SolarBots

Prove your design talent and craftsmanship skills! Compete against other Techsplorers to see whose bot can pull the heaviest weight the in the shortest time.

After completing this course you'll know how to design a solar car that can run in low light, go fast, pull hard, or any combination in between! Remember, in Techsplorers you design by understanding how it works.

We begin with the basics: voltage, current, resistance, and how to use a multi-meter to take these measurements. We also cover series and parallel circuit topologies and take a brief look at more advanced topics like Kirchoff's laws and Thevenin equivalence. Once the foundational concepts are in place, we research the electrical characteristics of the solar cell and the DC motor. Then your system-level design instincts will lead to a conclusion about the benefits of adding a charge-storage circuit.

With knowledge in place, background research completed, and a system-level vision of the design, it's time to build and develop. How will you design your car?

But even after all of that is finished and you've created a working prototype of your design, you're far from done. In fact, now the real fun begins — time to compete. Can you optimize the control circuit better than your classmates? Is your car design clever and its construction the best? I can tell you right now it isn't going to run in a straight line on pure luck. Innovation and attention to detail matter, as does your ability to work in a team and listen to the ideas of others. Welcome to the Art of Engineering, Techsplorer.

CONCEPT EXPOSURE

PRACTICAL SKILLS

 
View Weekend Workshop Schedule
View Summer Camp Schedule
 

The Competition

High Scores
Grand Champion: The Ten-K Car (10732)
2015 Champion: The Ten-K Car (10732)
2014 Champion: Thunderbird (2184)
2013 Champion: Relay (3916)
2012 Champion: Wolfstreak (3285)
2011 Champion: Flaming JalapeƱos (1195)
Score = (Pennies x Distance) / Time

Racing under the same sun conditions, the performance score shows whose tractor performed the best at hauling weight. Keep in mind: luck is always a factor — cloud cover definitely affects the results!

At different times of the year there will be less solar power available. In this case, an efficiency score might be useful in determining whose car got the most performance out of the solar energy available (Efficiency = Score / Available Power, where Power = Voltage x Current.) This is about as close as you can get to comparing car designs that ran under different solar conditions, though it also has its drawbacks.

The scores from all of the previous classes are listed below.

July 31, 2015
Name Pennies Distance (in) Time (sec) Score
The Ten-K Car 1100 12 1.2 10732
Zulu Galaxy 1100 12 1.5 9103
Niu 1000 12 1.3 9023
The Ten-K Car 1100 12 1.5 8800
Zulu Galaxy 1100 12 1.6 8354
Niu 1000 20 3.0 6757
Green Machine 1100 24 4.5 5867
Galaxy 1000 12 2.3 5310
Galaxy 1100 10 2.1 5164
Green Machine 1100 20 5.5 3993
Better Than Yours 1000 20 7.9 2548
Max 1200 20 9.8 2462
July 24, 2015
Name Pennies Distance (in) Time (sec) Score
Incognito 1200 80 17.7 5411
Incognito 900 80 17.9 4034
Charlie Car 1000 80 20.7 3867
Charlie Car 1000 40 10.9 3676
Incognito 900 80 20.2 3557
Bad Boy 500 40 12.0 1667
Bad Boy 500 24 7.3 1648
Bad Boy 500 80 26.0 1538
Charlie Car 500 40 13.5 1479
Burning Coal 400 20 7.4 1088
Burning Coal 400 30 12.2 985
Burning Coal 300 30 10.2 881
Motion 100 40 40.0 100
July 17, 2015
Name Pennies Distance (in) Time (sec) Score
Mosquito 1500 12 3.9 4663
The Taxi 1000 12 3.2 3810
Death Star 1500 40 16.0 3762
Smiling Transport 1000 12 4.2 2878
Solar Penny 500 12 2.4 2500
Sharp Edge 700 12 3.5 2373
Pink Mustang 500 12 3.1 1967
Jim the Pineapple Tow Truck 300 12 9.2 391
JuNE 22, 2015
Name Pennies Distance (in) Time (sec) Score
Unnamed 1900 40 7.8 9794
You Took All The Names 1500 40 7.6 7916
You Took All The Names 1500 12 2.4 7407
Unnamed 1400 40 10.7 5239
Illuminati 1600 12 3.7 5217
I Don't Know 1400 80 25.5 4385
Illuminati 1500 12 4.2 4296
Alpha Striker 1000 80 19.7 4061
Alpha Striker 1000 12 3.0 3974
The Cat 1200 40 12.2 3928
The Cat 1000 40 11.2 3587
Space Unicorn 1000 80 24.8 3230
Space Unicorn 1000 80 34.5 2317
Roaring Thunder 1000 12 5.3 2277
Roaring Thunder 1100 12 6.9 1908
Not Jack 1200 12 9.3 1548
Illuminati Confirmed 1000 40 28.6 1397
Faded Glory 200 40 14.8 541
Girly Girl 200 20 8.9 451
Not Jack 200 40 27.9 287
July 28, 2014
Name Pennies Distance (in) Time (sec) Score
Thunderbird 1000 14 6.4 2184
Air Force Twenty-Seven 1000 14 8.4 1677
Air Force Twenty-Seven 700 30 16.1 1305
Exploded Fish 500 30 12.0 1253
Air Force One 700 14 7.9 1244
Air Force Twenty-Seven 500 30 13.8 1085
Thunderbird 500 14 8.6 813
Exploded Fish 300 30 12.2 735
Air Force One 500 30 21.3 706
Thunderbird 400 24 16.5 583
Exploded Fish 200 30 10.4 580
Bumblebee 300 14 8.1 516
Bumblebee 300 26 15.7 498
Air Force One 200 30 15.7 382
Bumblebee 200 12 8.4 285
The 27 Mobile 200 12 89.3 27
Aug 2, 2013
Name Pennies Distance (in) Time (sec) Score
Relay 1700 24 10.4 3916
King Arthur Reginald XXVII 1600 28 12.5 3578
Relay 1100 30 10.6 3113
The Ninja Master 1100 28 12.0 2567
The Ninja Master 1100 30 12.9 2552
Relay 1000 24 10.0 2400
King Arthur Reginald XXVII 1000 32 14.4 2228
King Arthur Reginald XXVII 1000 30 14.8 2026
Senor Tractor 600 28 8.3 2017
Senor Tractor 800 28 13.0 1730
The Ninja Master 900 24 13.6 1592
Senor Tractor 500 24 8.2 1469
Bobay 500 28 10.1 1393
Bobay 200 24 18.5 260
Bobay 200 16 12.6 254
June 28, 2013
Name Pennies Distance (in) Time (sec) Score
Green Pig 1600 12 6.5 2953
USS Enterprise 1000 12 4.1 2926
Star 1000 12 4.2 2857
Star 2000 12 8.6 2790
Green Pig 1400 12 6.3 2667
Green Pig 1700 12 7.7 2649
The Lack of Agreed Name 400 12 2.6 1846
The Lack of Agreed Name 500 12 3.6 1666
Star 800 12 5.8 1655
The Bubbly Car 1000 12 8.5 1411
The Lack of Agreed Name 600 12 5.2 1384
The Silver Bullet 600 12 5.4 1333
The Bubbly Car 400 12 3.8 1263
The Silver Bullet 700 12 7 1200
USS Enterprise 900 12 4.2 1142
The Silver Bullet 500 12 5.7 1052
The Car Mobile 400 12 4.6 1043
Mustache Express 300 12 3.6 1000
The Stephen 300 12 3.8 947
Mustache Express 200 12 2.6 923
Mustache Express 400 12 5.4 888
The Bubbly Car 200 12 2.7 888
USS Enterprise 300 12 5.2 692
The Stompinator 400 12 7.3 657
The Stephen 200 12 3.8 631
The Car Mobile 200 12 3.9 615
Red Devil 200 12 5.1 470
Prisim Transportation 200 12 5.7 421
June 21, 2013
Name Pennies Distance (in) Time (sec) Score
The Mighty Mustache 700 8 1.8 3111
The Green Machine 1300 10 4.7 2765
The Green Machine 1000 10 4.1 2439
The Mighty Mustache 500 30 6.9 2173
The Green Machine 1300 6 4.3 2093
The Mighty Mustache 1000 8 4.4 1818
Crash 300 11 2.6 1153
Crash 300 10 3.3 909
Crash 300 16 5.14 889
The Stealthy Loud Ninja Fish 500 20 12.1 800
The Charged Creeper 400 16 8.8 727
Capacitor Mobile 300 8 4.2 571
July 20, 2012
Name Pennies Distance (in) Time (sec) Score
Wolfstreak 1232 12 4.5 3285
Wolfstreak 1232 12 5.4 2738
Wolfstreak 1000 12 5.2 2308
Tinman 1232 12 7.4 1998
Flaming 8-Ball 300 32 7.3 1315
Tinman 300 12 4 900
Fist of Doom 1000 12 14.8 811
Fist of Doom 500 12 8.4 714
Fist of Doom 800 12 13.9 691
Forrest 1000 16 29 552
Tinman 500 14 12.7 551
The Fist of Doom 200 12 4.5 533
Flaming 8-Ball 600 32 39.3 489
Forrest 800 12 19.8 485
Flaming Cheese 200 12 5.1 471
Flaming 8-Ball 200 12 9.7 247
Unknown 100 12 4.9 245
The Fist of Doom 100 12 5 240
The Fist of Doom 100 12 5.3 226
Flaming Cheese 400 12 23.3 206
Flaming Cheese 300 12 19.1 188
June 29, 2012
Name Pennies Distance (in) Time (sec) Score
The Tank 500 6 1.1 2727
Derpfish 1000 14 5.46 2564
Derpfish 800 10 3.77 2122
Derpfish 600 10 3.4 1765
Rocket Star 700 6 2.99 1405
Rocket Star 500 6 2.86 1049
Rocket Star 400 10 4 1000
Tardis 200 6 1.2 1000
The Werewolf 200 10 2.8 714
Flaming Beard 600 14 15.8 532
The Burning Banana Peel 200 8 3.41 469
Untitled One 25 42 2.9 362
The Werewolf 200 36 23.1 312
Bob's Burger 200 6 3.9 308
Blue Devils 100 24 8.5 282
The Beast 100 24 8.5 282
The Tortoise 200 6 4.66 258
Blue Flame 300 10 15.6 192
The Hippo 100 8 6.8 118
Endeavor III 200 8 17.7 90
June 17, 2011
Name Pennies Distance (in) Time (sec) Score
Flaming Jalepenos 500 20 8.37 1195
The Black Widow 500 20 8.91 1122
The Black Widow 500 20 9.28 1078
The Black Widow 300 20 8.87 676
Bhut Jolokias 300 20 8.91 673
Flaming Jalepenos 500 20 16.4 610
Mr. Colorful 200 20 7.28 549
Bhut Jolokias 400 20 14.97 534
Bhut Jolokias 500 20 20.41 490
Flaming Jalepenos 300 20 12.94 464
Mr. Colorful 500 20 21.9 457
That Guy 600 20 28.4 423
That Guy 300 20 15.44 389
Mr. Colorful 200 20 10.6 377
That Guy 300 20 16.83 357