Three days into raycing, the team began to realize why this is a Challenge as opposed to a Race.
Like a WSC official commented yesterday at the Dunmarra Control Stop that we unfortunately missed by a minute, “all kinds of sh*t happens when you rayce a solar car across the Outback!” In the past couple days, we have had some seriously ridiculous problems with our solar arrays and power point trackers, and they are so baffling and frustrating as ever.
On day 1, it was a broken Anderson connector between the MPPTs and battery box, which led to the inability to charge our batteries and caused us to lose a significant amount of valuable charging time and raycing time. Day 2, it was a broken wire between 2 out of 5 of our solar arrays that greatly reduced our incoming solar power; the wire seemed to have charred a while ago and broke off when we pulled into a very rough parking bay earlier during the day. Today, it appears that our top shell is zero water-resistant as the left and right sections of our arrays stop working completely everytime we spray distilled water to cool down our solar cells. The worst problem is, we have no idea how the water is leaking down to short our solar arrays, and we have no idea where these shorts are; therefore, we cannot fix it. For all we know, this can also be a coincidence where the real problems lie in the MPPTs.
We are currently stuck in Tennant Creek until ~4:25pm due to the bush fire, and we have been actively debugging our solar cell problem with very little luck. In an endurance rayce like this one, we cannot possibly survive without the full power provided by our beautiful SunPower cells. We have been running low on batteries the past couple days due to insufficient charging, and it is not going to get better until we can work something out. The team is currently revisiting the MPPT code to double check on the code consistency. The MPPTs are another one of those things that have been passed down through many generations. Though we have contacted the manufacturers and tried many times, no one can truly and fully understand how they really work. We will be leaving in less than an hour to drive until 5pm and then camp out for the night. Hopefully we will be able to figure something out by then or we may have to trailer again in an awful combination of low battery and bad weather.
Please wish us luck and continue to support us. It really means a lot to us to know that people do care.
Go Bears!! Beat the last-minute problems!!!