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Advanced Engineering 2021

NEC Birmingham(B40 1NT)

03/11/2021 - 04/11/2021

Join us in our 12th and most important edition to date, as we invite engineers and management from all (more)

Racing small-scale formula cars

Racing small-scale formula cars

Formula Student is an annual competition for university undergraduates, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). Teams from around the world design, build, test and race small-scale formula style racing cars. Maxon controllers are a fundamental part of the hydraulic actuation system for the team at the University of Bath.

Team Bath Racing consists of 21 ambitious final year engineering students. Contestants must produce a prototype for a single seat car and present it to a hypothetical manufacturing firm. The car must be low in cost, easy to maintain and reliable. Each team goes through a rigorous testing process, made up to static and dynamic events. The competition track layout is extremely bendy so lateral acceleration is of more importance than the top end speed.

2017 sees the 20th anniversary of the IMechE competition. 128 universities from 25 countries will compete this year. Formula Student is viewed very highly by the motorsport industry as the standard for engineering graduates to meet, transitioning them from university to the workplace.

The University of Bath first participated in Formula Student in 2000 and they have an impressive track record, with 13 event wins throughout their history they are the most successful UK team. Each year the Teams look to improve on the previous year’s racing car. Last year’s vehicle design had no clutch actuation system and the plan for 2017 was to automate.

The team member responsible for the clutch and gear shift actuation system was Jack Lesniewski. Now a graduate, Jack began by developing a closed loop controller. ‘I thought this should be simple,’ said Jack,’ but it just was a mess to create, it started to blow-up and I was running out of time. I realised then it was not going to happen’. Looking for a quick solution, Jack borrowed a Maxon controller, an ESCON 50/5, from another project at the University. It worked perfectly but he had space constraints so he turned to the Maxon catalogue and discovered the much smaller ESCON 24/2 module, which is the size of a postage stamp – the ideal solution for the actuation system. The ESCON controller series are easy to set-up using an intuitive interface. Jack particularly liked the fast current loop (53.6 kHz) and the data recorder feature so he could monitor the current.

Jack spent the past year building the hydraulic system and after a season of difficult results, the hydraulic system was deemed a success! With reliable gear shifting and accurate control, the car performed admirably. As Team Bath Racing look to build on their design for their 2018 entry, work is already underway to develop the control system to allow full automation of the clutch for a launch control feature. With accurate control through the Maxon ESCON controller, this should provide one of the quickest accelerating cars the team has ever produced for their 2018 entry.


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