Tuesday, October 20, 2015

WSC 2015: Race Photos From The First Three Days.

We're hanging out in Alice Springs at the moment, and plan to stick around through the night. Now that we have some real internet and some time as well, let's look back at some photos of the race.

Race Day 1: 18 October 2015

See the update we made about the first day of the challenge. In photos:

Checking out Team Arrow's car before departure.
Durham with their completed driver canopy.

A Nuon member told me that the price to get your photo on the car is only 10€.
They hope to have the whole car covered next year. Sounds like a deal to me!
3D printed trailing edge on Nuna8.
Coldplate on the underside of Nuon's left fairing for cooling the motor controller.
Tokai unwrapping their car
Vividly blue solar cells.

Stanford's Crew Chief, Jamie, is all smiles before the start line.
Good luck to all the teams! We rolled out before the official start time so that we
could get a good vantage point for photography, and wouldn't be snarled in all the
traffic on the way out.
Team Arrow was the first team past out location.
Looking good!
Eindhoven was the second team we saw. A bunch of teams waved at us, thanks!
Michigan was the third past us.
We saw Punch fourth.
Then a tight group of Principia and Solaris...
And Bochum, too!

Tokai and WSU
Hi Tokai!
Twente and MegaLux in heavy traffic - but less than two minutes behind the
Principia/Solaris/Bochum group.

Stanford appears in the distance

KIT, Goko, and Nuon.

BlueSky from the UofToronto.
Lodz and IVE...
... and MIT!


Cambridge comes over the hill - Evolution looks comically small against the traffic.

After Kookmin passed us, we started packing up - although we were passed by several more teams before we finally got on the road. Passing teams was a bunch of fun!

KIT viewed through the fires

At this point, I switched to the Olympus 9mm fish-eye "body cap" lens for
on-road overtaking shots. Best $90 piece of plastic I've ever bought.

We caught up with a bunch of teams at the Katherine Control Stop.

Arrow in Katherine

WSU in Katherine. 
Kogakuin unpacks supplies for partially normalizing their car.

EPM-EAFIT pulls in to Katherine
Kogakuin got out of Katherine right before us, so we got to pass them again.

We were fueling up at the Hi-Way Inn (~50km north of Dunmarra), and both
Kogakuin and EPM-EAFIT pulled in to do their end-of-day charging just as
we were about to depart. Very convenient for us!

Closeup of EPM-EAFIT's concentrator cells.
Assembling the concentrator modules.
Foil over the concentrators until they are aimed, to prevent miss-focused
concentrators from damaging themselves.

After checking out Kogakuin and EPM-EAFIT, we headed up the road to find a campsite. We spotted WSU and Arrow around in a pulloff together 30km north of Dunmarra, while Punch, MegaLux, and Stanford were all camped for the night at the Dunmarra Control Stop. It looked like a good enough place, so we decided to join them.

Punch charging in the evening in Dunmarra
MegaLux in Dunmarra.
MegaLux's array wiring. 
Stanford in Dunmarra. 

Punch working hard through the night in Dunmarra.

Race Day 2: 19 October 2015

We stared the 2nd race day in Dunmarra with Punch, Stanford, and MegaLux.

Morning charge

Stanford toolbox.

Very interesting details on Punch's front fairings.

Punch out on the road heading south out of Dunmarra. 

Twente was the first team into Tennant Creek.
Nuon was second into Tennant Creek

Tokai was 3rd, and Michigan 4th.

You can baaarely see Punch in the back in 5th.
Stanford showed up to a very lonely Tennant Creek, after the top 5 had departed.

We weren't able to catch up to the top teams in the latter half of the day - we were basically just driving by ourselves. We just missed them at the Barrow Creek control stop, although Stanford pulled in just as we were pulling out to continue onward in the hunt.

We caught up with Tokai and Punch at the end of the day, parked at
Conner's Well, at 1401km in the route notes.
Tokai's mirrors in action.
Punch's big white sheet is somewhat reflective as well, and that's certainly not in the bounding box...
Some wear and damage on the underside of Tokai's left fairing. Note the
missing leading edge in front of the rear wheel.
Details of mirror attachment.

Details of the underside of Tokai's fairings.

We ended the second day of WSC camped in the outback, somewhere around 1422km. Had some beers, watched the sunset, found spiders with our flashlights, and slept out under the stars. Fuckin' A.

Race Day 3: 20 October 2015

We woke up bright and early with the sunrise, broke down camp, and went hunting solar car teams. Michigan was located around 1423km - I have no idea how we didn't see them the previous night, they were nearly a literal stone's throw south of the pullout we camped at.

Nuon was spotted at the Plenty Highway intersection, 1427km in the route notes. Twente was located at Warburton Memorial, 1437km in the route notes. We stopped and said hi to both teams - Nuon said they stopped at 17:01 the previous night, and Twente at 17:06.

Twente charging in the morning. I don't recall this two-stage normalization being shown at inspection; the mirrors they showed on the chassis were nowhere to be seen. This is actually a really neat way to charge - tiling the chassis lowers the pivot for the array, allowing the array to be more upright. It also makes the chassis slightly narrower (although Twente's array is inboard of the edge of the chassis, so they don't particularly care). 

Twente got on the road before Nuon passed their charging position.
But Nuon was not far behind...

Punch charging in Alice Springs
Some tape covering up dings on the bottom of Tokai's car. 
This little fairing thingy has definitely see it's share of rocks. 
Stanford pulling into Alice Springs after the top 5 departed.
Arrow into Alice Springs. 
EcoPhoton showed up on trailer. Apparently they had a battery fire on the first day.
Carbon patched into the burned out hole. Pop-riveted in the front...
... carbon patch layup in the back.
Bochum in Alice Springs.

And that's basically it for the first three day, at least for the photos. This was the timing board when we departed for dinner, after 5pm. Based on ScientificGems latest post, the Challenger cars start spreading out a lot more after Nagoya.

Kogakuin, Eindhoven, and Bochum were the only Cruiser teams that had made it to Alice Springs. Sunswift drove in at 18:44 - and will take penalties for continuing to drive after 5pm, but at least they didn't trailer. Minnesota stopped driving when they were supposed to, and trailered in - but they did this two years ago, and back then, they were able to take their wall charge in Alice Springs, and then trailer back to where they stopped the previous day - and ended up being credited with all km under solar power.

I have to admit, I'm thoroughly shocked by Eindhoven's and Kogakuin's very close performance. Eindhoven has carried two people the whole way so far, but every time I've seen Kogakuin at the control stop, they've only had one person in the car. I wonder if they are taking a charge in Alice Springs, or if they're trying to do the whole route on solar power?

Anyway, that's all I have for now. We're in Alice Springs tonight (swing by campsite 87 at the caravan park if the lights are on), and plan a loooooong day tomorrow - we're going to do our best to beat the teams to the finish line. See you all there!


  1. I have to wonder if that 3D-printed trailing edge on Nuna8 is worth the effort. Isn't the air nearly guaranteed to be turbulent by then? On the other hand, attention to *all* details is the hallmark of a great team, I guess.

  2. The situation with UNSW and Minnesota throws up sum interesting questions.

    WSC told me this morning that cars must finish arrive at Alice by 5.00pm even if they have to trailer.
    That did not happen so according to this both of those teams are out of the competition along with the other seven teams that did not make it under their own steam.

    Let's suppose that the rules are relaxed. Minnesota and UNSW took different approaches to the problem and UNSW's approach will cost them 98 minutes in penalties.
    Minnesota on the other hand brought their car in on the trailer and hope to be able to go back to where they stopped (which I think is a sensible solution), costing them only the driving time.
    Also, you said that they stopped when they were supposed to but they actually stopped driving before 4.30pm leading us to assume that they ran out of battery. If this is the case then they had no option but to trailer the car (as opposed to UNSW who simply ran out of time) and should not be allowed to remain in the competition.

    It's a muddle and I'm glad that I've not got to sort it out, someone is bound to feel hard done by.


  3. By the way, I forgot to say - Great photos!


  4. Wow, lots of photo's and showing interesting details of the undersides of the cars; appreciate your comments on those. The damage Stuart Highway deals to the underside of the fairings is to be taken seriously for sure. Having a cooling plate there on Nuna8 must outweigh the less aerodynamic continuity; very interesting indeed.

    EcoPhoton looks really horrible, that must have been very nasty; great that they are somehow managing to get it back on the road again with all the help from the extended solar community. Wonderful spirit to help each other out showing once again, very inspiring.

    I am not very happy with the current strict cut-off times WSC is using as it turns out that many teams who have prepared for so long will not be able to reach the finish without trailering. On the other hand I do understand that WSC is a huge organization and the longer you need resource in areas and control stops, the harder it is. And after all it IS a race.

    As to the trailing edge of Nuna8, I remember from my regatta sailing times that having a sharp edge at the bottom back of your boat could mean the difference between planing on the water or dragging through it. Apparently such small details cannot be underestimated.

    I am curious to find out what the actual difference in energy intake is from a sturdy looking mirror system like Tokai are using. Is it worth the extra weight and fuzz to set up and take down again?

    As I have mentioned before on Scientific Gems, I think the key to the success of both Kokaguin and Eindhoven is their big modern arrays; in 2013 cars with less array could still do well because they could charge their larger batteries (almost) every night and barely use the sun. I think Eindhoven will try to win back some time on Kokaguin the next 2 days.

  5. Erik

    I agree with you about the cut off times and the difficulties of organisation but the fact is that there are 5 Challenger teams behind the Cruisers who ARE still in the race. No doubt some of them will need to trailer eventually but, for now, they still have a chance of completing.


  6. Whats your opinion on all the chatter about Nuon Solar Teams dangerous overtake on Twente causing them to loose energy through braking and parts of their convoy driving through a red light at Adelaide?
    Personally I think the WSC should have taken action if it is true.

    1. I have spoken privately to the Nuon folks, and they have reasonable explanations for both of these events. All you've heard so far is hearsay, and if Twente files official protests, Nuon has several complaints of their own to fire back with about Twente's race conduct.

      From my perspective, Twente needs to file official complaints if they're serious, or shut up. After the race they were very publicly bellyaching, and no one likes a sore loser. I think they've come to their senses, because although the internet echo chamber is still talking about this, I haven't heard anything from the team lately.