Spring Semester Begins

CalSol has been working hard on designing every system for our next car. We ran into problems building GoldRush because construction began before every feature of the car had been completely planned. Last year as we approached Formula Sun Grand Prix we found ourselves with increasingly difficult design challenges that could have been eliminated with proper foresight. We are considering everything from the general shape of the car to the angle of the solar cells. When we begin to assemble CalSol’s first solar vehicle of the decade we will know exactly where every nut, bolt, and wire should live on the car.

The mechanical team is facing a design deadline this month. This “complete” design will entail every mechanical aspect of the car. This stage will give us just enough time to review our thoughts, optimize efficiency, and commit to our final design by April. Right now we are putting serious thought into the shell because it places constraints on nearly every aspect of the vehicle. Several different designs are being looked at and we will pick the design that matches performance with reliability.

The electrical team is designing the “brain” of the car. CalSol is researching and testing different development platforms that will provide the framework for battery protection, energy management, and race strategy. We are attempting to design a circuit board and manufacture a generic microcontroller platform with embedded Controller-Area Network (CAN) communication. If we can do this cheaply then we will have a modular and versatile electrical system designed completely in-house.

We are very excited about our recent purchase of a Tritium WaveSculptor Motor Driver. The Tritium motor controller should be more reliable, easier to use, and will naturally embed itself in our modular CAN-bus design. Thank you to our sponsors for making this purchase possible.

The UC Berkeley College of Engineering made a recent video about us. Check out the CalSol Engineering Student Affairs Video.