Tag Archives: solidworks

An update, and a simulation study…

Hello readers. It’s been far too long since I’ve posted on here, so I thought I’d finally share with you what my rough 2018 plans are and show you what I’ve been working on a bit in between exams, job applications, running… I’ve been busy, alright.

What’s happening in 2018 with F1 tech stuff?

I’d like to tell you a bit more about that but for now keep an eye on my Twitter for announcements coming soon (hopefully). But if my plans don’t come to fruition then that doesn’t matter because I’ll be writing on here about it anyway. Not going to lie, the media world frequently frustrates me so I was in two minds as to whether I’d sack it off for at least a year and just go back to my roots, i.e. this blog. However, at the moment we are still on course to cover the technical aspect through other medium(s)…

Car launches are coming up soon and this year should be another exciting one. It will be interesting to see if the teams are beginning to converge on particular designs, or whether we still see diverse solutions to the same problem(s). There has been plenty of hype over whether Mercedes will be forced to adopt a high rake angle philosophy and what they will do with their wheelbase – my guess is that they won’t but they will have found a way to shorten the car length a bit, retaining their good aerodynamic characteristics while overcoming the inconsistent handling issues associated with the long wheelbase, particularly around street circuits.

Tyres could be another talking point this year and it might be difficult to assess how they behave during testing. We have two new compounds, the super-hard and hyper-soft (way to further add complexity to the system…) which will cover Pirelli’s arses for any given circuit regardless of how the new cars perform – they are expected to be a further second faster per lap. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is also undergoing a resurface at the moment to accommodate Moto GP’s requirements, and although the aim is to replicate the surface roughness from the old tarmac there are bound to be discrepancies. Of all years headline times could be worthless altogether given how the track might evolve over the two testing periods. And, as always, it’s pretty cold in Spain this time of year which makes life harder for the engineers.

What am I not looking forward to this season? The Halo of course. I understand that it’s necessary but come on, even IndyCar look set to have a more attractive solution! We are stuck with it for now it would seem. This leads me nicely onto something I’ve been playing with over the Christmas/New Year period.

Halo simulation study

Around Christmas time the general public were given further details on the load cases the Halo has to withstand. The teams, of course, have known these for a while, as they have had to figure out how to design and construct their monocoque to cope with the extra stresses bearing down from the roll hoop structure.

I wondered where the peak stresses would occur on the chassis, how the teams would go about addressing the problem and what the weight penalty for such changes would be. Including the mounting brackets, nuts, bolts, pins etc., there is an extra 10 kg of weight sat high up on the car, plus further weight from the strengthening of the chassis.

My plan was to create a fully dimensioned Halo in SolidWorks (must take advantage of the final year I have it for free!), simulate the different load scenarios on it to see if the model worked, and then install it onto a mock-up chassis of my own to see the load distribution.

I started out by drawing the Halo on paper, using the FIA cockpit template dimensions as a reference. In fairness it was going pretty well, although when I did manage to get hold of an official technical drawing it made my life a bit easier and it added further accuracy to my study. I decided to create three components in SolidWorks: the central strut, the roll hoop and the ‘feet’ in which the hoop would slot into either side of the driver’s head.



I’m fairly good with CAD, but I was genuinely surprised by how difficult the Halo was to construct. I was having to create quite a few planes for lofted extrusions, mounting the roll hoop at an angle and aligning the whole thing to the FIA’s guidelines. During my university studies last year I designed a planetary gearbox for a wind turbine and that was actually a lot less frustrating! The finished product is below.


The next job was to set up the simulation. I defined the material (I started with stainless steel but in the real world it is titanium wrapped in carbon cloth) fixed the two feet, put a roller/slider fixture on the pin join and placed a 1 kN load on the strut. This is nothing compared to what it has to withstand (46 kN) but it was a start, just to check everything would run correctly.

Now, with hindsight, I was probably biting off a little more than I could chew (or at the very least my laptop was). Simulating assemblies isn’t SolidWorks’s favourite task, and it refused to run properly despite fiddling with contact sets: I formed the centre strut in anticipation of mating it with the roll hoop, but this seemed to cause problems and the simulation would often ignore the hoop as if it wasn’t there and just direct the load through the strut alone…

As you can see below I set the two as ‘bonded’ eventually but after doing so the simulation refused to run after about three minutes.


I also tried making the strut and roll hoop one part. I am yet to run it yet but hopefully I will make some progress there. If you’ve got any suggestions as to how to set the simulation up let me know (leave a comment, tweet me, email me) as I’d like to continue with this during some of my spare time. If I can get this to work then I’ll be able to build a monocoque and further my investigation, although I don’t see my laptop fancying that to be honest.


So, that’s what’s been happening lately. Looking forward to covering 2018 for you and I’ll try to keep this place a bit more up to date…