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Thread: Ideas to pursue for innovation points

  1. #71
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    Mar 2005
    Regarding hydraulics: I'm not sure what you mean by "tesla style disc pumps"???

    A hydrostatic pump/motor is one that can develop high torque even when the fluid is "static" (ie. not flowing). Common examples are piston pumps, gear pumps (like an engine oil pump), and vane pumps. They are either of fixed displacement per revolution (eg. gear and vane), or variable displacement (eg. a piston pump with variable stroke, like a "swash-plate" or "wobble-plate").

    A hydro-dynamic impellor/turbine is the common donut-shaped lump in auto-boxes. The impellor "throws" the oil, giving it momentum and kinetic energy, then the turbine "catches" the oil, reconverting its momentum back to torque. These necessarily rely on the oil moving, so always have viscous frictional losses. Although I reckon if you use mercury as the fluid it would have ~0.01 x the viscous losses of oil ('cos density x ~20, and viscosity much less). Same weight, but much smaller package.

    The "no viscous loss at cruise speed" hydrostatic IVT I was thinking about might be similar to the John Deere link in Mike Duwe's post. I couldn't get the JD video to work, but since the IVT is on a tractor it must be good!

    Basically my idea is to have a planetary gear set, drive the sun gear with an input shaft from the IC engine, and connect the planet-cage to the output (ie. it drives the diff). The ring gear (which can rotate in the housing) is connected to a variable disp. swash-plate pump/motor, which in turn is hydraulically connected (ie. 2 short pipes) to a fixed disp. roller-vane pump/motor on the input shaft (sun gear). This could all fit in the space of a typical bike engine clutch/gearbox.

    (Edit: Oops! Got that backwards. The variable. disp. swash-plate is connected to the input shaft (sun gear), and the fixed disp. pump/motor turns (or is turned by) the ring gear. Other configurations are also possible, eg. hydraulic pump/motors on the output shaft.)

    With the swash-plate set for zero displacement there is no oil flow, the ring gear is locked solid, and the input just drives through to the output like a normal planetary gearset. This would happen in "top gear" (ie. top speed), and since no oil flow, minimal viscous frictional losses. With the swash plate set for more displacement, the fixed disp. pump on the ring gear sends oil to the swash-plate on the inlet shaft giving it more torque. That, combined with the ring gear "slipping backwards", gives a higher torque output at lower speed - ie. low gear. There is more oil flow now, so more viscous losses, but the car typically has more than enough power at low speeds (ie. traction limited, not power limited) so these frictional losses are not a big problem.

    The normal way of expressing gear ratio as a number means you have a higher number here (eg. high gear = 3:1, low gear = 12:1). With even more swash-plate displacement you can pass through zero car speed ("infinite gear ratio") and on to "large negative" or reverse gear ratios (most viscous losses here, but who cares!). Hence no need for a clutch, or those bad smells at the startline!

    The above is hard to explain in words... Maybe think of a normal car differential, both driven wheels off the ground, and engine running at constant speed. If you now grab (or brake) the left wheel, then the right wheel turns faster. Vary the speed of the left wheel - say with a CVT between it and the input shaft - and you vary the speed of the right wheel, but through a different speed range. For instance, if you spin the left wheel forwards fast enough, the right wheel (the output) stops turning, or runs in reverse!

    There are similar sorts of IVTs that use steel-belt and toriodal CVTs, coupled with a planetary gearset, to get the range of output shafts through zero speed (hence through "infinite" ratio).


  2. #72
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    Mar 2005
    Dave M,

    "700lb brown go-cart with tons of innovation..."???

    I'll say it again: All of the innovations I suggested on that list can be used on a lightweight, simple, cheap, and easy-to-build car.

    "Innovation" does NOT mean you have to stack a whole lot of "extras" onto an already complicated car. "Innovation" can mean replacing 2 or 3 complicated components with a single, simple component. It is the whole package that counts.

    For example, just considering the drivetrain, you might custom-build a simple but torquey (maybe turboed) 600cc single-cylinder engine. Couple this directly (well, include a dog-clutch neutral) to a chain or gear reduction going to a torque-steer-differential (consisting of 2 electro-hydraulically activated multi-plate clutches either side of the final drive sprocket/gear). This would look like a bulked up direct-drive go-cart, except the TSD clutches would be used for pulling away from standstill, and perhaps even slipped a bit for very low speed corners.

    Sure, you would also need a small hydraulic pump and tank, maybe an oil cooler, and extra sensors and software. But all this should be considerably lighter and more compact than the standard (heavy!) F4i with its 4 cylinders, clutch, gearbox, chain drive, Torsen, clutch/gearchange linkages, etc. And it might work better because more controllable in corners due to the electronically controlled TSD.

    And, as seen on other threads, there are teams that put a great deal of work into FSAE'ing their F4i - including EFI tuning; custom cams; intakes and exhausts; drysumps; and even talk of machining bespoke heads. So which approach is going to be cheaper?

    Oh, yes, some kids never go to school, and in the western world quite a few leave at ~15 to get a job. Tertiary education is a luxury not everyone can afford, so enjoy it!


    Only FSAE comp I went to was Dec 2002 in Melbourne (last one with Carroll Smith). The well-polished "standard" car from Wollongong came first and also picked up most of the minor awards. But it could have been even faster. The track was very smooth, but when the car slid (cornering) its rear wheels would jump and start bouncing. There was no rear suspension movement to damp this bouncing, which cost it a bit of time... I think it was the same car that won in the US in 2003 (I guess they must have fitted softer springs).

    That was also the first year for the Tokyo Denki car (160kg?). There was some nonsense about its starter being dangerous, so it was removed and the car was allowed to run, but not for points. It had a carburetored 450cc single and tyres that looked like mud tyres off a Quad (huge knobs). There was something seriously wrong with its carby/spark/tuning, because it was coughing and spitting everywhere. The drivers didn't seem to have much seat time either. Nevertheless, in the Enduro it was turning times that were only a few seconds slower than Wollongong (ie. faster than almost everyone else), and they were looking very comfortable.

    I was there for the three days so had a good look at all the cars and talked to the teams (some US cars and Straslund? also there). I've also had a close look at some FSAE cars at motorshows - eg. MSEC 2000 in Detroit, and others.


  3. #73
    You know Z, you seem to be dodging a very important question, what is your FSAE history if any? I think all of the over privileged lazy swine on this board will agree with me that if you've never done it you really have no idea what is involved, so maybe try it and then get back with us? As far as innovation for innovations sake, we have this argument with freshman all the time. They ask why it's not a turbo, we say because we don't have to time, money, or personal to design and build a functional turbo engine. They ask why it's not AWD, same answer. They want to know about a CF tub, same thing. The basic point is that any FSAE team, at least any of the ones that win, are building race cars to win a competition. If the competition was to build a car with a 3500lb minimum weight and a hydraulic regenerative braking system, then I'm sure you would indeed see some hydraulic drives. I've been around racing my entire life, real racing, watching the guys come out the drag strip every weekend with some different aerodynamic trick, or turbo down pipe, or suspension pickup point in search of finding some little trick that will shave .010 of a second. At the same time I watch F-1, NASCAR, CART, IRL, and whatever else there is, where money is no option and reliability is number one. I think FSAE is the perfect mix between the two, weekend racers building Street Stocks in their backyard with stick welders and 300 engineers on the payroll building a car that cost more then most make in a lifetime. I personally really want to FSAE car with a structural steel "uni-body" central tub that hangs magnesium doghouses front and back with a electronic AWD system and a supercharged 609cc CF and titanium 20,000 RPM V-12, but I never will because our stupid wet sump F4i, 4130 chassis, wish bone suspension car gives my team the best chance of winning, simple. On a side note, anyone know of a sport bike that comes with such an engine?

  4. #74
    It's been awhile since I've visited and commented here. A few months ago I sent the following to Charles at RACECAR ENGINEERING. It wasn't published, so I've decided to share it here as a way to provide some perspective:

    Dear Charles,

    I've been following the commentary re: Formula SAE® in Racecar Engineering for many years now. The comments in Vol. 15, No. 9 have prompted me to write.

    I've seen the SAE student design competitions from every perspective, save SAE headquarters staff - and in jest I threaten to do that one day. I've been a student member, team captain, student branch president, safety official, competition organizer, rules committee founder, member and chair, faculty advisor in several incarnations, and now motorsports design judge. As such I have my own view as to what the competitions are about.

    First and foremost they are not about the judges, officials, faculty advisors, or scribes. They are for the students – most of whom are undergraduates. These are not competitions to see who can be the most innovative, but rather who can best meet the objectives set forth in the rules.

    After the launch of Sputnik there was a great upheaval in education here in the U.S.A. (where the competitions originated) as it was feared that we had fallen behind the U.S.S.R. in mathematics, the sciences and engineering. Theoretical studies were stressed over practical applications and design. Industries were beginning to complain that recent graduates were strong in theory, but weak in the practical skills necessary to design and develop new products. The student vehicle design competitions were first developed in the early 1970's in order to provide those skills, which were once thought absolutely necessary for graduate engineers.

    Most faculty members nowadays are researchers, and as such want to see innovation. So do some design judges. The sad part nowadays is that most faculty have gone from undergraduate to post-graduate studies and then to academia without ever having practiced engineering in industry.

    For many of the student competitors, these projects are the first time they have ever designed and built something. To those of us who have been involved with these competitions for many years, many of the designs may be "conventional" (in the context of these competitions), but they are new to many of the students. It is true that the top schools have excellent teams in which continuity from year-to-year is maintained. Still, even at those schools, these projects represent the first efforts of many team members, and as such it is the first time that they have had to make design decisions. (We try to catch those who simply copy a previous entry without demonstrating knowledge of the design trade-offs.)

    Sure, it's nice to see innovation, but it is development that makes a design into a winner, and given the short time frame (and the fact that these are full time students) many opt for simpler designs. I would submit that from what I've seen, nine-time champion Cornell University introduces innovative bits incrementally, and only after they have been developed. That's much the same as one might do in either industry or motorsports.

    Further, the number of entries that successfully complete what should be a relatively simple "endurance" test is pitifully low. That I would again hypothesize is because although many of the designs are very much the "same" to us judges, they are "new" to the students. The time to "shake up" the competition with radical changes to the rules is after we start seeing 50% or more of the teams finish the endurance event. Until then, these competitions still serve their intended purpose of providing a means by which young engineers first apply the theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom, and develop the practical skills necessary to design, develop and manufacture products.

    - Dick Golembiewski

  5. #75
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2005
    Originally posted by james17:
    You know Z, you seem to be dodging a very important question, what is your FSAE history if any? I think all of the over privileged lazy swine on this board will agree with me that if you've never done it you really have no idea what is involved...

    I guess you missed the post directly above yours???

    Yeah, sure I've got no history whatsoever in FSAE, or in any other form of motorsport. So what? That's really a pissweak argument against my ideas. If you've got some technical reasoning, then let's hear it!

    Oh, BTW, I've got no history with your girlfriend, and I've never done it with her, but I'll bet I've got a pretty good idea of what is involved.


  6. #76
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    Mar 2005
    Originally posted by Dick Golembiewski:
    ... These are not competitions to see who can be the most innovative, but rather who can best meet the objectives set forth in the rules...

    The objectives set forth in the rules:

    Rule 1.1 "...so that the knowledge, creativity, and imagination of the students are challenged..."

    Rule 1.2 "...the car must have very high performance [and] must be low in cost, easy to maintain, and reliable..."

    In short - use the student's creativity and imagination to build a fast and cheap car.

    Apologies if I am getting repetitious, but I am convinced that it is possible to build a faster and cheaper car than the standard car, but it will require the students using some creativity and imagination! That is, they will have to think "innovatively" to come up with a different design to the standard one.

    There is at least one team that is trying to comply with these objectives (ie. fast and cheap). But one of the lead designers there is getting all sorts of flak from some boneheads on this forum for doing so. Do you think he will become a better engineer if he ditches the Briggs and copies a standard car?

    I kind of wonder how NASA ever managed to land a man on the moon, given that they didn't have any "standard" lunar module designs to, err, copy???


  7. #77
    Eric (Z),

    My comments weren't directed at the specific case of that car, but rather at the subject in general. The original thread was re: ideas for innovation. As I said, there is nothing wrong with innovation, we certainly encourage it, but innovation strictly for the sake of innovation won't necessarily be successful. Some of the comments in the issue I cited imply that the competitions should be all about innovation - which they certainly aren't. To win one has to have the entire package. That may or may not include lots of innovation.

    Some competitors are proud of their innovative bits, and that's to be expected - and lauded. However, we occasionally get complaints from competitors who don't perform particularly well, but think that they should score higher because of some innovation.

    On the other hand, as I stated these competitions are often the first time many students have ever designed and built something. When I did it, I was like a kid in a candy store, and many students feel the same way. (Gee...I get to build a racecar and use other people's money to do it! Yes, we had to raise it, but it didn't come out of our pockets.) Still the scope of FSAE can be overwhelming for many students - especially those who only do it once - their senior year. (A reason successful teams have built cultures which bring people up over all or most of their tenure as students.)

    I can't - and won't - disagree with your statements. (Who was it who said, "Simplify and add lightness" - too true!) Those who have read my thoughts here and elsewhere or who have had me speak to them know I advocate overcoming obstacles.

    What I want to point out is that these are not contests to see who can come up with the most innovative design. Ron Taurnac was never considered particularly innovative, but his cars sure won a lot of races nonetheless. Jim Hall had two incarnations: The first was incredibly innovative, but he didn't win as much as many others. When he settled into preparing reliable racecars he won - a lot! (The flexible Lola F5000 cars, then in Can-Am II, and finally in USAC/CART. The Bernard designed champ car was considered to be innovative, but was it? Certainly in that series, it and the Penske PC7 were the first to use "ground effects", but the idea had been used in F1 for a couple of years. In any event, it didn't win (I don't have the 1979 record in front of me, but if it won that year it might have been once) until after it had been developed (and was almost unbeatable in 1980).)

    Sure Chapman also innovated - and won - but it isn't necessarily a requirement.

  8. #78
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Melbourne Australia
    Loving this thread. Keep up the pot stirring everyone.

    At FSAE Oz this weekend I've had the good fortune to chat to quite a few highly regarded people on the topic of FSAE car design. Two interesting and similar points of view I'd like to note.

    Firstly, speaking to Dr Sano from Tokyo Denki University, (and if you know anything about F1 history you might recognize his name as the designer of Honda's first F1 grand prix winning car in 1965 - a very highly regarded engineer). To paraphrase him - he thinks FSAE is a wonderful opportunity for us, but we tend to make our designs far more complicated than they need to be.

    Secondly, talking to Sig Oguran (Japanese F1 journalist and TV commentator) about a conversation he had with Ross Brawn (Ferrari F1), after viewing the FStudent entries this year. He thinks that FSAE is a wonderful opportunity for us, but we tend to make our designs far more complicated than they need to be....

    They were the two that stand out to me in terms of their credibility - but that same sentiment has been echoed many times around the pits this weekend. And the growing opinion that I have picked up on is that the better designs (and you could argue if this is innovative - I would), are the ones that look at the FSAE "standard" and try getting rid of some of the complexity. An example - Queensland ditching their diff for a spool - and coming up with something that is quicker to build, neater, and still plenty fast enough.

    Just thought I'd add that, as I'm a bit of a fan of the Z design philosophy - if not necessarily in specific execution then definitely in terms of the thought processes behind them.

    Cheers all,
    Geoff Pearson

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

    Design it. Build it. Break it.

  9. #79
    Originally posted by Z:
    There is at least one team that is trying to comply with these objectives (ie. fast and cheap). But one of the lead designers there is getting all sorts of flak from some boneheads on this forum for doing so. Do you think he will become a better engineer if he ditches the Briggs and copies a standard car?
    That darn Briggs really stirs up the pot, hunh? The kicker is that it was in an AWFUL state of tune for that 39th place finish this year.

    I've been following this thread but haven't had much to add. For one, I think you guys are getting a little too cranky over Z's pokes at your creativity. You shouldn't feel like you have to defend the difficulty of the work you've done or accomplishments you've attained to anyone. And I don't think that is what Z is saying either. Sure, it'd be a lot easier to swallow some of his words if you knew he had 6 years on a top FSAE team and has been a design judge every year since, but that experience isn't required to have applicable knowledge.

    Z-man is just challenging you to act on some of those "out of the box" ideas we've all had. Send two guys off on a side project working on a goofy idea that everyone is sure won't work. Then be pleasantly suprised when it does work, and might be worth adapting to the car.

    Granted some of the stuff like the IVT and radical engine swaps don't qualify as measly 'side projects', but they could be something you could experiment with on a test rig in the couple of months after each year's competition. Call it your R&D phase.
    UMich-Dearborn '04-'06
    Carnegie Mellon '99-'03
    [url=http://eVileNgineering.com][b]eVil eNgineerin

  10. #80
    Like Dan, I've been keeping an eye on where this thread is going and it seems to have taken a turn towards debate, rather than ideas. This is expected in a discussion of "innovation" where the words meaning is different for everyone. I personally consider innovation to be localized, especially in situations like FSAE. Development of new products take long cycles of design and testing before they can perform at the level which they were intended to. Cornell is an excellent example of this. They go from concept to product in long cycles. They don't hastily cobble together a concept and throw in on in time for competition. They proove the designs merits in rediculous amounts of testing and refinements. I know everyone uses them as a benchmark, and for good reason. A "standard" car is simply a teams adaptation of what has been seen to be successful in competition to their own car. Our team is a thrid year team, and in terms of innovation, our design is hugely innovative in terms of our team. We're completely changing our chassis design, drivetrain package, intake and exhaust packages. These changes may not be innovative in industry as a whole, but are vast challenges for our team and shouldn't be looked at as "standard" by any means. I guess my point is, innovation shouldn't be viewed at as simply revolutionary, and given the few points we are rewarded with for such things, revolutionary becomes irrelevant. We should concentrate on creating reliable competetive cars. Once you have a package you are confident can be refined over several iterations, then you can become more wild and revolutionary. I've seen the pains of having the parts we take for granted (A-arms, uprights, etc) become problems in assembly and manufacture. I can't imagine trying to deal with some exotic unproven concept someone finally completed in the last month before competition.
    Stan Weed
    UNH Precision Racing
    Electronics Team Captain
    Engine Team
    General Smart Ass

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