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Old 08-28-2013
phantomjock phantomjock is offline
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Question OBD on the Skippy Formula Cars?

Just wondering - that Helix is now not associated with Skip Barber

Does anybody know if the Formula Cars have OBD? If So, is it OBD-II?

This would present a great opportunity to DIY cheap Data Acquisition, via Smart Phone/Android Tablet Aps, external battery powerd GPS (in your pocket?) for better refresh rates, and an OBD bluetooth ELM327 plugged into the OBD port. Voila!

IF there is one.

I know I should be studying for next weeks 2-Day Sebring - here I come.
But, I sure would like some data feedback between sessions!

TIA - & Cheers - Jim
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Old 08-28-2013
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Fred K Fred K is offline
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Re: OBD on the Skippy Formula Cars?

According to the Skippy mechanic I quizzed on the subject last week at Lime Rock, it is indeed legal to tap into the OBD ports. No one seems to know how much information is brought out to the port in the formula cars, but the MX-5s should provide the usual motor management data.

I think the wave of the future is the smart phone apps, tied to wireless data acquisition devices on the cars. Compared to the professional-grade systems available now, the apps are really toys without the capacity to produce data sufficiently accurate for serious setup work. Probably the biggest immediate limitation is the read frequency on the onboard GPSs and, to a lesser extent, the raw compute and graphics power of the processors. But the foundations that support today's convictions can crumble tomorrow with the release of the next bluetooth 100 Hz GPS or the next generation phone processor.

That said, I'm going to offer advice you didn't ask for, and that's whether or not you should mess with data aq at school. I'll say definitely skip it. First, it's a distraction from the mounting (easy and you'll get as much help as you need from the mechanics) to getting it running reliably (much more difficult.) You should be sitting belted into the car contemplating the details of the next exercise instead of fiddling with the video in the sun glare. Second, a preoccupation with objective data clouds your ability to absorb what you're really after in the school - absorption of the images on the brain and taking into your soul the feelings in your ass.

You can generate great video and detailed and comprehensive data trails on iRacing practically for free.

Just my take from over 50 years of vehicle dynamics and simulation, race car data aq stretching back to the 80s, and a bunch of Skippy schools in the last three years.

--
FredK
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Old 08-28-2013
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dalyduo dalyduo is offline
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Re: OBD on the Skippy Formula Cars?

I'll second Fred's advice. If you want to record your seat time mount a GoPro if it doesn't distract you from preparing to drive, or better yet have someone else do it for you. It can be valuable to see the difference between your memory of what happened vs a dispassionate video record of what actually happened, after your heart rate has come down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred K View Post
That said, I'm going to offer advice you didn't ask for, and that's whether or not you should mess with data aq at school. I'll say definitely skip it. First, it's a distraction from the mounting (easy and you'll get as much help as you need from the mechanics) to getting it running reliably (much more difficult.) You should be sitting belted into the car contemplating the details of the next exercise instead of fiddling with the video in the sun glare. Second, a preoccupation with objective data clouds your ability to absorb what you're really after in the school - absorption of the images on the brain and taking into your soul the feelings in your ass.

You can generate great video and detailed and comprehensive data trails on iRacing practically for free.

Just my take from over 50 years of vehicle dynamics and simulation, race car data aq stretching back to the 80s, and a bunch of Skippy schools in the last three years.

--
FredK
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Old 08-29-2013
phantomjock phantomjock is offline
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Re: OBD on the Skippy Formula Cars?

Both great inputs and that was what I was looking for. I enjoyed using my Go-Pro video evening after my 3-Day sessions. Gave me much to work with for the following day. But - MAN! What a difference a week or so later when I got my videos from Mike @ HELIX. There was something I could really use - but too late. Sure, I have added those lessons to my 2-Day prep, but it caused me to think of other solutions. (Must be my engineering background --If it isn't broke, it doesn't have enough options!)

I'll offer ther following for consideration:
1. That the OBD is there, it can be a great teaching and feedback tool. While I can't match Fred's 50 years of vehicle sim experience, as a Fighterpilot/Instructor, and recently heavily involved in simulation/training and testing for the USAF, I see the loss of HELIX as a missed opportunity. And, I agree 100%, - the setup should not be a distraction from the driving experience. The less fiddling required from the pilot's persective is always best.

2. Yep - Im Go-Pro equiped (well the knock-off Swan) - but the data display from the Aim SmartyCam was supurb, and not a technical disruption at all. -- It was just late, and presented a real missed training opportunity. At my 3 day - our (my session alternate & my) car was sporting 2 Go-Pros and a the Helix Sporty Cam. The minor distraction of turning on was easily accomplished.

3. In the fighter biz - we used gun camera and radar scope film, then later video, to debrief every mission. Over the years, turn arond time has gone from a few days for wet process film, to instant post flight availability. The closer the debrief is to the event, the faster the lesson is captured and learned. And that seems like an opportunity that could be readily achieved.

As food for thought, an OBD Bluetooth "dongle" can be had for under 50 bucks (suitible units available for $10). Won't wear out and even makes the mechanics work easier. "Paired" to a smart phone or tablet they have instant access to all codes without looking for the OBD-Reader. Apps for Smart Phones and Tablets are less than 5 bucks. A mechanics solution for nearly free -- chances are they have a Smart Phone in their pocket!. For "mission" debrief - need to add a blue tooth GPS for better refresh rates than in a phone. Something with 10Hz, 65 channels, 18 hour life on charge, can be found for under 50 bucks. I'm pretty convinced the Go-Pro has the advantage for mount and "non-invasive" video recording. The only remaining system element is a SmartPhone and mount. And that does present a potential for distraction, but as long as it is not "in-view", secured, and captures data from the event, a huge training opportunity opens up. Naturally there are soem integration issues presented - but I'd be willing to work with anyone in exchange for seat time! I finish my AF career 30Sep. HINT- HINT

Well, thanks for hearing me out. Appreciate the inputs. As Wille Nile's song goes, "Welcome to My Head..."

Now back to studies and prep for next week.

Thanks and Cheers - Jim
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Old 08-29-2013
phantomjock phantomjock is offline
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Re: OBD on the Skippy Formula Cars?

I just did another search on the forum and see that FredK asked nearly the same question buack in 2011! I swear I did a search - but somehow missed. Maybe dislexic typing?
Again - Thanks for the advice and inputs (so to speak!)

Cheers - Jim
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Old 09-03-2013
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Gerardo Gerardo is offline
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Re: OBD on the Skippy Formula Cars?

Hi guys,

The SBRS formula car with the Dodge 2-liter is OBD-I. The new prototype car with a Mazda engine is OBD-II, which should open up some data collection possibilities as you are all discussing, but that engine, last I heard, has not yet been deployed to the fleet. I agree as new systems come out, it will be simpler to record some basic information, such as engine RPM and throttle position, to use for coaching alongside GPS speed.

The MX-5 cars have wheelspeed sensors to manage the ABS systems. Those cars have OBD-II, so connecting a data system should be possible there. Asking a mechanic for assistance with connection should be a one-time learning process.

DalyDuo made a good comment that a driver in a school situation is probably best served by a GoPro or similar, but I am always interested in hearing your ideas on trying new technology to make for easy data downloads. It's not everything, but more tools in the bag are good when used effectively.

PhantomJock, does this help you?
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  #7  
Old 09-07-2013
phantomjock phantomjock is offline
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Re: OBD on the Skippy Formula Cars?

Gerardo -
Yep - and thanks for that update.

I just finished the 2 day at Sebring. What a BLAST! Full Course - a bit of wet-work, and a good number of Shoot-Out applicants - so a great class overall.

Had a chance to crawl over the cars and did a short discuss with Kieth Watts and a few of the mechs. The OBD port is easy access and just behind the seat on driver's left shoulder. Would need a dongle - but could easily build and adapt any number of fittings for data capture. Kieth even suggested pulling power from the starter as an oppurtunity to add a port for just power (e.g. a G-Tech Pro RR like unit. This could be accomplished with an appropriate donation to the mechanic's fund but simple enough to add.)
As I mentioned in my last posting - not so much interested in live info - but post-"flight" debrief/review. Depending on the capture method, some approaches could require data merging with the video - and that could be a time "sink."

As you said, it can add more tools to the kit!

Some of the apps available need the OBD to even function - even though they use the on-phone/tablet accelerometers for traction circle. The other challenge (mechanically) is configuring a mount - the phone/tablet needs to be upright for the accelerometer to read correctly as understand it.

The "Go-Pro" I shot is getting lots of review - now that I have time .
I couldn't download it while at Sebring - computer malf But better late than never!
The ideal opportunity would be just after the session - with full data available and add a little Instructor feedback to get an optimum lesson-learned. A challenge would be trying to jam all that in a very busy session no doubt. Casey ran a fast paced program - and we got a lot of laps in so it was a really meaningful experience. And that's where a trade-off would need some real deep thinking. For example, more complete feedback to improve on-track performance - vs more seat time.

I am going to continue to pursue solutions that could get to the data capture objective. As I am building a car - it is something I'll want anyway. If/as I come up with any Skippy adaptations I'll report back if there is any interest.

Thanks and,

Cheers - Jim
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