TU Delft Solar Boat Team – sponsored by Eurocircuits

Hi there! In this BLOG, I will explain how the electronic hardware development (PCB’s) is done by the electronics engineers of the Solar Boat Team. Our team is building a boat on solar energy, which operates as efficient as possible. For this purpose, we use hydrofoils, which can lift the boat out of the water. However, as our boat is electrical, we need a lot of electronic systems to make our boat work as efficient as possible.

TU Delft Solar Boat

To do this, we spend lots of time behind the computer, which is very close to the coffee machine, so we have a constant flow of people coming by, seeing something with a lot of colours that looks very professional on the screen and saying “lekker bezig!”. But what are we doing?

First, PCB stands for Printed Circuit Board, and it is basically a board (usually green) that has traces (lines of copper) and pads that connect various points together. In the picture, you can see, for example, the PCB of the logger. We think it is very important to know how each component works and that’s why almost all the boat’s electronics are designed and built by ourselves. We have designed, among other things, our own Battery Management System, Energy Management System, 24V distribution, height control, MPPT switch, dashboard and steering wheel and a logger.

When starting with your design, you first need to consider exactly what functions the design needs to fulfil. For example, the logger serves the function of taking data from the CAN bus and storing it on a MicroSD for testing. But the board also needs power to be supplied. This power, in the case of the logger, will come from a 24V bus line. However, your components will work with 5V or 3.3V, so you need to install a set of buck-converters. You will also need a subsystem in charge of the control, in which the microcontroller will be placed, and a subsystem for debugging and programming this microcontroller.

The next step is to translate these design functions into a circuit schematic. Almost anyone can come up with specific functions for a design, but only electronic engineers have the expertise and knowledge to design the boat’s complex circuits. Many design aspects can only be learned by practicing, so the help of Luc Does from the old team has been necessary. The schematic design is the most challenging part in the PCB design process and takes the longest.

Once all of the schematics have been drawn, the actual board needs to be designed. In this phase, components such as resistors and chips have to be placed on the board and connected to each other. This is the most fun part of the design because it is like solving a challenging puzzle and you get a good glimpse of how the final PCB will look like.

Once the board design is finished and everything is properly routed, we need to order the PCBs from Eurocircuits, one of our sponsors. The nice thing about Eurocircuits (besides them sponsoring us) is that they have an online tool that immediately tells us if something is wrong with our production files and if it fits in the technology class we had in mind. When Eurocircuits tells us that the design is OK, we order it and in two weeks’ time we can start assembling the design for real.

When doing small batches, we solder everything by hand. However, for large batches or very complex PCBs we use specialized equipment. In the D:Dreamhal there is a room full of Eurocircuits’ equipment such as a pick and place machine, reflow oven and functional testers. Last week we ordered a lot of different PCBs so we expect to be pretty busy the coming weeks, assembling and testing our designs.

Suzanne Assen / Chief Electronics

TU Delft Solar Boat Team
Stevinweg 1
2628 CN Delft

EMS and BMS

Eurocircuits get to see the 1st year of design for WUSAT 3

Eurocircuits have always had a proud tradition of supporting the next generation of engineers ‘pioneer and push the boundaries of development and innovation’.

You may remember our last years” BLOG where eight engineering students led by Dr Bill Crofts saw the conclusion of their 3 year project culminate in their CubeSat being launched on a European space agency rocket. As the CubeSat fell to earth its mission was to measure light frequencies from the outer atmosphere and transmit them back to the team before dropping back to earth.

This week I had the pleasure of being invited to the WUSAT 3 sponsors day where I was introduced to the project plans and ambitions for the next stage of Dr Crofts amazing team.

WUSAT 3 is a 4 year project which will involve designing a 3 tier CubeSat to be taken to the International space station and from there it will be Launched to orbit the earth transmitting its data back to the team.

This is not a simple project and competition to secure the chance to add a payload to the International Space station is fierce. Specification of materials, weight and objectives are critical and if all do not fall within these strict specifications, the project will never get off the ground.

This is the first year of the project and we were introduced to 2 of the project members (Stephen Betts – Electronics and software and Tom Harris – mechanical design) who provided an excellent presentation on the progress of the project so far and intended use of the WUSAT 3 CubeSat.

One of the hardest parts of any project is “WHY”.

Trying to identify a worthy cause which would justify the University of Warwicks request for space aboard the ISS. Eurocircuits prides itself on its environmental conscientiousness so the chosen ‘why’ was particularly significant as the team are designing a Satellite which will monitor the migration patterns of birds around the globe (I have obviously simplified this substantially).

The Team have made huge progress, discovering many obstacles in their path but with such a diverse set of skills and knowledge, they are constantly innovating and problem solving to ensure they meet their objectives and the rigid requirements demanded from space exploration.

The team must now handover to next year’s team to continue the next stages of implementation, testing trials and justification.

I was very impressed by the team’s progress to date and Eurocircuits looks forward to continuing to support them in their amazing work.

If you would like to know more about the project or participate in sponsoring the team then contact Dr Bill Crofts.

Eurocircuits – loyal sponsors of the Herkules Racing Team of the University of Kassel

Eurocircuits are long-term partners of the University of Kassel’s Herkules Racing Team and 2015 was no exception. We provided the PCBs for the team’s Formula Student challenge.

The Formula Student competition for construction and design was founded in 1981 and has transformed many a student into a good engineer. We are glad to be a part of that process.

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The team’s current engine is based on a Suzuki GSXR 600 delivering 84PS and 59Nm torque. The car has a team designed gear box and a Titan based exhaust filtering system.

An FPGA based custom designed data logging system connects via a CAN-bus with the motor control unit and transmits live data by radio to a laptop for monitoring during the race.

The Herkules Racing Team 2015 took part in the Hockenheim race last summer and came in 14th the best result ever for Kassel University.

We congratulate them and wish next year’s team the same success as their predecessors.

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The toughest race in the world – and Eurocircuits were there to help support Durham University Electric Motorsport through it.

Toby McBride, team member Durham University Electric Motorsport, writes:

3000km. Across the outback. Powered only by the sun. Arguably one of the greatest challenges in the world that any team can undertake. Durham University Electric Motorsport, otherwise known as DUEM, are one team ready to take on the challenge. We are a group of students from Durham University who design, build and race electric vehicles, entirely outside our degree courses.

We have just returned from Australia where we raced our solar powered car, DUSC 2015, across the country, all the way from Darwin to Adelaide. This would be tough even using conventional petrol or diesel engines, but what made it particularly challenging is that it was entirely undertaken using just solar power; nothing else.

DUEM was up against 40 or so other teams in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. The team had a thoroughly rewarding trip and despite encountering technical problems in the first week which resulted in the in-wheel motor rendered unusable, we pulled through and reached Adelaide. This was an incredible test of both the car & the team.

Eurocircuits are an important sponsor for DUEM and supported us with the latest technology and expertise, delivering high quality PCBs fast and on time. We are very excited by their future focused strategy and the new developments they have in the pipeline.

Steve Jones, UK Sales Manager for Eurocircuits, adds:

We are very proud to have supported DUEM in their Australian challenge. Check out their website, Facebook & Twitter and don’t forget to follow them! Here are just a selection of photos from their time in Australia.

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Eurocircuits supports IET activity at Peakcamp 2015

By Juergen Pintaske – ExMark

At Peakcamp 2015, over 7000 Scouts and Guides had a wonderful week meeting and enjoying over 85 different activities. The IET wanted to add a soldering activity and asked a group of people to help with the design of the project and at the event. We decided to turn it into a practical soldering activity which would be presented as a whole at the end of the week.

Due to the very limited budget available, we had to find donors to support us – and succeeded. In the end there were 25 sponsors, who contributed either components – or money to buy parts. We have to thank all of them for their support, and also extend this to supporters at the event, who helped to make it all possible.

We were very happy when Eurocircuits agreed to Sponsor our worthwhile cause by donating all the PCB’s used to create this project, this was the first cornerstone of the project.

The second breakthrough was Texas Instruments who agreed to donate 1,000 microcontrollers.

MicroProcessor Engineering (MPE) specially adapted their Forth Lite system for this project.

The last issue was the box to hold it all together, rather than designing a box for the system which would be too expensive, we brainstormed for a more inventive solution, we found out that a TicTac Box would just be the right size for the project with board assembly and batteries fitting perfectly into a TicTac box –so a box full with TicTacs were supplied with the components to all scouts and guides that would make the project.

The Beating Heart – represented by the flashing LED in the MicroBox – source ExMark

The “Beating Heart” MicroBox – source ExMark

Over 300 scouts and guides built about 450 MicroBox systems a very impressive project to look at.

For the last day the scouts and guides “Beating Heart” boxes were set up on a large display consisting of approximately 250 MicroBoxes.

source ExMark Sorting the MicroBoxes for the large display

The “beating hearts” display – source ExMark

See the final display in the video – https://tv.theiet.org/?videoid=7386

  

IET TV Video and Interview – source Stephen Powley and

    

Source Eurocircuits

A successful event for all parties involved – and thanks to the IET, the sponsors, and here especially to Eurocircuits, to the people who helped at the event and the 300+ Scouts and Guides who came and built MicroBoxes and took them home to show to their friends or use them afterwards for Learning Programming.

Links:

Eurocircuits as sponsor of the Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering

Eurocircuits as loyal long term sponsor of the Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering.

For the last several academic years, Eurocircuits have been supporting the students of the Delft University with various projects. The Aerospace Rocket Engineering team is one of them and they have an exciting project to conquer space with their rocket.

Link to home page: http://dare.tudelft.nl/

We support the DARE electronics team: http://dare.tudelft.nl/projects-and-teams/electronics/

Our latest contribution to the team can be found here: http://dare.tudelft.nl/2015/09/engine-control-electronics/

You really should visit their website and admire what these enthusiastic group of students can do.

Overview of the DARE campaign so far

Test of the rocket engine

Eurocircuits as loyal long term sponsor of GROUP T’s formula student team

Eurocircuits as loyal long term sponsor of GROUP T’s formula student team.

For the last several academic years, Eurocircuits have been supporting the Formula student team of GROUP T in Leuven with PCBs for their car.

In the following video are some impressions of their work and team.

Design UMICORE LUNA from Formula Electric Belgium on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/120733447

You really should visit their website and admire what these enthusiastic group of students can do: http://www.formulaelectric.be/home

Eurocircuits involved in a project that is out of this world: WUSAT

Eurocircuits involved in a project that is out of this world: WUSAT.

Eurocircuits had the immense pleasure to provide the PCB’s for such a prestigious project as the recently launched WUSAT-2, and are very pleased to be sponsoring Warwick”s next planned satellite, WUSAT-3‎.

For the last year, eight engineering students from Warwick University, led by their project director Dr Bill Crofts, embarked on a project to design, build and launch their own Satellite into space.

The satellite will measure light frequencies from the outer atmosphere and transmit them back to the team before dropping back to earth. They have designed their machine to estimate the density of elements such as sodium and O2 via their light emission because that is one way satellites can detect other potentially life-supporting planets in a galaxy.

The project is being backed by the European Space Agency, and the German and Swedish Space Agencies are both on board as well.

After months of hard work and dedication the team were ready for launch last Tuesday the 17th March 2015 ‎from the Swedish Space Centre north of the Arctic Circle.

In the words of the project director: “The launch was almost on time, perfect weather conditions, we got some great pics and video of it, the nosecone deployed exactly on time, the satellite ejected, the communications system powered up, and we started to receive data signals through our ground station where most of us were situated on Radar Hill 2km away.

The team were ecstatic and very emotional! Every aspect that each of them had worked on was successful. Later, we heard two sonic bangs which we think was the satellite breaking the sound barrier on re-entry.

Even the ESA guys were excited! Apparently, this is the first time they have successfully achieved transmitted data from an ESA/Rexus ejected unit on re-entry, so an amazing achievement. We have a lot of data now to be analyzed, and we are hoping to estimate the speed of the satellite via the Doppler shift of the radio signals. Nevertheless, to achieve transmission at all in these conditions was quite exceptional! As expected the satellite could not be recovered, but the ejection unit was recovered by helicopter along with the rocket’s service module 40km away.

Project Director Dr. Bill Crofts was keen to point out the vital role played by all of the sponsoring companies in helping the WUSAT team overcome the huge engineering challenges they faced with the WUSAT-2 mission. “They are a key part of the team, and also help to enhance the experience and knowledge that the students acquire through working with them”. We are now aiming for WUSAT-3 to be a fully orbiting satellite potentially launched from the International Space Station. How cool is that!”

Eurocircuits wishes the team great and continued success.

One small step for Man and one giant voyage for Eurocircuits.

You can follow them on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/WarwickUniversitySatellite and twitter https://twitter.com/WUSAT_Team