BBQ’ing at Work Sessions!

Brian Graf // // No Comments

Every Saturday of every week about 15 or more team members find their way out to the Richmond Field Station working on the solar cars from dawn til dusk. Some members are welding, some sanding molds, some building our oven, some spraying, and some doing strategy calculations. But above all else, everyone is working tirelessly on making Zephyr become a reality. We are putting our heart, soul, and backs into this project and it will be an amazing sight to see drive once we finish it up.

But all that work is dreadfully tiring! You may say, “how do they work all that time without burning out?”. Well we found the solution: BBQ’ing!

chili, lime, shish kabobs, shish kabobs, chili lime, grill

Chili-Lime Shish Kabobs!

The first thing we tried was simple frozen hamburgers; we had to start slow and easy to build up our grilling chops.

Round two was Chili-Lime Shish Kabobs! These turned out incredible too. Marinated the chicken for an hour while we chopped up the vegetables and onions, assembled our creations, and 2.5 minutes on the grill for each of the 4 sides of the kabobs. Cooked to perfection.

Round three was a return to hamburgers but from scratch this time! Minced onions, teriyaki sauce, ground beef, a touch of flour, and other seasonings all mushed up together made the perfect patty. Grilled until fully cooked but still incredibly juicy so all the flavor stayed in. Remember, don’t squash your patties on the grill! It squishes all the juice out of them and you lose the flavor.

teriyaki, burger, cheeseburger, juicy burger, juicy hamburger

The most juicy teriyaki cheeseburger EVER

The food keeps us together and keeps us moving forward on our mission to build the greatest solar car CalSol has yet produced!

New Year, New Team: Gearing up for ASC 2014!

Min Ju Lee // // No Comments

Greetings! We took a hiatus from blogging over the summer, but CalSol has been working hard over the last year to prepare for the American Solar Challenge 2014. As you will find out from our every-two-week posts, the team has acquired multitude of projects and talented members over the last few months who continue to turn Zephyr from a concept to reality.

CalSol @ RFS Tour

Composites Training @ RFS

HALLO~

In particular, the team was excited to find new details of the ASC 2014: it will start in Austin, Texas and end in St. Paul, Minnesota!

Exact locations of stage/checkpoints are still being finalized, but what we know for now:

  • Mon, July 21 (2014): Start in Austin, TX with a checkpoint in (TBD), TX
  • Tue, July 22: Arrive at stage stop in Norman, OK
  • Wed, July 23: Depart Norman, OK with a checkpoint in Wichita, KS
  • Thu, July 24: Arrive at stage stop in Overland Park, KS
  • Fri, July 25: Depart Overland Park, KS and arrive at stage stop in Omaha, NE
  • Sat, July 26: Depart Omaha, NE with a checkpoint in Ames, IA
  • Sun, July 27: Arrive at stage stop in La Crosse, WI
  • Mon, July 28: Finish in St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN

What we think the route might be:


View Larger Map

We are pretty stoked about this northbound driving across the central U.S! More updates to come from our other leads later.

Min Ju

Team Lead, CalSol

Maker Faire

Michael Vogel // // No Comments

Maker FaireHowdy everyone!,

CalSol is at Maker Faire this weekend! If you’re at the event you can find us in the west lot on the far side, near a number of other electric vehicles, and a floating DeLorean!

For the uninitiated, Maker Faire is an inspirational weekend of ingenuity and cool technology. Every year there are first time makers as well as favorites returning with something new. Come and discover and world of creativity and imagination!

More information is available at makerfaire.com and if you can’t make it, check into the livestream at makerfaire.com/live.

See you all there!

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Thank You Revchem Composites!

Samuel Cohen // // No Comments

We are excited to announce Revchem Composites as a material sponsor for our solar car Zephyr!

Dashboard mold with EZ Sanding Primer provided by Revchem

A major distributor of everything relating to composites, Revchem has generously donated all of the materials required to get our molds prepped for composite layups. For our small tooling foam molds we use sandable surface primers that allow us to get extremely smooth finishes on all of our parts. Revchem’s material donation has also been essential to getting our shell molds ready for composite layups. Because our shell molds are made from EPS (a.k.a. styrofoam), we need to shield the foam from reacting with the surface primers and composite resins. They have also provided us with tooling gelcoat for creating our fiberglass molds from our male plugs.

With all these high-end mold materials at our disposal, we can create the best molds and smoothest car CalSol has ever manufactured.

Thank you Revchem!

Thank you, NXP!

Steven Rhodes // // No Comments

We’re proud to welcome NXP as a new sponsor!

The brains of a solar car are essential. For our designs, we use a distributed network of a handful of microcontrollers. Each node in our network controls something different, such as managing the batteries, controlling the motor, or taking all the input from the driver. An important decision is choosing these brains, and we have reached out to NXP for their help. Last December, a few members of CalSol went down to NXP to show off Impulse and talk about our plans for the future. We received a very friendly welcome, and we are hopeful of a bright future with them.

Our own prototype and the LPCXpresso

Our own prototype connected to the LPCLink portion of the LPCXpresso

One of NXP’s interesting products is their LPCXpresso boards. These development boards include both a microcontroller for rapid prototyping and a built-in JTAG debugger, the LPC-Link. This debugger gives us significantly more power than we have had previously, allowing us to step through our running code and see the complete state of the microcontroller!

NXP has given us 40 LPCXpresso boards and has agreed to provide microcontrollers and other integrated circuits as needed. The development boards have allowed us to quickly get up to speed, and we are already making our own prototype boards using NXP’s MCU’s. You can see one of our first boards with an NXP chip (made by team member Devan Lai) in the picture to the right. We are planning on using NXP’s Cortex-M0 LPC11C14 for many systems in the car. These microcontrollers only take a few milliamps to run, an incredibly low amount for how much power they have! This, combined with their integrated support for the CAN communication protocol, makes them well suited for our applications. As well, the move to a modern 32-bit ARM architecture allows our code to be both smaller and more efficient.

All of these improvements are incremental steps towards making our best solar car yet. We’re hard at work doing everything we can to increase performance, decrease power consumption, and maximize efficiency.

Thank you Dahl-Beck Electric!

Benjamin Chen // // No Comments

8659555010_8c6532e16c_o

This past Tuesday, the motor team and several other members had the pleasure of taking a tour of Dahl-Beck Electric‘s motor repair facilities. Dahl-Beck is a local company based in Richmond that performs a wide range of repairs on industrial-scale electric motors brought in from customers around the world. They provide an incredible and invaluable service to clients who are able to bring in broken motors ranging from <1 hp to 10,000 hp and have them disassembled, evaluated, completely overhauled if necessary with new wiring and newly machined surfaces, enameled, painted, re-tested, and shipped back as good as new.

The CalSol motor team in particular is interested in Dahl-Beck’s ability to vacuum-impregnate motors with epoxy to ameliorate vibrations and insulate electromagnetic components. By requesting use of Dahl-Beck’s vacuum pressure impregnation (VPI) services, we could achieve a much higher quality potting of the current design of our stator than if we attempt to achieve it ourselves.

A big thank you to Dahl-Beck employees Kevin Sams and Dan Neal for taking the time out of a busy work season to give us a tour of their well-maintained facilities and chat about our motor project, and thank you to Mick Franssen of the UC Berkeley mechanical engineering student machine shop for introducing us to Kevin!

Be sure to check out photos we took on our Flickr.

Cal Day 2013!

Benjamin Chen // // No Comments

bnrThe annual Cal Day event is coming up this Saturday on April 20th and CalSol will be on display!

Cal Day happens every April and is a great opportunity for all of Cal to show off what it’s got in store, especially for visiting prospective students, and this year there are there are more exciting things to see than ever before. CalSol, in particular, will be showing our current car Impulse as well as newly built parts for our new vehicle, Zephyr. Our suspension and controls teams have been hard at work to display numerous vehicle components, newly machined and laid up, so make sure to stop by the Etcheverry-Soda breezeway all day to see Impulse on display! We will also be manning a table in front of the Engineering Student Services office for questions and information.

Click here to see a full list of Cal Day events hosted by the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

 

Hope to see you all there!

Unfinished lathe work on Zephyr's wheel hubs.

Unfinished lathe work on Zephyr’s wheel hubs. To see the finished results, come see them at Cal Day!

Waterjetted 7075 aluminum uprights for Zephyr's front suspension.

Waterjetted 7075 aluminum uprights for Zephyr’s front suspension.

Thank you Airtech!

Nicole Schauser // // No Comments
Airtech

A sampling of donated Airtech materials.

We are super excited to announce that Airtech recently became a large materials sponsor of CalSol! The largest manufacturer of vacuum bagging and composite tooling materials, Airtech has generously donated some of their materials for our use on Zephyr’s shell. Since we have decided to go with pre-imprepregnated carbon fiber this time, we needed all new bagging materials that can withstand the elevated curing temperatures. We’ve also upgraded some of our other equipment, which will hopefully allow us to make an extremely nice shell for Zephyr.

Our new partnership with Airtech will give us the opportunity to improve our manufacturing process as we get ready to build CalSol’s most competitive vehicle yet. Thank you Airtech!

airtech adv materials logo blue and red

Shell Mold Work

Nicole Schauser // // No Comments

Today we picked up the first of our new molds for Zephyr from Kreysler and Associates, who have been kind enough to continue their sponsorship of CNC and personnel time to machine our molds. After helping them out by clearing away all of the excess styrofoam, we transported the top and bottom shell back to Richmond, and got busy with a huge sanding session to smooth out any bumps and machine paths left on the mold surface. After months of staring at the Zephyr computer model, it’s extremely exciting to see the body of the car slowly take shape!

Sam standing in a sea of stryofoam

Sam standing in a sea of stryofoam.

The next steps will be to coat the molds with Duratec Styroshield (to protect the styrofoam, which reacts with the sanding primer) and then with Duratec EZ Sanding Primer. This will then be sanded and polished so that we can make female fiberglass molds that are extremely smooth. The final step is then to do the actual carbon fiber layup inside the fiberglass molds. Every bump and mistake will only magnify as we make the fiberglass molds and then our carbon fiber parts, so we are taking extra care to ensure our final parts will be shiny and smooth!

Our sanding party!

Our sanding party!

Last week Kreysler also machined 1/7th-scale molds that we are going to use as a practice for the real deal. Every step we have to do on our actual molds will first be tested on these so that we can iron out any mistakes before working on our full-size parts. The practice molds have all been sanded and are ready to be coated in Duratec. Check out how nice they look!

Small scale Zephyr molds.

Small scale Zephyr molds.

 

Thank You, Terminal Manufacturing!

Derek Chou // // No Comments
Terminal Manufacturing, TIG, welding, CalSol

Thank you Jimmy! CalSol loved the experience

Terminal Manufacturing graciously took some time out of its schedule to teach 11 CalSol members how to do Tungsten-Inert-Gas (TIG) welding on aluminum. A big thanks to Jimmy for being a terrific teacher and allowing each and every one of us to actually get our hands on the machine and weld. His concern over safety really hit home with us and we will be taking every precaution when we weld too.

Since our design involves welding thin wall, aluminum tubing to form the structural chassis, this training could not have come at a better time. We will be using this knowledge to move forward with the construction of Zephyr.

Again, thank you for your support!

TIG welding, welding mask, CalSol

TIG welding as seen through a protective mask.