Data logging was once something you only heard about in reference to professional race teams. The kinds of teams that had the cash to employ Nobel Prize-winning physicists and chassis dynamics engineers — this kind of technology was pipe dream territory for the weekend racer.
In the last few years we have witnessed a tech boom in the performance automotive aftermarket on the level of the enlightenment. We have turned from the grunge of seat-of-the-pants tuning and embraced the witchcraft of computers. With this technology becoming more mainstream, weekend racers are having their own religious experience with unlocking the potential these aides can provide them. AEM Electronics has been one of the key players in making these kinds of products available to the general enthusiast.
Unlocking the potential of a car lies in leveraging data as much as hands-on know how. If you’re making adjustments in the dark, quantifying your improvement or lack thereof, becomes a guessing game.
Gathering the pertinent data to make informed decisions is half the battle. AEM’s new Vehicle Dynamics Module (VDM) is one of the latest user friendly ways to gather what happens on track in clear terms. It can be tough to focus on driving a hot lap or quarter mile and pondering what the car is doing.
“The VDM was created in response to our Infinity ECU customers who wanted to combine chassis and acceleration data with their engine data into a single log, without having to use inputs for GPS, gyros or accelerometers, or having to output the engine data into an external logger like our AQ-1,” explained Lawson Mollica of AEM.
Installation of the VDM should be as central in the car as possible.
While the VDM was created for AEM Infinity users that does not mean that racers using other management systems are left out. Any third party company that uses CAN bus communication in their loggers will be able to accept data from the VDM.
“One of the great things about the Infinity ECU is they can log up to 100 channels at 1,000 Hz. But to take that engine data and combine it with your track data you needed to output it to an AQ-1 or third party data logger. That all ends with the new VDM,” continued Mollica.
The ability to overlay engine data along with vehicle dynamics means that you can not only address tuning issues with the engine, but use the VDM data as a learning tool for your own driver training. With some analytical discipline and an open mind you could coach yourself through driving improvements in certain areas on track.
“The way you apply the data is completely up to the user! Like the examples in our video, it can tell drivers if they are using the full potential of the car and combined with shock pots, can also tell you the limits of your suspension setup so you can make adjustments. Same with braking forces, it can tell you if you are braking too soon or too late.”
Looking at the data you can see where the car can be pushed harder.
“In drag racing it can tell you if you are spinning by comparing acceleration to RPM, whether the tires are lifting or you aren’t getting enough squat at launch. It’s a valuable tool that you can add to your toolbox to provide other ways of looking at your data, that when all taken in, can give you critical info necessary to make meaningful adjustments in competition,” Mollica described.
Knowing the performance envelope of your car can help you come closer to utilizing all it offers as a driver. As AEM’s Beau Brown walks us through, maximizing use of available traction under cornering and braking is more easily visualized with an overlaid graph.
“The VDM includes a 3-axis gyro, 3-axis accelerometer, and a 5 Hz GPS and GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) antenna that allows you to create track maps using GPS data and also get acceleration, yaw, pitch, and roll, and have all of that data combined in your Infinity ECU logs via a DTM connection,” Mollica continues.
Many readers may think to themselves; well I’m a casual track racer, and the phone app I use can provide enough basic telemetry for me to analyze my runs. While a basic app can provide you very limited information it is not really a scientific tool.
“A phone app is novel, but the VDM is designed for racers who want more accurate positioning, altitude, heading and speed data to create good track maps, and high quality accelerometer and gyrometer … for understanding how their car is reacting in various racing environments. Plus you can’t combine phone app data to your vehicle engine data,” Mollica clarified.
So if you are ready to step up to the next level of racing telemetry AEM Electronic’s VDM might be what you’re looking for. As a car setup tool , and potential a teaching aide, the VDM can be you technical reporter while you’re on track.