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Old 04-07-2012, 10:34 PM
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The Great Moonbuggy Race

I'm not sure whether to put this here, or in civilian wheels, since it's related to NASA, but doesn't actually go in space.

Anyway, earlier this year I got recruited for a new Moonbuggy team that had started up on campus which would compete in the race held every year at the US Space and Rocket Center. This team, headed up by the same friend that got me in to see to the Dreamliner touch down at Huntsville International, was comprised almost entirely of engineering majors even though the team was sponsored by the College of Science (CoS). Every year the university had sent one team to the race from the College of Engineering (CoE). This time around, the CoE had signed up two teams, which was unfortunate because the CoS team had already signed up and each institution was only allowed two teams to compete in the actual race.

This lead to an internal competition where the second CoE team and the CoS team gave presentations to a panel of judges about their buggy designs. In addition to a traditional Powerpoint presentation, the team I was with also had couple of physical visual aids which included the buggy frame and a physical model of the current concept.

Shown below is the physical model (1:12) model I built to help "sell" our design. It's made primarily of balsa, bamboo, and toothpicks and has tires made of rubber O-rings. The real one is currently under construction and will be racing this Friday and Saturday.




^Articulated folding mechanism.

(I thought it was funny that one of the judges thought I had made it on a rapid protyping machine.)

For information, here is the official website:
Marshall Space Flight Center - The Great Moonbuggy Race

Last edited by Dyna-Soar; 04-07-2012 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 04-08-2012, 01:17 AM
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That is a piece of improvisational brilliance!
Clever design, clever use of materials.

I like it a lot.

Thank you for showing the model buggy here on this forum.
I hope the competitions went successfully.

Kind and Respectful Regards Dyna-Soar my friend, Uyraell.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:48 AM
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Nice job! Reality beats virtual any day - and your team does have a rapid prototyper: you!

Yogi
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Old 04-14-2012, 03:38 PM
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Here is the real buggy, finished at the last minute in typical college student fashion ( and by last minute I mean that we were putting parts on 30 prior to racing):



Actually, that was a gotcha from our machinists. This is the real buggy:





Friday's run was quite good considering that the riders completed the course even after the rear axle had come off midcourse. More on Saturday later.
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Old 04-14-2012, 03:59 PM
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"completed the course even after the rear axle had come off midcourse" in typical college [engineering] student fashion.

Looks like a alot of fun - well done!

Yogi
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Old 04-14-2012, 04:12 PM
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Did you have to use the rear tire of the blue bicycle for the buggy? I saw a previous event on the NASA channel and it looked like a lot of fun as well as an engineering challenge. Well done.
Wayne
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Old 04-15-2012, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wag View Post
Did you have to use the rear tire of the blue bicycle for the buggy? I saw a previous event on the NASA channel and it looked like a lot of fun as well as an engineering challenge. Well done.
Wayne

The bicycles we used had been chained up the bike rack for several years and we didn't use any parts off them. The wheels we used were more or less custom made, with hubs machined out of solid steel (weighed about 5 lbs a piece).

Anyway, Friday after the race, the plan was for everyone to go to sleep and work on the buggy that night. Me, being perpetually busy, instead went to the talk that was being given by Homer Hickam at the USSRC about his new book. We and his publisher's representative chatted for a while before I departed (they seemed impressed that I knew the moon's mass offhand: I had remembered it from an astronomy test I took a couple of weeks ago.). Afterward, I went with one of my friends from Space Hardware Club to the NSSTC (National Space Science and Technology) to meet with some people from CSPAR (Center for Space Plasma & Aeronomic Research) about an exhibit they were working on for USSRC and wanted our help with fabrication. The rest of the night and the next morning was spent in the machine shop on campus refining our buggy design.

During testing, a malfunction put our redesigned stearing system and one of our primary drivers out of commission. This resulted in replacing him with another team member that was at least a third bigger. While preparing for the second, we heard about a possible spirit award. I though it might be a couple of the guys on the team that were also in band to get their instruments out and play for the drivers. Since I was the only one with my horn on me, I became a one man band. Another of the people helping the team had Captain America mask and an Iron Man mask. Thanks to this, I ended up on NASA TV running through the rocket park like a mad man playing a trombone while wearing a Captain America mask with a U and H added to the forehead.

The race itself resulted in us being DQ'd for taking too long to finish the race, but I thought we did well for a team that built our vehicle in two weeks, for less than $1K, and it was our first time to be in the race.

The UAH Avengers:
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