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MIT’s Solar Electric Vehicle Team Crosses the Country with RF Modules

Some of the most creative applications of our products come from students. Every year, we are involved with student-led projects that are breaking new ground in industries like automotive, solar power, smart energy, and more. We support these efforts as it leads to insightful feedback on our products and fuels a talented workforce. Here is one of the many projects Digi is helping to support.

The SEVT is a student organization at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology dedicated to designing, building and racing solar powered electric vehicles in long-distance, international competitions. Their upcoming race, the American Solar Challenge, starts in Austin and the team will travel north all the way to Minneapolis.

MITSEV
In order to optimize energy use, the team needs to analyze the car for any environment–especially weather conditions. The ability to monitor numerous data points and adjust accordingly allows the vehicle to cruise at highway speeds, all while consuming less energy than a hair dryer.

The crew is using two XTend RF modules. One module is used to send data to a strategy computer and another connects to the telemetry computer. The strategy computer is used to optimize the energy budget for each day and calculate the velocity that will produce the highest efficiency. The telemetry computer offers an in-depth view into the the car’s entire electrical system that enables the team to identify anomalies and debug problems on board the vehicle. The team’s current vehicle model, Valkyrie, can cruise for two hundred miles on a full battery and with the solar array, it can cruise indefinitely as long as it is under full sunshine.

The American Solar Challenge  starts on July 21, 2014 in Austin. Over the following week, the teams will cross the country and arrive in Minneapolis July 28, 2014. We’ll have a follow-up post after the race. Wish them luck!

Are you student working with Digi products? Let us know how you are innovating on Twitter, our Facebook Page, or in the comments below. And check out the other student projects we are a part of here.

Students Innovate with Digi: Forze Hydrogen Racing Team

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Some of the most creative applications of our products come from students. Every year, we are involved with student-led projects that are breaking new ground in industries like automotive, solar power, smart energy, and more. We support these efforts as it leads to insightful feedback on our products and fuels a talented workforce. Here is one of the many projects Digi is helping to support.

Forze Hydrogen Electric Racing is a racing team run by students of the Delft University of Technology. The goal of Forze is to promote the use of hydrogen fuel cell technology . To do this, the team builds a new hydrogen fuel cell powered race car each year. The most recent vehicle built by the Forze team is the Forze 6. The Forze 6 is the first full-size hydrogen fuel cell powered race car. With a continuous 100kW fuel cell power output and more than 200kW peak power, the Forze 6 should be able to race competitively against petrol powered race cars. In spring 2014, the Forze team hopes to set the lap record for hydrogen fuel cell cars at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

In order for the vehicle to be functioning at optimum levels there are a number of sensors connected to the vehicle. Digi has supplied Forze with a set of XBee modules for the telemetry system. The telemetry system is used for wireless transmission of sensor data to the engineers at the pits. The type of data can be configured at runtime, and includes fuel cell data, electrical data, GPS, acceleration, throttle position and wheel speeds. In total there are around 200 different sensors and actuator values that can be sent to the pits using telemetry.

The system is located in the dashboard of the car. A microcontroller gathers sensor data from two communication busses (CAN). This data is down sampled based on message priorities and estimated available datarate. The data is then transmitted back to the pits using the XBee module.

This not only allows engineers to detect possible problems while driving, but also to speed up the process of tweaking the vehicle’s set up, which allows the team to save valuable time when testing the Forze 6.

Are you student? Are you working with Digi products? Let us know how you are innovating on Twitter, our Facebook Page, or in the comments below. And check out the other student projects we are a part of here.

Students Innovate with Digi: University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project

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Some of the most creative applications of our products come from students. Every year, we are involved with student-led projects that are breaking new ground in industries like automotive, solar power, smart energy, and more. We support these efforts as it leads to insightful feedback on our products and fuels a talented workforce. Here is one of the many projects Digi is helping to support.

The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project (UMNSVP) gives undergraduate engineering students a hands-on learning experience not possible in the classroom. Every two years, the team works to research new methods, design the vehicle, and build the vehicle. Daedalus is the current model in competition and just finished an arduous journey across the Australian outback. The team competed, and placed 4th, in the 2013 World Solar Challenge in Australia.

During the race, Daedalus topped out at 130 kph, or 80 mph. The vehicle uses custom design PMAC motors and motor controllers created by members of the team. The shell and chassis are composed of lightweight carbon fiber with a honeycomb build. The array is made of Monocrystalline solar cells.

The team used XBee modules as part of their telemetry system, which passes data between the solar vehicle and the team’s chase vehicle. All of the data that is transmitted on the internal Controller Area Network(CAN)  is sent through XBees to the chase vehicle.

The XBees act as a wireless extension of the CAN network. The data being transmitted includes battery status, power consumption by the motor, kill messages to turn off the vehicle, operating commands for different modules and additional information.

On their experience with XBees, the team said, “We found that they were much easier to work with than our previous radios due to the X-CTU software making them much easier to configure. The ability to drop them into preexisting headers made it easy to swap out different XBee modules with different configurations.”

To take advantage of the increased range that the XBee module provides, the team plans to implement high gain antennas in future models of the vehicle.

To see what the team is up to and where they are racing, head over to their website at www.umnsvp.org.

Are you student? Are you working with Digi products? Let us know how you are innovating on Twitter, our Facebook Page, or in the comments below. And check out the other student projects we are a part of here.

Students Innovate with Digi: Formula Buckeyes

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Some of the most creative applications of our products come from students. Every year, we are involved with student-led projects that are breaking new ground in industries like automotive, solar power, smart energy, and more. We support these efforts as it leads to insightful feedback on our products and fuels a talented workforce. Here is one of the many projects Digi is helping to support.

The Formula Buckeye SAE Race Team is made up of students from all disciplines. From mechanical engineers, to business, to art students, it’s truly a team effort. The completely student led team must fund, design, build, and test, a high performance racing vehicle that will compete across the country in races with over 100 schools. The car can accelerate from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds!

This year, the team has decided to implement a telemetry project to monitor engine performance and troubleshoot issues. Data is currently stored locally on the car’s ECU and this telemetry project would allow for remote access to these data points. The Digi product being used is an XTend Serial Module. With this module, they are able to read sensor data at a range of more than 15 miles!

Around 20 different sensors are gathering data on the car. They include:

  • Engine Temperature
  • Incoming Air Temperature
  • Vehicle Speed
  • Traction Control
  • Steering Wheel Position
  • On/Off Switches
  • Manifold Air Pressure
  • And More

They plan to create either a Java or Labview application, which will act as a virtual cockpit for the vehicle. The application will display the read outs of each sensor on a computer monitor. This will enable the team to remotely troubleshoot and diagnose performance issues in the vehicle. Future plans hope to accomplish remote control of the engine.

Preparations for the 2014 racing season are underway! Check out their website and Facebook Page for updates.

Are you student? Are you working with Digi products? Let us know how you are innovating on Twitter, our Facebook Page, or in the comments below. And check out the other student projects we are a part of here.

Students Innovate with Digi: DALE, A Net Zero Smart Home

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Some of the most creative applications of our products come from students. Every year we are involved with student-led projects that are breaking new ground in industries like automotive, solar power, smart energy, and more. We support these efforts as it leads to insightful feedback on our products and fuels a talented workforce. Here is one of the many projects Digi is helping to support.

DALE (Dynamic Augmented Living Environment) is a net zero, rail-mounted, and dynamic dwelling, designed and built by a student led team from CalTech. DALE brings those living in the dwelling to the outside by opening itself and closing to harness the beautiful weather and reduce energy consumption.

The dwelling is designed to reduce energy consumption through the use of solar power, energy monitoring,  and the ability to reacts to its environment by opening and closing. DALE will be on display while competing in the 2013 Solar Decathalon.

Within the home a wireless network has been established. This is where Digi comes in. Throughout the home there are sensors installed that monitor temperature, humidity, and light. These sensors relay the data collected through a ConnectPort Gateway for cloud storage.

A smart meter is also used to monitor energy consumption of the dwelling. The team chose Device Cloud to collect and store data from the sensors and smart meter, which can be used for further analysis. This data is then used by a custom web application developed by the team.

The application enables control of DALE, so that it can open, close, and make suggestions to its residents on how they can save energy. For instance, if the temperature sensors are reading a hot temperature, DALE can suggest to open the windows or even use the rail system to open up the entire dwelling and let fresh air in.

Similar solutions are becoming more common-place in the industrial setting as well. Companies are using creative solutions to cut back on energy use and to drive other efficiencies. Just one example, OEM Technology Solutions creates products that share data with train operators. With the data, the operator can monitor and control temperature in a train to improve the comfort level of passengers. An application can alert the conductor of optimal times to turn air on and off. The train then uses outside air to cool down rather than an energy demanding air conditioning system. Efficiencies of just 1% can result in billions of dollars saved.

For more information on DALE check out the video below and visit their website at meetdale.com.

Are you student? Are you working with Digi products? Let us know how you are innovating on Twitter, our Facebook Page, or in the comments below. And check out the other student projects we are a part of here.

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