Entering CATIA Dynamic Behaviour Library

On the morning of May 31, some of our Mechanical Team members received an exclusive workshop session on the basics of the Vehicle Dynamics Library in CATIA V6.

Aventec has been a long time sponsor and friend for our team. During reading week, several team members attended a weeklong CATIA training workshop to get started with the program. Since then, many mechanical components as well as the overall aerobody shape have started taking shape. To take full advantage of the CATIA Suite, our next step is to learn how to use the Vehicle Dynamics Library to model the dynamic performance of the solar car when all the subsystems are integrated together. This is an exciting first-time endeavor for us because until now, we could only perform static analysis of vehicle behaviour.

The friendly staff from Aventec set up a webinar exclusively for our team members and walked us through the basics. We learned about how to build off of both templates as well as from scratch in the program. With this knowledge, we are now able to develop a better understanding of the effects of different parts on the vehicle through visualization. More importantly, we will be able to simulate the stability and handling of the car prior to real world testing.

Even though most of our mechanical systems and the aerobody shape are still in the designing stage (seriously, the 2013 WSC regulation isn’t even coming out for another week!), a team of mechanical team members have begun exploring the program to prepare for when the time comes. We are very grateful for the help that Aventec and Dassault systems have given us towards developing the next generation solar car!

Junior Solar Car Challenge

We were fortunate to be invited to the Junior Solar Car Challenge at Port Credit Secondary School!

Last Friday, May 25th 2012, marks Blue Sky Solar Racing’s first appearance at the Junior Solar Car Challenge. This 5th annual competition is held by the SciTech students at Port Credit Secondary School located in Mississauga, Ontario. Up to 28 middle school solar car teams raced their solar cars composed of a small piece of solar panel and an electric motor.

(more…)

Electrical Team Update

It has been a month since I arrived in the solar car shop. I was informed in April that I would be embarking on a journey but I did not know where. “You will do great things, bring great satisfaction and joy to your new masters,” they said, as they stuck me on to a piece of epoxy laminate.

Life is not easy as an electron in the conducting energy band. I have no home atom and these humans sometimes link us up in the silliest ways, including across oceans! On the bright side, every new connection is a new experience. Most of us are never in one place for more than a few nanoseconds; humans just don’t know how to design ideal electronics.

My experience with this electrical team has had its ups and downs. The members seemed stressed out when I first arrived. The negative charges they carried kept repelling me away; it was quite tense whenever they came close. After about a week, however, things started to ease up. The team became neutral and, in some cases, positive toward us. I have personally been stuck onto the “Radio Module” PCB (printed circuit board), so I only really know about those around me. There are rumors flowing around that the “BMS” (battery monitoring system) board’s electrons are having glitch issues, and some of those on “Lights Driver” are not where they are supposed to be. I can only imagine that the team is working hard on fixing these issues, and that my incoming brothers and sisters will have a much better experience than those around me now.

During my stay here, I have also met many electrons who come from ICs (integrated circuits). Many of them are pretty normal, but there are some which come from a company called Texas Instruments who seem very nice and generous. They are always willing to flow toward the smaller potential side of things, no matter where they are coming from. The team members seem very happy about these electrons in particular. As I can’t feel like the humans do, it’s impossible for me to explain why. They don’t give preferential treatment when soldering, so it’s not a big matter for me. The humans also seem very excited about another group of electrons which come from Phoenix Contacts. I have heard that those guys are pretty unique because they were put into connectors and headers. I look forward to meeting them, as they also seem very nice and generous.

The time has come for me to go back to conducting. I have spent too much time ruminating about the workings of this electrical team. They are hard at work right now on new and old PCBs, teaching new members, and preparing to bench test the electrical system. I hope that all will go well.

Until next time,

Electron 92342358

 

Solar Cell Encapsulation at Centennial Global Technology

On Friday, May 24, 2012 the Blue Sky Solar travelled to Centennial Global Technology to encapsulate solar cells.  Centennial Global Technology is a Canadian Solar panel company that is engaged in the sales and research development of solar panels.  Centennial has a production facility located in Kingston, ON.

The team left at 8.00.am and brought solar cells and lamination materials.  After a three hour bus commute and a local bus ride the team finally arrived at the Centennial facility.  Encapsulation is important to the process of solar array design because it encloses the solar cell for protection, weather resistance, and functionality.  The cells are grouped into strings and combined to make modules.  Each module is encapsulated to protect it and provide it with weather resistance.  Guoming Zuo, who is in charge of lamination showed us the facility and how to use the lamination machines.    After the tour the team started to do work according to plans.  First the team used the characterizer at Centennial to get the efficiencies of individual cells.  After stringing the cells together in series they were ready to be laminated.  The lamination layers consist of the solar cell, the EVA material, Tedlar, and FEP layer.  The solar cell is sandwiched between two layers of EVA with Tedlar at the bottom and FEP as the top skin layer.  After five hours of hard work the team had laminated solar cells to bring back to Toronto.

OCE Discovery 2012

We would like to thank Ontario Centres of Excellence for sponsoring us to attend the Discovery Conference, it was such an eye-opening experience!

It’s been a while since we’ve been to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (the last time was probably the Canadian International Autoshow in 2008), everyone was quite excited to head down and set up Azure on the showground on Sunday. Even though OCE kindly provided us a double booth, we still found it very difficult to fit Azure simply due to its large dimensions. On the bright side, Azure becomes a natural crowd-stopper.

7209371644_48316dc2e2_o

With over 2,600 attendees and 330 exhibitors, we were able to network and interact with thousands of industry professionals, young entrepreneurs, faculty members from many universities and like-minded students. Unlike the general public audience from Science Rendezvous just 3 days ago, the audiences that we interacted with at Discovery 2012 were very tech-savvy and many of them were bringing in new ideas and cutting-edge technologies that we can learn from. Some interesting encounters include members from the Queen’s University’s Solar Decathlon team, an entrepreneur developing a solar-electric vehicle and even a team alumnus from the our Blue Sky Project!

Over the two days at the conference, 7 team members were also able to explore and enjoy this fascinating gathering of innovations and technology. Not only did we get to see some of the coolest tech gadgets including 3D printers, un-manned flying robots, and electric bikes, we also participated in several conference events and panel discussions. Overall, we were exposed to so many new technologies and ideas not to mention the new connections for the team.

7209425096_baefb92676_k