The start of any project is an exciting time! But it can also be a bit overwhelming – especially if you’ve never done anything similar before. The EVolocity project is no different. But never fear! We are here to help you every step of the way. So let’s start right here by talking through some key things to think about.
One, Two, Three… Four?
The first thing to do is go on out there (or at least on the net) and look at the kinds of vehicles that exist. One, two, three, or four… The number of wheels is one way to get the ball rolling. Once you’ve decided on that, you can start figuring out what kind of designs you like most. Bikes are light, and fast and a good first EVolocity vehicle to go for.
Carts require a bit more engineering but give you plenty of room for creativity. You can choose a three or four wheeled cart, and the design styles are almost endless – we’ve seen it all over the years at EVolocity! Four wheels gives plenty of stability, but three-wheels allows teams to use the back wheel and frame of a bike which allows the brakes and gears to be upcycled.
Eeny meeny miny moe – materials!
What you make your vehicle out of counts too, and there are many materials to choose from. For frames, wood has good strength, is easy to work with at home, and is sustainable. If you have access to a welder, metal might be for you. Steel is strong and sturdy but not as light as aluminium. Both of these materials are available from old bicycles.
You might want to go a step further and build a body shell. Composites, aluminium and coreflute are worth considering. The more you upcycle, the better – you could win our EarthCare Award!
Motors, transmissions and more…
Our standard kit is 350W but you could go for a more powerful motor up to 1kW. This year we are introducing an even more powerful class – Competition Class – which is up to 3kW (but you can only enter this if you’ve competed in at least one EVolocity regional final prior to 2021). Direct drives are simple, but the electric motors have strong turning force (torque). At low revs they don’t keep this up – so gears are needed to keep using the torque to achieve higher speeds.
Your steering method is another important consideration. The most common of these is where turning the steering wheel pushes one wheel and pulls the other to go around a corner. But there are other options you can consider – we have even seen a cart steered by an X-box!
Taking it to the next level
You’ll get far just by getting the basics right as we described above, but to get the most out of the project, don’t forget to look at the competition categories and see what ‘gets your wheels spinning’! There are innovation challenges, a computer aided design award, a show category that focuses on upcycling and environmental efficiency as well as body design, finish and creative themes.
To team or not to team
You may wish to build your vehicle on your own, but projects like this can be a lot more fun, include more ideas and be built more quickly if it is done as a small team. Larger teams are cumbersome as they are often more difficult to get together and organise. Either way, learning to work with others is a valuable skill, even if it can feel challenging at times.
Here are some useful tips and questions to start your team brainstorming your build!
- Discuss what you want to build with your friends. Should it be a bike or a cart?
- What can we find to make it out of? (old bikes from recycling depots, aluminium, composites, wood, bamboo, coreflute, etc)
- Read the Design Guidelines and Competition categories and make a note of what you want to achieve and what the competitions require. Watch this video from one of our mentors to help!
- Share some sketches of what you could build
- Take a look at previous designs in our 2020 regional final blogs on the website
- Work out which design will perform best and can be built by your team and its resources
- Agree on what the broad design features will be for your vehicle
Grab some friends, sort out what parts of the build they would like to work on then allocate leaders roles to them. Each person should lead their delegated area but also be able to work on other parts of the build under someone else’s leadership. Leaders will have to take responsibility for their area of the build, bring the product in on schedule and be clear how each team’s contribution will fit together to make the complete vehicle.
Have each team make a ‘guesstimate’ of the time they will take to complete their part of the work. We can then start to put a timeline together. Make a plan and stick to it and you won’t feel overwhelmed! There are many free and useful project management tools out there you can use, like Trello.com.
Remember – we are here for you! There are heaps of resources available on our website and we are always available to answer questions. Email your regional coordinator or join the forums, or BOTH. Don’t let a challenge put you off. If you can’t figure it out, ask for help! (you might want to read our article on grit!)
“The ability to ask questions is the greatest resource in learning the truth” – Carl Jung
Learn more in our idea-filled Getting Started document on the website.
This design model for developing a product has been simplified for use in schools.