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Formula SAE/Student: University of Bologna team uses HBK strain gauges

University of Bologna, Italy


The "UniBo Motorsport" team of the University of Bologna started a project with the support of HBK as part of Formula SAE/Student. The aim of the project was to use strain gauges (SGs) in the vehicle to determine which forces act on which components in the suspension.

UniBo Motorsport was the first European team to participate in one of the oldest and best known competitions, Formula SAE Brasil. After three days of competition at the ECPA racetrack in Piracicaba, the team emerged as the winners.


Suspension arms made of carbon fiber pipes

The special features of the UniBo Motorsport prototype include suspension arms produced from carbon fiber pipes using advanced manufacturing processes, which require extremely careful and precise planning. Thanks to cooperation with HBK, UniBo Motorsport is one of the first Formula Student teams to have implemented force measurements in the suspension arms using type LY46 strain gauges.

These strain gauges are especially suitable for measurements on carbon fibers. Deformations in the material can be monitored to determine forces under different driving conditions and also in limit cases. That gives the team important data for dimensioning components and making adjustments to elastic systems such as springs, buffers or transverse struts.

Determining load values not only makes it possible to plan for the use of lighter parts; the position of the vehicle can also be improved – two essential components for success in motor sports.

Data acquisition for the optimum aerodynamic design

Before the SGs were used during the test phase on the track test, they were tested in the lab using the espressoDAQ measuring amplifier.

The data acquisition system itself was developed internally by the team at the University of Bologna. 

Measurement data recorded in the control unit of the vehicle is also made available in real time by the telemetry unit.

Results have so far been evaluated only on the qualitative level with the goal of evaluating hypotheses developed during the planning phase. 

Quantitative use of results is planned for 2015. Vehicle UBM2014, which has since been retired, will be used exclusively for data acquisition this year. 

Introducing the aerodynamic package in the new vehicle (UBM2015) will require further development of the data acquisition system. The experience gained in the last season should be highly beneficial in that regard. The goal is to compare the results of the CFD simulations with the actual values measured directly in the vehicle and create an optimal setup of the vehicle.

The first vehicle with full instrumentation

UniBo Motorsport was the guest of HBK Italia at the trade show for innovation "Affidabilità e Tecnologie" in Turin. The first vehicle with full instrumentation was presented there. Thanks to the catman user interface, values read by the SGs could be displayed in real time.

On a course to success

In the summer of 2014 the team reached 13th place at Formula Student in the Czech Republic and 7th place at Formula Student in Spain.

In October UniBo Motorsport was the first European team to participate in one of the oldest and best known competitions, Formula SAE Brasil.

After three days of competition at the ECPA racetrack in Piracicaba, the team emerged as the winners. This is the first time an Italian team has won a Formula Student competition in the "combustion engine" category.

The team also presented the data acquisition system combined with SGs from HBK in Brazil for the 2015 aerodynamic package. With that entry UniBo took second place in design testing, which evaluates the metrological solution of the project. The team will also be competing again next season with the support of HBK plus lots of enthusiasm and ambition.

Technology used

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