Pre-Season Data set-up

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If you know me you know I’ve always been a total geek for electronics. Well, not always actually. I have my brother Collins to thank for sparking that interest, which is an awesome thing. I’ve learned so much since then and the technology skills can really help open doors, so it’s been great. When it comes to racing these days, technology comes in the form of data systems, cameras, engine and brake control modules, and even artificial intelligence and machine learning. There is so much to absorb, I love it. A couple years ago I was asked what I would choose to fill the gap for entry level data systems with the departure of Traqmate from the market. I have to say, I nailed it. At that time I went all in on the products from Autosport Labs.

A RaceCapture Pro2 and an early analog version of the ShiftX being Bench tested in the Conover lab.

A RaceCapture Pro2 and an early analog version of the ShiftX being Bench tested in the Conover lab.

I first heard of these guys as a backer of their Kickstarter for the original RaceCapture system. Before they launched RaceCapture they’d already been in the automotive electronics market with a programmable electronic ignition product to convert cars over from less reliable systems. Cool, so I think that Kickstarter was back in 2013 or so, and at that time Racecapture was beyond DIY, it was deep into hacker territory to set one of those up and use the data from it; I wasn’t really ready for that, I mean, there is only so much time in a day. Fast forward three years and as I keep tabs on them I notice a bunch of development at a furious pace, pretty rad. When I was asked in 2016, “what data system now?” I said RaceCapture Pro. Even then, for the ready made culture of the Spec Miata market, RaceCapture Pro was a bit of an early adoption situation—not quite as polished as you’d want if you’re strutting around in an orange jumpsuit with a chrome wrap on your car. These days however, the Autosport Labs systems are a real market upsetter with their RaceCapture Pro3, Track, and Apex plus their full line of trick accessories.

This Custom configuration is available for $2200 installed. Image Courtesy Grant MacDonald

This Custom configuration is available for $2200 installed. Image Courtesy Grant MacDonald

I just finished fully updated installations on our two shop cars headed into the Regional SCCA race scene in the Carolinas this year. We have adopted the Tesla mindset when it comes to instrumentation inside these cars: Big expansive touch screen interfaces. I wish they could be bigger, really. What you will see here is the installation of a permanent Raspberry Pi3 with 7” touch screen in each car, alongside our traditional Fire 8 tablets, and the capstone for the driver interface is the inclusion of a CAN controlled fully programmable RGB LED shift light mounted up in the driver’s view to prompt timely stirring of the gear selector.

Hector, the Rabbit’s ShiftX2.

Hector, the Rabbit’s ShiftX2.

The Miata installation includes input accessories for the system including a wide band O2 controller, 5V analog pressure sensors for both fuel and oil, a thermocouple for the coolant, and a tap into the factory diagnostic terminal for RPM.

A shot of Grant’s Spec Miata nearing completion.

A shot of Grant’s Spec Miata nearing completion.

Inside the VW we find more modern technology than what you will see in a Miata; we have CAN data from the factory ecu and controls aboard the 2008 VW Rabbit. This gives us the ability to harvest much more data from the car, with much less installation complexity, leaving you free to use those analog inputs for more fun things than oil pressure, (not that there is a shortage of analog inputs, eight onboard and the capability to expand with the analogX accessory). So you will see much more data being displayed here than you will find spewing forth from a Miata ecu.

The final big difference you’ll find in the VW is that the actual RaceCapture itself is the upgraded unit with the available sim card slot and I’ll be streaming everything to Podium.live during each session: https://podium.live/events/march-into-spring-vir-ncrscca/device/conover-motorsports-42 We will be racing the car and streaming each session live to the cloud. You will be able to see each channel being logged live as well as the car circulating on the track map of VIR, and all of the laptimes and predictive laptimes as well. I hope I see you in the paddock though; don’t sit at home, come on out and check out the local race scene!

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Cameron ConoverComment