Saturday, October 31, 2009

In Adelaide

We crossed the end-of-timing control stop in the afternoon. However, the finish line in Adelaide was closed by the time we got there, so we put Eleanor in the trailer for the night.

We finished 2nd out of the Challenge Class silicon array cars :)

We drove the car up to Victoria Square, crossed the finish line, and jumped into the fountain. The team spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the city.

We'll pack up the trailer tomorrow and head to Sydney on Monday.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

A nice finish in 2nd.

I just got this report from Alex Hayman, in Australia:

"We pulled into the Adelaide timing point at 431pm on Thursday, approximately one hour behind UNSW. So, 6th overall, 5th challenge class, and 2nd in Silicon class.


We're extremely pleased.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Third Stage Stop

We've arrived at Kulgera. We're in fourth place in the Challenge class overall; first in the Silicon category, which is exciting. Today we passed Team Twente from the Netherlands who had quite unfortunately rolled their car, breaking suspension and array components. Hopefully they'll get back up and running soon. They took a picture of us passing.

Teams that had trouble at the beginning of the race (UNSW, Aurora 101) are catching up, so it'll be an exciting finish.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Second Stage Stop

We've reached the 1169 kilometer mark. Ethan and Mike switched off driving, taking over from Kelly and Fiona the first day. We encountered no other solar cars on the road, so our standing has not changed, but we did encounter a few bumps in the road. From roughly 11 AM - 4 PM, we were under the cloud of a brush fire; we also burst a tire and had to change part of our suspension. We're still keeping an eye on our battery life. Overall though, we're pretty happy with where we are so far and look forward to our third day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

First Stage Stop

The race began yesterday morning. We left Darwin at 8:36 AM, reached our first control stop in Katherine at 1:02 PM, and stayed for a required half-hour rest before hitting the road again. We ended the day by arriving in Dunmarra at 5:39 PM, a minute before the required stop time.

Overall things are going well. We did use a bit more of our battery than expected, but made good time. At this stage, we are in 1st place for the Silicon Array Class, in 5th place for the Challenge Class, and 6th overall. We'd like to give a shout-out to Panasonic, as their other sponsored team, Tokai University, is in first place overall.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Race is On

The SEVT has finished qualifying for the race and is set to start tomorrow. It is Saturday night and we are peeling potatoes and making sandwiches for tomorrow's lunch. For the past few days we have been inspected by race officials and Australian road authorities, given all of our drivers test time driving on the left side of the road, and tweaked and optimized our car. Everyone is excited and ready to go.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In Darwin

It's 9:30PM on Wednesday here in Darwin. We (the regular crew) arrived on Monday after spending two days in transit.

Seen on the way to the track on Monday.

Track homestretch.

Rachel's mom made this sweet cover.

Things have been going well. We went through scrutineering today and will test drive tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First Day at the Track

Late crew arrived last night, so today was our first full day at the track. We got to the Hidden Valley Motor Sports Complex around 8 am and began working on Eleanor and the caravan. In addition to getting Eleanor ready to race, we have to prepare the lead, chase, and trailer-hauling vehicles for scrutineering. Yesterday early crew began wiring up the radios, GPS, “crazy lights,” and laptop power in the lead vehicle. Today we worked on getting chase ready to go, while the Land Cruiser visited the rental company for some repairs.

By the afternoon we had Eleanor ready for some test driving around the track. Kelly, Ethan and I each drove around a few laps. We are scheduled to go to scrutineering on Thursday morning, but will try to get everything ready in order to scrutineer tomorrow. Hopefully we'll be able to test drive on actual roads on Thursday and Friday. Saturday is the qualifying round which will determine our starting position on Sunday. We will post pictures soon.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pictures from the drive

A few pictures to go with Alex's update from last night.....

We camped in Camooweal Caves National Park on Friday night.  We had it a lot rougher than the night before, no electricity and no internet.  We could see a ton of stars though.  Here's a long exposure picture of the trailer by night.  It's hard to make out the stickers on the trailer because we have not yet put on the new stickers kindly printed for us by 3M.  Late crew is bringing the new stickers with them and we'll be putting them on before the end of the week.

In the morning, we visited two of the Camooweal Caves, the Little Nowranie and the Great Nowranie before taking off for Katharine.  You can get an idea of the size of the Great Nowranie from this picture.  Annette and Alex are standing on the far side of the cave.

While camping in Katharine on Saturday night we saw many smaller kangaroos.  We thought this one was a baby until we noticed that it had a joey in its pouch.  The pouch is positioned such that the joey can reach the ground and pick up food when the mother kangaroo is picking up food.  The University of Michigan Solar Car Team was also camping in Katharine. 

We got up early in order to see the Katharine gorges before sending our lead car ahead of the trailer to Darwin.  Chris pieced together this panorama taken from the edge of the gorge.

We sent the lead car ahead so we could figure out the details of renting our chase vehicle.  After visiting 3 different rental companies, we ended up with a 12 passenger van that should have no trouble holding the people and gear needed to support Eleanor. 

Last night, Alex hung out with the Cambridge University Eco Racing Team. We're looking forward to meeting all the teams and checking out Eleanor's competition.


(photos: Chris Pentacoff)
After leaving Barcaldine, we drove a long time, and then stopped for the night in Camooweal National Park, which is famous for having a bunch of caves.  The camping spots were 12km off the main highway, on a dirt road, which was a bit of an adventure.

In the morning, we briefly checked out the caves, and then drove for a long time.  We stopped for the night in Katherine.  Specifically, we camped in Nitimiluk National Park, which is famous for gorges.  In the morning, we woke up, briefly checked out the gorges, and then took off on the final stretch for Darwin.  Our two vehicle caravan split up, the van sped ahead to work out some car rental issues, and the trailer chugged its way to the track.

The early crew is enjoying a night of peace and relaxation, after 4000km of driving, before late crew arrives tomorrow afternoon.  It should be considered an accomplishment that no kangaroos were killed during this 4000km drive, no flat tires, no break downs.  I am very thankful, and glad to be back in Darwin.  Pulling into the pits brought back a lot of memories.  After four long years, we are finally poised to bring MIT back into the solar car racing community.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Toowoomba to Barcaldine

Day 2 of our trip is complete. We are at a campsite in Barcaldine, Queensland which happens to have free wireless internet. The rolling hills and trees we drove through yesterday changed to mostly flat roads and scrub bush.  But it's getting hotter as we get closer to the outback and we had to keep the heat on in the Land Cruiser during the afternoon to prevent it from overheating.  There's much less traffic on the roads, but we are seeing a lot of  road trains

We also saw a fair amount of live wildlife today in addition to the frequent roadkill. When we were stopped in Miles earlier today, we saw a small herd of emu.  There were about eight in total.

As the sun was setting, we began to see more and more kangaroos near the highway.  We really had to watch out after dark and honk the horn to get them to move off the road.

 Here's a picture of Alex.  He's dressed interestingly, but at least he didn't hit any kangaroos with the Land Cruiser.  Any live kangaroos, that is. 

In case you were dubious about the campsite with internet, here's picture of our internet hotspot around the picnic table.

And lastly, a picture from dawn on Coogee Beach.  Alex, Andy and Annette stayed in Coogee Beach while Chris and I were in Sydney.  We took a bus to meet up with them the morning before we left for Darwin.

Tomorrow our goal is to get as far as Camooweal.  If we have time, perhaps we'll get to visit Camooweal Caves National Park.


(pictures: Chris Pentacoff)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On the road

We're stopped at a public library in Miles, Queensland. We left Sydney yesterday morning and drove along the New England Highway to Toowoomba. The road was a littler hillier than anticipated, so Andy and Alex had a fun time driving in first and second gear. Today the road is much more flat and we're averaging 100 km/h. By tonight we should be in Barcaldine or Longreach, which are almost exactly on the Tropic of Capricorn. I'll keep this short because we have a long way to go today.


(photo: Fiona Hughes)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We have the trailer...

and Eleanor is fine!  Alex and Andy went to the customs inspection and then spent most of the day re-wiring the trailer lights and replacing the deflating trailer tires.  We'll be leaving early tomorrow (Wednesday) and should make it about to Toowoomba by tomorrow night.  Our exact route is still undecided.  Alex said the Land Cruiser seems to be a little slow when hauling the trailer.  If this turns out to be a problem we'll try to exchange it for something more powerful when we get to Darwin.

While waiting for news on the trailer, Chris and I went to Sydney's Night Noodle Market for Thai food. 


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Carnet Inspection Tomorrow

Our shipping container is scheduled to be inspected by Australian customs at 10:30 am tomorrow.  We'll be tagging along for the inspection and will get to see Eleanor for the first time in about a month.  If all goes well, we'll be able to take possession of Eleanor and the trailer and will be off to Darwin.  Today we picked up our chase vehicle, an eight passenger van, as well as a six passenger Land Cruiser that will haul the trailer and be our scout vehicle. We have a few more items to procure before we can hit the road.  One of the trailer tires needs to be replaced and we have to get a ball hitch so the Land Cruiser can tow the trailer. 

Last night around sunset we walked around Circular Quay and part of the way across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  They are really serious about security on the harbour bridge, as you can tell from these pictures....


We were too late to climb up to the top of the pylons, but we still had an excellent view of downtown Sydney:

Since we can't do too much until we get the car through customs, we are going to check out Coogee Beach this afternoon.


(photos: Chris Pentacoff)

Saturday, October 10, 2009


It's now 12:30 pm on Sunday in Sydney.  We've been in Sydney for about 30 hours and have spent more than $100 each during that time, mostly on food and public transportation.  The exchange rate is about $1 USD to $1 AUD.

After arriving yesterday morning at 6:45am and taking the train to a friend's downtown apartment, we went for a walk to the Sydney Royal Gardens.  There we had a great view of downtown Sydney, as well as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  We also saw some unusual birds.

We haven't been able to pick up the trailer yet, so we don't know what state Eleanor is in after her voyage from Boston.  Due to a customs mix-up, we might not get to see her until Tuesday and will likely be in Sydney until at least Wednesday.  Then we'll be heading north to Darwin and should arrive there on Sunday.  The rest of the team will fly in on Monday.


(photos: Chris Pentacoff)

Panasonic Provides Equipment for WSC

Our friends at Panasonic just sent us some nice equipment for use during WSC: cameras, camcorders, and SD cards.

Here are some test shots from around the shop:

Thanks to Panasonic.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Batzer Blog

Rachel's parents will travel with us in Australia. They have a blog that might be of interest to you.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Assembling MPPTs

Last night, we partially assembled the newest rev of our maximum power point trackers (MPPTs).

Kai applies solder paste to the surface mount pads.
Robert baked all of the boards, so the surface mount components are done. Next time, we'll solder the through-hole components to finish up.

Update: The MPPTs are assembled.