Archive for the ‘Sponsorship’ Category

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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Painted Perfection

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Impulse with a Fresh Coat of Paint from SAC

After working on numerous repairs to Impulse’s aerodynamic exterior, including making a new canopy out of carbon fiber composites instead of PETG plastic, we dropped off Impulse at Shattuck Auto Collision Center (SAC) this past Monday, and waited excitedly to see her return with a brand-new paint job. This morning our wait was finally over, and we picked up a sexy-looking Impulse from SAC. As always, we are very impressed by the great job done by SAC, who not only made Impulse look great, but also smoothed out any remaining textures to give her a sleek and aerodynamically favorable painted outer surface. Since every bump or tiny hole will add up to produce more energy loss from aerodynamic drag, the smooth surface finish is a great help in boosting our aerodynamic performance.

Nicole looks pretty happy with the new canopy!

Now we are working hard on last-minute preparations for Cal Day (which is next Saturday!!), including reattaching some solar cells that were removed during the canopy repairs and putting on new sponsor logos. We are also hoping to get some testing done in this wonderfully sunny weather, leading up to a test drive next weekend to Sacramento, right after we show off our car in the Etcheverry breezeway. We invite everyone to come out and see Impulse, with her new paint job, next weekend from 10AM-3PM.

Thanks again SAC!!

New Electrical Equipment from KIT Digital

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Loading the truck with Chris

On Monday, we got a very generous donation from KIT Digital. After KIT Digital’s purchase of Sezmi, the company went through some internal changes and ended up with a fairly sizable collection of unneeded electrical equipment. They got in contact with us, and arranged to donate all of this equipment to CalSol.

This donation will be invaluable in augmenting our existing setup and aging equipment, and I’m excited to go through it all and inventory everything. I’ve only had time to briefly look over the contents, but from what I’ve seen I can say that we will be able to put everything to good use.

Some of the equipment we picked up from Kit Digital

All of this was made possible because of Chris Hagler, an employee of KIT Digital and a friend of our very own team member Jessica Chang. Chris thought of us when he came across the electrical equipment, and arranged everything on KIT Digital’s side to make this donation possible.

KIT Digital is now our newest Gold Sponsor! It’s because of companies like you that CalSol can thrive.

Linear Technology in a Time of Need

Sunday, March 11th, 2012


Last week, we were working on improving our Battery Monitoring System, and ran into a few problems. High voltage went a few places that it wasn’t supposed to, and we were left with several boards in less-than-perfect working condition. The damaged boards were manufactured by Linear Technology, and were used to individually monitor each battery cell module in our battery box. Each board would read the voltage of a dozen modules and constantly balance them to prevent overcharging or undercharging any cells. Our car has 35 battery modules, each of them at a nominal 3.6V. After working on the problems for several days, we came to the conclusion that we really needed new boards. The problems were severe enough that we had neither the time nor the materials in-house to repair our damaged boards.

At this point it was Wednesday night, and we really wanted to get Impulse running by Friday. We were swiftly running out of time. In desperation, I reached out to my contact at Linear Technology to see if he could secure new boards for us at such short notice. He called me up Thursday morning telling me that he had the boards, and I could come and get them. I drove down from Berkeley to Linear’s headquarters, picked up the replacement boards, drove back to Berkeley, and installed the brand new boards in our car. A few short hours later, we were once again able to monitor and balance all of our battery cells. Thanks to the great people at Linear, our battery system is operational and working better than ever before.