How To Improve Performance Using Speed Data Interpretation

Data acquisition in racing means keeping track of parameters of the racer’s performance and having a team of engineers to analyze them. The analysis will then be used to make conclusions about the car’s behavior and overall system.

Information gathered for racing data analysis can range from being driver-related to chassis-related. If you aim to have an extensive analysis, you can combine two or more of the parameters. Below is a detailed breakdown of information you need to get:

  • driver-related data analysis– includes analysis of throttle position, gear, brake pressure, steering wheel angle, etc.
  • powertrain-related data analysis– includes analysis of water temperature, fuel pressure, engine revolutions per minute (RPM), etc.
  • chassis-related data analysis– includes analysis of  suspension loads, damper placement, wheel speed and balance, G-forces, etc.

Why Use Data Acquisition

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Data acquisition is more than just gathering information which you can use to improve the car and the racer’s performance. It is an in-depth analysis that one can refer in the future. For example, you have recorded  a car performance today and wrote it in the data log book. What you do next is analyze it and try to improve its performance, if it can still be improved. However, data acquisition’s function does not end there. In the future, when you want to look into a problem your car is facing, the same data may be able to help you.  Other reasons for you to start using racing data acquisition includes:

1. To analyze and improve the car’s performance

This is one of the main reasons why people perform data acquisition. The conclusions you can get from the information you acquire are endless. These can be used for engineers to think of ways to improve the car’s performance or correct lapses in one of its component’s function.

You can even use the data gathered (what makes the car perform better and what makes it fall behind) to design your own race car. If you do, you can use the same strategy in testing the new car and improve it. You can repeat the action until you get the desired result.

3. To keep track with the car’s maintenance needs

If you have data about the car’s performance every time you go for a run, then most probably, you can track each of its component’s lifeline. It will then be easy for you to determine which ones are still functional and which ones should be replaced.

4. To analyze the performance of the driver

Data acquisition is not limited to the analysis of the car. It can also extend to the analysis of the racer’s performance himself. If this is your aim, the information you must gather must be related to the driver’s actions during the run. The driver may have to run a few laps so that engineers can have a basis for comparison and make valid conclusions from it. As a result, the team will be able to identify the racer’s driving style and compare it with other racers. During the real race, the result of analysis can be the basis of identifying the racer’s weaknesses and his edge from other contestants.

5. To know the car’s parameters

To win a race, one must consider the different parameters that involve the car. To do this, you can use data analysis, which will be able to provide you with records of parameters that will be essential once you are in a race. You can use these records to ensure safety and reliability of the car. For example, if you study electrical parameters of the car, you will be able to identify the possible components that may lead to its malfunction.

What you need to conduct data acquisition

For you start with data acquisition, you must have the right DAS hardware. Basically, it consists of the data logging unit, speed sensors, accelerometers, displacement sensors, temperature sensors, pressure sensors, and aerodynamics sensors.

1. Data logging unit

This is used measure and log the parameters gathered into the control unit. You can put this any place visible to the driver or as close to the steering wheel’s center. The position mainly depends on whether the it is separated from the main unit or not.

2. Speed sensors

Speed sensors vary. However, the most common one is the one that picks up magnetic signal which generates electrical pulses every time you trigger a magnet. Speed sensors are used to measure the speed in RPM and turbocharger shaft. Usually, these are installed in each of the car’s wheels.

 3. Accelerometer

This sensor multiplies the gathered acceleration by the sum the car and driver’s weight. This can be extended to measure braking forces, cornering, and longitudinal and lateral forces. These sensors usually have a mass that can move freely along an axis. When the sensor detects acceleration, this mass starts moving and compressing beams, in which it is mounted on. You have to position accelerometers in a way that they’ll align the direction of measurement axis to that of gravity actuation axis.

4. Displacement sensors

These sensors are used to measure displacement, including brake position, steering wheel angle, gear selection, and throttle position. They usually work by using the principles of electromagnets.

5. Temperature sensors

Easy enough, these are used to measure temperatures of several liquids used by the car, including water and oil. However, it can also measure the temperature of inlet air, brake disks, tires, hot gases, etc. These sensors come in contact and non-contact; the difference of which is that latter is used in measuring temperatures of the car’s moving parts such as the tires.

6. Pressure sensors

Pressure sensors are used to measure the pressure exerted in several parameters including brakes, actuators hydraulic fluids, airbox, supercharger boost, etc. The most common way of doing so is by using a diaphragm that has strain gauges. When the diaphragm senses pressure, electric output charge is given by the strain gauge. This is the converted by the logging unit.

 7. Aerodynamics Sensors

If you want to measure how low is the range of the local airspeed and pressure session, then you can use aerodynamics sensors. Using pitot tubes, these sensors can get data about the dynamic pressure which is then used to calculate airspeed. It’s also used to understand how pressure air around the car moves.

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How to interpret the data

If you want to be thorough with your analysis, you have to use more than one channel. This means you need a high budget. However,  it’s something you have to consider if you want to get quality analysis. Do not limit yourself to only one sensor. Match the purpose of your data acquisition with the sensors you will purchase.

In interpreting data, it is better if you use the comparison of different laps. Having only one result is not enough basis. You must have as many data to compare them to each other. This way, you can get a more reliable result. If you can’t do it yourself, it is best if you hire a reliable team of engineers to do the analysis for you. That way, you will only have to study the result. Still, even if you are not part of the team who will analyze the data, it still pays of you observe and learn from them. It will give you a deeper glimpse on how data acquisition works.

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