Kitcar F24 Kirkistown Regional Final 2016

Following on from last year’s success, eight pupils competed in the Greenpower Educational Trust’s electric kit car Northern Ireland F24 Regional Final at Kirkistown on Saturday 11th June.

The team were given seven months to design and build an electric vehicle that would go as far as possible in ninety minutes. All teams had the same motor and one pair of 12 volt batteries per race. During the race at least three team members had to drive the car, and the remaining members act as a pit crew. Other than the motor and batteries the design of the car is very much up to the teams taking part, although there were a lot of very strict and complicated rules to follow for obvious safety reasons.

To be part of the F24 team all potential team members had to do a presentation in front of a panel of Teachers. The presentation was to be on the improvements they would make to the first Ballyclare Secondary Kitcar ‘Forget Fossil’. The presentations were all very impressive but from it eight pupils were selected. They were Jay McKenna, Brandon McQuitty, Jordan Drummond, Michael Hamilton, Wallace Shanks, Robyn McConnell, Lois Sellars and Megan Reid.

This year’s team decided to keep the very appropriate name ‘Forget Fossil’ with the addition of ‘Mk 2’. They set about making some of the changes to Forget Fossil Mk1 that had been discussed in their earlier presentations. Some of the changes made to the car were: a lighter chassis made from aluminium; a motor speed controller; heat dissipating fins on the motor; and a set of thinner tyres. Over the next few months the team set about making the changes, the chassis by far taking the most time. A big thanks must be given to Aalco for kindly sponsoring all the Aluminium required and Alistair Moore Welding for helping the pupils to weld the frame together. By doing this the chassis frame was much lighter thereby not using as much energy from the batteries. The Motor Speed Controller was quite hard to find and in the end the pupils selected a ‘Soft Start’ controller which meant the chain and motor weren’t put under the same pressure when starting off. Adding the fins to the motor to dissipate the heat was in an attempt to save more energy, a hot motor is losing energy through heat. The thinner wheels were for aerodynamics and friction. The less contact the wheels had with the road the better. All in all when Forget Fossil Mk2 was finished we were very pleased with the outcome and looked forward to the Kirkistown Regional Final.

There were twelve teams competing at Kirkistown. Two teams had come up from Dublin University to compete and also Stranmillis College Belfast so it was a very competitive field. The car was put through a very stringent MOT at 8:30am and thankfully passed with a few tweaks here and there. After a very successful practise session the team were raring to go in Race 1. In the first few laps of the race Forget Fossil Mk2 was performing very well and was fluctuating between second and third. It was on the hour mark however that the battery power dropped dramatically and as a result the team fell into seventh place. It was disappointing after all the hard work but the team thought there may have been a technical issue that had caused the battery power to drop and sure enough at the start of Race 2 a loose wire was spotted on the Isolator switch. A quick fix and Race 2 was underway. For eighty of the ninety minutes Forget Fossil Mk2 was in first place and then as the power started to drop. In the last few laps we were passed by St Ceciallas College. Forget Fossil Mk 2 managed to drive 29.5 miles in the ninety minutes and averaged 20.5mph. This was a great achievement given last year’s car travelled 23.5 miles on a single set of batteries. The team were much happier with the performance in the second race and with the very comfortable second place.

At the prize distribution Ballyclare Secondary School Forget Fossil Mk2 won:

Best Portfolio. This was a diary documenting their design and manufacturing process, the decisions they made along the way and the justification for their final design.

Best engineered Car. This was one the Team really wanted to win as they had spent the year building a whole new chassis from Aluminium, the Motor Speed Controller and the new wheel setup.

Second in Race 2. Narrowly beaten by St Cecellias but a very good performance by the car.

Third overall for the whole event. By adding together the distance travelled over the two races and also the awards won, Forget Fossil was placed third overall. Given the calibre of teams competing this was a great achievement. This also gave us an automatic entry into the Rockingham National Final in England in October.

So where do Forget Fossil Mk2 go from here? Well, they are hopefully going to fit a belt drive system to replace the current chain drive. That will increase efficiency and hopefully get us the last few laps we need to finish first. A new set of wheels will be needed as the alignment wasn’t perfect at Kirkistown and so the current tyres have got very badly worn. The Team are hoping to run a Fundraising event at the Bamboo in Templepatrick in September to get funds for the upcoming trip to Rockingham.

Rockingham here we come!