Note that only two teams made it through every station in the first pass without any red stickers at all: Eindhoven and Lodz. Bravo to both of those teams for being well prepared!
I haven't had a lot of time to peruse team blogs while I've been in Australia (send me tips if you think you have something noteworthy!), but it's worthwhile to mention CUER's continued adventures with motors. It sounds like they finally have everything sorted, and good on them for passing on the karma and helping out WSU in a pinch.
Here's what the final day of inspection looked like:
|The University of Adelaide shows off their array normalization. I heard a lot of hacksaw-on-aluminum noises but they got it up eventually.
|Adelaide's car has some pretty stout composites work between the left and right suspension.
|Lodz with their full array, including dashboard panel
|Adding required signage
|Displaying array normalization, with the dashboard array moved outside to more of a "sunvisor" position. Later they came back and got re-scrutineered with two small aluminum stepladders as car stands, rather than the plywood stand shown here.
|Power cable for the sunvisor array
|Durham's array normalization.
|Very little structure under their solar cells.
|MegaLux normalizing their array.
|Note the amazingly clean array wiring.
|One more shot of the super-clean chassis on this car.
|SunSpec carefully unrolling their array cover.
|SunSpec's battery pack
|Cambridge starting to set up their array normalization for the judges...
|The array is removed from the car and placed on tripods.
|And then an array panel (sans cells for now, but they'll be installed soon) with silicon cells is laid next to the nose of the car.
|ITS showing off their array normalization.
|Some issues with door fitment.
|They were rolling the car around the inspection hall on near-flat tires all day. I cringed every time they moved it.
|Generally speaking, the car actually looks kind of cool when you're up close. It sort of has this low, hulking musclecar-like presence .
|EcoPhoton showing off how Stingray's array will be normalized
|Stingray has a very strange array - Sunpower cells diced half-size. To boost module voltage and allow more tracker channels?
|Houston's car opened up for inspection.
|The University of Tehran's very challenger-like Cruiser car also normalizes it's solar array like most of the Challenger cars.
|The driver cockpit in Persian Gazelle III
|Very stout looking front suspension.
|I guess the rear seat passenger doesn't straddle the driver, they just don't have any legroom. Note the split battery - half on either side of the passenger.
|Uninsulated tools sitting on top of an open battery pack; one about to fall in! Noooooo!
|Some views of the chassis of NIT's Horizon Z.
|NIT array normalizing
|Anadolu array normalizing
|A look at the cockpit of Liberty Christian's car.
|Tokai rolled in to cheers and applause. I'm not sure why they were applause-worthy while teams like Nuon weren't. There was definitely always a crowd around their car...
|Tokai's traditional Sanyo HIT array. Folks definitely gave these cells some credit for Tokai's victory in 2009 and 2011. They're basically unobtainium for non-Japanese teams.
|The inside of Tokai's car, revealing mysteries strapped down in the front and back.
|A row of mirrors aligned along one edge of the car. I assume that's some sort of protective film over the mirrors right now, and they'll be silver on the race?
|Up goes the whole car...
|And there it is, as far up as I saw it go. There was always a crowd around (despite very few people in the inspection hall; Tokai was the last regularly-scheduled car to arrive), so this is the best photo I could snag from up top.
|A look at the structure supporting the car and mirrors.
|Solar car can be exhausting
|A closer look at Beijing's Sun Shuttle II. Only the right rear wheel is driven.
|Left rear suspension. Wait, those angles look different...
|Massive difference in ride height on each side with the driver out of the car. Look at the negative camber gain on the right side when it's unloaded! If I haven't made it clear, I am terrified of this car.
|Checking out WSU's sexy carbon rear suspension.
|Custom Marand motor with carbon housing on the right rear wheel.
|WSU's steering rack. Note the paint marks on the upper wishbones to see if the steering tie rods are rubbing. Looks like they are just a little bit...
WSU assured me that the red duct tape on the front wheel covers is indeed from some last-minute aerodynamic re-contouring, and it'll finished up much prettier with matching vinyl by the start of the race.
|A look down the front of Arrow's very sleek car.
In the evening, there was an event barbecue hosted by Bridgestone. Great food, and I think the teams had a lot of fun! A lot of footballs and frisbees made an appearance. This is the last time they'll really get to unwind as a group until the finish line.
So now that inspection is (mostly) over and I've had a chance to really look over each of the cars, here are a few closing thoughts:
Challenger: I think it's going to be a tight field this year; Nuon may have some serious challengers for the title. They don't seem to have anything up their sleeves this year, just a refined version of last race's car - whereas their competition seem to be trying to push the boundaries. In particular, Twente is really chomping at the bit - you can see exactly how badly they want a win. Michigan also looks like they have a lot of fight in them. On the other hand, I'm not super impressed with Tokai's car - superficially, it looks flawless, but then I look at details like the blend at the trailing edge of the fairings and just laugh uproariously.
Stanford looks like they have solid car that has a good chance at a podium finish, although I'm not sure about the overall win.
Arrow, Toronto, Punch, and Principia all have cars that look well built and I'd expect to see them among the top 10 (I just realized I didn't post any photos of Principia from the first day of inspection - sorry about that!).
MegaLux and WSU are kind of wildcards. Their cars are manufactured extremely nicely, and although we haven't really seen what either team can do yet, WSU did very well for a rookie team in 2013 and MegaLux has been very successful in EcoMarathon.
All of the top teams have put a lot of effort into making sure they can normalize their array as far as possible within the new rules. The top teams are disproportionately represented among the teams that are tilting their whole cars (Stanford, Punch, WSU, Tokai, UKZN, and maybe Kogakuin).
Cruiser: I'm still convinced that Kogakuin is going run away with it, but honestly, I have no idea what to expect for 2nd place. Bochum, Minnesota, and Tehran are the only three teams that have anything even resembling an array normalization plan - UNSW, IVE, and Eindhoven all only pop the trunk panel up, while ITS, Lodz, and Kogakuin tilt the car backwards very slightly with stands of some sort. SunSpec tilts their array slightly (well under 45 degrees from horizontal).
I think the top four teams from last year (Eindhoven, Bochum, UNSW, and Minnesota) are the teams to watch for 2nd place. Tentatively, Minnesota and Eindhoven may have an edge over Bochum and UNSW - they have a LOT more array on their cars, and that's going to matter much more this year. But without knowing aero drag values for each car, I'm really just guessing.
The cars from Tehran, SunSpec, and particularly Lodz all have potential, but I'm not sure what to expect from the teams.
Whelp, that's all I've got tonight. See you tomorrow, folks! I'm going to be out at Hidden Valley all day trying to get some sweet action shots.