Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
After many hours of working on our male plugs we are finally moving on to fiberglass mold construction. This week we were able to hammer out one of the fairings and it turned out GREAT!
Thanks to our new material sponsor, Aircraft Spruce and Specialty Co., we were able to acquire the fiberglass mat and mold making equipment required to build all the molds for Zephyr.
Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
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!
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.
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!
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
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
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.
Team Lead, CalSol
Saturday, May 18th, 2013
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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Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
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!
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
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 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.