Picture Update!

Having successfully acquired the memory cards from everyone’s cameras I now have a plethora of pictures to post. These are from the past several days:

This one here is from when we went to pick up the trailer from the shippers. Captain Alejandro Arambula poses in the “high visibility” jackets we wear whenever we have the solar car out on public roads. Funny little anecdote: The team actually took a wrong turn at the airport and almost ended up on the tarmac with all the planes. Even though people frequently ask us if the “car can fly” .. we’re not quite there yet.
This next one was when we first arrived at Hidden Valley. The World Solar Challenge draws a lot of media attention and we found ourselves the focus of several camera crews when we unloaded Chopper del Sol for the first time on Australian soil.
The electrical engineers [EEs] working on the array while it charges the battery pack. It is not uncommon to spot EEs crouched under solar car arrays, which provide about a Kilowatt of power to the vehicle (that’s less than your typical hair dryer). The car then races 3000km at highway speeds, so ensuring that everything is working as efficiently as possible is absolutely crucial.
More EEs under arrays: Here Simon Calcutt, Alexander Hayman, and George Hansel work on programming the Maximum Power Point Trackers [MPPTs] – the electrical system on the car which allows us to draw the maximum power from the array by determining how much current should be drawn from a string of cells.
As you may remember from a previous blog post, one of the challenges the team has been facing is that our battery pack has been held in Singapore due to a mistake our shipper’s part. Our EEs quickly put together the pack above, made from Golf Cart lead-acid batteries so that we could test-drive the car. After several hours of international phone calls, we have news that our battery pack should arrive late tonight.
Still despite not having our race pack, the car is driving great. Above is a picture of the car zooming by at around 47 mph (75 km/h). The car does look a bit bare as we have yet to add our brand new sponsor stickers to the car (it’s on the to-do list for today). However, our sponsors are not forgotten: all our race and support vehicles have been decked out with brand new color stickers (and notice the back of Bruce’s shirt, also sporting our sponsor logos).
Again a huge thank you to all our sponsors. This incredible project would not have been possible without you.
Above, Conan Hom times driver Lauren Chai as she practices getting in and out of the car. Drivers are required to get in and out from the car in less than 15 seconds. We passed this with flying colors – one of our drivers made it in 10 seconds.
Rachel, George, Kelly, and myself rocking our awesome MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team t-shirts as we watch the proceedings on the track.
Team members attached the large “Solar Vehicle Ahead” sticker to the chase car. WSC regulations require all chase support vehicles to have this as we do drive on the Stuart highway alongside the general public.
Here are a couple pictures from scrutineering. Several teams are inspected at the same time, so it is a great opportunity to go check out other teams’ cars. It’s awesome to see the variety in designs:

Time to join the team for test driving. I’ll add more pictures when I get the time. Keep checking back!

Team in Australia

A few members arrived on Friday and the rest of the team will be here this afternoon.
Our car has arrived safely in Darwin, but we are still waiting on our Carnet to get it through customs. Hopefully we can get that all sorted out on Monday morning and start prepping for the race.

We will post pictures in the next few days, but our current internet connection is a bit too slow for that.We will also be updating our progress on our new twitter account @ChopperdelSol
We also have satellite phones with a data plan thanks to SatellitePhoneStore.com and will be able to send out pictures and updates while racing in the Outback!

Thank you to all our sponsors who have helped us get here. We are all excited to race!

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Solar Car begins its journey to Darwin, Australia.

‎3:56 AM EST: Chopper del Sol is secured in its trailer, ready to begin the voyage to Darwin, Australia.

Late in the night the team said goodbye to the car as it drove off to JFK Airport. The car flies out to Australia later this week. The team is quite excited as we’ve been extremely busy working around the clock these past several weeks to get the car in race shape.

Expect more detailed updates soon!
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Countdown to the race!

With 23 days until the race (and just 3 days until Chopper del Sol is shipped), we are working hard on final preparations. The electrical team is finalizing Chopper’s cruise control system while the mechanical team finishes up the new battery pack box. As soon as these are complete, the rest of the weekend will be spent packing up tools and spare parts for the race, and test driving (if the Boston weather cooperates).

Thanks to everyone who has helped us get to this point! Here are some pictures of Chopper del Sol on Memorial Drive in Cambridge.


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Chopper has been Painted!

The new car has been painted! We decided to go back to all Insignia White for Chopper v2.0. Here’s a quick picture with more detailed too come soon. You’re actually looking at the bottom of the car – it’s flipped upside down on the table.

Thank you to guys at Metan Marine for doing this for us – new bronze sponsors.
Also, notice our new thermo-formed headlight covers (the black corner of the car in the picture above). Definitely an upgrade from before. Here are some pictures and description of the process:
The body IGES file was cut in SolidWorks to show the section of the nose for the head lights. Extra area is needed to allow for folding which will occur during the thermo-forming. 1/16 inch was removed off the surface to account for the plastic. (It’s annoyingly difficult in Solidworks: Copy body without translation, shell one body, subtract). HSMWorks was used to make the 3-D machining contours. I was very grateful to not be messing with MasterCam for this part.
Machining on our Ez-Track with the EVT Porsche in the background.
Finished positive mold after a little sanding and some added epoxy with micro-balloons for s few small diviets
Thermo-forming at the MIT Pappalardo Lab. A big thank you to Dick for helping out when everything was busy with Robocon.
The last step was to cut them down to size and properly attach them to the leading edge of the car.
P.S. Enjoy the new Blog layout. I’ll try to change the background picture from time to time. This one if from our road-trip out in the midwest. The team is packing the car up after a long day of testing out in Iowa.
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Repairs Update

We started painting the upper body today with our array carefully masked off. Over the last few weeks we made a new composite lower body and have been working hard to get everything back together. Below are a series of pictures from the repair work.

Below Alex is doing some final sanding work on the lower body. Once the lay-up is pulled from the mold, the work really begins as the top and bottom halves of the mold need to be glued together and the body to be needs to be smoothed to eliminate bumps which increase aerodynamic efficiency. We use 3M micro-balloons mixed in epoxy as a lightweight filler material. Our body takes about 1.5 weeks of nearly continuous micro application and sanding to be ready for painting.
Painting in the composites room ( the car fits into the room by 1 inch)
Mechanical rebuilding: Our Chassis was unharmed, but our upper and lower A-arms need to be rebuilt. Lauren is welding one together below, while Mike works on boring out the spherical bearing pockets. We try to build as many components in-house as possible to make the SEVT a better learning experience for team members.
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MIT SEVT back into the shop for repairs

In early June, MIT SEVT was out testing in the Midwest – we like the flat long stretches much better than driving around in Boston. However, after three days of successful testing, Chopper del Sol suffered a fairly significant accident in Iowa. Fortunately, our driver walked away unharmed, but there was damage to the lower body and steering that require them to be rebuilt.

The cause was attributed to an issue with the unique steering configuration on Chopper. In response, SEVT is redesigning a significant portion of the steering system, incorporating a time-tested design, but keeping in spirit with the original idea. Look for us at competition this October for more details.
In the meantime, we have been busy in the shop – a new lower body layup was completed successfully, and the chassis is on its way toward incorporating the redesign. Thanks for your continued support – we’ll keep you updated as we move toward competition.
Below is a picture of our bottom body layup, when it was just pulled out of the mold.
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Picture update

I thought I would add some pictures of the work we have been up to. I’m avoiding the shop while the EEs works on the car and make it beep constantly.

EES doing some final testing on the car before the road trip

Tim the Beaver with solar car making tools. Razor blades are the best tools for everything from cutting holes in Kevlar layups to applying epoxy. The wall behind him has some testing samples of composites methods we use on the car.

Video of our canopy hinge working. It’s made with a four bar linkage that results in upward lift before turning to make the canopy clear the roll bar.

FEA of the spindle. The main point of all the testing is to find out what breaks before the race. The spindle shown was bent during some initial testing on a track. Nothing else was damaged including the driver. The wrong alloy and heat treatment was ordered on this bent spindle, which has been fixed. It was fairly amusing how perfectly the FEA and real deformation matched.

Applying the solar array. After encapsulating our solar cells, we applied them to the array using silicone adhesive. The sand bags are to keep everything flat while the silicone cure. We did this process at night to avoid bothering everyone in the building with the smell of vinegar, which silicone release while it cures.

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Testing for the Summer Road Trip

We’re heading out on a summer road trip tomorrow for some open road testing and sponsor visits. After finals, the team has been working hard on final preparations to get the car fully operational.
Our approximate route is below.

View Larger Map

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On April 12 he MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team unveiled its 2011 World Solar Challenge Vehicle Chopper del Sol. The event was held in Lobby 10 and featured talks regarding the various systems of the car as well as new design features.

The event was a great success! Thank you to all the sponsors, MIT faculty, students, press, alumni, as well as family and friends who attended. Here are a couple more pictures courtesy of Ed Moriarty:

Check out our new homepage with Chopper del Sol! Thanks to James Granata for the awesome design.

Over the next couple weeks the team will be testing Chopper around Cambridge as well as during our team road trip to the midwest. Check back here for more updates throughout the summer!

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