I'm starting this blog to document the process of creating a new vehicle data collector, my motivations for doing so, and just to try out this whole blogging thing.
It all started when I bought a new motorcycle for my myself as a birthday present. Here's a stock photo of this beauty:
It's a 2016 Yamaha YZF-R1. I knew going into this, and was able to quickly confirm, this bike deserves to be ridden on a track. I've never ridden on any track, but I'm willing to give it a go. The nearest track to me is the New York Safety Track located in Harpersfield, NY. I'll probably tackle that next year, just to give myself more time to get used to the bike, but I wanted to start getting prepared now.
I'm a gear and gadget geek, so I applied that to preparing for the track. I started looking around at what I might want/need to have for a track day. My thoughts drifted to data collection as a way to help improve my technique and provide general bragging material. I came across an interesting assortment of products, one of which is a phone app, RaceChrono, which collects and logs GPS data from a Bluetooth connected GPS receiver as well as some other Bluetooth connected devices. The Pro version of the app also has the ability to merge and sync that data with a video recorded with a helmet or vehicle mounted camera. Neat. There are other products that do similar things, but that was enough to get me thinking.
So, I'd need a decent GPS receiver. The receiver in my phone (as well as many phones) only updates at 1Hz but it's best if your GPS receiver can push out updates at 10Hz or even faster. Faster updates results in better precision from the software.
During my research, I also found out my bike is equipped with a CAN bus and dumps tons of data at a high rate during normal use (this is true of the 2015 model as well, I don't know about any other year). If you can tap into this data stream and decode the messages, you can extract things like:
Fuel Usage Rate
Front Wheel Speed
Rear Wheel Speed
Front Brake Pressure Demanded
Front Brake Pressure Actuated
Rear Brake Pressure Demanded
Rear Brake Pressure Actuated
Ambient Air Temp
Engine Coolant Temp
Pitch, yaw and roll rates
Accelerometer in the x, y and z axes
Many of these things would be great to get into RaceChrono and display in a video.
At this point, I decided I might as well build something because, well, that's what I do. I wasn't happy with the specifications or prices of existing solutions, so I made a list of my own requirements and then incorporated the best of what I could find in other products.