The 2017 vehicle, named the PSR600 in our business presentation, is a car brimming with character. Firstly, its stunning livery mimics closely that of the 2016 car, which used a similar color scheme. But the brighter blue and sweeping line exhibit more so the balance and elegance that characterize the car’s driving dynamics.
At the core of the 2017 car lies the 2nd generation of our recently designed steel-tube space frame chassis. This will be the last iteration of this chassis, as we plan to move to a lighter and stronger carbon-monocoque chassis for the 2018 racing season.
The minimalist aerodynamic package of our 2017 car packs a surprising punch. The simplified design, with fewer elements on both the front and rear wings, actually improves on the 2016 car’s performance in both downforce and drag. We will likely implement a similar design on the 2018 car, with the possibility of a multi-element rear wing.
During the 2017 year, we decided to retain the 600cc Yamaha R6 engine that has proven powerful and more importantly reliable in recent years. What also remained the same was the nylon 3D-printed custom intake that was graciously manufactured by our sponsor RealizeInc. The most significant change comes after the combustion stage, where our unwanted gases are propelled through a custom titanium exhaust that was manufactured completely in-house. The switch from a previously steel exhaust made for significant weight savings. Lastly, the calibration of our engine was only satisfactory. The narrow powerband and lackadaisical throttle response made driving difficult. Tuning our engine properly will be an area of deliberate focus for the 2018 academic year.
Our suspension remained largely the same as the 2016 car. With the same chassis came the same suspension geometry, ride height, and spring rates. Our uprights saw only slight changes, but we learned a lot about manufacturing them more efficiently and will continue those good practices into the future.
Unfortunately, the 2017 race season proved another that Penn State Racing would be haunted by electrical demons. We encountered several setbacks throughout the year that would be detrimental to our progress and even overall success. Our car broke down during the Endurance event at the FSAE competition at Michigan International Speedway due to a drained battery, a result of some improperly crimped wires. The shortcoming meant we forfeited all Endurance and Efficiency points; worth 40% of available points. We did gain a more thorough understanding of our system though, which will help us to improve upon it in 2018. Our pneumatic transmission especially will remain an impressive feature of our electronics and will only be better next year.