Saturday, August 30, 2014

NRB 2014

Greased Lightning

A hands approach to engineering is an experience that the Rensselaer Formula Hybrid team wanted to bring to the forefront of the Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond or NRB experience with the incoming freshman class of 2018. Collaborating with the Douglas Mercer ’77 Laboratory for Student Exploration and Innovation for the electrical part of the build, members of the hybrid team worked together with the freshman to assemble and build a hybrid go-cart in one day. Complete with 205-cc Briggs and Stratton combustion engine, Etek-RT Motor, 24-volt system with regeneration, battery voltage monitoring circuit, and 2-axis accelerometer data logging; this project was quite an undertaking.

Members from the hybrid team used their precious summers to both fix and modify the cart in order to get it ready for the event. Some of that preparation is in our previous post here. In addition, collaboration with the Mercer Lab helped bring more electrical design into the kart, with battery monitoring and data logging. Team members put long hours into assembly and testing of the cart as well as taking all the way down to a bare frame so the freshmen could rebuild it.

The Tear Down

The day started out with normal operations and safety procedures, but after that was finished the incoming students walked into our shop to find a fully dismantled and go-cart. With extra pieces scattered around the workbenches the students had to figure out how the cart went back together bolt by bolt.

Figuring it Out

Coming Together
Photo/The Polytechnic
Credits: Newman Wu

                In addition, some students that expressed interest in the more electrical part of the build headed up to Mercer Lab. In the lab, the members of the team introduced the new students to microcontrollers, breadboards, basic circuit analysis and design, and working with the awesome top of the line tools that the Mercer Lab provides for all students to use.

Introduction to the Lab

Fun with Electronics!!!

Thinking about Resistance

First Time Soldering

                For the data logging, the hybrid members and new students worked with an Arduino Nano, Accelerometer, and a data logging shield to interface with a micro SD card to capture the forces at play. To design and implement the battery monitoring circuit, hybrid members explained a voltage divider and accompanying formulas so the new members could design and implement the divider. The new students accomplished a divider that pulled low amperage, outputted a voltage no higher than the Arduino could take, and had relatively high resolution without previous knowledge beforehand. Accompanying that was a buzzer to alert the driver during a run if an under or over voltage situation occurred.

Learning about Racecar

Learning about Racecar pt.II

                After taking a break from lunch, the hybrid members introduced to the Mercer lab to the new students. There all the students learned about how the department and Doug Mercer built the lab for student projects and was free to use. After the presentation of the battery monitoring and the data logging, one of the hybrid members; Eric Briggs, gave a quick overview of internal combustion engines so all of the member could had a better idea of how their cart, as well as our car works.
                At the end of the day, the team had not only put together most of the systems but also did it quickly and efficiently, coming together and problem solving when something did not quite fit. Later the hybrid members ran the go-cart in order to check for any safety concerns that the build team did not accounted for. Although the cart was supposed to run the next day, the team decided that the rain was not suitable to run in. Re-scheduling to a later date, the cart performed exceptionally.
With a bright sunny Saturday, the team joined again to run timed trials with the cart. Running a pretty standard course the freshmen ripped apart the course (in the best way possible). All in all it was a great experience for the incoming students as well as for the formula hybrid team.

Preparing the Course

Preparing the Cart


Because Racecar

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Welcome Fest 2014

It's that time of year again! On August 22, Formula Hybrid made its annual appearance at Rensselaer's Welcome Fest event for first-year students.

The DCMS made the trip down the hill unscathed. The team would like to give a special thanks to all the volunteers who helped carry it in and out of the shop. After rolling the car into position and putting our high voltage battery pack on display, we pulled out our cool new flyers and prepared for the students.

Before the event started, the team was honored with a special visit from the Honorable Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, who greeted everyone on the team and took a picture with the car! We will update with the picture if we are able to receive a copy.

After the speeches concluded, the car began to start attracting visitors and curious students. We had a great time talking with the new Freshman class and letting people know about the team. We hope to see many of them again at our first team meeting! That's all for now, so we'll finish with a few more pictures of the DCMS: