PCBWay 3rd PCB Design Contest

Queen's Formula SAE Team

Our Team

QFSAE Q18 Team Photo.jpg

Queen’s Formula is a student run design team from Queen's University in Kingston, ON, Canada. The team designs and builds a new open-wheeled race car every year to compete in Formula SAE competitions against teams from around the world. Team members contribute over 10,000 hours each year to designing, building and testing the car, as well as managing the team’s finances, logistics, and external relations.

What is Formula SAE?

Formula SAE is a competition organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The competition is open to engineering faculties worldwide and consists of the design, construction, and testing of an open wheeled race car. The cars are constructed according to engine and frame limitations that promote engineering creativity. FSAE provides valuable real world experience that can be directly applied in the automotive, as well as other, engineering sectors in post graduate pursuits.

Where do we compete?

Annually we compete in two official FSAE Competitions, Formula SAE Michigan, held each May at the Michigan International Speedway, and Formula SAE Lincoln, held each June in Lincoln, Nebraska. We also compete at UofT's Shootout Competition, held each September in Toronto, Ontario.

The Car


Our car is a formula-style race car powered by a 600cc Honda F4i motorcycle engine. The car is designed, built and driven by undergraduate university students. The team goes through an 8 month design and build cycle each year followed by 4 months of competition and testing. The electric system of the car is powered by a 12V 4Ah 8 cell LiFePO4 battery with a current draw capability of 220A. The battery is then connected to our Motec PDM15 power distribution module that controls power distribution throughout the vehicle. This power is used by our Engine Control Unit to run the engine. Integrated into these main systems are a variety of custom built circuits and arduino boards that allow the team to collect more data and improve functionality of the vehicle. Outlined below and ranging in complexity from custom microcontrollers to steering wheel paddle switches these boards are integral to the functionality of the vehicle. The car also uses a CANBUS data line to allow various electronic components to communicate with each other. Our datalogger is able to logg all traffic on this line in order for us to collect information from the ECU and other systems.

Our Circuit Boards

Custom Microcontroller

The custom microcontroller prototype board is an arduino based microcontroller with the ability to communicate over CANBUS. This board is an evolution of the CANBUS Shield that we have used previously to accomplish this task. This new board allows for a more compact and a lighter system which we can implement other components into, such as the Steering Wheel or Strain Gauge Amplifier.

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Strain Gauge Amplifier

The strain guage amplifier board is currently in development and will be used to amplify changes in voltages recieved from various strain gauges mounted throughout the car on car suspension components and other systems where deemed fit. These boards will consist of 6 of the amplifier circuits shown below and will be able to be connected directly to the CANBUS Microcontroller.


Steering Wheel

The Steering Wheel circuit board is a simple circuit that contains the two reed switches and four momentary pushbuttons that are used by the driver to control various functions on the car such as shift up and down, launch control and dash display cycle. This circuit board is mounted and infused inside our carbon fibre steering wheel so it is critical this board functions reliably.

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Shifter Shield

This board is a custom shield for an Arduino zero that is used to control our pneumatic shifting mechanism. The board takes inputs from the steering wheel and controls shift-cut time as well as the shifter solenoids.



This board is a custom shiled for an Arduino Uno that is used to control our custom dash display as well as connect to the CANBUS system on the car.


Custom Dash Display

The custom dash display is a the system in which the car is able to communicate information to the driver. It consists of 6 warning lights, RPM indicators and a gear indicator. This system is also coupled with an OLED display to display important data such as engine temperature or battery voltage to the driver.


We are currently in development of our version 2 board which will be used on the Q19 vehicle. This board performs similar functions to the version 1 board but in an improved form factor that will give the driver better visibility of the track.


Support from PCBWay would be a large help for our team. We have previously been unable to design many parts that we require or make prototype components because we have not had the ability or the budget to source and manufacture custom circuit boards. We have recently gained sponsorship from Altium to enable us to design quality circuit boards to be used in various projects. Having the ablity to create these boards means that more team members will gain the opportunity to learn about circuit board design and expand their skill set.

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For more information on the Queen's Formula SAE Team visit our website at qfsae.ca

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Apr 13,2018
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