Solar Car Competition

2005 Chicago Regional Science Bowl

Solar Car Competition Rules

revised 1/24/05

Teams of students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades are welcome to participate in the Solar Car competition at the Chicago Middle School Car Competition. Teams participating in just the Solar Car competition may have as many students as they want. To be eligible for the National Middle School Science Bowl, the team must compete in both the Academic and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car competitions.

Solar Car Materials
Teams will be provided a solar panel, motor, and optional wheels and gears. Cars must race with only one motor and solar panel and they must be used without modifications. The remainder of the car must be your own design and can be made from other materials.

Solar Vehicle Specifications
The car must be safe for contestants and spectators (e.g., no sharp edges, no projectiles, etc.).

The car must have a chassis that is three dimensional. Teams CANNOT bolt the axles and wheels of the car to the solar module. The solar module cannot be used as the chassis of the car.

The car must fit within a box 60 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm (length, width, height).

A 3 cm x 3 cm space on the side of the car must be available for the assigned car number.

Sunlight will be the only power source for the car. No batteries or energy storage devices are permitted.

Any energy-enhancing devices, like mirrors, must be attached to the car.

The car must be steered by the guide wire using an eyelet affixed to the bottom front of the car (or you can use two eyelets – one in the front and on in the rear). A guide wire, 1 cm. (+/- .05 cm) from the surface of the track, will go through the attached eyelet on the car, serving to as the steering mechanism, and keeping the car in its lane. The car must be easily removed from the guide wire, without disconnecting the guide wire. This is the only allowable method of steering the car. No radio control is permitted.

If it is extremely cloudy or raining on race day, teams may be required to use a battery power backup for the race (we will race inside if it is raining). All cars must have the solar panel installed for the Vehicle Inspection and Design Judging. The judges will also inspect the battery power backup during the Vehicle Inspection. Please note that these are two separate panels and only one will be allowed for the race. All cars must run with either the solar panel or the battery power backup, depending on the judge’s call which will be made at least 15 minutes prior to the first race. Cars may be inspected before the race and any car not in compliance with the judge’s call will be disqualified from the race.

To make a battery power backup, make a foam core panel, the same size as the solar panel, and wire it as shown in the diagram to accommodate two “AA” Duracell batteries. The switch is a “momentary push button” switch that is normally closed. Competitors hold down the switch button until the start signal is given. Releasing the button starts the current flowing to the motor.

Track Specifications

The length of the race course is 20 meters over a hard, smooth, level surface - a parking lot. Each racing lane will be at least 60 cm wide. A guide wire will be located in the center of each lane not be more than 1.5 cm above the track surface.

Solar Race Conduct
At race time, cars will be placed behind the starting line with all wheels in contact with the ground. The students will cover the solar module with an opaque material (e.g., a file folder) without touching the module. The race will start when the official signal is given and the students will remove the opaque covering to allow the solar module to generate electricity for powering the cars. The winner of the race will be the first car to cross the finish line or the car farthest down the lane. An early or push start may result in disqualification or re-running the race. The race judges will determine if a contestant is disqualified or if the race must be rerun.

One member of each team must wait at the finish line to catch the car. Team members may not accompany or touch the car while it is racing on the track. Cars and team members must remain at the finish line until the winning order of the race has been established. Cars stalled on the track may be retrieved after the end of the race has been declared.

During initial heats, the judges may declare multiple wins or losses.

Cars that change or cross lanes may be disqualified (at the discretion of the race judges).

Challenges protesting the winning order of the heat must be made before the race judges begin the next heat. All challenges must come from the team members who are actively competing. The decisions of the race judges are final.

Judges have the option to inspect cars prior to the final heat or at any time during/after the heats are completed.

Time trials or head-to-head races may be used to determine the winning car, at the discretion of the race site officials.

Design Awards

Prior to the race, students will be interviewed by CNH engineers about their car design. Design awards will be given based on chassis, transmission, solar array, appearance, craftsmanship, and innovation.

June 24th, 2005 - Posted in Solar Power News | |

Leave a reply