By Corey Spetifore
With four days of testing completed and now just five weeks remaining until competition, the UVic Hybrid Team is continuing their fine-tuning to help the vehicle reach its competitive form.
The first week of testing saw the car grace the asphalt for the first time in 2016. As that was a test day solely for the internal combustion platform of the car, the team was able to get a feel for the car’s inherent strengths and weaknesses straight out of the shop. Preliminary issues with throttle response reared their head, although that didn’t stop the team from logging some crucial time on the engine: the car running under its own power was already a step in the right direction.
Weeks two and three saw some new problems develop with the car. However, with the telemetry system up and running, the team could locate and diagnose the specific issues that arose as well as track throttle response, shifting, and ignition in real-time displayed on a laptop in the pits. This was extremely helpful with pinpointing the throttle response issue that was first encountered in week one, as well as visualizing some shifting problems that were accentuated by a leaking pneumatic system. One of the main issues that week stemmed from a slight lack of dampening to compensate for the intrinsic vibration the vehicle generates. This caused a MOSFET to break off, complicating the 12V electrical system. The team proposed to redo the 12V box in HDPE plastic as well as add rubber grommets to the mounting hardware to rectify this for the following week of testing.
The fourth test day was a much-improved testing session over the previous few weeks, the crew having logged a full hour of run time on the vehicle. While a couple small mechanical issues persisted, the team was happy to see that the more serious problems from the previous weeks had been rectified.
“It ran really well, the throttle is very responsive and the car handles well overall,” says Geoff Scott, the designated test driver. Geoff also mentioned that the vehicle didn’t use much air that session, which signaled an effective fix of the leaks that were previously plaguing the shifting system. Although not in use yet, the car’s accumulator was put in for a test fit as well. “Each half of last year’s accumulator weighed 57 pounds, and this year its total weight is closer to 49 pounds,” says Geoff. “It’s in areas like this that we’ve done some serious dieting to make an overall nicer, cleaner package than last year.”
Although these early triumphs are gratifying, the team is far from resting on their laurels. “It was a good test day, but it was a good test day with exactly half of the car,” says Geoff. As the high voltage motor has yet to be tested in conjunction with the internal combustion engine, the team has put in motion a demanding schedule to further ready the vehicle for its next test day. “Ultimately, our goal for this week is to have our high voltage powertrain functioning within the car,” says Ted Alley, one of the team’s leads. Along with a handful of small mechanical tasks – such as changing a starter relay, water pump seal, and upgrading the stator – the team will be reviewing the final design of the chain guard and dashboard, as well as the steering linkage to maximize the turning radius.
Once the car’s powertrain systems are tuned properly over the next few weeks, the team will put in a test day at Western Speedway to get a competition equivalent speed run on a full-length test track; stay tuned for this article as well as more weekly progress from the team an UVic’s Q Hut.