Baltimore Hackerspace drives a monster Here at Baltimore Hackerspace we had an absolute blast hosting an event for the second Hackaday World Create Day. Our President here at BaHa had a great idea for this year's event, Build a Power Racer.
Our president [Artifex] (pictured above), has been working with the Power Racing Series organizers like [Jim Burke] and Fubar Labs (who hosted their own Hackaday World Create Day event) to build a kit Power Racer. This Kit would ideally be a crate a High School, Boy Scout troop, Girl Scout troop, Electrathon team Etc, could assemble, modify and ultimately race. They wouldn't necessarily be competitive for speed, but Power Racing is also about endurance and most of all fun!
Our event was a lot of fun! Hod dogs, chips, potato salad and plenty of drinks were had. I took charge of the grill as many of our members installed the axles and motors. Some of the parts were scavenged from retired cars, while some were spares never used in a car before. The frame has had two lives previously.
The frame's first life was as "The Popemobile". It was built by Miles around when I first joined BaHa a few years ago. Miles has since jumped ship to work on the electronics for Megabots.
Since the Popemobile it has also been used as a student car for Community College of Baltimore County's (CCBC) Digital Fabrication Department. The students received a donation of Toyota Prius Nickel-metal hydride batteries (NIMH), and they raced with mixed success at New York Maker Faire. The students experience and some documentation can be found here.
All things considered this frame is very simple and has survived well considering its original build lasted less than a month. For the kit version of the car we will most likely use a similar tube steel frame with the same flat steel in the rear to add rigidity and mount the motors.
One day builds always require lots of planning, or a lot of the work done previously with just the pieces to slot together. One of these pieces that was nearly finished were the motor controllers. These controllers were used in the student build and then were put back into storage after the student cart was torn down. We finished wiring up the controller thanks to Chris an engineer we met at last years World Create Day, and Matt a new face. The Kelly Controllers, the de-facto leader in Chinese motor controllers (that work), were a breeze to use once we got the serial converter to work (change the usb port on the laptop).
One of the final challenges of the night was steering. The Popemobile and the student vehicle... Never steered well. We could have cut off the steering and welded a whole new setup on, but we wanted it to move before midnight. Steering was solved with a grinder, a few new welds, and a real hack. The pipe that fit our bike handle was too small to ride inside the pipe welded to the frame. Considering the steering shaft was just a pipe lying around.... We didn't have any bushings or time to CNC one out of the abs stock we have. We decided to put a piece of PVC pipe on the Horrible Fright
lathe to fit over the steering shaft. Its outer diameter wasn't quite enough so we wrapped it in masking tape and gave it a hot glue lip so we wouldn't lose it in the frame.
Luckily for out test driver [Brice] we checked the bolts on the steering and on the steering knuckles and we quickly tightened up the front end. We as a group picked up the kart off the sawhorses and sung the praises of the kart gods just in case as we lowered it to the ground. (yes we did in fact sing)
And it went.
We engaged in the dumbest race in BaHa history and the night was a wonderful success.