Hi, my name is Luke Wormald and I am the Electrical Team Lead for the University of Kentucky Solar Car Team. I transitioned into this position at the beginning of the Spring 2018 semester. In the past few months the Electrical Team has been wrapping up final design changes for Gato del Sol VI, our upcoming solar car. There have been many major electrical changes moving from our previous car, Gato del Sol V, to Gato VI. The most notable change is the move from a six square meter solar array to a four square meter array. The new regulations have mandated this due to advances in solar cell efficiency that have occurred over the past few years, so even though our new array is two-thirds the size of our previous array we will actually receive the same amount of power from it. Another notable change is our transition from a three wheeled car to a four wheeled car. Because of this change, we will be using two new motors on Gato VI. Gato V only has one motor, which has been in use since our team’s founding in 1999.
In recent weeks the Electrical Team has been busy assembling our battery pack after many months of testing performed on our battery cells. We will be using 420 lithium-ion 18650 battery cells in our new pack and we will also be using a new Battery Protection System (BPS) this year. Our battery testing was performed in collaboration with a local startup, Lexcelon, which makes a product that performs cycle tests on lithium batteries and collects data from them. Based on the data we collected, we characterized the cells and matched them together into modules.
We have also just wrapped up our first round of Printed Circuit Board (PCB) revisions and will be ordering the new boards sometime this week. PCBWay has generously covered the costs of all the boards from this order. In the coming weeks we will assemble all of our boards which will make up the electrical subsystem of Gato VI. These will be utilized for battery protection, data acquisition, telemetry, and control of the car. All of these will be able to communicate with each other via a Controller Area Network (CAN). This will mark a significant step forward in our ability to strategize during the race than we could with Gato V, which comparatively had very few sensors.
Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer and closer to our unveiling and be sure to follow us on social media @UKSolarCar for a better look at the work currently taking place.