Preparing MSXII for its return to the track at the FSGP 2019
The Formula Sun Grand Prix - an annual competition that brings together students from around the world to test the boundaries of solar car innovation. With the next race only three weeks away, we are busier than ever preparing MSXII for its return to the roads for the first time since the 2018 American Solar Challenge.
After placing third last year at the ASC, we have set the bar higher and will be attending the FSGP 2019 with a fresh team of new leads and recruits. These last few weeks before departing for the competition are being used to make improvements to MSXII and vehicle testing at track days. Last week, we had our first track day of the term, where we conducted roll-down and brakes tests.
By 9:45am on June 1st, the team was packed and ready to rollout. Guided by police escorts, we drove MSXII from our work bay to one of the University of Waterloo’s campus parking lots, the testing location for the day.
We started with roll-down testing first as the weather forecast predicted that the winds would be higher later in the day. The roll-down test is used to determine the aerodynamic losses and the rolling resistance of the car . It consists of accelerating the car to a desired speed, and once achieved, the driver removes their foot from the accelerator and waits until the car coasts to a stop. We then obtained a relationship for aerodynamics & rolling resistance by plotting telemetry data on a speed vs. time graph. Additionally, wind speed and direction were measured using an anemometer, which were then factored into our calculations.
During preparation for brakes test, we noticed that the vehicle was taking longer than expected to come to a stop. On one of our practice runs, we accelerated to ~36km/hr and it took 4.6s for the car to come to a complete stop after flooring the brake. We then found that brake fluid was leaking from the front wheels, which put our testing on hold. Over the next two hours, the mechanical team removed the wheels and took off one of the brake calipers. After replacing the caliper, the mechanical team re-assembled the wheels and bled the brakes. Finally, the car was ready to resume testing at approximately 5:30pm.
The brake test involves the vehicle reaching a certain speed, then braking when a flag is dropped. Using a stopwatch, the deceleration of the vehicle can be determined based on its initial speed and time to come to a complete stop. To qualify for the race, teams must pass an official brakes test where the car must decelerate to a stop within a tenth of the speed of the car in miles per hour (i.e. if the car is travelling 30mph, it must stop within 3 seconds). This year, our brakes have been remodelled with a new master cylinder and during our track day wet brake testing, MSXII managed to stop within the required time frame. However, the top speed MSXII hit was 26mph, and with the real test being run at 30mph we will need to test in proper conditions before concluding that MSXII will consistently pass.
Leading into next week’s track day, the team is looking to have the entire car put together and fully prepared to do simulated scrutineering and dynamics testing on the emergency services track nearby. The team will be pushing hard this week to make final adjustments and calibrations leading into the second round of testing to be ready for the FSGP.