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.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pre-Thanksgiving Update

Duke Motorsports has been very busy the past couple of weeks, so this is going to be a quick run down of all the things we've been up to.

We hosted an E-Social on November 9th, which was a great success. We brought the car up to the main engineering quad and purchased a bunch of pizza to share outside on a beautiful afternoon in North Carolina. We had a lot of great conversations with interested students about Duke Motorsports, and made sure to rev it a few times before we left. Thanks to ESG and all those who helped, it was a great success!.

We also managed to snap my new favorite picture of the car, which not only displays how awesome the car looks in the beautiful fall weather, but also shows some of the E-Quad as well! We also hosted a driving event for the Board of Visitors that were in town on the 10th, and we made sure to have Dean K tear up the track for a bit in the car. It was a great day, and having the opportunity to meet many of our distinguished Pratt alumni was both an honor and a privilege.

 In terms of making parts, it has been very busy. We've had some small issues with the intake manifold, specifically with the epoxy and the molds. I decided to remake the intake molds because they were entirely way too weak for the prying forces we needed to apply, so I made sure to reinforce all of the surface contacts in the new design. I also wanted to make sure it was as smooth as possible, so we decided it would be best to apply a thin layer of epoxy on the fresh molds to smooth over all of the stepped plastic layers, and then we made sure to sand the molds to ensure that they were as smooth as possible to not only make the airflow throughout the intake better, but also to help with releasing the carbon fiber from the mold itself. Another improvement we've done from last year involves the "cross braces" we've added to the intake construction to help mitigate any flexing of the carbon fiber under vacuum generated from the engine. From our initial testing, we've come to realize that these braces are very effective at helping stiffen up and strengthen the entire intake plenum.

We also rapid prototyped our velocity stacks for the new intake system in preparation of finishing the entire plenum soon. I recently made some changes to the runner molds that we fill with wax in order to make our carbon fiber intake runners, and they are currently being printed as I type this blog post up. Today, we finished laying up the *hopefully* last half of the intake plenum which will help finish up the entire intake system once we get the runners started.
We hope to have the entire composite air induction system finished by Christmas break, which would be a huge accomplishment. We've also been making some progress with getting the exhaust system mocked up, and we're almost to the point of starting to tack-weld the primaries in place to continue with the manufacturing of the exhaust system. The goal is to also have that done by Christmas break.

Today, we also tackled a lot of the fuel tank. We have been working closely with a high-school student, Maurice Troy, on this project as part of his senior capstone project. We have managed to make the fuel tank base and the filler neck tubing, and our last step will be to make the necessary cuts to the base for the filler neck and the fuel pick-up box. We spent much of the day in the Pratt Student Machine Shop working on the cutting and bending the fuel tank stock as well as using the lathe to make some suspension a-arm components.

Yoshi working the lathe at the Machine Shop
Jackson making some cuts to the fuel tank stock
Justin and Maurice working on making the necessary measurements for the fuel tank stock

Ivonna making the final cuts on the stock

The finished products, all welded up and ready to go
Overall, these past few weeks have been a little crazy (which is why there has been a relatively large gap in blog postings), but we've been making sure to keep really busy. I can say that I'm very proud of all of our team members who have stepped up to the plate and truly taken the roles of our members who graduated last year. I'm very proud of what we've managed to accomplish thus far, and I can only continue to look forward as we keep cranking through the mountain of work laid before us.

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