Solar Car Team Prepares for Competition
After briefly basking in the pleasure of a strong showing at the 2009 World Solar Challenge (WSC) in Australia, Principia’s solar car team got busy preparing for this fall’s WSC, also in Australia.
Improvements to Ra 7s, the car, have been extensive. As team member Garrett Fielding explains, “Our most notable accomplishment has been rebuilding the body of the car. Because World Solar Challenge regulations changed, . . . we switched [from gallium arsenide] to silicon solar cells to maintain our six-square-meter array. Instead of removing the old solar cells, we decided to rebuild the car using a better process and saving weight wherever possible. This has been a yearlong process.”
Next, the car was prepped for a fresh coat of paint and then taken to Lyerla Industries, a professional body shop in Alton. There, team members applied several coats of paint (sanding and buffing between coats) and a protectant and shine agent—all under the expert tutelage of the shop’s owner.
Once back on campus, Ra 7s received a new windshield, front and back turn signals, a newly milled steering column, a battery box, and a new seat that provides the driver a few centimeters more room (every little bit helps!).
Even with all that progress, however, there was more to do, so several team members (most of whom will travel to Australia) are working on the car this summer. Among other things, they’re assembling the battery pack, putting the array on the car, and road-testing it—an important step for both car and driver.
Ra 7s ships to Australia at the end of July, team members follow a couple of months later, and the race begins October 16. As you might expect, the eight students on the race team can hardly wait!
Go here to get Google updates, read recent Twitter posts, and sign up for the team’s Twitter feed.