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Thread: 2016 FSAE Australasian Driver Swap Feedback

  1. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    My latest suggestion for fixing the failure rate is this small Rule addition.

    Rule-?? Every member of any team that cannot complete a Dynamic event must CRAWL that event on their hands and knees, from start to finish lines.

    Meanwhile, teams that DO complete the event would be given a big basket of rotten eggs, and asked to return the basket empty.

    But SAE-A is heading in exactly the opposite direction. They have just announced on Facebook that "Over next two weeks we will be releasing nine speciality awards celebrating various achievements from teams at the 2016 Formula SAE-A.".

    Aaarghh! More "...every kiddie gets a gold star..." nonsense.


  2. #12

    GRIFFITH Dynamic Events 'Big Tick'

    Quote Originally Posted by Z View Post

    Apparently an almost 100% FAILURE RATE is considered "success". Remember that Oz comps have two shots at Enduro. Did ANY Team complete ALL dynamic events "successfully", including BOTH Enduros? None that I saw.

    I Cant speak for other teams, but GRIFFITH did every single event with perfect success , you didnt look hard enough Z! We only snapped a chain from doing to many autocross runs flat chat without lubing the chain in over a week and that was post 20+ Accel Launches from in the morning, happened as we left the gate the last time for autoX. I wont deny though, our car is so simple and bare bones...there isnt much that can actually go horribly wrong

  3. #13
    On the topic of Drivers Swap i also was fortunate enough to hope into Monash's car for a few laps, my thoughts on the car, it is quite interesting to drive i must say:

    - the car is balanced well overall, no understeer whats so ever
    - steering effort is very minimal, set up well for skid imo, good for enduro as wouldnt get tired, i liked it in the faster tight corners, but on the long sweeper at oakleigh i felt that the car was more unsettled, not enough feedback at high speed. i would personally would like less steering wheel movement to more wheel movement...maybe not as much as our car though(GRIFFITH). What is the caster set to?
    - my first experience of aero, definitely can feel it. in the tight corners i found i could brake later, and as i got on the power earlier the car would correct itself nicely in yaw, also hung on like rails on the inside tight corners, the hairpins feel much the same as a non-aero car.
    - the single turbo setup had plenty of go as long as you were on your toes and picked the correct gear while pushing it through corners, turbo flutter in the right ear gave you a stiff simply perfect.
    - flappy paddles felt weird, need to be able to feel that you have selected the next gear rather than just resistance.
    - the brakes stopped on a dime, i like that there is minimal travel yet still minimal effort to pull the car up.
    - driver vision, i am very small so my vision was poor, i personally think that you would prove faster and willing to take more risk at cones if your visibility was better in front rather than just at the sides. you have to be paying alot of attention with that big front shovel carving around the track.
    - ergo, the seat is super comfy as is the pedal and steering wheel positioning, the headrest needs to be moved rearward as your neck isnt the most comfortable, minor issue.
    - it feels a big car but it is still quite agile just lacks blistering accel as expected. a little rolly...probably because our car is sprung stiff as board.
    -first car with diff i have driven, i believe it may be a large contribution to not having understeer as well as the rear ARB of which Griffith have neither (our car will understeer quiet rapidly if your dont pin it into the corner correctly).

    Overall a different driving style which is quiet easy to get used to, i would say a very forgiving car if you dont get it quiet right unlike ours which will pick you up and toss you about if you arent on your toes the entire time.
    Thanks Monash for the Drive, hope my thoughts are of use.

    Cheers Jake

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Monash View Post
    A lot of teams tried new innovations and it cost them quite dearly.
    Just a quick note;

    I get what you're saying though I'd prefer this written as "A lot of teams failed to successfully deliver some new innovations".

    There's of course no inherent cost associated with innovation, and I'd be reluctant to have anyone read into such a suggestion that innovation need be a multi-year thing. It's good to see students try, and of course better to see students understand that successful delivery is an inherent part of project management, innovation or otherwise. Within as much it remains a student event best dedicated to learning... about successfully delivering a large-scale engineering project in a group environment.

  5. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Jake (Wolfsburg),

    Yes, Griffith was one of the few cars that impressed me. Hope you build on those strengths next year.

    Catalunya was also very reliable. I guess they were so confident in their reliability that they could afford to send out a team member who had NEVER driven a car before. Quite amusing watching a car heading out on the AutoX track in the wrong direction. Then getting hopelessly lost.

    Scott mentioned that Tokyo Denki was at the driver swap. Can anyone comment on the car's performance? I have been hoping to see them perform well on track at the actual comp for years now, but nothing much yet.

    Also, was RMIT-C at the driver swap? They are now almost 3 years with a virtually unchanged car, and still no wear on their Avons. Their tyre compound softness rating much now be approaching "granite".


  6. #16
    Thanks to Jake I got a drive of the Griffith car (GRT-16 aka Scarlett). I appreciate the opportunity, it's a very nice car and I didn't get to see all details, but if I'm allowed to be critical...

    First, they don't have a seat or adjustable pedals. I think I was literally sitting on the floor (on top of belt buckles) and against the firewall. Some people simply can't drive the car due to size. For me the steering wheel / steering column was too low, with the steering wheel resting on my belly. Luckily it's a quick steering ratio so a full turn of the wheel wasn't needed.

    A racecar should be the most comfortable place to sit, so for general use (95th percentile male, ie. Bill Sherwood) the steering wheel position and FRH needs to be raised, some sort of molded seat made, and either adjustable pedal rails or other solution.
    But the lack of non-essential "useless junk" probably helped weight and their acceleration win.

    There is almost 4 pedals. Actually it is 3 pedals, far left is clutch. The brake pedal is split by the steering. With limited room for my right foot on the brake, I couldn't really use the clutch once driving, just going back to 2 pedal.

    Engine is peaky. I struggled to get off the line slipping the clutch, then amazing power. Probably the most power I've felt from a FSAE. Understeer into corners (no aero, spool) and then fearful of snap over-steer out of corners. This makes it difficult to comfortably hold a racing line.
    Steering ratio is also a bit quick which exaggerates all this, and it would take more than a couple of laps to know how to hold the car and get the most out of it.
    Last edited by Jonny Rochester; 12-18-2016 at 06:37 PM.
    University of Tasmania (UTAS)

  7. #17
    These comments from our MMS Alumni Travis Leenaerts who drove s a few of the cars at driver swap:

    Hi all,

    Sorry about the delayed feedback, my laptop decided to stop working for a while and I ended up writing more than I anticipated. Feel free to post this on the forums.

    I was involved with Monash Motorsport from 2009-2013 and a competition driver from 2011-2013. I have also driven many different team's cars over the years on the driver swap days including Monash 10-13, Curtin 12 & 13, UTS 11, Swinburne 10, Melbourne 13, Sophia 12, Warwick 13, UTAS 14, Auckland 14.

    This year at driver swap day, I was lucky enough to get some solid seat time in Monash, Curtin & UTAS.


    Monash has always been the best in ergonomics out of all the cars I have driven, and the current car is still excellent. I did notice that the steering wheel is slightly lower than it used to be (confirmed by current team members) and I preferred it in the old position which I felt was a little better for fatigue. The seat is still the best at really supporting you properly and lets you feel exactly what the car is doing at all times. The chassis has low sides which allows you to throw your arms around unimpeded. The only real problem with the Monash ergo was the paddle clutch, which even if it did have the feedback from being hydraulic (it is currently electric) it is harder to use precisely for accel launches and harder to find if a spin is occurring and you want to save it from stalling. It would be something I could get used to (only if it was hydraulic) but I would still much prefer a separate hand clutch away from the steering wheel like many other teams and the older Monash cars.

    Curtin's ergo felt quite similar to their older cars. the manual shifter is still nice and easy to use and in a great position. The chassis has high sides but it is nice and wide and didn't interfere with steering or shifting. The seat was pretty good, but I could do with a little more side support like the Monash seat. I really didn't like the steering wheel that had set hand positions, I much prefer a round wheel that allows you too adjust hand position if required when you get really tired (if the steering effort is too high). Even a slight position change can help you use different muscles in your arm and allow you to drive for longer. I also would have preferred the wheel to be a bit higher, and I much prefer the wheel to have a slight angle to it like Monash so that it points towards your shoulder/ head area rather than being vertical like Curtin and pointing towards your chest. I feel that the slightly angled wheel allows you to use your arms more in tight sections where larger steering input changes are required. Having an adjustable length steering column and an adjustable pedal box is a great feature and really lets drivers of all sizes find a comfortable driving position (which is more critical than many teams seem to think).

    The UTAS car also had pretty good ergo. The shifter was easy to find and use, the steering wheel was in a good position (higher than Curtin) and had a little more angle to it than Curtin, but not as much as Monash. Again would prefer a round steering wheel, but after driving the car, this was found to be no problem at all (I'll get to why later). The seat was similar to Curtin, again not bad but could be better. Unfortunately the adjustable pedalbox was having issues staying in my preferred position, so I had to drive with it a bit too close but the steering wheel was high enough for it to not be too much of a problem.

    In general, all 3 cars were quite good, and definitely on the better side of all the cars I have driven in the past. Monash is still the benchmark for ergo, and all teams should try and get someone to at least sit in the car to see and feel how it should be done.

    Powetrain & Shifting

    Monash's power is what I would call adequate. There felt like slightly more power than M13 and it has enough power to not be left for dead on the straights like M11 & M12 NA single cars. It really should be doing much better acceleration times for what the car is capable of, but launching and shifting currently seems to be a big issue. The KTM engines have always had problems trying to upshift near the limiter, and the current car was on the worse end of what I have experienced in the past. This problem really needs to be sorted, as it has been holding the team back for years. When it occurs, it is usually coming out of slow corners at the most critical time to be accelerating and a lot of time is lost to all the other teams. It also frustrates the driver a lot, which takes their concentration away from getting on with the job of driving fast. I was anticipating it to be a problem before I started due to previous experience with it, but for new drivers it is even more of a big issue.
    The throttle response is again probably just adequate, and you don't really know it is an issue until you drive a 4 cylinder car where all of a sudden you can change your driving style and have much more control in slow, tight sections of the track. The car probably isn't losing much time due to this, but it makes it easier for the drivers when they can steer with both the wheel and the throttle, rather than just the wheel. Unfortunately the downshift caused me the biggest problems of all in the Monash car. This wasn't a problem at all in the older cars, but there is now a significant delay between requesting the downshift, and it actually happening. This caused me to hit cones as I was expecting the car to slow up a little more than it did because there was no engine braking at all. I also had no idea what gear the car was in once starting the cornering process, which was a huge issue when coming into slow slaloms after a small straight. it made it impossible to reliably use the throttle to help you steer as sometimes the car had no power at all while trying to decide what gear to be in, other times it had shifted and worked. Unpredictability in an FSAE car is a big problem for all drivers.
    If the entire shifting system was ripped off and replaced with a simple manual shifter, I would have been able to go a lot quicker and more importantly be far more consistent (though it doesn't solve the upshift problem). The shifter was by far the biggest and really only issue with the Monash car.

    Curtin was definitely the winner in this department out of the 3 cars I drove. It had the most power, and the power was quite linear with much more torque down low compared to their 12 & 13 cars. However I don't think it had as much power as the older cars, and also I feel the gear ratios were a bit taller. The old car you could just keep it in the powerband all the time with the lovely shifter and close ratios and it was very quick, but I didn't get the same feeling with this car. It was still the fastest in a straight line of the 3 cars that I drove. The throttle response was as good as any that I have driven and was great to have on the tight track that was setup. The manual shifter is always a highlight in the Curtin car and this one was no exception, they definitely know how to do a manual well with great feedback and ergonomics and it works every time you want it to. While I feel I could be slightly faster with their older powertrain package, this one is easier to drive and is still a highlight.

    UTAS didn't have quite the same power as Curtin, but it was significantly more than Monash. It didn't blow me away, but never caused me problems or took my mind off driving the car. The power was very linear and had great low down torque like Curtin, which meant that you wouldn't loose much time at all if you were in a gear higher than you should be. The manual shifter position was quite similar to Curtin but the clutch was on the other side. I would prefer the clutch to be on the rear side of the handle so you can hit it on the downshift if you need it (I never used it though as a blip and shift was all that was required) and it is also easier to find if you are in a spin. The upshift did give me a little bit of trouble about twice when it just wouldn't shift, but it worked 95% of the time and when it was giving me trouble, I managed to make it work by just putting weight on it and lifted completely off the throttle a couple of times (after discovering it hadn't shifted) until it clicked in. I was using 1st gear a bit to get the most drive out of slow corners in the UTAS car but I didn't need it in the Curtin car, which is probably due to the power difference between them. I did feel that the throttle was sometimes a little bit too sensitive at low throttle positions but this would only be a minor change for my preferences. Overall the UTAS powertrain package was quite solid, and while not a standout it was more than enough to be a quick car.

    to be continued... over post limit

  8. #18
    Suspension, Steering, Brakes & Aero

    The Monash car felt similar to M13, which is a good thing. The balance was pretty good, and the steering had great feedback. The steering effort was good, but probably on the limit of what is acceptable. It was similar to older monash cars (maybe a little heavier) and you need to be reasonably fit to do an endurance at full pace but it was manageable. The overall stiffness of the car felt great with a solid, confident feeling that had just enough roll to help drivers feel what the car is doing. It had the most overall grip in both low and high speed, which combined with the narrow track width was a real positive through the tight lane changes setup on the track. It would have been very fast through a lot of sections of this year's FSAE-A track. I've always enjoyed the advantage the narrow track width gives for many of the FSAE tracks and this was no exception. It had the best initial yaw of the 3 cars I drove, especially at high speed. However I did feel that the balance was slightly too far towards oversteer for the type of track that was setup, as sometimes I had to wait for the rear to come around and settle before being able to change directions again. This would be less of an issue on an FSG type track with longer corners and less quick direction changes, but the car was not as stable as older Monash cars which were rock solid at high speed. This is the first time I have driven with the reduced aero rules, so this may have had an impact on the stability provided from the rear wing. The track didn't have much high speed sections so I don't want to comment too much on aero, but I did feel like Monash had the most aero, closely followed by Curtin with UTAS a little behind the other 2.
    The brakes on the Monash car were also the best out of the 3 cars, with a fantastic firm pedal that needed a good amount of pressure (not too much), and the brake bias seemed about right.

    Curtin also felt reasonably similar to their previous cars with a good balance and stability. You can notice that the car is quite heavy, and doesn't respond as quick as other cars. You can't play with it and make it do whatever you want mid corner like you could in the Auckland 14 car but it doesn't hold the car back too much if you anticipate and aim to drive smoothly, as there is plenty of confidence to be had from the stability it provides. However there was a big issue with the Curtin car, and that was the steering effort. It was much higher than Monash which I consider on the borderline of acceptable. There is no way that you could complete a consistently fast endurance with that steering effort. I found that the weight of the steering was holding back my ability to turn in as hard as I wanted to, which didn't help at all when the car was already a little slower to turn in than other cars. Near the end of my drive I found myself wanting to shift my arms to a new position to use different muscles but due to the non round steering wheel this was not really an option. I'm not sure what has changed since the older Curtin cars but it wasn't a problem in the ones I have driven before.
    The aero was quite good, almost as much as Monash and maybe a better balance but again it was hard to really judge due to the track.
    The brakes were lovely and solid initially, but then it felt a little soft and required more travel than I expected once driving though they still worked well to pull up the heavy car. I also never had any issues with the brake bias.

    I'm going to get straight to the point with UTAS and say that the steering is by far the best I have ever driven with in an FSAE car by quite some margin. It was lovely and light (again much lighter than any of the other cars I have driven) but was still very responsive and gave plenty of feedback. This car was an absolute delight to drive, and you could drive it all day with no fatigue problems. I'm not sure what they are doing differently to everyone else, but keep doing it. The suspension setup was well balanced, and the combination of the balance, steering and throttle response provided the easiest car to drive fast and get closest to the cars full potential. the level of grip was good but not quite as high as Monash, and it definitely doesn't have the same level of downforce. I think the aero balance was a bit too far rearward for my liking as I had a little trouble turning in for the faster lane changes, but it wasn't much of an issue.
    Again the brake bias was well balanced, but I did think the pedal required too much force and prevented you from really braking as hard as possible.


    In general all 3 cars had the potential to be very fast, however 2 of them each had a major flaw that prevented the driver from maximizing the performance, while the other was a joy to drive.

    If you fix the shifter in the Monash car, it would probably be the fasted car of the 3 but the inconsistency the current one gives is terrible. The only event that it wouldn't have been an issue was skidpad, and the results show.

    The Curtin car was fast and well tested, but it is only good to drive for a short period due to the large steering effort. Autocross would be ok but endurance would have been a killer for the drivers. I feel sorry for them.

    The UTAS car was my favourite to drive, with the amazing steering and it was very well setup. It would have been fantastic to drive all competition, and would absolutely be my pick for endurance. Just minor improvements for this car will see it be a real threat to the rest of the competition.

    Thanks to everyone on the day for helping it run smoothly. It is one of the best things your team can do and I hope all the teams on the day took a lot out of it.



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