Suspension and Chassis Update

The Suspension and Chassis team has been working on two fronts recently: helping to prepare Impulse for the American Solar Challenge and designing the major mechanical systems for our next solar car.

The finished tool to remove our wheels

Our first project of this semester was to reconstruct our broken hub tool – this tool is used to remove the wheels from Impulse during tire changes and pit stops. Australia put too much of a strain on the last one and it snapped in two. Because of the intricate design on the surface of the part we decided to take this opportunity as a learning experience in using the CNC machines in the student machine shop in Etcheverry Hall.

The final product turned out to be just as artistic as it is practical. Being a team of mechanical engineers, this is the kind of success that makes us proud to be engineers.

Another of our endeavors has been in preparing Impulse for the stringent regulations of ASC. Specifically, ASC stipulates that nuts and bolts in critical areas of the car have to be secured in their defined methods. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but in a few locations on our car – such as in the cramped area of the wheel cavity – using safety wired bolts would interfere with the performance of the car.

Our solution comes from careful choices of unique bolts and slight part modifications to satisfy the requirements. Needless to say, Impulse will be primed and ready for ASC.

On our second front, the Suspension and Chassis team has begun work on designing the frame, front suspension, and rear suspension for our – yet to be named – next car. Much of this process has been in teaching ourselves the mechanics and vocabulary of vehicle design.

For example, figuring out what camber, caster, toe in, toe out, bump steer, and oh so many more terms actually mean has been step one. We have also been utilizing suspension analysis programs written by Matthew Farrell – a CalSol alumni – to study how all of our new found vocabulary actually affects suspension performance. We are now beginning the modeling process and much of our time will be filled with SolidWorks and real, practical engineering.

We have our sights set on some ambitious goals to achieve with our next car and I know that with CalSol’s outstanding members we can fulfill them all.