Day 12: A Bird of Another Kind

Hilary Shi // // No Comments

G’day mates!

In case you didn’t know, CalSol team also has a twitter for you insta-update fans! We have been tweeting like little birds since arriving down under.

Follow us there:

Stay tuned to the blog for longer updates, but make sure to follow us there if you want real-time updates about what we’re doing and where we are!

Day 11: A Day at the Racetrack

Abhay Mathur // // No Comments
So Excited!

Everyone is excited to finally have a dedicated work space out of the sun

Hello CalSol Enthusiasts!

My name is Abhay, and this is my first time writing a blog post! I haven’t had time to write them on the drive up from the south, but now that we are in Darwin, I have plenty!

Friday, October 7th was a big day for CalSol. We checked in to the Hidden Valley Motorsports Complex, where we and the rest of the teams competing in the World Solar Challenge will be working on our vehicles until scrutineering. We have a nice covered garage with more than enough room for Impulse and all our equipment.


Port Augusta: Swapping Systems

Rafael Send // // No Comments

Of the two nights we spent in Port Augusta, we worked through most of both. The day we arrived, we had had a team meeting and decided that we would attempt to adopt what we were calling the “new” electrical system in place of the one we had used throughout most of the summer.
A lot of people may not know what this means, so let’s take a step back.

A.K.A. Voltaire

The new battery box assembled and ready for testing

As we started to test over the summer, we discovered various issues with the old system that initially prevented the car from running consistently. Through a series of tweaks and hacks (like the installation of what we call the CAN Bridge, used for forward data from one subset of the system to another) we were able to get a well running car. However, it was obvious that even though this was a probably useable solution for WSC, it was far from ideal. Several of our members began designing proper replacements for the components with issues, but by the time we had  actually finished the designs and fabricated new PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards), Impulse had already been shipped to Australia. As a result, we had to bring untested designs with us in our luggage, in the hope that we could install and get them to work sometime before the race.Fast forward to today in Port Augusta.


Day 10: To Kill a Sparrow

Jessica Chang // // No Comments
He was like this for the better part of the day, and didn't even wake up when we hit a kangaroo carcass

He was like this for the better part of everyday, and didn't even wake up when we hit a kangaroo carcass

Hello everyone! This is Jessica, Nicole, Abhay, and Martin from Scout, Maroon 5! Just in case you’re wondering, this is the same Jessica as the one from Captain BlueBear in the past few days. Everyone has been car-hopping, so here I am, in Maroon 5

Due to the lack of technology in this car in the past few days, we would like to backdate on all the interesting things that have happened to Scout. The Scout Car, also known as the Bird-Lovers, has the shiny record of killing at least 12 birds in a streak. Nicole had, in one day, hit 5 birds in a row. Abhay had, in the span of three days, totaled 7 birds with all fatalities. Brian (who just switched with Martin today) had, throughout the entire drive, hurt no bird at all; although he did swerve dangerously once to avoid killing a bird. In all seriousness, it’s very sad and unfortunate that the birds constantly fly in front of the vehicles while we are driving at 130km/h, but considering the danger involved to avoid killing these animals, there is very little we can do. So birds, please stop flying in front of the cars and making Nicole cry!


Day 10: Back Out On Top

Michael Vogel // // No Comments

This is Recon checking in. Jessica has some business back in the caravan today so instead we have Steven Rhodes, the team’s camp manager filling in for her today. He has been in charge of making sure that the team is fed healthy food to keep us all moving, in addition to making sure everyone is up and moving in the morning, usually before sunrise.

That's Recon in Blue

Scout is scouting for a campsite, and passes Recon on the way

When we last left you, we were hanging out in Alice Springs pillaging wireless access from the local McDonald’s. Leaving Alice Springs refreshed and rejuvenated from a civilization bigger than a hut, bar and gas station, we hit the road again. The destination: Tennant Creek. However, along the way the team decided it would be good to simulate a road-side campsite for when we need to pull off either due to troubles with Impulse or at the end of a race-day when a rest area cannot be found. According to the race regulations we are given a ten minute window to find a location to camp. Scout used the extra juice and acceleration in the Caddy Maxi to pull away from the rest of the team and found a location without too many prickly bushes, and biting ants, and enough space for the whole team to park safely away from the road. The simulation went well and Scout found a location six minutes into the window that was specified, although I’m told the location was lacking in some basic amenities; namely, a toilet.


Day 9: Groundhog’s Day

Jessica Chang // // No Comments

Don't MMess with Mike, Marc, and Jessica

Hello from Mike, Marc, and Jessica in Captain BlueBear! We stole Mike from the rest of the caravan mostly because we needed a cameraman to snap all the beautiful sights we’re seeing and his pictures for the blog posts in general (FYI, Mike is the mediaman for the trip).

Since we were already packed up and heard of a possible storm in Alice Springs, the team has decided to drive straight to Darwin in the next couple days instead of trying to test-drive in SA. Today, the destination is Tennant Creek, one of the checkpoints for WSC, and it’s approximately 960kms from Marla.


Day 8 Part 2: Don’t MMess

Jessica Chang // // No Comments

We would like to add an addendum to what happened to us after we left Coober Pedy yesterday, and we believe the following video pretty much sums up our evening.  We sincerely hope you enjoy this short film as much as we do.

For the record, we changed the tire and fixed things up in ~30 minutes and continued driving up to Marla to meet up with the rest of the team.  Other than the three double-decker triple road trains that passed by our car on the Stuart Highway and inflicted a strong dust of wind each time, we think it was a good night overall.

Cheers and don’t mmess, with

Mike, Marc and Jess(ica)

Day 8: Red Sky in the Morning, Sailors Take Warning

Marc Russell // // No Comments

Welcome to the Outback!

Hi there,

It’s Marc and Jessica again (I know right)!

We have finally arrived in the Outback! Although its hard to say exactly when we did so because for some reason the border of this huge expanse isn’t marked by a huge billboard saying “Welcome to Nowhere”, I am pretty sure when you can drive for 15 minutes and see nothing but 360 degrees of sweeping vistas of red dirt and shrubs streching to the horizon, dirt roads running off into the distance, and a huge double decker, triple trailer road train you are in the Outback (as far as I am concerned).


Day 7: The Loooooonnngggg Weekend

Jessica Chang // // No Comments

Rafael working on BMS with our new, awesome Toshiba laptop

Hi all,

Thank you parents, friends, and strangers for giving us so much positive feedback and support in the past few days!  We will keep up with the blogging as much as we can, and we are going to seriously miss internet so much after we head into the Outback…

We have been working on Impulse since we arrived.  There is lots of work that needs to be done, and the team is not wasting any time. We have also decided to stay in Port Augusta for the next two days to concentrate on getting the car up and running with the new system.


Day 6: Horde of (Happy) Fools

Jessica Chang // // No Comments

G’day mates,

CalSol with Vern from Rangeview Caravan Park

Last night in Port Pirie, we stayed at the Rangeview Caravan Park.  The owner Vern was very kind to us; besides offering us a discount for the night and letting us check out late (for us to work on getting Impulse ready for the road), he is also storing our huge fiber glass loading ramps for us! We used the ramps to load up our container back in the States (donated by the guys at the RFS), and because we were not sure on how the (un)loading process would be here in Australia, we brought them over as well.   They have been very difficult to drag around mainly because they are huge and not very flat, not to mention they are heavy and worsen the fuel economy of the Amarok. We are so grateful for Vern’s help and accommodation; thank you Vern and Rangeview Caravan Park!!