The Next Generation

This past weekend, CalSol took a trip out to our composites shed for a hands-on training session focusing on composite layups. We had a really great turnout with new and older members from both the electrical and mechanical teams coming out to learn about a process essential to making a competitive solar car.

Group photo after a successful training session! Look at how much fun people had!

The session was part of a continued semi-formal training curriculum that CalSol has been slowly developing and implementing over the past few years to educate our members on various topics necessary to designing and fabricating a solar car. Already this semester the mechanical team has held numerous workshops on a variety of topics from basic modeling using SolidWorks all the way to performing CFD (computation fluid dynamics) analysis. The training sessions serve to introduce CalSol’s newest members to topics that are not covered in their normal coursework or that they won’t see in the classroom for a couple of semesters.

Senior team member Alex Cuevas explains the importance of fabric orientation.

This weekend’s training had members carrying out a vacuum-assisted wet-layup of fiber glass under the guidance of three senior team members. While CalSol plans to move away from the traditional wet layup process by partnering with companies to carry out more advanced composites manufacturing techniques, yesterday’s training still provided new members with valuable skills and experience that can be applied in the future. Specifically, members learned the importance of pre-planning, neatness, accuracy, and how using different layups types (e.g., sandwich vs. laminate, peel vs. release materials) can dramatically affect the properties of the final product.

Due to the work done this weekend and at all the other training sessions, CalSol’s newest recruits are now ready to go and assist our current members in tackling the challenge of designing our next vehicle. From what I have seen, CalSol’s newest generation seems more than up to task of creating our safest, lightest, quickest car ever.





Rayce Day 4: Tigers, Lions, and Bears, Oh My!

Team Philippine's batteries on fire (sorry for the long shot but I didn't want to get close!)

To carry on where yesterday’s blog post finished, the team left Tennant Creek with only thirty minutes left to race. As the team was preparing to leave the control stop, the Philippine team’s batteries caught on fire. By the time our team members saw what was happening they had already smothered the batteries with sand (fortunately, their top shell was off), but the lithium ion batteries continued to burn. The officials cleared the area without any injuries. Our caravan left without seeing the end result, but we hope the Philippine team will be okay.

At 4:56, CalSol ended up at a dirt pullout along the side of the road about 25km out of Tennant Creek. Although right next to the road and bordered by burnt trees and termite mounds, our campsite had enough flat ground for the team to camp and ample space for all our vehicles. Now used to the daily routine of setting up camp, our team had Impulse’s shell off and angled towards the sun in no time, and soon after,  all are tents were up and we were eating hummus and crackers by the R.V..

Rayce Day 1: “Lucky” Number 13

Impulse leaves Darwin, 290km to Katherine.

Today was the big day, for the first time in our team’s history, CalSol officially rayced in the World Solar Car Challenge. Once again, a huge thanks to all those who supported us: friends, family, and of course our sponsors. Without their support we certainly would not be here today. The team got an early start to the day (some of us more so than others, thanks Amando, Ankur, and Rafael for getting the trailer!), to bring Impulse safely to the Northern Territory Parliament House where the race started.


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

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 3: Sleeping in the Belly of a Bear

Jessica Driving Captain BlueBear

Quick update from Jessica and Marc here.

We took Captain BlueBear (aka the blue VW Golf Wagon TDI) and headed out towards South Australia intending to get Impulse registered to drive on SA roads and scouting out the drive to Adelaide for the rest of the team.

Day 2: It’s Raining Cars (and Water too)

Captain BlueBear aka VW Golf Wagon

Just a quick update from the land across the sea. We had an extremely eventful day today. First, we picked up the awesome caravan of vehicles provided to us by Volkswagen. These included a Amarok Ultimate with 4 Motion(4WD), a TDI320 Caddy Maxi Life with 4 Motion, a second TDI320 Caddy Maxi Life, a T5 Crewvan LWB 2.0 TDI, and finally (my personal favorite) a blue Golf Wagon 103TDI DSG. Look forward to a more detailed post about the vehicles later, but for now all I will say are that these cars are amazing. Through-out the day they perfectly filled our needs, be it towing a trailer or carrying a huge load of supplies from Costco, and were a lot of fun to drive.

CalSol wants HAM!*

Like the voracious, magical semi-human fish creature from Disney’s Ponyo, CalSol loves HAM. No I am not talking about the meat product from a pig’s leg, I am talking about Amateur Radio. For those unfamiliar with it , Amateur Radio, aka Ham radio, is the use of various forms of radio communications(voice, image, text and data) over a wide range of frequencies by licensed operators for recreational and educational purposes(Feel free to check out the wikipedia page on the subject for more info). To put it in perspective, Ham radio is similar to CB radio just like a smart phone is similar to the cell-phone brick you used to carry around in the 90s.

The Chassis is Finished

Welding the final beams.
Welding the final beams

Taking advantage of the 3 day weekend, the chassis team put in a 14hr work-session on Sunday to finish constructing the new chassis. CalSol is extremely excited by this development because it marks a significant step on the path to finishing Impulse. With the chassis built, we can finish working on the suspension, steering systems, as well as the brakes and accelerator pedals.

Larissa trying out the new chassis.

The chassis team is particularly proud of their work. Impulse‘s chassis was made 100% in-house and it was built entirely by student members of CalSol. The experience was fun and edifying, which we see as the purpose of CalSol.

Go Bears!

Chassis Update

Amando shows off a successfully tested sample.

This past week CalSol finally got around to testing the strength of the beams and welds that will be used in the next car. Thanks to the help of Scott McCormick and the rest of the guys in Hesse Hall we were able to use an Instron Universal Tester to gather some valuable data on the material properties of the steel we are using to build our next chassis. We are excited to announce that preliminary analysis indicates that the steel is stronger then we initially believed, meaning that CalSol’s next chassis will be even safer. The Chassis Team is extremely excited by these results, as the results will allow us to proceed in constructing the new chassis, but the Team hopes to run more tests in the future to gather more data for further analysis. Click past the break to watch a video of a test.

CalSol Visits Google and VW

Over the summer, CalSol spent some time down in the South Bay visiting Google and VW. After an early morning start, we headed down to Mountain View with GoldRush and TOD in tow to give a Tech Talk  about Solar Car Racing at Google. Thanks to the hard work put in by the team all week long in preparation for the presentation, it was a great success.