Newsletter Week 36 – A new country, a new office!

06 - 09 - 2019

Solar Team Eindhoven Newsletter September 2019 – Week 36
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Straight through the Australian outback!
Since our arrival in Adelaide, we’ve been having a great time exploring Australia and its outback. Last week, we have traveled over 3000 kilometers straight through the vast terrains of Australia to arrive in Darwin. The previous newsletter explained our final preparations for the trip to Australia, and our work in Darwin. This newsletter is themed by our trip up: our experiences in different landscapes, vast oceans of nothing and small towns with a single pump to get gas. We’ll also discuss a bit about the work we will be doing in Darwin (in our new office).
Leaving Adelaide…
The trip-up was planned to take 11 days. We left Adelaide on the 26th of August. We needed a slight warm-up: we left roughly 1.5 hours too late as packing up a trailer full of supplies took a bit more time than we had anticipated. But we were ready to go! 
The first stop on Day 1 was Port Germein. Interestingly, a long jetty was constructed to help nearby ships when necessary. The jetty is roughly 1.7 km long. It would take you about an hour to walk all the way to the end and back!
We travelled onwards, crossing Port Augusta on our way, and headed towards our first resting area. In Australia, you often have places that allow you to set up a camp and sleep, next to the road.
The next morning, we woke up rather early: 6:00. The time we lost the previous morning had to be compensated in some way and that meant a lot of extra driving today. At the end of the day, we reached Coober Pedy, a small mining town in the middle of the desert with roughly 2000 inhabitants. It may come to you as a surprise, but it’s actually quite cold in the Outback during the night: at ground level, there are temperatures reaching 0 degrees centigrade.
Travelling to Alice Springs
On day 3, it was time to practice our first control stop. During the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC) each team needs to arrive at control stop at a specified time during each day and is seated there for at least 30 minutes. During this time, the team can take care of the passengers in the solar car and swap for new passengers if deemed necessary.
During the control stop, each team member has very specific tasks that ought to be performed. Our safety officer Thomas and team manager Carijn are responsible for checking the time and making sure we can drive away with Stella Era as smoothly as possible. To communicate with each other during a control stop, we use handheld radios, as can be seen.
On day 4, it was time for some more relaxing. We travelled to Uluru, a big mountain in the middle of the Australian Outback. There are many stories to be heard and read about this rock and you can walk around it if you please. We decided to hike around the rock and explore the flora and fauna around it. It was quite hot, especially during the mid-day so we took great care to avoid the sun as much as possible (even though it is winter in Australia right now!).
Day 5 and 6 allowed us to relax a bit. We set up camp in Alice Springs and checked out the town. Some of us visited the nearby reptile centre, others took a hike up the nearby mountains. We even spotted our first wild kangaroo!
On day 7 we were on the road again! Early to rise (at 6:30 this time) and we left for Devils Marbles. It’s a nice collection of rocks; to quote a famous explorer John Ross: “This is the Devil’s country; he’s even emptied his bag of marbles around the place!” 
During day 8, we drove a lot and practiced our protocols: how to overtake a slower vehicle whilst driving in a convoy? How to be overtaken? How to communicate properly? How to provide detailed, yet concise, feedback regarding any objects on the road? All these questions had to be answered and every team member should know how to answer these.
A hot spring on the way
Day 9 and 10 were one of the most memorable days of the trip up: everybody had looked forward to the moment that we arrived in the hot springs of Mataranka! Picture a swimming pool, made of simple creek (small river) that has geothermal heated water of 30 degrees Celsius. You can swim freely and relax while never being cold. The team stayed there for two days to relax and rest a bit from the long drive of the previous days.

During our trip to Mataranka, we visited the Daly Waters Inn; a small pub in the middle of nowhere that hosts many different guests and is well-known for all its t-shirts and bra’s. Think of a normal pub, but with pieces of clothing hanging all around the pub!
At last: Darwin!
And that’s a wrap! On day 11 we drove to Darwin and we arrived around the afternoon at our houses. On the way, we stopped for our final practice of a control stop at Katherine. Our arrival in Darwin concluded the trip up, which meant that the real work was to be done. The next morning, we immediately assembled at our office at Sitzler to start fresh and full of new-found energy!

Bad news from transit
After we arrived in Darwin, we immediately wanted to check up on Stella Era. She arrived a day prior to us and we were eager to see how she made it over to the Australian continent. Upon opening the flight case, we saw a major issue: one of the solar panels had been severely damaged by one of the wooden beams of the flight case.

The solar roof consists of multiple panels, of which unfortunately the one with the highest efficiency has been damaged. We are going to investigate whether some of the parts can still be used and reassemble the panel. In the best case, we’ll be able to fix it without losing efficiency.

Luckily, the rest of the transport went well and Stella Era is here and ready to be fixed. We’ll need to spend time fixing this major issue.
Read more about it here

We had a great trip-up with lots of time to relax (to compensate for the lack thereof during the year). However, we are set back by the damage that was done to the solar panel during transit. We’ll need your support to help us get back on track!

You can support us by means of crowdfunding. By contributing to one of the parts of the car we are currently working on you can accelerate our process, so that we can accelerate the future. We will thank all our helping hands with a surprise on their doormat.

All the contributions go directly towards enhancing the car and moving it to Australia. 
Make a donation

On a closing note
We hope you’ve enjoyed this newsletter! We hope we’ll soon be able to get back to you with good news on the solar panel.

If you feel like you missed something in this newsletter or want to know some specific information about Stella Era or our team, you can email us at [email protected]!

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