A Lap Towards Texas

Electrical System, Featured, General, Solar / Monday, May 2nd, 2022

With the Solar Car Challenge right around the corner, the Green Energy Team is vigorously working to finish all parts of the car. Students come into the shop in the early mornings, after school, and on weekends, continuing to make substantial progress. Having worked on a multitude of projects in the shop, many members have made huge contributions to the building of the car and preparation for Texas. 

One of the major projects for the car has been the interconnection board. The interconnection board is where all the power and data run through, as well as all the displays on the steering wheel and dashboard. Recently, Hailin Truman (11) and Lucien Freemesser (11) finished the board, which will allow the team to collect data from the car. Currently, they are working on getting the data uploaded. Timothy Jou (10), a member working with the interconnection board, explains that “the interconnection board connects all our sensors to a microcontroller called ‘teensy’. We load a program onto the ‘teensy’ which collects data from these sensors and uploads them to an online database that we can monitor in real-time.”

Hailin Truman (11) working on the interconnection board.

Hailin Truman (11) and Hagen Rankin (10) have been working on the steering wheel making changes to maximize effectiveness for the race. For example, last year’s design of the steering wheel had the buttons and controls on the right side of the driver, which resulted in less knee space and made it harder to reach the buttons. However, Hailin Truman explains that “this year, since the buttons are on the steering wheel, it’s in the line of vision of the road and more accessible, making it easier, safer and more convenient for the driver.” In addition to the design of the steering wheel, Hailin Truman and Hagen Rankin recently worked on designing a 25-pin connector to fit inside the steering shaft. This is used to connect all of the displays and buttons that need to be quickly accessed when they need to be changed or replaced.

Another project that the team is working on is preparing the solar panels to eventually be attached to the car. So far, the solar panel group includes Opal Heltzel (11), Lovie Sia (9), Kean Timblin (10), and Kaley Hoang (10). They have been soldering solar cells together to then make multiple 5 x 5 and 5 x 4 panels. Over spring break, many of our members attended the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds with mentor Dr. Alain Semet to laminate the completed solar panels. Now, the goal is to solder more panels and prepare for lamination. With the newly soldered panels, we are being extra careful with the connections, testing each of them with our electroluminescence (EL) camera. 

Lovie Sia (9) and Opal Heltzel (11) testing the solar panels with the EL camera.

The team has been working hard to finish this year’s car. Each day we work is a step closer to finishing our car and competing in Texas.

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