Year in Review, 2015-16

It has been quite an amazing year for the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School Electric Vehicle team. Team membership has gone up, a lot of projects have been completed, and there are big plans for the future.

Over the summer of 2015, the team installed the Orion battery management system in the Datsun 240Z. This system was incredibly helpful to the team all year and will continue to be helpful as it provides a way of monitoring all the batteries at once and protecting them from damage during racing. Also over the summer, the team’s website was created and has been a helpful tool for documenting our progress all year.

During the Fall and Winter, the team worked on increasing team membership by recruiting at home schools and presenting to all of the juniors during their physics classes. We got a lot of work done on the Porsche, most of which was cosmetic. The team fixed the switch for the reverse lights and beeper which had broken off, attached covers for the steering column and fuse block, put in a new ignition, and worked on charging lithium ion batteries to be put in the Porsche when the time came to convert it. The team received a storage shed early on and we quickly filled it up and used it for storing all of the things that had previously been kept in the mail truck. As for events, the team participated in the EV Neat Rally at NCCAR from October 9th through the 11th. The team also showed the Porsche in the Waynesboro Christmas Parade. During school, we had meetings with some of the team members during third block independent work time to plan out goals for the near and distant future. On the Datsun, the team added about 36V to the back and put in David Waterman’s pack of batteries from his lawnmower that he donates to us every year. Every Fall, Romanian exchange students come to the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School; this year, one of our team members brought her exchange student to a meeting to show her our electric vehicle program.

Spring has been an exceptionally busy time for the EV team. We started the new year off with an outreach event with the RAW Learning Private School where team members gave presentations to younger students about the EV Challenge, our cars, and even about the solar panel that the Governor’s School received from Dominion. We began the process of converting the Porsche from lead acid batteries to lithium ion batteries by taking out all of the old batteries, configuring how the new batteries would fit in the Porsche, creating wiring diagrams, and installing racks for the batteries. Members of the team worked with Dish Network on getting a donation for the EV program. A proposal was submitted for funding ideas on many small projects; however, Dish was looking more for one big project to put their money towards rather than many smaller things. The team took the Datsun to the EV Spring Thaw Event at NCCAR in the middle of March. As for work done on the Datsun this Spring, a passenger seat has been put in, 12 cells have been added to the front to bring the car’s overall voltage up to around 176V, and a lot of progress has been made with the battery management system including setting safety features and analyzing data collected from it. The team showed off both the Datsun and the Porsche at the SVGS Open House on March 24 and also participated in the Herald Miller Invitational at NCCAR, an event created to replace the postponed EV Challenge. At the Herald Miller Invitational, the team was interviewed by a crew from an educational website called itsourair.org which will be creating an episode about electric vehicles and the cool things we do at EV to be shown in classrooms all across North Carolina.

An ongoing project with the team is that we are working on installing a touchscreen in the Datsun that we can use to monitor our batteries while we are racing.

Some overall things worth mentioning include that the senior members of the team collectively earned 850 hours. Team membership has increased from 2 members last year to 8 members this year. Also, on the school initiative forms, a system of scoring teams used by the EV Challenge based on categories relating to public relations, the team scored 162 points, significantly higher than what we scored last year.

The team’s plans for the near future as well as next year include taking one of the cars to the SVGS Awards Picnic, getting tires donated for the Porsche, finishing converting the Porsche to lithium ion batteries, continuing to expand team membership, continuing to work with Dominion on getting a grant for an EV charging station, continuing to expand team membership, getting some type of speedometer function for the Datsun, and upgrading the motors/controllers in both of the cars.

Advertisements

EV Team at the SVGS Open House

On March 24, 2016, the EV team moved their cars over to the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School to show them off to the community at the SVGS Open House. The Open House is an event that gives students the opportunity to show off all of the amazing work they do at the Governor’s School to parents and members of the community. For more information on the Open House as a whole, check out this article on the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School’s website: https://svgsstudentnews.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/photos-from-open-house-2016/. The EV team had a computer set up with a slideshow of pictures showing what the team has done throughout the year as well as an informative poster about the team’s two cars. Both the Datsun and the Porsche were on display as team mentor, Byron Humphries, stood by to answer any inquiries the public had about our program. Student team members of the program were also present to talk about our meetings and events to raise awareness for the incredible program.

This Month in EV, February 2016

Looking back on the goals the team set in January (finish charging the Datsun, participate in more outreach opportunities, get tires donated, get another pair of racing seats donated, and finish converting the Porsche from lead acid to lithium ion batteries), February has been a very productive and successful month. The team has started and accomplished quite a few of the set goals and we have plans for the ones that we haven’t gotten around to yet.

The Datsun is charged up to the best of our abilities and ready to race in the Spring Thaw competition at NCCAR in March. Also, a passenger seat is in the process of being installed in the Datsun (hopefully in time for the competition). Once the seat is in place, we hope to have an outreach event that will allow people to ride in our electric car and get to learn a little bit more about EV. The Porsche is well on its way to being on lithium ion batteries. After a little bit of brainstorming, a layout has been configured for the newer, smaller batteries as well as a wiring diagram. All that’s left is putting the batteries into the newly made racks, wiring them up, and getting the controller put back in place. That being said, it does not look like the Porsche will be ready in time to participate in the Spring Thaw event. Rather, the new and improved Porsche will be unveiled at the EV Challenge in April.

Throughout the course of this month, a team member and an instructor have been in contact with Dish Network and have worked out a grant for the team. This money will be going towards the costs of competitions and will help the team out a lot. Thanks Dish Network!

Next month, the team will be traveling to North Carolina to participate in the Spring Thaw Event. Goals for March include: finish the Porsche conversion, give rides in the Datsun, get one more seat for the Porsche, and get new tires donated for the Porsche. Also in March, the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School will be having it’s annual STEM Open House and the team will have the cars on display with students to talk about the program and bring awareness to the community.

This Month in EV, January 2016

January has been a pretty busy month for the EV team. Early on, planning was under way through a long series of emails for an outreach opportunity to share what the SVGS EV team is and what we do with some members of the community. That event ended up being a big success. On January 20th, some students from Staunton’s RAW Learning Private School visited the Governor’s School to run through some stations and activities led by members of the EV team. Mr. Daw gave a presentation on what the EV Challenge is and what the competition is like along with a description of the STEM Cycle program. Byron and Ben showed off both the Datsun and the Porsche, allowing the kids to see the cars up close and hear more about how they work and what we do as a team at meetings. Emily led an introductory level class to solar energy that included a brief video, a look at the solar panel that SVGS recently got, and some interactive games focusing on renewable energy.

In addition to focusing on outreach, the team has been putting a lot of effort towards working out charging the Datsun. We’ve hit some bumps along the way with some straggling cells and some cells that seem to be reaching much higher voltages that others. Our original hopes were that the BMS would prevent this but we are finding ourselves having to go in an charge some cells individually. Another thing in the works for the Datsun is the fabrication of a controller fan cover to keep small objects from falling in and jamming the fan while the car is being worked on.

The team has also been working towards accomplishing the goal of getting new tires donated for the Porsche 911 so that we can race it safely at the upcoming EV Challenge. We have taken the lead acid batteries out of the car and are working on planning the layout of the lithium ion batteries.

Some goals for the team in the rest of January and through February include: finish charging the Datsun, participate in more outreach opportunities, get the Porsche tires donated, get another pair of racing seats donated so that people can ride in the cars, and finish converting the Porsche from lead acid to lithium ion batteries. We’ve got a lot ahead of us but the progress we’ve made so far this year has the team excited for what’s to come.

 

2015 EV Neat Rally

The team met dark and early for the 2015 EV Neat Rally at 4:30 am on Friday. We hitched the trailer to the back of the truck, packed up all our gear, and left for the NCCAR facility in North Carolina at around 5:00 am. At the event, the team listened to several seminars including troubleshooting, battery chemistry, sponsorship/outreach, and STEM cycle construction. For official design and safety regulations regarding the STEM cycle, click here. Later in the day, all the teams from the participating schools were scrambled into groups of three for a pit-crew competition which entailed using an air wrench to swap two tires on a jacked car. Members from the SVGS EV team scored first and third place in the competition. On Saturday, the team designed an autocross track for all the schools to practice on in an unofficial competition.  Team members drove the Porsche and gained experience with basic handling, manual transmissions, and even worked our way up to drifting around sharp corners . We departed from the event at around 2:00 pm.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This Week in EV 10/4 – 10/10

The meeting on Sunday was rescheduled to Monday due to possible inclement weather. On Monday, the team met from 6-9. While charging the Porsche, the teachers passed out permission forms and legal waivers to the members going on the trip and went over what to pack, the schedule, and general expectations. We replaced the low auxiliary cell with a fully charged one and decided on what hardware we would use to mount the BMS in the Datsun. On Wednesday, the team met from 6-9 and broke into three groups to work on various tasks. One group worked on fixing the connections on the batteries to ensure that the wires would be under any stress when the batteries were held down for racing, the second team worked on charging batteries, and the third team worked on getting timing equipment to work for the races at the competition. Friend of the team, Mark Bartosik, joined us for most of the evening to see that everything was running smoothly and if we needed any help. The team added an extra meeting on Thursday to load the vehicle, supplies, and tools needed for the competition. The team decided to only bring the Porsche because of the high number of students with prior commitments and because the Datsun was not entirely ready to race. On Friday, the team met at 4:30 am and headed to North Carolina for the EV Neat Rally. Click here to read more about the competition at it’s dedicated post.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All About Our Cars: The Porsche 911

A former member of the team spotted the Porsche 911 stationary on someone’s property and talked to its owner about donating it to the SVGS EV team. The owner agreed and the team began converting the vehicle from gas to electric. Since then, the Porsche has advanced through many wiring configurations with each passing wave of students. The vehicle currently runs on lead-acid batteries and sports a paint job courtesy of Foreign Affairs in Staunton, VA. The team’s vision for the future of the Porsche includes converting it to lithium-ion batteries, adding a battery management system, and implementing data acquisition.

This Week in EV 9/6 – 9/12

On Sunday the EV team met from 6-9. We got a donation of a shelving unit from one of the team member’s parents for use in our new shed. The first part of the meeting was spent assembling the shelves and getting them in place in the shed. They were immediately put to good use. The team continued working on charging batteries and making progress on the Porsche 911. The new ignition is in place and functioning, we discovered where the switch was for the reverse lights and beeper (it had broken off) and have plans to fix it, and the covers for the steering column and fuse block were put in place. Another thing that got accomplished at the meeting was that the mail truck, which has previously been used for storage, has been cleaned out and organized.

On Wednesday, the team met and replaced the switch for the reverse lights and beeper, sorted through some documentation on the Porsche, and continued charging batteries.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.