Electrical blog #2: The User Interface

Electrical blog #2 – The user interface


Hi there! It is already time for my new blog! As I promised, this blog will be about the things I did last year. In the year 2015-2016 I joined Forze as a part-time student. This meant that I spent about 15 hours per week on the project. So when I first came in, it was all very new. The Forze VI was still tested and I got the chance to see all the systems of the car. I immediately realized how complex, but awesome the project was.

So I got the job to design the user interface of the new Forze VII. The initial idea was just to design a steering wheel PCB (printed circuit board) that handled everything, but in the end I have designed 4 different PCB’s. I had never designed a PCB before, so I first really didn’t know how to start. Luckily I got a lot of help and soon enough I got my schematics ready. I had to communicate with the drivers about what kind of knobs and indication lights they wanted and where they wanted it to be placed.

About the design:

Dashboardnode – The dashboardnode is responsible for the handling of the signals coming from the steeringwheel, dashboard and pedalbox and communicates with this with the rest of the car.

Steeringwheel – The steering wheel is – besides used for steering – the part where all the important signals come together used while racing. The first idea I got was to embed a LED screen in the steering wheel. This was possible and we got a gorgeous screen from GEMS! The main working of the PCB consists of feeding the signals from the knobs and rotary switches to a multiplexer and then send these signals to the dashboardnode where they are demultiplexed. For the rest, there are some simple debounce filters on all knobs.

Dashboard – The dashboard is quite the same as the steering wheel, except for the fact that this is only for the less important signals, which do not need to change often. The dashboard also houses the interfacing for the buffer LEDs

Bufferleds – There is a PCB with 16 LEDs to display the energy level of the buffer. This energy level is used for our driving strategy with regeneration. The reason why this is needed is because the driver needs to see if the buffer is empty (needs more regeneration then) or to full (Fuel cell starts to ramp down).

This makes the driver needs to adapt his driving to the best driving tactics.

After a lot of testing and fitting, everything finally could be assembled and tested within the car. The software was by then also already working, which made that my project was finally done! Until now (19-12-2016) the steering wheel is still fully functional and working perfectly! I am very proud of the job I did and it is very cool to see my project back on the photo’s published on various websites.

In the next blog, I will talk about some (forgotten) products we use in our car for fastening.

Sieger Falkena, Chief Electronics