springcomp

Full Circle - Back to Tennessee for 2016 SAE Comp

One quick eight-hour drive brought us to the land of Cookeville, Tennessee! Twenty-one team members were able to make it out to competition, including ten very excited Motorkittens who had no idea what was in store.

A few people spent a good deal of the night before Technical Inspection doing some final rules fixes, mainly on the CVT guard, but we felt good about the shape Elbows was in for the following few days.

Putting the finishing touches on Elbows in the paddocks before Tech Inspection the following morning

In fact, we had the smoothest Tech in (known) NU Baja history! However, the line was moving pretty slowly, so by the time we were halfway through our first inspection, it was time to move over to our Design Presentation slot, and we hurried over to that area. Design also went extraordinarily well, and later we learned that we tied for 21st out of 100 teams in that event. We hopped back in line for Tech after that and passed with flying colors!

Design leads talking to the judges at the Design Presentation

Design leads talking to the judges at the Design Presentation

We passed Tech and Brakes!

We passed Tech and Brakes!

Saturday was spent doing the various dynamic events - acceleration, maneuverability, sled pull, and suspension. Acceleration and maneuverability went quite well, but we ran into some issues with our sled pull and suspension events. We'd never been to a competition with a sled pull event before, and it turns out that Elbows' tow hitch is a little too low to complete the sled pull. And at the suspension event, our kill switch position was at an unfortunate location, since both of our drivers' legs hit it halfway through the course. We did get some distance points on those though!

Zooming down the acceleration lane

Zooming down the acceleration lane

Mikey and Drew expertly navigated the Maneuverability course

Mikey and Drew expertly navigated the Maneuverability course

The little engine that (almost) could!

The little engine that (almost) could!

Sunday (Endurance Day) dawned bright and sunny. Some were more ready for it than others. Many of the 'Kittens valiantly volunteered as track workers for the four hour race and had a lot of fun doing it!

Alex (foreground) looks excited for the endurance race

Alex (foreground) looks excited for the endurance race

Track workers from left to right: Chris, Blake, Spencer, Steph, Gaurav, Connor, Joe H, and Brooke

Track workers from left to right: Chris, Blake, Spencer, Steph, Gaurav, Connor, Joe H, and Brooke

We're all really proud of how competitively Elbows performed during the race. We got six drivers into the seat and had a few quick pit stops to fix brake light wiring and a dented hub, but we were on the track for the majority of the four hours. Overall, we got 47th place in the competition, up from 71st in Maryland last year!

And of course - a bucket of water for our beloved cap'n

And of course - a bucket of water for our beloved cap'n

Next stop: Baja Maryland!

We had a great first all-member meeting over the weekend.  To get our new members their introduction to the team, they took apart our current car, Knuckles, clear down to the frame.  There is a lot of work ahead of us to redesign our corners and transmission for the year, plus many smaller projects.

As of this morning, we’re registered as team 54 for Baja SAE Maryland, on May 7-10, 2015!

Kansas Results

This past year, we've gone from finishing one competition-ready car in five years to completely designing and building a new racecar in one. We now have double the number of team members, and every one of us was very proud as Knuckles made it back onto the endurance track again and again, determined to overcome the obstacles in our way. It took the dedication and perseverance of every person to achieve the results below. Great work this year, team! 
 

OVERALL
172 out of 1000 points
81st place out of 115

OVERALL STATIC
73.9 out of 300

PRESENTATION
30.8 out of 50

ACCELERATION
46.3 out of 75

ENDURANCE
51.9 out of 400

To the Finish!!

An epic race!

John started driving and got in a good one and a half laps before the throttle cable came loose! He got towed back to camp and we quickly put him back together and out on the track in a jiffy. After another few laps, he pulled off due to some weird noises coming from the back of the car and what seemed like a slow loss of power. In the paddocks Mikey ripped open the CVT guard and inspected it to confirm that it was just the drive belt bouncing around in it’s finger-proof cage. 

After this little examination, Carolyn Jane got in the car! She whipped 4 laps out in no time flat. The car washandling magnificently and passing cars through the technical turns. Suddenly, she lost all power in the left side of the car. She managed to finish another lap steering furiously towards the right but still slipping out of bounds around the sharp, bumpy turns where the front tires lost traction. Finally, Knuckles was hit from behind around one such curve, and pushed into a cluster of track workers who quickly pulled him off the field.

Back at the paddocks, the team assembled. CVT cover – off. Rear suspension – detached. CVT – off. Gear box – out. Gear box on table. Gear box open. Found the sheared key which had been bringing power to the left side of the vehicle. The coupler – the shaft which supplies both sides of the car with power – was also cracked almost down it’s length where the key had broke. Hm. To Work!! Mike took the coupler to be welded back together. John found key stock and started cutting a new key. 30 minutes later, we assembled it all; ground down the edges so the key fit just right; ground off the filler on the weld so it hugged the shafts just right. Gearbox, assemble!! 10 minutes till the race is over. Gearbox – back together. Gearbox – back in the car. CVT – on. CVT guard – on. Rear suspension – reattached. Start the car. It works.

Mike is driving and we ran him back to the track at full speed. He took off and made it around three turns before he hit a log pile and lost power again. No time to fix it. The white flag when up and the track cleared. But hey, we were on the track when the race ended.

First day at comp

Pack up!! On Tuesday night we were up in the auto bay packing and finishing up Knuckles until midnight. We got him all prim and proper with shiny new carbon panels, numbers, and a pretty indestructible CVT guard. Hopefully the judges agree. Then we took knuckles for a little joy ride and packed him into the trailer. The solar car team lent us their 20 ft trailer which was already outfitted with tool chests and shelves, a huge step up from our tiny trailer. We borrowed their lights and generator which allowed us to bring the welder, drill press, grinders, and a bunch of other tools which last year we had to borrow from other teams. This year is a whole new game. We know what SAE is up to and we’re prepared with tools and a car that will hopefully pass tech inspection with ease.

We all arrived in Pittsburg last night between the hours of 12 and 2 AM. The drive took us over 14 hours – there might be worm holes between Chicago and Kansas. Drivers be warned. After a healthy four hours of sleep, we got back into the truck and drove to the Kansas Technology Center.  We arrived at 8 AM, but it seems most people got there way before that. The first 30 cars were already lined up for the Briggs and Stratton governor test, which means we have to wait until tomorrow to start tech. We got a great pit assignment – number 40.  We’re right on the edge of the parking lot next to a tree where we plan to hang up our hammock tomorrow.

The newly christened Solar trailer parked at our pit location

The newly christened Solar trailer parked at our pit location

Our biggest tasks today were getting the team registered, picking up all 25 of our free t-shirts, and getting through the business presentation – 50 points. The business presentation was a new event, and some of the freshmen really took charge of working out a powerpoint slide show and all of the best selling points on the car. They killed the presentation and handled the judges' questions without any problems. We’ll see how the scores come out, but I think we’re all winners here.

The afternoon was spend sleeping and playing cards before a monstrously delicious BBQ dinner. Tomorrow holds the design presentation – 200 pts – and a lot of standing in lines waiting to get through tech. Hopefully there won’t be thunder storms.

Final countdown to Kansas

Moving out! We just got approval to use the F-250, and Solar has generously allowed us to borrow their generator and trailer! Tonight we’ll be putting the final touches on Knuckles – tightening up the gearbox and getting all those finger guards to spec – before we load him into the trailer and get ready to go.

Jane and Knuckles are psyched for Kansas comp

Jane and Knuckles are psyched for Kansas comp

We’ve got a great team of 11 kids going, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on the excitement of comp. You can keep up with the scoring and some of the Pittsburg events and information here.

Bon voyage!

Tennessee Tech Series Results

We have completed our first competition in five years, and our team is so proud. We overcame many hurdles throughout the competition as we discovered tricks to doing well in each event, and how to manage time, tools and documents. We learned a ton and overcame a number of roadblocks that easily could have kept us out of the races. We're incredibly thankful to  have such an intelligent and resourceful team.  The scores from our competition are below!

OVERALL
311 out of 1000 points
62 Place out of 99

OVERALL DYNAMIC
75 out of 300 points

OVERALL STATIC
52.4 out of 300 points

COST
42.4 out of 100 points

DESIGN
10 out of 200 points

ACCELERATION
52.3 out of 75 points

LAND MANEUVERABILITY
22.5 out of 75 points

TRACTOR PULL
did not compete

SUSPENSION AND TRACTION
did not compete

ENDURANCE
184 out of 400 points

Time for Tennessee Tech!

Thursday morning, the team will pull out of Northwestern and head south for our first official Baja SAE competition in four years!!!!

On April 18-21, we will race against 100 other cars at Tennessee Technical University. The first two days of the event are devoted to an extensive technical inspection and a design presentation. The weekend consists of dynamic events: acceleration, land maneuverability, sled pull, suspension and traction, and endurance. These events will fully test our skills as engineers to design against predicted challenges and to fix problems as they arise during the competition.

Competing in this competition is a monumental step for our young team.

For more information on the Baja SAE series, go to http://students.sae.org/competitions/bajasae/east/

Team activity update: reports and support

Yesterday, we submitted our cost report for Tennessee comp! It took a ton of time and research and the whole team came out to pull it together. We’ve got the design report due next week, and it will likely be an equally exhausting event. I hope we can get as much help and collaboration for this report as we did on the last one.

These past couple of weeks we heard that our team will receive financial support from both the Chicago SAE group as well as Boeing. Thank you for your help! These funds will carry our team to the SAE competition this spring and help fund the building of our new car for 2014.