Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arrival in Omaha

We arrived at the Omaha checkpoint at around 4:40 PM and left at 5:10 PM. Taking the alternate route, we drove until 5:45 PM before stopping to charge. Therefore, we will start tomorrow at 7:45 AM, planning on making it to the next Stage Stop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in the late morning/early afternoon. Tonight we are getting hammered by some severe thunderstorms, but are managing to keep pretty dry in our shelter. Tomorrow we can expect some debris and residual flooding on the roads to keep our scout car busy.

After stopping to charge, one car of team members doubled back to the Omaha checkpoint, where we came upon Principia's team. Principia arrived at around 5:40 PM, an hour later than us (they left Neosho in second, one minute after us). It was nice getting to catch up with Principia's team members and advisors--they were, as always, very kind and welcoming (they even offered us rice krispie treats and cookies!).

Reports from Principia members confirm that Minnesota left Neosho a half hour late due to their turn signals. Additionally, three of the four MPPTs they were using had malfunctioned. Hopefully they will be able to get their MPPT situation resolved in Sioux Falls.  According to Missouri S&T (who are camped 50 miles south of Omaha according to their blog at, they passed Minnesota and Calgary--Waterloo also had a strong day. Hopefully we can piece together a clearer picture of the entire field tomorrow once we get into Sioux Falls.

Overall, a fast, sunny day with many miles traveled! In fact, we almost beat race officials to Topeka. Our weather car arrived at the Topeka stop while officials were at lunch, but the officials did a good job setting up before the rest of the caravan could get there. We'll try again to beat them next time ;)

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Blogger Brian Ignaut said...

Big thanks to Base-X for providing the Team with such amazing shelters! Now is a great time to have that kind of serious hardware.

July 16, 2008 at 12:09 AM  
Blogger Garrick Williams said...

Based on the early stop and the relatively short day (knock on wood) planned for tomorrow, I'm assuming you guys ran it almost dead today - must be nice having all of those stage stops... ;)

Good luck staying dry and dodging the storms. Keep it up, and keep adding to the lead (no such thing as a cushion in solar car). Also, remember that the batteries are good till at least -2 watt hours.

Godspeed, Continuum.

July 16, 2008 at 12:18 AM  
Anonymous shawn gabel said...

Great job wolverines! I had to stay up for the post. Keep them coming. Go blue! (Principia's performance is amazing. How does a school that small do it?)

-Engineering 1994

July 16, 2008 at 12:26 AM  
Blogger Furqan Nazeeri said...

Great to hear! Go Blue!

July 16, 2008 at 12:29 AM  
Blogger Furqan Nazeeri said...

Yo Shawn, long time! How goes the battle? Send me your email address at fn (at) altgate (dot) com.

July 16, 2008 at 12:30 AM  
Anonymous Steve Cook said...

Hi to you all again from Australia.
I read in an earlier blog that you have recieved no penaltys, that means you are not driving fast enough!!!!!
Bye the way, does Brooke have the 'P' plate on the car and does Spencer have his 'L' plate on the car.
Also for my personal info, can someone tell me who is on the team this year. Keep up the good work, regards from Steve Cook

July 16, 2008 at 1:21 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Great job, Michigan!

I love this blog, it's so exciting to follow your team. I check this page obsessively and did the same during Australia... it was so good to come back to it and see all the familiar stuff I've come to love reading about. Even in the comments, I feel like this team and its alumni and supporters have so much character--numbers from TC Lambert, Brian Ignaut still being motivational, etc. I first started following the team as a family member but solar car--as a sport and a community and a pretty sweet engineering/science project--has sucked me in completely. Great job guys, you're inspiring. :D

Go Blue!

July 16, 2008 at 1:22 AM  
Anonymous Sudeep said...

Go Blue!

July 16, 2008 at 1:26 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Hi to everyone from Singapore!

I wish I was there with you guys. It's really weird reading this blog and not actually being on the rayce.

It's great to see that the team is doing so well. The energy, professionalism, and spirit you guys bring to the scene is what makes me proud to be even remotely associated with all of you - if not personally, then through the sleepless nights, carbon fiber cuts, yellow tape, and all the forecasts, checks and rechecks that you do, knowing that it's cutting out of your sleep time - all in order to gain those precious few minutes and seconds.

Make sure you keep all the speed logs, and I agree with Joe - Go fast, Go smooth, Go Blue!

PS - watch out for the wet roads!

July 16, 2008 at 6:46 AM  
Blogger TC Lambert said...

I can't stay up that late, you guys! Okay, app. 7 hrs. 10 min. to drive from Neosho to Omaha. Was the new 15 miles added before or after the checkpoint? If before, we get an average of 57.6 mph for the second stage (so far). If after, only 55.5 mph. Overall, about 49 mph after 748 miles. 1571 to go.

Does anyone still have the breakdown of the times Momentum posted for similar stages 3 years ago? Continuum, with a plumper cross section and 25% smaller array, looks to be kicking Momentum's butt.

We're about 1/3 of the way. At this rate, Minnesota will need about 8 more MPPT's. Seriously, I hope they figure out what's been breaking them. I hate to see such a strong competitor sidelined by a little glitch.

Kudos to Base-x for the shelters, and to Michigan for extending their lead over the lit majors from Principia. I still can't get over how well they're doing. Principia has to be the smallest school in the race. Amazing.

July 16, 2008 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Hostman said...

Hi TC,

It's not really comparable, with all the staged stops and such. The car has a LOT more weight, drag, rolling resistance, etc. It also has a smaller array (6m2 vs. 8m2 for MomentUM). So, head-to-head, not a chance. But, considering the field, it's overcoming it's shortcomings quite well (like the fact that the very cool concentrator system had to be removed between races, leaving Michigan with a much bigger car than necessary).

Principia had help from Michigan's head aero guy from '03 & '05, and I can say from firsthand viewing it is quite nicely put together. Unfortunately, it suffers from the typical Principia traits in other areas - they didn't even have the motor working until a few days before the race, and no speedometer on Sunday (I'm guessing that was the penalty as well), and still no telemetry. It's a quite different design methodology - one that at UM would not be allowed to race. But as a liberal arts-only school they do surprisingly well...

Anyhow, I'm also unhappy with NASC for not doing the GPS tracking thing again this year. Our company makes GPS tracking devices, and Michigan is using one in the race caravan, but it would be nice to see where everyone else is. Perhaps we'll offer to loan some to NASC for 2010.


July 16, 2008 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Principia has been a long time friend of the team, it's great to see them doing well! Let's hope Continuum can get to Soiux Falls early and cheer the other teams as they roll in!

July 16, 2008 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger TC Lambert said...

In reply to Steve Cook:

Michigan's team:

Brooke Bailey
Alexandre Curaudeu
Alex Dowling
Jeffery Ferman
Julia Hawley
Steven Hechtman
Doug Lambert
Maura Lynch
Keyvan Mirsaeedi-Farahani
Gerald Chang
Brad Charboneau
Kristine Cramer
John Federspiel
Josh Feldman
Gerald Giarmo
Chris Hammond
Richard Ho
Michael Kezelian
Chiao-Ting Li
Sarah Napier
Evan Quisenberry
Jeff Rogers

for more details.

I'm sure you will recognize some of these names from previous races. (I.e., This is Doug's 4th solar car race, but the first in which he hasn't driven the lead car. He has to ride in the back this time.)

July 16, 2008 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Brian Ignaut said...

Also, just so you guys know, there are daily race updates being posted all over EMCORE in Albuquerque so everyone knows how you're doing. We will spread the solar car obsession as much as possible, by force if necessary. Keep the good news coming!

July 16, 2008 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger TC Lambert said...

What's goin' on? Are you in Sious Falls yet? Huh, huh, are ya?

July 16, 2008 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Wisniewski said...

Thanks for taking the time to post the late night update. It was great to receive it during last night's long MLB All-Star game.

University of Calgary's blog has posted a picture of the Neosho start with Michigan up front.

Missouri S&T has posted details of last night's battery related fire.

We're proud of the team for many reasons and recent events add "safety" to your list of accomplishments.

Spending time with the team in Texas was inspiring; seeing your work ethic and outreach to other teams -- paying it forward. Did any WMU students take you up on your invite to ride along?

Hopefully, Sioux Falls will hold another "green" fair like they did for the 2005 rayce checkpoint. Enjoy the stage stop and then...
Godspeed, Continuum!

July 16, 2008 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger TC Lambert said...

Hostman, I'm tellin' ya, despite the shortcomings, Continuum is running faster than Momentum did. Maybe the weather was worse in '05. Or maybe these engineers found ways to make Continuum that much more efficient. The array is smaller, but they have more efficient cells. I know they did things to the motor. With Continuum cruising at the posted limit almost all the time, it's hard to see how Momentum could beat it.

July 16, 2008 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Hostman said...

I'm sorry TC, but that position is indefensible. Remember that the stage stops provide an opportunity to recharge pretty much every day or two - this is in stark contrast to '05 where we had to run from Weatherford to Winnipeg without stopping. Due to the additional stage stops, the teams are pretty much guaranteed to be able to top off their packs before proceeding ... so now they can use sunlight + a full pack of stored energy to complete the stage, as opposed to having to strategize more than a couple of days at a time. We also had pretty terrible weather in the first part of NASC '05. Regardless, I know the performance numbers for the vehicles, and MomentUM is better from a performance standpoint ... but this is the whole point!

The regulations were changed in '07/'08 to provide more of a challenge and slow the vehicles down. Unfortunately, the race officials did not like the field becoming as stratified as it did in '05 (due to the long stage, poorly performing cars could be a couple days behind better ones), so they added an additional stage. This is good for PR purposes but hurts the true challenge of the race - endurance, strategy, energy management.

Robert Vogt
Head Strategist '03 & '05

July 16, 2008 at 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The team is about 45 miles from Sioux Falls as of 11:20 AM.

July 16, 2008 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger TC Lambert said...

Anon, thanks for the position update.

Robert, not only is my position defensible, it is unassailable. Continuum IS going faster than Momentum did. Not only that, but I went back to WSC. Here's a quote:

"Continuum averaged 89 kph during the second half of the race, finishing the 1500 kilometer stretch 45 minutes faster than our 2005 vehicle despite regulation changes."

That's twice Continuum has surpassed Momentum in a real-world test. Like I said before, maybe it's weather, or just maybe it was bad strategy in 2005. Who was in charge of that anyway?

I'm kidding. We're arguing two different things. I'm saying the times are better this year. And it truly is weather-related and as you pointed out, the additional stage stops help. You're arguing that in theory, if Momentum were racing today, it would blow Continuum's doors off. Check that. No doors. It would blow the fairings off, maybe?

However, if you want to argue, I will take the position that it would be a frackin' close race. First of all, Continuum's smaller array is more efficient than Momentum's. Continuum is thicker, but only has three wheels. The fairings on the two front wheels were always a headache with Momentum. The motor and electronics have been improved with Continuum. Continuum has better tires. The big thing, though: the speed limit is the speed limit. Continuum is running a nearly perfect race. A couple of yips the first day, and then as fast and smooth as the regs allow. If both cars can run the speed limit the whole way, the only variable is reliability. Both cars were very reliable. And that variable is kind of unpredictable. Who would have predicted that Minnesota would blow up their MPPTs or that Missouri would have a fire? Or that Momentum would have a big hunk of metal imbed itself in the front of the car in WSC '05?

If it were possible to run them head-to-head, that is one race I'd love to see.

July 16, 2008 at 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any updates from the road today? Needed a break from work for a few :)

July 16, 2008 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Hostman said...

Team is arrived in Sioux Falls as of 1:11 PM local time.

July 16, 2008 at 2:31 PM  
Anonymous Dave Masselink said...

No questions about it... this blog is the best place to get rather frequent updates about the current race and very frequent memories about past races. :) I'm loving every moment of it.

Great work so far team Continuum, keep it up.

Also, as has been mentioned a few times earlier, Principia is pretty amazing. That they are able to compete at such a high level year after year (with no engineering department) is nothing short of astounding. I should also point out that they are a great team filled with great people. I don't have a single bad memory of the Principia team members.

Micro Controllers 2005

July 16, 2008 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger Brian Ignaut said...

One fun factoid that never got into the blogs this summer: The Team re-set the all-time Michigan Solar Car speed record with Continuum at MIS this summer, running at 88 mph. That was also with a CSIRO motor instead of the NGM. Yay Continuum! Go Team!

July 16, 2008 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Garrick Williams said...

In response to the Continuum/Momentum comparison, trust me that, in a straight up head to head with both in race trim, Momentum is the faster car.

But it's really almost impossible to compare them by any sort of fair standard - not only are they designed to different rules (you might as well argue over NASCAR vs. Indy), but Momentum had the benefit of a somewhat longer desing cycle and more heritage to build off of, meaning it's closer to "perfect" for its rule set. Continuum is essentially a first iteration - you'll see a lot of evolution in 2009.

What's important is not how well Continuum compares to previous Michigan cars, but how it compares to the other cars in the race. And both Momentum and Continuum seem to hold their own in that comparison.

But, if you really want to crunch numbers to call one the best, I'd suggest Momentum vs. Continuum in WSC - however, you'll still need to correct for Continuum's lack of experience in the first couple days of the race (no previous race to get a good feel for strategy + blown up telemetry = suboptimal energy management)and for the lousy weather faced by Momentum at the end of WSC '05. That should keep you busy while we wait for the race to get rolling again ;)

July 16, 2008 at 6:17 PM  
Blogger Michael Adams said...

Garrick, thank you for your input. I do find it frustrating that people are comparing Continuum to Momentum. It's apples to oranges. Momentum had worse weather, a longer race, and a longer stage. The top speed argument doesn't hold water, either, since Momentum hit its highest (not TOP) speed on a public road in Australia, not on a super-speedway.

July 16, 2008 at 6:42 PM  
Blogger Garrick Williams said...

I just don't see how it's anything to get riled about - last I checked both cars race with the same logo on 'em.

Though to be perfectly fair, Mike, a lot of the public roads in the NT might as well be superspeedways - of course, you don't have to worry about hitting any 'roos at MIS.

July 16, 2008 at 6:54 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

I think we need to arrange a head to head drag race, but I certainly agree with the NASCAR/Indy comparison - It's too hard to compare two great cars. Robert, you'll always have me on tape bragging you up in the '05 NASC video. Regardless, Continuum is doing great now, so let's all focus on that!! Go Blue!! :)

July 16, 2008 at 6:58 PM  
Blogger TC Lambert said...

Robert, I did see your apples to oranges post before it was pulled. Perhaps you should have used some ode-cay anguage-lay to protect the ecret-say etails-day. You know I loved the numbers. Doug won't even tell me that stuff. He thinks I'm a security risk.

I did not mean to impugn the virtue of Momentum. Without jinxing things, I was wondering if Continuum has a chance to set a new NASC overall speed record. I believe Momentum's 46.2 mph over the entire 2005 race is the current record to beat. The 2001 Michigan team had a mark of 40.0 mph. Pretty sure Continuum can beat that.

Glad to finally hear we're in Sault Falls (that's the Michigan spelling).

Oh, and Steve Cook, I forgot one team member who came in at the last minute--Paula Harrison.

July 16, 2008 at 7:58 PM  
Blogger Hostman said...

Hey TC,

Doug is a good guy. I think he works a little too hard on solar car much of the time (and most everyone else too). Everytime I see him I can see workspace dirt and grime covering him from head to toe... I am very happy with the performance of Continuum. I hope they are able to continue at this pace in the more difficult stretch of the race (Winnipeg -> Medicine Hat). This is where we destroyed Minnesota in '05 - their car was so unstable in the high crosswinds it could barely maintain 50 mph while staying in-lane.


July 16, 2008 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger TC Lambert said...

Careful, Robert. Gophers can read this blog, too. I wonder how their car this year does in cross-winds? I think Continuum will do all right. Michigan always builds a smooth ride.

July 16, 2008 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Hostman said...

Hey TC,

Why don't we discuss offline?


July 16, 2008 at 11:04 PM  
Anonymous Michigan Vacation Rentals said...

Great job, Michigan! You guys totally rule. This is a great idea and I hope you guys drive safely and kick some butt

September 5, 2008 at 12:29 PM  
Anonymous reintegratie said...

Great to follow your blog from holland

September 10, 2008 at 2:56 PM  

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