Team name: Solar Flares

Car name: Fritts

From: Suntree Elementary

About our team

Jackson D. in 6th grade worked on making the solar panel adjustable and design.

Ben R. in 6th grade worked on the car and putting it together and helped make the motor.

Chris Q. in 6th grade mainly worked on the wiring of the car and helped with the seat for the ping pong ball

Kate B. in 6th grade made the web page and helped in the seat for the ping pong ball

Final car design pictures

Project log

February 26-Today we worked for 60 minutes and Ben and Kate attended the meeting today. Today an obstacle we encountered was that we didn’t have everybody so we couldn’t make a lot of official decisions. We did an introduction to the solar cars, reviewed rules, divided the teams and drew out plans for car, but did not make anything. We also decided what we would do in upcoming meetings.

  • Minimize friction on wheels
  • Traction on the wheels to grip the ground
  • Aerodynamic
  • Maximize the amount of sunlight to our car

To-do: decide what pieces we should use, and our team name.

March 4- Today we worked for 60 minutes and all of us, Ben, Chris, Kate, and Jackson, attended the meeting today. An obstacle encountered was that it was hard to think of what we should use for our car, and what our team name should be. We started to design the car and start brainstorming names for our car. We decided that our team name should be Solar Flares because solar flares go fast and solar flares also give off a lot of energy when they happen. We also decided that we were going to use the balsa wood for our base because it was very strong but lightweight so it wouldn’t brake easily. We also agreed that we wanted a ball joint so we could tilt the solar cell the way we wanted it and connect the solar cell to the car.

This is the wheels we could use. These are LEGO wheels and they have rubber on them to provide traction.

To-do: Start building the car

March 18- Today we all where there (Ben, Chris, Kate, and Jackson) and where there for 75 minutes. Obstacles we encountered were the LEGO wheels did not fit in the axle and we didn’t have the right LEGO gear for the LEGO wheels, so we used the wheels from the box instead for the back wheels. We started making the car seat, the axle, motor, and the wheels. We decided that we would use the big LEGO wheels for the front and a wooden dowel for its axle because the wooden dowel was the size we needed. We kept the LEGO wheels because they have rubber on them which provides traction and keeps the vehicle on the ground. The passenger seat was a top of a Gatorade bottle with a rubber band around it to stop the ball from falling out. We chose the Gatorade bottle because it was recycled and therefore it was sustainable. We used the top of the Gatorade bottle so we could grab the ball easily.

This is us talking about the wheels and axle.

To-Do: Name car, attach axle, the motor, continue seat, attach solar cell.

March 22- Today all of us were there and we were there for 120 minutes. The obstacles we encountered were that we had to jump start the motor for it to work using a solar panel. Another obstacle we had was that the superglue kept getting on the axle and stopping it from working. We put a straw on all of the wooden dowel to stop the sticking. We put the axle and wheels on the car and added the sink head too. We also worked on the motor and the solar cell. We decided that we where going to add a sink head instead of a ball joint because it moves the same as a ball joint. We also added electrical connectors so we could easily change between power sources. We decided the gear ratio was going to be 4-1. We also decided the name of the car was going to be Fritts because the inventor of the solar cell was named Charles Fritts.

This is the car that is almost done. The thing on the car is a small shower head and its purpose is to move the solar cell like a ball joint.

This is us testing the solar cell to see if it moves the motor.

This is us working on our jobs.

To-Do: Make solar cell cover, finish building the car, and do a rough test

March 27- Today we meet for 105 minutes and Ben, Chris, and Jackson were there. The problems we faced were that the we still had to jump start the motor to work. Also we had a problem with the guide wire getting tangled in the gear because it was getting too close. We worked on finishing the car and adding the pieces and finished all of our car but the steering device. We also made our solar cell cover and colored it. We decided that where we were where going to put there solar cell, the seat, and the electrical connectors. Then we did a rough test to see if it moved or worked and it took a lot of trials for it to work because it seeped veering off the track. Because the paperclip didn’t work as well we decided we were going to use a binder clip.

This is our soar panel cover for our car. On it is Charles Fritts an inventor of the solar cell.

This is us discussing the car.

To do: Connect steering device, test the car, build web page, test solar cell, and do video

March 30- Today Ben worked for 60 minutes and connected the steering device and tested the car. We discovered today that the problem with the motor was not enough sunlight. A problem was that the steering device did not go down far enough. So for the steering we used a binder clip that was 3/8 inches and put two pieces of cardboard down above it so the binder clip was far enough down and attached them down to each other with super glue. When testing the car we had the car go straight and marked the two ends with cones. Another obstacle we faced is that we had to wait until the sun came out and there was no clouds before we did the time trials. When there was a cloud in front of the sun the car stopped and wouldn’t move because it wasn’t gathering enough sun light.

To do: Finish web page, do video, trials with guide wire.

April 1- Today we meet for 60 minouts and Ben, Chris, Kate, and Jackson attended the meeting today. An obstacle we faced is that the wire got stuck in the motor again because it was too close. We did not work on the car anymore because it is finished. We decided that we did not need to make anymore modifications to the car because it had good time trial times. We did the time trials with the guide wire and both solar and battery powered, for the car and got very good results. Then we worked on the time trial video.

To-Do: Finish Video

April 3- Today we worked for 35 minutes and Ben, Chris, Kate, and Jackson attended the meeting today. We worked on the video and had a hard time memorizing our lines and were stuttering a lot. We decided who was doing what and when and how our setup was going to be.

Design Drawings

This is the design of our car with the measurements. This is the side view.

This is the top view design for our car with the measurements.

Car Measurements

Car height: 5.5 in (14 cm)

Car length: 10.5 in (27 cm)

Car width: 6 in (15.5 cm)

Car weight: 282.3 grams

Wheel size: Front: 1.5 in (3.7 cm) Back: 1.63 in (4 cm)

Gear ratio: 4-1

Components used and cost

Pitsco Ray Catcher solar vehicle kitNew$48
Gatorade bottleRecycled$0
Shower headNew$12
Rubber bandReused$0
LEGO wheelsReused$0
Electrical connectorsNew$1.80
Wooden dowelsNew$0.83
3/8 inch binding combsNew$0.28
Scotch TapeNew$0.10
Super glueNew$6
Electrical tapeNew$0.10
2 hot glue sticksNew$0.20
Total Cost$69.31

This is a list of pieces we were using. This includes wire connectors, a shower head, straws, wooden dowels, LEGO wheels, and the solar cell car kit.

Time Trail Information

Test InformationTest 1Test 2Test 3Test 4Test 5Test 6Test 7
Solar or battery poweredSolarSolarSolarSolarSolarSolarBattery
Date/Time of dayMarch 30- 5:00 PMMarch 30- 5:00 PMMarch 30- 5:00 PMApril 1- 3:00 PM April 1- 3:00 PMApril 1- 3:00 PMApril 1- 3:00 PM
Distance traveled20 meters20 meters20 meters20 meters20 meters20 meters20 meters
Time elapsed9.64 seconds8.76. seconds9.66 seconds7.58 seconds7.07 seconds6.42 seconds8.32 seconds
Speed (m/s)2.07
Comments/observationsNo guide line, solar panel pointed straight at the sun at a 45 degree angle.No guide line, solar panel pointed straight at the sun at a 45 degree angle.No guide line, solar panel flat and not pointed directly at the sun.Guide line, solar panel pointed straight at the sun at a 45 degree angle.Guide line, solar panel pointed straight at the sun at a 45 degree angle.Guide line, solar panel flat and not pointed directly at the sun.Guide line, solar panel pointed straight at the sun at a 45 degree angle.
Ideas for improving the cars performanceHave solar panel pointed straight at the sun at a 45 degree angle.Have person that starts it have there shadow pointed away from solar cell.Have the solar panel flat and tilted at the sun.

Vehicle Features Video

2 thoughts on “Team name: Solar Flares

  • So clever to use a shower head to hold the solar panel so it can move in different directions. I appreciate the historical information that you also included in your webpage. Excellent job documenting your process! I am looking forward to seeing it race!


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