The competition namely MiniCar Racing has been held by Cao Thang Technical College (CTTC) in middle of May 2018. This is the first year the competition is opened for participants from other universities in Ho Chi Minh City. 40 teams with total member of 200 students in among of 80 registered teams have passed the technical examination to enter final round. This year, the three year old competition has the subject of “Future Car”. All of the cars are controlled by the student via the using of smart phone and Wi-Fi network. This innovation is a challenge in term of controlling of the car.
Control the minicar by using the smartphone is a challenge to the student. Photo by Ha The An
The students control minicar using smartphones via Wi-Fi connection.
nstead of using the traditional remote controller to control the car via the Radio Frequency (RF), the controlling of “Future Car” will be done by applying of Internet of Thing (IoT), consisted of smartphone, Wi-Fi router and the controller board in the car. A Wi-Fi router is used to receive the control command from an application in smartphone. The router is then sent the signal to the adapter mounted in car. The controller board will decoded the signal to obtain the control commands, which are used to send to servo motors to control the throttle, the steering and the braking system of the minicar.
According to Master Nguyen Ngoc Thanh, Deputy Head of Faculty of Automobile Engineering Cao Thang Technical College, the using of IoT to control the minicar will help the student develop their program skill to connect individual items into a network. In general, student can learn how to apply the IoT, a field of the 4th revolution.
The students have to make and program themselves the controller board that has the capacity of receiving and processing the Wi-Fi signal to control the car on the racetrack. Therefore, the students must have the basic on programing of microcontroller.
A 22 – 23cm3 gasoline engine is provided for each team. The students have to make the frame, steering system and control system. The self-construct percentage must be more than 50%.
Each of the minicar has the control board connected to the smartphone to control the car via the Wi-Fi.
Requirement of microcontroller programming is properly a barrier to the first year student, or students that do not have the specialize of programing. Hover, the organizing committee raises the requirement of using the Wi-Fi signal in control the car to encourage the student working in team, as well as finding suitable partners to make a team. The teamwork activities can be guided and advised by a lecturer.
A sharing from Le Phuong Hieu Nhi, a student of Faculty of Mechatronics CTTC, states that the approach to control minicar via Wi-Fi makes a lot of difficulties for his team and other teams. Students have to spend a lot of time on developing of the application in smartphone, and controller board mounted on the minicar.
The Wi-Fi connection has the disadvantage of noise from other routers which raises the difficulty for the wireless communication and control of the car. One of the drawbacks is the delay in sending and processing of control command from the smartphone. During the delay period, the car still runs with the last command that it received. As a result, the minicar will be out of control until the next command is available.
Other the solution to prevent the noise is to program the controller board that has the capacity of anti the noise from other Wi-Fi routers. The more important issue is the ability to keep calm and exact of the student that controlled the minicar. Because the racetrack has sharp bends and slopes, carelessness in control can make the car run over the barrier.
The competition has created a playground for students. The champion of this year, namely Wild Dogs from Cao Thang Technical College is awarded a prize of 15 million Dong. It properly is a large amount of money for the students, but the experience that they gain is priceless. To encourage the student, other 9 prize is also awarded, includes 6 prizes of consolation, 1 prize for the bright creation design, 1 prize for good PR, and 1 runner-up prize.
The competition is sponsored by Sallun JinYu Group and Nhat Huy Khang Co, Ltd.
The bridge between enterprises and CTTC is also formed from activities of Minicar Racing.
By Huynh Phuoc Thien, Nguyen Ngoc Thanh