Chapter 39

Witchdoctor Motorsports and the DL1 Data Acquisition System

17 March 2005 - Got Unit

19 March 2005 - First Test (in the rain...)

 

After weeks of waiting, Ellen at Veracity Racing (www.veracitydata.com) sent me an email telling me that they JUST got their initial shipment of DL1s in stock (they are made in England by RaceTechnology)  and she wanted to know if I was still interested in getting a new DL1. I whipped out the credit card (more Skymiles, wahoo!!) and two days later the FedEx man dropped off my little (and I mean LITTLE) bundle of joy. Since work has been slammed (what else is new?) I had to wait for the weekend to even play with it. I bought a compact flash card (256mb) and headed out to the B4C to set it up and play around some.

   

The unit is TINY and incredibly light. I plan on using it in the B4C (1992 1LE/B4C Camaro) for autocross and open lapping/instructing and then (of course) in the road race car (SCCA ITA, NASA PS2). My best friend Frank co-drives the ITA car and we run very similar times. It will be very nice to know who is quicker where (so we can both get faster) and how much sector time we lose/gain with chassis/engine tuning. I researched a TON on DA units and settled on the DL1 due to its incredible amount of data with very simple hookups (easy to swap from several autocross cars at the same event and get data from a bunch of different cars and different drivers) and its expandability. I have read everything I can find on the DA subject (I have owned and re-read Buddy Fey's book 'Data Power' since it came out in 1993) and spoken to many teams and DAGs (Data Acquisition Geeks....the guy on the team responsible for the DA system) about what I really need in a system (and what I don't need) and how much expandability is needed and how much is just nice. The sides of the DL1 are aluminum and it comes with small aluminum clamps that slide into the sides. The front and back are CF or CF-look. Pimpy.

  

The DL1 can be hooked up with just the GPS antenna and it will do awesome things. It will plot an extremely accurate 'course' map (even if the course is just around your block a few times) all the while recording time vs. distance vs. latitudinal g vs. longitudinal g vs. power vs. torque vs. heading vs. change in heading (deg/sec). You can graph any/all of those and on the mini-map it will show your position and all those values that you selected at that exact position. 

Unfortunately it has been raining since I hooked the thing up so I can't really get any high-g data, but it is just awesome. To install the system, I took the GPS antenna out of the bag and unwound the cable. I took some masking tape (scotch, green) to secure the antenna (black tape is a no-no as the carbon interferes with the signal) and as I got it close to the hood it leapt out of my hand and stuck to the roof. Magnetic! Sweet. A small piece of tape to stabilize the cable and it went in thru the corner of the window/weatherstrip. I plugged the antenna into the box, taped the box to the console and plugged in the cigarette lighter. It has four LED's for 'Status', 'GPS Lock', 'Power On', and 'Logging'. The first GPS lock takes a few minutes and (they say) the next ones get much shorter. Mine took about 2 minutes. Then insert a formatted (to FAT or FAT16) compact flash card and push the big red button. The 'Logging' LED pops on and you are recording data! Each time a 'sample' is taken it just adds another file on the card. A 64MB card will yield 2.4hrs of data, and a 2gig card will get you 3 days! I opted for the 256MB card and I will report its capacity as I play with it more. The block connectors at the back of the DL1 allow hookup of more sensors and inputs.

The little green blocks that slide into the back have nice holes where you strip a bit of the wire, insert it into the block, and tighten down the retaining screw and you are set to go.

A complete intro to the DL1 is here. A complete FAQ on the DL1 is here. Technical specs are here. A six page .pdf file is located here.

Let's look at some around-the-block action!!