This is a story about how a group of undergrads from Delhi Technological University ventured into Solar Car Racing and competed among the best in world. It is not a story of praise or publicity but a rightful depiction of how courage and passion can overshadow Money and resource-less-ness.
For those who dont know about WSC –World Solar Challenge
A few yrs back some nerdy seniors in my College i.e DCE( NOW dtu) founded a team..or a group of like minded individuals working towards a collective good as you might say it( Its ironical) to make India`s first solar powered vehicle .
It was in 2006..I was in the Eight class and my cousin was giving her entrance exams.One day i happen to be at her place and then suddenly it was on the local hindi channel AAJ Tak that a group of students have developed a car that runs on Sun..I sat on the sofa and wondered “Sun” ..and it clicked to me that it might be related to the calculator solar panel. That night i broke my calculator to extract that small brown panel..and attached it to the tiniest motor in my collection and it didn’t run..I was sad and thought someone somewhere is wrong. Soon my cousin cleared the exam and got into DCE and i kept on pestering here for the first few months on the solar car issue and she never happened to reply convincingly. Then i lost hope and started preparing for my boards and Exams and stuff..Finally i got into the college ( yeah! DCE) and the solar bug was dormant that time as i shifted my attention on flying UAV`s ,underwater AUV etc. There is an exam and interview to get into any of the teams..i cleared the exam of the X team as they say it and got my name on the interview list..But i coudnt make it..as they needed “Bright” people( idols not clay).I thought that now i will do “engineering”.( Sob)
Then one fine hot day..i was at the hostel at my friend Pankaj `s room and i passed by an old dull pamphlet it said “SOLAR CAR TEAM” ..and i went back a few yrs..and said where the hell were you.I then contacted the person and got registered,gave exam,cleared it,gave interview,cleared it and was In the solar car team. That was a win for me and i called my sister who was in her final year and told her about it..
Now , it was hard time for us that was to follow..The team was aiming at World Solar Challenge 2011 which the “grand dad” of all solar racing events. The first meeting was called. We did some introspection . I found out that besides me three others were taken from first year namilly Bharat, Jaspreet and Ashutosh. In the meeting they( Sir`s) told us about the team its past (All that glitters is not Gold`06) and what we are doing all. They seemed all pretty friendly and nice chaps.
From 5th October 2010 in a while it was 3rd January 2011 and suddenly all was in a mess. We had sent the form and fees for WSC but where`s the vehicle. The bigger question where the hell is the money to make a vehicle. In india the life is difficult for teams like us. Unlike other countries the industries /Industrialists here don’t believe in youth and its power..They would spent crores to bring a technology from outside rather than funding a research and developing that indigenously .Thats precisely why is idolise Dr. Kalam .But in any case we had to work..so we put in our own money we bought loads and loads of clay to make several clay models of the car for wind tunnel testing. Then our beloved CAD Designer Prateek Sir with Mr.Sushant Kumar Singh( SolidWorks Genius and former Team Member) worked day and night to make the Chassis first and then the body and then the mechanical peripherials . Jaspreet was working on the Website..I was playing with Arduino( Thanks LearnMicros) and BKJ was busy finding a hostel..So work was On but virtually.
Again a month passed. We pooled up money and gave it to the chassis welder where we all spent shifts in order to complete the work. We paid him about 60% but 40% was still left. Unlike other rich teams in the college we didn’t have enough money ;What we had was passion and believe that one day God will certainly see us. The talks with the welder broke and he said that if in a week he doesn’t get his money he will scrap it all. We were depressed …and sleepless nights followed. We talked and collected the remaining money a drop from everyone and paid him. We got the chassis but we lost patience..
For a month due to lack of money we didn’t work..The it was “just dial”. We called up just dial and asked about car modifiers and workshops. We got the number Of LAC-Limousine Auto Care and visited him and talked to him .He was a Medium heighted Khalsa Sikh who talked straight and modestly .We told him about our project and stuff. And incidently he was” interested”.
I new serum of hope was injected and we all started to think..Its heavenly..The Corporate team too kicked in and money in tiny drops did start dripping..
We spent the next few months working on the car from 9am to 11pm and i almost made to the metro station to catch the last train with my friend Jassi. We got the motor and controller and everything required and fixed things up locally with the help from LAC and it was the test day for the motor and the moment it ran..we all shouted like hell..
Then it took a few weeks and the mechanical part was complete ( its never complete) we placed our panels and MPPT and things started falling in place…We produced India`s Most efficient Solar Car Till date . Im not adding Indian to lower the domain of comparison but rather to say that there was a bit of patriotism involved and when we say the other team abroad will oceans of funding and ours next to a glass full ;We really fealt something in us.
Then was the day when Avenir( the future in French) came to college and we all got the chance to ride it..That feeling is simply spell bounding. The feeling of riding a thing that you made all by hand is simply one cant get away with easily. The news spread and people came to know us and soon our car will be inaugurated by Delhi CM. The story that now follows is almost a lore now in the team:
It was a chilly night while we all were working on the car to be presented finally then suddenly we heard that the rear tyre has developed puncture and needs to be corrected then our beloved senior Mr. M with Mr. Anshul picked their bikes and took the wheel to the local puncture shop un-knowing that this Bldc hub motor is an abnormal type of wheel and the wheel was immersed in soapy water to test leakages. No puncture detected but who knew what got punctured..(sic)..When the tyre was re –assembled and attached it didn’t work. It was 12 at night after 8hrs Delhi CM will innaugrate the car. What to do? The whole team worked hard to find what was missing but came up with nothing until Anshul Sir notice the rear wheel to be heavier than usual. Voila..It drank water and we all got punctured. The windings and Hall sensors all got a swimming lesson. Somehow we did removed water from the wheel but the speed was lower.We were however relieved that at least it will run.
It was innaugrated and flagged off. We got the highest ever media coverage than to any college project.We presented the car for public awareness at Ambience Mall,Vasant Kunj and were glad to meet the people and interact with them. We distributed about 1500 pamphlets all on request.
It was that day we got a breeze of the Australian Sub-continent when Dr. David Rand, one of the men behind WSC came to meet us while he was on a business conference visit to India. We were delighted to meet him.
We were all getting set for “The Great Adventure Down Under”.
But who was to pay for our tickets and expenses..A boom was to follow…Considereing the urgency of the car to be sent to Australia. The only was Air. Which was very expensive.Our college paid for the cargo and gave us addition some amount it could gather for expenses down under. We calculated and found in any case we would certainly need 1,00,000 INR per head which include tickets and expenses.It is not easy to spent a lac in a jiffy. Its a huge amount.So it was all to individuals to convince the parents. I never talked about it as i thought it would be pointless. But soon i realised atleast i should tell and to my surprise my Dad said Yes! And it all Started………….
Part Two-Concourse-Coming Soon