BLOG POSTS FROM 2019 FEBRUARY-MAY
EarthX was an amazing experience for the club to reach out to our community. While there we got an award for the best looking booth and got to educate people from all over the world. The EV Grand Prix is next week and all last minute preparations are being taken care of. One of the biggest things going on this week is we got a new fiberglass chair for the car because the old one broke while testing the car. We are also putting the final touches on our presentation and making sure it is ready to go for next week. Some final touches going on the car are the decals for the actual race and doing other routine checkups. Everyone in the club is pumped for the competition and being able to fly out of state to go to the Racing Capital of the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
EarthX is this following weekend and our club will have our very own Solar car booth. We have been planning out interactives for this booth in order to give people visiting a greater experience. Because EarthX is such the biggest earth day event in the world we have updated our flyers and are focusing on printing out, cutting, and folding enough for the 3 days we will be there. The club also designed and printed out posters for the booth to add some visuals that can be reused for other events. We have even planned out the placement of the elements within the booth. This was challenging because we needed a creative way to display the car and one or two solar panels and still have room for the main table. Our prom is the happening at the same time as the second day of EarthX so less club members will be present on that day. However, the club as a whole is very excited for this experience.
These past weeks, we have been very busy planning and participating in outreach events. During these events, we display the car and the riding gear our drivers wear at a booth and answer questions to those who come up and want to learn more about who we are and what we do. We also have a sign in sheet so we can keep track of those we have spoken to. This week, we have put a lot of focus into EarthX. It is the largest Earth Day celebration in the world. We are going to educate more people about the elements of solar powered cars. We are also building a kart stand in order to transport our solar car more efficiently. On the website, we added an archive with a rundown of what has happened in past club years such as our mistakes and achievements. In the following weeks, we will continue to plan outreach events, test out the kart and see how it performs, currently.
We are working on finishing the Physics Box and should be done with that relatively soon and we have been working diligently on finishing the Physics Box. Some accomplishments that have taken place are finding, getting in contact with multiple community outreach events, and planning on attending those outreach events such as Earth X, Eco Fair, and two Academy High presentation nights are where we will be showing off the solar car. Another accomplishment is that we have gotten in contact with a vendor who will make our team shirts for us for a very good price that will financially benefit us and we should be getting them very soon. Finally, we are checking the cart and making sure that all the maintenance is up to date for the technical inspections that will be done which is the Internal Audit.
We got the car rolling and we are starting to test drive it. Right now we are testing the cars energy efficiency. This past couple of weeks we have also been working on a montage video of the car and setting up other elements of the website. Last week we had an outreach even during the third years presentations. We pulled out the car, a solar panel, and some driving gear in order to educate more people about our club. This week we also started on designing the club t-shirts. The designs are not done yet but they should be finalized in the next few weeks.
We got the plasma cutter, the machine that failed earlier in the month, to work and were able to finish the the estop bracket. Also, we installed the bracket and are working on ordering the lights that also need to be attached to it. As for the ballast, we’ve cut out the pieces and drilled holes to mount it on the frame, but we’ve had trouble with the placement of the of the holes we drilled. Though the holes aren’t perfect, we are working on mounting the frame so that we can begin test driving it. We received our safety gear and are almost ready to test drive after one final inspection of the car, then we will be ready to roll.
We’ve been working on designing an emergency stop (estop) button bracket and coming up with a solution for how to create a ballast. The ballast is a counter weight that we did calculations for to figure out how much weight we needed and where to put it. We came to the conclusion that is would take a 36 pound ballast to counterbalance the motor. We need 12 pieces weighing approximately 3 lbs that are ¼” by 5.5” by 8.5”. As for the estop, we designed a ‘L’ shaped mount, but had to postpone some of the manufacturing of the part because the lead bolt for the plasma cutters shredded, which meant we had to order a new bolt. We are also working on updating the website and twitter page, which means rewriting content, revising what we already had, and taking pictures to upload.
Solar Car was founded in the year 2013
President & Founder 2014-2017
Team Advisor 2014-2016
Solar Car in the School Year 2016/2017
In the 2016-2017 season, a lot of what we did remained the same. We focused a lot more on having the rules memorized and we adjusted our organization so that each team had a chain of command with teams reporting between chains. Along with this, we as a team were confident in our abilities to build a car after winning our first year and because of that, we started to build a car without a true plan. With our previous car, we had three years of planning and we thought we could build a car from scratch in one. Our assumptions were by no means accurate, and this resulted in the team using the old car frame as a base to design the new car from. We knew the old car worked and if we had used experimental design we would have removed and replaced sets of parts making sure they work before moving on to another set, instead we took the old frame and redid everything. Taking what we knew worked out and putting in new parts for every last bit of the car. This proved unsuccessful and when we went to scrutineering at Texas Motor Speedway that year we couldn’t get our car to move on its own power.
After that resounding failure, we knew we had to have deadlines that needed to be met before we began construction on a new car. This led to us setting a deadline of the end of the first semester as to when our car design had to be finished. We had now gone from three years to plan the first car, one year for the second, and about four months for this car. We were resolutely unsuccessful, we had a decent portion of the primary and secondary electrical system designed out and had some semblance of design with the vehicle itself, but the deadline wasn’t going to be made. Besides the time crunch, one of the main reason we identified as to why we couldn’t make the deadline was that not enough of us knew the ins and outs of car design.
It was at this time that we decided to switch gears and the team began looking at the EV Grand Prix as a way to get this experience while also competing. We again set a lofty goal for ourselves to get out the competition that year, we didn’t. The EV Grand Prix operates on the basis that all teams order an electric kit kart which they then modify to make it the most efficient they can. At the competition, teams have to give presentations on their kart about energy efficiency, engineering design, and community outreach. These presentations along with the race itself are what determine the final standings.
With our experience from years prior, we knew we needed mentors to who understood fundamental vehicle mechanics so that we could understand the why behind what we were doing. We reached out to Toyota asking if they had anyone who could mentor us in the field of engineering as well as project management.
School Year 2015/2016
In 2015-2016 the Titan Solar Car Team competed in the Solar Car Challenge. That year's competition was a cross country race which started at the Texas Motor Speedway and ended at St. Thomas Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The team spent 100 hours a week that summer finalizing our design and building the car. In the race, we drove 229.6 miles taking first place by three-tenths of a mile. Once we completed the Chibikart the team started work on our vehicle for the solar car challenge. At this point we had only dipped our feet in the world of solar power and electric vehicles, so we went to workshops hosted by the solar car challenge to understand how teams designed their cars and what parts they recommended for it.
From here we worked from multiple months acquiring parts and tooling so that we could design and assemble preliminary parts of the vehicle. While the car was undergoing design changes the electrical team was wiring out the whole car; on the floor, we had a rough tapped out model of the car from which we set up the wiring for both the preliminary and secondary electrical systems. When the school year ended we had the design for the car done with a rough electrical system assembly waiting to go on the car.
On June 6th we got the ok from the district that we could start building our car. In the next 6 weeks, we spent almost every day at the school to get the car built for scrutineering on July 15th at Texas Motor Speedway. During scrutineering, we realized that our breaks were non-functional.
As a freshman team, we were allowed some leeway and we spent a race day fixing our breaks. From day two through seven we drove 229.6 miles and took first place by three-tenths of a mile. From this race, our main lessons learned were that we need everyone to have a full understanding of the rules and to compete next year we needed to have a lot more organization between teams.
Before we competed in 2016 the team spent the previous years planning out the build for the car and working on small scale projects to gain skills we would on the solar car. One of the first projects we did was installing solar panels at the Outdoor Learning Center in Plano. This experience gave us a wealth of knowledge on how solar panel systems would be put together and how to control the power coming in. The second experience was the Chibikart, this was a small one person go-kart was powered on 4 small 12v batteries. This was our dive into designing an electric vehicle.