RaceChrono Hardware Datalogger - Ideas Please

Hi All,

I am in the process of building a hardware datalogging device to run with racechrono, the first version (almost complete and ready for testing) has the following:-

X + Y axis Accelemeters built in.
5 Channel Analogue inputs (for water temp, oil temp, throttle, oil press etc)
1 Digital Input for Engine RPM

It will send data via its builtin bluetooth. I will also make one with a 5hz GPS sensor built in.

These will be available to buy when ready, hopefully within 6weeks.

Please add any comments and suggestions here so i can consider and build it into the product.



  • Wheel speed sensor(s) would be good, although I suspect you're going to run out of hardware inputs for that. The more inputs the better, as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps an expansion board for more inputs for those who want them. What's the sample rate per input & total? Will we be able to connect the sensors already on the car to the device? Could I use my current water temp sensor? Clearly, already attached sensors are ~12vdc and I guess you're running @5vdc. Can I be first in the list when they're ready for sale?!
  • edited July 2009
    How about logger to USB stick / microSD / SD. This way Bluetooth not always needed, and still a backup when it fails. Also how about RS232 input for GPS, so you can replace it with your own if you want (like DL-1).
  • I can add as many inputs as needed, no limit really (within reason) just trying to keep it simple and cost down to start with, can you think of more than 5 you would need?

    Yes, the whole idea is to connect up your existing sensors, oil temp, water temp, RPM etc etc, it will accept 12v inputs no problem.
    The sample rates i need to decide on, the accelerometer and rpm ones will be 5hz, or could be 10hz if needed, and for the analogues 1hz is probably enough, again not really a limit on sample rate, if you max'd out a serial interface, you would be getting a LOT of data to look at.

    Wheel speed may not be that easy as they are probably car specific, never really looked at the output from one, will plug it into my car at somepoint and see what it looks like and if it can be added.

    logging to memory card module can be added on at a later time, as is an RS232 input, it will have the hardware for that, but it wont be enabled in the first versions!

    aol: i have a working example here outputing in race technology serial format, can you add it into racechrono to log/show accelometer values and the analogue inputs (any any other future ones) I could alternatively change it to output the ODB-II protocol (if documented) but i dont have any experiance in that, it doesnt seem as flexible as the race tech one.
  • edited July 2009
    Why only 5 Hz for the accelerometers? I think that's a bit rough? How about 20 Hz? I would have 20 Hz for the analogues as well, can't think of a reason to have less :-) It's much nicer to analyze data with proper sampling rate. 115200 baud should be enough for all this in 20 Hz.

    Let's just use the DL-1 format. Nice to have support for DL-1's too. OBD-II protocol is a two-way protocol so it can't be used output only. I have some binary examples of DL-1 output so I will use those to write the support for it. First I will add support for the GPS, later accelerometers and analogue channels. Currently I'm working on the architectural changes to allow other input than NMEA, and very soon I can start writing a decoder for the DL-1 format... Hopefully that goes without problems.

    Have you calculated for how much you could sell these units for? Please email me if you have specific questions about development etc.
  • Here are a few loggers I found:
    http://www.xtracing.com/en/gpxpro/index.php - CHEAPEST with all features but no export yet
    http://www.racepak.com/IQ3Dash.php - Nicest unit

    Question is still how much and are you in EU or US for distribution purposes?
  • Off the top of my head, these sensors would be useful:

    Probably the most important input

    Wheel speed; a certain number of pulses per wheel revolution
    Allows you to work out % slip under braking and acceleration.

    Brake pressure; 10Hz; resistive sensor
    You can see how smooth you're being and how quickly you're getting to the threshold.

    Throttle position; 10Hz; resistive sensor
    Not sure I need to annotate this!

    Steering angle; 10Hz; resistive sensor
    Again, you can see how smooth you're being and deduce understeer/oversteer.

    Damper displacement (x4); 100Hz; resistive sensors
    You can see aero performance and damping performance. You need a very high sample rate though.

    Accelerometers (x2-x6); 10Hz; resistive sensors
    You can see smoothness (again) and how consistently close to the tyres' limit you are. Not only can you use lateral/longitudinal/vertical G but you can also use gyros to see yaw rate and roll rate.

    That's 17 inputs but allows you to do rather a lot.
  • edited July 2009
    Agreed with Andy that gyros would be important, and very much so for motorbike riders.

    Most of those data loggers linked by Dmitriy have displays etc. This would need to have only the sensors and the "main unit" to make everything one data stream to send to RaceChrono / storage. No display needed (or wanted), as RaceChrono can handle this side :) So more like the DL-1 mentioned earlier: http://www.race-technology.com/dl1_2_27.html

    I wonder how easy it is to do small batch of these cheap enough? I guess its not necessary to mention it needs to be MUCH cheaper than the DL-1? :) Also good point by Dima that it needs to comply with the EU and US directives ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RoHS comes to my mind first ).
  • A lower spec DL-1 would be ideal from a functionality point of view. Something that has fewer inputs and/or can't log data quite as quickly would be fine.
  • Hi, I have a shifter kart, and I was thinking about made some hardware better than "Alfano", it are too expensive for what benefits that it have. http://www.alfano.com/

    Tipical inputs are, Water Temp, Lap Time and splits (with a magnetic sensor), RPM count. And time of working motor, starts every time that pass for an start line, and stop 5 min after pass the last start line.

    So, no one have throttle input or brake input (only needs a potentiometer), no one have temperature tires (will be very nice to see temps of my tires in real time)
  • edited July 2009
    20hz it is on the sample rate then!
    Been working on it in the last few days, and I have one here up and running.

    aol: i can very easily send you a test device if you need a device to plug into PC serial that just spits out some random data values in the correct (race tec) format.

    As for price, target is £100, £150 if it has 5hz GPS on board, obvioulsy extra inputs, gyros etc and it just keeps going up.

    As with everything, depends on qty, if there was a big demand, can get them produced in far east, and the price comes tumbling down.

    Maybe i should setup a webshop and start taking pre-orders :-)
  • forgot to say, the decoding code is mostly written for you:-


    There is a c version on there too.
  • edited July 2009
    I think the dl1 is @$800 for 5hz and $1100 for 10 or 20hz...that's without obd2 or extras. My phone, gps, obdkey cost @$320 to work well with RC...so can you make a better box than the dl1 for much less?

    Are you thinking of having the data from this box work in the dl1 software???...that would be a strong sell point.
  • The DL1 is more expensive for a reason - many inputs, all logging at 100Hz in a compact, robust unit. However, if we can get a unit that does 5 analogue inputs at 20Hz and 5Hz GPS, I see no reason why any club level racer or track day enthusiast could need more than that and a copy of RaceChrono. In fact, assuming the requirements in the first post are met, inputs all log at 20Hz and the prices above are accurate, I'll buy one.

    I've got another 4 rounds of the championship this year and I'm planning to do a good few track days this winter, so I'll get a goodly amount of testing going.
  • The box will not be doing any logging, just sending values to RC, so as to it working with the DL1 software or not, that is down to AOL writing the code for it (logging it to a run file)

    Turns out my device will actually have 6 analogue inputs (20hz) + 2 axis accelerometers (20hz) + optional 5hz GPS
  • edited July 2009
    Mattnj, one idea comes to my mind still: If you're not planning on adding solid state logging, how about RS-232 output of the same data like in DL-1. This way you could use any RS-232 data logger and/or a laptop with RaceChrono desktop version through cable.
  • Sorry, poor choice of words there. I didn't mean logging, rather data aquisition. Are you still planning an input for RPM too?
  • aol: not sure exactly what you mean, the device will output rs-232, that is exactly what it does, infact, its the only thing it does.

    So, you connect up your inputs, rpm, analogue for oil temp, etc etc to this little box, and all it does it convert that info, and adds the built in accel values, to an RS-232 output, in Race Technology Serial Format, which you can connect to anything you want, Race Tech Lite Monitor for example or Race Chrono (once it has some support to display or more importantly (hopefully) log the data, as far as the physical interfacing goes there is 2 options, you can either plug the device straight in to the 9 pin socket directly or use the onboard bluetooth (virtual com port)
  • "Turns out my device will actually have 6 analogue inputs (20hz) + 2 axis accelerometers (20hz) + optional 5hz GPS "

    so no RPM input after all ?
  • ah, yes, confusing myself here, its either 5 + rpm or 6 + rpm, cant remember now :-)
  • edited August 2009
    Good, count me in :)

    EDIT : if you could add a 5v and/or 12v output to power sensors that would be fine too
  • hi count me in too! what kind of power supply will it run off is it possible to have it run off a seperate battery?
  • Seeing as you need to wire in the inputs, you will also need to wire in a 12v supply. You can power the sensors off the 12v supply to the unit.
  • Can I take it from this comment that the unit requires exactly 12vdc or will it be content with ~12-15v as supplied by the car's electrical system? Obviously, the sensors already on the car will be using the car's electrical supply and will not be at exactly 12v; there will likely be over-voltage.
  • mattnj: What is your schedule for this? How soon do you need to have RaceChrono inputting the DL-1 format data? I've done the base work for supporting multiple input formats (before only NMEA), but haven't ported over the DL-1 parser yet, sorry.
  • I would like to buy one, among the list of things I want:
    Separate GPS antennae on a 5 foot cord so the unit can sit inside car/bike but the antennae can be on the roof/tail of the bike. I don't like putting expencive electronics where they will get damaged.
    I'll email you back with a bigger list.
  • edited August 2009

    First unit is coming on nicely, the device is regulated internally and will take pretty much any DC power (within reason will work from about 6v-36v) the A/D inputs will be physically switched at the setup stage with dip swtiches on the device, to either be 0-5v inputs, or 0-15v inputs. You will need to set each of the inputs once to choose which port will use which input voltage.

    aol: the prototype unit is ready now and sending out the correct DL-1 format for all the channels that will be used.

    I need to tidy up the code a bit, add some error checking and such and then solder it up onto the board once finished. Was hoping to have it done by now, but work is getting in the way and off on holiday next week!
  • edited August 2009
    It should not take too long for me to make you test version with DL-1 input. I'll test it using files recorded with DL-1, but I'd be glad to receive some files generated with your system too. Just to make sure everything is fine (I guess you can easily redirect the output to files?).

    I was doing the accelerometer support in between but unfortunately I'm "stuck" with writer's block, so I decided to start working on the DL-1 support again :-)
  • aol: i have emailed you a run file from my device.

    Just need to crack the RPM clock speed counting maths, and get it working on a higher baud (works perfectly on 4800 but errors as i wind the speed up) and the first one is ready to go out to the first beta tester!
  • depending on where you are, I would be happy to beta test.

    I have a Track event and a race coming up on August 29-30.
  • edited August 2009
    Mattnj: I try to make the RaceChrono support with the files inputs only, but it might be that I will need a test device to have RaceChrono working with it well enough.
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