With the Solar Car Challenge approaching rapidly, different subteams have been hard at work on separate projects that will eventually come together on our final car.
The solar sub-team in particular has been preparing to manufacture our solar array for the new car. We are still waiting on materials before we commence the soldering process, but we have done lots of work to prepare.
Back in December, with the footprint of the car’s design finalized, we developed our solar array layout. Though the Solar Car Challenge has no constraints on the area of the solar array, we wanted to also conform to the rules of the American Solar Challenge (collegiate level), which has a limit of 4 square meters of solar area, constraining us to 257 cells.
AutoCad design of our new solar array
Meanwhile, prospective members of the subteam were learning how to solder solar cells together— the bulk of the work associated with creating our array. Two such members, Jaxon Boyovitch (9) and Hika Harris (9), have been practicing soldering, and have taken on other projects related to the array.
This year, we wanted to create new jigs for our panels so we could test short strands of cells through electroluminescence (necessitating them to be clear in IR), and fix connections if need be without the extra stress of moving the fragile cells multiple times.
The newly made plexiglass jigs
With the new cells having recently come in, we are excited to begin again, now with the learnings of our first year of manufacturing our own array. On the horizon are weeks of work, both soldering and laminating, but it will certainly pay off to create the heart of the car. As the moving pieces come together— for example, our mold coming in this week— we see our work actualize in an incredibly rewarding and exciting manner.
Jaxon Boyovitch (9) and Hika Harris (9) with the new box of SunPower cells