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Oregon State University Solar Vehicle Team. Solar Car Mechanical Design. “How do you start the design of a new solar car?”. Mechanical Design. Maximize Power Input. Maximize efficiency (tractive force). Minimize drag. Slide 7 of 62. A variety of vehicle designs. Michigan. Bochum.

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solar car mechanical design
Solar Car Mechanical Design

“How do you start the design of a new solar car?”

mechanical design
Mechanical Design

Maximize Power Input

Maximize efficiency

(tractive force)

Minimize drag

Slide 7 of 62

a variety of vehicle designs
A variety of vehicle designs








OSU, First Car


OSU, Odyssey

design tools
Design Tools
  • Solidworks 2012
    • Computer Aided Drafting
  • Solidworks Simulation 2012
    • Finite Element Analysis
  • Solidworks Flow Simulation 2012
    • Computational Fluid Dynamics
initial design
Initial Design
  • Maximum power with minimum drag:
    • Lowest drag with maximum solar cell surface area
  • Design process:
    • Start with 6ft driver with helmet
    • Fit driver with body with max. surface area for cells (6 m2)
      • Good rule of thumb is to go to maximum width and length allowed
    • Wrap wheels, frame and suspension around driver inside body
    • Optimize body
initial design process
Initial Design Process
  • Insert driver model
  • Design solar car body, draw in “dummy wheels”
    • Fit body to driver model, dummy wheels. Maximum low curvature array area
  • Run wind tunnel testing (Computational Fluid Dynamics, Flow Simulation 2012)
    • Evaluate drag force, power
    • Evaluate cross sectional area vs. coefficient of drag
  • Alter body shape
    • Can be “arbitrary” change
  • Repeat steps 3 and 4


design to rule initial design
Design to Rule (Initial Design)
  • 6.5.B Forward Vision:
    • From the normal driving position, the driver must be able to see at all times, without artificial assistance, points at the following locations:
      • (1) A point on the ground 8 m in front of the solar car
      • (2) A minimum of 17° above the horizon on level ground
      • (3) A full 100° to either side of center
      • (4) The driver will be required to identify 40 mm high letters at a distance of 3 m through any of the required viewing angles.
  • 6.1 Solar Car Dimensions
    • The solar car (including solar array) may not exceed the following maximum dimensions when moving under its own power:
      • (1) Length = 5.0 m
      • (2) Height = 1.8 m
      • (3) Width = 1.8 m
  • 6.4.B Seating Position:
    • The driver must be seated at less than or at a 27° angle, as measured in Appendix B. The driver’s head must be above and behind the driver’s feet. The seat must be appropriately constructed with a solid base and back rest.
chassis body reconciliation
Chassis/Body Reconciliation
  • Best “body” initially designed with only driver, dummy wheels
  • Must “reconcile” body with chassis, due to chassis, suspension members taking up space
  • Remember:
    • Aerodynamics most important
    • Handling performance secondary
    • Mass considerations secondary
chassis design
Chassis Design
  • Build smallest chassis necessary to hold driver, wheels and withstand structural requirements
    • 5G frontal, side, rear impact
    • 4G roll over impact
  • Verify chassis, suspension design with Finite Element Analysis (Solidworks Simulation 2012)
body re work
Body Re-work
  • Chassis/suspension will “poke out” of body
  • Remake the body for least drag that will fit chassis tightly
things to remember
Things to Remember
  • Tips for a “smoother” design process:
  • All designs valid unless proven otherwise
    • Burden of good design proof is upon designer
    • Must meet all rules, or design is invalid
    • Absolutely avoid qualitative assertions: quantitative discussions much more useful
  • Offer constructive help, avoid criticism in general.
    • “You could perhaps enhance your design by X,Y,Z” and not “Your design is failing in X, Y, Z!”
  • Avoid stating absolutes, unless you can absolutely prove it!
  • Go offline to compute numbers. Don’t argue with qualitative arguments: doing so will often result in circular discussions.
  • Don’t be married to your own design if someone else’s design is better – we’re all in it together to make the best car possible!
  • No place in solar car team for ego contests.
  • Remember – you’re working with friends. Be friendly!!!