PRI Magazine January 2013 : Page 38
“In motorsports , the margin between success and failure can be a fraction of a second,” noted Michael Lutak from Stack, Sycamore, Illinois. “The job of any data acquisition system is to gather, then present, the data efﬁ ciently and accurately, and the driver is to use that information to gain an advantage.” “Video is the missing link between what actually happened on track and what the data says happened,” added Josh Hanrahan from AiM Sports, Lake Elsinore, California. “It is a crucial part of the learning process not only for driver development, but also for race craft set up.” “Not having video is perceived as a missing element in the product offerings,” said Randy Chase, ChaseCam, San Diego, California. “Any standalone data acquisition company needs to either work with a video supplier or provide their own solution. “Video product development is expensive and the target keeps moving,” he continued. “It may not make sense for a higher end data acquisition company to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a video solution if one already exists.” Chase also mentioned, “In general, the dollars spent per car are lower. But there are more cars with data and video than ever before. The positive news is that more people can afford to get video and data, and this opens up the market as these users learn why they wanted video and data.” Although data systems have included video integration as an option for years now, the video quality hasn’t been as strong as now. And now video is easier and less expensive to attain. “Most systems are standard deﬁ nition (640 x 480) and analog, so they can easily interface with the data system,” said John Spar of Stable Imaging Solutions (Replay XD), Newbury Park, California. “A few HD analog systems have evolved, but typically carry a high cost, and the video image is inferior to what some of the more economical digital HD camera systems capture.” Hanrahan added, “Because video is becoming such a fun-damental part of any race program, data systems and software are now making this integration as seamless as possible. Many new software packages have video synchronization built in, so that with just a few clicks of the mouse you can easily sync Performance Racing Industry 38 | January 2013
Record Additional Sales Of Data Acquisition & Video Logging Systems
DATA ACQUISTION AND VIDEO LOGGING CONTINUE TO BECOME MORE IMPORTANT COMPONETS OF SUCCESSFUL RACE PROGRAMS. AND BECAUSE THIS CQUIPMENT EVOLVES AT SUCH A FAST PACE, RACE TEAMS NEED TO UPGRADE THEIR SYSTEMS OFTEN IN ORDER TO STAY COMPETITIVE.
“In motorsports, the margin between success and failure can be a fraction of a second,” noted Michael Lutak from Stack, Sycamore, Illinois. “The job of any data acquisition system is to gather, then present, the data efficiently and accurately, and the driver is to use that information to gain an advantage.”
“Video is the missing link between what actually happened on track and what the data says happened,” added Josh Hanrahan from AiM Sports, Lake Elsinore, California. “It is a crucial part of the learning process not only for driver development, but also for race craft set up.”
“Not having video is perceived as a missing element in the product offerings,” said Randy Chase, ChaseCam, San Diego, California. “Any standalone data acquisition company needs to either work with a video supplier or provide their own solution.
“Video product development is expensive and the target keeps moving,” he continued. “It may not make sense for a higher end data acquisition company to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a video solution if one already exists.”
Chase also mentioned, “In general, the dollars spent per car are lower. But there are more cars with data and video than ever before. The positive news is that more people can afford to get video and data, and this opens up the market as these users learn why they wanted video and data.”
Although data systems have included video integration as an option for years now, the video quality hasn’t been as strong as now. And now video is easier and less expensive to attain.
“Most systems are standard definition (640 x 480) and analog, so they can easily interface with the data system,” said John Spar of Stable Imaging Solutions (Replay XD), Newbury Park, California. “A few HD analog systems have evolved, but typically carry a high cost, and the video image is inferior to what some of the more economical digital HD camera systems capture.”
Hanrahan added, “Because video is becoming such a fundamental part of any race program, data systems and software are now making this integration as seamless as possible. Many new software packages have video synchronization built in, so that with just a few clicks of the mouse you can easily sync your video and data quickly for analysis. In fact, video is becoming so dominant as an analysis tool that many companies are using it as the foundation on which to develop their systems; not the other way around, as it was in the past.
“On the hardware side, there are more and more bridging accessories and modules coming out that allow you to connect your existing data systems to a variety of new third party video cameras,” he added.
Racers always want more data, “because more must be better, right?” noted Hanrahan. “Well, rather than just giving our customers more data, we have decided to give them the data that they need first, and then make it even easier to search for more if it is indeed necessary. After all, with all of those ones and zeros flying around it’s becoming increasingly easier to get lost in the data-sphere and lose sight of what’s truly important—to make you and the car go faster.” Jamie Augustine from MoTeC in Croydon South, Victoria, Australia, noted, “People these days are accustomed to watching high-definition television so they expect this image quality from other equipment; PAL and NTSC are no longer good enough.”
Tim Anderson, Racepak Data Systems, Rancho Santa Margarita, California, said, “Racers are being more careful with their data budget and purchasing more entrylevel data loggers than in years past, but still adding about the same number of external sensors or cameras.”
Racers and teams are always looking for an advantage, identifying when, where and why vital time was won or lost, noted Lutak of Stack. “Stack’s data acquisition and video logging systems offer the means to do exactly that—simply and clearly even in the harshest environments,” he said.
Stack Digital Video Loggers (DVL) have a built-in CAN interface, enabling connection to a Stack Display or Logging System, and many third party ECUs, to provide synchronous data and video recording and/or overlay of data channels in the video, Lutak explained. “Our DVLs not only record high quality MPEG2 video and audio from four camera inputs and two audio inputs, but up to 128 channels of data, including GPS and the internal threeaxis G-sensor channels,” he added.
“Using Stack’s powerful but easy to use DataPro data analysis program, the track map can be calculated from the GPS data, or from inertial data (speed, lateral G-force),” Lutack said. “Any point on the track map can be selected with one mouse-click, allowing the user to navigate through the video and data with pinpoint precision. The user can compare two laps of data from different drivers, runs, cars, etc. With the addition of side-by-side video recordings, and single frame-stepping through the data, now you can literally see where and when time between two drivers/runs is gained or lost.” Stack continues to bring forward new features that make the CLUBMAN-3 and PRO-4 DVL even better value. It has also seen success with its batteryless Tire Pressure & Monitoring System (TPMS).“The batteryless TPMS has extended the inherent sensor life from 1–5 years to 10–15 years,” Lutak explained. “Having no batteries eliminates the requirement to replace batteries in-season, reducing operating costs and increasing long-term system reliability.”
“The days of using a separate camera and data logger are fast coming to an end—motorsport enthusiasts from occasional track day enthusiasts to all-out racers want an easy, combined solution that gives them immediate feedback,” noted Mike Broadbent from Racelogic, Buckingham, Bucks, United Kingdom.
Racelogic offers Video VBOX, which has been a great success the last four years, according to Broadbent. It’s made to be easy to use “so that the customer can set it up and have instant access to video and data that will help him be a faster driver,” he explained. “Our product is a one-box solution for video recording with graphical overlay, time-synched with GPS and CAN Bus of sensor data logging.
“The introduction of the predictive lap timing derived by GPS position rather than distance has played a major part in the success of the Video VBOX—we rarely sell one without an accompanying OLED display now,” he added.
For 2013, Racelogic is working on a high-definition video data logger.
Yoyodyne in Morristown, New Jersey, recently released the 2.0 version of its data analysis software, DigiRace-MXX.“We added the video features, allowing any video file to be assigned a data session. In this way the user can choose between several panel layouts to see the video beside the data graphs and charts,” Fred Renz explained. “The software makes available a powerful, smart interactive feature to easily sync the video to the data.
“The software also allows you to encode a new video file with data overlay shown through one of the supplied graphic dashboard layouts, also featuring the track map with current position marker,” Renz added.
Yoyodyne will also be releasing its camera line in an upcoming catalog.
At ChaseCam, “we are working with Sony and their new Action Cameras and developing a data and control product that will work seamlessly with the Sony HD recordings,” Chase said.
ChaseCam is also developing a new product with FLIR “to be able to record dynamic changes to tire temps as the car is on the track,” Chase explained.
“We feel this can be really useful once people see how quickly the tire temperature changes and how they react across the contact patch.”
MoTeC is introducing a true High Definition camera system, designed Specifically for racing. “Footage from the HD Video Capture System, or HD-VCS, will automatically synchronize with logged data in MoTeC’s i2 data analysis software, providing maximum detail for comprehensive analysis,” said Augustine.
“The HD-VCS is also ideal for those racers who want to play back video with basic data without having to use sophisticated analysis programs like i2,” Augustine continued. “Most video systems can only overlay data (e.g. gauges) after post-processing, meaning customers must use special software and wait while data is synchronized and placed onto the video. MoTeC’s HD-VCS, however, will automatically overlay gauges onto the video—no waiting, no extra software.”
The HD-VCS can be a useful safety tool as well for race tracks. “The quality of still shots from high-definition video means MoTeC’s new camera system is ideal for category management and incident investigation,” Augustine said. “Frame by frame, the HD footage will clearly show incidents such as passing under yellow flags and collisions. Still shots from regular video systems are usually coarse and blurry and therefore unreliable; with MoTeC’s HD-VCS they look like photos, eliminating argument.”
In addition, “MoTeC’s HD-VCS uses 12V power—no batteries required— and has automatic CAN start/stop so all drivers have to worry about is driving,” Augustine added.
To help entry-level racers get into data and realize its benefits, MoTeC has introduced CDL3 Track Logging Kits “that contain everything club racers need to get started on a tight budget,” Augustine explained. “The kits include shift lights, 10 Hz GPS, pre-wired buttons and plug-in looms. Using optional adapter looms, the system can communicate with many brands of aftermarket ECU or plug straight into the OBD-II socket on modern cars to access important vehicle data from the factory ECU.”
Zeitronix in Torrance, California, released the Black Box Data Logger, “which can record up to a month time length of data on a single micro SD memory card,” Zbigniew Szwalgin noted. “Moreover, the Black Box Data Logger retains uncorrupted data even after power loss in case of a catastrophic engine failure, helping with engine failure analysis.
“All Zeitronix products are designed and manufactured in the USA with stringent design guidelines and several steps of quality control,” he added.
Racepak is introducing a couple of new camera trigger modules, “designed to trigger from one to four external Go Pro HD or RePlay HD cameras, along with an upgrade to our current video software, which provides improved integration of a variety of video formats,” Anderson said.
AEM in Hawthorne, California, offers its AQ-1 Data Logger, in which users are “able to output their log files into third party software that will sync it with video files,” Lawson Mollica said.
New for AEM is its AEMdata software analysis. “It has advanced 3D graphics, a customizable user interface that lets you position track maps, strip charts, gauges, tables and more, and also create tabs for quick reference to channels that can be saved,” Mollica explained.
“To set up a channel, you simply drag and drop the channel you want to log from the menu into the strip chart, gauge, etc., and it will log it,” he continued. “If you want to change a logged channel on a display, like a gauge, you drag the new function to the gauge and it changes it. Users can define color changes for logged channels, allowing a trace to change color if it exceeds a defined parameter. Other cool features include custom math channels, x/y plots, histograms, staged or circuit mode and track mapping.”
AiM Sports is developing a new camera system designed to overcome many of the challenges the motorsports environment presents. “To combat the harsh vibration, constantly changing landscape, and the artifacts that result, we’ve come up with a high-definition camera that uses a global shutter CMOS sensor,” Hanrahan noted. “The advantage of the global shutter CMOS imager, combined with a high frame rate, is that it eliminates the skewing and wavy artifacts prevalent in most race video.”
AiM also offers its new event management software technology where “users will be able to establish rules for managing and displaying data,” Hanrahan explained. “For example, if you only want to display and record oil pressure on the car when it falls below a given threshold— say 15 psi—otherwise you really don’t care to display or log it, our software will allow you to do just that. The new interface makes it easy to create simple or more complex logic scenarios that line in the data logging system, liberating the user by only reporting exactly what they need when they need it.”
RePlay XD has developed a CAN Bus harness to allow virtually any data system to drive the RePlay XD1080 HD camera or cameras, according to Spar. “The CAN harness allows communication between the data system and the camera to keep the video and data synced so that when you import your high-quality digital HD video file into your data file, they automatically match up. This also eliminates the need to start and stop the cameras manually. The data system can do it for you based on the settings you program,” he said.
RePlay XD strives to offer limitless video integration solutions, Spar noted. “Our HD camera systems are half the size, half the weight, easier to use, all with a simple and intuitive haptic-button interface.They feature an all-aluminum waterresistant construction.”
Spar cited the company’s high-quality billet aluminum chassis race mounts. “Our standard mounts included in our systems provide beautiful, stable, helmet-mounted or vehicle-mounted video.
“We also have the most versatile types of power options that allow our systems to be powered in three different ways,” he added. “First, with our built-in Lithium Ion battery that provides up to two hours of record time. Secondly, our cameras can be connected to either our RePower 2200 or RePower 4400 Lithium Ion Power packs to offer up to three-and-a-half hours or six-and-a-half hours of additional video record time. And third, we can hardwire our systems directly into the race vehicle with either our CAN Bus Data harness, our dash mounted start/stop switch harness, or our simple 12–24 volt power harness.
“The RePlay XD systems can be manually controlled, CAN controlled, or we even offer an auto start/stop function that detects when external power is delivered or stopped to the cameras,” Spar said.“We even offer secondary audio on virtually every application. This lets you pipe in radio or scanner communication easily while you are recording.”
Daytona Sensors in South Daytona, Florida, isn’t in the market for standalone data logging systems, but supplies its WEGO (wide-band exhaust gas oxygen) sensor interfaces that determine engine air/fuel ratio to several data logging system vendors, said Chris Schroeder.
“Our WEGO product line for monitoring air/fuel ratio includes single and dual channel units with built-in data logging,” he noted. “These units log air/fuel ratio, rpm, and, on fuel injected vehicles, throttle position. The software allows analysis of the data and printout of tables showing required percentage fuel corrections based on rpm and throttle position.
“Our own products, such as our CD-1 Capacitive Discharge Ignition, NC-2 progressive Nitrous Controller, TC-1 Turbo Controller and SL-1 Shift Light, have basic data logging capability builtin,” Schroeder added. “Once a standard Windows software module for downloading logged data was developed, the incremental cost of adding data logging to these products was very low.
“The data logging feature allows entrylevel data logging with basic information such as rpm, vehicle speed, ignition advance, manifold pressure, throttle position, battery voltage, input and output signal status, and air/fuel ratio (when an optional WEGO unit is connected),” he said. “This is a starting point for racers who have not yet budgeted for a more comprehensive data logging system.”
The data logging feature also allows diagnostics. “If a system is not working properly at the track, the data logging capability allows the racer to quickly determine the cause of the problem.Most problems are the result of improper setup or loss of some sensor signal, such as a faulty switch input. This diagnostic capability reduces unnecessary warranty returns and tech support headaches,” Schroder explained.
Giovanni Tomaselli from Ion America, Somerset, New Jersey, noted, “The key to our messaging is shoot/share, and this is the future. Everything we are doing is focused on delivering the ability to share in real time. You will see product focused on delivering the data that they want wirelessly with the ability to shoot, store, secure and share in real time the video content along with all the data points.”
Ion’s newest product, Ion Adventure, has GPS built in “that can deliver speed, acceleration and location. The product also has a vibration sensor so it will always record when the car is in motion, and it has a looping mode for recording,” Tomaselli said.
He added, “Budgets are tight but our product is very affordable and is a third of what a system cost three years ago for video logging, so we see a huge interest from even the basic enthusiast.”
Changes in the racing industry continue to accelerate, introducing several factors that impact the data acquisition and video logging market.“The first is the rise of inexpensive solutions—some that bring a smaller set of features, but at a greatly reduced investment,” explained Randy Chase of ChaseCam, San Diego, California.“The increased use of smartphones and tablets will continue. Lower cost video recording devices, such as the offerings from GoPro and Sony, have opened up the video markets, and the ability to overcome the inherent limitations of the smartphone as a recording device will continue to develop.”
The middle of the market will continue to see offerings from companies that either supply their own video recording device or can control an external video device. “Some of these will offer simple control so that the data and video recording are close to the same start time.
Some enable the data and video to be automatically synced within one frame of the video,” Chase said.
“Some of the middle tier will continue to offer an all-in-one video and data recorder that offers more features than the lowerend products, including multiple video windows, audio mixing and gain selection, auto recording based on triggers, and the ability to run off the car’s power,” he continued. “When the user comes off the track, the recording is done and ready to upload or view.”
At the upper end of the market, it’s necessary to be able to merge the many data channels into video. “This end of the market demands features such as multiple windows, data display and analysis tools,” Chase explained.
“There is some demand for real time data overlay, but often the ability to massage and query the data is more important for car and driver development.Here, the ability to have automatic data and video sync is very important, as is data integrity.
“Of course, there are not simply three separate markets here. These three tiers merge and morph into each other, and each user has their own requirements as to what makes the most sense,” Chase concluded.