For the past two weeks, we have been working day and night on our first “mock-pit” design for the solar car. The frame is assembled out of our scrap metal and plywood sheets, the bars connected together with plywood gussets. Our most daunting challenge is that we have to ensure the driver can get out of the car in only 15 seconds flat in case of emergencies. The “bubble” around the top of the Mockpit swings open allowing drivers to get in from the top and slide into the padded seat. We have also mocked up a roll bar with round steel stock that had similar dimensions to the steel we would use in the real car. Rules require us to put the bars outside of 2 inches of the driver, and that we have minimum of eight meters of visibility in front of the car at all times. To accommodate this, we taper the front of the car down to have a larger field of view.
We measured the height of our shortest and tallest drivers to ensure we design a cockpit that will accommodate all of our drivers comfortably (Our tallest driver stands at 6 foot 5, and our shortest at 5 foot 4.) After designing the mockpit, we moved on to the smaller details such as how we could recline the seat to accommodate for the various heights of drivers. We used CAD to solve this problem. By prototyping and testing, we were able to find out the most efficient and fastest system. We came up with a pneumatic cylinder controlled by a valve to move the seat up and down.
One key development was figuring out the adjustment of the foot pedal unit. With an array of longer and shorter drivers, we had to find a fast way to change the location of the accelerator and brakes for each driver to reach the pedals. We ended up using a slider and pin with a brake handle to control it.
The slider would be welded to the foot pedal unit on either side. When the locking mechanism is released, the pin tightens and holds the pedals in place, but when you squeeze the release handle, it releases the pin and allows the driver to adjust the pedals.