numerous workshops on a variety of topics from basic modeling using SolidWorks all the way to performing CFD (computation fluid dynamics) analysis. The training sessions serve to introduce CalSol’s newest members to topics that are not covered in their normal coursework or that they won’t see in the classroom for a couple of semesters.

Senior team member Alex Cuevas explains the importance of fabric orientation.

This weekend’s training had members carrying out a vacuum-assisted wet-layup of fiber glass under the guidance of three senior team members. While CalSol plans to move away from the traditional wet layup process by partnering with companies to carry out more advanced composites manufacturing techniques, yesterday’s training still provided new members with valuable skills and experience that can be applied in the future. Specifically, members learned the importance of pre-planning, neatness, accuracy, and how using different layups types (e.g., sandwich vs. laminate, peel vs. release materials) can dramatically affect the properties of the final product.

Due to the work done this weekend and at all the other training sessions, CalSol’s newest recruits are now ready to go and assist our current members in tackling the challenge of designing our next vehicle. From what I have seen, CalSol’s newest generation seems more than up to task of creating our safest, lightest, quickest car ever.

Marc