Electronic Design
Low-Power Radio Modules Monitor Solar-Powered Race Car

Low-Power Radio Modules Monitor Solar-Powered Race Car

Helping Britain’s Durham University racing team to promote greener transportation, the TX3B-869.85-64 and RX3A-869-10 radio modules from London-based Radiometrix are their choice for monitoring the performance of their solar-powered racer (see fig. 1). Integrating with the car’s telemetry system, the modules relay information to a chase vehicle that follows the racer, providing a team of engineers with continuous, real-time data on voltage/current usage and on how much energy the automobile’s solar panels are receiving.   

The Durham University solar car employs a steel space frame construction with a carbon-fiber body shell, which makes it very light and thereby ensuring lower energy consumption.  Covering the vehicle’s outer surface are high efficiency photovoltaic cells (see fig. 2) that produce 1.4 kW of power, enabling a maximum speed of 56 mph.

The Radiometrix TX3B-869.85-64 transmitter sports a 32 mm x 12.5 mm x 3.8 mm form factor, delivers a 7 dBm (5 mW) RF output, and supports data rates up to 64 kb/s. Riding in the chase vehicle, the RX3A-869-10 receiver teams with the TX3B to provide a reliable data link operating at a range up to 300 meters. Both transmitter and receiver comply with ETSI EN 300 220 and EN 301 489-3 standards. According to Durham University solar car project leader Steve Wilson, “There were several criteria that needed to be met with regard to the radio communications system. Clearly as much of the energy converted by the photovoltaic cells as possible has to be devoted to propulsion, and as a result low power operation for the radio transmitter was therefore vital. Likewise, in order to ensure that energy was not wasted, the transmitter had to be lightweight and take up minimal space.”

In addition to the solar car project, the Radiometrix modules are suitable for a wide variety of other end applications. These include vehicle data upload/download, data logging, asset tracking/management systems, industrial telemetry/telecommand systems, and high performance security/fire alarms. For more information, contact RADIOMETRIX LTD., Middlesex, England. +44 (0) 20 8909 9595.

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