Data-logging and telemetry, a market research

Before embarking on a new project it is advised to do some research; specially to see if somebody else has done it already and how. That will save us some precious time later during development.

What I’d like to do in this post is to make a brief list of COTS telemetry and data-logging equipment features, mainly focusing on go-karting telemetry which are cheaper than race car specific equipment. A typical digital dash on a kart will show at least lap time, engine RPM and engine temperature. The table below is just a sample of what can be found in the mid-range of products from two well-known manufacturers.

FeatureAiMAlfano
MyChron3 PlusMyChron3 GoldMyChron3 ExtremePRO+ LVAStrO LV
Lap timesyesyesyesyesyes
Split timesyesyesyesyesyes
G sensorinternalinternalyes
GPS
IR TX/RXyesyesyesyesyes
RPM pick-upyesyesyesyesyes
Wheel speedyesyesyesyesyes
Gear positionInferedInferedInferedyes
Analog inputs224 (2 free)
–Temperature2 analog2 analog2 analog2 analog4 analog
–Brake sensoranalog
–Throttle pos.analog
–Steering wheelanalog
–Pressure sensoranalog2 analog
–Lambda sensoryesyes
–Valve sensoryesyes
Displaybacklightbacklightbacklightbacklightbacklight
–Configurableyesyesyes
–Alarm LEDs44444
–Shift LEDs1010101010
Logging rate10 Hz10 Hz10 Hz
Memory512 kB2 MB2 MB24 h24 h
Batteries6 AAA6 AAA6 AAA2 AA2 AA

The MyChron4 substitutes the MyChron3 (discontinued), but uses the same sensors, leads and beacon, though with 1 MB of memory for data-logging purposes. If you are not to build your own data-logging and telemetry system, I found that Mikko Nassi has posted a comprehensive buying guide in his Introduction to Kart Data Acquisition.

The Arduino Due has a total of 54 digital I/O pins (of which 12 provide PWM output) and 12 analog input pins and the microcontroller runs at 84 MHz. I think that’s more that enough to replicate the capabilities of any mid- to high-range data-logger.

Another well known data-logging and telemetry equipment vendor is MoTeC; but their equipment is too expensive to suit Go Karts, reason why they haven’t chased this market yet. In the table below you may see a comparison chart of some of their products as found on their website. Their features might give us some ideas on what components to add to our data-logger as to broaden its capabilities and functionality.

Data Acquisition Comparison Table C125CDL3SDL3ADL3 / EDL3
Inputs
Analogue voltageOptional 6Optional 4810
Optional 24
Analogue temperatureOptional 2Optional 244
Optional 8
DigitalOptional 2Optional 224
SpeedOptional 3Optional 344
Switch4
Wideband LambdaVia PLM or LTCvia PLM or LTCvia PLM or LTCvia PLM or LTC
Expansion unitsE888/E816 (full functionality)E888 (8  thermocouples only)E888 (8  thermocouples only)up to 2 x VIM and
2 x E888/E816
Data acquisition and telemetry
Data logging memoryOptionalOptional 8 MBOptional 16 MB16 MB
120 MBor 120 MBOptional 250 MB
Logging rate1 – 500 Hz1 – 500 Hz1 – 500 Hz 1 – 1000 Hz
Analysis using i2 StandardOptionalOptionalOptionalyes
Analysis using i2 ProOptionalOptionalOptionalOptional
Telemetrytable crosstable crosstable crossOptional
Remote loggingtable crosstable crosstable crossOptional
Display
TypeUltra Bright ColourReflective Mono LCDReflective Mono LCD Reflective Mono LCD on ADL3; No display on EDL3
Backlightyesyesoption Optional on ADL3
not on EDL3
Display modes3333 on ADL3
not EDL3
Communications
CAN2222
RS2322 x Receiveyesyesyes
1 x Transmit
RS422, RS485
PC connection
Ethernetyesyesyesyes
Outputs
Digital, Switched, PWM4444
Optional 8
Expansion units1 or 2 x E888/E8161 or 2 x E888/E816
more on…C125CDL3SDL3  ADL3 / EDL3