Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Picture Update!

Although the results of the race are in and the team is back in the U.S., I'll start off with a few pictures from scrutineering and qualifying. Eleanor was scrutineered on Wednesday 10/21. Race officials verified the car's dimensions, weight, and array size. All drivers were weighed so we could be ballasted up to 80 kg. The entire caravan and all of our safety equipment was inspected. We demonstrated Eleanor's turn signals and brake lights and our battery pack was tied shut so that any tampering during the race would we obvious. Below some of our electrical team members, Alex, Robert and Kelly, discuss the car's electrical system with the scrutineers.

After completing scrutineering, we applied our nice 3M stickers to the trailer and then set out for a test drive.

We got in a few practice tire changes and experience on the left side of the road before running into an issue with the mechanical brakes and a problem with seizing lug nuts. Chris took this picture of the entire caravan while we were stopped.

We were able to completely resolve the brake issue later that day, but the seizing lug nuts would come back to haunt us on day 2 of the race when a driver change turned into a tire change and then turned into a hub change. We finally worked out this issue that night and had no problems on subsequent tire changes.

Our awesome tire changing crew, lead by Alex Arambula (pictured awesomely below), performed awesomely during the race. The University of New South Wales team, Sunswift, took a video of a 3.5 minute rear wheel swap on day 4. We will try to get a copy of it and post it here for posterity.

Each day of the race we had at least one control stop. Control stops are 30 minute or 10 minute mandatory stops at various towns along the route. This allows the teams to switch drivers, fill up the support vehicles with gas, and go to the bathroom without worrying about other teams catching up while they do so. Control stops also allow you to get a little extra charge from the array. Since every watt-hour counts, we sometimes held the array tilted towards the sun if the stop was early or late in the day. The Alice Springs control point is pictured below. We pulled in to Alice Springs in the middle of day 3 and therefore could leave the array on the car. Because the cells get hot and produce less power when hot, we spray the array with de-ionized water when charging but not driving (while driving the convective cooling of air over the array keeps it cool). Ethan and Rachel are quickly wiping water off the array so we can get back on the road at the end of our 30 minute stop.

Late on day 3 we pulled into Kulgera for a short control stop. Unfortunately there was no time to visit the pub.

On the evening of day 3 we took this group picture with Eleanor and the southern stars. I thought we had grabbed our whole 15 person caravan for this picture (our observer, Wendy, is wearing the telltale yellow shirt), but upon close examination it looks like Pete managed to escape.

Although we reached the end of timing on day 5, we had to wait until the next day to pull into the Victoria Square finish line. Sunswift also had to wait, so we arrived just a few minutes after them although they completed the race about 90 minutes ahead of us. Sunswift is a really friendly team, and they wasted no time in encouraging us to jump into the Victoria Square fountain. The entire team was soaked when we posed for our finish line picture.

I hope you've enjoyed following our race on this blog. We will continue to post updates as we begin work on our next vehicle. Eleanor was shipped home from Adelaide and should be returning in mid December. In the meantime, a few final pictures by day and by night.