Meet the Maker: Electrathon of Tampa Bay

tbt carWe’ve long  been fans of Electrathon racing.   Electrathon joined us at our first Maker Faire in 2012, and we’re really happy they’ll be at this year’s event.  We talked to Ken Fiallos, the Executive Director and Founder of Electrathon of Tampa Bay, to learn a little more about this awesome program and what they’re bringing to Gulf Coast Maker Con.

GCMC:  Just what is Electrathon of Tampa Bay?

Electrathon of Tampa Bay is  mentoring partnership of contractors, educators, Electrathonengineers, interested citizens and information technologists .    Our vision is to contribute to the laying of a foundation for a green, vibrant, low carbon future full of possibilities and opportunities for tomorrow’s children in the Tampa Bay area.  It is our mission to make this contribution by promoting Electrathon Racing and Solar Sprinting, endeavors full of technological entrepreneurial challenges and adventure.

GCMC:  Tell us about Electrathon racing!

KF:  An electrathon is a custom built three or four wheeled electric vehicle, somewhat similar in overall appearance to a Go-Kart, but powered by an electric motor and batteries. Electrathon class vehicles are principally defined and constrained by length and width (12 feet long and 4 feet wide maximum) and by battery weight and chemistry (73 lbs, sealed lead acid). Driver’s weight is ballasted to 180 lbs for fairness. Safety regulations require features such as braking systems, roll bars, and electrical disconnects. The basic format is to determine which car can travel the furthest distance in one hour’s time within the limitations of battery weight and other factors mentioned above. The main design problem is posed by the fact that fast speeds drain the batteries rapidly resulting in the car not being able to continue in motion for the entire hour, so design teams must compromise speed in order to gain distance.

Electrathon racing itself is a somewhat recent invention, first started in 90s in Australia. It is has grown in popularity in the Lomax JSS team smallestNorthwest and New England States as well in Canada and Mexico.The relatively low cost of the electrathon racing has made the sport a popular activity for many colleges and technical schools although it has achieved its largest participation among high school age students world-wide.

GCMC: What’s involved in building the cars?
The areas of knowledge and skills that are encompassed by the design, construction and operation of an Electrathon car are wide-ranging. Here’s some of what student learn  when building the cars:

  • Electronics, Electricity and Electromechanics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • AutoCad and Machine Design
  • Planning , Organization and Project Management
  • Construction and Assembly Techniques
  • Budgeting
  • Teamwork
  • Writing & Communication
  • Aerodynamics, Aesthetics, Ergonomics
  • Research Skills
  • Environmental Science and more.

You’ll get to see these great electric racers and Jr. Solar Sprint cars in action at Gulf Coast MakerCon!


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