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Data recording in motor sports

Data recording in motor sports
Data recording in motor sports
Success in the motor sport can only be reached by experience. Old drivers have appropriated their experiences during many years and permanent tests and drives. The clever ones under them have documented their results and carry reference books with them in which one can find the now needed information. The time and effort these people invested in order to gain these experiences was so big that they now keep it all secret. And this will always be the same.

For the modern motor sport there are very powerful and cheap devices, recording different physical values during the drive and afterwards showing these to the mechanics as a replay on the display or graphically on the computer. The test data can be completed with comments and information so that one is able to comprehend exactly, even after many years, which setting and material is important to reach a fast lap. These are experiences that one is able to collect during a very short time, but time and effort are less, everything is faster than years before and the authenticity is guaranteed. In other words: data recording makes faster fast.

Everyone believing that only the possession of a data recording device makes one go faster is mistaken. There is no device on the whole world telling the driver what he or she has to do in order to go faster. Data recording documents merely what, where and when happened namely incorrupt and accurate.

In the motor sport there are 4 important areas deciding about success and failure: the engine, the chassis, the aerodynamics and the driver. They all can be tuned more or less depending on the regulation. But every technical tuning is more expensive than the tuning at the driver. Here one can find a lot of potential, unless the driver is called Rossi or Schumacher.

Also one has to watch what the driver is doing during his or her drive. Therefore we assemble sensors in the vehicle that registers the following conditions:
  • Speed
  • RPM 
  • Gear
  • Lap time 
  • Gas-grip as the case may be –pedal position
  • Brake pressure 
  • Lateral- and longitudinal-acceleration, respectively gyroscope
If necessary a steering angle sensor for the car. And with all this we are able to see everything what the driver is doing. We can now compare the captured data from different laps graphically, in diagrams or as a simulation and ascertain if the driver could have driven a faster lap if he or she would haven been fitter and would have driven more constantly. We can see if the driver is respectful in special situation, if he or she uses the wrong gear and also when the driver breaks to early into a corner, releases the brake again and afterwards brakes at the right moment. We also can see how long the driver lets the vehicle “push” without accelerating before he or she brakes. All this affects the lap times negatively and when recognizing this, it can be implemented into faster lap times without much effort and high costs. Because an AIM data recording system with the necessary sensors costs not more than 1500€ (MyChron3 gold)

AIM MyChron 3

AIM MyChron 3
AIM MyChron 3
We recognized that one can have even more success if the data of the faster drivers can be used for a comparison: Therefore all cars of the ADAC-Volkswagen Polo-Cup are provided with AIM data recording systems of the type MyChron3 XG-LOG. After each session every driver gets his or her own data on an USB stick and for the comparison the data of one of the five fastest drivers. Therewith even the slowest driver knows where he or she lost time. In the end there is an assistant from memotec analyzing the data together with each driver, so that they learn how to cope with it. The result is that often more than 20 drivers are inside 101% of the best time even though they don’t have any testing possibility beside the 30 minute free practice. Therefore the cars are technically absolutely identical (even this demonstrates data recording again and again).

Therewith the ADAC, Volkswagen and memotec demonstrate that it can be very cheap to conduct motor sport at the highest stage at very low costs. In the Polo-Cup the driver decides about the results of the race not the engineers, strategist or the moneybag. The XG-LOG is the top-device of the AIM MyChron3 family and because of the compatibility to the CAN-Bus it features in the Cup-Polo nearly 40 channels for not even 2000 €.
Andy Meklau Bike Analysis speed ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup
Andy Meklau Analysis speed ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup

Since 2004 Suzuki Europe International has equipped the super bikes of Andy Meklau und Markus Wegscheider with the AIM MXL. This data recording leaves nothing to be desired. Especially the drivers are sold on this device because of its well readable display and its reliability. The data engineers swear on the easy handling of this system and the AIM-software Race Studio2, and those who have to buy it swear on the cost-performance-ratio. This device captures also chassis-, engine- and race track data.

Drack Evo 3

AIM Drack evo 3
AIM Drack evo 3
With the Drack Evo3 there are consistent logger for karts, cars, motor bikes and boats, no matter where the rpm is tapped. We have logger with 2, 4, 8 or 13 analogue channels. By the modular extension you can make up to 113 analogue and 35 digital channels. Each logger disposes of two acceleration sensors and one non-volatile RAM-memory with at least 2 MB ex factory. The 8- and 13-channel logger can be upgraded to a 32 MB. These devices are able to save up to 5000 measurements per second and up to 1000 per channel. There are versions with single-bushings for the connection of the analogue sensors via plugged or screwed connections or with the wiring harness and bayonet-connector of the specific vehicle. The data transference occurs in less than 5 seconds (2 MB) and the waterproof boxes are able to process data from the CAN-Bus having an integrated accumulator with a charger. The device will be charged via a 12V power socket of the transporter or the on-board power-supply of the vehicle. Currently there are 4 different displays available. 

The functional principle is quite easy: A series of sensors transforms physical sizes (e.g. speed, temperature, pressure, movement and so on) into electrical signals which will be recorded digitally. After the drive the data will be transferred into the computer and shown in different ways: e.g. graphically (x/y – diagram, bar graph), in table form or as a simulation where two colored dots circuit the race track in different laps. In this simulation even the banking of motor bikes can be shown for every dot of the race track. Using algebraically programs the computer is able to calculate the wheel power of the vehicle, shows the gear that was used in the sections or gives information about how fast a driver could have been if he or she would have driven the sections optimally. Using special functions the drivability can be analyzed. Therefore the user is able to create his or her formulas. If even this is not enough, you can transform the data into an Excel-chart or other programs.

With the data of one lap the computer calculates the routing of the race track and creates a colored sketch where the segments can be changed arbitrarily. Here it doesn’t matter if the race track is a circuit or an open race track (e.g. a mountain race track). In conjunction with the available diagrams the measurements of every channel can be determined and displayed for every dot of the race track. With this device one is also able to show and compare the data of different laps, tests, drivers, vehicles and so on in a diagram.

Charts for minimal- and maximal data per lap give as well information about changes one made as histograms, showing the distribution of the parameters within percent- and time-intervals. The integrated analysis function for the engine, acceleration or gear gives information about the performance of the engine and gearing. One is able to get an exact braking point without additional sensors using the longitudinal acceleration, with which one can see if the driver really braked at the right moment. The indication of the wheel power shows the differences between different engines or other components. Even the slip between wheel and lane can be acquired.

AIM Drack evo 3
AIM Drack evo 3
In the basic-kits are always the logger with inputs for sensors for rpm, speed, 2 accelerations, lap time, battery voltage, ambient air temperature and depending on the logger 2, 4, 8 or 13 analogue inputs integrated by which additional temperatures, movements, pressures, forces or the pulse of the driver can be captured and recorded. Included in delivery are the software RaceStudio and a light-dash.

We have compiled particular kits for special Cup-touring cars and brand-formula vehicles having no redundant details in them and an excellent cost-performance ratio.

Here we attach great importance to a maximum of information for the driver about him- or herself, because the sensors you need to capture engine- or chassis data are expensive and in cups not necessary because there is nearly no ability for tuning cause of the strict rules and these data are also not important until the driver is “ready” and drives without making any mistakes.
But the price is not everything. Such complex systems live and die with the service. We look back onto a fourth century of experience with the association of measurement technology in cars and on race tracks. These experiences are also introduced in the development department of AIM, because before they design a product they ask for the opinion from Germany.

Especially effective are the training courses for our customers taking place during the winter months. Here the data engineers and customers will be prepared for the work with RaceStudio in small groups and they learn how to assemble the components rightly, configure the system or analyze the measured data. This service is very important because every data analyzing software has demands to the user and not every driver or mechanic is a computer scientist.

These systems will not only be used in the racing sport but also in the development- and test departments of the vehicle- and component producer. That’s why nearly every tire manufacturer and many of the German car companies and their supplier are among our customers.

AIM MyChron light TG Log

AIM MyChron light TG Log
AIM MyChron light TG Log
Completely different examples are Günther Knobloch and Robert Ulm driving in the IDM in the super bike-class for the Yamaha-Sebring-Austria team. This team hasn’t the resources like most of the other teams, neither technically nor financially, but they have the will, application and intelligence to work forward with their own means. These guys dispose “only” of 2 TG-LOG for 550€ and drive faster than many teams that are provided with better data recording systems. Knobi says: “The bike is good enough; I have to work on myself. And therefore the TG-LOG is sufficient.”

Only when the driver is so good that there is nearly nothing to improve, you start working on the vehicle. In the majority of cases there are restrictions by the regulation, again making the data recording so important, because if one searches for seconds a stop watch is enough, but for tenth and hundredth one needs a computer. 

Depending on the class one is allowed to improve the engine within a special range. One should not have the opinion that the power is equal to the amount of fuel, cause as one knows from real-life the ones who are most powerful are not those who eat and drink most and make the most noise.

We assume that the engine is mechanically alright (cock play, bearing play, valve drive, channels, etc.) and now have to examine three emphases, where we can find the power:

  • Engine temperature, especially for two-stroke engines
  • Mixture formation, combustion, ignition point
  • Speed transformation
The temperature of the engine can be supervised with the water-, spark plug- and oil temperature sensor and for example test different radiators and see immediately, with the engine analyses of RaceStudio2, what the effect on the power and rpm is.
The mixture formation starts in the air box and stops with the exhaust. Among the air box pressure the induction air- and exhaust gas temperature, mixture (lambda) and exhaust back pressure influence the performance of the engine. Also the sensors help to optimize because the effect of the changes can be seen immediately.

If the engine is thermally and in its combustion performance perfect and one knows the power characteristics by the means of the engine analysis, only an according speed transformation has to be assembled to become really fast.

Then one has to work on the chassis, actually the most complex thing at racing vehicles, because there are many important parameters that are not visual and can only be measured with a lot of effort and cost, for example the torsions in the frame. Often a different tire can improve the drivability because it compensates the natural frequency very well.

RaceStudio 2 Driver analysis RaceStudio 2 Engine analysis RaceStudio 2 Engine analysis
Driver analysis Engine analysis Engine analysis

Normally the shock absorber movements will be logged and hence RaceStudio2 calculates the damper speed and the frequency.
The results will be shown in a frequency diagram and as a speed characteristic for compression phases and can be complied with the test results on a shock absorber test bench.

I won’t dwell on the possibilities of the aerodynamic area but instead give you an easy practical example from the kart sport:

The possibility to analyze the data on the computer is considerably more effective than an rpm sensor with storage, capturing only the highest and lowest value, because in most cases the highest revolution speed will be reached at free wheelspin. The same does apply to the lowest revolution speed, because most of the karts reach this value when braking and not when accelerating out of a slow corner. We will explain the possibilities of an easy data analysis by the means of one test lap on the kart track in Jüterbog: We assembled an AIM Drack evo3 with sensors for rpm, front wheel speed, lateral- and longitudinal-acceleration and lap times in the kart.

Precisely the race track in Jüterbog is a good example for this because the long straight has been elongated some time causing an interruption where the kart lifts off shortly and the rear axle spins. The highest revolution speed in this test lap was at this point (at 943,2m) 19.128 rpm that can be recognized as a peak in diagram 1. But looking closely on diagram 2 one recognizes that the fastest point (933,8m) with 121,2 km/h has been exactly 9,6m before this edge and there the revolution speed was at 18.000 rpm. The normal tachometer would have saved this as the max data if there wasn’t this edge. During this lap the kart drove with only 119,7 km/h over this edge and not faster, because the driver had to steer before and cause of this lost speed.

Here some comments to the sampling rate

MyChron 3 gold Auto/Moto and MXL are devices for the professional motor sport and can work with very high sampling rates (up to 200 as the case may be 500 measurements per channel and second). The higher the sampling rate the better the signal resolution and display.

Here some typical sampling rates
Maximum speed > 180 km/h
Speed 50 Hz
RPM 20 Hz
Water temperature 1 Hz
Gas pedal/-control 50 Hz
Exhaust gas temperature 20 Hz
Suspension 200 Hz
Lambda 20 Hz
Maximum speed < 180 km/h
Speed 20 Hz
RPM 20 Hz
Water temperature 1 Hz
Gas pedal/-control 20 Hz
Exhaust gas temperature 20 Hz
Suspension 200 Hz
Lambda 20 Hz

Because of this the devices with low sampling rates, for example the TG-LOG or the kart version of MyChron3, should only be assembled in accordingly slow vehicles.

We urgently advice you not to use the GPS speed sensors with a lower sampling rate that 10 Hz, because when driving 288 km/h (80 m/s) and (at 40Hz) only making and saving every 20m the data, you can look into a crystal ball as well..

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