The Herald Miller Invitational

The Herald Miller Invitational, a new event created by multiple team mentors to replace the postponed EV Challenge so that the teams had a year-end event to showcase all their hard work, took place April 14-15 at NCCAR. The SVGS EV team met early Thursday morning to load up the car and head down to North Carolina. We arrived with the Datsun around 8:45 and began unloading the car and talking to other team members about their cars and STEM cycles.

A morning meeting took place around 10 to plan out the activities that would take place at the event, taking into consideration what each team wanted to do. After the morning meeting, we broke into groups that mixed members of different teams together to do student-lead inspections of the vehicles. These inspections involved examining the safety, creativity, and ingenuity of the cars to give teams scores out of 200. The Datsun received an impressive score of 192/200.

The SVGS team then set up an autocross course and timing equipment for all of the teams to use. All members of our team drove the Datsun impressively well, getting the best times of the day on the course. Ben got the top two times, Eric got the 3rd and 4th best times, and Emily got the 5th best time. At the end of the day, we set up our car to charge overnight so that we would be ready to continue racing on Friday.

Throughout the day, a reporter from a local newspaper called The Daily Herald interviewed teams and gathered information about the event. To read the article, see our post announcing the mentioning here: https://svgsev.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/the-ev-team-was-mentioned-in-the-daily-herald/.

On Friday morning, Eric, Ben, and Byron headed to the main research building to participate in a troubleshooting event while Emily stayed with the car to monitor charging. The troubleshooting event was a class and practice session for teams to use troubleshooting boards to find and isolate problems within circuits.

After the troubleshooting class, all of the teams headed down to the track to participate in an altered autocross course from Thursday. The Datsun performed well again but the best times were earned by West Wilkes High School’s Miata, an incredible car that performed really well. To read more about the WWHS team and their car, check out their website [http://wwhsev.weebly.com/whats-going-on]. To read about Topsail’s team, a great team that brought two cars and a STEM cycle to the event, go to their website [http://www.kickngas.org/].

Throughout the day on Friday, a crew from itsourair.org followed the teams around to learn more about the program, do filmed interviews with members of the team, and get shots of the cars in action. itsourair.org works to put together educational videos and curriculum to be used for education in classrooms all over North Carolina. When the footage is put on their website, we will put up an announcement with a link to their footage from the event.

The team made it home late Friday night and unloaded the car. Overall, the Herald Miller Invitational was a great event and each member of the team had an incredible time. We can’t wait to get together with all of the teams that attended again in the Fall at the EV Challenge.

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EV Spring Thaw Event 2016

The EV team headed to Garysburg, North Carolina this past weekend to participate in NCCAR’s Spring Thaw Event. The event was designed to be an opportunity for teams to get practice in events such as autocross and acceleration. Half the team left for the event around 6:30 PM Thursday night with the Datsun so that they could get to the track early the next morning. The rest of the team joined up at NCCAR around 4:30 on Friday. The Porsche did not join the team on this trip as it is still in the process of being converted from lead acid to lithium ion batteries.

On Friday, the team designed and set up an autocross course for all of the teams to practice on. The Datsun ran well, averaging times around a minute and twenty-five seconds on a relatively long course that included a slalom, chicago box, and 360. In the evening, the batteries started to weaken and when the team checked them they were reaching dangerous temperatures of around 130 degrees Fahrenheit and voltages on about 7 of them had dropped to 0, making them useless.

To handle this tense and upsetting situation, members of the team pulled an all-nighter, working on cooling the batteries, taking out the worn down packs, salvaging batteries, and wiring new packs in. The team also charged the main pack of batteries overnight so that the car could hopefully race again in the morning.

On Saturday, the team spent the morning finishing up the Datsun and getting it to run again. Overall, the voltage dropped from 144V to about 130V with the removal of 4 cells. The team continued to practice on the autocross course throughout the morning, stopping every couple of run throughs to check on how the batteries were holding up both in relation to charge and temperature. The team ended the event with a debriefing of how it went and what needs to be done in the future to prepare for the EV Challenge in April.

Overall, the weekend was a great experience for everyone on the team. Every body got a chance to drive, giving some new members the opportunity to drive the car for the first time. We also had a passenger seat which gave people the opportunity to ride along as the car dodged (and sometimes hit) cones. The team did a great job of keeping positive attitudes in times of stress and hardship when the discovery was made that the batteries had been damaged and was able to put all the things they’ve learned this year to work under a large amount of pressure. The team made connections with members of other teams, talked with people connected to NCCAR, and even got to see a solar powered car brought to the event by a college team.

The team will eagerly continue working on bettering their cars for the EV Challenge in Raleigh, North Carolina in April with hopes of bringing a powerful Datsun and a lithium ion-powered Porsche.