During the Fall quarter, SmartTree continued to improve our design and consult with shop professionals and professors about the different options we had in terms of design and manufacturing methods.
To ensure our design can withstand Evanston’s strong winds, we met with a civil engineering professor to discuss any concerns about our design options. Based on his feedback, we decided to start by having a pole in each corner of the base assembly and have one solar panel mounted to each pole. Then if the structure ends up needing more support, we can add crossbeams between the poles or put sandbags on the flanges that connect the poles to the baseplate.
The first few weeks of the quarter were spent updating the overall CAD model. We split this into various teams: base piece remodeling, solar panel mounting, base piece connection, and electrical box. This helped our members gain experience in CAD, specifically Solidworks, and it gave us a more up to date reference that we can now use to help us figure out the best way to construct what hasn’t been built.
After making significant progress on the CAD models, we ordered a flange, a pole, and a solar panel mount. Even though the full design involves three of each, we purchased one of each for now to be able to assemble one full module and test its rigidity. Toward the end of the quarter, we continued staining and sealing our wood base pieces, picking up where we left off at the end of the Spring quarter. We also began drilling holes in the lid pieces for the poles to go through.
Looking forward, we plan to finish the top portion of SmartTree this quarter, leaving the benches and any remaining electrical projects for the Winter quarter, with a goal of having a fully operational SmartTree by the end of the school year!