June 15, 2012

Solar Splash Competition 2012

After taking a detour in Cincinnati to pick up a CMSS team member, we made it to Cedar Falls, Iowa in a rental vehicle late Monday night, ready to start the competition the following morning.

On Tuesday we finished modifying the propulsion system to hold the electric motors the further above the water and also added pontoons to increase stability.  

The modification to the propulsion system limited us to attaching one Etek motor, which will be used in both the endurance and sprint events.  The pontoons allow the boat to safety operate in windy conditions at the lake where the 2012 Solar Splash competition is being held (in Cedar Falls, Iowa) while also adding a minimal amount of drag.

On Wednesday, the team passed the electrical and mechanical inspections and competed in the maneuverability qualifying event.  Driven by Nate, the boat completed a test demonstrating the basic maneuverability of the boat.

Testing at the lake before the competition.

Nate is pulling the boat over to the launch area.

Launching the boat into the water.

 Jon is holding the boat in place despite the wind while it is being inspected.

Nate is in the boat ready to do the maneuverability test.

May 6, 2012

If it looks like a boat...

The boat is finally starting to look like a boat. Gunwales and bulkheads are installed. The only problem is that it's not 100% waterproof.

To solve this, we added another coat of Gluvit epoxy-based undercoater/sealer. This time we added white pigment so we can't paint right over it. We're thinking orange.

March 24, 2012

Boat Building 101

Hull construction is now fully underway and things are looking up. At the end of the layup process, we had our fair share of concerns. While the fiberglass went on exceptionally smooth (thanks to the efforts of Nate and Zach), the vacuum bag didn't exactly function according to plan: as in there was no vacuum. The result was a surface that intermittently smooth and gridded. Still, it matched the hull form nearly perfectly, with far fewer bubbles than the last time we did this.

And thus began the long and arduous process of removing the foam from the boat. Each member had their own preferred method, mostly involving chisels, hammers, wedges, drills, and jigsaws...or some combination thereof.
By the end of day 1, less than half of the foam had been removed. We payed special attention to leaving several foam cross-sections in the hull so they can act as bulk-heads.
After everyone left for the night, Robbie and I decided to do a simple waterproofing test: pour a bucket of water into the hull and see if any leaks out.
Unfortunately, it did. You can see the droplets forming on the outside of the hull, meaning that water is passing through the hull.
During our Saturday session, the rest of the foam was removed (with the exception of flooring support). It actually looks like a boat now! Most importantly, it's shaping up to be our best boat yet!

January 20, 2012

Making the Mold

Back from break, we are continuing work on manufacturing the boat hull.  We are gluing together the foam pieces of the plug and will soon be coating and finishing the plug.

Sanding and scoring the foam pieces

Gluing individual pieces of foam

Glued Foam Plug

 Sanding the Plug

Foam Plug from the Front

December 6, 2011

Status Update: Fall 2011

Sorry for the yearlong delay, but we're still working hard here at CMSS. This year we've been trying to incorporate some newer technologies into our work. One of our biggest improvements is the fact that as opposed to the old hot-wire method for cutting cross-sections, we have CNC'd our pieces with the help of the drama department and Ben Carter.

With the pieces cut, the outline of our newest hull can begin to take shape:
Some of you may be wondering how we ended up with such a radical design. Well, with the trust of Michlet genetic algorithm hull creation software (as well as SolidWorks verification), this was the final product. We're currently performing some layup testing as we're hoping to build a female mold this year, and want to get the best finish as possible.

I apologize for the lapse in updates, but keep posted to our blog in the future to watch how this season unfolds.

Creating the cross sections.

December 5, 2011

Does this thing still work?

Yes it does! That mean's we'll be posting our status shortly!

October 9, 2010

River Test Followup

After our first river test, we decided to change the gear ratio to the propeller and get more data on a second river test! Luckily the weather agreed; today was the first warm, sunny day in weeks.

First, we ran the propeller in a plastic bin, performing a "bucket test" to check the load of the propeller and to calibrate the current sensors.

Then, we drove the boat to the river and let some people drive it around and collect data.

Frank Driving Around

Ibuki Driving

Some more boat driving