Solar it Forward

I was in the pit area figuring out the horn and John from Principia walked over asking if we had a space battery protection system. I was like…uhh…what? Apparently anther team’s system just wasn’t up to the race regulations and they needed a new one. I actually did have all the components for a spare set to make a system, but it wasn’t assembled.

 I was too busy with the horns to drop what I was doing and build it, but I described what needed to happen to Principia and they got started on it. A few guys in Principia’s pits got started and had the bulk of it complete in about three or four hours.

 Once I got the horn working, I went to help them test the system and individual components. Then I went over to the team in need and started installing it in their battery pack, which they had prepared for me to work on. We got it all soldered up around 11PM last night. When we left, the system was working the lights were blinking and it’s in good shape.

 Our team has spent how many thousands of dollars to get out here and race? I’m sure their spent the same amount of money and time. I would be heartbroken if their car didn’t at least have a chance to start the race. I don’t want any team to have to go through that.

It was a good learning experience for them too. I’m planning to open-source my system after the race so other teams can build off of it, so this was a good kick-start for that.

Engineering is about collaboration and solving problems. If someone’s design doesn’t work, they need to get over that and work toward a solution. Once you can get through that barrier, the amount of work you can get done goes up exponentially. One thing that Michigan is good at is imparting that culture onto their new members. When someone points out the problem in your system, that’s a good thing. The Universe is better off because of that.

I will be working closely on telemetry with Leda as we get closer and closer to the race. The foundation for a lot of the electrical system in our telemetry is still based on stuff I did in 2006. I had no idea what I was doing then, but I kept the systems simple and it’s mostly scalable with what they’ve been doing. I’ve been using this race as an opportunity to go back and fix some of the weaknesses and do a few things differently. Then I can get the current team using these new tools I’ve made and familiarizing themselves with it so that they can build off of them.

 Jeff Rogers, BSE’ 08, MSE’ 10 College of Engineering Computer Science