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Thread: FSAE is Not a Kit Car Competition

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitchell View Post
    I agree 100% with Claude. I would also like to add that at the last few FS competitions I have attended I have noticed a growing trend of people using off the shelf simulation software. This is just not acceptable as engineers. There is ample opportunity in this competition to develop your own coding language to write simulation software, that runs in a standalone bespoke CAD/FEA/CFD package. Once you have this up and running you should easily be able to design and simulate your suspension upright and achieve full optemisery.
    Of course, you need to write a second stand-alone analysis package to verify the results as well. Unvalidated optimisery scores very poorly in the design event.

  2. #22
    Claude, I don't really understand (ünderstand? ) why you're going on about the impact attenuator. It's in the rules, appendix T-3: Standard Impact Attenuator. It is in there because the SAE wanted to stop teams havong to construct rather sketchy drop testing mechanisms involving students climbing up ladders and dropping a 200kg block of concrete on the floor.
    Lutz Dobrowohl
    Raceyard Kiel

    Now: Scruitineer, Design Judge, application engineer @Altair engineering

    Whatever you do, do it hard!

  3. #23
    To point out some success of the boys next door who people have had similar complaints about:


    Do your own analysis, play within the rules, cross the finish line. If the best solution is an off the shelf part, so be it.

    In terms of FSAE, it's still primarily about learning, so the argument isn't exactly 1:1. If you want to learn about carbon, get to it. If you want to learn about fancy heat treat process, go for it.
    Just remember, it's not a race.
    Kettering University Vehicle Dynamics
    Formula SAE 2010 - 2015
    Clean Snowmobile Powertrain 2012 - 2015

    Boogityland 2015 - Present

  4. #24
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Modena, Italy
    I don't think the issue is just the fact that off-the-shelf parts are used.

    The issue is when they are used like a backyard mechanic. I.e. slapped on without understanding a single thing about the part or it's application.

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim.Wright View Post
    I don't think the issue is just the fact that off-the-shelf parts are used.

    The issue is when they are used like a backyard mechanic. I.e. slapped on without understanding a single thing about the part or it's application.

    Pardon, I was a little blunt. I agree with you. Do your own analysis, prove that it's the best way to reach your concept.
    Kettering University Vehicle Dynamics
    Formula SAE 2010 - 2015
    Clean Snowmobile Powertrain 2012 - 2015

    Boogityland 2015 - Present

  6. #26
    If a team is buying parts to save time/resources I would be very surprised if they then dedicated the time required for a proper analysis, people always find a way to fill their schedules.
    Even if they do are they really learning as much? So yeah they may put up a better result that year, but are they really helping their program grow in the long run? (Haas disclaimer: This isnt F1 with huge prize money)

    I'm sure the average enrollment of engineers at most schools is >3000 students, surely the capacity is there to develop a 20-30 person team that is capable of building a chassis. In short, it will all come out in the wash one day..

  7. #27
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by JT A. View Post
    This very quickly turns into a "where do you draw the line" argument.
    I fully agree with JT A. above. And the rest of his post. And with the many other posts along similar lines. And, yes, even with Tim's post!

    So... Where SHOULD the line be drawn?

    If this was a competition for "Trade School" students, then, sure, they reasonably could be allowed to use "Off-The-Shelf" designs/plans, but they SHOULD do all the hands-on machining/fabricating/welding of the component parts. Because that is what they are learning to do.

    But "Engineering" students are supposed to be learning things at a somewhat higher level. In short, in FS/FSAE they are supposed to be learning how to solve "the puzzle of scoring most points" under the given set of restrictions, which are mainly the Laws of Nature, but also the more fickle FS/FSAE Rules.

    Assuming this is true, then why does Claude have a bias against "Lego cars"?

    Could, in fact, something like Mitchell's recycled ATV/Quad-bike be the best "engineering" solution to the puzzle?

    For an inexperienced or low budget Team, I would say DEFINITELY YES!

    A Lego-ATV-car for FSAE is probably the easiest, quickest, and cheapest, way to THRASH at least half the other Teams in all the Dynamic events. Remember, all you need to do really well in Dynamics is "... a conveyance that can carry a single person a distance of 30 kms, at an average speed of ~55 kph". And such a car should also do really well in (a realistic...) Cost event. Which leaves only 15% of the total points subject to the biases of the Design Judges.

    Going a bit further, could a Lego-ATV-car, with perhaps a bit of "aero-engineering" thrown at it, be a globally dominating car?

    Of course! (Do I have to give a bigger hint ^ ? )

    And, pushing the envelope still further, could you use a bit more "engineering" to beat this already globally dominating car?

    IMO, sure! The two main areas to "engineer" are:
    1. The drivetrain needs reworking to better package all the big bits (mainly the driver + engine) for a more compact, lower total-mass, lower-Iz, car. This only requires design and manufacture of some shafts (maybe using OTS gears?), and some accurately enough machined boxes to put it all in. So you might need some of those trade school boys to help you with the tolerancing (or see Cole's post on same).

    2. MORE, AND BETTER, AERO! Best aero comes from the underbody, and the right size/shape aero-undertray for your car is unlikely to be found on Ebay. And the aero-flows around the upper-body also have to be done right, so as to properly drive the underflows, so this requires whole-car thinking.

    So, some good engineering can turn a dirt-cheap Lego-ATV-car into a world beater. But...

    What about Claude's insistance that students "engineer" the hubs/uprights/suspension, IA, etc.?

    Fact is that none of these parts has a huge influence on making the car faster. But badly done, they surely cripple the car's chance of scoring well (eg. bad IA = DNS, bad hub/axle/wheel-bearings/++ = DNF)!

    In other words, these critical items are NOT the things that good Engineers would take big risks with, say, by getting inexperienced students to "optimise" the design. Especially when the "optimisation" is backed up by inadequate (non-existent?) testing.

    By analogy, the Rules mandate all critical fasteners to be of a minimum standard. The Rules do not allow these critical items to be student machined parts...

    So, what is left is a puzzle with 15% of it subject to the many and varied irrational biases of Design Judges.

    Claude has his pet likes of the suspension bits, even though these do little to make the car faster, or cheaper. Other DJs want all FSAE engines to be tyre-shredding, horsepower monsters, and they penalize Teams that focus on economy and reliability.

    All of which, IMO, is good reason to get rid of such irrational, UN-engineering-like, biases.

    Ditch the DJs (and Design Event), and let the stopwatch, together with a realistic Cost Event, do the judging.

    Last edited by Z; 04-19-2016 at 12:24 AM.

  8. #28
    I think a major issue is whether the 'kit car' teams can (or do) score highly in the competition overall.

    A perfectly legal strategy for FSAE is to ignore the Design event (and the associated effort), build a fast car out of off-the-shelf parts and score highly enough in the dynamic events to do well overall. That would upset many who hold the Design event close to their hearts.

    The next questions are: How probable is it that this could happen? How would it affect the student's education? Should the competition scoring be altered to eliminate this possibility?

    Plenty of debate here, I feel.

    Regards, Ian

  9. #29
    This discussion falls under two different aspects, engineering and competition. For obvious reasons, a fully designed, manufactured, tested, correlated car will net the most engineering experience. But engineering is really problem solving, and the #1 metric at competition is points. Until there is a points advantage for using all custom designed parts, why wouldn't you buy off the shelf parts, such as the steering rack? Design of the rack would involve 1 or 2 members to dedicate a significant amount of time determining stiffness goals, designing parts, manufacturing, testing, and so on. Some teams don't have this ability.

    What if they could only cost parts "as made" if they actually make it? The zRack is $1200, but can be costed at much much cheaper. You get the best of both worlds, a stiff lightweight steering rack, that gains you points in dynamics, but doesn't cost you any more in the cost event. If this put a big $1200 addition to the cost report, I'm sure teams would consider machining their own.

    I agree that all parts on the car need backed up with data. You must explain that the zRack meets stiffness and weight goals, fits in the team budget, packages nicely, has the desired ratio. You must also explain that designing/manufacturing one from scratch would take about 80 hours and cost $500 to meet the same stiffness/weight targets. Then explain how the points/cost/time trade-off works into the team project management and engineering.
    Any views or opinions expressed by me may in no way reflect those of Kettering University, it's students and administrators, or our sponsors.

  10. #30

    I do not have a problem with the impact attenuator. But I do have a problem with people who do buy one and the engineering design and test report ....without understating it.

    Claude Rouelle
    OptimumG president
    Vehicle Dynamics & Race Car Engineering
    Training / Consulting / Simulation Software
    FS & FSAE design judge USA / Canada / UK / Germany / Spain / Italy / China / Brazil / Australia

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