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Recent News and Progress Reports

20 September 2003

At 0935 this morning Sungroper was scheduled to sail from Fremantle on the cargo vessel Kimberley for the Port of Darwin and the World Solar Challenge! Sungroper's passage to Darwin has been kindly provided by Patrick Norwest Shipping.

19 September 2003

About twenty team members met at Tsunami Sushi Restaurant in Mosman Park to wish "bon voyage" to Sungroper as she sails for Darwin in the morning.

15 September 2003

Today we moved Sungroper, all our equipment and Andrew's car, which is to be used as the primary support vehicle, to the Patrick terminal in North Fremantle ready for departure to Darwin on Friday. The equipment pallet was generously carried for us by Action Couriers.

14 September 2003

We spent the day at the workshop packing our equipment on to one of the pallets and into Andrew's car. Sungroper is now cossetted in the trailer with any accompanying gear secured firmly so that it can cause no harm during the journey to Darwin. We've also affixed some of the sponsors logos to the trailer.

13 September 2003

Our final day for working on Sungroper was spent fabricating wheel shrouds and installing barriers around the driver compartment to isolate it from the batteries. Doug has ensured that the Sungroper trailer is prepared with additional fixing points so that nothing can come adrift during the voyage north.

11 September 2003

Action Couriers has agreed to sponsor us with cartage of our equipment pallet(s) from Naval Base to Fremantle and again following our return from Adelaide in early November.



24 April 2003

We have a committment from the Sustainable Energy Development Office for a $10,000 grant! We'll need to resubmit the application to finalize some details, but that should definitely help get the association started with a positive bank balance!

19 April 2003

Starboard top A-arm brackets were jigged. (photos).

18 April 2003

Fe, Andrew, Shay and Doug did a presentation on Sungroper's construction and its participation in the 2001 World Solar Challenge at Swancon 2003, the National Science Fiction Convention at the Kings Ambassador hotel in Perth.

12 April 2003

The floor was removed to allow for the serious metalwork to take place without the nose section getting in the way, breaking or catching fire! Dennis also fitted a jig to measure motor torque. Starboard top A-arm brackets were removed.

5 April 2003

The mechanical team got to the Workshop bright and early and worked out what they wanted to do with the front wheels/suspension. The general consensus is that the wheels are good enough, but improving the alignment and suspension will make a lot of difference. They then proceeded to dismember the car, followed by the electrical team removing all the wiring. Here's hoping they can put it all back together again! (photos).

29 March 2003

The mechanical team met at the workshop to perform some initial rolling resistance tests and plan some modifications (photos).

22 March 2003

The social BBQ and planning session at the new workshop (photos) had about a dozen of us attending. We discussed the various sub-projects (electronics, suspension, logistics, trailer).

13 March 2003

We met to discuss the electronics and came up with a list of things to do, although most of the electronics is fine, we only really need to extend the telemetry range, although there are a few other things we could do.

12 March 2003

The car was transferred to its new home at the workshop in Kwinana.

7 March 2003

We met at Milan's workshop which looks great. Discussion centered around deadlines, sponsorship, planning future meetings, electronics, and documentation.

27 Feb 2003

The car was displayed at with Sustainable Energy Development Office in Forrest Place, for a launch of the solar heating subsidy with Eric Ripper, Minister for Energy. (photos)

20 Feb 2003

The general meeting at the Observatory was well attendended and quite productive. Teams were defined for Firbreglassing, Mechanical/Chassis, Electrical and Logistics.

12 Feb 2003

An initial meeting with some very interested new team members looks to be starting the ball rolling again as we build up our campaign for WWDC 2003.

5 June 2002

We displayed the car at World Environment Day in Forrest Place which went well with lots of interest.

15 May 2002

The membership meeting went well with about thirty people showing up. Craig & Shay gave a presentation of what we had done to date and then discussion started on what we would do next. Consensus seems to be heading towards revamping the existing car. The next meeting will be on 25 or 26 May to show the car to new members and start getting some movement.

31st Mar 2002

We took Sungroper to Swancon 2002, The 27th Annual West Australian Science Fiction Convention & Writers' Festival, ang gave a talk on what we did. There was a reasonable turn out, and quite a bit of interest and discussion. (photos)

28th March 2002

We extracted Sungroper from the Piney Lakes Environmental Center and put it back in its trailer in preparation for displaying it at Swancon 2002.

15 May 2002

The membership meeting went well with about thirty people showing up. Craig & Shay gave a presentation of what we had done to date and then discussion started on what we would do next. Consensus seems to be heading towards revamping the existing car. The next meeting will be on 25 or 26 May to show the car to new members and start getting some movement.

31st Mar 2002

We took Sungroper to Swancon 2002, The 27th Annual West Australian Science Fiction Convention & Writers' Festival, ang gave a talk on what we did. There was a reasonable turn out, and quite a bit of interest and discussion. (photos)

28th Mar 2002

We extracted Sungroper from the Piney Lakes Environmental Center and put it back in its trailer in preparation for displaying it at Swancon 2002.

11th Feb 2002

We had a pleasant sponsor "thank you" and windup party at Piney Lakes Environmental Education Centre. (photos)

11th Dec 2001

We visited our last two schools to complete the requirements for the Alternative Energy Development Board's grant, visiting Rostrata and Rosmoyne primary schools. (photos)

We finished the day by installing the car in the lobby of the new Piney Lakes Environmental Education Centre which took more effort than was expected as the doorway was 1.72m, 7cm narrower than the car! (photos)

3rd Dec 2001

The team has now returned from our successful World Solar Challenge 2001! We completed 2301km over the nine days of the event to finish 25th out of 33 competing cars with essentially no problems, quite an impressive accomplishment for a first effort with a minimal budget! Details and Photos of the adventure are available in our WSC 2001 Trip Report. The team is now taking a well earned break until the new year when we'll consider competing in the February SunRace and otherwise regroup to decide how we wish to proceed with the project. In the mean time we plan to display the car in the new Piney Lakes Environmental Education Centre.

31 October 2001

We have now finished test driving the car. All our drivers are qualified (10 hours each) and the car has done over 1000km. The car will be on display at Rally Australia for Nov 1-3 and then will be trailered to Darwin from Nov 4-10.


29-30 October 2001

We visited six schools (Willetton SHS, Burrendah Primary, Rossmoyne SHS, Rockingham SHS, Star of the Sea Primary and Tranby College) as part of our AEDB grant requirements. The kids had a great time and there was a huge turn out at each school (many hundreds of kids in all). Sadly all our photos of the first day (first three schools) were all lost in a computer mishap. (photos)


15th October 2001

We had a spectacular Official Launch today with Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, Leader of the Australian Democrats and Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass of the City of Perth. (photos)

The launch was attended by about eighty people and all three commercial television stations as well as Radio 6PR and Aussie Post.

Dr Nattrass described some of the ways Perth is using solar power (such as on emergency phones, lighting, marker buoys and so forth) and was please to see us "taking on the big boys"

Natasha had agreed to help us launch Sungroper long before the election was called and we were very pleased she managed to keep us on what must be an extremely busy schedule. She seemed very keen and was a delight to have with us. She was also interested in coming along to wave us across the finish line in her home city of Adelaide if she can.


14th October 2001

The car is now essentially complete!

During the last week we installed the array and trackers and final current sensors and shunts and updated the software. We then had a shake down cruise to Mandurah on Saturday, although the software and hardware had a few bugs which meant we did a fair amount of work and only actually managed to drive down to Rockingham where we parked on the foreshore and caused quite a stir charging the car up during lunch. (photos)

We then worked late in to the night to iron out the last few bugs (including the fact that the telemetry did not work nearly so well through silicon/aluminium solar cells as it had going just through fibreglass!) to finish the car!

We drove around today (Saturday) and had no problems at all, charging the car as we drove, stopping for lunch and driving some more in the afternoon.

Two of our drivers have now accumulated the requisite ten hours in the car and the other two will be driving more this week.

We are very happy with the car and how it has driven, although still uncertain we will be able to make it all the way to Adelaide on the power available.

Tomorrow is our official launch, followed by more driving to finalize the car and then preparation for the trip out to Darwin.


2nd October 2001

We got a good news paper article in The West Australian on Page 14 today!

Thanks to the help of our sponsors, Facilities Maintenance at UWA , we have a replacement steering rod to get us back driving again. We may have to investigate it further, using either ceramic bearings or hardened stainless steel to prevent the bearings gouging the steering arm, but at least we should be able to drive again which will let use further investigate our motor issues.


29 September 2001

We drove on the road for the first time today! The car performed well for about half an hour before losing power (we're still uncertain as to why, possibly overheating again). Still it was amazing to finally get out there in our car, especially amusing was the cheering and clapping we got from a crowd of about half a dozen folks at a bus stop we passed! (movies)


27th September 2001

Major Milestone! We licensed the car for driving today! After spending about an hour at the licensing center with what seemed like their entire staff looking at the car and making "ooooh, awww" noises, and watching one of their people do a lap around the parking lot where the car performed flawlessly, we went through the paperwork and received our license plate and registration sticker! (photos)

We then were all prepared to drive the car for the first time all the way home, so we put Ian in the car and got all sorted out and then as we went to pull off, we blew a fuse (probably just inrush to the motor controller) and didn't have a spare (well, actually, we did, the multimeter used the same 500mA fuse, but unfortunately, when we went to check the battery voltage, a spark from that blew the multimeter's fuse as well!). So we went home, disappointed that we couldn't drive home, but elated that we are licensed.

Then we had our logistics meeting/trailer packing/cooking practice/etc meeting where we pretended we were on the road (to some degree), set up various tents, tried out the cooking equipment, checked out the volume of the equipment trailer and so forth.


23rd September 2001

The electrics, electronics, and wiring are now largely complete (excluding the current measuring board and wiring up the solar array) (photos). The car is now almost ready for licensing which should happen this week and then major road trials.


22nd September 2001

We now have our equipment trailer (photos).


19th September 2001

Shay has found another couple folks to sponsor solar cells. OOFILE and The Sundicate both sponsored a row of cells! Thanks! We also received our Altium stickers (photos).


14th September 2001

The painting is largely complete and looks great! (photos). With luck the painting should be complete by the end of the weekend and then we just need to install the electrics and get the car road licensed.

The electronics continues at a good rate, with four of the five boards now largely complete, including telemetry signals from the Master to the Receiver boards. (photos). Work on the software continues.

The project is now 90% completed with an estimated 90 man hours to go. (progress summary).


10th September 2001

The electronics boards are all designed and are now in production. There are a total of five boards: The connector electrics board (complete); The current sensor board; The temperature & battery sensor board; the telemetry board; and the telemetry receiver (which will travel in the primary support car).


4th September 2001

Another milestone! The fibreglass shell is essentially completed! It has been sent off to be painted by the folks at U-Can-Do (Do it yourself auto repairs in Myaree). The project is now 86% completed with an estimated 120 man hours to go. (progress summary).


3rd September 2001

We are pleased to announce that the Alternative Energy Development Board has become our first major sponsor. (press release)

The Alternative Energy Development Board has selected the Sungroper Solar Car Association as a recipient of its 2001/2002 funding program. Under the agreement, $10,000 will be provided towards the cost of building the solar car, and the association members will visit schools across Western Australia as part of a community education program.


29th August 2001

Craig gave a presentation to the Department of Applied Physics students at Curtin University. Around 25 staff and students attended and seemed to enjoy the presentation which was videoed and is available from here.


28th August 2001

We did lots more work on the shell over the last few days:

  • Attached the front floor to the car.
  • Attached the rear floor to the car.
  • Started attaching the bottom nose cone to the car and front floor.
  • Attached bungee hooks for holding the canopy on.
  • Figured out how the indicators and brake lights will attach.
  • Cleaned up the canopy base.
  • Made the Tracker base board and mounted it.
  • Cut the panel that fits behind the canopy and drilled it to hold 18 more cells.

We need a bit of welding on the car to put in the steps for the driver, mounting points for the top shell attachment, and supports to keep the floor from sagging.

We are hopeful that the shell will be more or less complete by the end of the coming weekend. Then we'll get the car painted, install the electrics and get the car road licensed.


19th August 2001

We did some more work on the shell today after losing yesterday to a team member's wedding. It was brilliant weather which is sad given that we should have been outside working on the car, but good because it made the wedding a bit more enjoyable for the participants.

The top of the shell has been sanded back to remove all the sharp points and we have cut lots of slots into said ribs so that it now fits onto the chassis.

We sat Fiona in the car and put the upper shell on the car with the canopy base sitting in about the right place. With Fiona sitting in the car holding her head about where it should be for normal driving, she can see the ground approximately 6m in front of the vehicle. She was able to stand up (slowly) without folding the steering up and find a foothold suitable for jumping out of the car. With folding up the steering there should be no problems for the driver to exit the vehicle in the required time.

We have removed the NACA air ducts from the bottom half of the nose cone (sigh) and made the first steps towards filling in the holes. The air ducts have been saved enough that we can probably reuse them further back in the car if we choose. I'm currently leaning towards punching a couple of holes in the extreme front of the car instead. Just seems simpler and the aerodynamics book reckons it is a relatively good solution to ventilation.

We are now waiting for the floor. As soon as it arrives it will be attached to the bottom of the car and the top will be fine tuned to mate up against it and then we will start electrics. We hope to have the floor early this week.


12th August 2001

The shell now has top, sides, top half of nosecone and ribs for rigidity down its length. (photos) We finished putting the ribs in today. (photos) The next step is to cut mounting slots into the ribs so that the shell sits correctly on top of the car. We have some stiffening to go into the nosecone that should make it strong enough for us to be able to push the car by pushing on the nosecone. We are having the floor built for us in two sections.

Current best theory on how the driver will get in or out is as follows. The standard driver entrance/exit will involve people outside the car coming along and lifting the top half of the car off so that the driver can climb out of the vehicle (much the same as it is done now with just the chassis). The driver emergency exit will involve the driver detaching the canopy, standing up and jumping to safety. We do not believe we will be required to demonstrate the "jumping" part in the scrutineering. Merely the detaching the canopy and handing it to someone standing next to the car in an acceptably quick time.

We've vaccum bagged the bottom half of the canopy and tomorrow I'll try and get the mould and the job separated. There was epoxy going everywhere while we were putting it together and I'm suspicious this will be a harder than necessary job. I need to start thinking about how to build the windscreen again.

We made more progress today than we had intended. Our current deadline for finishing the shell is the end of the month. Probably challenging but certainly achievable at the rate we are going.


2nd August 2001

We got the last 11 panels back from the spray painter! They refused to charge us for their excellent service and so Turner's Aeropaint is now our latest sponsor!

Since it was a fine day today, I took two of the panels and stuck it in the sun, hooked it up to the tracker, and yay! The batteries are finally charging! One panel is enough to charge the batteries at a rate of about .28A which makes it 35 Watts. This is about 73% of its full rated potential (48W), but it is still very much a winter sun so we should get more out of it later.

I hooked up a second panel and got it up to .42A (the panels are not aimed at the sun as well as the one panel was). At that rate it would take 62 hours to charge the batteries from empty to full (about 24 hours from their current 63% charge state). (photos)

On the electrical front, the prototype electrics now all seem to be working, and we will design up a simple "connector" PCB to connect the indicators, brake lights, brake inputs, motor control, dash, power, and electronics together. We will probably rip out all the electrics after this weekend so the car can go back to Craig's for the shell work on Monday-Wednesday next week.

Time is getting short, but we are making good progress!


28th July 2001

We had good progress on the electrics this week. The dash has been wired up and is close to complete, the "go" electrics are in place to handle cutting out the motor during braking, the indicators and brake lights are working. (photos)


20th July 2001

The solar panel construction is now complete! This is a major milestone, representing over 200 man hours of work. It also brings us up to 75% completion of the entire solar car! The next major milestone will be the completion of the shell. (progress)


14th July 2001

We got the first panel back, and the painter was right, it looks great! The photos do not really show up the difference too well, and there are a lot of camera artefacts that are not visible in the real panels - they really do look great in real life! (photos)


10th July 2001

We did some further work on the construction of the shell today. Primarily, we laid Divinycell along the top of the framework we built previously and then fibreglassed over that. This will form the bottom section of the top side of the car (the panels will go on this). Next we have to either fibreglass on the sides or turn the top pieces over and fibreglass the underside - each options has pros and cons, so we're not sure which one we'll do next. Eventually the top and sides and top half of the nose cone will all lift off with all the solar panels so that it can be pointed at the sun while not racing. (photos)


3rd July 2001

After last nights efforts we are 61% of the way through the solar array, and 59% of the way through the total car construction! Excellent work!

The nose cone is completed and Craig is starting on the shell.

The Sensors and Displays and Telemetry are under way, although mostly still early days.

Indicators and Brake Lights are well on their way.

We have 10 solar panels constructed, 4 more taped and 6 more drilled & marked (of 22 total needed). We have the conformal coating now and a lead on someone who can paint it for us.


21th June 2001

We got our Vehicle Identification (VIN) plate, courtesy of Chris Selwood, the World Solar Challenge, the South Australian Tourism Commission, and the International Solarcar Federation. (photos)


19th June 2001

Craig and Peter took the car to the fibreglass folks to see the mould they had made and test its fit and see where the indicators and NACA air ducts are going to go.

The mould looks pretty cool - which is good because the plug Craig had been working on for many many hours was destroyed in the process. (photos)


16th June 2001

We drove the car around a large parking lot at a nearby university today. The car performed beautifully and we learnt a bunch of things. The parking lot was on a steep slope (probably at least 4%), so we got a lot of practice doing hill starts and climbing the hill. (photos)

The brakes and steering performed well, although we certainly noticed that they were not power assisted! But the car cornered and braked well.

The car seemed to draw 15 Amps most of the time. This is a little high, but since our measurements are done with a car battery meter with 15 amp divisions, the results are not particularly accurate. A more accurate current measurement is a high priority, especially when going on level ground at a constant speed.

We took it out on the ring road of the uni which was longer and flatter and got it up to about 40kmh (we had a chase motorcycle to measure the speed).

The motor got quite hot by the end, too hot to touch. We do not know whether this is a problem or not yet - the motor would be expected to get quite hot climbing the hill the whole time and doing all those starts and stops. Again, we need it out on a long flat road to get a better idea. But a temperature sensor on the motor would seem a high priority. We may need to look at fan forced cooling, or perhaps even heat sinks.

It is hard to tell how much loss from scuffing and the disk brakes we are getting - new seals in the disk brakes are a priority (to help them spring back off the disk). I am not sure how we will align the wheels.

All in all a very pleasing day. The only real remaining issue as far as the mechanics of the car is concerned is whether we can maintain 40km on flat ground at less than 1kW.


14th June 2001

After a heroic effort on Monday night drilling and marking panels, we are now 36% through solar panel construction.


6th June 2001

We got our first Sponsor a Solar Cell sponsor, thanks John! (info)


4th June 2001

Craig finished the nose cone plug. (photos)


30th May 2001

We built the wooden frame to hold the fibreglass shell top while it is constructed. Once constructed, the fibreglass will be sufficiently rigid on its own, this frame is simply to provide a temporary structure on which to construct the shell top. (photos)


29th May 2001

We got the trailer today. It is 7.5m long, about 1.8m wide and cost around $2000. It's big! (photos)


28th May 2001

We got the draft charger working for the first time tonight - basically it is just a 170V supply and eight 2.2 ohm, 50 watt resistors. The next version will hopefully feature an AVR processor controlling switching the resistors on and off to control the current and keep it between about 3 and 4 amps. (photos)


27th May 2001

We finished the first solar panel today (except for the conformal coating which we still do not have). We have not been able to test it outside yet because we have not had any unbroken sunshine. (photos)


20th May 2001

A major milestone! We drove the car for the first time today! We only drove it up the driveway a few times because we are a long way from licensed, but the car performed well. The steering, breaking, motor, drive, controller all worked well.

The biggest issue is perhaps the difficulty in adjusting the steering geometry to avoid scuffing, but we'll know more later.

All in all, a wonderful day!


8th May 2001

We spun the wheel today and it all worked well. The wheel went very fast and the batteries did not drain very much. The car of course did not move because the wheel was off the ground because the steering isn't finished yet. With a bit of luck it will be able to drive around next Sunday! Nearly exactly 6 months before race day!

We also got more accurate weight and position measurements and currently we project a total weight of 393kg, 127 on each front wheel and 138kg on the rear wheel which is balanced pretty closely to where we want it to be. Tests indicate that it is not far off the model, although it is hard to get reliable weights with bathroom scales because they are not designed for weights above about 120kg and they don't like weight in the middle of the scale, they want it distributed in two feet shaped pressure points for some reason. (5.5meg movie)


4th May 2001

The five Brusa MPPTs arrived. (photos)

They come with sketchy documentation which doesn't really help much.

Work on the nose cone and lathe work on the motor mounting plate continues. Another few hours should finish the trimming operation on the motor mount plate.

Craig demonstrated a glass smooth polish finish on the nose cone plug to us last night that amazed us all (especially Craig!). It was as smooth and shiny as polished metal (like a new car shine), very amazing. Especially since it took only ten minutes or so to do a small area. There is still work to do in taking out the bumps and equalizing the shape on both sides, but it is nice to know the finished result should be very very cool!

The WA Transport department said they wont register the car until it is finished (ie, shell complete) which is a nuisance, but understandable.

The steering cable and connector is on its way from England now.


3rd May 2001

The external body is progressing well. The nosecone is getting nice and smooth, is roughly the right shape and just needs to have a bit of symmetry work done on it along with removing a few more of the ridges on the curves.

The ridges have been getting substantially better over the last couple of sanding efforts.

After some testing of CNC lathe punching the holes in the solar panel boards we are going to have a go at using this to put the 150 holes in each 512mmx614mm board. The CNC lathe belongs to Pioneer Water Tanks.

I've produced the first panel which was hopefully going to be enough for 2 solar panels but will probably only fit one due to being a few millimeters too short. I've got a plenty more of these to make and I've bought enough divinycel to make them.

I've also bought enough divinycell to build most of the rest of the exterior body.



2nd May 2001

The gears, chain, lube, and chain breaker arrived (photos):

We started doing some tabbing on Monday (photos). I've just ordered some stuff which will take a few weeks to get here to let us tab them in a different way (the way Lake Tuggeranong do).

The drive gear, chain etc, some stronger shock absorber springs, a spare motor, and some solar car tires should all arrive in the next week or so.

And the new steering cable should get here in another couple weeks or so.

A recent weighing of the car indicates it may be as much as 350kg already with the driver and without the shell which is a little heavier than we would have liked.

Also, I tried to estimate the amount we have done and how long each part will take and came up with this picture.

Which shows just how far we have to go (we're 28% done according to my calculations). It is probably an underestimate though, since I suspect I'm underestimating the time we spent on stuff we've done more than the stuff we have to do.

Steve is working on the lights, Andrew the sensors, Dav the charger, Bruce some CAD stuff.

Click here to see photos of the evolution of Sungroper.


8th April 2001

Progress continues, although we're still a way off from first car motion (FCM).

The battery boxes are complete now (except for some double sided tape to tape the fuse folders down). I switched them to 100Amp fuses because I'd rather have other fuses blow first.

Craig has been making good progress on the nose cone plug and it is really starting to take shape - I'll try to get some photos soon.

Craig has also been working towards finishing the trailer design.

I've been doing a bunch of lathe work for bits related to the rear swing arm.

I've also been amassing the stuff needed to make the solar panels.

Steve is working on the indicators.

Simon, do you have anything to report on the motor mounting and steering?

John has moved the brake assembly so it doesn't project out the front of the car, and he has probably got most of the steering done too by now (and probably the front brakes too knowing him! ;).

To get to FCM we need:

To complete the steering. To hook up the front brakes. To mount the motor and drive chain. To wire up the motor controller.

I've put some new photos up at the Gallery.

And thats about where we are at... Peter.


15th March 2001

Cool, we now have a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). A plate is being made as we speak. Peter.


7th March 2001

Here is what is currently going on:

Craig & I recently got back from SunRace 21.C and so we've seen a lot of cars in action and have a better idea of what we are in for. We have a lot of work to do to be ready by November!

Current status: The frame and front wheels and suspension is done, but the steering and brakes need to be hooked up. The rear assembly is done I'm told. Battery boxes have been made and should have been painted by now.

Currently in progress:

Battery charger - Dave, how is that going

Fibreglass Seat - version one (hammock like) is done, and Craig is working on an inverse mould for version 2.

Fibreglass Nose - basic design is done and Craig is thinking about construction.

Solar cells have been ordered and should be shipped in "Calenderweek 13" - presumably the end of March. We have a list of other bits we need to get to make the array and are talking with folks from the very successful Lake Tuggeranongs College about how to build the array and may fly one of them over here to help get started.

The small motor sprockets have been purchased and an adapter for them to go on the motor needs to be made. The large drive sprocket has been ordered and will be made in the next week or two. Then the rear suspension and wheel/motor assembly can be finished.

A boat steering wheel has been purchased and should arrive in the next day or two.

The lathe is currently broken - we think the lead screw might be bent. We tried to look at figuring out the problem ourselves but we're going to have to call in professional help.

John Richmond says he has a bunch of things that need to be machined.

Battery and other connectors have been ordered.

MPPTs are being investigated.

As you can see, there is a lot going on and a lot of work still to be done - and not much time if we want to actually get some time on the road.



24th October 2000

Things have been a bit quiet, so I thought it was probably time for a progress report.

Craig and I have been working with Mr Richmond to finalize the details of the frame and suspension (I feel like I've been saying that for a while now ;-).

We built a mockup of the suspension. (photo)

(there are a few other pictures if you want to look at them)

The mockup pretty much proved what we suspected, that the wishbone arms were a bit too short. So we decided we'd extend the car out to 1900mm (extra 50mm on each side) and shrink the top of the frame by 20mm (the top wishbone mounts are 20mm closer in than the bottom ones). Actually, we haven't quite decided whether to make the frame sides not quite vertical or instead just bring top and bottom in 20mm and then retain the 25/45 top/bottom gap from the frame edge to the wishbone mount points.

Mr Richmond thinks the huge ball joint we got for the bottom is too big and so we are looking at yet more alternatives. Plus the top wishbone arm still moves but about 20 degrees and Craig estimates we have less than 16 degrees of angular motion with the tie rod ends. This is fine for the inside ones where we will mount them vertically (ie a horizontal axis), but for the top wishbone/strut join, it needs strength in the horizontal plane (to/from the car during turns and along the car during braking), so it needs to be mounted horizontally, and hence needs at least the 20 degrees of angular motion. Hmmm. Craig is looking at some more possibilities today.

Anyway, we're still at it, getting there slowly.

Dave is working on both the temperature sensors (he has one working well, although as was suspected there may be a problem with visibility and there is a problem with accuracy if the temperature gets very cold (down around freezing it can go wonky and read up around 50 degrees) - hopefully he can determine this problem, but it probably would not affect us anyway).

Dave is also looking at the possibilities of charging the full battery pack. The batteries should give us about four hours of driving at normal driving power (say 800 Watts), which should be enough for a days testing, so as long as we can recharge them over night, that should be fine. So we need a charger that can charge them fully in 8-12 hours (300-400 Watts) which should be achievable.

Ian & I are investigating the proposal posted recently with the aim to talk to the RAC about sponsorship.

We are also starting to prepare for the first Darwin foray in late November with the iBook, car charger, GPS and such.

So anyway, that is about where we are at.

If you have any areas you would like to be helping with, please let me know, there really are a lot of things that could be being investigated (heck, even producing a list of all the things that need to be investigated would be a good job to do!).

Also, we are starting to develop quite a library, I just received "The Fibreglass Manual" which looks quite good on brief inspection. If you would like to read any of the books, please let me know and you can probably borrow them. I have several on fibreglass and composites, as well as "Charging Ahead" and the dreaded "Theory of Wing Sections". Plus Dave lent us a copy of ReNew which would be good to get an article in.