After leaving Barcaldine, we drove a long time, and then stopped for the night in Camooweal National Park, which is famous for having a bunch of caves.  The camping spots were 12km off the main highway, on a dirt road, which was a bit of an adventure.

In the morning, we briefly checked out the caves, and then drove for a long time.  We stopped for the night in Katherine.  Specifically, we camped in Nitimiluk National Park, which is famous for gorges.  In the morning, we woke up, briefly checked out the gorges, and then took off on the final stretch for Darwin.  Our two vehicle caravan split up, the van sped ahead to work out some car rental issues, and the trailer chugged its way to the track.

The early crew is enjoying a night of peace and relaxation, after 4000km of driving, before late crew arrives tomorrow afternoon.  It should be considered an accomplishment that no kangaroos were killed during this 4000km drive, no flat tires, no break downs.  I am very thankful, and glad to be back in Darwin.  Pulling into the pits brought back a lot of memories.  After four long years, we are finally poised to bring MIT back into the solar car racing community.


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Toowoomba to Barcaldine

Day 2 of our trip is complete. We are at a campsite in Barcaldine, Queensland which happens to have free wireless internet. The rolling hills and trees we drove through yesterday changed to mostly flat roads and scrub bush.  But it’s getting hotter as we get closer to the outback and we had to keep the heat on in the Land Cruiser during the afternoon to prevent it from overheating.  There’s much less traffic on the roads, but we are seeing a lot of  road trains

We also saw a fair amount of live wildlife today in addition to the frequent roadkill. When we were stopped in Miles earlier today, we saw a small herd of emu.  There were about eight in total.

As the sun was setting, we began to see more and more kangaroos near the highway.  We really had to watch out after dark and honk the horn to get them to move off the road.

 Here’s a picture of Alex.  He’s dressed interestingly, but at least he didn’t hit any kangaroos with the Land Cruiser.  Any live kangaroos, that is. 

In case you were dubious about the campsite with internet, here’s picture of our internet hotspot around the picnic table.

And lastly, a picture from dawn on Coogee Beach.  Alex, Andy and Annette stayed in Coogee Beach while Chris and I were in Sydney.  We took a bus to meet up with them the morning before we left for Darwin.

Tomorrow our goal is to get as far as Camooweal.  If we have time, perhaps we’ll get to visit Camooweal Caves National Park.


(pictures: Chris Pentacoff)

On the road

We’re stopped at a public library in Miles, Queensland. We left Sydney yesterday morning and drove along the New England Highway to Toowoomba. The road was a littler hillier than anticipated, so Andy and Alex had a fun time driving in first and second gear. Today the road is much more flat and we’re averaging 100 km/h. By tonight we should be in Barcaldine or Longreach, which are almost exactly on the Tropic of Capricorn. I’ll keep this short because we have a long way to go today.
(photo: Fiona Hughes)

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We have the trailer…

and Eleanor is fine!  Alex and Andy went to the customs inspection and then spent most of the day re-wiring the trailer lights and replacing the deflating trailer tires.  We’ll be leaving early tomorrow (Wednesday) and should make it about to Toowoomba by tomorrow night.  Our exact route is still undecided.  Alex said the Land Cruiser seems to be a little slow when hauling the trailer.  If this turns out to be a problem we’ll try to exchange it for something more powerful when we get to Darwin.

While waiting for news on the trailer, Chris and I went to Sydney’s Night Noodle Market for Thai food. 


Carnet Inspection Tomorrow

Our shipping container is scheduled to be inspected by Australian customs at 10:30 am tomorrow.  We’ll be tagging along for the inspection and will get to see Eleanor for the first time in about a month.  If all goes well, we’ll be able to take possession of Eleanor and the trailer and will be off to Darwin.  Today we picked up our chase vehicle, an eight passenger van, as well as a six passenger Land Cruiser that will haul the trailer and be our scout vehicle. We have a few more items to procure before we can hit the road.  One of the trailer tires needs to be replaced and we have to get a ball hitch so the Land Cruiser can tow the trailer. 

Last night around sunset we walked around Circular Quay and part of the way across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  They are really serious about security on the harbour bridge, as you can tell from these pictures….


We were too late to climb up to the top of the pylons, but we still had an excellent view of downtown Sydney:

Since we can’t do too much until we get the car through customs, we are going to check out Coogee Beach this afternoon.


(photos: Chris Pentacoff)


It’s now 12:30 pm on Sunday in Sydney.  We’ve been in Sydney for about 30 hours and have spent more than $100 each during that time, mostly on food and public transportation.  The exchange rate is about $1 USD to $1 AUD.

After arriving yesterday morning at 6:45am and taking the train to a friend’s downtown apartment, we went for a walk to the Sydney Royal Gardens.  There we had a great view of downtown Sydney, as well as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  We also saw some unusual birds.

We haven’t been able to pick up the trailer yet, so we don’t know what state Eleanor is in after her voyage from Boston.  Due to a customs mix-up, we might not get to see her until Tuesday and will likely be in Sydney until at least Wednesday.  Then we’ll be heading north to Darwin and should arrive there on Sunday.  The rest of the team will fly in on Monday.


(photos: Chris Pentacoff)

Panasonic Provides Equipment for WSC

Our friends at Panasonic just sent us some nice equipment for use during WSC: cameras, camcorders, and SD cards.

Here are some test shots from around the shop:

Thanks to Panasonic.

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Batzer Blog

Rachel’s parents will travel with us in Australia. They have a blog that might be of interest to you.

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Assembling MPPTs

Last night, we partially assembled the newest rev of our maximum power point trackers (MPPTs).

Kai applies solder paste to the surface mount pads.
Robert baked all of the boards, so the surface mount components are done. Next time, we’ll solder the through-hole components to finish up.

Update: The MPPTs are assembled.
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