New Year, New Progress

Electrical System, Featured, General, Solar / Monday, January 24th, 2022

With the beginning of a new year comes new possibilities and renewed motivation. The challenge is now just under six months away and there is still lots of work to do. We have been hard at work on all aspects of the car from building new solar panels to designing a whole new telemetry system. 

Our mechanical team has been redesigning our suspension to make it even lighter and more efficient. We have changed from a design with two arms to one with a stronger single-arm allowing for an easier tire change. Another major update has been the dismantling of our 2019 car: The Lean Green Driving Machine. Due to storage limitations, it became necessary to dismantle the car being careful to save any parts that may be reutilized in the future. One of our seniors, Teddie Blahous was disappointed to see the car go, stating, “I remember working so hard on this car freshman year and now it feels like the end of an era.”  In the future, we are looking to build and test this new suspension as well redesign our solar stays which hold the array at an angle while charging.

Atticus Caudle (9), Thomas Bissell (9), Greta Kim (9), Opal Heltzel (11), finishing the removal of the old solar panels from the car. 

The electrical team has also made fantastic progress beginning to build new solar panels and re-engineering the high voltage box. Making new solar panels continues to be a tremendous undertaking but our solar team has been more than up to the task. We have spent the last few months testing to understand what went wrong with our previous panels as well as researching how to build new ones. One of the most difficult parts of manufacturing solar panels is soldering them together. If done wrong, there is the possibility of cracking a solar cell or forming a bad contact, which would disrupt the electricity flow. We are now just about ready to begin making the panels using everything we’ve learned. Another huge milestone for our electrical team was the new design of the high voltage box. The old design was relatively crammed with lots of wires and relays packed into a tight space. Our new design is both cleaner and better organized to accommodate various components including the team’s newly acquired current sensors. Looking forward, we need to test these new current sensors as well as assemble and integrate our new solar panels into the car.

Opal Heltzel (11) works on solar panels.

Strategy has been working on developing our new telemetry system for the road race. Previously, our telemetry system relied on a hotspot connection to work. However, with cell service being questionable during this year’s race, a system like that may fail, leaving us without data, making it extremely difficult to calculate our strategy. Strategy has also collaborated with the electrical team to get the current sensors implemented into the car to begin gathering useful data from testing in the near future. Testing will allow us to continually diagnose, modify, and improve our telemetry system to ensure we can calculate the most efficient strategy during our race. 

While building the car is extremely important, none of it can be done without funding. Thanks to our incredible outreach team, we have received generous donations from multiple companies and individuals. In the coming weeks we are looking to present to our school board to keep them updated on our team’s progress and plans for the future. The outreach team has also been hard at work planning new events to share the power of green energy with our community.

Overall progress has been strong, but there is still a tremendous amount of work to do with the race fast approaching. Our entire team is looking forward to the coming months and the work that lies ahead. We are thrilled to have you join us on this incredible journey and we will keep you updated on our progress along the way.

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