By Corey Spetifore
The air is abuzz with enthusiasm and concentration in Q-Hut, where the UVic Hybrid Team is hard at work fastening components to the newly painted frame. With the date of competition lurking just around the corner, the team is aiming to begin testing the car this Sunday.
“We’ve accomplished a couple big milestones this week,” says Geoff Scott, one of the team’s leads overseeing the assembly process. “The firewall has been fitted and tested, the powertrain was installed, and the brakes began their installation.” As the car was nothing but a frame just a short while ago, the UVic Hybrid Team is making excellent headway, but numerous test fittings and adjustments still remain to be made.
“Assembling a custom-built car such as this is very different than working on a typical car,” says Oliver Blow, a mechanical/fabrication lead on the team. “Our biggest task is assembling each component and testing it as a subsystem, as integrated systems are most often points of failure.” Oliver explains that each individual part of the car is designed to specifically integrate with multiple others, making for a more tedious and careful troubleshooting of problems, should they arise. “Our goal is to find the least compromising solution when assembling…the easy way out is always there, but it undermines the original design which would worsen the problem.”
The biggest mechanical issue, Oliver says, was the differential: with a few frame mounting tabs just slightly out of place, the differential ended up coming just short of where it was intended to be located. Once the differential was finalized, however, the mechanical assembly of the car is pretty much set.
Geoff explains that the rest of the assembly, for the most part, will be done in two segments. “The mechanical team will be doing in-frame testing of components, while the electrical team will simultaneously be re-installing the wiring harness, connecting it, and methodically testing each connection,” he continues. “Once everything is back on the car, we’ll power it up to check the systems, do another fasteners check, and we should hopefully be good to go.”
Geoff and the UVic Hybrid Team would like to thank Prototype Equipment Design for their continued first-class support with the car’s differential, as “they’ve been a huge help all along the way.”
Outside of the car, electrical engineering students Brad Preston and Adam Hjermstad are busily configuring the lifeblood of the hybrid vehicle, the Energy Storage System (ESS), which contains 36 ultracapacitor accumulators. “It’s currently in its final stages of preliminary testing,” says Brad. The ESS should be ready to be put in the car by Saturday.
The ESS, Brad explains, has two main functions. “The first function ensures that the ultracapacitors are balanced, being the same voltage after charging. The second function protects the unit from overcharging and overheating.” As is it a major component to the hybrid’s powertrain system, it is crucial that the ESS is operating in top shape before being installed in the car.
“The accumulator management system’s printed circuit board (PCB) was designed using Altium Designer,” says Adam. Altium Designer is a leading professional unified design system which designs circuit boards from a schematic drawing. “We’d like to thank Altium for their support, as we’ve been using Altium Designer to design all of our PCB’s this year.”
Stay tuned for the first update on the car’s test run!