PCBWay 3rd PCB Design Contest

Formula SAE VT Motorsports

Who we are

Our team consists of about 40 members, divided among various sub-teams who then concentrate on various design aspects, parts production, and team management. This year we are currently in the process of developing two Formula SAE vehicles, one based on an internal combustion engine and the other with a fully electric powertrain.  Each year we take these cars to compete in a FSAE event in Brooklyn, Michigan and Lincoln Nebraska, now moved to Fontana, California. 

Competition Objective

Formula SAE is an international competition put on by the Society of Automotive Engineers which challenges students to conceive, design, fabricate, and compete with compact formula-style racing cars. The specifications on the vehicle frame and engine are restricted so that the knowledge, creativity, and imagination of the students are put to the test. The cars are built annually and are taken to Formula SAE competitions for judging and competition against over 120 vehicles from colleges and universities throughout the world. The end result is a great experience for young engineers in a meaningful engineering project as well as the opportunity of working in a dedicated team environment.


Combustion Vehicle

For the 2020 internal-combustion vehicle, we are making strides to significantly increase our powertrain output and aerodynamic efficiency while decreasing vehicle weight. Our 2020 engine package consists of a Yamaha YZ450FX motor to which we will add a turbocharger that we estimate will increase horsepower output by 43%. Coupled with an electronic throttle body and a more capable ECU, we expect smoother power delivery and better vehicle acceleration. From a suspension standpoint, we are including a heave spring to decrease front wing ride height variation. This, in turn, will increase the vehicleʼs aerodynamic efficiency and improve vehicle turn-in when approaching corners. We are also moving toward a front-steer rack design to allow for a simpler, lighter, and more ergonomic steering system design. Structurally, the carbon fiber monocoque is growing from a 1/2 shell to a 2/3 shell that extends past the rear roll hoop. This design change paired with revamped aerodynamic parts manufacturing processes will produce a dry vehicle weight similar to our previous naturally aspirated vehicles. With these improvements in our vehicle designs, we have our sights set on becoming one of the highest performing vehicles at competition.

Electric Vehicle

For the 2020 electric powertrain vehicle, we are designing a package that takes full advantage of the new powertrain rules while maintaining proven and reliable mechanical designs. We are changing both our motor and inverter to increase our nominal voltage from 100V to 300V. This will ultimately allow our powertrain to continuously produce the maximum allowed power output of 80kW. Mechanically, we are redesigning our chassis to accommodate a larger accumulator and will be incorporating removable structures for ease of accumulator service. We are also upgrading our suspension geometry to a more contemporary design that will increase the vehicle handling and ride characteristics for the dynamic portions of the competition. Ultimately, with these changes we expect our electric vehicle to be fiercely competitive in the electric vehicle realm and prove that an electrical powertrain can be future solution for motorsport applications.

Our Custom PCBs

Our electric vehicle consist of many custom designed PCBs that allows our vehicle to safely operate and pass all electrical technical inspection during competition. We use Altium to design and create our PCBs. One of the most critical PCBs that we design would be the shutdown circuit. This PCB takes in fault signals from various safety components such as the temperature sensing PCB, Insulation Monitoring device and Battery Management System. The picture below is our 2020 Shutdown Circuit PCB that is designed by one of our team members.

Other PCBs we design in-house include the Temperature sensing board, DCDC converters, and Dash Display. We plan to have all the PCBs designed by the end of this year.

Receiving support from PCBWay would help our team tremendously as we are in the process of sending out our PCBs to be manufactured soon. This would lower the cost to create PCBs for our team and could enable us to have more prototypes and revisions to create more robust and reliable PCBs for our vehicles.

For further information about our project, we have our team website at: https://vtmotorsports.weebly.com/

You can also find us on instagram: @vtmotorsports


Kenneth Lin

2020 Electric Powertrain Subteam Lead

Formula SAE VT Motorsports

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Nov 28,2019
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