Monday, March 5, 2012
The vehicle is currently in Minneapolis and the electrical hook up is under way. While the design and construction in fresh in my mind, I thought I would create this little blog about the progress of our project and continue to update the journey. For this project to get to the next stage, which is a re-design and re-engineering of the vehicle, and from there, a prototype, molds and many more technical details need to be addressed. It is an exciting project and has much promise. We will hopefully have all the electrical issues taken care of by May and hopefully will have the vehicle road worthy by June.
The team of people who contributed to the project, at our launch party, which sent the vehicle up to the electricians to plug the batteries to the motor, and hook up the lights, as well as the tablet touch screen which will give stats on batter life, power generation etc. Left to right around the car: Pete Peters:Welder, Mike Cichanowski: Founder Wenonah Canoe, Lyon Smith (Me):Designer, builder,Rich Kronfeld:Partner in the project, Bob Dahse:Battery and electric motor consultant.
I had been doing research on chassis design while creating the body, and had come up with what I thought was a good solution to the problem of how to get the suspension attached to the body. I worked with a local welder, who was extremely helpful and patient, as I worked throught the process with him of designing a chassis to fit inside of the body, as well as figuring out suspension, mounting points etc etc....
My concept with the net version of this project is to create a center structure of out of carbon fiber and lose most of the aluminum chassis.
This is the carbon fiber before it was stretched over the plug.
The lower photos show the rough bonding of the two halves of the body. It took a lot of sanding and filling to get the shape back to the original shape of the plug. The next round will involve molds, as well as vaccuum bagging....
The carbon fiber was laid on and we sprayed resin and used squeegees to press it to the plug, to get rid of excess resin and take out the air bubbles. A finishing cloth was also used over the carbon fiber. The exterior shell of the body consisted of two layers of different carbon fiber and a layer of finishing cloth.
There are a couple of different directions this process could have gone at this point. Since the budget was such a constraint, I chose to do a one off, and wrap the plug with a carbon fiber and resin skin, one half at a time, the aluminum foil was used as a mold release, along with PVA, which was sprayed over the foil. It was still a bear to get off!
3d rapid prototypes were created from my 3d model, I went through 3-4 different prints, until I found the look I was going for. During this design process, I was working with a partner in Minneapolis, so I had some input from him, which in some ways may have helped the overall design, but in some ways the creative as well as technical design. There were some things that need to be re-designed, and again, going throught this process is the cost of admission to learn how to make something and imporve upon it in the next go around.