Craig had this strange idea
of building a solar car to compete in the Nov 2001 World
Solar Challenge in mid 2000. With no organisation behind us, no funding,
no experience in anything more mechanical than a bit of wood working or
putting a picture on a wall, we moved forward slowly.
Thanks to the generous folks
in the solar racing community, and the many resources available on the
web, we learnt a lot of things very quickly, and so I have put this page
together as a way to help others in the same boat get a jump start on
building a solar car.
Assume a budget of about AU$40,000
or US$20,000), you'll probably come up with similar answers.
First and foremost, get Speed
of Light, The 1996 World Solar Challenge which covers many of the issues
in perfect detail. After that, read The Leading Edge.
Here are some other books we've picked up for our library so far:
Next, decide on your objective.
Our objective is to make it safely from Darwin to Adelaide at an average speed of at least
40km/h. This leads to primary requirements:
- Speed of Light: The 1996
World Solar Challenge by D. M. Roche - AU$49.50 - This is the essential
reference. Buy and read this book before anything else.
- The Leading Edge : Aerodynamic
Design of Ultra-Streamlined Land Vehicles by Goro Tamai - US$41.91
- SUCCESSFUL COMPOSITE TECHNIQUES
3/E - AU$67.95
- Theory of Wing Sections
- AU$43.75 - This book is extremely mathematical and I am not sure I
would recomend it unless you are very serious.
- The Fibreglass Manual :
A Practical Guide to the Use of Glass Reinforced Plastics by Keith Noakes
- Fiberglass Repair and Construction
Handbook by Jack Wiley - US$25.91
- Metalworking : A Manual
of Techniques by Mike George - US$37.91
You then have to start working
through the different components of the car:
We went with:
- Solar Array
There is certainly lots to learn.
We tried not to get too bogged down with the design and concentrate
on moving forward - I suspect you can design your third card entirely on
the drawing board, but for your first car, you may as well build what you
can and start learning because you/we are not going to know which decisions
are the right ones until after the fact anyway.
- A space frame made out of
mild steel (easy and cheap to get and work with).
made out of fibreglass and divinycell.
- A solar array made with
hand crafted panels
and chain drive
- 10 lead acid batteries weighing
in at about 120kg
- Motorcycle wheels, disk
or drum brakes, double wishbone front suspension, trailing arm rear
suspension, boat steering cable.
Check out our links page
which has a bunch of places to look at.
There is lots of info out
there, and many people willing to share their knowledge, and others like
yourself who are stumbling around in the dark, so just have at it and
ask when you get lost (which if you're like us will be about twice a week!).