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  1. #1

    College Solar Competition

    I put this over on the power boats thread but didn't get any replies so I thought I would try over here.

    I have been reading thru alot of the builds on this site for the past couple days in hopes to get some ideas for my senior design project. I am a mechanical engineer at UCF in Orlando and my group of 5 members will be competing this coming june in a solar powered boat race called "Solar Splash". The reason I came to this site is because I love the way jet pumps and jet skis work, I am trying to integrate this into my boat design. Before I go any further I want to describe the competition. It is made up of 3 parts: sprint (70 meters), slalom, and endurance. For the sprint and slalom races you can run your electric motor setup on multiple batteries but for the endurance you are required to drive for 2 hours and see how far you can get using only powered captured from the solar panels.

    The reason I have come to this forum is to get some input on what you more experienced builders think would be good design components. My initial plan was to design something similar to a jet sprint boat, obviously without the v8. I have also started looking into some hydroplane designs and also a tunnel hull. The other design element I am curious about is propulsion, whether to use a prop or a jet. This competition has been going on since '94 and in the pictures I have seen it seems that everyone uses a prop and rudder setup. I like being different and I think the key to winning is the hole shot.

    I hope some of you guys can give me some of your input or possibly steer me in the right direction. Also if you think I should put this in another section of the forum let me know.

    Thank
    -Ian


  2. #2
    Vern's Avatar
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    Ian, jets are unfortunately very inefficient compared to a prop, and 'eat' hp to make speed. My guess is you will be very 'hp limited' with electric motor/solar power only. IMO a jet pump just would not work, esp with only solar power ... a prop would go much farther on solar power.

    WHat 'hp' are previous winners running? What limits are there on boat design or size, number and size of motors/batteries, etc? Another thought ... hydroplane and tunnel hulls are really only efficient when they have sufficient power to get to a full planing speed ... at low speeds, they are actually slow and inefficient compared to other more traditional hull designs. A jet sprint hull design IMO would be better than tunnel/hydro for this project.

    Is this remote controlled, or 1 person, 2 person capacity boat, or? Size limits/restrictions? What did previous winning boats look like and what speeds did they run? All those would help, but I would not use anything but a simple shaft and propeller ... jet pump would be very complex and much slower unfortunately.

  3. #3
    First off thanks for your input, my group and I kinda figured that it would be tough to get enough power.

    The boat is restricted to a length of 19 ft and width of 8 ft, for the sprint configuration you are allowed to run off of batteries and dismount your solar panels but the battery restriction is 100lbs of lead acid batteries. I've noticed that previous winners run either a single 1 hp electric moto to a prop on a shaft that runs thru the hull and use a rudder in the back to steer or they use multiple low hp (under 3 hp) motors with a gear system or chain to a drive shaft with the prop and a rudder. The reason I suggested the jet design was to be different. Also I knew that if I had a way to rotating or turning my power or thrust supply then the boat would turn better which would be a benifit in the slalom event. I also found that most previous winners use very narrow boats, single hull almost canoe like boats. the boats are driven by one person and the 70 meter sprint speeds for the winners are all under 9 seconds.

    Here is last year's 2nd place boat.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    It just seems to me that there is a better way to build this project and since I have the entire fall semester to design and the spring semester to build I was trying to get as much input as possible.

    thanks again for your input
    -Ian

  4. #4
    I had no part in last years team but here is the boat they designed and I have it now. It is nothing like what I would prefer to use that is why I'm looking into alternative hulls and power.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5
    Moderator beerdart's Avatar
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    I would think a surface prop would be worth a look at.

  6. #6
    from what I've read, which isn't very much, I think surface props work better at higher speeds and have trouble with acceleration out of the hole. for this competition we will need extreme acceleration. that is why the jet came to mind. after vern's post my mindset has completely changed and now I'm looking at what prop setup would be quickest and most efficient. there is also the possiblity of running different set ups for the different events. for instance we can run a series of 3 small electric motors for the sprint and use only 1 for the endurance race to reduce weight and power. once again I am still in the design and research phase of the project so all your knowledge is accepted and appreciated

    -Ian

  7. #7
    Moderator beerdart's Avatar
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    Twins! Shrouded under water for takeoff surface for speed once on plane switched by a gearbox.

  8. #8
    GGG's Avatar
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    I would say the fewer moving parts the better. one motor direct drive to a prop. tune the prop so the motor is running at it's most efficient rpm. I don't know what kind of motors you are allowed but a brushless ac motor can be very compact and powerful. also the less contact with the water the better. make an extremely narrow rudder to go along with the narrow boat. Jersey speed skiffs and garveys have a driveshaft to a prop and have no problem getting on plane. But they also have v8's so maybe it was a bad comparison ha ha. So I would say key things would be to concentrate on water and wind drag, weight, and fewer moving parts. gears and gains rob power

  9. #9
    wotxxxsd's Avatar
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    Go knights!!!!!

  10. #10
    Thanks guys for all the input, the boat we have now has a direct drive with the motor hooked up to the drive shaft and a prop on the end but when it runs the prop is sunk by the weight of the boat. We plan on redesigning the hull. I'm going to start drawing up some stuff like you said tho, GGG. what exactly do you mean by tune the prop? and also we will have about 5k in funding for this project not including donated parts or sponsorships. where do you guys think we should focus the most money? I think the hull is first and foremost and after that the motor I guess


    Go Knights!! big game on saturday, hopefully we can make up for last season. I was down in Miami for the game last year. It was depressing

    thanks guys for your input
    -Ian

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