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.

Feature AiM Alfano
MyChron3 Plus MyChron3 Gold MyChron3 Extreme PRO+ LV AStrO LV
Lap times yes yes yes yes yes
Split times yes yes yes yes yes
G sensor internal internal yes
IR TX/RX yes yes yes yes yes
RPM pick-up yes yes yes yes yes
Wheel speed yes yes yes yes yes
Gear position Infered Infered Infered yes
Analog inputs 2 2 4 (2 free)
–Temperature 2 analog 2 analog 2 analog 2 analog 4 analog
–Brake sensor analog
–Throttle pos. analog
–Steering wheel analog
–Pressure sensor analog 2 analog
–Lambda sensor yes yes
–Valve sensor yes yes
Display backlight backlight backlight backlight backlight
–Configurable yes yes yes
–Alarm LEDs 4 4 4 4 4
–Shift LEDs 10 10 10 10 10
Logging rate 10 Hz 10 Hz 10 Hz
Memory 512 kB 2 MB 2 MB 24 h 24 h
Batteries 6 AAA 6 AAA 6 AAA 2 AA 2 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  C125 CDL3 SDL3 ADL3 / EDL3
Analogue voltage Optional 6 Optional 4 8 10
Optional 24
Analogue temperature Optional 2 Optional 2 4 4
Optional 8
Digital Optional 2 Optional 2 2 4
Speed Optional 3 Optional 3 4 4
Switch 4
Wideband Lambda Via PLM or LTC via PLM or LTC via PLM or LTC via PLM or LTC
Expansion units E888/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 memory Optional Optional 8 MB Optional 16 MB 16 MB
120 MB or 120 MB Optional 250 MB
Logging rate 1 – 500 Hz 1 – 500 Hz 1 – 500 Hz  1 – 1000 Hz
Analysis using i2 Standard Optional Optional Optional yes
Analysis using i2 Pro Optional Optional Optional Optional
Telemetry table cross table cross table cross Optional
Remote logging table cross table cross table cross Optional
Type Ultra Bright Colour Reflective Mono LCD Reflective Mono LCD  Reflective Mono LCD on ADL3; No display on EDL3
Backlight yes yes option  Optional on ADL3
not on EDL3
Display modes 3 3 3 3 on ADL3
not EDL3
CAN 2 2 2 2
RS232 2 x Receive yes yes yes
1 x Transmit
RS422, RS485
PC connection
Ethernet yes yes yes yes
Digital, Switched, PWM 4 4 4 4
Optional 8
Expansion units 1 or 2 x E888/E816 1 or 2 x E888/E816
more on… C125 CDL3 SDL3   ADL3 / EDL3