What's Virtual Car?
Virtual Car is a program designed to help you engineer spring-powered toy cars using techniques of Virtual Prototyping and Rapid Prototyping.
Virtual Car lets you create and simulate many different model car designs. It lets you control the shape of the car, the materials used, the drive method (front, rear, or all-wheel drive), the size of the wheels, and the size of the spring that powers it, among other things. Engineers call these design parameters. Virtual Car will predict the performance and dimensions of the design so you can decide if it's worth building.
You probably don't have access to a rapid prototyping machine, but you can use the same techniques. When you commit to a promising design, Virtual Car will slice your design into sections and print a template for each section that can be cut out of construction board. You can then build the car very quickly by layering each section together. This method is similar to Laminated Object Manufacturing except we will cut the pieces with a knife.
This project is open-ended. You can use any materials you want, as long as they are suitable for use with the Virtual Car software.
How can I make a Virtual Car?
You can download the Virtual Car software at http://www.virtual-car.org/download.html. Virtual Car runs on any modern Windows-based PC and has minimal hardware requirements.
Virtual Car asks you for two types of input: Measured Material Properties and Design Parameters.
- First, give some thought to the construction materials that you would like to use. Material Properties, such as density and thickness, by experiment.
- Then, you can investigate many alternative design concepts by entering different Design Parameters such as wheel size and body shape.
- Every time you change a Design Parameter, Virtual Car will predict the Performance and Physical Dimensions of the car, and draw a conceptual picture.
- When you are happy with the predicted performance, you can print templates to help you build a prototype.
Here are some recommended materials and equipment. You can use other materials too, as long as they can be represented in the Virtual Car software.
|Foamcore or similar board
|Plastic 2-liter soda bottles
||Spring power source
||Wheel treads and axle grips
||Assembly of vehicle body
|Paper clips and staples
|X-Acto knives and straightedges