WHAT IF YOU COULD STOP TIME? WOULD YOU STOP TIME?
At the critical points of a racetrack to become a better and quicker driver? Would you stop time to look at your vehicle and engine parameters to make tuning changes that would make your car quicker on the track? While there still isn’t a time machine available to the public, AiM Sports offers products that deliver the same valuable information without affecting time’s status as a constant. Recently, we evaluated AiM’s Solo DL Data logging GPS based lap timer and the AIM SmartyCam while at the 2013 Nissan GT-R experience. After using the system, we can’t imagine hitting a track day event without the system on board. Capturing the synchronized sights, sounds, ECU data and GPS-based track data simultaneously provides an exceptionally valuable snapshot in time that allows both drivers and machines to become faster on track.
AiM Sports Solo
The AiM Sports Solo GPS Lap Timer uses its GPS position to identify a track from its internal database of race courses from around the world. This allows for quick and automatic sampling of lap times. The Solo features a built-in, three-axis internal accelerometer that reads up to 6Gs of acceleration. With 16MB of internal memory, the Solo records speed, acceleration, deceleration and track position at 10Hz (ten times per second). By using the RaceStudio2 software, the Solo’s logs can be reviewed to see exactly what was happening to the vehicle at every position on track. This allows track mapping the exact driving line of the course for each lap. When the driver takes a different line, it’s easy to determine if it’s quicker or slower at each part of the course. The Solo also features predictive lap times. This function predicts a completed lap time based on your current lap’s pace. If you are in need of 0-60, 1/8-mile and 1/4-mile performance data, the Solo has these tests built into the unit. It’s hard to build an argument for not having a Solo in any vehicle that sees a track. That is unless you have the budget to step up to the ECU datalogging version of the Solo, the Solo DL.
Keep it on the DL
The Solo DL has all of the features of the Solo plus it delivers two very important and valuable functions. First, the “DL” allows for data logging from the vehicle’s ECU through the OBD-II or CAN bus. Chances are that it works with the ECU in your car as the DL can connect and communicate with over 300 supported ECUs. This allows the Solo DL to record up to 100 additional channels of information from the ECU. The number of channels that are accessible is dependent upon the ECU itself. In the case of the R35 Nissan GT-R, 25 channels of data can be recorded. These include critical engine and system parameters, as well as driver inputs. The second advantage of the Solo DL over the Solo, is the ability to connect to the AiM
SmartyCam. With the SmartyCam linked to the Solo DL, the SmartyCam’s on-board camera video and audio is automatically synchronized with all of the data recorded by the Solo DL.
Get Smart with a Cam
The AiM Sports SmartyCam is designed to work in one of three different modes: stand-alone, ECU bridge and AiM-Logger mode. In stand-alone, the SmartyCam’s integrated GPS and 3D accelerometer provide position, lap time, speed, distance, acceleration and track mapping. The data is similar to the data captured by the Solo lap timer, but without the advantage of having the display information from the Solo unit. This means there is not a display of the lap time or the predictive lap time. The ECU bridge mode requires the purchase of an “ECU Bridge” that connects to the CAN or OBD-II port of the ECU. This mode allows the SmartyCam to record data from the factory ECU.
Once again, there is not a way to display lap times or predictive lap times in this mode. In the AiM-Logger mode, the SmartyCam interfaces with the Solo DL or other AiM logger to synchronize the video and audio stream from the SmartyCam with the engine ECU and GPS data streams from the Solo DL.
With the SmartyManager software, you can set up real-time data overlays on the video without any post processing needed. This allows playback of the on-board video with acceleration, throttle, speed, brake, speed, engine speed, lap number and gear position.
The SmartyCam records video in a DV-quality 720 x 400 pixel format at 30 frames per second. The compression codec used is H.264 which allows about 4 hours recording time on a 4GB MicroSD card. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 3 hours per charge. The on-board display is helpful for confirming the site picture of the camera during setup.
The Bottom Line
The right tool gets the job done sooner. While unlimited access to a race
track, tires, brake pads, fuel, professional instruction and seat time will allow
anyone to become a better driver, we’ve never met anyone blessed with
those opportunities. Having tools like the Solo DL and SmartyCam allow a
driver to get the most from every track session.