It's been a busy year for Baja. I had a different senior project than Baja so I was unable to spend as much time as I would like on Baja this year. That being said, I was able to design the frame and establish some practices that I feel will help the team in the future.
Over the summer, Jordan, the team captain, designed many of the primary tubes needed for the frame and gave me a few screenshots of his design (below is the isometric view).
Once the primary tubes were modeled, the secondary and auxiliary tubes needed to be modeled. Once the tube was modeled and I was satisfied with the fitment, I would create a drawing for the part and send it to the team to begin fabrication. During this time, I was also working with Jordan and our team sponsor, Walker Mowers, to have the drivetrain box laser cut. The drivetrain box fits around the transmission and the engine mounts on top of it. This allows the drivetrain to be removed as one unit with only a few bolts being removed. Below is a rendering of the new frame.
In addition to modeling the new frame, I spent some of my time focusing on practices that would help make Baja sustainable once I graduate and help anyone picking up where I left off. To accomplish this, I created a naming convention. This was based on a naming convention put in place at an internship I had a few years ago. It was simple but effective and can be seen below. Each part name started with the year that car would be competing in (this year's car is competing in 2018). Then was a system that designated the subassembly that the file was a part of and what type of part the file was (tube, sheet metal, purchased part, etc). Lastly, was a common name for the part. This could be "steering wheel", "03" if it was the third part in an assembly or the part number if it was a purchased part. An example of this would be "2018-101-RRH": 2018 means it is competing in 2018, 101 means it's in the frame assembly (leading 1) and is a tube (trailing 1), RRH means it is the Rear Roll Hood (a primary frame member named by SAE). This naming convention has helped me to stay organized and will allow future teams to follow my work easily and keep their work organized as well.
The team has been hard at work to fabricate the frame during the busy school year. The first pictures were taken in the beginning of February. The primary pieces of the frame have been fabricated and welded together by now.
The next pictures were taken the other day (March 25th). Through the mess of the welding table, it can be be seen that more secondary members have been fabricated and welded on and the production of the suspension arms is under way. We had a senior project focus on how to consistently, accurately, and efficiently manufacture a suspension design made by a previous senior project team. All of the parts are in so once the suspension tabs are put in place, we should be good to mount everything and take it out for a spin!
In addition to the new frame, we have also redesigned the gears in the transmission. Now, instead of having a forwards and a reverse gear, we have a high and low gear. This will be a huge advantage for events such as the hill climb, where more torque is needed, and the endurance race, where higher speeds are needed. Plus, thanks to Dr. Allen and his incredible work on our lathe, we are able to shift between gears on the fly. Few teams are able to switch gears without slowing down or stopping so being able to shift and only needing to lift off the gas a little is a major advantage.
I'm very proud of the work I was able to accomplish this year and the team is in great shape. We are currently on the wait list for the Mid-West competition so we will have to see if we're able to compete. Regardless, the car we have will be light, solid, and fast. The practices put in place with the naming convention and the senior projects will ensure that future teams are on a sure foundation for success. Baja has been a tremendous experience for me and I've learned more about engineering than I could have expected. I'm a more capable and confident engineer because of it and I know the skills I've gained through Baja will help me immensely when I go to graduate school or join industry.