Sponsored by Power Integrations, Team UP Dagisik from University of Philippines Diliman recently achieved the most important milestone leading to the Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2019. The team’s newly built battery-powered concept car passed official technical inspection prior to shipment to the Sepang International Circuit near Kuala Lumpur, where the competition will be held from April 29 to May 2.
The Eco-marathon is Shell’s annual contest for STEM students around the world to build ultra-efficient cars, and hundreds of teams participate in the Regional Championships in Asia, America and Europe every spring.
The race is divided into four categories: Prototype ICE, Prototype EV, Urban Concept ICE and Urban Concept EV. The top two teams from each category, as determined by who completes the circuit using the least amount of energy, not the shortest time, will advance to the Drivers’ World Championship later in the year.
After finishing 7th place in the Urban Concept EV category a year ago, Team UP Dagisik decided to go back to the drawing board and design the simplest vehicle that can win the competition. For a completely redesigned vehicle, passing the 100-point inspection is no small feat. Key members of the team were able to make all the necessary improvements using their academic specialties and the experience they acquired during their internship with Power Integrations last summer.
For example, Team Manager Christian Ong, a standout intern on the PI Expert team, applies his focus of study in motor control to the car’s motor drive board. “We went with a 5kW high power motor the first few years thinking that it would provide more power, but it was really heavy,” Ong said. “We eventually shifted to a 750W BLDC hub motor. BLDC motors are more efficient than dc motors, but the control algorithm is more complicated, and the margin for error is smaller. I wouldn’t be able to do it without what I have learned in the past year.”
Best-friend duo Joseph Vallo and Akira Morita interned together on PI’s LED driver team. They are in charge of the car’s electronic control and LED drivers. Morita said, “We use digital dimming to replace analog dimming for the LEDs, which changes the value of resistance and wastes energy. We also chose the simplest design possible, so debugging whatever goes wrong becomes significantly easier.”
John Kent Bermudez, who leads battery management, implemented stackable battery packs for easier compliance with shipping regulations. Mechanical Head Charles Cayno designed a chassis that better accommodates all the pedals and wires. Both of them were PI interns.
“The chemistry on this year’s team is better. We know each other’s work ethics and what each of us can accomplish,” said Jared Baniqued, who is in his third Eco-marathon and second as the team’s driver. “Christian is good at motor control since it’s his undergraduate project. He is also good at programming. That helps optimize efficiency of the motor. Akira and Joseph are good at LED drivers with their experience working on similar projects. Our goal is to create better circuits and make everything more efficient. With this team, I know we have a chance to win.”