Data logging analysis is one of the most powerful and effective tools available for both general track driving and serious race use. With the right system and the right sensors in place, it’s possible to analyse both the performance of the driver, and the performance and well-being of the car. You could even save yourself an expensive repair bill by identifying a mechanical problem like an oil surge under cornering forces, before it causes permanent and costly damage. However, using a data logger is not sufficient on its own: to get the most information out of the data logger, the driver will need to install some appropriate sensors. So, what types of sensors are available?
Driver Input Sensors
- An entry level data logger will provide the basic data required to analyse a driver’s performance and compare this with another reference lap from a faster driver or professional driving coach. The type of information plotted would typically include speed (derived from GPS), and cornering (lateral) and acceleration/braking (longitudinal) forces plus lap times. However, it should be noted that none of these metrics give a direct measure of how the driver is actually interacting with the car. The only way to get an accurate picture of the driver’s performance is by gathering the following information, in order of priority:
- Throttle position sensors – the total speed of the lap, or lap time, is proportional to the amount of time that a driver spends at full throttle and to the average percentage of throttle applied throughout a lap. More time on full throttle will give quicker lap times, and a delay in applying the throttle on exiting a corner is the key difference between slower and faster drivers.
- Brake pressure sensors – this is the only way to accurately measure a driver’s braking performance. Trying to determine how late and how hard a driver is braking based only on the change in speed isn’t really accurate enough. A combination of brake pressure and throttle position is better used to analyse and improve heel-and-toe technique.
- Steering angle sensors – this can be used to compare driving styles, turn-in points, and with even more sophisticated data analysis, over steer and under steer.
- Oil pressure sensors – this is probably the most critical sensor of all. Production based engines are very sensitive to cornering and braking forces when on track and even a baffled sump may not be sufficient to prevent oil surge which can ultimately cause engine failure. Oil surge might only happen for a fraction of a second during a corner, but there’s a high probability that the driver won’t notice the warning light or low gauge reading. A data logging oil pressure sensor gives the ability to monitor the car when it returns to the garage. If the sensor is connected to the data logger and dashboard, then the oil surge sensor will stay displayed after the surge condition has disappeared and alert the driver about what has happened. It will stay lit until the driver cancels the alarm.
- Oil temperature sensors – standard road cars that are used on track are susceptible to high oil temperatures as they have limited or no oil cooling. Effective oil cooling on a high- performance track or race car can be hard to achieve as it requires a way of dissipating large amounts of heat. Oil temperature logging sensor is ideal for the close monitoring of oil temperatures and the testing and comparison of different cooling setups.
- Water temperature sensors – are ideal for the continuous monitoring of engine temperatures.
- RPM sensors –can capture information and data about over-revving and the calculation of optimum gear changes at a given point on a lap.
- Damper sensors – these measure suspension travel. This information can be used to aid suspension setup, and can also be used to measure down-force generated by different aero-configurations.
- Upright temperature sensors – these measure the temperature at the centre of the upright/hub on each corner of the car. This data can then be used to check the effectiveness of brake cooling, and to monitor wheel bearing and CV joint temperatures.
- Laser ride height sensors – these directly measure the height of the car (chassis/floor) above the road surface using lasers. This gives a very accurate picture of the chassis’ orientation and movement (ride height, pitch and roll) independently of the suspension movement.
- Pressure sensors – these measure air pressure at certain points on the car, typically under the floor, to allow the optimisation of aero configuration.
- TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system) – this uses sensors inside each wheel which wirelessly transmit a signal containing tyre pressure and tyre temperature.
This article was submitted by Datron Technology