More Pictures, Less Words (feat. tl;dr)

The Solar Team has been busy in the clean room encapsulating solar cells with extreme care and precision.

New Reading Format

It has come to the attention of this blog that while some brave individuals have the ability to tackle the beast of reading paragraphs, many of us (college kids) have devolved to a state where phrases 140 characters or less are all our attention spans have time for. In the interest of appealing to our entire viewership, updates will now include tl;drs for general notices and every subteam. Slightly more advanced tl;dr-ers should consider scrolling down the page to look at the pretty pictures and maybe even laugh at the attempt at humor in the captions.

general tl;dr - each team will get a short summary at the beginning of each update and at least look at the pictures.

Subteam tl;dr

aero tl;dr - making use of our new sponsorship with Amazon Web Services by running simulations.
mechanical tl;dr - building a mock chassis that will essentially be a go kart and practicing techniques to fix the imperfections to the foam mold.
electrical tl;dr - ensuring the car won't explode by working on the little battery box, coding a ton, and enjoying our new sponsorship with Molex.
solar array tl;dr - creating more array modules for EOH display and efficiency testing and enjoying the help of our new sponsors Isovoltaic.

Aero Team

This is relevant in part because batarangs have to be aerodynamic to fly well. But more importantly - and even tweaked the quote doesn't fit perfectly but you get the idea - because they're the heroes Illini Solar Car deserves, and the ones it needs right now. So, we'll give them models to simulate, because they can take it. Because they're our heroes. They're silent guardians, watchful protectors - the aerodynamics team. *cue epic end music*

An even bigger mishap than not having any pictures for the solar array subteam last week was not even mentioning our wonderful aerodynamics team. Though the smallest in number, their simulations are crucial to the success for our car given that our greatest opponent is energy loss due to air friction.
With the help of our new friends at Amazon Web Services, we've managed to set up 3 simulation instances with names and descriptions as listed:

  1. Krypto - Named after Superman's less powerful dog. This setup sports 8 CPU's with 15GB of RAM.
  2. Thor - Though not as powerful as the actual mythical Norse god or superhero, it comes close. This setup's price to performance ratio (with 16 CPUs 30 GB of RAM) will most likely make it the most used instance.
  3. Brainiac - Another Superman reference - this time to a villain bent on accumulating information - is an absolute beast with 36 CPUs and 60 GB of RAM. Paired with 4000 Mbps dedicated bandwidth and you couldn't ask for a better machine.


Mechanical Team

If you tuned into last week's update, you'll know that we were rushing to finish the creation of large blocks of foam so they could be shipped out and CNC'd to the shape of our car. We are happy to say that all went well after this step, and we are now awaiting their return by around July 1st in order to continue our work. But that doesn't mean we have/will be sitting around till then.
While our connection to the foam isn't quite what SpongeBob and Patrick share, we definitely aren't dependent on it to make progress. 
One of our main efforts for the time being is to build a mock chassis out of wood. This entails us constructing a mechanically and structurally sound emulation of the main features of the car without the area the solar cells would occupy. This will give us a better visualization of how lots of the car's components will come together. Ultimately, we want to have all the electrical (battery, controls, etc.) and dynamic components (wheels, motor, suspension, etc.) attatched to the chassis such that a person could actually steer and drive the car (albeit very slowly).
As always, a person for scale. The mock chassis is essentially a 1:1 scale with the actual car, but with a simplification of geometry due to the limitations of wood. It's not the most comfortable ride in the world, but it sure is cool.
We've also been making progress on the dynamics team (suspension system, roll cage, etc.) through training sessions at the machine shop as well as the continual waterjetting of important pieces.
Contrary to Pokémon logic, water is super effective against steel (or aluminum in this case). Can we also appreciate how artsy the water jet looks right now. It's the shadows that really set the mood.
 Last week's non-mechanical subteam updates were definitely subpar. While I can't guarantee the issue has been completely remedied this week, I can say that they're definitely much better.

Electrical Team

We've been spending a lot of time coding/debugging this week. It's not the most interesting thing in the world to report on, but at least we've got more relevant pictures than mechanical team.
Meet the battery box output panel. Beyond being a really important part of the battery box, it just looks amazing. The craftsmanship and artistic contrast of the modern 3D printed panel and connectors on the rustic wood are of a quality seen on very successful Kickstarter projects.


Looks can be deceiving as this little guy has the biggest job of preventing explosions. A stunning image of the output panel can only be followed by an equally magnificent photo of the battery monitoring system board.

When things heat up who you gonna call? Definitely not the Ghostbusters. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... the fans driver board! Serving the same duty as an ice cream truck - to keep things cool on a hot summer's day.

Solar Array Team

The bad news is that last week, we didn't have any pictures. The good news is that that's been fixed. We've been working towards improving our skills for our most important duty - the creation of solar array modules. This process begins with encapsulation. Basically, we laminate groups of connected solar cells into order to make the cells stronger, more flexible, and easier to handle.

And while we never play around in the clean room, sometimes we mess up giant rolls of plastic and have to wrap our own teammates in it in order to resolve the issue by re-rolling the plastic around its holder.
We've also already started preparing for Quad Day 2016 by creating this large solar cell display. Given its size and general look, it'll definitely be hard to miss, so come check it out in the fall!
This large array serves a dual purpose as a Quad Day advertisement as well as a testing module. The electrical team took it out to the field and collected rather favorable results. People for scale as always.
And while housekeeping and organization isn't everyone's favorite task, it's a lot more cheerful to do when you're doing it because you need to find a place to put donations from sponsors.

If you've made it this far, then congratulations! We here at Illini Solar Car are thankful for your time and hope you spread the word of our progress and continue to follow along with us every week, right here on this blog.