2012 American Solar Challenge

Car Name: Hyperion

Project 11: 2010 - 2012

Route: Rochester, NY - St. Paul, MN

Duration: 1650 Miles

Dates: July 14-21

Results: 2nd place of 12 teams

Team PrISUm Achieves 2nd Place Victory - July 21, 2012

Team PrISUm just secured their best American Solar Challenge finish in their 23 year existence at Iowa State University. The team's 11th generation car, Hyperion, maintained its second place standing as it cruised into the finish line at the St. Paul capitol in Minnesota. The car reached a maximum speed of 65MPH on the interstate heading north into St. Paul. At the awards ceremony, Hyperion was also presented with the best mechanical and electrical system design awards by ASC tech inspectors. Team members who have worked tirelessly over the past two years to make this project so successful could not be more proud of their accomplishments over the past few weeks of racing.

Although the University of Michigan held onto it's overall lead in the competition, Team PrISUm actually beat Michigan in the 150 mile final stage of the race from La Crosse, WI to St. Paul, MN. Heavy rain in the morning of this final day of racing was to blame for issues that hindered Michigan's performance. The University of Minnesota actually won the final stage of the race with an impressive sprint into their hometown. Over the entire race, Team PrISUm averaged 30MPH on the power of the sun and was one of four teams that didn't have to trailer during any portion of the race.

The 2012 American Solar Challenge brought with it many challenges for teams from across the nation. Several days of rain pushed teams to the limits of their vehicles' handling, visibility, battery pack capacity, and resistance to water. During these days, Team PrISUm's lower capacity battery pack forced them to slow Hyperion significantly, but the vehicle's handling remained solid throughout the race. There were also several days of blistering heat that caused battery overheating issues for all of the teams except us. In fact, this is when our car performed its best. The high temperature tolerance of our battery pack helped us offset its lower capacity and the team feels it made the right decision for the safety and reliability of its vehicle.

Hyperion has proven to be the most reliable solar car that students at Iowa State University have every produced. Throughout the design process, reliability was constantly at the forefront of the team's discussions. This strategy paid off by having a vehicle that has now driven over 2500 miles with no significant electrical or mechanical issues. This accomplishment is even more impressive given that Hyperion is the only vehicle of the top four teams that has not raced previously.

This race has gone a long way towards bringing Iowa State back into the spotlight for solar car racing. We are excited to continue testing and optimizing Hyperion's performance before it's next race in the 2013 Formula Sun Grand Prix. At the same time, starting this fall, team members will get to work on the design of Hyperion's successor which will race in 2014. Given Michigan's 10+ hour lead over us in this race, there is clearly still a lot of work to be done and we are excited about this new challenge. However, even as Team PrISUm becomes more competitive, we hope to maintain our principles of open source design and free discussion of ideas that will help the solar car community continue to thrive in coming years!

Team PrISUm Now In Second Place - July 19, 2012

The past few days have worked to our advantage with high heat and plenty of sun. These conditions have helped us race back into second place as we continue into Wisconsin today. The team started out from the Normal, IL stage stop 1 minute after Michigan and has been trailing right behind them all morning driving the speed limit.

The past few days, we've seen a heat index of well over 100 degrees, which has been extremely hard on the battery packs for many of the teams in the competition. In 2010, Team PrISUm also had issues with lithium ion batteries overheating. We saw this as a significant issue and selected new batteries for Hyperion that can safely operate in a much wider range of temperatures. In addition, we optimized the battery module design to allow airflow around every cell in the battery box. These changes are working to our advantage now and have helped us regain our second place position that was lost on Sunday when we encountered heavy rain.

With less than three days left in the race, the team's spirits remain high and we will continue to push our car to its limits. We have been posting daily race updates on Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook. Also, follow Iowa State's news coverage on our team by clicking on the links in the left sidebar.

Team PrISUm Going Strong at Midpoint of ASC - July 17, 2012

Iowa State's Hyperion solar car began the 1650+ mile American Solar Challenge on Saturday. The team set out from Rochester, NY right after the University of Michigan, thanks to our second place finish in FSGP 2012. The first day of racing went very well for the team. Mostly sunny weather allowed us to drive the speed limit all day and we came in to the Erie, PA stage stop just 10 minutes after the University of Michigan.

Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worst that afternoon and we were unable to replenish the battery pack. The next morning, team members awoke to pouring rain and thunderstorms. The morning charge session did very little to refill our battery pack. We started slow out of Erie as we were facing rain and a very poor weather forecast for solar car racing.

Nearly two hours into the drive, the rain had not let up and we took a turn too wide onto the interstate onramp. The front right fairing and wheel impacted the curb. This resulted in body damage to the fairing and a fractured lower control arm. Fortunately, nobody was injured. Our solar car caravan waited for half an hour for the support trailer to arrive with a spare control arm. During this time, the damage was assessed, and fortunately it was limited to the control arm and fairing. As soon as the trailer arrived, our mechanical director quickly installed the new control arm and we continued the rest of the day without our fairing doors. The total stop took about an hour.

Once back on the road, things didn't improve much. The rain continued, making visibility difficult and we also encountered some radio communication issues with the solar car driver that required several pit stops on the side of the road. By the end of the day, we finally poked out of the storm, but not soon enough to make the Mansfield, OH checkpoint. By this time, Michigan, Minnesota, Principia, and CalSol Berkeley had made the checkpoint.

The team settled down for the evening feeling a little disappointed but also highly motivated to repair the fairing body work and fix the radio communication issue before the next morning. During this time, we were fortunate to have good sun and very kind hosts at the Parker Store, who made accommodations for our team's charging and repair needs.

On Monday the team woke to a clear, sunny sky with much higher spirits. The car's fairing doors had been repaired and reinstalled. The car ran great all day with only a short stop for a driver change. We were able to make up a lot of time and passed a number of teams on the way to the stage stop in Ann Arbor, MI. We ended the second stage of the race in third place behind Michigan, Minnesota, and Principia. The University of Michigan and GM welcomed all the teams to a great stage stop with a free dinner and plentiful sun.

This morning, Black & Veatch provided a delicious breakfast for all the teams. We pulled out of Ann Arbor with a full battery pack and passed Principia and the University of Minnesota along the way. Our team and Principia are currently the only two teams that have not been given penalties along the race route.

Stay tuned for more updates as the race progresses, but in the meantime, keep following our Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr updates. Since the American Solar Challenge website has been down a lot, you can check out this simplified results page instead.

Team PrISUm Earns 2nd Place in FSGP - July 13, 2012

The past few days have gone very well for Team PrISUm and Hyperion. The team's latest solar car has been driving better every day. Our day one lap count was 125, day 2 was 146, and day 3 was 155. There have been no electrical or mechanical issues to speak of. As the pit crew gained more practice with tire changes, pit stops decreased to about 6 minutes. On the last day of racing, the team only had to pit twice for quick tire changes. This allowed us to put in 9 more laps on the track than Michigan for the final day.

In the end, Team PrISUm drove 426 laps for a distance of 681.6 miles averaging 28.4MPH. Hyperion also posted the fast lap on the track in just 2 minutes, 18 seconds. We placed second to the University of Michigan in the three day race by just 23 laps. Western Michigan came in 60 laps behind us.

Team PrISUm accepted their second place FSGP trophy Thursday night at the awards dinner hosted by the American Solar Challenge. We are currently preparing for the long road ahead of us from Rochester, NY to St. Paul, MN that begins on Saturday. The team's solid performance in FSGP leaves us confident about the days to come. We apologize for the limited blog posts but hope you've been enjoying our frequent Twitter and Facebook updates. Also, there are some new pics up on Flickr for your enjoyment.

Team PrISUm Qualifies Second to Michigan - July 11, 2012

In the first day of FSGP 2012, Team PrISUm's brand new Hyperion solar car completed 125 laps for a total of 200 miles. This distance was covered at the Monticello Motor Club over 8 hours, averaging a speed of 25 miles per hour. The University of Michigan solar car was able to drive 145 laps to come in first for the day, and the University of Western Michigan came in just behind us with 120 laps. Since both of these cars have raced previously, we are especially pleased with Hyperion's performance for being such a new car.

Our four drivers, Cory Anderson, John O'Grady, Evan Stumpges, and Dakota Morgan all qualified yesterday by completing at least 25 laps each. The car soared through Scrutineering tech inspections with relative ease and we were able to pass dynamics with both inside and outside active fairings operational, which were installed just in the nick of time.

At this point, we haven't experienced any significant mechanical or electrical issues and have been able to race without pit stops other than routine tire changes and driver swaps. Our tire changes are much faster than with the previous car due to newly machined wheels from Perfekta that work much better.

Be sure to keep following our Facebook and Twitter feeds since we post there multiple times per day with the most up to date information. Also, check out the American Solar Challenge website and Iowa State's website for more official news and information.

Tuesday, June 12 - Welcome to Team PrISUm's 2012 Race Blog

This blog will be used to detail Team PrISUm's participation in the 2012 American Solar Challenge beginning July 4th. We will do our best to post daily updates to keep all of our sponsors and supporters up to date with our latest progress. Thanks for following...