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Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) is the second oldest race event in the USA and is widely regarded as one of the ultimate tests of vehicle engineering prowess and driver ability. With 2016 marking PPIHC’s 100th anniversary, only 100 entries have been selected to compete in this event.
One of the entries is The Ohio State University’s Buckeye Current electric motorcycle ‘RW-3x’. The team’s goal is to become the fastest motorcycle to ever reach the summit. Previous success at the Isle of Man TT Zero, combined with the unique elevation changes in the race, makes the goal achievable given a first-class rider and well-engineered machine. Experienced Isle of Man TT rider, Rob Barber, is taking the helm of the RW-3x again, leaving the team to focus on the motorcycle build.
RW-3x is a custom designed electric motorcycle built around a 2008 Honda CBR1000RR frame. Using last year’s vehicle RW-3 as a starting point, the team is performing major revisions to the battery pack, handling and electronics, to improve overall performance. Unlike other races, Pikes Peak elevation change gives Buckeye Current an advantage, as combustion engines lose power as they climb up the mountain due to decreasing oxygen supply with rising altitude. The team hopes to use knowledge gained from last year’s event to set a new record with the RW-3x.
Over the last few years, the team has developed a custom datalogging system that records sensor measurements and commands between electrical subsystems through CAN. The datalogging system is designed around a Kvaser Memorator Professional HS/HS, which allows the team to record and monitor CAN bus traffic during electronics development, testing and during a race. The team’s datalogging system provides insight into vehicle performance and highlights problem areas during testing that can then be improved upon or resolved.
The team has had great success in the past with Kvaser hardware products in combination with CAN software solutions to troubleshoot CAN in real-time. Thanks to TKE’s CANTrace analysis software, which has made sending and receiving CAN information over the bus easy and convenient, the team can view live CAN data on the CAN bus in order to quickly gain an understanding of the machine’s state. During fast pace practice and race situations, the team can be confident the motorcycle is ready for use or pinpoint issues quickly if they arise. The Memorator’s small form factor has enabled the team to place the entire device deep within the motorcycle, while still being able to use all of its core features. Using just a USB port connected to the Memorator, the team performs real time CAN diagnostics, obtains log files and configures the device without ever having to physically touch it.
The Kvaser Memorator Professional HS/HS has also come into use during the development of the team’s custom sensor measurement electronics. Using the Memorator as an active CAN node on a bus, it’s possible to unit test CAN hardware outside of the entire system loop. During development, this allows the team to isolate CAN communication issues quickly by viewing the exact CAN data entering and exiting from a single node. We can even simulate the vehicles’ CAN bus by sending data from the Memorator onto the CAN bus itself. The motorcycle will not work without a functional CAN bus, making the Kvaser Memorator an extremely valuable tool for the team.