As the SpaceX Competition Weekend II nears, HARP visited with Team DiggerLoop at the Colorado School of Mines.
Like many of the 25 competing teams, this group of innovative engineers is scrambling to complete its pod entry, before disassembling it for transport to Hawthorne, CA.
Diggerloop is a relatively small team – 15-20 students devoting their Spring and Summer to a project that gets them (and us) excited. Some students began this as a senior design project, and others joined later, but all are devoted and they made it clear – they are in this competition to win!
We were impressed with their understanding of technologies – and their ability to explain it to us! And also impressed with their teamwork. (Note to commercial hyperloop and tube transportation companies…students building pods for the competition are smart, creative, and excited to make hyperloop transportation a reality…and many are graduating and ready to enter the workforce.)
Diggerloop told us about the path that brought them to their final design and decisions. For example,
They experimented with both air bearings and maglev. For the speed competition, they settled on one of the six classical simple machines (as defined by scientists during the Renaissance), namely the wheel.
Their pod frame was designed in SolidWorks. It took several iterations to achieve the needed strength (with a generous engineering safety factor).
They accelerate using a powerful electric motor – 450 HP – fed by a battery bank (through a large capacitor to condition the voltage and frequency).
Their pod can brake at up to 4 g, accomplished with both eddy current brakes and supplemental disc brakes for safety and redundancy. By the way, their drive wheel is borrowed from a Mercedes – top of the line!
They are also proud that most components are off-the-shelf, with time-tested designs and specifications. And they are confident in their ability to do field adjustments and repairs if needed.
DiggerLoop recognizes that some of their design choices are specific to the goal of maximum speed – the point of this round of competition. Future designs need adjustment to add, for example, improved power management (regenerative braking) and further reducing friction (e.g. with maglev).
Members, affiliates, and friends of HARP will be in Hawthorne next week as participants on several teams. Please take time to talk with them and learn more about HARP’s activities and the benefits of membership!