The 2010 Victorian Model Solar Vehicle Challenge

The Twenty First Victorian Model Solar Vehicle Challenge!

Paul Wellington, Chair VMSVC

The first phone call was received at 6:30am on Saturday October 16th, the first scheduled day of Victoria’s twenty first Model Solar Vehicle Challenge. “I guess the Model Solar Challenge is cancelled” for today” said the caller. Well Melbourne had received over 12 mm of steady rain over the course of Friday 15th and it was still raining. When informed that the forecast was for a mixture of sunshine and showers and that the Challenge would continue as planned, the caller was flabbergasted. “But it is hailing where we are” was the response. But the Challenge did go ahead and despite a fairly cold and intermittently cloudy and showery Saturday and Sunday, all events posted results and most comments from competitors were very positive.

Despite the twenty plus similar calls about the event being held, 78 boat teams from metropolitan schools and 58 car teams arrived by 10:00 am. After all cars and boats were scrutineered, the round robin races began. Each car had its speed measured for each race along with the average solar intensity over the duration of the race, so that each entry could be seeded for the Sunday knockout rounds.

While the cars were trialing on the figure 8 track, the two 10 metre pools were busy with the junior boat race for metropolitan schools. Each boat had 3 rounds in the morning with their performance being used to seed them for the afternoon knockout rounds. Fluctuating sun levels meant some boats would be comparatively fast in one race but less competitive in the next. However, those with wins in each race were given top seeds so as not to meet in the early knockout rounds. Birmingham PS continued their history of entering fast boats by having several top seeds in the Black Pool, while Yarraville West PS were again very competitive in the Orange Pool. The top boats were then brought together in the afternoon and Yarraville West won narrowly from Birmingham, but 4 of the top boats returned on the Sunday to race the best regional teams. The top regional teams came from Bannockburn and Lethbridge Primary Schools, with the top 4 entries being Border Control from Birmingham PS, Party Boat 2 from Ruskin Park PS, Man Overboard again from Birmingham and Spaz Attack from Lethbridge.

The Advanced Boat Challenge for secondary students was smaller this year than last with only 16 entries, but the top boats from Benalla College (first with Black Magic II and third with SS Jaws), Torquay College in its first event (second place getter Foiled Again) and Billanook College (4th place with Billanook 1), were all serious competitors at the subsequent national event.

The solar intensity varied on the Saturday between 16% and 100% of the maximum likely in Melbourne on a clear summer’s day at around midday. This made seeding the cars quite a challenge, but using some clever software, the race times were standardized to 100% sun and seeding proceeded.

On Sunday, the Sheridan Kit Car Challenge was held for 28 cars assembled from kits prepared by Don Sheridan, a long term stalwart of the committee. In the early rounds, these cars chase each other around a single lane oval track in bicycle pursuit style racing until the faster catches the slower. Unfortunately, the limited sunshine which prevailed on the 17th of October meant many races had to rely on seeing which car went the furthest after running down the ramp as many could not complete even 1 lap. However, the top entries were able to show up some of the student designed carts with significantly greater panel area, when the final was raced on the figure 8 track. The Valkyries from Mt. Scopus defeated Shine from St. Andrews Christian Coll. with Solar Gambler from Craigieburn SC third and Super Solar from Canterbury Girls SC coming fourth. A small number of kit cars were modified to meet alternative rules and in this class, Southwood Grammar’s Magic School Bus was too good for Craigieburn SC’s Thunder Veyron.

The car race was something of an upset, with former top schools Melbourne HS and Syndal South PS failing to make the quarter finals. However, Box Hill HS, also a long term winner, had 3 quarter finalists against 2 from Ashwood SC and 1 from Melbourne Grammar, Canterbury Girls SC and Christian College in Geelong. However, 4 different schools competed in the semi-finals: Ashwood’s Zo Caxal vs CGSC’s NWR and Box Hill’s Solar Powered Engineering Racing Machine vs Melbourne Grammar’s The Blob Machine. CGSC proved too good for Ashwood and Melbourne Grammar reached it’s first final beating Box Hill SC. In the best of 5 final, great drama saw NWR spin off in the 2 heats run in brighter sun, but when the solar intensity dropped to about 60%, NWR proved too good for The Blob Machine.

In addition to the shields plaques and certificates given to the top placed getters, there were many schools which were awarded prizes for team uniforms, posters, innovative design, use of materials and quality of engineering.

Eighteen invitations were made to the top student designed car, junior and advanced boat teams to attend the national finals in Perth at the end of November. The 2 days of racing saw hot sunny conditions and the Victorian entries which had performed so well in cloudy Melbourne, were unable to match the locals in the Car or Junior Boat event, although Ruskin Park PS’s Party Boat II came second in the Junior Boat event with Lethbridge PS’s Sharkbite 4th. However, Victorian entries cleaned up well in the discretionary prizes with Box Hill HS’s Over Engineered Velocitous Uber Machine being awarded the best engineered car prize based on their depth of understanding of all aspects of the mechanical, aerodynamic, electrical and electronic systems. Torquay College won best first entry and best use of materials and design in the Advanced Boat Category with Benalla’s Black Magic having the most innovative design and Billanook’s Schwarz-Vogel (Black Bird) the best poster. In the Junior Boats, BirminghamPS’s Man Overboard won the best poster award and Bannockburn PS the Best Team Uniform award.

In summary, 2010 was a successful year for many students getting their cars and boats to perform well at both state and national level and most importantly, has seen hundreds of students learn more about solar energy and energy efficient cars and boats and hopefully 2011 will see even more schools offer their students this great learning experience. 

The results from the event are as follows:

Student Designed Cars

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Canterbury Girls SC NWR
2nd place Melbourne Grammar The Blob Machine
3rd place Ashwood SC 20 Coaxal
4th place Box Hill HS Solar Powered Engineered Racing Machine
Best Poster Parkhill PS Blue Flame
Best Engineered Box Hill HS Overengineered Velocitous Uber Machine
Best Entry from a New School Parkhill PS   


Sheridan Kit Cars

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Mt. Scopus Memorial School The Valkyries
2nd place St. Andrews Christian College Shine
3rd place Craigieburn SC Solar Gambler
4th place Canterbury PS Super Solar
Best Poster Sandringham College Optimus Prime
Best Team Effort Craigieburn SC   
Best Entry from a New School  Entry Woodlands PS  


Modified Sheridan Kit Cars

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Southwood Grammar Magic Schoolbus
2nd place Craigieburn SC Thunder Veyron


Victorian Advanced Boats

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Benalla College Black Magic II
2nd place Torquay College Foiled Again
3rd place Benalla College SS Jaws
4th place Billanook College Billanook 1
Best Poster Benalla College Black Magic II
Best Use of Materials Benalla College SS Jaws
Most Innovate Design Ashwood College Jimmy and Sammy's boat
Best Entry from a New School  Torquay College  
Best Uniform Billanook College  Billanook Baracudas


Victorian Junior Boats

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Birmingham PS Border Control
2nd place Ruskin Park PS Party Boat 2
3rd place Birmingham PS Man Overboard
4th place Lethbridge PS Spaz Attack


Junior Boats (Metropolitan)

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Yarraville West PS Fast As
2nd place Birmingham PS Border Control
Best Poster Bayswater West PS The Westerlys
Best Team Effort Yarraville West PS Vortex
Best Use of Materials Spensley Street PS Rainbow Warrior


Junior Boats (Regional)

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Bannockburn PS The Pirate Pigs
2nd place Lethbridge PS Shark Bite
3rd place Lethbridge PS Spaz Attcak
Best Poster Lethbridge PS  
Best Team Uniform The Geelong College  Rainbow
Best Use of Materials Anakie PS Slipstream
Best Team Effort Lethbridge PS  
Best Entry from a New School Teesdale PS