Thursday, April 30, 2009

CP Supermileage Sweeps Egg Drop Competition

One of our members decided to make some impromptu egg drop protectors for an egg drop competition on campus. A few hours of work ended up securing us 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place with prize money totally $1,000.

There appears to be a future for this team in egg drop competitions. Keep checking back for an official announcement of our national egg drop tour!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

CENG Press Release/Cal Poly News Center Post

A couple more on campus publicity postings are up.

The College of Engineering has a press release up at There is a small error on there because I made earlier on the blog that they copied. Obviously, we won 3rd place in the Advanced Technology Award not the Advantage Technology Award.

The news center has an aggregation of links at

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Supermileage in the Mustang Daily

The Cal Poly Supermileage team made the front page of the Mustang Daily today in an article about our recent 2nd place finish at the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas. Unfortunately the print copy of the paper used a picture that is 3 years old (all of members in the picture have since graduated), but the picture on their website is one from this year. Nevertheless, we appreciate the PR opportunity. Thanks Mustang Daily!

Mustang Daily Article: Supermileage Team Takes Second in Eco-Marathon

One of our sponsors, Front Panel Express, has also updated their website with some info about our finish. Check it out!

Front Panel Express: Congratulations Cal Poly.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Live Blogging The 2009 EcoMarathon - Race Day 2 (Saturday)

1:10pm - We did some dyno testing in the morning, delaying our first run of the day. It paid off as we moved into 2nd place with 2160 mpg.

Universite Laval is still in first, up to 2757 mpg, besting our 2008 mark by 5 mpg.

Mater Dei is in 3rd place just over 2000 mpg, and hard charging Rose Hulman, who briefly held 3rd place, is in 4th at just over 1800 mpg.

2:20pm - After a quick ECU adjustment, we made our second run of the second day of competition. We were close, but did not best our previous mark, with 2147 mpg.
3:20pm - After pumping up our tires to 80 psi (25% above rated, and first time up that high in our new tubeless setup we unveiled today), Tim lengthened our 2nd place lead up to 2358.7 mpg in a near perfectly timed run 15 seconds short of the maximum time.

We also did another ECU update prior to this run. To save time, Verent set up the tuning computer right outside the door to the fueling garage.

4:30pm - On one final run, 400 mpg behind 1st place Laval we went for broke, pumping up our tires to 95 psi (60% higher than the rated pressure).

We ultimately did not get any higher than our 2nd to last run, breaking the pawl on the rear wheel and nearly exploding a tire, but we finished all 7 laps at 1993 mpg. Narrowly, Kevin's 5 year driving career ends with no rides in the breakdown truck.

6:00pm - While we did not have enough to overtake 1st place Laval (who apparently was very concerned about us on the last run), we were able to hold on to 2nd place. Actually as it turned out, each drivers best run was enough for 2nd (Michelle at 2147, Kevin at 2160, and Tim at 2358.7) as we barely held down Mater Dei and Rose-Hulman. The three of us were very close, with Rose-Hulman falling just outside the prize money. By pulling back into 2nd, we have finished as the Top US College for all 3 years of the competition.

The Combustion Prototype Division Final Rundown:
1. Universite Laval (Quebec) - 2757.1
2. Cal Poly - 2358.7
3. Mater Dei HS (IN) - 2083.6
4. Rose-Hulman Inst of Tech (IN) - 1800.4
5. Cedarville Univ (OH) - 1257.5
6. UCLA - 1239.5
7. Grand Rapids Technical HS (MN) - 1058.9
8. Colorado School of Mines - 951.5
9. Loyola Marymount Univ #1 (CA) - 858.4
10. Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia) - 782.8
11. Louisiana Tech - 696.3
12. Colorado - 657.8
13. Northern Arizona - 651.5
14. College of the Redwoods (CA) - 563.3
15. Loyola Marymount Univ #2 - 531.1
16. LSU - 459.4
17. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico - 254.1
18. Monrovia HS (CA) - 235.6
19. State University of Minas Gerais (Brazil) - 231.7
20. Wright State University (OH) - 176.7
*Teams listed above are all Prototype-division combustion vehicles that completed a run

6:45pm - We also won one of the secondary awards at the competition this year, as we took 3rd place in the Use of Advanced Technology Award. This one is pretty much all thanks to Bob and our awe-inspiring, if not functional, DAQ system.

12:35am Sunday - Since we probably all got a total of 14 hours of sleep the last three days combined, we decided to stay in Southern California an extra day instead of driving, probably dangerously, 5 hours back to SLO with only 2 certified trailer drivers. Back in the hotel, everyone had a chance to unwind, including the newest member of the family...

Friday, April 17, 2009

LiveBlogging The 2009 EcoMarathon, Race Day 1 (Friday)

5:50am - The sun is not yet up in Ontario, but we are already in the lobby of the Ontario Airport Holiday Inn. We have an interview scheduled bright and early at 6:45am.

6:45am - Joint interview with Central Coast TV stations with the UCSB team. It would've been live had it not been for a mass power outage in Santa Barbara County. Did we really call another team's car "A sweet ride" on TV...

9:45am - Putting the last things together before our first run of the competition. The first segment of Prototype Division runs goes through 2:00.

11:30pm - Some odd engine issues have delayed getting our first run of the day in. Engine was starting fine in the garage, not at all at the starting line, fine in the garage, and then not at all at the starting line. We ended up having to disable the DAQ to get the engine to operate properly.

12:30pm - We have completed our first run... No mileage posted yet, but we did use about 25 mL of fuel, which is about twice what we used last year. Keep in mind though, the track has changed considerably. There are more turns, sharper turns, and shorter straightaways.

1:35pm - After the morning prototype division runs:
1. Universite Laval - 2540
2. Mater Dei HS - 1738
3. Cal Poly - 1602

2:15pm - Some bad news regarding our DAQ electronics. Last night an unexpected power surge from the battery during DAQ testing blew out a bunch of the electronics (not the ECU, just the DAQ) and it's looking grim. The prognosis at this point in time is that the GPS unit is fried, possibly the wireless and accelerometer modules (not sure yet) and one of our two logic boards from Xilinx. Thankfully we have a second logic board, which we can at least use to capture engine data such as RPM, spark advance, O2, etc. We're making some tweaks based on our first run of the day to hopefully post up better numbers in this afternoon's runs. Tonight we'll pull out all the stops to hopefully post our best runs of the competition tomorrow.

4:00pm - In the greatest crisis of Cal Poly's EcoMarathon history, we blew our starter prior to attempting our first afternoon run. As it turned out, we broke some teeth off of a starter gear, and shattered another one in half. It was an unforced error, as we probably did not do our due diligence maintaing the starter. After franctically trying to figure out where to get a new one, and explored places to possibly go buy one, we were bailed out thanks to the University of Colorado having a backup gear that was the same model as ours.

6:30pm - After finally getting going in the afternoon session, we attempted two runs, one of which qualified. Tim, in his first time on the course (we didn't get enough time to practice him yesterday) he was able to extend our 3rd place position to 1672.3 mpg.

There was a lot going on the track, as track officials had to frantically chase after someone driving the Shell demonstration vehicle backwards up towards the 'death turn' of the front straightaway, and several near misses between vehicles attempting ridiculous passes at high speeds on the track. This prompted a talking to of the whole competition to drive with more track etiquette.

12:30am Saturday - On Wednesday night, we held a meeting at our Holiday Inn Command Center to plot out our strategy for the competition. We decided to run a conservative base setup for Day 1, and experiment more on Day 2. As a result, between Days 1 and 2, we have to do a bit of work to change the setup. We split into two shifts, with Denny, Verent, Bob, and Tony cutting out earlier, and Kevin F, Kevin W, Gabe, Kyle, Tim, and Michelle staying late into the night. In the morning, one shift will come out early to get some dyno testing in, with the second shift finishing the reset later in the morning. Since we had to get to the track at 6:30am, the late night, has caused the need for many a nap in the garage...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

LiveBlogging the 2009 EcoMarathon - Tech Day

Bob and I will be attempting to LiveBlog the 2009 EcoMarathon Americas... we'll see how long this lasts. It'll be text only for now, but as I get some time, I'll try and upload some photos...

7:30am - Departing our command center at the Holiday Inn - Ontario Airport. Nice rooms, affordable rates.

8:15 am - We have arrived at the 2009 EcoMarathon Americas at the California Speedway in Fontana, CA. It took us a little longer to get here than we thought since we hit just about every red light. But we got Bob to sing us stirring renditions of Cal Poly alum Weird Al Yankovic to pass the time.

The competition is much bigger this year, with over 50 teams spread over two garages. We are here in the main garage between Monrovia High School (CA) and Northern Arizona University.

10:00am - Everything is unpacked and the engine is running. Time to get the chain on and head out to tech.
12:30 pm - So I lied last time, we didn't quite head out to tech. There was some problems getting the chain guard back on the car, and we decided to do a little tuning. Then we ended up talking to a couple guys from an Italian team hear to observe for a while. If you want to check out their car, you can go to Now we're off to tech... for real.

2:40 pm - OK, so now we have passed tech. It was pretty straightforward. If tech was relaxed before it was even more so this year. There were a couple bumps in the road though, we blew the starter fuse after not having the engine ground secured, and the front end steering rod broke like last year. No problem, though. We've got plenty of 20 Amp fuses and extra steering rods.

3:46pm - We did some preliminary tests with the DAQ and it is recording all our engine data along with GPS data. Once we get back from a run we can download the data to a laptop for later processing and analysis. We're also replacing our motorcycle-style throttle with a lever style throttle with the hopes that it will be easier for the drivers to start the car and run it at wide-open throttle. Hopefully we'll get in a few practice runs shortly.

6:15pm - It took us a little longer to get on the track for practice runs as the changing of the throttle lever and DAQ work took a little longer than anticipated. On the track, Kevin took 3 laps trailed on the bike by Tim, and Michelle took 2 laps trailed by Tony. The universal consensus is that the track is much, much tougher this year, as there are more turns, those turns are sharp, and some of the existing turns are even sharper. Add traffic to the equation, and it should be pretty interesting tomorrow. One point of concern after the practice runs, we ended up having to cut practice short because we blew another 20 volt fuse.

6:30pm - Gabe is happy. He is extremely happy. He found the food. I don't think I've seen him happier...

9;00pm - After a nice dinner break and some shopping it was back to work for a little bit. Bob solved the minor wiring error that was causing the fuses to short, and we decided to help tune, to impromptu work on mounting a throttle position center. Bob continues programming for the DAQ as the rest of the team does a few minor things to convert from our practice setup to our good setup. This will be repeated tomorrow night as we go from our good setup to our 'go for broke' setup.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Prelude to the 2009 EcoMarathon - Drive Testing

First runnings with the new internal setup...

Green day in the shadow of the Poly Canyon Parking Garage...

Tim gets his first go round in the car.

Denny gets Tim ready to go around with the fairing on... before it started blowing off anyway...

Kyle driving. Did anyone think this was a good idea?

Prelude to the 2009 EcoMarathon - Local Wildlife

This should be pretty self-explanatory...

Prelude to the 2009 EcoMarathon - Electronics

Part of the revised setup of the car this year is the new electronics setup.

The new MegaSquirt ECU.

The new Data Acquisition Board -- with the custom parts thanks to Front Panel Express.

MegaTune program for the MegaSquirt. If you want to know what the stuff means, consult the MegaManual.

Some Easter shenanigans with the MegaSquirt.

Good thing we caught this one first...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Prelude To the 2009 EcoMarathon - Dyno Testing

Thanks to Tom and Company's senior project last year, we have a dyno available to help us tune the engine.
Verent gets the engine set up on the dyno.

Bob checks something on the new MegaSquirt ECU.

The PVC pipe clutch adapter Denny put together.

Gabe runs the engine. Kevin W stands ready with a screwdriver to adjust the fuel mixture.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cal Poly in the News Again

A video from the local KSBY news channel.
A Link to the article.

Cal Poly in the Local News

Courtesy of San Luis Obispo Tribune

Supermileage has made it into the local news again!