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School of Mechanical Engineering
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Final Year projects from 1997

1997 - Motorized Snowboard

The aim of this project was to design, build and test a prototype of a drive mechanism enabling a snowboarder to ascend ski slopes. Previous definitions of specifications and conceptual design had been undertaken, and therefore this project completed the overall process of design manufacture and testing. The concept has a likely international market and hence ease of manufacture, ease of maintenance and variations in operating conditions were taken into account.

The project covered the areas of preliminary design, detailed design, building of a prototype, testing and evaluation of the concept. The manufacturing produced a prototype, as similar as possible to the desired final product, which was used as an accurate test rig. The prototype was designed to test the feasibility of such a device in its effort to ascen ski slopes. It was of size and weight corresponding to specifications so that further developments and/or manufacture can be based on the test results.

Testing allowed the drive device to be evaluated with respect to the initial specifications put in place for the motorised snowboard. The testing of the prototype showed that the motorised snowboard is a viable idea. The tests did not fulfill all of the desired requirements, but this was mainly due to failures in the prototype components which can be easily overcome. The prototype was built to serve the purpose of ascertaining whether such a device would work, and met this objective.

There were a large number of concept variants that could have been used, and they could have each yielded their own benefits, but due to time and money restrictions only one concept was chosen for production of a prototype. The Lever-Arm concept was considered the most practicably suitable for further development. This concept showed a lot of promise by satisfying most of the specifications set down for the motorised snowboard, and further development could produce a model that could be manufactured and sold commercially.

1997 - World Solar Challenge
The aim was to design, build and race a solar cycle in the 1997 ETSA World Solar Cycle Challenge. The World Solar Cycle Challenge is an event run by Australian Major Events in 1997 from September 27 to October 6 and was conducted between Adelaide and Alice Springs. The Spirit of Baden-Powell is a team, predominantly consisting of young Guides and Scouts who aimed to complete successfully in the challenge and to gain some hands on experience and enjoyment.

The project detailed the process taken to design, build and race Apexus Light Speed, the solar cycle of the spirit of Baden-Powell team. Media, sponsorship, logistics, design and preparation, and construction were all accounted for. Although design and construction of a solar cycle is a mechanical (and electrical) engineering project, the report was substantially from a managerial perspective.

The role of the report author was the leader of the Spirit of Baden-Powell team. The formal duties this involved were extensive and included the following:

  • project initiation - concept development and planning
  • formation and gathering of team members
  • acquisition of sponsership, fundraising, media coverage
  • resource allocation - time, money and people
  • concept design of chassis, fairing, electronics and running gear
  • detailed design of chassis, fairing, solar array holder and running gear
  • construction or delegation of construction of all components
  • planning and finalisation of logistics (this involved extensive delegation)
  • co-ordination of and attendance at regular meetings
  • ensuring adequate communication between project teams
  • driving the support bus and cycling during the race
  • development and ensuring correct implementation of race strategy
  • delegating race responsibilities and repairs to the solar cycle

The solar cycle successfully completed the race, receiving the following awards:

  • 1st Place Class C2, experimental aerodynamic vehicles
  • 1st Place Sprint Stage
  • 2nd Place Overall

The solar cycle was by no means perfected, but achieved all of the goals superbly.

The commitment required to complete this project was far greater than could be expected from an ordinary final year project. However, the level of success was far beyond that ever expected and the personal reward was immense. If a university student can design, raise the money for and construct a solar cycle over a period of eight months with little more than a group of friends, perhaps solar powered vehicles are far closer to everyday life than first expected.