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...

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