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Getting ben in for the last stint
Getting ben in for the last stint

Greenpower Electronics

Electronics is not needed for a successful competitive Greenpower car. However it can help and is an excellent way of presenting engineering to the pupils especially in the fields of electronics, instrumentation, software and control systems. The following link provides some information on using electronics in Greenpower.


 This is a list of some electronics projects that can be built by pupils for use in the Greenpower challenge. If anyone wants to contribute, let Terry Barnaby know and I will provide login details.

Circuit Description
GreenpowerSoftware Greenpower Laptop/PC/Raspberry PI software for GpSpeed and general use
GpControl Greepower Control Computer and Data Logger
GpSpeed A basic Greenpower Car Speed controller
GpSpeedDataLog An extra module for the GpSpeed controller that adds memory and an RTC for data logging
Voltage Regulator A simple, efficient, transient protected voltage regulator for powering devices off the 24V Greenpower batteries
Battery Charger A multi battery Greenpower charger
Buck Boost Controller A Buck Boost speed controller


Circuit Simulations

Circuit Description
Transients This shows the voltage transients that can occur on a Greenpower electrical circuit and shows methods to reduce them

Greenpower Electrics/Electronics Information

Some basic information on Greenpower electrics/electronics is here:

Circuit Design Tools

If your are an engineer, you will likely choose the Linux(Unix) operating system as your base software platform. As well as being better orientated to engineering uses it is Opensource and free! So most of these tools will run on this OS. Most are available for Microsoft Windows as well.

kicad This is an excelent electronic circuit (schematic) and PCB design tool. It is available for Linux and Microsoft Windows. For Linux it is in the main software package repositories so simply install using the native package installation utility. For Microsoft Windows it is available here.
qucs This is a simple to use electronics simulation tool. It allows a simple electronics circuit to be entered and simulated in software. Graphs of the voltage and current flow can be shown. The software is in a state of flux at the moment, but is useful never the less.
For Linux it is in the main software package repositories so simply install using the native package installation utility. For Microsoft Windows it is available here.


Some of these projects can be build on Vero board (PCB's with a matrix of holes and copper strips for connections). This is quick and cheap for small simple through hole components. For more complex circuits or those with surface mount components a PCB is best. These can be DIY made using a laser printer and etch tank or you can get them made by a company. If you can put multiple boards onto one PCB this will work out cheaper per PCB.

There is a choice to use traditional through hole components or surface mount components. There is a reluctance by some to use surface mount components on DIY boards, but if you can use the larger sized surface mount they are relatively easy to solder on to boards and do not require the drilling of holes if you are making your own PCB's. For resistors and capacitors I would use the 0805 sized components. Pupils can easily position and solder these after a few attempts. It is possible to solder IC's down to 0.5mm leg pitch, but this is hard unless you use solder paste and an hot air gun.


Various guides on the web:

PCB Train Based in Newbury they have a 2 layer basic PCB service that takes about 2 days. If the board is less than 100mm x 100mm this costs about £30 + P&P + VAT so is quite cheap. The boards do not have silkscreens or solder resist, but that is fine for Greenpower projects.
PCB Pool This company can produce relatively low cost PCB's especially if you leave out the silkscreen and solder resist. If you are prepared (and organised enough) to wait 8 days a 100mm x 100mm PCB will cost about £21 + P&P + VAT.
ITead Studio If you are happy to wait a bit and order from China, there is a very cheap PCB service from ITead Studio. You do need to get 10 PCB's made at a time often, but they can be very cheap.

Purchasing Components

There are many places to purchase components. Some are listed here.

Farnell Has a huge range of components and operates throughout the world. Also go under the name CPC.
RS One of the originals and still good
Rapid Less of a product range, but more products for education orientated work Can be quite low cost.
Maplin Less range of components these days, but has shops that can be local for those last minute items.
Mouser Can be useful for more exotic components