Montana State University Solar Car Project - 1995

The Montana State University Solar Car - circa 1995

The "Double Black Diamond"

Raced in the 1995 DOE SunRayce

Project Director/Faculty AdvisorDavid M. Caditz, Ph.D.
Power ElectronicsGiri Venkataramanan, Ph.D.
MachinistNorman Williams
Lead DriverFred Schechter
CompositesAndy Springer
Computer ElectronicsPaul Peavyhouse
Montana State University Solar Vehicle Project Proposal (1994)
Bozeman Daily Chronical
SunRayce 95
Solar Car Teams

The Montana State University Solar Car Project was organized as a faculty/student collaborative project by Professor David Caditz in 1994. The team sucessfully built and raced the Double Black Diamond in the 1995 DOE SunRayce from Indiana to Colorado. The project had limited resources and probably the lowest budget among the 38 teams that entered the race, finishing in 24th place - a respectable finish for a first time team. More importantly, it was an amazing, life-changing experience for all those involved.

Montana State University's solar-car team was one of the smallest and most ambiĀ­tious teams at Sunrayce 95. The decision to build a solar racer for Sunrayce 95 came in December of 1994, and construction of the Double Black Diamond started in February of 1995. A unique aspect of the Montana State entry was the frame. The DBD's frame was a hybrid composite-floored space frame. The base of the frame, which doubled as the car 's belly pan, was a carbon fiber/Nomex sandwich plank two inches thick and weighing about 20 lbs. Mounted on top of the plank was a chromoly tube frame structure weighing another 25 lbs. Though Montana finished 24th due to several significant array problems (a solder joint failed in the main maximum power tracker and the failure went undetected for most of the race), their eff orts are still an impressive accomplisment . The DBD was a very beautifully finished solar car, and Montana was one of very few teamsĀ­ possibly the only team at Sunrayce 95-that actually built their own motor controller. Montana State's best showing was on Day 6 when the DBD's array was fixed and raced to a sixth-place finish for the day.