Welcome to Texas!

Featured, General, Post of the Week, Texas / Wednesday, July 10th, 2024

On July 9th, 2024, the RAHS Green Energy Travel Team got out of bed bright and early to fly out to Texas for the Solar Car Challenge. After a smooth flight, they met Zach and Josh, who had trailered the car, at the hotel. 

Travel Team Prepares for Flight 

On the way to Texas, SOCKEYE trailered from Seattle Washington, passing through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and ended its journey in Fort Worth, Texas.

Zach and Josh Prepare for the Texas Voyage, July 6th

Once everyone had settled in to the hotel, we regrouped by the pool for a team meeting. The team discussed plans for the week, assigned blog posts, and made sure we are all prepared for the challenge. 

First Team Meeting of the Week

The next morning, Caden, Jude, and Matthew got up extra early to make final changes to the rear view camera. This year’s improved rear view camera had a higher resolution and brightness then our previous camera. However, during testing we ran into some reliability issues since the new system had extra points of failure. Because of this, we decided to use the rear view camera from Jimmy, our previous car. While the old camera doesn’t have the same clarity as the new one, it is more important that the camera works consistently for the sake of safety and to meet the rules of the solar car challenge. The small team got up extra early in case there were issues with the installation, but it went smoothly nonetheless. At this point, the team gathered to inspect the car for damages from the long journey. 

Unfortunately, we were quick to run into an issue. The battery would not send high voltage power to the motor. The first suspect? Two overcharged cells. We don’t know how this could have happened, but it is vital we either replace the cell, fix it, or bypass the entire row of cells. With how rare this issue is, we did not pack extra cells, which eliminates the first solution. We opened the battery outside of the hotel to further diagnose the situation, expecting –but hoping not– to need to bypass the rows. Bypassing the rows would lower our total battery capacity by 1/30 per row.

Team Gathers to Inspect Battery

After opening the battery and prodding around with a multimeter, we found the issue; a broken contact! This was extremely relieving to hear. A bad cell would be a ton of work and would lower the capacity of our battery pack. On the other hand, the broken contact was an easy fix with the battery already open. It’s likely that the contact was broken somewhere along the journey from Seattle to Fort Worth from bumps in the road. 

With the issue resolved, we continued our shakedown of the car. Luckily, there were no other major issues.

Post Travel Inspection (Part 2)

The team then came back to the hotel for team check in, where we received our race booklets, shirts, banquet tickets, and made sure all of our registration documents were turned in, among other check in tasks. After turning in the last few missing registration documents, we regrouped at a condo in the Lone Star Tower for dinner and a quick team meeting. Then, we drove back to the hotel for the all teams meeting and drivers meeting.

After a long day, the team finally got the chance to relax. We swam in the pool, introduced everyone to our new team member, Randy, and ran through the mechanical scrutineering sheet one last time before our first scrutineering session July 11th.

Randy(3) Listing Carefully to our Scrutineering Review

Scrutineering will last three days, and is where each solar car will be reviewed by the race judges, who will ask us questions about the car. Our goal is to complete all six stations by the end of scrutineering day one, which will give us time to test our solar array in the texas sun. Scrutineering will be followed by 4 race days, where we hope for success.

You can continue to track our progress via daily blog posts for the duration of the challenge. You can also follow along on the Solar Car Challenge’s Youtube live streams. They will be streaming the race days from July 14-17th. (www.youtube.com/@SolarCarChallenge).  

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