Archive for Raycer

More unofficial results

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 21, 2008 by raycer

Wow, that Michigan crew is almost as fast with the results as they are with the car. According to their most recent blog post, the Raycer is now sitting in 9th place overall as of today’s Medicine Hat stage stop, nipping at Iowa State’s heels. At any rate, it looks like we’re poised for a big improvement from our 16th overall finishing spot in the 2005 NASC. Impressive results from the only community college entered in the competition.

Meanwhile, unless Michigan accidentally detours to Edmonton, it looks like they have this year’s race sewn up. One final push to Calgary tomorrow, where a huge crowd is expected to greet the cars.

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And now, a word for our sponsors

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 21, 2008 by raycer

In addition to the official stage stop held in Winnipeg on Saturday, RRC also hosted a dinner on Friday night to thank all the individual donors and corporate sponsors of this year’s Raycer project. While the team obviously couldn’t be there, they were kind enough to film a short message for the dinner crowd that we also wanted to share here:

The clip was actually shot using a Blackberry Pearl smartphone from MTS Allstream, our major telecommunications sponsor. The company was kind enough to provide Blackberries and coverage time for the team, which proved essential in communicating between the various support vehicles while on the road and providing updates to those of us following along back in Winnipeg. You’ll notice the team holding their phones in the air at the end of the video in a small salute to the folks from MTS Allstream.

Standings update

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 20, 2008 by raycer

The unofficial standings update after the Winnipeg stage stop, courtesy of the University of Michigan solar team blog:

Michigan: 34:14:01
Principia: 35:35:37
FH Bochum: 40:59:51
Waterloo: 42:05:46
Minnesota: 42:58:22
Calgary: 51:09:39
Missouri S&T: 53:19:54
Red River: 59:19:39
Iowa State: 63:52:37
Kentucky: 66:55:55
Arizona: 67:05:08
Northwestern: 69:51:30 * trailering penalty not added yet
Queen’s: 73:16:45
Oregon State: 83:03:21
Durham: 90:56:48

Unfortunately, the weather in the Dakotas wasn’t too kind to our solar racers. Only five teams (Michigan, Principia, Bochum, Waterloo, Minnesota) managed to make it to Winnipeg on their own power, while the rest of the pack (including RRC) were forced to load their cars in trailers due to low battery power and even lower cloud cover. Several left on trailers again this morning, waiting to unload their cars until the clouds parted in Brandon. For those who are wondering, yes trailering is allowed, but it comes with a significant time penalty.

Our team was a bit disappointed it wasn’t able to drive the Raycer in to the cheers of the hometown crowd, but they received a warm welcome nonetheless, and the good news is that it looks like we held our position in the overall Solar Challenge. With a little luck, and consistent performance from both the vehicle and our ace driving crew, we might still catch up to Missouri or Calgary before reaching the finish line on Tuesday.

For tonight (Sunday), it looks like the team has stopped in Grenfell, SK (pop. 1,067). We’ll keep you apprised of any reports of solar-powered cow tipping emerging from the greater metropolitan Grenfell area.

See you on Saturday

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 18, 2008 by raycer

For those of you in and around Winnipeg, don’t forget the Open House that will be held at RRC’s Notre Dame Campus between noon and 3:00 5:00 pm on Saturday. The cars will be sunning themselves on the south lawn (fronting on Notre Dame), and the teams will be available to answer questions. Admission is completely free, food will be available and some related displays about engineering technology will also there.

We anticipate that several of the lead cars in race will be making their way into campus between 10:00 a.m. and noon, with the rest of the pack streaming in throughout the afternoon.

Speaking of the leaders, the NASC website has updated the official standings as of the Sioux Falls stage stop. RRC is currently in eighth spot overall.

And finally, the Winnipeg Free Press website features a nice update on the Raycer, including an interview with team leader James Doell.

UPDATED: In case you’re checking, the RRC team is expected to arrive on campus around 4:30 pm.

We’re not in Kansas (or Nebraska, or Iowa) anymore…

Posted in Raycer with tags on July 17, 2008 by raycer

The Raycer pulled into the Sioux Falls, SD stage stop a little after noon today. While a few dark and swirly clouds had the team momentarily fearing the car might be headed for Oz, they successfully managed to avoid most of the wicked weather that was in the area.

A well-deserved rest break this afternoon will be followed up by some official NASC activities later in the day. Tomorrow morning, all the teams will leave Sioux Falls headed for the next stage stop in Winnipeg.

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.