Thursday, October 18, 2007


Thursday, the team headed over to the Darwin Showgrounds for the first set of scrutineering activities. Scrutineers check the car to ensure it meets all rules and safety standards. There are several stations that the car must pass through before being issued a permit to drive in the race.

Body And Sizing- At this stop, the car is measured and weighed. The vehicle must be less than 5 m long and 1.8m wide. There is no weight limit on the cars, but in a race where efficiency is important, the lighter the car the better. Our car came in just shy of 5m long, and 1.705m wide with a weight of 250kg.

Driver- This station tests the driver eye height and ingress/egress maneuvers. Each driver must be able to enter the vehicle unattended in 15 seconds, and then egress from the vehicle in 15 seconds. Our drivers did exceptionally well with all of them completing this test with time to spare.

On Road- On road scrutineering ensures that the vehicle has the safety features necessary for road travel. This includes signal lights, head lights/daytime lights, brake lights, reverse, tow hooks,and horn. We had a fuse blow just before scrutineering and due to that, we had to reprogram some of the control nodes in the car. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of time, our brake lights and reverse couldn't be reprogrammed. However the signal lights, amber flashers, head lights all worked well. Our horn woke everyone up in the scrutineering hall. We left our tow hook hardware behind in Canada and so I rigged up something quickly this morning. The rear tow hooks are fine, however the front need to be moved further forward. It seems like a silly rule to most of the teams but we must do as they say. I have a 5 minute solution and a 2 hour solution to the problem. I'll let you know which way I go :).

Mechanical: The car was given a shake down by Transportation Ministry representatives. They checked every nut and bolt and made sure they were on nice and snug. Their main concern is safety and hence were focused on the steering and suspension points and linkages. After some discussions, they were satisfied by our design methodology and implementation and moved us along to the next station.

Electrical: Similar to the mechanical station, electrical scrutineering is focused on the safety of the car. They want to ensure the systems are well layed out and wired to minimize accidents from shorting. They were especially pleased with the layout of the car and the battery pack isolation. The battery pack is completely self isolated hence, all the control relays and fuses are within the pack. This ensures that if there is a short circuit in the pack, the pack will disconnect itself from the car and save the rest of the sensitive vehicle electronics.

Battery: The battery scrutineers ensure that we have not exceeded our battery weight limit and that we came to competition with what we said we would :). Some teams seemed to be stuck here for nearly and hour. Our battery pack layout was very easy to follow. We were once again pleased to hear that they liked our battery pack design. The scrutineers added security tabs to keep people from tampering with cells and replacing them without approval.

Support Vehicles/Safety Plan: This station checks all the support vehicles for compliance. The support vehicles must have proper signage and communications available. Also, the on road safety equipment is checked. We passed this test after replacing some batteries in our radio and fixing our flashing amber light on the top of the car.

All in all the process went well. We still have to fix the tow hooks, reverse, and brake lights. We can have those checked right before qualifying on Saturday morning.


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