Blog Description

Welcome to the Arizona Solar Racing Team's blog! Here you will find updates on our work, event announcements, photos, and links to our other sites.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


We're still the #1 WILDCAT as we beat the other two Wildcats in the race, Northwestern University and University of Kentucky.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We're still the #1 WILDCATS!

Today's North American Solar Challenge award ceremony was held at the Calgary Zoo. We arrived an hour earlier to look around the zoo.
Tucson is definitely missing a zoo.

The food was sponsored by SolarWorld which were the Germany's main sponsor which consisted of salad, burgers, corn and dessert.

It was a deja vu moment for me as it reminded of NASC 2005. I was happy that we were able to have such a reliable car both mechanically and electrically for a 3 year old car.

The first awards that were handed out were the observer awards which were traditionally handed out. We of course received the "Cinderella Watch Award" for being late at the check points. This was due to our very aggressive approach in trying to push our car to it's very limit. Anyways we still beat the other 2 Wildcats in the race.

It's 9 pm now, we just cleaned out all the support vehicles and packed the trailer for our long trip back to Tucson....

Final Day

The night before leaving Medicine Hat, we double checked our official times and there was a huge error with our trailering penalty. This error was significant as the new corrected overall time put us about 3.5 hours in front of U of Kentucky, our closest competitor. We got this corrected Tuesday morning.

We started with a 40% full battery pack on Tuesday morning because we had pushed the car close to its max. Arshed and I had accounted for good clear weather before the race started at 9 so we could as least get a 65-75% state of charge (SOC) in our battery pack.
Unfortunately, the weather turned out opposite to what Arshed and I, with 8 days of weather forecasting experience, expected.

Nevertheless, we left at 9.30 am and crawled towards Calgary where the sun was better. We stopped about 10.30 am and charged back up to 55% SOC and continued on. We kept crawling towards the finish line.

The weather was splotchy towards Calgary which drained our batteries down to where we had to stop. We had 100 miles to go at that point. It was 1 pm and we had 3.5 hours till the finish line closes. We decided to trailer so we could at least cross the finish line with our car.

Alas, we did not make the finish line with our car. We were very disappointed to not able to get a picture perfect finish. Traffic conditions and the truck running out of gas at the last minute were a few of the things that prevented us from reaching the finishing line on time.

That night, we saw some of the Kentucky guys and asked them whether they made it all the way on their own power. They said that they had to trailer from 30 miles out of Calgary. At that point, Arshed and I knew that we had beaten them.

Here's the official final standings.

1 2 University of Michigan 51:41:53
2 32 Principia College 61:38:45
3 1 FH Bochum Solar Car Team 63:47:55
4 24 University of Waterloo 64:00:06
5 35 University of Minnesota 65:41:48
6 65 University of Calgary 75:42:53
7 42 Missouri University of Science and Technology 81:20:36
8 9 Iowa State University 91:12:59
9 95 Red River College 92:15:02
10 8 University of Arizona 98:26:12
11 3 University of Kentucky 100:33:24
12 100 Queen's University 106:36:20
13 11 Northwestern University 113:58:11
14 175 Durham University 134:07:06
14 256 Oregon State University 145:20:00

We're still the #1 WILDCAT!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Final (fatalistic?) Approach...

As our competition approaches its exciting conclusion, I thought I'd offer a synopsis of recent events to give an idea of what our situation is at present.

The team ran into some difficulty during the leg from Fargo, ND to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. We had just had a hilly leg that took us from Sioux Falls, SD to Fargo. Due to terrain and inclement weather, we arrived with a somewhat depleted battery pack. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that Fargo was overcast as well. As a result, we trailered into Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and subsequently proceeded to Brandon (the next checkpoint). We drove the whole distance from Brandon to Regina, Saskatchewan, arriving at the latter early this morning. This was followed by the penultimate race leg, a 300-mile marathon from Regina to Medicine Hat, Alberta. This leg's intent seems to have been to separate the wheat from the chaff. A number of teams trailered it, but we decided to take advantage of the ideal conditions and run hard and fast. SK is the North American version of the Outback, allegedly. One major difference is that is far more hospitable (as indicated by the deer we saw). The rolling, verdant hills reminded me of the rolling hills we'd seen through Kansas (while most of that state is notoriously flat plains terrain, the NASC route went through the hilly portion). As long as we had the sun to our back, we were cruising. However, after a while, the sun's angle shifted to the front, weak part of our array, and our battery pack began to deplete more readily. After two or so roadside charging cycles, we ran out of time about 25 miles outside of Medicine Hat. Nonetheless, our efforts should put us well ahead of our nearest rivals, once the numbers are properly tabulated.

Despite a somewhat outdated vehicle design, limited experience, and anemic battery pack, we've been able to make it all the way to Alberta. It's on to Calgary, tomorrow!


PS Don't forget to examine the slew of images we've been accumulating, below. There's also some info at this blog, such as a link to this video.

Through Day 9: Fargo, Frustration, and Foreign Frontiers

Monday, July 21, 2008

2nd to last day

This was the longest leg of the entire race. 299 miles from Regina to Medicine Hat.
We were so close yet so far with only around 25 miles remaining to the stage stop.
Our battery pack could not hold its potential with the extreme terrain of going up the Rockies towards Medicine Hat. What was really killing us was not having some sort of balancing circuit and no cruse control.

Arshed was back in the seat this morning after I made it clear that I wanted him to drive this morning. He did a good job with driving consistently. Mondo did not fair too well driving consistently.

Anyways, I'm pretty tired...


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 9

If you don't already know there are two of us blogging, Arshed and myself Wei-Ren.

The titles with Day XX is by me and every other posts are by Arshed.

Anyways it's Day 9, 40 miles short of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
The past two days have been frustrating because the weather has not been ideal for solar car racing. We had to trailer our car from Fargo, ND to Winnipeg yesterday. Today, we had to trailer from Winnipeg to Brandon as the whether didn't hold up for us and this is the longest leg of the race from Winnipeg to Medicine Hat. Tomorrow, we have about 370 miles to cover in 10 hours.

Arshed and I have been sitting in the third row of seats in the suburban working on strategy. We have very very little leg room and in the future a 15 passenger van would have been better leg room or better yet a custom cargo van for telemetry and strategy.

I jokingly suggested that we should have one of those Matrix operator rigs where we can see the numbers rolling from left to right instead of from the top to bottom.

As the strategists, we have been doing better than I expected. With no experience or previous instructions to go off, we were able to make some crucial decision. Arshed mainly works on our spreadsheet SOC predicted calculations, elevation and weather, while I work on making sure that our batteries are in check and speed control. Together we discuss different options for the current condition of the race. Arshed has been very valuable to the team.

The car is functioning pretty consistent with a 3 year old car with an old solar array and battery pack. We have had no problems since the first day of mishaps, otherwise we would have been right with Red River College and Iowa, smoking Kentucky instead of catching up with them.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Falling into place in Sioux Falls...

We apologize for the radio silence for the last few days. It's been pretty busy, and pushing forward consumes most of our efforts, to say nothing of the fact that most of us have long since lost track of time and place (in regards day of the week and what state we're in!).

In regards to our performance of late, we are slowly increasing our performance as we get a better sense of how the vehicle performs in different settings and how hard we can push it. We can gauge our relative performance from day-to-day better now, which has helped us take risks and drive more confidently.

Currently, we are fluctuating in 10th-11th place for total elapsed time. This includes our initial mechanical troubles, as well as navigational missteps and inclement weather. Indeed, this last point has given us some trouble, as we have to be very wary of not running our batteries down too low. Nonetheless, we have been able to pass a few teams. There's a bit of schadenfreude involved when we manage to slowly overtake a similarly slow-moving vehicle on a rainy day...

All in all, we continue jockeying towards the lower-middle of the pack. Given our concerns about this venture being remotely viable at all, we're quite happy about our performance thus far. Be sure to examine the NASC site and the news links there!

NASC 2008: Start (Plano, TX) to leg 5 (Sioux Falls, SD)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 3 ...

Day 3, weather wise was exceptionally well.
We were able to go to our max speed capacity which was only around 55 mph.

This was another day of using a more conservative strategy versus a more aggressive. Tomorrow we will go all out and try to be ahead in the lower pack of the race.
As we entered the check point in Tulsa, OK, we saw Queen's leaving and also heard that Red River College left right before Queen's.

The lower pack (in my own opinion) consists of Queen's, Red River College, Iowa State, U of Kentucky and US.
We would have been closer to them if we did not today's last minute issues.

1. we had a flat on the startig line
2. we had to do a driver change because the driver was not comfortable
3. when we wanted to change drivers, the driver ballast were all left in the trailler.

These driver mistakes could have been avoided. The leads have decided that all of them will be accountable if one of them makes a mistake.

Day 2

Sorry for the lack of pictures and the late blog entry.
It has been very tiring.

On the 2nd day(yesterday), we had to charge our batteries up into our race time.
The race today starts at 8am but we had to charge till 9.45am.

From McAllister we cruised into Neosho around 5pm.

No problems with electrical or mechanical.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

First day of race

We're ended our race day in McAlister, Texas.
It was mainly a battery race today as the weather was extremely bad for solar car racing.

I had to change a battery module. then one of the inspectors saw that our hydraulic brake system did not comply with the regulations even though we initially passed all the inspections last week.
We had to spend 3 hours on the racing clock to fix it even though mechanical issues like this should have been picked up during the inspection period and not during the race.

Strategy has been difficult due to the lack of experience and understanding of the overall electrical load characteristic of the solar car.

Learnt a lot today which will be implemented tomorrow and hopefully get us to our next stage stop.

-WR Ng

Pre start race blog

Morning all,

This is Wei-Ren here blogging.
It's 4.49am in Texas, batteries are charging close to the max and feeling nervous about the race.

During the qualifying laps, we weren't able to acquire much valuable telemetry as the antenna on the chase vehicle was not strong enough to receive the weak signal. I was still able to get a good sense of whether the reprogramming of the motor controller worked.

Last night, a few of us missed the banquet just to finish up the car and do final checks.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Hi all this is Wei-Ren,

We successfully qualified all four of our drivers: Hannah, Armando, Justin and Arshed, and our car for the 2400 miles race to Calgary. All the long hours in the lab to prepare the electrical system in the car ready definitely paid off as it was the first few things during inspection that passed.

Now all we have to do is prepare our support vehicles and finish some last minute details on the solar car.

We will be starting 9th on the grid tomorrow morning.
Unfortunately the organizers do not have real time GPS data that they did in 2005 so you will not know where we are unless we blog it.

The team is very happy that we can get on our "unfinished business" from 2005.
On a side note, I'm pretty stressful right now with all the last minute issues with the battery protection system and the miscellaneous small details that I have to finish up.

Tonight will be a long night looking at our first leg and strategy...

Friday, July 11, 2008


Just a short note to confirm that there is activity underway. Having obtained green for all of our Scrutineering stops, we are preparing for our qualifying runs tomorrow, which require 125 miles to be completed on a single charge with an average speed of 25 mph or better. The field appears to have have been thinned as time passes...the 25 or so teams that were purported to have been participating has been reduced to 6 qualified as of Thursday, and five or so on track to qualify tomorrow (including us).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

First Day of NASC activity

After a luxurious start today, the team headed over to the Motorsport Ranch, which is where most of the NASC Scrutineering and qualifying activity will be occurring. Most of the afternoon was spent working on the car (...this was a common pursuit among the teams present). We also had a chance to converse with the other teams and size up the competition, as it were. Drifter accumulated some compliments, especially in regards to the seating (hooray for driver comfort!). Team registration began in the late afternoon, followed by checking in the drivers. Some teams came and went, such as the Germans, while others were camping out at the racetrack. A few of the 30 teams registered were not in attendance, but hopefully they will appear in the next few days.

Finally, one curious fellow from a Midwestern team (Minnesota, perhaps?) asked is if our school mascot was the Sun Devil, and whether the tips on the canopy represented the tines of a pitchfork. Suffice it to say, we quickly corrected his misconceptions and explained that the canopy was intended to resemble a Wildcat, and that we were not the Tempe Normal School...

From 1st day of NASC

We're not lost...we're from Arizona.

So, far, so good. No mishaps to note. We've been traveling at a fairly comfortable pace, although our 4th of July festivities were a bit abbreviated. Amusingly, while traveling through Granbury, we drove through a fair. While passing through, some shopkeepers came out, perhaps noting our U of A vehicles, and asked if we were lost. Naturally, we weren't (yet). Not bad for a bunch of Drifters...

Friday, July 4, 2008

We're out!

Reckoning time is least the sun is seeing us off.

Next stop: Dallas! (with something in the interim, hopefully...)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

More media updates...

We're leaving tomorrow, but now's a good time to recap our activities over the last few weeks. Testing was performed at a small local airport, and on the way back we stopped by the DMV to register our vehicle. We also put the finishing touches on the canopy...

Testing, etc's an album of the chassis. Enjoy!
Untitled Album