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Need help building a data logging carputer for formula SAE

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  • Need help building a data logging carputer for formula SAE

    Hello everyone, I am currently a university student studying electrical engineering. I am part of my schools SAE group (society of automotive engineers). Being one of 2 electrical engineers on the team, my main objective is to build a data logging controller that will not only capture real-time data, but also display it to the driver as well as wirelessly transmit it to members in the pit. I have a general idea of how to go about designing this machine and transmitting the data but i came onto this forum to ask for help and advice from experts in these kind of projects.

    Just a little background:
    ~ formula SAE student members hand build their own race cars from scratch, then take it to compete at a national competition.
    ~ for the specific car my school is building, we are planning on using a snow mobile engine since the competition only limits us to 600cc engines. our snowmobile engine will be fuel injected and a 2 cylinder i believe.
    ~ we plan on turbo charging the engine so real-time data logging can be very beneficial
    ~ we would also like to monitor a few other things such as engine speed, suspension travel, etc.

    so far, i know well need a few sensors, but i believe the real problem is getting the software that will integrate the information we gathered and output it to a display. Again, i would very much appreciate any help/advice i could get. Me and my team will begin working on the project over the summer after the current semester is over and hopefully try to have it done by the fall. So im just trying to gather data at this point. Once we start building the computer, ill definitely create a journal for you guys to follow! If anything is unclear or if more information is needed, let me know because this will definitely be a fun project and rewarding if we can get it done.

    Thanks!
    -Kenny

  • #2
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    • #3
      Most after-market programmable ecu's all have those functions already incorporated in them. You must be using something to control the fuel injection on that engine. Looks like they asked you to re-invent the wheel again.

      Comment


      • #4
        any ideas as to how to go about obtaining that information from the ecu? i know that most modern cars have their OBDII ports but since we are working with just the engine itself, i dont know if there will be one. We are planning to work with a +07 Yamaha Phazor snowmobile engine if that helps.

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        • #5
          The engine is not so relevant, what ECU is planned to control it? We used a MOTEC ECU which for the car I was involved in designing at loughborough uni http://www.motec.com.au/m800/m800features/ as you can see, there is the ability to log data included.

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          • #6
            Thanks for the info MX5_Carputer. We will definitely look into the ecu's. Because we do work on a limited budget, im just concerned with the amount of funding our specific electronics team will receive. But i will go over the idea with the engine team and determine how they are dealing with the ecu option.

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            • #7
              Go with a Motec or Pectel if you can afford it. Other great but less expensive ECU's are Vi-pec, Autronic, Link (the new G4 - don't bother with the old ones), Haltech and AEM. You may get lost in the AEM's million different compensation and tuning tables. I haven't used the new Haltech software, but I hear its a dream to use. Try to find one with USB rather than RS232.

              Many of the newer ECUs have CAN/BUS and will plug into a proper race dash like the AIM, or Race Logic. This eliminates a lot of wiring for redundant sensors and makes for a very clean install. Race Logic and AIM also offer GPS track mapping that can be overlaid the ECU logs. Check out Traqmate as well.

              As for telemetry (sending data wirelessly in real time from the car to pits), I haven't seen a clean, simple or inexpensive workaround unless its already in the ECU. A wireless USB will only go a few feet and Wifi will only give you a few feet more. That doesn't work so well when you're half a mile or a mile away.

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              • #8
                Look into the megasquirt ECU also, if money is an issue.

                Also, lest time I checked the FSAE rules didn't allow for 2-strokes, I might be wrong on that. But it would be prudent to double check before committing to an engine.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by eastcoastbumps View Post
                  As for telemetry (sending data wirelessly in real time from the car to pits), I haven't seen a clean, simple or inexpensive workaround unless its already in the ECU. A wireless USB will only go a few feet and Wifi will only give you a few feet more. That doesn't work so well when you're half a mile or a mile away.
                  Tether a 3G phone to the computer and relay the data that way.

                  Alternatively, put a web server on the pc in the race car and query the server from your PC in the pits. Depends on whether you need a real-time refresh rate or a data download every few seconds. I'd lean towards processing and reducing the data onboard, then sending it to the pits every second or 5 seconds.

                  Vibration will be your main enemy. If you can get away with an embedded system like a gumstix or a Guruplug, you'll at least have no moving parts like a disk drive and as few connections as possible.
                  Originally posted by ghettocruzer
                  I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
                  Want to:
                  -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
                  -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

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                  • #10
                    Getting data every second or 5 seconds would be an eternity. That would only be useful for coolant and oil temps. Engine speed, road speed, steering angle, ride height, lateral g's, track position, etc, would have to be real time.

                    Tethering would work, but then you're installing a PC (and phone) just to have one infinitely long USB cable running from the ECU to the computer in the pits. You're better off spending the money on an ECU that has telemetry. Or you better make more use of the PC and phone to justify the extra work and complexity (and possible unreliability).

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                    • #11
                      Hi, I am undertaking a project very similar to yours. Our FSAE car already has a MOTEC M400 equipped, however we wish to attach more sensors than the M400 can take and send information back via a wireless link.

                      If you check out some RF (~900MHz frequency range) you can find gear that transmitts up to 32km at 115.2kpbs (not enough for video unfortunately...looking for alternatives though).

                      My system will interface with the ECU via the can bus and extract sensor information from it, and also will extract sensor information from sensors directly attached.

                      My sensor list is as follows (connected directly to my system):
                      -3 axis accelerometer
                      - 4 x suspension displacement
                      - 12 x tyre temperature
                      - 1 x steering rack position
                      - 1 x GPS module

                      The ECU has:
                      -4 x Wheel Speed (Hall effect sensor)
                      - Lamda sensor
                      - oil temp
                      - throttle position

                      If you are still working on this project feel free to shoot me an email to share ideas.

                      Cheers,
                      Shannon

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                      • #12
                        Why do you need 12 tire temp sensors? Are you entering a big rig into formula SAE this year?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by superart View Post
                          Why do you need 12 tire temp sensors? Are you entering a big rig into formula SAE this year?

                          Maybe he is monitoring temp in different areas of the tires. Sidewalls vs tread.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by superart View Post
                            Why do you need 12 tire temp sensors? Are you entering a big rig into formula SAE this year?
                            Originally posted by Aberk View Post
                            Maybe he is monitoring temp in different areas of the tires. Sidewalls vs tread.
                            Its for monitoring the inside, center and outside parts of the tread. A tire will have much different temps running from the inside to the outside of the tread in a race condition. Temperature has a lot to do with the grip, and if a part of the tire is cold, its not being fully utilized and a suspension change needs to be made. And if its getting too hot, it may become greasy or start to grain or chunk. That's also an indication of a poor alignment.

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