Tech students rev up electric go-karts
On May 23, eighteen Trumbull High School technology education students competed in an alternative energy vehicle race at a go-kart track in Berlin.
During the weeks before, the students brainstormed, designed and modified certain parts of the electric go-kart to fix and make improvements from last year’s design.
They had to redesign the steering wheel location, steering wheel support and steering column to make it more ergonomic for the drivers. They installed a larger diameter steering wheel and a new drive sprocket to replace the older worn one. The end goal was to make the kart as comfortable and reliable as possible.
The race constraints are that students were limited to a one horsepower DC electric motor, and two 12-volt car batteries to power the vehicle. The go-kart works on basic electronics principles, the two 12-volt car batteries are wired in series to make a combined 24-volt system.
These 24 volts powered the class’ one horsepower DC electric motor.
The difficult part of the race is that racers aren’t allowed to recharge their batteries in between heats, so getting an efficient gear ratio is essential.
The race consisted of 10 teams from schools around the state. There were four 15-minute heats, where the students had to try to complete as many laps as possible in each heat. Each heat of the race was driven by a different student.
The four student drivers were Steven Garcia, Oliver Peters, Alek Mierzejewski and Paul Buzel. Throughout the four heats, Trumbull’s lap counts were as follows: 23, 27, 27, and 25 laps.
One of the largest obstacles was to build a reliable, strong car that could hold up to the hour of drive time with little to no problems.
During the first heat students had a problem with the battery terminals staying firmly in place, which is why the lap count was a little low at the beginning, but the students worked together to fix the problem and it was very consistent after that. Trumbull students completed a total of 102 laps — enough laps to earn first place.
The last time the school placed first was in 2014.