Driving Day

Last weekend we had our first driving day of the summer. Four of us braved the heat and took the car out for a spin. It was Will's first time driving and it was almost impossible to get him to stop because he loved it so much. Here is a video of us racing around the course:

If You Can't Take the Heat, Don't Design an Exhaust

For the new 2012 Duke FSAE car, I've decided to redesign the exhaust system for a number of reasons. The primary reason for redesigning the exhaust system stems from the team's decision to eliminate the rear box from the frame, which shifted the suspension placement on the frame. In other words, the A-arm and halfshaft placement gave me a rather uncomfortable amount of clearance to run the exhaust through. Also, due to the shortened wheelbase, the muffler would be sticking out too far from the back of the car. Another important consideration was passing the sound test during the tech inspections at competition. We noticed that the decibel readings varied greatly depending on which side of th

Aero Design

I've outlined why we're doing aero in a previous post; now I'm going to talk about how we're going to do it. As a recap, we want to maximize downforce while minimize drag and weight. We have other constraints too, such as the rules, manufacturing capability, and of course time and money. Even so, we are afforded a great deal of design freedom in aerodynamics. This year's aero package will consist of a front wing, a rear wing, and an undertray. The target I set (based on last year's testing results) was 400lbf downforce at 60mph, with equal distribution of downforce on the front and rear axles. Starting from last year's work, I decided on a 3 element front wing very similar to what we

Active Aero

The one thing I didn't talk about in my last post was active aero. Active aero opens a whole new can of worms, but I think it's doable (see Oklahoma's car - it's pretty awesome). I'm taking a different approach, which will be a simpler system consisting of only a moving rear wing. Anything more seems a bit unrealistic for a one year project. The benefit of active aero is that you can reduce drag when you don't need downforce, i.e. when you're traveling in a straight line. Honestly, I don't see any downsides either except for the additional development time and slight weight increase. Of the aero elements on the car, the rear wing produces almost twice as much drag as the front wing an

Aero and CFD

Having spent a good bit of time in the GM Aero Lab this summer, I understand how important a wind tunnel is to developing a good aerodynamic package. But, as a FSAE team on a budget, that's not something that we have available to us at this stage of the vehicle's development. So, our aero package is designed with the tools we do have available, namely computational fluid dynamics (CFD). CFD is extremely useful in that you can easily visualize flow, something that is a bit more difficult in the wind tunnel, and you can get numbers without having a physical model. However, it takes a long time to run (and thus take a long time to see the effects of each change) and it's not very good for abso

How to Model a Seat in Solidworks

I'm going to do a quick tutorial on how to model something fairly complicated using basic Solidworks surfacing techniques. As you can see below, at first glance a seat can be somewhat difficult to model due to its curves, but I'll show here how simple this process can be with surfaces. Probably the hardest part about modeling something complex like a seat is figuring out which direction to approach the surfaces from. Since the 3D surface will be created from 2D entities for this model (since the dimensions must be measured from a physical seat), I think the best way to create the seat model surface is with a lofted surface. I start with a centerline contour, measured from the actual seat,

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