A First Glimpse at MSXIV
With consumer electric vehicles gaining more and more momentum in modern automotive markets, Midnight Sun will be following this trend with its next vehicle, Midnight Sun 14 (MSXIV). MSXIV will be a four-seated cruiser class vehicle focusing on both energy efficiency and practicality as it is intended to mirror consumer passenger vehicles. Last term, the Mechanical team completed the design of the aerobody and other components of the mechanical design as discussed below. The team will focus on completing the mechanical design for MSXIV and kick-off manufacturing by August of 2019. We hope you enjoy this team update and first look at MSXIV!
The goal for the Firmware team in the Summer 2019 term was to validate all the new changes made to our electrical system in preparation for FSGP 2019 with MSXII.
One of the major changes for the firmware team this term was to re-write our driver controls module to match the new hardware changes made. Driver controls encompass everything the driver interacts with - the brake pedal, throttle, steering stalk, and centre console. The new infrastructure changes included splitting the driver controls project into 3 separate projects and assigning new communication protocols to each board.
Furthermore, we worked on designing a new telemetry system to make data collection more reliable. This entailed researching new ways to transmit data from the solar car to the chase car.
The hardware team made significant progress in getting MSXII ready for FSGP this July. We completed the design, bring-up, and validation of our new driver controls system that incorporated lessons we learned from ASC last year. We also began the design of an improved version of our battery management system. The main goal of this is to increase the accuracy of our voltage and current measurements, and reduce the amount of heat generated when balancing our battery pack.
To reduce the amount of work needed to validate new boards, we began to experiment with scripting our lab equipment as well as the boards themselves. This allowed us to efficiently validate digital input/outputs and ADC readings.
The mechanical team focused on finalizing the architecture of all 5 major systems - body/structures, interiors and usability, battery, suspension and aerobody, and completing the detailed design of our aerobody. The finalization of our aerobody was a crucial step in the development of MSXIV and enables the rest of the mechanical team to focus on delivering finalized designs without worrying about a fluctuating exterior. See below for updates from the specific subteams!
The body/structures team was able to successfully complete the design and validation of the vehicle’s crash structure. This was done through FEA simulations using ANSYS with hand calculations to validate key simulations. The team is now focusing on reducing any unnecessary weight from the structure before sending out the chassis for manufacturing in the coming months.
The interiors and usability team spent the term focusing on user experience by finalizing the key vehicle requirements for driver ease of use as well as validating the physical comfort of the design through the creation of a 1:1 scale mock-up.
The creation of the mock-up also enabled the body and battery teams to rapidly prototype variations of their designs with immediate feedback. By the end of the term, the team was beginning to focus on the surface design of the interior as well as the detailed user interfaces. The team plans on finishing this by the end of the spring/summer term.
Battery Box & Electrical Integration
During the Winter term, the battery team had a large hiccup looking for suitable busbar materials that could be easily spot welded. By the end of the term, the team managed to find a clad material that looked promising moving forward. In parallel, the team began top level design of the battery box and was able to create a first pass design of the modules. In the coming months, the full design will be finalized and we expect manufacturing to begin by the end of the summer.
The suspension team spent a large portion of the term focusing on the detailed design of the suspension geometry while simultaneously beginning rough CAD of the full system. First pass simulations have begun and we expect the team to begin presenting finalized part and systems designs in the coming months.
Finally, the aerobody team spent the entire term working diligently to reach their requirement of a CdA below 0.15. This was met in the final weeks of the term and took a tremendous effort from all team members involved. We are pleased with the expected performance of the vehicle and are extremely excited to be able to build what may well be the team’s most efficient transportation machine yet.
Having recently returned from FSGP, we will continue to work towards our goals for the Summer 2019 term with MSXIV. Look forward to updates from the FSGP track in Austin, Texas as well as more detailed subteam updates!