Duke University Motorsports is a student group that designs and builds open wheel, single seat race cars to compete in the Formula SAE competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The team consists of Duke students from both Pratt and Trinity, in all classes. The purpose of the team is to provide students with a way to gain practical design and manufacturing experience in a fun and challenging setting.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Start of Something New

The first of week of school marked the beginning of yet another exciting year for the Duke Motorsports team. In this week, we hosted a barbecue for new members outside of our garage, we participated in the Duke University Activities fair, and even had a driving day. 

Team recruits new members at Duke's annual activities fair
With more than 50 new people attending our annual barbecue, we are confident that we will be able to meaningfully expand our team.

Team hosted barbecue: excitement and burgers everywhere
Emily imparts wisdom

We've started designing and manufacturing for the new year already and are hitting the ground running. Here is a sneak peak of some of our team building the frame jig and welding the frame!

Ella and Keith trying on the frame for size

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The End of Another Season!

With the competition season over, the team has taken a break for a bit to recoup and regroup. To recap our year, here are a couple of the big things we accomplished:

  1. Moved from 13" diameter wheels to 10", which required a complete redesign of the suspension and significant alterations to the frame to accommodate. In addition to the design work, these changes also required the team to fabricate all of the required parts from scratch; nothing could be taken from any of our past assemblies!  
  2. A new pedal assembly was designed by our senior mechanical engineering members. This design improved throttle response and braking performance while keeping on-car packaging simple.
  3. A renewed focus on member development and recruitment which has resulted in the effective size of the club almost doubling in less than a year! 

Overall, we placed 44th out of 118 teams that participated at competition this year. A special thanks goes out to our seniors for all of their hard work and the incredible level of dedication they've shown to the program. We also would not have been able to make it through without the support of our various alumni and faculty adviser Dr. Neil Simmons. Thank you everyone for all of your hard work and effort to help make the "GF-1" possible! 

The final group photo of the team post-endurance race finish with GF-1

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2015 Car Frame Jig

It's been a hectic few weeks with first semester coming to a close. We knew we needed to make significant progress on the car before leaving for winter break if we wanted to stay on schedule. After making one last push after finals, we are happy say that the 2015 car frame jig is completed! Our plans moving forward include tack-welding the rest of the frame tubes in place and sending it off to get professionally welded. Once we come back from break, we hope to finish assembling the suspension and start machining the wheel assembly components.

Thanks to Keith Sobb for creating this quick video of our progress! Didn't remember to start video taping until later in the process and then the batteries died but, nonetheless, it captures the just of the work. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Parent Weekend and Meeting Jackie Stewart

This has been an eventful week for us so far! Parent's weekend was last weekend and we brought out the car to E-quad to talk with parents about the types of student groups are on campus and how students are taking advantage of this! Below are some of the best pictures we took!

Getting to know freshmen and parents alike!

Future Duke Engineer in the making!

We also had the great pleasure of meeting Sir Jackie Stewart AKA the "Flying Scot". It was an honor to get advice from such a legend and we have definitely taken to heart all the advice he has expounded. We cannot thank him enough!

Everyone listening intently to what Jackie Stewart has to say!

Team Photo with the great Jackie Stewart!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Driving Day

Last Weekend we had our first driving day of the semester. We got a chance to give all people who worked on the car last year to take a drive this time around. We also got some of the new freshmen involved in the car as well. Here are some of the pictures taken!

Mentally Preparing Himself

About to Launch!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Getting the School Year Started !!

It's been a busy month with great progress being made! We've had our annual introductory meeting with the new members in the club. No one can say no to barbecue and we had a great amount of people show up. Everyone got to see the garage and last years car and we started talking about our goals for the upcoming year!

Everyone surrounded on the car learning about the different subsystems that make it up

Stuart is so excited about grilling!

The next week we got the ball rolling quickly and went straight to work on the new car! We started with teaching welding and milling to all the new members and had everyone cutting or drilling something in no time. We've got everyone excited for the upcoming year and we're ready to hit the ground running!

Freshmen learning from Emily the Master Machinist on how to properly mill

Measuring and cutting tubes that will be used for the a-arms and pushrods 

Keith: welding our new weighing set up

Thursday, January 2, 2014

EGT Amplifier and Fan Controller PCB 2014 designs

Although we had a great PCB design for our EGT Amplifier that has been reliable, I made some layout changes that would make the final SMT soldering much easier. Instead of the double sided board previously built, the new layout is now all on one side so the whole board can be SMT soldered in one go. The header holes were also made larger so that the wire we use can properly fit through the holes. Last year we had to cut the wire diameter in more than half and that led to a very poorly soldered connection. The header holes on the Fan Controller were made larger as well. I just got the boards from OSH Park and they look great!!

The updated design for the EGT Amplifier board that is one sided and has larger header holes

Click below to see more pictures of the PCBs and stencils...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2014 Frame Manufacturing

So we've had a lot happen since our last blogpost. We will be posting a lot more frequently about the teams progress, so expect weekly to biweekly updates!

That being said, our current design has changed quite a bit from what we had in the summer as some of our design goals had to be pushed back a year. The first objective was for us to build the frame. This year we decided to weld the frame ourselves (props to our master welder Costi Shami). After designing the frame exactly how we wanted in CAD, I used VR3 Engineering - Cartesian Tube Profiling to manufacture a laser cut kit with all the tubes that make up the frame. This made assembling and welding the frame so much easier. Even the camber block points were laser cut! We'd like to thank VR3 Engineering for a fantastic frame tube kit!

Cost has been hard at work welding away and we are almost done with the frame! Here is a photo of Costi and the frame from a few weeks ago:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Aero Design Progress 2014

Earlier this summer, I did a lap time simulation study earlier this summer to understand the sensitivity of lap time on a number of parameters (including mass, power, downforce, drag, and mechanical grip).  The results of the lap simulation showed mechanical grip to be the most important parameter, followed by downforce and then mass.  Since there is a limit as to what can be achieved with mechanical grip, past those limits aero is still the biggest enabler for decreasing lap times.

Monday, June 17, 2013

2014 Architecture

After about 3 weeks, we have a basic vehicle architecture for 2014.  This has been a pretty intense period, as three weeks ago the car was a blank assembly.

The highlights:

  • 10 inch wheels - affects packaging for WHUBs, suspension, and frame primarily
  • Narrower track (~46", front and rear)
  • Smaller wheelbase (60")
  • Complete frame redesign - no rear box
  • Lower occupant positioning - CG focused
  • Lots of downforce
Once again, the focus will be on mass, aero, and mechanical grip.  All of these need to be understood on at least a high level to design an architecture, as many of these enablers and decisions will drive packaging.  For example, originally I started with a rear box because I thought diffuser design would dictat my suspension points, but with CFD I've found that I can actually get better downforce with a shorter diffuser (more on why that is in another post).

So let's take a walk through how to set up an architecture: