Saturday, February 23, 2013

Busy Day At The Shop!

Today is shaping up to be one of our most productive days of the semester and it feels great. We've had about 20 members in and out of the shop throughout the day working on various projects and a lot has gotten done. We have an anticipated first drive date of March 2nd, which is just one week away. The team has been working vigorously in order to meet its goal. Here are some highlights from the variety of projects that are being welded, chopped, shaped and designed behind the doors of our shop.

In this next photo, you'll see senior Dave Golden putting the final touches on his pedal box. Designed in Solidworks and crafted from steel, this year's box will be extremely light, coming in at around 5lbs. and considerably stronger than previous iterations.

Here you'll see president Sam Putney working with Freshman Kyle Pollard as they make inserts out of aluminum on our shop lathe.

Here, freshman Larry Oligny is making some fine adjustments with the bench grinder.

One project that we are particularly excited to make progress on is our drivers seat. Here you can see our lightweight aluminum seat pan which had been cut and bent in-house. Soon its joints will be welded and we'll send it over to a local business called Ecovative Design who has graciously offered to construct our seat-support material from their patented fungus-based foam material.

In these next two photos, you'll see our differential hangers which were designed by vice president Liam Mooney and cut in-house from aluminum. This year we will be running a limited slip differential which is currently being built for us by an outside vender. Following the two photos of the diff hangars, you'll see VP Liam himself working with our impact attenuator material on the CAD software, Solidworks. 

An exciting delivery that we got in the mail this week is a soda-can sized turbocharger from Garrett Turbochargers. Senior Dresdan Gordon (in green) has been spearheading the forced induction project on the team and has done hours of calculations to prove the benefits of the tiny turbocharger. The next challenge for Dresdan will be fitting the turbo and building the intake restrictor which is mandatory for forced induction vehicles in the Formula Hybrid competition.

The electrical team, led by junior Caleb Cook-Kollars, (in brown) has been working furiously to make headway on the car's CAN BUS communication system. The CAN system is made up of a network of small chips which will be placed throughout the car. The chips have the ability to perform functions and collect data from their respective areas. The network, which will act like a nervous system for our car, will allow for wireless, real-time, data acquisition. This will prove to be an invaluable asset during the testing and tuning of our car.

Our all-aluminum fuel tank is finally completely bent and welded together. 

Finally, one last-minute change that we had to make in order to comply with this year's competition rules is in our battery placement. In previous iterations of our car, we carried our batteries in an aluminum box on the side of the car. In-fact, our chassis was originally designed with this configuration in mind. However, this year's rule book stipulates that the batteries must exist within the structural frame of the car, so we decided to move the batteries from the side of the car to beneath the driver. In the next four photos, you'll see our battery box, which was built by president Sam Putney out of a durable plastic material called kydex.

Thanks for checking in and be sure to look for our weekly updates. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day Trip at Saratoga Auto Musuem

Last Saturday was a great experience for Rensselaer Formula Hybrid. We gave a presentation at the Saratoga Auto Museum ( Sam Putney, Liam Mooney, Taylor Scicchitano, and Ricky Willems talked about our race car this year, team dynamics, hybrid race cars and hybrid technology. Although there wasn't a very large crowd, it was very useful practice for both the business presentation and design presentation at competition.

The team in front of the FSAE exhibit at Saratoga Auto Museum

Also a lot of fun was touring the museum was the team. It was cool to see awesome super cars and classic automobiles. Seeing different car builds, such as unique suspension systems, aqua cars, and frames was useful experience to bring to our design.

Buckle up for GT5

Outreach is something that would really benefit the team, and after this successful event, we will definitely try to Education and team building all in one. Good times.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Feeling the Buurn

It's been very busy in the shop recently. We've worked a lot on a timeline and calendar to keep us on track, and our goal is still to drive the Blue Heron for the first time this year on March 2nd (and every other weekend thereafter). We'll be driving it on North Lot on campus, so thankfully we don't need a trailer. However RPI is requiring us to have Fire Extinguisher Training, so they've set up a class for us next week. We'll let you know how much they can teach us in a hour about fire extinguishers...

Anyways, many parts have been ordered recently, including a backup motor controller, and a lot of parts are being waterjet cut. Everybody has been working on individual projects and it's great watching all the subsystems come together into a complete race car.

Dresdan welding the gas tank designed by Kyle
Today during our task meeting our new polos came in! Which meant a great photo shoot opportunity....
Just look at these guys.

Andy got cut out but I swear he was there!

We've also gotten a couple new members this semester, including Sanju (far right) who is joining Alex on the composites team, as well as Rusty (third from right) who is working on the steering column.

All in all, it's a great time to be in Rensselaer Formula Hybrid

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pedal Box and Other Progress

Things are going pretty well for us this season so far.  We have made much progress on the car and the first iteration is on track to be ready for testing by March 2nd.  Despite all of the good things that have carried over from last year, we hit some snags this year with rules that were changed from 2012.

The most pressing rule change was the addition of legs to the PERCY driver template as well as a rule stating that cars will not be able to run if PERCY doesn't fit.  Our previous pedal box did not provide enough legroom to fit PERCY, so a redesign was necessary.

On the pedal box for this year, the master cylinders are oriented in front of the pedals, instead of the conventional layout of behind the pedals.  This was done to move the pedal faces forward toward the front bulkhead as far as possible and provide the most legroom possible with our chassis.

The box and pedals are constructed entirely out of 14 gauge cold rolled steel that has been cut on the RPI water jet and TIG welded into box frame shapes.  This allows for a stiff, lightweight design that complies with all Formula Hybrid Competition rules.

Each pedal features adjustable positive stops to tune the pedal travel for optimum operation and driver feedback. The throttle travel and rest position can be adjusted for optimum heel-toe placement.

This current box is about a half pound lighter than the box from last year, and most importantly, it allows us to fit PERCY and pass technical inspection.

In other news, we received an exciting new shipment last night.  Our new engine came in!  We can now have one engine on the engine dyno for tuning and EFI testing purposes and one to use in the car for dynamic testing.

And, speaking of EFI testing, we now have our ECOTRONS EFI system working and running properly.  With a new wiring harness and some diagnostics and troubleshooting, we were able to fix a few issues that we had last year.  We plan to use this setup on our March 2nd test date.  Look for updates coming soon as projects are completed and subsystems are installed.

Dave Golden