PRI Magazine January 2014 : Page 26

W ith better technology producing more efficient parts, the level of compe-tition in motorsports today is at an all-time high, and racers—from grass-roots to professional—are looking for that extra advantage to give them an edge over their opponents. Many have found data acquisition and video logging to be an effective tool in their pursuit of the checkered flag. “In any form of racing, data is priceless,” stated John Spar of RePlay XD (a brand of Stable Imaging Solutions), Newbury Park, California. Tash Littlewood from MoTeC Systems, Croydon South, Victoria, Australia, agreed: “Data analysis is an integral part of motorsports these days, from entry level to the highest levels of professional racing. The more you know, the more power you have as a team. “Logged data can be an invaluable aid for improving driver performance and mon-itoring the health of the engine and other vehicle components,” she added. “Drivers can closely assess individual laps to hone their technique by identifying, for example, differences from their fastest lap, or fastest sections of the track. Data is also crucial for evaluating setup changes during testing and practice, and maintaining logging history can help teams prepare for the next outing at a particular venue.” Josh Hanrahan at AiM Sports in Lake Elsinore, California, also noted that data acquisition and video systems empower teams and drivers to make decisions quickly and accurately. “In this sport, time can be the difference between winning and never even making it to pre-grid, so every decision is time sensitive. As such, you want to be armed with as much quality information about a potential problem as possible, as soon as possible,” he explained. “Data acquisition is the car/driver’s dynamometer,” said Steve Hoelscher at Trivinci Systems, Sterling, Virginia. “It measures the many aspects of the car and driver’s performance on the track. That information can then be used to improve the car and driver’s performance.” Julian Thomas from Racelogic, Buckingham, Bucks, United Kingdom, added, “A lot of time and energy are spent on improving and analyzing the performance of a race car, but the driver’s performance is often neglected. The key is obtaining and focusing on the right kind of feedback, and that is where the com-bination of GPS speed and position data with synchronized video can really help. “The Racelogic Video VBOX products focus on developing the skills of the driver by distilling down the vast amount of data into something very easy to understand from a driver’s perspective that can be instantly put into practice,” he explained. Key Benefits Integrating data and video logging into your customers’ race programs can not only improve driver performance, but also save time and money—two things racers always need more of. “Correct implementation of data acqui-sition allows you to improve the driver, the chassis and the engine more effec-tively and in a more time and budget effi-cient manner than competitors working without this information,” explained Kris Carlson of Auto Meter/Stack Motorsports, Sycamore, Illinois. “Evaluating data cap-tured during a run and comparing it quickly to others allows a team to make necessary changes more rapidly and improve driver and crew communica-tions, which in turn reduces fuel usage, tire wear, brake consumption, and hours on the engine during practices and test sessions, for example. These savings allow you to better deploy resources (i.e. staff, budget, development, etc.) for the improvement of your program and pursuit of the championship. “The advantages do not end there, however, as the capacity for early detec-tion of component failures provides the Performance Racing Industry 26 | January 2014

Speed Channels: Advances In Data Acquisition & Video Logging

Christen D’Alessandro

With better technology producing more efficient parts, the level of competition in motorsports today is at an all-time high, and racers—from grassroots to professional—are looking for that extra advantage to give them an edge over their opponents. Many have found data acquisition and video logging to be an effective tool in their pursuit of the checkered flag. “In any form of racing, data is priceless,” stated John Spar of RePlay XD (a brand of Stable Imaging Solutions), Newbury Park, California.<br /> <br /> Tash Littlewood from MoTeC Systems, Croydon South, Victoria, Australia, agreed: “Data analysis is an integral part of motorsports these days, from entry level to the highest levels of professional racing. The more you know, the more power you have as a team.<br /> <br /> “Logged data can be an invaluable aid for improving driver performance and monitoring the health of the engine and other vehicle components,” she added. “Drivers can closely assess individual laps to hone their technique by identifying, for example, differences from their fastest lap, or fastest sections of the track. Data is also crucial for evaluating setup changes during testing and practice, and maintaining logging history can help teams prepare for the next outing at a particular venue.” <br /> <br /> Josh Hanrahan at AiM Sports in Lake Elsinore, California, also noted that data acquisition and video systems empower teams and drivers to make decisions quickly and accurately. “In this sport, time can be the difference between winning and never even making it to pre-grid, so every decision is time sensitive. As such, you want to be armed with as much quality information about a potential problem as possible, as soon as possible,” he explained.<br /> <br /> “Data acquisition is the car/driver’s dynamometer,” said Steve Hoelscher at Trivinci Systems, Sterling, Virginia. “It measures the many aspects of the car and driver’s performance on the track. That information can then be used to improve the car and driver’s performance.” <br /> <br /> Julian Thomas from Racelogic, Buckingham, Bucks, United Kingdom, added, “A lot of time and energy are spent on improving and analyzing the performance of a race car, but the driver’s performance is often neglected. The key is obtaining and focusing on the right kind of feedback, and that is where the combination of GPS speed and position data with synchronized video can really help.<br /> <br /> “The Racelogic Video VBOX products focus on developing the skills of the driver by distilling down the vast amount of data into something very easy to understand from a driver’s perspective that can be instantly put into practice,” he explained.<br /> <br /> Key Benefits <br /> <br /> Integrating data and video logging into your customers’ race programs can not only improve driver performance, but also save time and money—two things racers always need more of.<br /> <br /> “Correct implementation of data acquisition allows you to improve the driver, the chassis and the engine more effectively and in a more time and budget efficient manner than competitors working without this information,” explained Kris Carlson of Auto Meter/Stack Motorsports, Sycamore, Illinois. “Evaluating data captured during a run and comparing it quickly to others allows a team to make necessary changes more rapidly and improve driver and crew communications, which in turn reduces fuel usage, tire wear, brake consumption, and hours on the engine during practices and test sessions, for example. These savings allow you to better deploy resources (i.e. staff, budget, development, etc.) for the improvement of your program and pursuit of the championship.<br /> <br /> “The advantages do not end there, however, as the capacity for early detection of component failures provides the opportunity to avoid costly and otherwise unforeseen midseason expenses,” he continued. “Perhaps the most compelling benefit, however, is the potential for performance gain versus dollar spent on a powerful and easy-to-use data logger versus other hard parts.” <br /> <br /> Hanrahan added, “Another thing that data acquisition does is to help save money and time—which is the same as money in racing. Testing is extremely costly and can eat up a team or privateer’s budget quickly. Data can be the difference between running three sessions to shakedown the car and a particular setup for the next race, or renting the track out for the weekend, going through numerous sets of tires, and using the trial-and-error method to determine what the fastest setup is.” <br /> <br /> “A good data acquisition system can drastically reduce the amount of time spent getting a combination up to a competitive pace. With the limited testing and reduced resources some of our racers are experiencing these days, collecting a lot of data during a run is no longer a luxury, but almost a necessity to be competitive,” concluded Clayton West from Edelbrock, Torrance, California.<br /> <br /> Video Integration <br /> <br /> Although data alone is a powerful source for racers, when it’s integrated with video, efficiency is bound to increase even more with the visual aspect to help further analyze the data. “Video integration to data can increase the level of information and bring to it a faster interpretation of the data logged,” noted Fred Renz from Yoyodyne, Morristown, New Jersey.<br /> <br /> “While data acquisition alone tells what happened on track, video tells why, thus the pairing of video and data is key to maximizing the value of each,” Hoelscher said.<br /> <br /> “Regardless of the source—engine data, suspension data, tire data, aero data, driver data, etc.—the term ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ holds true,” Spar echoed. “Data traces and color graphs show a lot, but if the team engineer, crew or driver can translate some of that info more effectively through video, it speeds up the learning curve. Video often shows what sometimes may be overlooked with traditional data acquisition.” <br /> <br /> Patrick Wagenbrenner of iON America, Moorestown, New Jersey, also noted, “With such significant investments being made in race vehicles—the latest in performance parts upgrades as well as the personnel to maximize output—among the most economical and efficient tools is the use of video logging equipment, such as the iON Air Pro 2 HD POV Camera. The affordability of these cameras has allowed teams to place cameras throughout the vehicle to serve a range of functions.<br /> <br /> “While data logging systems are able to provide detailed feedback, such as throttle and brake position, fluid temperatures and other vital details, the use of a POV camera and video logging provides mechanics and crew chiefs the ability to visually monitor functions, such as having cameras placed strategically to aid in chassis and suspension tuning,” he added.<br /> <br /> “Video systems with real-time embedded data, like our SmartyCam HD, makes the data-video integration even more seamless and the feedback that much more valuable as a training tool,” Hanrahan noted. “Overall, the use of data and video in racing is all about creating the most complete picture possible for both driver and race craft from which to make often split-second judgments off of.” <br /> <br /> “The data logger that continues to amaze and excite me is the AiM Solo,” noted John Haydon from Pegasus Auto Racing Supplies, New Berlin, Wisconsin (a distributor for AiM Sports). “This is a self-contained on-board lap timer that triggers each lap based on GPS data instead of a separate infrared transmitting beacon.<br /> <br /> “It also uses vehicle position and time to calculate and record speed and acceleration on three axes,” he continued. “All of the data can be downloaded and examined in AiM’s powerful Race Studio Analysis software.” <br /> <br /> Haydon added, “The SoloDL is a little Less than twice the price of the Solo, but it also has the capability to log engine and vehicle data from your ECU. Connect the SoloDL to the AiM SmartyCam HD video camera, and you’ll turn this little lap timer into a full-function video logging system.” <br /> <br /> Data & Video Offerings <br /> <br /> The top sellers for Auto Meter/Stack Motorsports are its Digital Video Loggers and Multi-Function Display products. “The Digital Video Logger is developed specifically for motorsports use, can accept up to four camera inputs, and can combine with GPS and CANbus data feeds in a precision synchronized analysis package,” Carlson explained. “This system is compatible with our current and legacy product designs to allow for expansion or upgrade of their feature set, and includes our DataPro analysis software pack.<br /> <br /> Yoyodyne now offers a new data analysis software, DigiRace-MXX. “In this release we added the video features, allowing any video file to be assigned a data session,” Renz explained. “This way the user can choose between several panel layouts to see the video beside the data graphs and charts. 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, featuring also the track map with current position marker.” <br /> <br /> MoTeC has long specialized in all-in-one units, and recently introduced its first color display, the C125. “It features a high-resolution, full-color, five-inch LCD screen and built-in, fully programmable LED warning lights, Littlewood said.” <br /> <br /> In addition, “integration with existing electronics is key, so there are optional adapters available to connect the C125 to aftermarket ECUs, and also directly into the OBD-II port on modern vehicles to access the factory ECU data,” Littlewood continued. “This convenient connection provides a slick solution for those with moderate data logging requirements.” <br /> <br /> Last year, MoTeC introduced a High Definition Video Capture System (HDVCS), which includes a compact camera designed specifically for motorsports. Features include high definition footage with 1080p at 30 frames per second, an automatic start/stop function, and over five hours of footage on the 32 GB removable SD card.<br /> <br /> “The HD-VCS can automatically record data onto the video with no post processing,” Littlewood explained. “On playback, a set of gauges overlays the action, enabling a more complete review of each lap. The data displayed will depend on which sensors are installed, but the set includes throttle position, ground speed, Rpm, G-force, brake switch or pressure, gear; and lap information is currently in development for a future release.” <br /> <br /> The HD-VCS is compatible with any of MoTeC’s dash or data loggers—old or new—and can also be used as a standalone, but no gauges will be recorded, Littlewood noted. “Automatic synchronization with MoTeC’s i2 data analysis software enables users to review detailed data alongside video footage, without having to manually synchronize the two.” <br /> <br /> The Video VBOX Lite is Racelogic’s best selling system, according to Thomas. The VBOX HD is the company’s latest product, “which brings together all of the driver development features from our existing products, along with crystal clear, vibration resistant video using a Global Shutter sensor designed specifically for motorsports,” Thomas explained.<br /> <br /> With all Video VBOX products, “every part of the process has been refined and simplified using feedback from both professional and amateur racers. The hardware knows where it is and configures itself for the particular circuit you are on; the simple in-car display shows a really useful, accurate live ‘delta-T’ value, the recording starts and stops automatically and the data transfer is made as simple as possible.<br /> <br /> “The software then scans through each session and picks out the fastest laps and compares them in an easy-to-use and intuitive fashion,” Thomas added.<br /> <br /> Trivinci’s Race-Keeper HD2 “is the first true high definition, 1080p, dual stream, multi-camera video data logger. It can record two 1080p HD video streams from two 1080p HD cameras with built-in image stabilization, along with data from the integrated 20 Hz GPS and accelerometer and the vehicle’s OBDII or CAN bus,” Hoelscher explained. The video and data are recorded on a USB 3 for super fast download and, using Race-Keeper Comparo analysis software, play back together automatically sync’d together.<br /> <br /> “As with all Race-Keeper systems, there is no need to copy files individually, Tag files in third party software, or manually sync the video and data,” he continued. “Race-Keeper HD2 video can also be played in most popular media players as well as on your big screen HD TV.” <br /> <br /> In 2013, Autosport Labs released RaeCapture/Pro, a cloud-connected data acquisition system with deep support for real time telemetry. With this real time telemetry link, the race car will stream its vital information directly to the cloud at racecapture.com where it can be monitored track-side by pit crews or by professional race coaches or fans thousands of miles away, according to Brent Picasso.<br /> <br /> “RaceCapture/Pro shatters both the price point and capabilities of existing telemetry solutions, allowing drivers and race teams real time feedback during the race, remote coaching from any distance, and even live sharing online with race fans,” he explained.<br /> <br /> “For those racers who want a real-time dashboard, RaceCapture/Pro offers a Bluetooth module add-on to connect RaceCapture/Pro to their Android tablet or smartphone,” Picasso continued. “Racers can choose multiple views, emphasizing lap times, including split times, custom gauges, or a dymanic GPS track map showing current location vs. best lap location.” RaceCapture/Pro also has GoPro camera synchronization capabilities.<br /> <br /> Edelbrock offers two versions of its QuickData 2 data acquisition systems— basic and advanced. “Our advanced system is our best selling unit, mainly because of its versatility and lower average cost than some other offerings. It’s a complete kit that offers a lot of features commonly found in higher priced kits, but without the big price tag,” West said. “Our Basic kit is a good option for people who already have some of their own sensors and simply want to upgrade to a modern acquisition system.” <br /> <br /> The SOLO line of GPS-based data logging products from AiM Sports has become very popular, according to Hanrahan, and fits well with the current trend toward making data acquisition accessible to all racers. “The design goal behind SOLO was to make it intuitive and even enjoyable to use,” he explained.<br /> <br /> “You’re able to visualize your lap times in a variety of ways, and it even has an integrated predictive lap timing view that constantly calculates what time you are currently on pace to set based on track position,” Hanrahan added about SOLO. “Or, if you’d rather compete against your personal best of the session, SOLO has a +/- best view as well.<br /> <br /> “The system comes preloaded with all of the major US tracks, so there’s no need to set a start/finish marker or fuss with timing beacons,” he continued. “SOLO has an internal rechargeable lithium battery with a six-hour life. The system Records lap times, speed, driving position (track map), lateral and longitudinal acceleration, and allows you to download it all for analysis in RaceStudio2.” <br /> <br /> The most recent development from Racepak Data Systems in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, is its Bluetooth enabled V500SD drag race data recorder. “This provides the ability to make updates and changes to the data recorder or stream data to the user’s PC while the vehicle is stationary, without the necessity of connecting any type of cable from the user’s PC to the data recorder,” Tim Anderson explained.<br /> <br /> Ion’s Air Pro 2 offers “high resolution 1080p image quality, durable lightweight packaging that doesn’t require an external housing to be waterproof, one-touch record with vibration to let you know it’s working, 180-degree field of view, and a 14 megapixel sensor, along with an iOS and Android app that allows you to not only control camera functions via your smartphone, but also upload content to your social media outlets as well,” Wagenbrenner explained.<br /> <br /> Other offerings from iON include the Adventure and The Game. “Personal POV cameras are a necessary component to maximize the significant investment that teams are making in their programs,” Wagenbrenner added. “I would argue that these cameras are the single best investment a team can make to get the most out of their drivers and equipment.” <br /> <br /> Last year, RePlay XD enhanced its systems with secondary audio input for radio communication, remote start/stop and auto start/stop functions, Spar noted. “This year, RePlay XD has added full CAN control and video sync time code to allow our systems to better integrate with all data systems. RePlay XD incorporates the latest full 1080p high speed processors to allow 1080p at much higher frame rates coupled with the highest resolution image sensors and finest lens.” <br /> <br /> RePlay XD camera systems “have become synonymous for their unmatched size, durability and value,” noted Spar. He cited RePlay XD’s HD image sensors, cinema designed optics and high speed HD processors, plus the ultra long life Lithium ion batteries, simple user controls, superior profile setup options, and more. “All this is complemented by purpose built, versatile billet mounting systems, flexible RePower power options, data Interface compatibility and more.<br /> <br /> “In 2014, RePlay XD is revolutionizing the video category again with the ‘Power of Prime.’ The new RePlay XD Prime Series will redefine the world of motorsports video,” Spar added.<br /> <br /> The Whistler Group in Bentonville, Arkansas, offers various data acquisition and video logging products, including two TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) models—the Tire Scout and Tire Doctor—both providing real time information regarding tire inflation status, Leslie Folsom explained.<br /> <br /> Additionally, the Rush! from Whistler is two products in one—an Action Cam and an Automotive Digital Video Recorder—capable of capturing footage in extreme environments that a normal video camera can’t handle, according to Folsom. “The ultra compact design, waterproof protection case and multiple universal mounting options provide the ability to mount the camera almost anywhere to capture amazing racing footage.<br /> <br /> “The Rush! records video in full 1080HD, records audio, supports up to 32G dual Micro SD cards, utilizes a twohour rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery. Recordings can be viewed real time or played back on the built-in color monitor. Also included are HDMI and A/V cables for playback of recorded real time driving or racing events, road or track conditions, or driver reactions as viewed from the cockpit for later review and analysis,” Folsom concluded.<br /> <br /> Leading San Diego, California-based Sony Electronics’ offerings for the racing industry is its Action Cam. “Small, lightweight, rugged and aerodynamic,” is how Gregory Herd described the Action Cam by Sony, which he noted is an easy and quick way for racers to capture video. “In addition to fast 60 frame-per-second HD video capture, Action Cam offers our SteadyShot image stabilization technology and GPS data logging.<br /> <br /> “And with Action Cam’s WiFi connectivity, teams can control and see the camera’s view by connecting to their phone or to our new Live View Remote—a wrist watch-style device with built-in LCD screen,” he added.<br /> <br /> “Action Cam’s video and data logging can benefit race teams with an inexpensive, easy-to-capture combination of video and telemetry information,” Herd continued. “Since the camera’s GPS sensor captures location and speed precisely, teams can see exactly what the driver and car are doing at any point on the track.” <br /> <br /> In addition to Action Cam, Sony also offers its Digital Recording Binoculars. “A breakthrough in long-range viewing, Sony’s binoculars are a digital evolution of an analog product,” Herd described. “They allow a longer zoom and a steadier view than regular binoculars, and, of course, they record what you see.” <br /> <br /> Selling Systems <br /> <br /> Selling data acquisition and video logging systems is an effective way for racing retailers to forge a relationship with their customers. “A system is something that can grow with the customer’s abilities and needs, allowing for follow-up sales opportunities of new components as well as consumable items like sensors and cabling,” Carlson said. “It provides your customer with a method for determining which parts they’re going to need next, specifically by helping to establish what they need to go faster.<br /> <br /> “If you are in a position to help your customer analyze data, or simply review problem areas from time to time, it also allows you to tailor your product sales more closely to their specific needs,” he said.<br /> <br /> Hanrahan mentioned the high demand for these systems. “Drivers want to review their lap times and watch their race footage, you don’t have to convince them. All retailers have to do is stock the product and perhaps answer a question or two along the way. The industry has made great strides in designing data and video solutions that are as easy and approachable as possible for the user,” he explained.<br /> <br /> West from Edelbrock concluded, “If you don’t sell these products, someone else will and your customer will go elsewhere. The electronics side of this business is where a lot of retailers fall short. Almost anyone can sell a cylinder head, but it takes a savvy person to understand both the electronics side and the hard parts side of the business.<br /> <br /> “If a customer can purchase everything from one, knowledgeable source, then it would be a big deciding factor for a majority of customers.”

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