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The Formula SAE team at Trinity University has been working on a race car project since 2015 and has made significant progress in constructing a nearly complete car. This year, the team focused on continuing that progress by working towards implementing a new design, an airfoil, and redesigning suspension components, while also ensuring compliance with various regulations and standards.
This year’s team has faced several constraints along the way, including time and budget limitations, complying with safety, technical, and environmental regulations, and following specific design constraints for the airfoil. To achieve set goals and eventually participate in FSAE competitions, the team must also follow applicable codes and standards, including the General Regulations and Rules of Conduct in the 2023 Formula SAE rules and specific standards related to the subsystems of the car, such as bodywork and aerodynamic devices.
The team identified incomplete subsystems that needed to be addressed, one of which was the engine's ability to idle. The team tested the spark and injector timing relative to the crank position using a 120 frame per second high-speed camera. Then using TunerStudio, a software for tuning an aftermarket MegaSquirt ECU, the team came up with four separate tunes that had varying spark and injector timings to get the car to start and idle. Despite getting combustion to occur and for the car to run for a few power strokes, the team was unsuccessful in achieving a consistent and steady idle. The team had ambitious goals for the project, but unforeseen difficulties prevented many of the design requirements from being met. Requirements such as maximum speed, user control, safety belts and seat, steering system, and airfoil mounting system were not fully tested or implemented.
The team identified components that need to be fabricated by future teams, including a brake failure emergency shut off switch and a brake light. The team developed a CFD wind tunnel model to test the proposed airfoil design and conducted a validation test for the CFD model using literature results as the subsonic wind tunnel facility on campus was not available.
The FSAE team planned to compare the downforce generated by a 3D printed model of an airfoil to the Ansys CFD model by testing the 3D printed model in a subsonic wind tunnel, but access to the wind tunnel was not available. Instead, the team compared the Ansys coefficients to those obtained from an experiment, and the results show promising accuracy of the Ansys model. However, the team suggests focusing on the performance and accuracy at higher angles of attack to improve the model.
Furthermore, the team created a hypothetical racetrack to analyze the performance benefit of the airfoil and made several assumptions to simplify the process. The team calculated the lap times by dividing the distance traveled by the velocity of the car at different points of the racetrack, accounting for the aerodynamic effects of the airfoil, and the effect of downforce on the car.
Overall, the 2022-23 Formula SAE team at Trinity University has faced numerous challenges in their race car project, including adhering to regulations, addressing incomplete subsystems, and conducting validation tests without proper facilities. However, the team made significant progress and will continue to work towards implementing a new design and analyzing the performance benefits of an airfoil.
Colazo, Tomas; Douglas, Mac; Huang, Winton; Lima Loria, Andres; Sechi, Enzo; Trinh, Kevin; and Witt, Evan, "Formula SAE Final Project Report" (2023). Engineering Senior Design Reports. 61.