• KU Solar Car

Winter 2020 Update

We’re finally here! We made it through the end of 2020 and although it was a tough year, we made the best of it. Despite the insanity going on throughout the globe, our team shined in all the work we’ve done and all the progress we’ve made as a team.

This year Mechanical completed many drawings for sheet metal parts and ordered them too. We also finished welding the chassis and finished the top section of the aeroshell. Electrical put in more work on the 4G hotspot. Solar team finished the first solar array designs and will be testing them soon to make sure they interface correctly. Finally with the Business team, we are finishing up getting some new sweatshirts out, working on legal documents, and a new newsletter.

Mechanical: Drawings for our sheet metal parts and rear suspension components have been completed! It was a great learning experience for creating drawings for machine shops. The drawings were done in SolidWorks.

The sheet metal parts were water jetted by KMT Water jetting who kindly donated water jetting time to us. Water jetting is a computer aided manufacturing method that uses water combined with an abrasive material that shoots out of a tube at incredibly high pressures to precisely cut metals and plastics. The sheet metal parts will be for tabs that will be welded onto the chassis for mounting the suspension, the seat, steering rack, and other items.

Chassis Welding: Mechanical has finished welding the chassis! The chassis is made of chromoly steel tubes and is welded using TIG welding. Chromoly is a very light weight type of steel that is very common to use in high end bike frames, and roll cages for race cars. The design of the chassis was determined using Finite Element Analysis. The regulations require that the chassis withstands high force loads such as a 5G impact in all directions and more. Here are some pictures of the whole process of welding the chassis.

Aeroshell progress - top shell plug, bottom shell progress, canopy.

There has been great progress for manufacturing our composite aeroshell. The aeroshell is split into 3 parts: the canopy, top shell and bottom shell. For each part, we are creating fiberglass female molds in the shape of our cad models to create final fiberglass parts. In order to create these molds, we need to create male mold that create a female mold from.

So far we have completed our top shell plug which is a series of aluminum sheets laid onto plywood stringers.

Aeroshell Bottom shell Progress


Electrical: Our startup sequence has been debugged and works! We however encountered the problem of trying to fit all the startup sequence components into the battery pack enclosure. Solutions are being brainstormed on how to optimize the startup sequence and reduce the amount of components needed as well as packaging and mounting all the components into the battery pack enclosure. We also have gotten our cooling fans to hook up with our electrical systems.

4G hot spot Arduino progress: In order to receive telemetry data from the electrical system wirelessly, we are using a 4G hot spot to send out the data. An Arduino is used to transmit the telemetry data from the other electrical components such as the motor and battery management system through 4G hot spot to an online database.

PCB Design: We have been working on designing our own PCB’s (printed circuit board) on Altium for our electrical system to get more experience with electrical design. The PCB design for our battery protection system fault indicator has been completed and just received the printed board! We are continuing to design the PCB for our driver controls (lights, horn, etc.).


Solar: Solar sub team has finished the solar array design and has been hard at manufacturing arrays as quickly as possible. Soon, we will do testing between the maximum power point trackers and the solar arrays to make sure they interface correctly. Solar sub team was also very lucky to temporarily acquire an infrared thermal camera from the Mechanical Engineering department (shoutouts to Dr. Geng Ku) which they have been using to test arrays.


Business: The business team has been creating new T-shirt designs and Jersey designs for the team for races and for casual wear. We have also been hard at work preparing a new LaunchKU fundraiser for 2021. We have also been working on some sweatshirt designs and changing up the newsletter design.



As we wrapped up the end of 2020, we took a deep breath since it was over and look forward to what comes next in this year. We can’t wait to work harder and improve the team moving forward. We plan to have everything ready to make it to the race this summer in Topeka at Heartland Motorsports Park. And we are going to work really hard to get there!

Written By Natalie Sparks // Business Lead Solar Car KU

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