Slyp_Dawg HalfDork
11/24/14 1:23 a.m.

Formula SAE's design prompt is something along the lines of "design the prototype for a limited production autocross toy". SCCA rules allow non-FSAE-teams to run cars in that subclass, and AFAIK there is no requirement that the car ever actually partook in a FSAE-sanctioned event. SAE cars are turning into hotbeds of aero design and off-the-wall solutions (centerless wheels with perimeter brakes anyone?) typically do quite well at SCCA-sized autocrosses, and I'd imagine there are certainly a few ex-school cars running around autocross courses, but has anyone rolled their own, so to speak? Rather than trying to buy an ex-school car, has anyone looked at the FSAE allowance in the SCCA Solo rule book and thought "hey, why don't I build something to this ruleset?" And actually built a weekend autocross toy that abides by FSAE rules? It seems like that would be a great way to get a fairly low maintenance, quick car that was easy on consumables due to the lack of weight, had an engine that was stressed less than in the original installation (similar or less weight than a production 600cc super sport, with the engine being detuned and somewhat limited in revs by the intake restrictor), was easy to transport and store, and would probably set FTD at most local events that proper A/B-mods didn't show up to, and if you did it right I'd imagine it wouldn't be excessively expensive either. Am I onto something here, or am I just crazy? It is nearly 2:30AM, I'm not caffinated, and I've been known to hang out on here for extended periods of time, so let's not rule out crazy just yet

icaneat50eggs HalfDork
11/24/14 6:14 a.m.

I'm not familiar with fsae, but 20 years ago I built solar car at a major university and the toys money and materials we had access to was incredible and nothing that I can imagine a normal guy could touch.

GameboyRMH MegaDork
11/24/14 7:00 a.m.

FSAE is like mini-F1, including a mini version of a ridiculously huge budget. They build big pieces out of CF, use giant 3D printers and CNC machines like it's no big deal...they're not built to be cheap by any stretch of the imagination. You could build one for cheap as you're imagining if you DIY all the work, but it probably wouldn't be competitive with other FSAE cars.

Lof8 Reader
11/24/14 7:17 a.m.

I know a dude near Orlando who built an FSAE car in school and then home-built one of his own after graduation. Its fun to watch at the autocrosses. 600cc bike powerplant.

gearheadE30 New Reader
11/24/14 7:27 a.m.

I was heavily involved in Baja SAE when I was in school, and we shared a shop with the FSAE team, so we all knew each other pretty well. I think, as others have mentioned, the budget would be a big hurdle. The teams that are actually quick have budgets touching or into six figures, when including materials and fabrication sponsorships. Unless you have a CNC machine and/or access to manual machining tools, as well as welding skills, suspension dynamics software, or at a minimum, are competent in CAD, I'd say for the limited scope of the vehicle, it's not worth it. These are probably all reasons you don't see a bunch of home-built FSAE cars running around. Most kit cars/Locost type vehicles circumvent these problems by using donor vehicles for the difficult to engineer and manufacture parts, or these components are included in the kit.

That said, I'm all for crazy projects, so if you have the tools and the time (and money) to do it, I'd say go for it! haha.

Apexcarver PowerDork
11/24/14 8:14 a.m.

I was on an FSAE team for awhile.

Building your own formula car is doable, but just like a Locost project, I hope you have excellent design and fab skills as well as a mill and lathe.

It wouldnt by necessity be any harder than rolling your own mod car in any other class. You are just running against people who are building it using almost unlimited awesome tool and material access and who have sponsor money.

I want to chime in and say that I think you might be surprised how well some Locost people could pull it off. Another thing to think about is that they build a new car every year and work in all kinds of upgrades from year to year. Will you be the fastest? Doubt it. Could you build something that would be respectable in that company? I dont see why not.

If it were me... Build a BM LeGrand for right around the same money. You have plans to start from. (it can take just as much to refine a design as to clean sheet it) If you get it running, you will enjoy more resale value from a recognizable car type than with a home-brew FSAE-type car. You will also have more people to run against.

Like I said, you can get plans here

kb58 Dork
11/24/14 8:23 a.m.

I volunteered at FSAE events and the teams had a great positive spirit and they helped each other out. I get what the program is and does, but there's a bit of Fantasy Land going on when they're told, "Design and build a mini F1 car for $XXXXX (of imaginary money), with sponsored parts, using $10M worth of machinery." Not very good for learning how financing works, but that's for business majors I guess...

I'm sorry, where was we again? Agree with the above, that without CNC, composite skills, and sponsership, you're pretty much going to have to do a Locost or Midlana car.

nocones SuperDork
11/24/14 9:33 a.m.

Honestly you'd be better off building an Amod car.

To build a competitive FSAE car they have to be really light. Using off the shelf components will result it a car that is to heavy. Aarms and suspension parts on fast cars have a short fatigue life and are so underbuilt they are fragile.
HP you will struggle with. The restricted engine makes it to where a lot of time needs to be spent on a dyno to extract the most performance. The fast teams make ~99% of theoretical max hp. A garage build without lots of development likely would be 10% down.

The cars are fast and fun to drive but I think for the money and effort Amod is a better place to play. The rules are less restrictive and I think a overweight car could have a better shot. HP is not restricted which makes it cheaper to get the power.

Thinkkker UltraDork
11/24/14 11:09 a.m.

You have to build the car to whatever years rules it competed in. So if you built one, not sure how that would work. I think its possible though.

As far as that is concerned, I would venture to say that a non-restricted BM car just a longer wheelbase and more power would be easier, and possibly more competitive.

nocones SuperDork
11/24/14 12:44 p.m.

It has to meet any years rule set in its entirety. I do not believe it has to have competed.

Jim Pettengill
Jim Pettengill HalfDork
11/24/14 12:56 p.m.

FWIW, apparently the worldwide class is called Formula Student, and the magazine Racecar Engineering has quite a number of good articles detailing some of the aero features in particular. They do two or three articles a year. Agree that it would be cool, but would be cheaper and with more freedom to just build an A Mod.

Streetwiseguy PowerDork
11/24/14 12:59 p.m.

I agree with those who suggest just building a mod car. The F SAE cars have some really...interesting restrictions.

Mildly off topic: University of Saskatchewan has built at least half a dozen F Sae cars over the years. I was in the mechanical engineering lab one day consulting as a stock car tech guy on one that had caught fire, which is another story , but I saw a row of 1/4 scale pulling tractors that are done with a similar program. They sere quite cool- the only real standard piece seemed to be some sort of Briggs and Stratton V twin, and the size.

ProDarwin UltraDork
11/24/14 1:15 p.m.
Slyp_Dawg wrote: It seems like that would be a great way to get a fairly low maintenance, quick car that was easy on consumables due to the lack of weight, had an engine that was stressed less than in the original installation, was easy to transport and store, and would probably set FTD at most local events that proper A/B-mods didn't show up to, and if you did it right I'd imagine it wouldn't be excessively expensive either.

You just described a kart.

Related note: I think FSAE plans should become open-source several years after that competition is over. I.E. all 2012 plans should be released now.

stroker SuperDork
11/24/14 10:06 p.m.

I'd love to see a class where the cars meet SCCA roadracing rules instead of autocross. I know that F1000 would be similar but if there was a way to buy a FSAE car then swap the gear into a SCCA-legal roadracing frame that would be cool, IMHO.

Slyp_Dawg HalfDork
11/24/14 10:58 p.m.

I'm not necessarily talking about trying to beat the FSAE teams at their own game, I more mean using the allowance to make an A-mod that doesn't have to meet a 900# w/ driver minimum. basically a F600 with actual shocks, open rear suspension, and 13" wheels, that will fit onto a small trailer and get an absurdly large amount of life (for a race car anyway) out of a 20x8x13" slick. something like that just seems absurdly fun to me. I don't particularly care about being nationally competitive in FSAE, and the only real local competition would be the FSAE car that VCU is building, or a '60s Super Vee with 20ft^2 of wings bolted to it, and that car rarely shows up.

jstein77 SuperDork
11/25/14 9:00 a.m.

At the Florida state champs on Sunday, the U of F FSAE car took FTD by a couple of tenths over the fastest F500 car.

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