TIIC 2016 North America: LCD Steering Wheel for Electric F1-Style Racecar

University: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Team Members: Jason Sylvestre, Mark Lemancik
TI Parts Used:

  • EK-TM4C123GXL LaunchPad
  • BOOSTXL-K350QVG-S1 3.5" QVGA LCD BoosterPack
  • TPS73633DBV 3.3v Regulator
  • SN65HVD256 CAN transceiver
  • TXS0104E Level Shifter

Project Description

We have an overbearing environmental issue to deal with; the consistent data trend in rising average global temperatures. Developing sustainable technology is not just something we at Wisconsin Racing feel compelled to accomplish; it is something we need to achieve. We are at a pivotal point in history right now and it feels increasingly urgent to find sustainable forms of energy to provide a foundation for a stable future. We are currently seeing a shift in vehicle technology to electric drivetrains and this industry is expanding at an exponential rate and the auto companies are going to be looking for the best engineers that are already well versed in electric vehicle technology to work for them. Through this team, we can fully prepare students for industry so they can come in already on the cutting-edge and keep pushing the envelope of electric vehicle technology.

One of the most important components on our vehicle is the steering wheel; however, our wheel is a bit different than most. This hand-crafted carbon fiber masterpiece does more than just control steering angle. We have used Texas Instruments components to create one of the most advanced steering wheels in the FSAE competition. We designed an electronics stack that is smaller than a deck of cards which can display useful information to the driver such as battery percentage, speed, battery health, power draw, and any faults with the vehicle. To display the information, we use TI’s QVGA LCD boosterpack which interfaces well with the TM4C123 and fits perfectly within the constraints of our wheel. Our steering wheel incorporates paddle shifters for smooth shifting of our transmission and also includes selector switches for Traction Control and Launch Control, which allow us to ride the traction limit so we can get faster lap times. The steering wheel has an LED array which is used to give the driver a visual representation of how much power he is drawing at any moment. The board communicates with the rest of the vehicle over the robust CAN network using TI’s SN65HVD256 CAN transceiver.

We developed two iterations of the electronics stack. The first one incorporated a Launchpad which made the stack a bit taller, but the main purpose of this iteration was to get the code fully functional quickly. We used this stack at the international FSAE competition where we received third in design out of 120 teams. The judges highlighted the excellence in engineering of our steering wheel, which resulted in a perfect score on our electrical systems.

The second iteration consolidates the Launchpad and the custom booster board into one extremely compact PCB. We are currently in the process of testing this board on the vehicle thoroughly so it can be used on our first electric car that will be competing in the 2017 competition. Our goal is to have the best steering wheel in the world for FSAE and we feel we have a very good chance at do so next year by using these Texas Instruments components.

What we’re doing here is much larger than just a Formula SAE competition. This team is a bridge between real engineering and what you see in the classroom. Our generation will have a large set of problems to solve. We believe solutions to these problems stem from expertise so we are attempting to develop talented engineers early on in their education to accelerate a transition to a sustainable and fun future.

  • Pushing the boundaries for steering wheel technology
  • LCD display to tell the driver what gear he's currently in, battery voltage, speed, oil level and if there are any faults on any system on the car 
  • LED bar to give the driver a visual of his RPM range
  • Selector switches to specify Traction Control and Launch Control
  • Paddle shifting input
  • LCD electronics stack is the same size as a deck of cards
  • Communicates with the rest of the car over the CAN-bus

Resources/ Design Files

v216.1    216v1.zip

v216.2   216v2.zip

v216.3   216v3.zip


Steering Wheel Car Testing