World Solar Challenge

The World Solar Challenge is held biannually in Australia. International Teams race their solar powered vehicles from Darwin to Port Augusta down the Stuart Highway, and then on to Adelaide. This year the winning vehicle averaged a new world record speed of 100.5km/h for the total distance.

PPS became involved in this international event when we began supporting one of our local High Schools, Willetton Senior High.

WSHS have a gifted and talented student program co-ordinated by Darren Hamley, the Solar Car Project Manager. Our support started out with understanding the budget constraints & design parameters that Darren and the students had to work with, in order to comply with the strict regulations imposed on competitors vehicles.

From this point, PPS assessed the equipment the team had on hand. Straight away we could see that WSHS had some good equipment to work with.

Below is a letter we received from Darren Hamley of Willetton Senior High School.

"World Solar Challenge Testimonial

The World Solar Challenge is a 3000km race from Darwin to Adelaide. Students from the Willetton Senior High School Gifted and Talented Education program spent two years rebuilding a solar car for the 2009 event. The event itself is difficult, travelling vast distances purely on solar power, building the car was even more difficult.

Fortunately we received a great deal of assistance from Adrian Hawke from PPS. Adrian assessed our plans and redirected the project. Adrian sourced four 300Watt Sunpower panels and integrated them with an Outback maximum power point tracker with a remote screen. The competition was not a school event, it was mainly made up of University teams with big budgets. Even though we were the lowest budget team in the competition, we had an array that was producing more power than most teams, the 1200 Watt Sunpower array was giving as much as 1320Watts in the best conditions.

Adrian also gave up three weeks of his time and the use of his car to drive as an escort vehicle for the solar car.

Our thanks go to Adrian and PPS for his huge contribution that helped to make our World Solar Challenge so successful.

Darren Hamley
Solar Car Team Manager
Willetton Senior High School"

Travelling with the WSHS Team was a fantastic experience.
Opportunities such as assisting the students with setting up satellite communications in the desert, carrying out running repairs to the electrical system on the bus, maintaining refrigeration, & communications, all with the enthusiastic assistance from different members of the 20 students, aged from 12-14 years old.

On the road trip from Perth to Darwin, the solar car's suspension took a workout. Despite being on a trailer, one of the components broke. Luckily we were able to find a couple of replacements in Darwin on Friday evening before Saturday's Scrutineering.

Scrutineering saw the need for some last minute additions & modifications. These were carried out by the teenage team in front of an international audience including professors, journalists & university students.

Once we were through scrutineering we headed to the track for qualifying, and finished 18th out of 32.

(to be continued)

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