Bon Voyage, Impulse

Ed wrapping things up in the container
The container is all packed!

This Thursday, 8/25, Impulse will be officially sailing across the Pacific Ocean to the other side of the world.  In the past couple days, we have been dealing with logistical nightmares and trying to coordinate packing, loading and all that jazz.  We are very relieved to say that as of this morning on 8/23, Impulse has successfully taken off to the Oakland port and been ready for Australia!

Fundraising $34,000 for 2011 World Solar Challenge

As WSC fast approaching and Impulse being completed, we are now shifting our focus.  In order to participate in the competition while keeping our team out of the red, CalSol would like to ask for your support and help us raise $34,000 to cover the cost of the race.

We Are Ready for WSC

BERKELEY, Calif – Aug 15th 2011 – CalSol, The UC Berkeley Solar Vehicle Team, has completed its latest solar vehicle, Impulse, and is preparing to race for 1800 miles in the World Solar Challenge held in Australia from October 16th to October 23rd.  This will mark the first time CalSol has ever raced a solar car in the World Solar Challenge.

The team has made a significant amount of progress in the last few weeks, and has spent its time testing Impulse out on the public road and meeting up with sponsors.  The team is extremely excited to have come this far, and is busy making final preparations to ensure a smooth voyage as Impulse gets shipped to Australia.

Impulse, CalSol’s newest solar vehicle, is the result of 2 years worth of effort by a team of 75 undergraduate students.  While Impulse only seats one person in its cockpit, it has the top speed of 70 mph, and has over 50 highway miles under its belt.  Impulse powers itself purely off of solar energy, and uses no gasoline engines.  Impulse has been inspected and registered with the DMV to be street legal and proudly displays its official VIN and license plate in the back of the car.  Impulse costs approximately $150,000 to build, and is funded purely through donations.  Impulse’s major sponsors include Volkswagen, Panasonic, and Kreysler & Associates.

The World Solar Challenge is a biennial solar car race held in Australia.  The race starts from Darwin, ends in Adelaide, and travels through 1800 miles of the Australian outback.  The race is attended by over 30 teams from around the world.  CalSol is sending 20 members to race Impulse in the upcoming event.  Because the event lies right in the middle of the semester, the team members have arranged to take the fall semester off with UC Berkeley.

Impulse Grooming

CalSol would like to thank Jim and his crew at Shattuck Auto Collision Center for their beautiful and meticulous work in giving Impulse a renovation paint job this past week, entirely free of charge!

Shattuck Auto Collision Center, or SAC for short, is a local collision repair service and auto painting center in Berkeley, CA. The shop has been our Gold Sponsor since April this year, and we are so grateful of their consistent support!

Burning Rubber

Check out the latest video from this past weekend!

Solar cars are all about efficiency, but our mechanical team tried some power driving at the station to test the car’s limits; they had a blast!  Then we tested our own stress levels by merging onto a crowded freeway and had an exciting day.

Go Bears!

Energy Storage: Batteries

In a solar vehicle , there exists an accumulator pack to store the energy generated by the solar array and release it in a more reliable manner. Since the solar cells’ output power is dependent on the sun and weather (which vary greatly upon several factors), the accumulator pack can provide a more reliable source when solar energy cannot be depended on. When weather becomes unpredictable and the amount of solar exposure decreases, the accumulators help supplement the car’s lack of power. Batteries are a common choice in accumulator packs, but require a battery monitoring system to prevent hazards from occurring. Together, the batteries and the battery monitoring system comprise a central and important part of solar vehicles.

Impulse on a Test Run

Howdy y’all, this is Ryan checking in, and here to say that CalSol is indeed still quite alive and kickin’.  In the past couple of weeks we’ve been constantly testing, fixing, and tweaking everything on the car from suspension to steering to the safety systems.  Just today we took the car out for a spin in the warm California sun along the 580 freeway, and I would describe it as the most refreshing yet stressful event of my life.

The Team and Impulse

Microchip Donates to CalSol

We would like to thank our newest sponsor, Microchip, for donating various integrated circuits (ICs) and programmers to CalSol.

Impulse on the Highway

This past weekend was an important milestone for CalSol in our progress to competing in the 2011 World Solar Challenge. CalSol left the Richmond Field Station to see how Impulse would perform on public roads and highways. However, things don’t always go as planned and CalSol encountered some setbacks early on to driving the car on the road. Regardless our team was able to work together to identify and fix these problems on the spot with the tools and equipment we had brought with us. After solving these problems we were able to take Impulse onto the highway and stay with the flow of traffic. We were slightly disappointed that we weren’t able to drive as much as originally planned. However, the team feels much more confident being on the road and working on the car with limited resources and being successful. Keep an eye out for CalSol performing more road tests in the near future!

Impulse becomes the center of attention for the neighborhood on an otherwise normal Sunday afternoon.