Thursday, June 18, 2009

Updates: Wednesday June 17th and Thursday June18th

After Arya and Matt picked up the lift on tuesday, the team has been working hard to set it up. Most of Wednesday was spent getting all the necessary parts for the lift together and assembling it. Though the lift has a few bugs to be worked out, it is operational and  can lift the Porsche.


I spent today mostly focused on finishing the installation of the lift. In order to ensure that the lift does not buckle under load, Radu and I braced the overhead crossbar with two pieces of U-shaped steel. After the overhead beam was reinstalled, we ran the cables and hydraulic line across it and attached them to their respective insertion points. Then, the two of us installed the safety cable (which stops the lift if the car gets too high), and we tested the lift. In testing, we noticed that the latches on the lift arms were not engaging the safety catches at the same time, so I tightened one of the overhead cables in order to make the latches engage simultaneously. The installation was complete by the day's end, we even managed to raise the Porsche 914 BEV. Even so, we encountered two problems. First, the hydraulic fluid tends to bubble and foam, which is troublesome because it indicates the presence of air in the system. Second, the fluid tank is precariously attached to the pump by nothing more than a horizontal hose clamp, which is troublesome because the tank could fall and spill if knocked a little too hard. We are looking for an additive to solve the first problem, and I fixed the second by putting a support bracket underneath the fluid tank.


Today I worked on the wiring between the motor controller and the vehicle.  The donated system came with a large wiring harness that integrates all of the wires between the motor controller, the 12 VDC relay box, and the vehicle interface.  Unfortunately, the documentation only has the pin descriptions on one end of the harness, so it was necessary to map out where all of the wires from the controller exit the harness.  After labeling all of the wires, I worked on planning out a switch control box which will be used as a testing tool to run the motor before the system is completely integrated into the car. 

Paul: I worked primarily on the battery pack design for the motorcycle. Space on the motorcycle is limited so designing an efficient battery layout is crucial and tricky. I also looked into what materials we can use to make the enclosures for our battery packs and how to manufacture the nickel connector plates that will connect a group of batteries in parallel.



Today I spent the majority of my time contacting machine shops that will make custom spline shafts.  The SatCon motor has a 1" 23 spline output that has been difficult to find.  I was able to find several shops/companies that make custom spline shafts.  I am waiting to hear back about pricing from most of them.  Another option is to take a shaft out of late 90's model Plymouth/Chrysler van.  SatCon originally outfitted these motors to fit the drive train of these vans.  I began looking for local junk yards that have these vehicles.  I also began writing an outline of the drive train that includes descriptions of the components and why we are choosing each one.  

Mike has been working on getting sponsor decals and trying to find a place for the Porsche. He is also working with Paul on a battery pack design for a motorcycle. On Wednesday he continued cell testing and helped out with the lift. 

On Wednesday, Radu had a meeting with MIT lawyers. He was also part of a meeting during lunch about battery management systems and setting up for a motorcycle pack that will be configured to be similar to the automotive pack

The Porsche on the lift

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