Tag Archives: chalmers formula student

We won the electric class of Formula Student Netherlands!


Best Electric Car in Formula Student Netherlands!

After a magnificent performance from everyone in the team in all the dynamic and static events, we won first place in the electric car class in the first edition of Formula Student Netherlands, picking up 2nd place in design, acceleration, skidpad, autocross and endurance as well as 1st place in the cost & manufacturing event with an epic performance from everyone in the cost subgroup.

For most of you, Formula Student is something unknown. You can read a post about the competition itself and about the project lifecycle of Chalmers Formula Student in here.

Now, let me walk you through the entire competition.

Arriving to the TT-Circuit in Assen.

940km, 2 ferries and a long Monopoly game (still the best way to survive a long trip, lesson learned from my Lapland trip) later, we arrived at the TT-Circuit, “The Cathedral of Speed”, in Assen. We built the camp and the kitchen tent before heading to town to have dinner.

The day after, everyone gathered in the main hall for the inauguration of the event, where the organizers gave a few words. Afterwards, the pit lane was open and everyone started building their own pit which contain the tools and everything needed to take care of any potential issue, do a set-up, prepare for scrutineering, replace a part or to fix the car if needed.


Business Plan Presentation, Design, and Cost & Manufacturing Events.

Not everything is about racing cars. A big part of the competition is about the static events. First static in our to do list was: the Business Plan Presentation, where every team develops and deliver a comprehensive business model about their product – a prototype race car – and how it could become a rewarding business opportunity for the judges (“potential investors”); this is where teams get creative in their business models and presentations.

Furthermore, in the Cost and Manufacturing Event every team needs to be able to show their understanding of the manufacturing processes and costs associated with their race car. This includes trade off decisions between content and cost, make or buy decisions and understanding the differences between prototype and mass production. A hard copy of all the parts, all the processes and basically everything that is needed to build a race car needs to be presented!

 


Last but not least.  The Engineering Design Event aims to evaluate the team’s ability to explain the engineering processes and effort that went into the design phase; this is where we explain different judges the concepts and technologies implemented, and prove why the chosen design is the best one for our purpose. One of our cornerstones in CFS is to take data driven decisions, and this is where we show all the data that lead to the design of choice.


Acceleration, Skidpad and Autocross.

There is nothing like the smell of rubber on tarmac in the morning. The excitement was the lead character in this magnificent play, where 40 teams were ready to go full throttle.

We were the first ones in queue for the Skidpad event, were the point of the event is to assess the cornering ability of the car under wet circumstances. Long story short, each team has 4 runs, and in each run the driver will do two right-hand complete circles and two left-hand ones, the fastest wins.

After completing Skidpad, Viktor (team member from aerodynamics, pool party enthusiast, Swedish and a very good friend) and I headed back to the camp since it was our turn to cook for everyone! Everyone else made their way to the main straight of the circuit where the Acceleration event was taking place.

Like the name suggests it, the point of this event is to assess the acceleration of the race cars, every team has 4 runs in a 75m long straight, this time our car came second, being our fastest time 3.347s.

4 great runs in acceleration later, everyone headed towards the track where the Autocross event was taking place. This is where we “race” our cars in a more real-life environment. Each team has 4 runs in the track, where like any other race the one with the fastest lap wins. This time our team came 4th with a difference of 1.591s between our time and the winning lap.


Endurance.

If the nervousness was not enough, the difference in points between the 1st place and the 4th was minimum. It was all or nothing in the final event of the competition, the most challenging one, the Endurance Event.

This is where only a handful of cars finish, the objective of this event is to push to the limit during 22km, every team needs to be able to run their race car for 22km as fast as possible without running out of fuel or battery charge, without any mechanical failure, without the car suddenly stopping. There is no room for mistake. I gotta say that everyone in my team had 3 heart attacks probably because the car stopped, but luckily the drivers could restart without any external help.

Seeing the car running through the finish line while the chequered flag was waving is a feeling that only a few get to experience, it was amazing. We were 2nd fastest, just right after TU Valencia (the overall winners and the winners in the combustion class as well).

TU Valencia and Chalmers Formula Student.

At the end, we took home the 1st place in the electric class, 2nd place overall (combustion + electric), 2nd place in design, 2nd place in acceleration, 2nd place in skidpad, 1st place in cost & manufacturing and 2nd place in endurance. 7 trophies in total in our first competition of the season!

Formula Student Germany is just around the corner, so we need to improve upon our success to achieve a good result in what is the most challenging competition in the Formula Student season.


#AndresInGöteborg

Chalmers Formula Student 2017

Over the past 9 months I’ve experienced a lot of new adventures (I’ve written about a few of them in here), and I’ve faced a lot of new challenges. But no challenge is as big as Chalmers Formula Student; designing, building and testing a car in only 11 months is very ambitious and demanding. A few months ago I wrote about Formula Student, the project and the outline of the competition; what is it about? why is it so big? and a little bit about Chalmers Formula Student 2017 (CFS17).

Now it is time to write about Chalmers Formula Student 2017.


Chalmers Formula Student 2017

Let’s start from the beginning. One of the cornerstones of CFS is not only to build a highly competitive car, but also to form skilled engineers. This is why at the beginning of every academic year a completely new team is assembled.

During the first weeks, the idea is to define a common goal and assign responsibilities as well as start planning for the months to come.

This year our goal is:

“By working as a team, CFS17 will design and build a high performance 2WD electric car with key components that are compatible with a 4WD concept. The car should run latest May 1st, 2017, weight less than 180kg and have tested and verified subsystems. As a result, the team will finish top 10 in all events and top 5 overall in FSN and FSG 2017.”

Once the goal was defined it was time to move on into investigating new solutions, this stage of the project is about reading reports from previous years and considering new technologies that can be implemented into the new model to improve upon last year’s model.

Sounds pretty much straight forward, but trust me, there are thousands of things and small details to consider, even the simplest change can have a huge impact.


Designing a car

After a couple of weeks of investigating new solutions and, developing together as a team a concept, we move on into the actual design, where we use CAD (Computer Aided Design, specifically CATIA; fun fact about CATIA…it hates me) to design and model the parts and assemblies that at the end come together to build a car.

This part of the project was a little bit hectic, probably everyone in the team pulled an all-nighter at least once by now, but for me the design part was very hectic and stressful. Specially because I was taking 2 courses (Vehicle Dynamics and Vehicle and Traffic Safety) at the same time while doing CFS.

The winter break was close but we had to lock down our design before taking a small time off, this means that everyone needed to be done with the parts they were designing to have a complete car assembly.


Building a car

Building a car in sounds much easier that it is. Manufacturing every single part in the way they are designed is quite challenging, and at the end this is the stage of the project when you realize that there are parts that look rather simple in the computer but they are a pain to manufacture.

At the end, no matter all the small issues during the process, we built a very beautiful car (still needs to be tested in the track but probably it will perform very good), and the important part is that everyone in the team worked so hard to achieve this. So, I want to raise my imaginary beer right now and just say, cheers to everyone in CFS!

*drumroll to create suspense* and this is how our car looks like! Hope you guys like it!


 


We will be now preparing and tuning our car until the very last day before the competition, which is taking place in the TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands (FSN), from the 17th – 20th of July and in the Hockenheimring in Germany (FSG) from the 8th – 13th of August.

I’m really looking forward for the competitions and I hope that CFS wins both in FSN and FSG!


#AndresInGöteborg

CFS16 during endurance test in FSG 2016

THE ultimate engineering competition.

A few months ago, it never crossed my mind to be involved in a project as big as Formula Student, and if we go even further it never crossed my mind being in Sweden, and you know what, that is exactly what I like about decision making, ultimately every single decision will take you one step closer to a new adventure.

First things first, what is Formula Student? And why is it so big? If I had to explain Formula Student (Formula SAE) as simple as possible the only thing that comes to my mind is: THE most challenging engineering competition in the student environment.

CFS16 during Formula Student Germany ©


Formula Student

In my dictionary, engineering means developing and pushing an idea to the limit defined by science (the fun part is when you go over the limit). Now, let’s move on to the question what is Formula Student? Well, Formula Student is the world largest engineering competition at student level, just to give you an example; 249 teams from all over the world participated in registration to take a place in the event held in Germany!

Basically, each university team designs, builds, tests and present their concept of a single seat, open wheel formula racecar. The competition is not won by the team with the fastest car, but rather by the team with the best overall package of construction, performance, and financial and sales planning. The car is assessed through different events, both static and dynamic.To test the performance of the car, dynamic events like acceleration, skidpad and endurance take place during competition. Car is also judge in design, cost and in business planning.

I mentioned that the competition is in Germany previously, but the competition is not exclusively held in Germany. There are 10 different competitions around the world: Michigan, 2 events in Nebraska, Australia, Brazil, Italy, United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, and finally Japan. Germany being the most challenging and competitive one.

Formula Student involves a tremendous amount of effort from everyone in the team, it’s a project that extends for over a year, since the formation of the team until the last day of competition. Moreover, Formula Student it’s not just building a car, it is one of the best ways of getting experience.

 

CFS16 during Formula Student Germany ©

CFS16 during Formula Student Germany ©


Chalmers Formula Student

This year I have the fortune of being part of the Chalmers Formula Student (CFS17) Team, one of the top teams in the world (the best team in the world according to me but this is just me not being objective). Chalmers has performed quite good over the past years, just last year CFS16 ended up in the 6th place in UK; 2012, CFS12 won the competition in the UK; in 2014, CFS14 got the 3rd place in Germany, but this are only some of the results that Chalmers has achieved over the years.

I joined CFS without knowing what I was about to do, without knowing the amount of time that I would put into a single project, without knowing the number of things that I would learn just by looking at what previous years have done. So far, it’s been quite challenging.

I am part of the Aerodynamics and Exterior Design subgroup, where I work with 2 more team mates adding wings into the car…I know it sounds crazy but trust me, wings are good for race cars. You can expect a post later regarding aerodynamics, right now I don’t want to bore you with engineering facts.

To give you some context, the team consists of about 30 engineers, from different nationalities, everyone with a different background and from different academic programs. This is, in my opinion, one of our best advantages.


Right now we are building the car, every single component from the new complety re-design motors to the carbon fiber rims. CFS latest model will be running 1st of May (or at least that is the plan)

Stay tuned for the upcoming updates on Formula Student, I’m sure I will write again about it!


#AndresInGöteborg

 

 

CNC machine, max. feed, 5000 rpm, no big deal

I mentioned Chalmers workshop last time. Today, I’ll say a few words about students that are running wild in the CNC workshop.

(photo: I am learning how to write G-Code on the CNC lathe machines)

Yes, students operating CNC machines. CNC stands for Computer Numeric Control. You are probably not so impressed, if you have no idea about CNC machines.

  1. They are freaking expensive (an inexpensive HAAS lathe costs about half a million SEK, or $100,000 USD)
  2. They aren’t easy to operate (people go through three years of college training)
  3. It is really easy to screw up the machine (if you clash two moving components, you will hear the loudest bang in your life…and then your wallet shrinks into a black hole)
  4. A nice Sandvik Coromant carbide tool cost 10,000 SEK, and it breaks easily when misused.

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Photo: a typical CNC milling machine. 

Ok, the students are not running “wild” in the “irresponsible” sense. They are operating the machine at its performance ceilings (meaning the machinists know what they are doing). IMG_1149

Photo: Niklas & Marcus on the CNC lathe.

I have never seen & heard a lathe running at 5000 revolutions per second. It sounds like an aircraft engine. Not exaggerating.

Of course, not anyone is allowed to fool around with these machines. The Chalmers Formula Student (CFS) machinists operating these CNC machines are extremely talented.

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Photo: Göran from Sandvik Coromant visiting the CFS team and showing Victor how to realise a tool’s full capability.

Let me list a few:

  • Isak from CFS 2014: he is probably born inside a CNC machine. Even the engineer at Sandvik Coromant (a Swedish tooling manufacturer) is impressed by his knowledge and ability.
  • Johannes from CFS 2015: he is probably born with a welding gun in his hand. After seeing him laying down a perfect bead of aluminium weld, he goes into the CNC lab and mills out quite complex geometries.
  • Niklas from CFS 2014 is a man of the north. He is from Umeå, where the SI bloggers visited last year. He is so familiar with the CNC lathe that the machine shop head comes to him with questions. (The flat hierarchy in Sweden also means the student-teacher relationship is quite sincere).

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Photo: Johannes tooling around the CNC mill

Lately, Niklas is investing a lot of his free time to teach CNC lathe to Marcus and I.

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Photo: Carefully running the program in “single block” mode, baby steps, one block at a time.

I can’t fly on my own yet. I don’t think I will have time to practice enough on the CNC lathe to earn my “license”. Nonetheless, I feel quite privileged to touch the CNC machine and rev it up to 5000 RPM (under Niklas’ presence).

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Photo: Trying to understand which tool goes where and does what…

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Photo: Taking baby-steps, learning each tool and figuring out its “cutting position”. It’s not a selfie. I couldn’t determine the position of the tool that is oriented upside down…. position 3, matching?

Ok, back to the workshop.

 

Löv,

 

gimmygöteborg

 

somebody is in charge of 3D printing… was it you Josue?

IMG_1047

Chalmers trust his students so much, it’s almost Stupid!

“If your father just bought a €200,000 Ferrari, would he let your 15-year-old brother drive it? Chalmers would.”

(photo: Josue from Ecuador waiting for auto-feed to complete a pass)

1 March 2015, Gothenburg, Light intermittent Snow, 2 degrees C

IMG_1169

After breaking another personal record, 15 hours of continuous sleeping, I feel my mind and senses have been recalibrated again. IMG_1061

I have been busy at the machine shop lately.

Today I wanted to say a few good words about Chalmers’ machine shop resources and this “CDIO” thing.

IMG_1171

It’s not a massive machine shop… smaller than U of Waterloo shop. But it does the trick!

Chalmers is in the vanguard of CDIO development back in the late 90s and early 2000s. It is spread worldwide now. CDIO stands for Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate. It is an engineering teaching philosophy that is aimed at increasing graduate engineer’s “competency”. (I am not saying engineer graduates are useless, but I have met graduates that don’t know how to use a wrench…).

In short, most engineering schools focus on theoretical part of “Conceive” and “Design”, but overlook “Implement” and “Operate” part. But under CDIO, students must be responsible for the “manufacturing” and “functionally” of their design. (In other words, you earn your marks by designing something and then proving your design physically works).

BUT there is a catch. In order to realize the “Implement” and “Operate” in CDIO philosophy, the school has to provide the necessary manufacturing resources. If you are not familiar with mechanical engineering equipment, they are EXTREMLY expensive (to purchase, to maintain, etc.).

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Chalmers wood workshop

Not many schools in the world have such student machine shop resources. While studying at U of Waterloo, I remember a fellow U of Calgary comrade “drooling” over the Waterloo machine shop. Apparently at U of Calgary, they have a few primitive handheld tools. Waterloo has a great workshop, I am very proud of it.

 

But my concern with the Waterloo machine shop is not all students receive the necessary training.

00        School blindly trust students’ “common sense”

10        Students (often unintentionally) mess up the machines

30        Many “fancier” machines are off-limit to students.

40        The machine shop closes at 9PM and reopens at 8AM. Opening hours are even shorter on weekends.

50        School trust the student less.

60        Go to “00”

 

Chalmers machine shop is run very differently. 

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The students have to earn their “driving licenses” by proving their capabilities (both theoretical, but also his or her “maturity and responsibility”). The entire process reminds me of going through driving school. Finally, once you have earned your “credibility”, you can work without supervision after hours (1700-2400).

INSANE! So much trust invested in us!

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Yes, there is a lot of theory behind machining! Machining isn’t just “muscle” work.

Så, I was playing around with the TIG welding machine in the machine shop the other day. It was quite possibly the happiest moment in January. It is fantastic that the school’s machine shop has two TIG machines (one for aluminium welding and one for steel welding) and a MIG welding machine for students to “play around” with!

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Welding room

As I was exclaiming how “trusting” Chalmers is to let me “monkey” around with fancy welders, Johannes slams my praise “oh this is nothing. The school let us play with expensive CNC machines…” (Johannes is our “Design Expert” on the Chalmers Formula Student (CFS) team. He is a very talented guy. I’ll write about him and other gods from CFS next time.)

 

True. Johannes is right. It’s no big deal. If welding machines are comparable to “brand new BMWs”, then those CNC machines are like “Lamborghinis”.

I’ll write about those CNC machines the next time.

 

Back to the workshop!

 

Löv,

gimmygöteborg

IMG_0798

Swedish students and their spelling mistakes

I have praised the Swedish students in the past about their wonderful English. When it comes to report writing, the written professional English is (sometime) a nightmare.

I have been warned by a fellow Canadian during the first few weeks after I arrived “don’t proofread their reports, because it doesn’t matter”. I can understand the warning. After the young Swedes earn their bachelor degree, the master’s education switches to English. The students are new to English writing. It is difficult to write well even for native English speakers.

I had the opportunity to proofread some writings at Chalmers Formula Student for external communication purposes. Man! I’ve seen some serious typos.

The Swedish students write with a “Swedish keyboard” setting. This prevents Microsoft from performing automatic spellcheck. When you open a document, your heart stops beating for a moment, as all you see are “red” squiggles. Then YOU change the language setting in Word to English. You face-palm and start with corrections. “S” and “Z” are often mixed up. Swedish language tends to staple a few words together into one long word. This is a very common English spelling mistake.

Then what did my fellow Canuck mean by “it doesn’t matter”?

I randomly opened a formal Chalmers publication. I opened three pages and I spotted three spelling mistakes. I was quite disappointed to be honest. But maybe typos are not as sinful as it is in an English speaking country? Perhaps people care about the content more than formality?

A typo is a typo. That’s my view.

I really cannot blame the Swedish guys as English is not their mother tongue.

But for non-native English speakers, they are probably still the word’s second best… well, that’s controversial. We can’t forget about Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands. They speak well too!

 

DCIM106GOPRO
Pro Tip:

If you want to change your keyboard setting to e.g. English (UK) while still being able to use “äöå”, add an English keyboard with Swedish configuration:

keyboard

I also have a “Greek” keyboard to write engineering equations.

If you want to change your decimal point from “, – comma” into “. – period”, follow the instructions below.

 

point0 point1 point2