During the weeks before Dale Klein, GM mentor for Ohio State University, came to visit the EcoCAR team, all members worked hard to home in on final competition targets by improving software in the engine as well as the overall vehicle. During this tuning the team greatly improved the car’s engine startup and throttle response, which offered noticeable improvements to its unique highway mode and charge-sustaining operation. In addition, the team spent a great deal of time refining electric motor control with better motor mapping. These modifications gave the team a chance to improve the vehicle’s supervisory control, meshing all the components together in one seamless vehicle system.
The vehicle had a more-than-functional engine start and electric motor mapping that could strain the half-shafts, so it was an ideal time for Dale’s visit. But when Dale arrived, he unfortunately couldn’t hop right in and take the smooth riding beast for a spin. Instead he found the team looking at what used to be the electric motor inverter’s capacitors. As Dale and the team examined the capacitors, a smell known to electrical engineers as “magic smoke” began to fill the air, signaling a malfunctioning circuit. To deal with this setback, Dale helped the team lay out a plan to completely replace the now gutted electric motor inverter with a more efficient model, and pair it with a new motor.
As the team looked up replacement parts, Dale had the opportunity to really take a look at the vehicle. He searched for concerns that technical inspectors would find at the pre-inspection, which might include things as small as a zip-tie or as important as high voltage fusing and routing. Dale pointed out any issues to the team and discussed the planning required to resolve them.
Following Dale’s visit, the team had a very clear list of details to touch up and Dale left excited about the various projects the team was working on. The OSU team appreciates the advice from Dale and General Motors and carried the support through to the Spring Workshop!