Steering Wheel Molds

Brian Graf // // No Comments
Sam Cohen with Steering Wheel Mold Designed by Parker Schuh

Sam Cohen with Steering Wheel Mold Designed by Parker Schuh

CalSol has been hard at work over our Winter Break touching up the designs on our shell, chassis, and suspension but in particular Sam Cohen and Parker Schuh on the Controls team have been working on creating a lightweight, carbon fiber steering wheel. To do this we first needed a 3D model of what we wanted the wheel to look like; this was designed by Parker and is shown below.

Steering Wheel 3D Model Designed by Parker Schuh

Steering Wheel 3D Model Designed by Parker Schuh


Once we had the model we needed to CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) out the molds for the wheel in a high density tooling foam. This is a complex process using a 3-axis milling machine in the Etcheverry Student Machine Shop on campus. The bottom photo shows the process of spiraling inwards removing the proper amount of material as the ball end mill progresses. You can see Sam here holding one of the two molds that we machined – corresponding to the top of the steering wheel.

The next steps are to prepare the molds for the carbon fiber layup and for layup itself, stay tuned for updates on this awesome project!

Great work gentlemen!

CNC Machining of the Molds

CNC Machining of the Molds

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:

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.





CalSol Goes to the BERC Symposium

Brian Graf // // No Comments
Impulse at the Richmond Field Station

Impulse at the Richmond Field Station

CalSol will be attending the BERC Symposium on October 18, 2012 to show off Impulse to the hundreds of people who have come to discuss the major energy issues and solutions of our time. Come out to see us on display in Lower Sproul Plaza from 6-9pm on Thursday’s portion of the events. You can learn more about the event and purchase tickets at their website:

Some topics of discussion at the event are about shale gas, carbon capture and sequestration, energy subsidies, utility scale solar, and much more! Maybe we aren’t utility scale solar but we have fully functioning proof of vehicle scale solar!

We will see you there!




Cal Homecoming – Go Bears!

Brian Graf // // No Comments
Impulse at Homecoming!

Impulse at Homecoming with Pol, Alex, and Sam explaining Impulse to visitors

UC Berkeley just completed its homecoming weekend festivities which included us beating UCLA 43-17 at our brand new stadium as well as many of the engineering teams out on display for everyone to see! Impulse was out in front of Davis Hall on Saturday next to the super mileage vehicle, human powered vehicle, and concrete canoe teams. Hundreds of parents, alumni, and UC Berkeley affiliates wandered by our vehicle, all of them with mouths wide open in awe.

After a few hours of showing off our car to the public we packed up the display and drove Impulse back to the Richmond Field Station. We decided to take San Pablo Avenue instead of the freeway for the return trip because we wanted a more calm drive back. It’s also fun to take city streets because so many more people get to see the car and snap photos of it.

Go Bears!

Ben speaking with some visitors

Ben speaking with some visitors to the CalSol table

Green Drive Expo

Michael Vogel // // No Comments

Green Drive Expo

Followers of CalSol, come and join us tomorrow at the the Bay Area’s premier consumer expo dedicated to hybrid, plug-in, ev and other high-tech, ecofriendly vehicles, the Green Drive Expo! We’ll be there to show Impulse, alongside many premiere auto manufacturer’s, including Toyota and Chevrolet.

The exhibition is open from 10am until 5pm this Saturday, September 15th. For more information, head on over to the expo’s website:


We look forward to seeing you there!

CalSol’s First General Meeting!

Nicole Schauser // // No Comments

Last Wednesday, September 5th, CalSol had its first general meeting of the semester. After two weeks of recruiting, including displaying Impulse at Engineering Student Orientation, we expected a large crowd of interested newcomers to attend this first meeting and learn what CalSol is all about. However, I think the number of people who showed up even exceeded our expectations — by our count we had 131 people present!

It was great to feel the excitement in the air as interested students settled down into their seats to hear about CalSol’s past, present and future, including our plans of racing in ASC 2014 with a brand new vehicle that they will get to help design and build. Speaking with people afterwards and seeing their interest in the team brought back memories of my first CalSol general meeting two years ago, which I left wide-eyed from excitement, knowing that I had joined a club full of opportunity for hands-on projects and new friendships.

I know I’m not the only one when I say that I’m excited about the potential of this new group of students, and am looking forward to what the fresh blood in CalSol will bring for the team!

CalSol at the Sonoma Indy Grand Prix

Brian Graf // // No Comments

Opening ceremony to the Gro Pro Indy Grand Prix hosted by Sonoma Raceway

Opening ceremony to the Gro Pro Indy Grand Prix hosted by Sonoma Raceway

CalSol attended the Go Pro Indy Grand Prix sponsored by Sonoma Raceway and got to show off Impulse to hundreds of race car fans and gear-heads alike. We got a prime spot to display the car in front of the autograph booth for the Indy car drivers and we were placed next to an all electric performance vehicle made by Kleenspeed Technologies. This is a shot of the opening ceremony to the race; they had American flags unfurling, cannons firing, fireworks lighting up, and all manner of celebrities and athletes to start the show off with a bang.


CalSol places 4th in the 2012 American Solar Challenge

Alex Cuevas // // 1 Comment

The results are in, and CalSol has officially placed 4th in this year’s American Solar Challenge! Although we had already largely predicted this outcome based on the events of Stage 5, having our accomplishment set in stone means a lot to us. This is a huge step forward for CalSol, as we have proven that we can be competitive on the national stage.

All of the teams who completed ASC 2012, after the awards ceremony. I'm one of the guys holding up the ASC flag.