Each year, the challenge for Duke University Motorsports is to construct a Formula-style race car from scratch that meets all rules and regulations of the Formula SAE Racing League. It is always a challenge innovating each year to improve our manufacturing of the race car in order to improve performance on the racetrack. All components (except for engine) are assembled or implemented from scratch each year, allowing for maximum innovation and incorporability. There are eight subsystems that we focus on in order to assemble this car.
FRAME ENGINE DRIVETRAIN SUSPENSION
ELECTRICS WHEELS CONTROLS AERODYNAMICS
The frame is one of the most important components of any vehicle. It provides the structure for which all other components of a race car will be tied to. The frame allows proper geometry for dynamic components to come into play. Our frame is made of cut steel tube and welded together. Over the course of the forthcoming years, we are researching for development of a monocoque chassis system similar to what is used in industry with passenger vehicles.
The engine is the powerhouse of a race car. It takes the air and gasoline that powers the car and combusts it in order to give us the power to drive the vehicle at the speeds that we push it through. Other aspects of engine development include intake design, exhaust design, header and runner development. This year, we are using the two-cylinder 698cc Yamaha FZ07.
The drivetrain takes all the power that the engine is able to give and transfers it to the rear wheels. Drivetrain is responsible for sprocket and chain design orientation to connect to the engine as well as differential implementation in the rear end. Having the proper motion ratios in our drivetrain allow us to maximize acceleration and speed out on the racetrack.
The suspension is arguably one of the most important systems of the car when the rubber hits the road. The suspension is in charge of facilitating the lateral and longitudinal loads on the race car to maximize performance by managing camber, caster, bump steer and tire pressure build-up. Suspension is in charge of control arm geometry design, shock analysis and spring rates, and anti-roll bar and body roll analysis in order to get the driver in a position to set off consistently fast laps.
The electrics subsystem revolves around bringing power to the car and getting data. Electrics makes the wiring harness that allows the car to function, and manages data acquisition by implementing sensors such as shock position and travel sensors or wheel speed sensors and MoTeC and ECU implementation.
The wheels subsystem is tasked with all manufacturing procedures pertaining to the wheel and wheel hub area. Wheels uses finite element analysis to design and manufacture critical components to motion in the wheel hub areas, including uprights, spindles and tripod housings that mount to the rear differential. It's important that all load calculations be accurate to reduce chance of failure in the wheel hubs.
The controls subsystem revolves around putting together all systems that the driver has "control" over: throttle, braking, steering, etc. Controls are responsible for throttle cable and brake assembly management, pedal box manufacturing, and steering wheel/dashboard orientation.
Aerodynamics is in charge of conducting the computational fluid dynamics necessary to design and manufacture the most efficient airfoils to attach to the car, including front wing, rear wing, diffuser and side pods. In the manufacturing process, carbon fiber wrapping, mold manufacturing and general assembly techniques are some of the skills used to assemble our airfoils.