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Research Assistant Brings New Technology to Baja Buckeyes

Ezekiel RhamyThere are few things more rewarding than applying what you’ve learned to something you’re passionate about. That’s exactly what Ezekiel Rhamy did as a research assistant and Baja Buckeyes team leader at The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

Rhamy joined Baja Buckeyes in 2016. Baja Buckeyes participates in the international Baja SAE competition; during this competition, teams build their own all-terrain vehicle prototypes and race them around a muddy, rutted and flooded track to prove which one is the fastest and most reliable. Shortly after joining the team, Rhamy became the head electrical engineer.

In summer 2018, he started working as a research assistant at CAR for a DC fast-charging station project. The project focuses on electric vehicle battery management using a controller area network, commonly referred to as a CAN bus.

Every modern vehicle relies on a CAN bus. The system uses a series of computers called controllers to monitor and manage the vehicle’s components. In an electric vehicle, the system is also used to monitor the batteries’ charge state, health and other diagnostics.

Rhamy wondered how he could implement a similar CAN protocol in the Baja Buckeyes’ vehicle.

“Initially starting the project was the most challenging,” Rhamy said. “There were so many different routes to take. I asked, ‘Should I use existing sensors, or should I start from scratch?’ However, after starting the project, it became a lot easier to put the pieces together.”

After putting those pieces together, Baja Buckeyes’ vehicle had a prototype CAN bus system. The system gave them access to a wide variety of diagnostics, such as an accelerometer to measure the force the vehicle experiences over bumps, and an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of the engine’s auxiliary drive belt. The new diagnostic capabilities will allow the team to proactively design for certain conditions that the vehicle might encounter.

Being a prototype, the system isn’t perfect. Although the team implemented a CAN bus that spans the entire system, they need to refine it to make sure each of the sensors give accurate feedback. However, that doesn’t discourage Rhamy.

“It isn’t necessarily about seeing the end goal,” Rhamy said. “It’s more about what you learn along the way.

Although Rhamy graduated in December 2018 and concluded his work with Baja Buckeyes after the 2019 Baja SAE Rochester competition in June, he knows that the system gives future members a great platform to build upon. In the future, Rhamy hopes the team implements an automatic data acquisition system that uploads and graphs data to a website.

“It’s very rewarding to see the project most of the way through,” Rhamy said. “Beforehand, the data inquisition aspect was nonexistent. As the only electrical engineering member on the team for the past three years, I’ve been able to build this system from the ground up.”

Written by Jake Berg, CAR Writing Intern

Tags: Baja SAE