With electrical tape and intense patience abound, three engineering students diligently route the numerous strands of their Formula Hybrid car’s wiring harness amongst its tubular metal frame. As the harness must be easily removed in one piece for the frame to be painted later this week, careful, steady work and organization is crucial for the team to stay on pace.
“We ran into a lot of technical problems with the car last year because of a disorganized harness,” says Ted Alley, one of the lead engineering students on the UVic Formula Hybrid Team who helped design the harness. “One of our goals this year is to have super clean routing of all the wires.”
An organized wiring layout on a project such as this is not just a desired result however; it is a necessity. Whereas most Formula Student cars have one powertrain – either an internal combustion engine or an electric motor – this project, being a hybrid car, contains both. “Using a hybrid platform adds to the number of functions of the wiring harness…it’s definitely a beefier setup,” says Daniel Wigen, another engineering student aiding in the harness’ design. Additionally, the extra components the hybrid requires must be done within the restrictions of the competition rules so that the car is fully compliant.
“Other teams usually calculate measurements [of a harness] on a pegboard,” Alley says. “Instead, we created a detailed diagram so we could create the wire lengths as we go. This saved us a lot of time…it’s worked very well for us this year.
And so it has. “It started pretty much a week ago, and it’s already coming together,” Wigen states happily.
Another upgrade from last year is the use of shielded wire and a digital (5V) system. Alley explains that this was done to reduce noise caused by electromagnetic interference with the car’s analog system, “this had been a large problem last year and kept the car from running optimally.” With shielded wire, signal disruption will be kept to a minimum and will ensure the car stays running at peak performance.
The team would like to thank Electrical Cable Supply (ECS) for their support. “They usually deal with industrial applications, but they’ve been extremely helpful in giving us whatever they could,” Alley says.