Electro-Pneumatic Gear Shifting System – Shift gears on a race car faster!
Traditionally, Formula SAE race cars require manual shifting of a sequential gearbox to change gears. This results in slow shifts, and requires the driver to take his/her hands off of the wheel.
I wondered if there was a better way. So, I began exploring pneumatic shifting methods. At the time, I had no electronics engineering experience, and Arduino’s were not popular. So, with a lot of research and persistence, I designed my own, custom programmable micro-controller system.
The final circuit features a PIC16F887 micro-controller, a digital display, optical isolation of high voltages to protect the more sensitive components, reconfigurable pins with headers, and removable micro-controllers and relays.
Shifter Bench Test
The driver simply touches a button to shift the gear. The circuit board receives the input and translates it into an appropriately coordinated linear motion for a smooth gear shift. A pressurized CO2 cannister is used to energize the system.
A PIC micro-controller programmer was used to reprogram the chip. The final circuit was based on the above prototype.
I developed this system independently, in co-ordination with the team, who worked on other pieces of the vehicle.