Mid Semester Submission: Project Tramways Stuart Steinfort S3137921 The semester has been split up into three distinct areas of research and development; explorative sketching, application of the Participatory Action Research toolkit and technology research. All the areas of research are interlinked, in that developments in one particular area influence all other aspects of the projects.
Sketching Ideation: The semester informally began in the mid year holidays where a basic foundation of sketching was started. This explored the basic elements of tram construction as well as ideas of freight movement. The main emphasis was on the improvement of graphic communications skills for the major studio. This allowed for the creation of a number of sketch books full of ideas to develop over the semester. This prompted a two fold conversation with staff and students; how improve my sketching and further exploration into design development.
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The sketching process began with direction from the pre-major research observation of freight transportation. This mainly concerned studying Swanston Street in Melbourneâ€™s central business district. In this example, the research highlighted small freight operators who work within the CBD. Small to light trucks carry a significant variety of freight in and out of this area. This illustrates the needs for a constant and versatile freight option within the projectâ€™s scope. This insight into freight transportation allowed numerous explorative sketches to be produce. This particular work looked at element arrangement of the freight. Options ranged from overhead units which could be craned on and off the tram to an actual section of the tram which carries freight. At the core of this exploration was the need to create a system that does not interfere with tram users. This is because tram travel is a form of public transport; which by definition is born to service the public.
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At the beginning of the semester the freight options were used to influence tram layout and overall styling. I endeavoured to put great emphasis on the exterior of the tram. This is in order to offer a point of difference to current and proposed trams, the project needed to convey the idea of freight transportation in the actual tram. This emphasis created two distinct exterior concepts. The first was of literal representation of freight through shape communication. This was inspired from the observed box like nature of freight packaging. The resulting box like tram created a somewhat utilitarian nature in the literal communication of freight. The second proposed concept was inspired from the sharp and angular lines that characterise freight packaging. The rectilinear nature of the tram created a stark contrast to the first concept through a multitude of panels that create its surface
Application of the Participatory Action Research Toolkit: This semester saw the application of the Participatory Action Research (PAR) toolkit in the project. The emphasis behind the toolkit was to create a research device that explores perceptions of trams within society. The toolkit specifically targets personal experiences in travel, which in turn allows insights into methods of use. Overall, the toolkit has been used on approximately 10 participants. The method of research was to ask the participants two questions: 1) 2)
What is a tram? How could a tram be?
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A personal emphasis was stressed to all the participants. This is in terms of recounting personal experiences of tram travel when answering of the questions. The above images shown depict the participants moving the scale furniture as the main form of communication. This, together with verbal recounting of journeys created a story of tram travel. An interesting occurrence in the use of the toolkit was the significance placed on the objects. The majority of the time spent responding to the questions was found in the arrangement of the furniture. Little time was spent questioning the structure or layout of the tram. Only once in the application of the toolkit did the participant alter the carriage structure of the tram. At no point did any of the participants change the panel structure of the tram to effect the doorway position. This research collection reinforces the importance placed on the interior of the tram. This in turn prompts the design ideation phase in creating various reference points to work upon.
Technology The technology section of this project has been predominately briefed from the PAR toolkit application. From the first application of the PAR toolkit, it became apparent that the need for accessible access and movement within the tram was paramount. This in turn prompted a research stream into what alternatives could be offered. This specifically dealt with the significant intrusion that the drive train of modern low floor trams have. During the course of the research two main possibilities appeared. The first option is the â€˜pancakeâ€™ electric motors which feature the possibility of hub mounting. The relevant feature here is that by mounting the motors within the circumference of the wheel space can reduce over packaging. This in turn lowers interior intrusion of the drive train.
fig. 24 The Lynch Pancake Electric Motor http://www.solarnavigator.net/lynch_motor.htm
fig. 25 PML Electric Motor http://www.caranddriver.com
fig. 26 Hydraulic Pump
fig. 27 Porposed Hydraulic Motor Cross Section
fig. 28 - 30 Technology Exploration
A second option is the application of hydraulic motors that would be pressurised from an electric motor. This option allows small, lightweight pumps to be mounted on smaller tram wheels. An added advantage could be to use automated valves within the pumps; this could switch pressure an electric motor to generate power for braking. Further research needs to be done to validate this proposal; yet hydraulic motors offer the ability to improve energy efficiency as well as improving interior spaces. In terms of the wider system picture, the proposal of a freight trailer features technology applications in its use. The system is computer controlled with the trailers having specific destinations and routes. Each trailer has an on board computer which communicates with the desired destination in order to be efficiently delivered. The mechanical coupling to the tram is computer controlled so that is can be disconnected at the correct stop without effecting tram timetables.
Future Developments: The coming weeks will see the final refinement of a tram proposal. This will allow for the basic CAD work to begin during the mid semester holiday break. The aim during this time is to produce an exterior model which can be used to create rough CNC foam form models. This will allow a constant level of refinement in the concept. The project will continue to use the PAR toolkit to explore interior tram development. This will allow for the interior environment of the tram to be modelled after the tram model has gone off for quoting / production. The intentioned is that this will be at the week 10 -11 time point.
fig. 31 Week 5 Tram Concept 1
fig. 32 Week 5 Tram Concept 2
fig. 32-33 Freight Container concept and exploration
Reflection: At the moment I feel the project, while going according to my initial schedule, is slowly dragging behind. During the course of the semester a significant amount of insight has been gained, yet an equal amount of questions have been raised. I feel I have been thorough in my work to date, yet so much more needs to be done. This is mainly concerned with offering a technical point of difference in terms of a drive train. My major concern is in the CAD modelling of the tram. I have never attempted such a difficult model, so the enormity of the situation can be daunting. I endeavour to systemically make small, detailed plans to construct the tram. I hope this allow the tram to be create piece by piece in a thorough manner.