We had a great send-off event at the energy summit today. Students and Faculty of Appalachian State University has been incredibly valuable for us on this journey we are on. Without the support of Chancellor Everts' office, Ged Moody, faculty advisors Dr. Jeremy Ferrell and Brad Johnson, the College of Sustainable Technology in the Built Environment, the College of Physics, and University Communications we would certainly not have made it as far as we have. We are more than excited to leave for the Formula Sun Grand Prix in Wampum, PA tomorrow morning, to represent the perseverance and Mountaineer Pride we all carry with us everywhere we go.
After packing up our trailer and double checking the inventory the team hit the road to the Pittsburgh International Race Complex. The 7-hour drive offered team bonding experiences and some extra time to prepare mentally for the races. Despite a functioning electronic system our car is not driving because of an unfortunate leak in our brake line. A new brake system is ready to be installed first thing tomorrow morning so we can prepare for scrutineering. Scrutineering is a process where race officials check our mechanical and electrical systems, along with our knowledge of the car and safety procedures.
It was a long trip to Pittsburgh but it will not be in vain. We are united as a team once again with Pedro Franco back in the USA from Brazil, exclusively for these races. We are ready to get the car up and running well enough to get racing on the track on Monday!
The morning began with a torrential downpour from some incredible-looking clouds on our way to a meeting for all 20 competing teams. Following a safety briefing and a (quite serious and slightly scary) battery 101 session we got to work on installing working brakes. After nearly a week of fiddling our brakes are finally stopping us! As soon as we were ready to go to scrutineering our accelerator potentiometer decided to stop working. After a quick replacement we decided driver practice was more important, and practiced driver egress (the act of getting out of the solar car, which must be done in less than 10 seconds per ASC requirements).
Despite the amount of work that every team at this event has put into their car the atmosphere is rampant with friendlyness and inter-teamwork. Principia College's solar team has lent Team Sunergy 3 rims for our car so we have an extra set for when we need to change tires. Without awesome teams like Principia and Iowa State (who donated our car frame) we would not have made it as far as we have. We reciprocate this generosity by sharing power with our neighbors and countless teams came looking for The solar car racing community has been very friendly and welcoming to our new team.
We look forward to getting to scrutineering tomorrow and keeping you updated on this crazy journey! Don't forget to follow us on instagram (AppalachianSVT) for pictures throuout the day!
Despite being last in line for scrutineering Team Sunergy waited all day to fit in to any scrutineering station we could. Scrutineering is the process of checking the electrical and mechanical systems of competing vehicles for conformity to ASC regulations. The regulations are strict to keep the competition fair and on an equal playing field, but we had a great first day for not being on the schedule. There are 9 sections total that require "green" status for each one. Team Sunergy was green for 6 out of the 9, those being Array, Driver Registration, Driver Operation, Lights and Vision, Body and Sizing, and Electrical. We got a yellow sticker in the Mechanical section due to the narrow clearance of our rear wheel. Tomorrow we hope to get our mechanical green as well as our Battery Protection System and maybe even get the drivers on the track for dynamics Scrutineering!
One of the components of Driver operation scrutineering was egress, or the ability of the driver to get out of the car in less than 10 seconds. Lindsay currently holds the fastest time on our team at 4.9 seconds which was one of the fastest of all teams, but the most remarkable exit was performed by Dan. Check out those egress skills!
You may notice the line of (gas-guzzling) sports cars in the background of the above picture. The track was being used by a Porsche club today and they spent the day taking laps around the Pitt Race track. Our team and others couldn't help getting distracted at the countless sports cars and their roaring engines. It added a bit of excitement to the day as well and kept us entertained while we waited on scrutineering. Wish us luck tomorrow!
Today was another rainy day occupied by scrutineering, but it was really cool to see the other teams cars. It is very interesting to compare our cars to others. A couple of teams have 2-seaters that competed in the World Solar Challenge (WSC) in Australia last year. We are hoping to build a similar vehicle for next years WSC.
We got a red at scrutineering for our BPS (Battery Protection System) due in part to the difficulty of translating our system's logic to official requirements. We had an exciting (in a bad way) arc in our battery box while modifying the BPS to comply, but nobody was hurt and our system was not compromised. We have moved past that now, and we are looking forward to getting greens on the rest of our scrutineering sheet tomorrow as long as the weather stays nice.
I forgot to mention the thunderstorm that hit us in the middle of the day. Half of our team packed away equipment and crowded into our trailer for the duration of the storm, while the other half was at BPS scrutineering with the car. As Bailey Winecoff, our race specialist and unofficial team photographer says "bad weather makes for good pictures." Check this ominous cloud out.
Wish us luck tomorrow! Thanks for keeping up with us!
The team is having a hard time containing ourselves today. Just 4 days after arriving to Pitt Race we have officially passed ALL scrutineering for the FSGP and will start 6th out of 20 teams tomorrow morning. The two years of hard work motivated by Dan Blakeley along with faculty advisors Chris Tolbert, Brad Johnson, and Jeremy Ferrell is paying off. Below is a diagram from the ASC website outlining team's status for the competition (from americansolarchallenge.org/teams/ascfsgp-2016-team-status/):
The 3 driver dynamics challenges were wet braking, a figure eight performance test, and slalom test. The team definitely had the most fun on the slalom course, with one driver begging for a second drive through after completing it once, and we struggled the most on wet braking. Many teams struggled on the wet brake course due to the stringent requirements: drivers had to achieve a speed above 20 miles an hour and stop within 10% of the car's speed in seconds (i.e. 28mph requires a stop in less than 2.8 seconds).
On top of the tough requirements this test would also be used to determine the maximum PSI we could inflate our tires to during the duration of the FSGP and ASC. A higher PSI allows for more efficient travel due to the lower contact area of the tires to pavement, but that same effect reduces the car's stopping power. We found the balance today at 90psi in our Bridgestone Ecopia EP80 slick tires, which are optimized for efficiency, not driving on wet pavement.
Our ability to work as a team has been challenged during this trip, but our teamwork has proved itself in achieving our first goal of passing scrutineering. The "little" liberal arts college in Boone, North Carolina is among the ranks of internationally renowned engineering universities. Our academically-diverse team has succeeded in proving that we have the ability to go beyond the confines of our reputation.
Our team is feeling great about day 1 of raycing tomorrow. Apperion is running nicely, nearly fully charged, and for the first night on the trip we have gotten back to the hotel before 11pm so our drivers can get a good nights sleep (and finally get some laundry done).
Catch us LIVE at 10am Tuesday, July 26 on Facebook (Appalachian State SVT) when we take off at the FSGP tomorrow morning!
At the end of the first day of raycing Team Sunergy is in 3rd PLACE!! So far we have completed 152 laps covering a total distance of over 243 miles, using no fuel other than the sun! All four of our drivers completed the minimum number of qualifying laps for the American Solar Challenge. This means that we have secured a spot in the American Solar Challenge 2016!
Out of the 12 teams that have completed scrutineering we have completed more laps than 9 others. We are 16 laps behind the 2nd place team, Principia College, and 57 laps behind Michigan. Our closest competitor, Quebec ETS, is 12 laps behind us. We were lucky to not have any technical difficulties today, but as our anchor-driver Lindsay Rudisill reminded us "luck is when opportunity meets preparedness."
Stay tuned tomorrow for more updates!
The day started off well, topping off the battery through a sporatically cloud-covered sky before we began raycing at 9am. Logan Ward started the day without any issues and completed 67 laps before switching drivers around noon. Just two laps after Dan took over driving Apperion's front left tire blew out near pit row. The team hustled to get out to the track to perform an emergency tire change and potentiometer adjustment (which controls our regenerative brake) as seen pictured below. Due to the situation we were not able to put fresh tires on, and as a result had a second blowout later in the day.
Despite some complications with our wheels Apperion ran great today; we completed 130 laps, bringing us to a total of 283 (453 miles) and turned our fastest lap time of the race at 2 minutes 19 seconds. We lost an hour of racing at the end of the day due to a sheared safety screw in the rear wheel that occurred during an emergency tire change. On the bright side we ended the day in 4th place with a full charge, and are only 10 laps behind the 3rd place team, Minnesota. With a comfortable lead over 5th place team Toronto we are feeling confident going into the third day of raycing.
Oh, how far we have come in a week. We left Boone without working brakes on Apperion, a green team (pun intended) to raycing, and today we finished 3rd PLACE in the Formula Sun Grand Prix! We came to compete and our team brought everything we had. It proved to be enough to compete against some top engineering schools in the world. Despite being on top of the world and filled with mountaineer pride we know there is still a long road ahead of us.
The American Solar Challenge begins on Saturday, July 30 at Cuyahoga National Park in Brecksville, Ohio. We will start in the 3rd position behind Michigan and Principia.
Today was a designated media and rest day before beginning the ASC tomorrow. After recieving our award for our 3rd place finish we prepped our car caravan and made some final alterations to get Apperion road-ready, and are looking forward to tomorrow. Look out for our team on the news!
You can follow us live here or on Appalachian State University's homepage, appstate.edu.
Today we took off from Brecksville, Ohio on through fog of the American Solar Challenge. We travelled nearly 260 miles today along country roads and city streets, stopping along the way at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park. Our first day on the road proved to be a challenge to the team with a much different dynamic from the track format of the FSGP. We raced trains, shook up Apperion over multiple train tracks, and turned heads all across Ohio.
Duvey Rudow started the day, driving nearly 5 and a half hours, just 30 minutes less than the maximum 6 hours per driver per day. On his route we passed an amish caravan that showed a true contrast of eras.
Apperion was exposed to rougher roads than it had ever seen before, and our signal control box was shaken completely loose from our array. It was a quick fix during evening charging, and our battery is at a comfortable state of charge to prepare us for tomorrow. The bad weather avoided us today, and we are hoping for the same good fortune tomorrow.
We ended day two of the American Solar Challenge in a solid 4th place at the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Vincennes, Illinois. The downhills led us to incur about a minute in speeding penalties, but we remain about 25 minutes behind Principia College in the 3rd place position.
Today's route tested Apperion's ability to climb hills and conserve energy, and it succeeded. Logan Ward did all the driving and travelled about 170 miles across Indiana past farms and through towns.
Despite a gloomy forecast yesterday the sun shined all day and Apperion managed to end the day with a decent charge. and after charging with other competing teams on the patio of the George Rogers Clark memorial we feel confident that after a couple hours of charging in the morning we can make it to our next checkpoint Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site near St. Louis, Missouri.
Tomorrow we will be taking over AppState's Instagram Account. Follow it @appstate on Instagram!
A rainy morning in Illinois made for a poor charge to start the day. Our team was also faced with a last minute challenge when we realized our brake and signal lights were not working at 8:35, just 10 minutes before we needed to be ready. An impressive Arduino swap by the electrical team meant we were ready to roll out by 8:45 and we didn't lose our place at the starting line.
We made it past at least 100 corn and soy fields before the battery gave out around 1:00 this afternoon. This was a first for us on this trip, as battery management had been a strong suit of our team up to this point. Apperion is currently lacking a telemetry system (a way of monitoring battery and charging information), but despite this minor difficulty we made it 36% along the ASC route to Farmville, Missouri for the evening.
Our checkpoint today was the Ulysses S. Grant National Historical Site. Unfortunately, due to our battery issue we were unable to make it to the checkpoint in time.
Tomorrow we will Arrive at Wilson's Creek Battlefield for our second stage stop in Missouri. Read about the park here!
Despite a rainy morning and a low charge Apperion managed to get as far as necessary to get out from under the cloud cover and find blue skies from 11am on. The team recouped some lost time from yesterday's battery incident thanks to the clear skies and made it to the stage stop just an hour before it closed. Driver Logan Ward started the day and handled the Ozark hills perfectly. Duvey finished the day in Springfield, MO at Republic High School. Tomorrow we will take off at 9am from Wilson's Creek Battlefield nearby. Wilson's Creek Battlefield was the site of one of the earliest Civil War Battles west of the Mississippi River.
Today we passed through Wilson's Creek battlefield before pushing forward into Kansas, passing through a checkpoint in Topeka. The checkpoint was at Monroe School, the school at the center of the historical Brown v. Board of Education decision that overturned the separate but equal doctrine and led to desegregation. You can read more about the historical site and the decision here.
Tomorrow we drive onward to the Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Nebraska just over 110 miles from our rest stop tonight.
A beautiful sunrise and bright blue skies led to a great charge at the start of our day, and despite scattered clouds and a poorly-timed rainstorm during our checkpoint at the Homestead National Monument of America we travelled a total of 290 miles today. We drove from Kansas into Neberaska, but failed to notice much difference between the two states. We spent most of our day driving in between soy and corn fields next to railroad tracks.
We pushed the limits of driver Logan Ward who took on a full 6 hours of driving this afternoon with nothing to look at except Nebraska cornfields. Six hours of driving in a solar car with no music, sporadic communication, and shotty steering alignment that forces the driver to focus intently on the middle of the lane will exhaust even the toughest of drivers. Unfortunate for Logan the haybale he chose to rest on after his long drive was surrounded by hidden barbed wire that caught his right shin (his driving leg) and sent him to the hospital for stitches. He is okay, but probably completed the last 6 hours of his time driving in the ASC.
The end of today marks the three-quarters mark of the American Solar Challenge for Team Sunergy. We have travelled through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and we are now in Broken Bow, Nebraska, a town of less than 4,000 people. The residents have treated our team members like celebrities, asking for autographs for a kindergarden class and introducing us to a local fast-food chain called Runza. It is without a doubt that this race has brought our team to many unique places in the Mid-West that our team may never visit otherwise, teaching the residents and passersby about the revolutionary advancements in transportation technology.
Despite a nice evening charge yesterday our morning started slow with intermittent rain showers under heavy cloud cover. We decided that the best strategy for the day would be to load Apperion into the trailer and find a sunny place to charge. Just north of our third stage stop at Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska we found a break in the clouds and spend 4 hours bringing our battery to full charge.
Many curious locals stopped to ask about our crazy car, with people even offering to help with our car problems. Our only problem was a low battery, but we managed to fix it before finishing the day at Scotts Bluff National Monument where some Nebraska BBQ pork was waiting for us for dinner.
Tomorrow is the final stage in our journey, and with just over 150 miles to go to Wind Cave National Park we feel confident that on our fully charged battery we will drive across the finish line.
The final day of solar car racing was everything but sunny. We occasionally saw blue sky peeking out in the distance, but never saw direct sunlight. Our strategy of charging yesterday was the right move, and our team crossed the finish line at 2:46 in second place.
Our team is incredibly proud to have driven across the finish line, as the last stage was the most challenging of them all through the Black Hills of South Dakota. Without bragging we would like to point out that we were only one of three teams to drive the entire last stage, and we finished in front of Michigan! The photo below marks the only time we passed Michigan, and we are sure proud of it.
No team member had ever anticipated visiting this area, but everyone has found beauty in the unique state of South Dakota. We all miss North Carolina, especially Boone, and we look forward to beginning our journey home tomorrow when we can actually drive the speed limit (not behind Apperion travelling at 25mph).
The American Solar Challenge has been completed but the challenge of advancing solar transportation has a long path ahead. We look forward to carrying the momentum of our success from this event and bringing more bright minds from Appalachian State onto our team to compete in future events around the globe. To read more about future competitions visit internationalsolarcarfederation.org/about/
Keep following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @appalchianSVT for further updates and keep an eye out for us at upcoming outreach events!