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Thread: Motorsport or Design?

  1. #91
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    Who is insisting you need a mould?
    Geoff Pearson

    RMIT FSAE 02-04
    Monash FSAE 05
    RMIT FSAE 06-07

    Design it. Build it. Break it.

  2. #92
    Originally posted by Big Bird:
    Strewth man, sorry. I wasn't implying you were the problem - I was more trying to stick up for you guys!
    Yeah. I think I crushed TAMU-13 under the weight of expectations. Had the Kansas guys talked to anyone but me they'd probably have had a different impression of A&M. We had the "Travis/Nick/CPK" driver nucleus coming back, had some sponsors and alumni who were willing to make a few parts for us (laser-cut steel tubes for the frame from G&H Diversified, hubs from TPO Parts, uprights from Schlumberger's local contractor, and some help with the first A&M wings from Paul Costas), and a couple ideas show up early on in the design process that looked REALLY good in the calculations. So I thought we'd do well this year.

    What I hadn't counted on was that concentrating on the big stuff to solve a problem we didn't have (make it go WAY faster! beat the teams that can do things we can't!) kept us from solving the problems we did have - like losing the tire machine, like blowing up two trucks on the way to the competition, like continuing to run our engines long past when they should have been rebuilt, like treating used-up parts as "good as new"...

  3. #93
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    Anyone on these forums ever built a strip built kayak? I would be really interested to see those techniques applied to FSAE chassis' with balsa (or foam) and carbon (or fibreglass). The ECU guys use balsa to do close-outs and it is super easy to shape. Although not quite as easy as shaping foam for mouldless wings. It wouldn't be as easy to do mounting points as a folded chassis, but should be almost identical
    performance to the higher tech solutions. Some of those kayak weights and strengths are very impressive. If you do want moulds, you can also think of fabricating moulds directly, instead of plug then mould. No autoclaves are required, and if you want to use pre-pregs just make yourself a very big oven. A few insulated foam panels, a few temp controlled heaters and you can hold a very sizeable volume of air at 80-120degC very easily and cheaply.

    Personally I think that spending 800-900 hours on a FSAE chassis is a bad use of resources, and effectively bad design. Mind you I think slavishly sticking to tube frames, which are also labour intensive and most definitely of lower performance is also bad design.

    If only you could get a group of resource poor people together to build one of these cars that haven't got the burden of too much experience that are willing to make a few mistakes and try different methods of manufacture ...

    Kev

  4. #94
    I thought we were invincible, right up until we were finally defeated.

    David led the detail design of a car that got the weight distribution, c.g. height, and overall weight we wanted. Jason oversaw a manufacturing process that took us from a bare frame to a painted and running car. Will did more with tire data than we've ever performed in the past (that we lost all of our correlations and plots after the design of the car was done was another awful "just racing" thing). Jacob designed an aero package whose benefits were obvious the second it went on the car. Alex tuned the engine to run better than most passenger cars I've driven. In the last week before Lincoln we somehow overcame blowing an engine, breaking a wheel and having it hit a car in the pits, blowing up two trucks on the way to competition, and losing the suspension notebook right before the design final to be where we were right before the engine stopped running.

    I think Parnelli Jones said it best. When we left, it just felt like I'd forgotten something important and couldn't remember what it was.

  5. #95
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    Originally posted by Charles Kaneb:
    Yes, I was a bit too aggressive with that comment. The obnoxious attitude is also an A&M problem - particularly a CPK problem - we operate too much in a vacuum. "Just because it can't be done with a dull drill bit and a couple of clamps doesn't mean it shouldn't be done" is something we should consider before dismissing an entire system as impractical.

    On the other hand, my point is still that the design event is a serious obstacle in the way of "twelve kids, twenty-five grand, and a welder" winning an FSAE event. There's not much to discuss with a composites judge when the only composite item on the car is the nosecone, for example.

    After looking at how much our wings cost I'm still doubtful of any good monocoque being in the ballpark of a tubeframe's cost. If you've got the ability to cut foam in three dimensions to be able to provide complex contours, and achieve a good surface finish from it without burning up a grand's worth of sandpaper, then you know something we don't and our team will have to figure out how.

    We made the design finals this year, and last year, and crashed out of design shortly afterwards partly due to a lack of data on the car, and partly due to a lack of anything to talk about. Our fault - a lot of data got lost this year, and it never existed last year.

    We broke down this year, explaining the 291-point deficit in endurance. That was about the ultimate in "That's Racing" deals - it had never given trouble before, was a good COTS part, and doesn't appear to be a common design flaw with these.
    Every team can have annoying people on the team. It has just seemed that maybe those annoying people have been especially loud, and we made the assumption it was a majority of people who were like that. So for that, I apologize.

    Let me tell you something about Formula SAE that I've learned. No matter the size, budget, resources, expertise, etc of a team, we all deal with the same issues. I've talked to a lot of teams over the years and every single team I talk to have the same problems. A lot of the holes drilled on our car are done more with friction than actual cutting. The last time I saw new drill bits in the shop they were dull in 10 minutes! Haha. We have to do stuff janky as well. But we try to make sure that processes are continually passed on to the next team so that we get better over time. We have to train 20ish new people every year for our team. Here in a couple weeks we'll start doing the same thing all over again. We had maybe 8 or so experienced people at the beginning of last year. Less the year before and less this year. But that's the way it is for us so we learn to adapt and to try and teach people how to racecar in a couple weeks. Every team has the same story. Maybe the starting point, A, and the ending point, B, are different, but we share that road between the two. I remind our new people every year that no matter how ugly/heavy/janky a car looks, you still have to give all of your respect to the people on that team. Because there's a lot of people out there who aren't capable of doing what FSAE students do, and just because someone's car looks better doesn't make it a better racecar. I also have to remind people not to hate on better looking cars either, because they were able to utilize the constraints they were giving. That doesn't make them better or worse then you, just that their A and B points are different then ours. Formula SAE/Student is a fraternity of people who the rest of the world can't comprehend and most wouldn't be able to do, so just remind people that no matter the competition we're all in this together.

    Like I said, UTA has found a way to do it without a Monocoque, so clearly the composites judges aren't that paramount. And if I were to be honest, I feel like we're hindered by the composite chassis a lot of the time. It is not a "perfect" solution. Also, we take our points hit in cost pretty hard, so it's not like we get away scot-free with all the composites. Moreover, JT and I both would prefer less composites as yet again we feel that a lot of the time they are used to a determent to the overall car performance. But that's a whole other matter.

    You have to remember Charles. We made our first monocoque in 1999. We basically only know how to make a monocoque. In fact we have to borrow people's welders when we need to weld in the shop, we don't have our own. We've built wings since 07 and ran them at FSAE comps since 09. Sometimes these things take time to learn. The key is knowledge transfer. Design notebooks and pictures are key.

    I know your failure was due to a sensor, but I wanted to make a point. In this competition, the real difference between all of our concepts is down to testing/knowledge/ability to communicate/lots of driving, aka execution. What this means is that the ball is in your court whether or not you succeed. No one elses. I guarantee JT and I would have done just as good answering Vehicle Dynamics questions with a tubeframe car or a 10" wheel car or a non-aero car or a single cylinder car. There's a lot of ways to justify your design. The key is to develop the tools to justify the car. Before 2012, we simply couldn't do that. We had some beautiful cars, but they didn't get us anywhere because we couldn't explain it. In 2011 JT had his but whooped in Michigan and California by Claude and he developed the tools to justify the car. We've increased our knowledge of vehicle dynamics as a team more in 2 years than we did in the previous 6 if I had to guess. All because we figured out how to justify our design. Optimum G seminars were also a huge help, as well as speaking to design judges.

    Yet again Charles, no hard feelings. But if there's one thing I always remember at competition and online is that there is always someone watching, and it's easier to make a good image when those people hear compliments rather than critiques or complaints. Believe me, there's a lot of teams who have resources we want! But that's no excuse.

    BTW, sorry for the thread jack.

    Double BTW, great posts as usual Big Bird.

    EDIT: Triple BTW! If you haven't Charles, or anyone else for that matter, read Racecar by Superfast Matt McCoy. You need to. It's an autobiography of a guy from the OU 2007 team, but it is the story of every FSAE guy/girl out there. The struggle, the joy, the loneliness. It's free here: http://www.superfastmatt.com/2...1/free-racecars.html
    Trent Strunk
    University of Kansas
    Jayhawk Motorsports
    2010-2014

    Now in NASCAR land. Boogity.
    Opinions Are My Own

  6. #96
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    Originally posted by Charles Kaneb:
    ... a couple ideas show up early on in the design process that looked REALLY good in the calculations. So I thought we'd do well this year...
    Charles,

    I think you mentioned something similar on another thread (can't remember where...).

    Any chance of you letting us know what that "REALLY good' idea is, now that the comps are over?

    Or is it still trade secret?

    Z

  7. #97
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    Random $0.02 to put in here on the resources gap in the design almost-finalists vs finalists.

    Everything I've always seen has been the difference between testing and not testing. We all (should) know that having test data in design that you can use to justify your design decisions is really a key aspect of the competition. How do you get this data? Testing, of course. However, it is much easier to do this testing if you have a larger resource pool.

    There are many aspects to this. You could say that more resources (money, sponsors, team members) can make it easier to get the car done earlier, and give you more testing. You could define resources as having an easily accessible (and/or quality) area to test.

    What if you have an area to test and your car is done then? Well you need repeatable drivers and (ideally) a data acquisition system. If you don't have data acquisition then you can still (IMO) make design finals, but you have your work cut out for you. Set up a course and spend time testing. Pure testing VS a stop watch. Lots of laps to log, change, log more laps, change, etc. While you would still have to do this with data acq, you don't get as much data out of it. In design I can see this being key as with it (and people understanding how to use it) then you can give a more detailed explanation on WHY something helps versus simply HOW something works. For sure the how will work for you in design by being able to explain how your tuning makes you faster, and you can get book explanations as to why this is, but having data sure seems like it would be nice to point to as well (gives you a bit more in-depth knowledge of the systems).

    Now, there is the last part of this, which is really the icing on the cake of all testing: driver competency. You can drive around the parking lot all you want, but how do you know that your data is actually valid? If you don't have a good driver, first off you'll never really get to the limits of your car. Second off, if they're driving above their heads it is unlikely they'll be able to give good feedback on the car because either they don't know what they're supposed to be feeling, they don't know what they're feeling, or they're too busy going "AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" or "I have such a *censored* right now, because I'm in a racecar and this is the greatest ever" to be able to concentrate on what the car is doing. With a good driver and some test time, you can make a car competitive or at least get good data because you can get truly repeatable data and feedback with back to back changes.

    What it really seems is there is a massive amount of diminishing returns to be able to get that extra 50 points in design, as to hit 100 points (at Michigan at least) you can get by with knowing what you did, why you did it, and how what you did effects other systems. The rest of that 50 points is icing on the cake that requires significant gains in resources (or something that really sticks out that you can really justify).

    (And on a side point, someone mentioned the FSUK point gap being smaller. That may be the case, but if an electric car gets 110 points in design, they'd be almost automatically equal with a combustion car that won design provided both finish endurance to get an efficiency score. Thats the #1 issue I have with combined competitions)
    Any views or opinions expressed by me may in no way reflect those of Stewart-Haas Racing, Kettering University, or their employees, students, administrators or sponsors.

  8. #98
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    If only you could get a group of resource poor people together to build one of these cars that haven't got the burden of too much experience that are willing to make a few mistakes and try different methods of manufacture ...

    Kev
    Dear Lord... where in the world will we ever find that?!?
    "Man, I need to practice more!" - Kenny Wallace
    "Try not to have a good time... this is supposed to be educational." - Charles M Schulz
    -OptimumG 2005-2006
    -Turner Motorsports 2008-2009
    -Black Swan Racing 2010 & 2011 Team and Driver's Champions
    -HPD Race Engineer 2011-2014
    -Currently Freelance Data/Race Engineer

  9. #99
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    Originally posted by AxelRipper:
    Random $0.02 to put in here on the resources gap in the design almost-finalists vs finalists.

    Everything I've always seen has been the difference between testing and not testing. We all (should) know that having test data in design that you can use to justify your design decisions is really a key aspect of the competition. How do you get this data? Testing, of course. However, it is much easier to do this testing if you have a larger resource pool.

    There are many aspects to this. You could say that more resources (money, sponsors, team members) can make it easier to get the car done earlier, and give you more testing. You could define resources as having an easily accessible (and/or quality) area to test.

    What if you have an area to test and your car is done then? Well you need repeatable drivers and (ideally) a data acquisition system. If you don't have data acquisition then you can still (IMO) make design finals, but you have your work cut out for you. Set up a course and spend time testing. Pure testing VS a stop watch. Lots of laps to log, change, log more laps, change, etc. While you would still have to do this with data acq, you don't get as much data out of it. In design I can see this being key as with it (and people understanding how to use it) then you can give a more detailed explanation on WHY something helps versus simply HOW something works. For sure the how will work for you in design by being able to explain how your tuning makes you faster, and you can get book explanations as to why this is, but having data sure seems like it would be nice to point to as well (gives you a bit more in-depth knowledge of the systems).

    Now, there is the last part of this, which is really the icing on the cake of all testing: driver competency. You can drive around the parking lot all you want, but how do you know that your data is actually valid? If you don't have a good driver, first off you'll never really get to the limits of your car. Second off, if they're driving above their heads it is unlikely they'll be able to give good feedback on the car because either they don't know what they're supposed to be feeling, they don't know what they're feeling, or they're too busy going "AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" or "I have such a *censored* right now, because I'm in a racecar and this is the greatest ever" to be able to concentrate on what the car is doing. With a good driver and some test time, you can make a car competitive or at least get good data because you can get truly repeatable data and feedback with back to back changes.

    What it really seems is there is a massive amount of diminishing returns to be able to get that extra 50 points in design, as to hit 100 points (at Michigan at least) you can get by with knowing what you did, why you did it, and how what you did effects other systems. The rest of that 50 points is icing on the cake that requires significant gains in resources (or something that really sticks out that you can really justify).
    We have fairly similar thought processes on the Design competition, and our teams ended up within about 5-10 points of each other in Design at all 3 competitions this year (I think you beat us by a handful of points in Canada, but at the US competitions, we were in the same grouping). I think our teams probably have similar amounts of resources, and we both have what I would call "curriculum based hurdles" to deal with (co-op, etc.).

    We didn't have DAQ up and running until ~2 test days before Lincoln, yet were able to use what little data we had from our testing prior to MIS and Canada (testing tool budget of something like $20 for a tire pyrometer and stop watch app's on cell phones) to score right around the 100 point mark. We had a little more data in Lincoln, but hadn't fully processed it (all 3 competitions were after the core of our team had graduated, and all but 2 Design team members had started working our full time jobs by then, and I was in Japan for a business trip the week before Lincoln, so I didn't have time to process the accelerometer data before competition) but I also forgot some of our initial simulation work (sensitivity analysis results) that I had at MIS and Canada, which ended up being most of what I talked about in Lincoln.

    -Matt
    Matt Davis
    University of Cincinnati
    Bearcat Motorsports: 2012-2013: Suspension guy

    Bilstein: 2013 - ??: Product Engineer

    This post is a collection of my own thoughts and opinions, and in no way, shape or form reflects the thoughts/opinions of my company, my university or anyone else but myself.

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