Why “Eta Prime”?

Sometimes we name our vehicles on a whim or just because it sounds cool. This time there’s a bit more to it than that. Eta Prime promises to be our best-ever speedbike, and indeed one of the fastest bikes in the world, so we chose its name carefully to acknowledge the origins of the design and speak to our motivations for doing this project.

One of several candidate visual designs for the external shell of Eta Prime.

One of several candidate visual designs for the external shell of Eta Prime.

We wanted to use “Eta” in the name for two reasons. First, it’s an acknowledgement of AeroVelo‘s achievements with the original Eta speedbike. They created an excellent foundation for this new vehicle, and every success we have with Eta Prime is theirs to share. Second, “Eta” – properly written as the Greek letter η – is the symbol for efficiency throughout the engineering world; that’s why AeroVelo chose the name to begin with. Achieving high speeds on limited power is all about efficiency.

In engineering and mathematics, quantities are often manipulated through many steps of calculation until they’ve been transformed into something else, but still related to the original. This change is denoted by the “prime” symbol, which looks like an apostrophe. In particular, a derivative of something (it’s slope function, in simple terms) is often indicated by a prime. For example, a function x would have a derivative x′ (read as x-prime). We’re bringing new ideas and perspectives to the Eta design, so we’re calling the result Eta Prime. It’ll have have many differences, but this new speedbike will still be a derivation of the original.

η  →  η′

Stay tuned for more updates as we re-design, build, and test this new vehicle!

Calvin Moes, HPVDT Captain

“New” Metalworking Lathe

Even the best designs are useless if you can’t build them, so we place a major focus on finding the right tools for every task we need to accomplish. Eta Prime involves a lot of custom rotating components. To make these components, we needed a lathe that could handle the size of our parts while maintaining a high level of accuracy. Thanks to our faculty advisor Prof. Nogami and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, we now have what we need.

 

Despite it's worn appearance, this lathe functions very well.

Despite it’s worn appearance, this lathe functions very well.

Deep in the Engineering quadrant of U of T’s downtown campus, in a building few even know to exist, our “new” lathe waited to be found. Estimated to be at least 25 years old, this machine has been idle for much of that time – but no longer! Like many old-but-well-built tools, this lathe works great despite its worn appearance.

For those of you who don't do this sort of thing, a lathe functions by spinning the workpiece - typically a bar of metal - while the operator uses several adjustment knobs to slowly move a cutting tool against it.

For those of you who don’t do this sort of thing, a lathe functions by spinning the workpiece – typically a bar of metal – while the operator uses several adjustment knobs to slowly move a cutting tool against it. Here, you can seen chips of aluminum being cut off of a cylindrical bar by the tool on the left.

Over the next weeks and months, our Mechanical Systems Group will be producing a variety of bearing shells, spindles, and hub components for Eta Prime. Check back soon for more info!

Calvin Moes, Team Captain