The innovative, power-efficient wireless technology of London-based Radiometrix is helping British academia to promote greener transportation. The company’s TX3B-869.85-64 and RX3A-869-10 radio modules are being used by the Engineering Department of Durham University to monitor the performance of their solar-powered racer.

The Durham University Solar Car (DUSC) has a steel space frame construction with a carbon fibre body shell. This makes it incredibly light and ensures energy is not expended unnecessarily. The high efficiency photovoltaic cells that cover its outer surface are able to produce 1.4 kW of power, allowing the vehicle to reach an impressive maximum speed of 56 mph.

The Radiometrix products being utilised in the DUSC’s telemetry system, allow the transfer of important information to the chase vehicle which follows behind it. The team engineers can thus gain access to a continuous stream of real-time data on the voltages/currents passing through the DUSC’s circuitry and on how much solar energy is being received.

Radiometrix Radio Modules Integrated into Solar Car

The Radiometrix TX3B-869.85-64 transmitter located in DUSC has a compact 32 mm x 12.5 mm x 3.8 mm form factor. It can deliver a 7 dBm (5 mW) RF output and supports 64kbps data rates. This is complemented by the RX3A-869-10 receiver, which is placed in the chase vehicle. When paired with the TX3B, the new RX3G receiver allows a reliable data link to be implemented up to a range of 300m. Both the transmitter and the new RX3G receiver comply with the ETSI EN 300 220 and EN 301 489-3 standards.

These modules are suitable for a wide variety of different end applications. These include vehicle data upload/download, data logging, asset tracking/management systems, industrial telemetry/telecommand systems, and high performance security/fire alarms.

“There were several criteria that needed to be met with regard to the radio communications system for the DUSC. Clearly as much of the energy converted by the photovoltaic cells as possible has to be devoted to propulsion, and as a result low power operation for the radio transmitter was therefore vital” states Steve Wilson, DUSC Project Leader. “Likewise, in order to ensure that energy was not wasted, the transmitter had to be lightweight and take up minimal space.”

Established back in 2004, DUSC is a student-led project. The team, which consists of fifteen people (mainly undergraduates, with a few post graduates and an academic supervisor) has competed in several prestigious international contests. This October, they will take part in the Global Green Challenge - a gruelling 3000km race for solar-powered vehicles across Australia, from Darwin to Adelaide.