Electrical Team Making Progress and Giving Thanks!

Viswanath Chatterjee // // No Comments
The Hackerspace has been kept heavily utilized by CalSol lately!

The Hackerspace has been kept heavily utilized by CalSol lately!

The electrical team has been making good headway lately, with new, experienced, and alumni members all working to finish the assembly, testing, and troubleshooting of Zephyr’s electrical system.

The HCI (Human Control Interface) sub-systems are able to communicate among themselves over the CAN bus, which stands for Controller Area Network and allows for communication without a central computer. These sub-systems include the dashboard, accelerator and brake, steering wheel and side panel, and the two motor controller controller (which controls the motor controller, and is dubbed the MC^2). The controllers are working, and the motors are able to spin.

Regarding the solar cells, the solar array is coming together, with the team ready to finish placing the cells. The MPPT’s (Maximum Power Point Trackers, which keep the solar array at an optimal power output by manipulating on the I-V curve) are able to communicate over CAN as well.

Additionally, the two power hubs (which distribute power to the various electrical systems, which need to be kept on lines of separate voltages) are ready, and the BMS (Battery Management System) seems to be operational. All the electrical boards have been soldered, populated with components, and tested. The battery box has been built, and the fuses, connectors, and peripherals are being mounted.

The HCI system, including the LCD readout for the driver

The HCI system, including the LCD readout for the driver

The little nickel strip on the bottom of the module with the hole punched out is used to help measure voltage across the battery banks

The little nickel strip on the bottom of the module with the hole punched out is used to help measure voltage across the battery banks

Careful alignment of the solar array is required, since the indentations on the carbon fiber shell allow for little tolerance

Careful alignment of the solar array is required, since the indentations on the carbon fiber shell allow for little tolerance

We couldn’t have done this without the financial and technical support of our sponsors:

Advanced Circuits, for producing many of Zephyr’s PCB’s!

Bay Area Circuits, also for producing many of Zephyr’s PCB’s!

LEMO, for donating connectors!

Phoenix Contact, also for donating connectors!

Linear Technology, for giving LT boards and chips, providing monetary donations, as well as technical support and guidance!

 

 

 

Thanks for catching up with us, and see you soon!

CalSol PCBs – Thank You, Bay Area Circuits!

Derek Chou // // No Comments


Even as CalSol is working hard for the upcoming American Solar Challenge, we continue to get sponsors for our projects. Bay Area Circuits graciously donated to us the service of fabricating our in-house designed circuit boards, which will make up our dashboard, pedals, motor interface, lights, and battery monitoring systems. Thank you for the boards, Bay Area Circuits! We’ll make good use of them.

SAMSUNG

 

Bay Area Circuits

 

Fairing Success!

Aly Scheske // // No Comments

CalSol has upgraded Zephyr; a feature that no past solar vehicle produced by CalSol since 2005 has had will be debuted at the 2014 FSGP and ASC races. So what is this groundbreaking new feature? Front fairing doors. Masterminded by members of the Chassis and Suspension subteam, the whole team has worked tirelessly to integrate the fairing doors. A lot of thought has gone into the operation, manufacturing, and implementation of the doors. We especially give a shout out to the Shell subteam for being ready to make the incorporation possible. As a team, we all hope to increase the aerodynamic efficiency of Zephyr with the addition of the inner and outer front fairing doors.

So here is the catch- the fairing doors must open up enough so that the solar vehicle can complete a U-turn with a six meter inner turn radius. Thus, the hinge and the fairing door cuts had to be placed carefully to minimize drag and still meet requirements. This takes concerted effort to achieve. Here is a clip of the first turn radius trial-

Since then, we have accomplished our goal of having under a six meter inner turn radius. In fact, the car clears the turn with three feet to spare on both sides! We look forward to putting these doors to good use for the upcoming 2014 American Solar Challenge.

Thanks for your interest in CalSol and keep posted for more updates on Zephyr!

Thank You SunPower!

Min Ju Lee // // No Comments

With the Formula Sun Grand Prix / American Solar Challenge 2014 approaching in just a month, CalSol is in the process of organizing a list of generous friends and company sponsors who made it possible for us to engineer Zephyr and to enter in the SunRayce. In particular, the team decided to give a shout-out to our top three sponsors for this race. This shout-out to SunPower is dear to me because it’s what got me so hooked onto the team and also what led me to become the engineer that I am today.

Team members preparing for solar cell caulking.

Team members preparing for solar cell caulking.

sunpower-logo

SunPower Corporation is based in San Jose, Calif, and is America’s premier high-efficiency silicon solar cell designer & manufacturer. Almost all competitive teams participating in the American Solar Challenge use SunPower cells because not only are they efficient, they are also incredibly reliable. CalSol has been using SunPower cells dating as early as the late 90s, but we had never established a connection with the company until 2013.

With CalSol encapsulating our own solar cells for the first time this build season, we needed a lot of help. We talked to awesome local and corporate companies such as D2 Solar and Dunmore— the kind engineers from D2 solar and Dunmore gave us many samples to test and generously donated their time to troubleshoot our problems. We learned a lot, but we were far from being able to produce perfectly encapsulated panels.

By half-luck and half-coincidence, I got in contact with SunPower’s senior manager in business development. She is also a Cal grad and was intrigued by our project– and from there, the solar team’s progress took off quickly. We received bare SunPower solar cells, as well as invaluable engineering support from SunPower engineers. It’s been more than a year since SunPower and CalSol has been working closely together– and for over a year, the CalSol members have had the privilege of learning about the solar industry first-hand with the leading solar company in the world. And more importantly, we’ve had so much fun doing engineering.

 

Chatting up with SunPower's CEO Tom Werner at 2013 All-Hands meeting

Chatting up with SunPower’s CEO Tom Werner at 2013 All-Hands meeting

Impulse, the team, and SunPower's executive officers at the Richmond, Calif. facility.

Impulse, the team, and SunPower’s executive officers at the Richmond, Calif. facility.

 

Solar cell encapsulation @ the San Jose HQ

Solar cell encapsulation @ the San Jose HQ

The team is recognizing SunPower as one of our top three sponsors for Zephyr / ASC 2014. SunPower has not only provided CalSol with generous in-kind donation, but perhaps more importantly, invaluable engineering and moral support to the team. We know that the people at SunPower are busy individuals, and we cannot thank you enough for taking your time to help us with everything solar-related for Zephyr!

 

DC/DC Converter – Thanks, Vicor!

Viswanath Chatterjee // // No Comments

It’s been a while since our last blog update, but the intrepid CalSol crew has definitely been busy. Both Zephyr’s mechanical and electrical systems are nearing completion, and with all the work being put into making this our greatest vehicle yet, we’ve got plenty to report with new updates!

We would like to thank Vicor Corporation for their generous donation of the DC/DC converter and its appropriate mounting and connection accessories, as well as the assistance of their applications engineers in selecting the components! But first, what does a DC/DC converter do? (more…)