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.

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