Day 4 update — Sioux Falls here we come

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 16, 2008 by raycer

Some news from Leon Fainstein:

This was a typical solar car Rayce day. Starting at 5:00 am the team takes the car back to the place they stopped the day before. They set up for charging that starts at 6:30 and charge until 8:00 am. At that time they start driving. They will drive until 6:00 pm only stopping to change drivers. From 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm the team can charge the battery. Then they put the car in the trailer and drive to the hotel to eat, shower and sleep. The Rayce is an endurance test for man and machine. Only 6 more days to go. The team has decided that I should have to experience these long and difficult days for myself. They are planning to have me abducted by one of the other teams and forced to drive to Calgary with them.

They are 2 to 3 hours from Sioux Falls and should have no trouble making the stage stop on Thursday.

Creative problem solving

The battery pack developed a problem with three of the modules being drained before the rest, this severely limits the storage capacity. Many options were explored to solve the problem, one included not driving and balancing the cells during the time allotted for driving. Some rewiring solved the problem, and a cell balancing procedure was developed using wire resistors and some other electronic doodads. The next days may be very challenging if the forecast for rain is correct.


The late-night day 3 update

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 15, 2008 by raycer

Team concierge/accountant/laundromat/communications contact/all-around-go-to guy Barry Karlenzig checks in very late on Day 3 from “parts unknown” in northern Kansas with the latest team update:

Hello All, Day 3 has been very eventful. We made it past Topeka, Kansas and are on our way to the Sioux Falls stage stop, and hope to be there late tomorrow or early the following day. It all depends on the sun for us. The team has formed a strong bond, and if a problem arises there are 3 people jumping to fix it right away. So far we have only had a tire blow but everything went well and the team got back out on the road in good time.

Tom has (hopefully) finally called it a night so he can catch up on his sleep loss from staying up late fixing meals and such for the next day. Next person for sleep is me, but that can happen whenever. It is a “thrill”, so to speak, to try and find a hotel in a small town during this race, but so far I’ve been successful and the team is getting proper places to sleep and a place to clean up. But anyways all, I’m going to try to get to bed before midnight tonight, so I will do a couple of updates live from the road tomorrow as long as we can find some better cell reception. We have learned that even though Kansas is a flatter state, it can sometimes be hard to find a cell tower to bounce a signal off.

[NOTE: Be sure to check the comments section on this post for some additional detail on Tuesday’s action from Leon. It seems there were a few challenges to overcome.]

Along with team chef Tom Marks, Barry’s position is a new addition to this year’s solar car group. In order to allow our engineering whiz kids more time to concentrate on the car itself, organizers looked for an RRC Business Administration student to round out the group by serving as a liaison with NASC officials, and handling overall team logistics. Barry stepped up to the challenge a few months ago, and has been a ball of energy throughout the project. Here’s a shot of him during a slightly better rested moment in the qualifying round.

Official standings after stage one

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 15, 2008 by raycer

Courtesy of the NASC website:

Rank Team Elapsed Time Total Penalties Total Time
1 Michigan 8:10:28 00:00:00 8:10:28
2 Principia 8:26:04 00:20:00 8:46:04
3 Minnesota 8:47:45 00:20:00 9:07:45
4 FH Bochum 9:57:25 00:00:00 9:57:25
5 Missouri S&T 10:00:22 00:00:00 10:00:22
6 Red River College 11:30:55 00:00:00 11:30:55
7 Waterloo 11:35:01 00:00:00 11:35:01
8 Calgary 12:30:34 00:00:00 12:30:34
9 Kentucky 15:29:55 00:00:00 15:29:55
10 Iowa State 15:14:09 02:35:00 17:49:09
11 Queen’s 18:16:36 00:00:00 18:16:36
12 Arizona 17:59:18 00:18:00 18:17:18
13 Northwestern 19:00:00 00:09:09 19:09:09
14 Oregon State 19:00:00 06:09:48 25:09:48
15 Durham 19:00:00 07:32:03 26:32:03

More media coverage

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 15, 2008 by raycer

This morning’s Winnipeg Free Press has a story on the Raycer’s progress in the first leg of the North American Solar Challenge: Red River team rolls in international solar race.

Also, check out this clip from Sunday night’s CTV National News which includes an appearance from Raycer team member Christopher Ball:

And finally, for those of you who just can’t get enough solar car news, this useful link pulls together news and photos from several different team blogs (including this one):

Audio update on Day 2

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 14, 2008 by raycer


All them grasshoppers?

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 14, 2008 by raycer

Raycer team leader James Doell checks in with an update:

The car continues to plug along without incident, just as we had hoped. The whole team is starting to gain confidence in the car and in themselves as a team and are taking more and more ownership of the race strategy and getting the car ready for each day.

A highlight of the day yesterday was “talking to locals”. We had a steady stream of people stop by the car as we were charging last night. Everyone from an Amish looking man with his little daughters, young families, and a fellow who was so impressed he came back to get more brochures last night and came again this morning to see us off! One old guy with a white beard and bib overalls in a pickup truck pulled up to us and asked about “all them grasshoppers I seen drahvin down the road.”

I’ll be working on my Texas/Oklahoma accent so I can give y’all an accurate account.

At the first stage stop

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 14, 2008 by raycer

The Raycer team pulled into the first stage stop at Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri just after 11:00 this morning. Unofficially we’re in sixth spot (one spot ahead of where we started), and are first among the Canadian cars.

According to the Weather Channel, Neosho is a sunny 85 degrees today, so all the teams will be able to get in some good battery charging time this afternoon.