On the road with Sunsetters
American Solar Challenge 2001
Neosho, MO to Tulsa, OK
Wednesday, July 18

by Tim Barth and Eric Bradley

We left the Ozarks today with about a 35% charge remaining in our batteries. Yesterday we had noticed unexplainably large power draws when coasting. To solve the puzzle and remedy the problem we had a full diagnosis performed on the motor and motor controller which came up inconclusive. We also backed off the brake calipers which were suspected to be rubbing on the discs. Finally, we discovered another faulty power tracker meaning that one-fourth of our solar cell array was not being used to charge the batteries and power the car.

After addressing these issues, power consumption was much improved, but after 70 miles of driving our low pack was again drained to dangerous levels. We trailered the remaining 40 miles to Tulsa, OK and charged with very good sunlight (in 100 degree plus heat) for almost 8 hours to bring our battery pack back close to the level it was in in Chicago. With a nearly full pack we will be able to perform much better in the remaining 7 days of the rayce. The plan tonight is to charge at the Tulsa Air Force base until 7:00 pm, trailer to Oklahoma City by 9:00 (when all trailers must cease progression), sleep there, and again trailer to the Sayer, OK checkpoint at 6:00 am. The reason for all the trailering is that checkpoints close at certain times, and if we miss two, we are not allowed to continue raycing. There are many teams in a similar situation, due to the demanding terrain and speeds required.

NOTE: For additional pictures please visit www.ekarg.com

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