We are proud sponsors of the 23rd University of Washington Formula SAE team. They are using some of our bridge amplifier modules to condition the output of strain gauges attached to the suspension members and some of our six channel driver modules to drive accessory outputs.
Formula SAE is an intercollegiate engineering competition where the objective is to build a small open wheel autocross car. The goal is to build a car appropriate for production and sale to weekend autocross enthusiasts. The teams then meet at a number of different racing competions where they are judged on their performance in a variety of events including a drag race, a skid pad, an autocross course, and an endurance autocross course where they are also judged on fuel economy. In addition, teams are also judged on the cost effectiveness of their cars and an accompanying business plan.
The UW team builds a whole new car every year, building on the knowledge and experience gained in previous years. When I visited their bustling workshop on the UW campus last Thursday, they not only had their current car in the shop but they also had three previous years as well (2011, 2010, and 2008). In previous years, the UW team has participated in a single Formula SAE event; this year, they will be participating in two: Formula SAE Lincoln (Lincoln NE, June 20-23) and Formula Student Germany (Hockenheim, Germany, July 31 - August 5).
The team has created a computer model of the suspension forces. In order to validate their model, they need to directly measure the deformation of the suspension members while driving. In order to do that, they've attached strain gauges to the suspension members, as you can see here:
They've attached the strain gauges but have yet to wire them up. In addition to production modules, I've also provided them with a couple of prototypes of the next revision of the strain gauge amplifier. It has significantly more excitation current than the existing one, and it has some new options for connection and packaging to satisfy some customer requests. I'm looking forward to their reports from some vigorous field testing of the modules; it will help me improve the next revision and subsequent products.
I'm very glad to be sponsoring the UW Formula SAE team, and I'd like to thank Daniel Wageman and Dalton Morgan for giving us the opportunity to sponsor the team.