Geoforce Goes Racing

Here at Geoforce, we’re best known for our widely accepted flagship GT1: Global Asset Tracker – the world’s only IECEx/ATEX Zone 0 tracking device. Coupled with our award winning software offering, Track and Trace, our solution aids businesses in areas such as logistics optimization, safety and environmental compliance, and improved utilization. No less capable is Track and Trace for Vehicles, which leverages Calamp’s excellent LMU hardware platform. Aside from being easy to install with only three connections needed, the complete solution offers not only vehicle tracking but also features driver behavior/safety management and service verification.

Back here in Hardware Development we’re surrounded by a smorgasbord of interesting gadgetry, afflicted with endless curiosity, and very fortunate to work in an environment where research into new features and integrations are encouraged. We’re also hopeless gearheads.

So when we looked to make our very terrible 24 Hours of Lemons Miata racing car more competitive and push the limits of what’s possible with a Calamp, a homegrown racing telemetry system was the only thing to do. In the immortal words of Sir Richard Hammond, “If you want to improve the breed, you go motorsport.”

After a week of coding, splicing, soldering, and wiring, what emerged was the unholy marriage of no less than three Calamp devices interfaced with a bevy of sensors all working in harmony to deliver high-frequency, actionable data to race control. How’d we do it? First we used a single LMU4200 to capture all the vehicle’s on board sensor data. The car’s fuel, oil temperature, water temperature, and oil pressure gauges are all driven by voltage dividers. Those instruments were all calibrated and our software converted the reported voltages into the appropriate units. Also installed was Geoforce’s Driver ID system which allowed us to track each driver’s stint time against perceived exertion. We leveraged a custom project using on-device GeoZones to map the track and hot pits to measure the total time on track along with the length of our pit stops.

Real-time tire temperature? Sure! A second LMU4200 ganged with an external interrupt to the first took data from four Omega OS136 non-contact infrared temperature sensors mounted over the wheels allowing us to gauge the setup of the suspension. We used a pair of Maxim 1-Bit Bus DS28EA00 temperature sensors to compare the track’s ambient air temperature against our induction air temperature, which allowed us to design the intake to breathe the coolest air possible.

A third LMU2720 conducted this whole symphony by synchronizing the reports of the other two devices to our software backend while using the same on-board 400Hz three-axis accelerometer that powers Geoforce’s Safety Dashboard to provide high-frequency data about how hard we were driving the car while pointing out differences in our individual driving styles. These allowed us to brake later and deeper on corner entry, as well as manage our car’s energy more efficiently.

So how’d we do? In ultra-competitive Class A, and racing against some very well sorted turbo cars, our little heap was in 5th coming into our first pit stop. Shortly thereafter, the pressure plate got in a scuffle with the clutch release bearing. Release bearing lost. We scrounged a new part and put the whole thing back together only to have the same thing happen, leaving us to finish in 42nd place overall. What’s that bit about when life gives you lemons? Look for us again at Eagle’s Canyon Raceway April 9-10!