The results are in, and CalSol has officially placed 4th in this year’s American Solar Challenge! Although we had already largely predicted this outcome based on the events of Stage 5, having our accomplishment set in stone means a lot to us. This is a huge step forward for CalSol, as we have proven that we can be competitive on the national stage.
Shell team has recently begun doing actual work on the shell, in the wake of a few safety issues which were resolved with the purchase of new respirators, safety goggles, body suits, and the use of a fan for ventilation. The respirator/suit combo looks fabulous by the way. In the past couple weeks we have been out to the station a lot, and this is what has happened:
We sprayed the top mold with a couple of layers of duratec styroshield, but soon discovered that spraying was not the optimal method to coat the molds. It would take too long, and the spray gun was too difficult to work with. We have switched to using good old-fashioned paint brushes. This applies thicker coats, is less subject to technical failure, and is easier to clean up after (at the cost of a little bit of precision). We have streamlined this new process and should be able to finish applying the styroshield and the surface primer by the end of this week. From that point, we need to sand the molds, and then begin the lay-up process, which will most likely have to take place over spring break if we’re going to meet our deadlines.
Problems that remain unresolved:
1) The molds are deforming / cracking. A few emails have been thrown around about this recently, but the main point is that the torsion boxes are not really doing their job as well as hoped and the molds have started to deform slightly and crack down the center. The deformations are not obvious at first glance, nor are they extreme, but they are real and we need to figure out a way to approach this issue before they suffer significant or irrecoverable damage. My current strategy is to pray to Matthew and Martin and hope they figure something out.
2) We’re not entirely sure right now what is the best method to form the canopy. I’ve been doing some research into different materials / processes to make it but it’s hard to know what is best to do. The only saving grace is that the canopy is much easier to deal with than the big molds, and so does not need to be rushed quite as much, but it still needs to be figured out ASAP.
That’s all for now. More updates on shell are sure to come in the near future.