This past summer, Bay Area Circuits had the privilege of sponsoring all of the bare printed circuits boards for the UC Davis Formula Racing team.
The boards were used for a variety of sensors and controls in the vehicle. There were sensors for wheel speed, throttle position, steering angle, tire temperature, and other functions. The system would then dynamically allocate power to individual motors on the rear wheels.
The team is a student-led design team challenged to design, build, and race high-performance, environmentally-conscious vehicles. The car they built is electric. The team entered the SAE Formula Electric completion that was held in Lincoln, Nebraska this summer and had excellent results.
From team lead Jeff Bouchard:
The Formula SAE competition was in Lincoln, Nebraska last weekend. Here’s the bottom line– we placed 3rd overall! We were one of only three electric teams to pass all parts of tech inspection and compete in the main race, and earned enough points in that event to place third overall. This makes our team the first (and only) USA team to ever successfully compete in the history of Formula SAE Electric! We were also the only team to pass the rain-test without applying duck tape to any of our electrical enclosures (I’m particularly proud of that).
The car has tons of potential that we weren’t able to tap during the event. We learned this when we verified that we used only around half of our battery capacity during the endurance event, and ended the race well under our temperature limit. Both of the motors were set for 50% torque limit. While the conservative approach paid off and made sure that we finished the event, with better instrumentation and characterization of the limits as well as a good tuning on the suspension the car will be much much faster.
Unfortunately we had virtually zero time to test or tune beforehand, the final race endurance event was honestly just the second or third time the car had ever driven. We arrived in Nebraska with only 1/2 of the wiring harness built and many of the electrical systems completely untested. We even ended up doing a last minute swap of the front brake calipers and a major overhaul of the steering geometry just the morning before the final race. The fact that everything worked out under these circumstances is really a testament to the dedication, preparation and skills of everyone on the team (plus a lot of luck).
Given all the obstacles we had to contend with and how stressed for time everything was at the end I am incredibly happy with the outcome. I’m looking forward to tuning and testing the car over the summer and figuring out how to build it even better for next year. I honestly believe we have established a platform that even with pretty minor evolutionary tweaks we could do really, really well with, particularly if we have enough time to test and tune, and show up to competition with it fully complete and ready to go.
Your support was really key to helping us do what we did, and I am very grateful! I hope to work with you in the next year also as we work on the new car.
Bay Area Circuits was excited to have the opportunity to sponsor the team and very proud of the fine job the team did. Way to go team UCD Formula Racing!
You can learn more about the team at: http://ucdformularacing.com/