University of Toronto Blue Sky Solar Racing

University of Toronto Blue Sky Solar Racing

(Blue Sky Solar Racing team at the finish line in Adelaide, Australia)


(Blue Sky Solar Racing's solar car “Viridian” competing in Australia)


Blue Sky Solar Racing is a student-run, multi-disciplinary initiative at the University of Toronto, established in 1996, that aims to challenge conventional ideas on education, transportation, and sustainability through designing and building exclusively solar-powered electric vehicles. Our goal is to compete in the 2021 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (WSC) in October 2021 where teams will race across the Australian Outback from Darwin to Adelaide with cars built for endurance, energy efficiency, and zero emissions. Our team has consistently achieved great standings: we claimed 11th place in the 2019 WSC and 3rd in the 2016 American Solar Challenge. The team is currently preparing for the 2021 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge by optimizing the design of our upcoming 11th-generation vehicle. We continuously strive for innovation and excellence in what we do.


We are one of the largest multidisciplinary clubs at U of T, with over 50 core members spanning multiple faculties including Engineering, Arts & Science, and Rotman Commerce. The Blue Sky Solar Racing team aims to provide a rich learning environment for students of all schools and faculties to thrive. Students are encouraged to think critically and generate innovative solutions to design the most optimal car to race across Australia with zero emissions. Throughout their time on the team, students gain invaluable practical skills and experience in a professional and high-performing work environment. We work together and gain hands-on experience by solving real-world complex applications with quality workmanship, dedication, and teamwork, to promote sustainability and education. 

 

Designing and building a solar car is a collaborative effort and ultimately, the success of the team is dependent on the dedicated, hard-working students and the invaluable support we are given from our sponsors, the university, and the community. As a design team, our members embark on a passionate journey of learning and innovation to create more than they ever imagined possible. 


As of 2020, our solar racing team has extended its reach to events and exhibitions, such as the Yorkville Exotic Car Show, GoNorth, and Solar Car 101 Workshops such as a solar car workshop for young girls in collaboration with the Canadian Association for Girls in Science. Events such as these serve as an excellent means of reaching a broad audience of all ages to cultivate a better understanding of renewable energies and solar technologies. Blue Sky Solar Racing encourages a future generation that is passionate about technology by sparking their interests in design and creation.

 

Additionally, Blue Sky Solar Racing holds workshops for students that consist of a series of theoretical lectures followed by hands-on application workshops. These programs are run frequently with up to 50 students each and follow a range of the different divisions within our team including composites/fabrication, electrical, mechanical, strategies, aerodynamics and advancement. Through these sessions, we hope to not only gain skilled individuals to help the team construct the new car, but also offer students knowledge of modern sustainable energy solutions and the technologies that we have applied to our design and manufacture of the solar car. Through this, the team spreads awareness of sustainable technologies within the community at the University of Toronto.

 

With support from PCBWay, our team at Blue Sky Solar Racing can achieve our goals, and venture to new heights this race cycle. Our project is only possible through the implementation of our in-house electrical systems that are designed to use solar energy efficiently and we hope to bring our design to life with help from PCBWay.

 

((Blue Sky Solar Racing car “Viridian” racing in Australia)

 

Our PCBs

Power Sense Module (PSM)

(PSM)


This board is used to measure the voltage and current at different points in the car, such as at the battery terminals, at the solar array output, at the motor input and low-voltage auxiliary power output. To keep the system small and reliable, the board is divided into 2 “channels”, each able to measure the current and voltage. The main integrated circuit is Analog Device’s ADE7912, which produces its own isolated supply, converts the analog signal into digital values and communicates with the microcontroller located on another board.


Battery Management System (BMS)

Our car uses six battery management system boards, one for each battery module. This PCB is responsible for monitoring the state-of-charge (SOC) of the battery, ensuring that no part of the battery pack discharges faster than others (known as “balancing” the battery) and altering the rest of the car in fault events such as overtemperature, overvoltage, etc., to protect the battery from catastrophic failure.


Steering Wheel Board

(Steering Wheel Board)


The simple PCB constitutes the centre of the driver’s steering wheel. It contains buttons, switches and a D-Pad that are used to navigate the menus on the driver’s screen that is located on their dashboard. It is also used to control other systems such as the indicator lights and the horn or to initiate radio communication with the chase car.


Battery Box Motherboard (BBMB)

This PCB is responsible for communicating the state of the battery with the rest of the car over UART communication. It can measure the battery power using the aforementioned Power Sense Module, control the cooling fans in the battery box and control the daytime-running-lights (DRLs), brake lights and indicator lights. The BBMB also plays a critical safety role. It directly controls the lower power relay, which determines if the rest of the car receives 12V power. It also controls the precharge, positive, and negative high power relays through the relay driver board, which connect the rest of the high power system with the battery pack. If it receives an emergency shutoff (ESD) signal, it should immediately shut off and discharge these relays.


Lights boards

(Rear lights)


(Middle Stop Light)


(Side Indicator)


Our car has seven different light boards. Each small board contains LEDs on one side and the control circuitry (a boost converter) on the other side. It receives a control signal from the BBMB and can change the brightness of the lights dynamically, in addition to implementing safety features such as over temperature protection.


Motor Box Motherboard (MBMB)

(MCMB)


This PCB is responsible for interfacing the motor controller and to the rest of the car. It receives information such as desired set speed and motor power and can return measurements such as current speed or any fault conditions (overtemperature, over/under-voltage, motor control errors, etc.)


Power Hub

The power hub is responsible for generating a low-voltage (12V) system from the battery to power all of the electronics in the car. It also implements an emergency shutoff system that can galvanically isolate the battery from the rest of the car should the driver need to completely and quickly power off the car. The power hub is contained within the battery box, along with the Battery Box Motherboard (BBMB) and a Power Sense Module (PSM).



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