Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Shell Eco-Marathon

We made it to Houston and back!

Our flight left at 7:15am on April 3rd, so it was definitely
an early wake up.

Here's our car in the work area (we built the crate to ship
it in too, which isn't pictured here).

They gathered everyone together for the "really big picture."
There were about 120 cars total, and it was amazing to
see all the different designs.

Frank in the car, minus the shell.

This photo was taken by Shell, and is a really cool angle.

 Here's Frank on the track.

And from another angle.

Here's all of the team that went to Houston (we're missing
two members), plus Mike's cousin on the far left.

We also saw Rowan from the plane on the way back.

Our top fuel economy was 420 mpg.  This is almost
double what we got last year, and we were really
happy about it.  We hope to do even better for
Supermileage in June.

I'd like to give a word of warning to any teams reading
this: don't buy the Ecotrons Small Engine EFI Kit.  It
worked at first, but stopped working correctly (we couldn't
get the engine started, and when we did it didn't run right).
Other teams at competition who had tried it all shared
similar frustrations.

The Eco-marathon was very well-run, and we were
impressed with just about every aspect of it.  Even
though we spent a lot of time working on the car,
we still had an awesome time.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Shell Progress

The shell is being made!  We're using a custom built thermoformer (our teammate Frank spent a lot of time getting it to work right, which we all appreciate).

Basically, we created foam molds of all the pieces of the shell (it's split into 10 pieces).  The thermoformer heats a sheet of plastic up really hot (about 300 degrees Fahrenheit), and then this plastic is dropped over the mold and sucked down with a vacuum.

The video makes it pretty clear how it works, so check it out:

And here's our car with many of the new shell pieces attached.

The car will be shipped Houston this Friday, so we're doing everything we can to make sure it's ready.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It drives!

We're pretty excited; it took a lot of effort, but it's really
cool when everything comes together.

While this is a big milestone, there's still a lot to get done.
The shell is currently under construction, and several modifications
will be done to the car to ensure that it's both competition-ready
and gets the best fuel economy that it can.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

First semester done, looking ahead

Like always, this semester went by quite quickly.

We've made a lot of progress on the car, although
it still has a ways to go before competition.

Things are definitely coming together.  The car rolls, and
will be able to steer once the front gearbox is mounted.

This is one of our front hubs, and as you can see, they
are huge! The axle diameter is 1.25 inches.  On a standard
bike wheel, this same dimension is only about 0.375 inches.

The axles are like this to allow the car to take a beating
without any components breaking.

However, we were still able to keep the weight of
our whole steering setup (including the hubs) quite
reasonable. The hubs were designed and made by us.

Here's the back of the car.  The engine is mounted along
with the EFI kit, and drives a standard centrifugal clutch.

The left-hand drive of the Odyssey hub allowed the
engine to be fairly centered, but still line up with the
rear sprocket.

The car doesn't quite drive yet, but it's really close.

We've also been working on designing the shell, and
we'll start building that next semester as well.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Frame done, and other cool things

The frame took some time, but it was worth it.

Above is a partially completed photo.

And here it is!  We're pretty excited about it.
It only weighs 19.6 pounds on the scale, and
just feels light when you pick it up.

We're thinking of going for the "brushed
aluminum" look, which should really make
it stand out (in a good way).

We also hope to have several
components mounted to it soon.

Above is our new rear hub.  It's left-hand drive (which
is very rare in bike wheels) in order to line up with the
engine output shaft.  It was recommended to us by a
team last year at Supermileage in Michigan.

We're also currently working on adding an electric starter
to the engine.  It will allow us to employ a driving strategy
that we believe will give us the best possible fuel economy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fuel injection works! And fabrication is underway

Here's a short video of the engine running on the new fuel-
injected setup.  There were some initial issues with the
programming sent with the kit, but it's all been resolved.

We're also building the frame.  It's all aluminum, and
should be done fairly soon.  To build it, we're using a number
of "jigs" to hold the tubing in place while it is welded.

From last year's experience, once the frame is complete,
the rest of the car will come together very quickly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Engine Testing, Electronic Fuel Injection

Here is the engine and dyno on the new test stand. 

This test stand was actually just designed and built 
this September, as the "cart and clamps" setup used
previously for engine testing tended to rattle apart
(the Briggs engine is not particularly well-balanced).  

Future teams will now also be able to use this test stand.

A closer view of the EFI (electronic fuel injection)
kit mounted on the engine.  This kit was actually
recommended by another team at competition last year,
and is called the "Ecotrons Small Engine Fuel Injection Kit."

We hope to have it running soon, and it should cut our 
fuel usage significantly over last year's carbureted setup.