Thursday, June 2, 2011

Isle of Man - Day 6 - The Big Debate

Today has been relatively unexciting compared to the past couple days. The bike is running well, and we only have a few things to adjust in regards to actually having the bike ready to run in the qualifying session on Saturday.

We had some issues with the upper fairing flexing, so Radu added steel stiffeners to the inside.

It wasn't pretty, but the clamping setup did the job.

I worked on getting the modified sharkfin into position. In case you were wondering, it's nerve-wracking to take a drill to the swingarm of your motorcycle.

Installed, the shark fin will protect the rider's left foot and keep it from getting caught up in the chain and rear sprocket.

Allan had some more work to do on his Kawasaki (or Kwacker, for short).

Reinforcements in place, Radu had to push a bit to be ready to have the fairing painted.

He added a layer of fiberglass (fibreglass) over the sheet metal, and it's just about ready for painting.

Allan and Jan have been wonderfully helpful. This is what their kitchen table look like with all of our computers (though one of them belongs to Allan). That's Allan's jacket from the 2007 TT.

Lennon and Randall worked on the software side. With the bike running well, we'd like to add datalogging to the system to help us troubleshoot any problems that come up later on. Ideally we'd add in a GPS unit and transmit data in real-time via the 3G wireless network while Allan is out on the course.

Ever wonder how we got all this gear here? A lot of the smaller electronics arrived in Lennon's suitcase.

Interfacing the datalogger with the two sources of data (the battery control module from A123 Systems and the off-the-shelf 'cycle-analyst' unit) proved tougher than expected.

The workshop/garage hummed this morning, though there wasn't a sense of a huge rush to get something done and meet a deadline.

Breaking for lunch. Mmmm... microwave Indian food. We finished up "Charge", so now we've all seen the whole film and have an idea of what to expect. And a healthy respect for what can go wrong... four teams blew up their motors the first year!

The town of Ramsey, as viewed from the driveway to the cottage where we're staying.

We're now at that point in the development of any design project where we have to decide how much to futz with it. The bike is running well, but we have a short list of 'nice to haves' that we could work on. So we have to balance the risk of messing something up while we work on adding something that we don't technically need in order to be ready for Saturday's qualifying session. They're tough decisions, but I think we made the right choice in staying conservative and not trying to do too much.

It doesn't feel natural to have nothing (or very little) to do on the bike, but it's a lot better than trying to scramble and get it finished at the 11th hour.

So what's left? The suspension needs some minor adjustment to get it to Allan's liking. The fairing is off getting painted, so once it's done we'll need to apply sponsor stickers. Randall and Lennon are adding an on-board datalogger to take data just on the batteries. We're leaving off the cycle-analyst data and the real-time transmission for now. We'll take it out for a speed run this afternoon to confirm the changes we made to the controller electronics, and then comes the hardest part: sitting, waiting, and leaving well enough alone. Our first qualifying session is Saturday at 17:30 BST.


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