The Powertrain

February 3, 2017

My name is Joshua Jones, and I'm a first year student of the Electrical Power Engineering master track of Electrical Engineering. Looking to expand on my until then mostly theoretical academic career, I first joined the team back in the DUT15 year as a D:Dream Minor participant. I joined for two reasons: I wanted to experience what it was like being part of a demanding, interdisciplinary and high performance engineering team, and I wanted to 'get my hands dirty', i.e. use my electrical engineering expertise to tackle an open-ended engineering problem that finishes with a physical product. Combine this with a keen interest in high power electronics and the fact that the team builds electric race cars, and you can understand why I was eager to join FS Team Delft. So far, both being on the team and participating at the Formula Student competition events, where you meet fellow engineering students who are just as mad and passionate about engineering as you are, have been awesome, invigorating and formative experiences. I'm extremely grateful that the TU Delft offers this opportunity to their students!

 

 

I have always had an academic passion for electricity and power (hence my master track!). In my first year I tackled the electrical design configuration of the main high voltage battery. To an electrical engineering student this might seem trivial on paper ('just stack cells in series!') but when the device - to name a few requirements - has to comply with stringent safety regulations, should be mechanically sound, should be as light as possible, and should fit in the car, a lot of thinking and computation has to go into making the right practical design choices.

 

In my second year, I designed the new low voltage power supply system for the DUT16. Our cars draw their low voltage power for the on-board electronics from a separate low voltage battery. The battery management PCB had to be completely redesigned because the old design had become deprecated due to a discontinued micro-controller that it featured. This is how I learned to design PCBs. Furthermore, the design had to accommodate a new and tricky load: servo motors to power the drag reduction system (DRS), that draw power very erratically.

 

 

This year for the DUT17 I'm doing yet more PCB design and am seeking to design electronic power filters for use in the powertrain. These are meant to counteract the troublesome effects of electromagnetic interference (EMI) generated by the high frequency switching electronic inverters that power the motors. This EMI causes other low voltage electronics to work improperly or fail altogether, severely compromising our car's reliability. A visit to our sponsor Delta Elektronica, who develop DC power supplies, helped me draw inspiration for this!

 

One of the many quirks of working in the team is communication with engineers of other fields than your own. To many non-electrical engineers, electricity is a black box, yet sometimes you find you have to explain electromagnetic effects or circuit theory concepts to other engineers (or your chief!). How do you make this intuitive, say, to mechanical engineers? This poses an intriguing challenge, as it forces you to consider new or non-standard ways of thinking about theory you already (think you) know and take for granted. On the other hand you learn about things from their fields; I for instance have learned how to machine metal parts throughout the years!

 

 

 

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