Fall Outreach: Football and Walking Chairs

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Zephyr set up and ready for the game

On Saturday, CalSol had the opportunity to bring Zephyr to Cal’s homecoming game vs Arizona. We had a lovely spot in the Blue and Gold zone where Cal fans of all ages got to learn about the car and the benefits of renewable energy. A huge thanks to Cal Athletics for inviting us!

On Sunday, we displayed Zephyr at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. While we have attended several Maker Faires in the past, this time we were positioned right at the main entrance. Thank you to East Bay Mini Maker Faire for this great opportunity!

We started our day before the sun had risen with Kingpin donuts and groggy eyes at Hearst Mining Circle, before picking up our trailer and heading out to Oakland Tech High School. When we wheeled Zephyr in, we were amazed to find a chair that walked on eight legs, an amphibious bike, and tiny “robot pod” houses that turned on their sides to let you sleep. There were many, many people; everyone from retired professors to parents to elementary school students came to see what local Makers produced. Best of all, everyone was so curious and genuinely interested in what all the Makers had to present. The amount that people wanted to learn, especially the younger ones, was great to see.

In fact, the kids were one of the greatest parts of the Mini Maker Faire. Many of them got excited and loved to ask how fast we could go, or laughed when we honked the horn. Some of them already knew about solar energy and panels, or even some principles of aerodynamics. We’re excited to go back next year!

Written by Juliana Mora and Andrew Ge

An Exciting Weekend: BBQ, Sponsors, and a Fond Farewell

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Although the school year has just begun, CalSol has already dived headlong into what promises to be an exciting build cycle. We began this past weekend by hosting a joint kickoff and showcase event with Berkeley’s Formula SAE competition team on Friday night.

Prospective members for both teams were treated to a BBQ at our workspaces at the Richmond Field Station, then an exhibition from both teams of the vehicles’ capabilities. Finally, everyone split into groups for a comprehensive tour of both teams’ facilities and subteams. Attendance was high despite a chilly breeze, and we all enjoyed seeing so many enthusiastic new faces.

General Motors, one of our largest sponsors, visited the Field Station the next morning. They treated us to pizza and ice cream, and we got a chance to test-drive a wide selection of GM vehicles. Some of them were capable of blisteringly fast speeds, though we took care to obey RFS speed limits. Still, the acceleration was something to behold.

We offered rides in our solar vehicles as well. However, not everyone was able to fit…

Yiran wearing Zephyr

Ford Motor Company, also one of our largest sponsors, visited us on Sunday and brightened our day with burritos. Though there was no test drive this year, experienced Ford employees helped us out by reviewing some of our critical mechanical designs.


We are very thankful for GM and Ford’s continued support, and it was truly a pleasure conversing with both of them this weekend. Many of our alumni are working at both companies, and a lot of us jumped at the chance to catch up with them as well.

This weekend also saw the departure of a long-time fixture in our composites building: Zephyr’s fiberglass molds have left for new horizons! These molds were used to create Zephyr’s entire aerodynamic shell, but are no longer usable for Tachyon. Luckily, the New Jersey Institute of Technology Solar Car Team is happy to use them for their next vehicle.

This transfer was a long time in the planning. We began discussing this possibility with the NJIT team prior to this summer’s Formula Sun Grand Prix, and Jefferson Guerrero from NJIT was able to fly over this weekend to oversee the move.

Loading Zephyr’s bottom shell mold

Watch us load the bottom-shell molds

Jefferson (center) and members of CalSol composites team

Zephyr’s molds have served us long and well, and we are confident that the NJIT Solar Car Team will put them to good use. We’ll miss their vivid green presence, but look forward to making use of all the extra space in our composites facility.


Finally, we had a photoshoot with Berkeley Engineer Magazine. They brought out a lot of equipment, and we had fun trying different poses for the camera. Thank you for the opportunity, Berkeley Engineer!!

Setting up for a shot

Day 6 of FSGP – CalSol finishes first!

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And we won!

After 3 days, 228 laps and 775 miles driven, CalSol has emerged First in the Formula Sun Grand Prix 2017!

The team with Zephyr after clinching first!

This is the best result that Zephyr has achieved during her 4 years of racing (2014 – 2017). Aside from winning FSGP, Zephyr has also broken several COTA track records, including most number of laps in a day (82). As a team, CalSol also won the Best Teamwork Award for outstanding performance as a team.

This race also represents a validation of the effort and passion put into CalSol by the team members. With that being said, we will not be where we are without the immense help of our sponsors and the school. These amazing results will not have been possible without such help!

Zephyr crosses the finish line at first place!

We cannot think of a better way to retire Zephyr. For now, we will be focusing on developing our 9th-Generation Cruiser Class (2-seater) vehicle, Tachyon. Look forward to more exciting stuff from us!

Day 5 of FSGP – Raycing Day 2

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Pit crew doing a tire change

Another day on COTA. CalSol started Day 2 from the pits after diagnosing some electrical problems during the morning solar charge. After a quick fix, we were back on track!

Making up lost time, the team balanced a strategy of conserving charge and maintaining a fast pace. To burn off excess charge and push the limits of Zephyr and our driver, we did several “hot laps” throughout the day. During one of the hot laps, our driver Elizabeth Li clocked the fastest lap of the race at 05:02:291. This timing is also the personal best timing for Zephyr on the Circuit of the Americas.

Zephyr on a hot lap at COTA

Making good time with the reliable car, CalSol managed to end the day at pole position with 1 more day of racing to go.

Race standings after Day 2 of circuit racing

We look forward to the last day of racing and a great end to an amazing week!

Day 4 of FSGP – Raycing!

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Rayce Day.

Preparing the car before the race start

Day 4 of FSGP is the first day of circuit racing at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The race format is as follows: over the span of 3 days, the team with the most number of laps completed is deemed to be the winner of the race.

Zephyr passing corner 15 in the COTA

Teams are given a full charge on Day 1 and have to rely purely on solar energy for subsequent charging of the packs over the next 3 days. At the end of Day 1 after 8 hours of racing(10am to 6pm), Zephyr completed 72 laps with a total distance of 244.8 miles traveled. This stellar result places us at 2nd position, only 1 lap behind the race leader at the end of Day 1.

Throughout the day, there were certain strategic decisions to be made. These decisions included when to speed up/slow down and the timing of the pit stops. Rotating all 3 drivers, CalSol did a total of 3 smooth pit stops. Here is a POV of one of the pit crew members during a pit stop:

Pit Stop FSGP 2017

Ever wonder what it's like to be part of the pit crew for Zephyr at #FSGP2017? Here's a video of a tire change and driver swap we did this afternoon. Race hours for today are done, and Zephyr held at first place for most of the day. Check live race updates here: https://racehero.io/…/formula-sun-grand-prix-2017-2017-circ…. Go Bears! (Make sure to hit the HD button)
#gopro #berkeleyPOV

Posted by CalSol – UC Berkeley Solar Vehicle Team on Thursday, July 6, 2017

Before entering the circuit again for another day of racing, the teams are given 4 precious hours for statically charging the solar array: 6pm – 8pm on the day itself and 8am – 10am the next morning. These crucial hours act as valuable time to maintain a good battery charge for the next segment of the race.

Going into Day 5, the team is definitely pressured to keep up these results but we’re hoping to perform as well if not better!

Day 3 of FSGP 2017

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Team photo right after passing all our scrutineering tests

And we are all GREEN!

CalSol ended Day 2 with a high, successfully passing all scrutineering tests with greens. This included passing the dynamics test like the slalom test below:

Passing these tests makes us track eligible for the circuit segment of FSGP on Thursday.

Free of any tests on Day 3 (Wednesday), we seized the opportunity to prepare ourselves for the next 3 days of grueling circuit racing.

At the crack of dawn, the early crew set up and tested the solar array. Potentially spending up to 24 hours on the track over the next 3 days, having a reliable and efficient solar array is crucial for success at the race.

The early crew testing out the solar array

After the daily team meeting, the team went for a road test at the COTA facility, further simulating race conditions in the scorching heat.

The team discussing race strategy

With all these preparations, the team is hyped up for the the first day of circuit racing tomorrow. GO BEARS!

Day 2 of FSGP 2017

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Zephyr waiting for a scrutineering station

The first few stages of FSGP went really well for CalSol, passing all static scruntineering stations with greens. This includes the daunting Electrical, Battery Protection System and Mechanical scrutineering tests. Making minor adjustments on-the-fly, the team managed to convert all yellows to greens within a short period of time.

The team preparing Zephyr for mechanical testing

The next challenge for the team will be the dynamics test. This includes braking and handling tests – tests which often make-or-break teams (literally). Zephyr will be required to maneuver around tight boundaries and a demanding braking test.

Zephyr proceeding for dynamic testing

We wish everyone the best of luck with this phase!

Greetings from Austin, Texas!

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All smiles as Zephyr rolls into our FSGP garage

After a 4 day journey from California to Texas, Zephyr has arrived at the Circuit of the Americas; primed and ready for the Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) 2017. Throughout the next week, Zephyr will undergo 3 days of intense scrutineering by race officials before hitting the track and racing other teams.

Registration was extremely smooth for the entire competition, where all teams were registered and loaded by 10am – the start of the team briefings.

Doing final checks on Zephyr the night before FSGP

The teams were briefed on logistics of the race, including trivia that teams will be spending more time on the COTA track than F1 drivers. As such, solar car drivers will technically “know the track better”.

Afterwards, teams were informed about the importance of safety measures. This included the risk of battery fires and heat exhaustion with the high temperatures in Austin, Texas.

A quick team meeting before breaking out into work groups

As we await scrutineering, the team will be doing final checks to ensure that Zephyr will pass the scrutineering checks with flying colors.

Lastly, we will like to thank the numerous sponsors for making this race possible and we hope to do everyone proud!



And We’re Off!!

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Our intrepid truck and trailer crew.


Zephyr is ready to ship after a year of hard work, and departed for Texas this afternoon! She will arrive at Circuit of the Americas in Texas on Sunday July 2nd. While Zephyr still needs a few final adjustments after her multi-day journey, we are confident she will be ready for Scrutineering on Monday.


The past few weeks have been a flurry of preparation and testing, and many teammates have been putting in long hours at our workshop at the Richmond Field Station. We had time to hold dynamics tests this week to gauge our preparedness for scrutineering, and took careful care to replicate conditions at the race.

Wetting down the pavement for Zephyr’s brake test


Testing Zephyr’s maneuverability. This is the only color we want to see on our Scrutineering sheets.


Finally, we would like to make a shout-out to everyone who worked so diligently on making Zephyr Rayce-ready this year! Thank you as well to all of our loyal sponsors: without your help none of this would be possible. We are excited to see the fruit of our labors at Formula Sun Grand Prix 2017, and hope to make this Zephyr’s best Rayce yet!

Thank You Mun Manufacturing!

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We are excited to announce Mun Manufacturing Co.’s sponsorship for Tachyon! Mun Manufacturing is a machine shop in Oakland, California, and is run by dedicated owners Dennis and Jeanne Lee. They machined the tooling foam plug for our practice mold this summer, and we look forward to a very rewarding and productive partnership with Mun Manufacturing Co.

Practice mold plug, ready for trimming and sanding

Dennis Lee is also a Principal Lab Mechnician at UC Berkeley’s Mechanical Engineering Student Machine Shop, and is always ready to help us and other students with machining and advice. He has been essential for the success of many student projects and teams. We have benefited greatly from Mun and Dennis’s generosity, and can’t thank them enough for their help!

Mun Manufacturing Co.’s logo is proudly displayed our website, and will race with Tachyon in American Solar Challenge 2018, World Solar Challenge 2019, and beyond. We encourage you to contact them at munmfg1@comcast.net for more information on their services.