When is it Time to Consider Logging? | AEM

When is it Time to Consider Logging?

racecar driver holding steering wheel with digital dashboard on display

Combining Visualization with Logging Capability

The popularity of performance gauges cannot be denied. There’s something incredibly satisfying with having a specific engine parameter accurately monitored, and when combined with a gauge that delivers warnings, it can provide peace of mind that if something goes wrong you can shut it down before a catastrophe occurs. An accurate gauge, combined with the ability to recall peak values provides, at minimum, a basic logging parameter for the function the gauge is monitoring.

While gauges like AEM’s Classic Digital, X-Series, and Analog-style all have outputs that can send the sensor data to a logging device, it still requires a receiving device to record the data for analysis later. What’s more, as you add more gauges the overall cost of visualization increases, you still have to consider adding a logging device. Which begs the question, ‘at what point does it make sense to consider a logging display?

Why Log?

A Datalogger’s two main benefits include allowing you to keep an eye on the engine and quantify changes in the chassis set-up and/or driver’s technique in managing a launch, when to shift or change a line for a corner. The end result is keeping the car together while going faster and having more fun doing it because it is now calculated vs. guesswork.

When to Log?

Ask your customers what their goals are. Are they focusing on driver skill, vehicle performance or both, and what are the most important channels to start with that will provide them with useful information right away? Do they see adding to their dataset in the future, and if so, to what extent? For instance, if they are primarily looking to log driver channels, do they ever anticipate moving up in a class where engine modifications will require engine monitoring? Will they be adding channels for chassis dynamics? When you start to think about things this way, you can start predicting how much headroom a customer may want, or not want. If they are like most racers we work with, be sure to have a system that will allow them to expand as they learn…and go faster!

What to Use?

AEM’s CD Carbon Digital Dash Displays have a ton of advantages. They are incredibly light, bright, affordable for a full-color-custom display, and they can be installed on any vehicle because they take in all channels over CAN bus. This means that if a vehicle is 2008 or older, users can pull all available data off of the OBDII port with a simple cable connection. If the vehicle is a dedicated racecar using a standalone ECU, then AEM’s dash will likely accept the CAN data from it, regardless of who makes it. AEM has validated hundreds of non-AEM CAN devices to work with its displays.

Carbureted vintage racer? No problem, AEM makes CAN Sensor modules. You install the sensors into the module or modules, and then send the data to the dash over a 2-wire connection. And with a custom graphics interface, users can create a vintage-looking display.

CD Carbon dashes are available in 5- and 7-inch iterations, in racing versions with integrated buttons and shade hood or flat panel style for flush mounting. With seven programmable screens, there is plenty of room to spread the data you want to see across multiple pages, and there are dedicated pages for alarms, mode changes and startup. Warnings and alarms are customizable and unlimited. AEM provides a library of layouts, but these can be fully customized, too. You can design whatever you want and put channels on your layouts wherever you want. It’s that flexible.

A couple of other cool features include a Performance Timers feature which allows you to track various acceleration times (6o-foot, 1/8th, 1/4-mile, etc.), and also data you collect onto video. Combining video with data really brings it to life and adds an element to analysis that you just won’t get with traces alone. AEMdata software allows you to import video and then sync it to your data, then create overlays of the data right on the video. From an analysis perspective, seeing what you are doing along with the data can be critical to honing driver skills, and the other great aspect is users can share these videos with friends and partners.

Most importantly, it will accept and log as many channels as you can send to it, so regardless of how many channels you start with, you will never outgrow it.

The Learning Curve

Since CD Carbon logging dashes can be installed in anything, and AEMdata, the company’s analysis software package is very powerful, there is a bit of a learning curve with respect to setup. AEM supplies many different types of templates, but because channel lists will vary, the most common technical issues they encounter are getting started and setting up a workspace to view all of the channels the way you want. To minimize this, AEM has free tech support online and over the phone during business hours, and they have a library of tutorial videos that cover the most common topics. AEMdata and DashDesign software also include robust help sections for finding answers to questions when you are using them. For most enthusiasts, once they have defined their workspace and layout, the questions are higher level, like assistance with maths channels, histogram plotting, and the like.