Archive for the ‘Sponsorship’ Category

Thank You SunPower!

Friday, June 13th, 2014

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.

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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!

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

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…)

First Fiberglass Mold

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!

fiberglass mold

 

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.

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Thank you, NXP!

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 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 Airtech!

Monday, April 8th, 2013
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

Thank You to Sena Bluetooth!

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Here at CalSol, safety is our #1 priority. For several months now, we have had to make do with handheld walkie talkies for communications between Impulse and the accompanying safety caravan. This system has given us many a headache because of problematically low sound quality which had no chance competing against the noisy clicking and whirring of our NGM SCM150 motor at low speeds and the wind at high speeds. With clear communication being one of the best defenses against the possibility of unsafe situations, we started to search for new methods of relaying messages between Impulse and the caravan.

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