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Video Archives - Kohler Created

Video and data logging for the budget racer

By | Automotive, Neil, Racing | No Comments

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Video and data logging are both very useful tools. Not only to help you analyze your laps to learn why you were significantly faster on any one lap versus the other, but its also just plain cool to be able to show your friends and family your hobby in a meaningful way.

The issue is that most video and data logging systems up until the recent few years have been mainly for professional or semi-professional racers. With that of course came a professional or semi-professional price tag. Most systems would start at $1000 for basic logging, and go up from there if you wanted video integration and more frills. Furthermore most of these systems required installation/wiring into the car which is another expense if you do not do it yourself, and at the very least another thing to take up your time.

So when I began attempting to gather data and video of my racing events I started very simple. An old Sony HD (tape) camera mounted to my seat head rest. This was when the car was still a street car.

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This setup produced OK video, but absolutely zero data for myself and anyone watching the video was really at a loss of where I was on the track and exactly how quick I was moving. Not very fun to watch.

So I began to do some research on budget video and data logging setups. To my surprise, since smart phone technology has come a very long way in recent years so have your options when it comes to using those devices as a data logging device.

I will not go over every option you have these days as this post would be huge as well as very time intensive. I will go over what I decided to use, the cost, and the benefits and drawbacks in hopes that it will help any budget racer in their decision and education.

The Gear:

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iPhone 4 -Jessica’s old iPhone 4, no carrier using wifi/usb only. – $199 years ago, can now find @$100-$150.

You obviously can use an iPhone4s or iPhone5 but I did not want to use my personal phone as a dual duty device, but it is certainly possible. I will note that recording hours of lapping will fill up your storage quite quickly.

You can also use a decently powerful Android device for the software I will be using, but this was really convenient because we had this phone laying around. The camera on it is pretty good too so it was a no brainer.

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I/O Port Racing roll cage mount – This is a bit overkill, but I got it used at a good price – $75 used – $109 New

I got this mount used however it is great for those who have a roll cage and it does a pretty good job at dampening vibration and as you can see has a wide range of articulation.

Snap Camera mount for iPhone – $14.50

This little mount securely holds the iPhone in landscape or portrait orientation and then attaches to any standard tri-pod mount threading. It was secure enough for me to feel comfortable using it in my setup. **Note that it does not allow for a case to be on the phone.

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Dual XGPS150 – This is a bluetooth external GPS that has a 5hz refresh rate over a typical phone’s 1hz or less! – $89 at Amazon

If you notice in some of my videos earlier this season, the GPS speed tracking is slightly erratic and more than a little inaccurate. This is because the iPhone’s internal GPS doesn’t have high enough resolutions (at 1Hz) — whereas this devices runs at 5Hz. So instead of relying on the iPhone, who isn’t asking “where am I?” enough, we now have a device that will be asking that question and collecting the data constantly. Pretty cool right?

Just take a look at the differences, the first video is just using the iPhone GPS sensor, the second is with the Dual XGPS150. Watch how my speed around the oval is very erratic in the first and no where near accurate.

Click here to see the videos side by side, the LEFT is with the Dual XGPS150 and the RIGHT with the internal iPhone GPS, big difference!

Software:

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Harry’s Lap Timer Pro – $20

This is a great application that is pleasantly easy to use. Now available for both Android and iOS, this software uses your phone’s camera, GPS and internal accellerometer to plot data. While a phone’s GPS is not that great out of the box; I recommend you use the external GPS device I detailed earlier and you will have much more accurate location data.

Harry’s Lap Timer will also overlay your videos for you in just a few clicks, leaving you to work on the car rather than spend hours video editing. The software has hundreds of tracks available and even has online leader boards and lap scores that you can upload your lap times and compare yourself to other cars like yours. Really cool. There are so many things you can do with this $20 software, it is really worth the cost and is actively developed and adding features all the time.

Check out everything here!

Here are a few examples of video I made with Harry’s Lap timer with very little customization from me, this were pretty much made within 10-15 minutes time. The vibrations you see are tones of my exhaust note reacting with the floating camera sensor in the iPhone. Most people should not have this issue and if you do I have found this workaround until they fix it. However, take a look at Harry’s Lap Timer page there are many great examples of what you can do with a setup like mine.

8-21-2013 Gateway Motorsports Park PDX Lap 4 from Kohler Created on Vimeo.

8-21-2013 Gateway Motorsports Park PDX Lap 11 from Kohler Created on Vimeo.

Total Costs:

So here you go, right at around $300 spent on pretty entertaining video to show your friends and family a bit of your hobby. As I said before you can also use this to look at your laps and figure out why you were faster on one lap rather than the other. The data can also be exported to a CSV text file or others for those who really like to get into the numbers.

Total spent: ~$300

Hopefully this info was helpful for those who must pinch the pennies on accessories like this so that the pennies can be more heavily leveraged into track time, fuel, and car maintenance. The more time on the track the better right?!

This is by no means comprehensive so if anyone has some gear that they use feel free to comment and let me know what is working for you!

8-21-2013 Gateway Motorsports Park SCCA PDX

By | Automotive, Featured, Neil, Racing | No Comments

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Another track day down! And boy this was a good one!

This time the track day was a 1/2 day event that began around 3:30PM and ran until dark. I have never done one of these half day events but I have to say there are a few benefits to them over a full day.

First off you do not really need to get a hotel because you do not have to be on track until 2:30-3:00 so that is nice on the wallet. The down side? Well you are packing up around 8:00PM, tired and dirty and still have a long drive back home hauling the car; exhausting and makes for a late night.

So I do kind of like the 1/2 day events, but they do feel like more of a rush than a full weekend event.

In any case… The reason why the event was such a good one is because it was the first time that as a driver I felt like I really started to push this car’s limits and I was not the only limiting factor. I think going to Mid America Motorplex in May really helped me with my confidence. Feeling the car on a much different track and getting a lot of solo seat time let me really connect with the car and start to test and feel its limits.

The track times agreed. Overall I improved my lap times between 6 and 8 seconds on average between this event and the last event in late April! That is huge to scrub off almost 10 seconds for my fastest lap.

8-21-2013 Gateway Motorsports Park PDX Lap 4 from Kohler Created on Vimeo.

As you can see in the video I was really moving and keeping very smooth throughout the track. I was very happy with the car and it was giving me great feedback on what was going on.

I decided this time to break up the videos into laps in order to make them easier to flip through and digest for a viewer. Here are a couple more good laps:

8-21-2013 Gateway Motorsports Park PDX Lap 28 from Kohler Created on Vimeo.

8-21-2013 Gateway Motorsports Park PDX Lap 12 from Kohler Created on Vimeo.

And if you cannot get enough and want more laps I have created a group for this event and you can check them out here:

8-21-2013 Gateway Motorsports Park PDX

The day was not without some tribulation. I did experience my first time going off track. I have gotten pretty sideways and out of control before but I have always managed to stay on the track. Well this time was a bit different.

Coming into turn 5 I was really moving. Most of the day I was tracking out very wide out of turn 5 and almost clipping the track out cone. This time I hit the turn 5 apex a bit too early, coupled in with carrying a bit too much speed into the turn which caused my track out line to move wide. Coming out of turn 5 the car got a bit sideways and then grabbed after I did a bit of throttle modulation. After grabbing it pointed me even further wide and my rear tires hit the rumble strip paint and lost traction again. Instead of fighting it and perhaps spinning or shooting back across the track I decided to let it track out into the grass. A good and safe bet.

I did however kill a cone and do a pretty good amount of paint damage on the front bumper. No biggie really. Paint is easy and relatively cheap to have re-painted. No structural or parts damaged and to be honest I was not really even disappointed in myself at all. The only reason it happened is because I had been getting faster and faster and just pushed the edge a bit too far. Nothing stupid, nothing silly.

The aftermath:

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And on to the video of the off track adventure:

8-21-2013 Gateway Motorsports Park PDX Lap 7 – Went off track from Kohler Created on Vimeo.

I ended up getting right back on the track and hitting some more laps that session.

At the end of the day I did learn a lot during the sessions. I learned a couple new lines on some corners and more so I gradually kept pushing my limits while keeping things smooth and I do not believe I ever once was caught “over driving” the car, a problem I sometimes run into. That all came together with much smoother and faster laps.

A great ending to the day was when my instructor and the Chief Steward both agreed that I was ready to drive solo and move up to the advanced group. I usually do not ever get prideful in myself but it did feel good to get that nod.

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I have one more event this season going to Heartland Park Topeka with NASA and then the car goes back in the garage for maintenance, improvements and some hibernation. Next spring I aim to work with NASA(National Auto Sport Association) Central and go to Competition Driving School and get my comp license. A dream of mine coming in to reality.

If you got this far, thanks for reading! Let me know what you like or do not like or what you would like to see more of about my automotive hobby. Here are some more links to albums and videos of the day.

Full Flickr Album
My YouTube Channel

Runnin’ Down a Dream

By | Art, Music, Video | 3 Comments

Neil and I started watching a pretty fantastical documentary last night called “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” the story of  Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers by Peter Bogdanovich. He’s that all-time eccentric but very talented guy who also made The Last Picture Show, which I also recommend (it was Jeff Bridges first movie).

This band is beyond incredible. Their stories are the stuff of legends, and some are so unbelievable that if they didn’t have so much archival footage you might not believe them all. It’s hard not to envy. I love stories of people who made success their own invention and didn’t compromise an inch. Lots of awesome commentary as well. My celebrity husband Eddie Vedder even makes an appearance (check out his guest cover of The Waiting!) I told Neil that once we get to a point where we aren’t limited by jobs he’s growing his hair out. Am I a weirdo for loving beards and long hair? Maybe just antiquated?

What are some of your favorite bands? Do you like the old stuff, the new, or a little bit of everything like us?

Milestone

By | blogging, Cats, Clive, Video | 2 Comments

Our pup is in his first day of crate-freedom. What we thought was separation anxiety we’re now thinking is actual containment phobia, based on what we’ve read. We set up a webcam, and so far so good. He is definitely missing us, but is not in a frenzy of anxiety and fear-driven mania. It was scary to see him so frantic, and he ground down two of his teeth trying to get out of the crate. Now he’s just laying on the rug in our living room staring at the door. I’d rather have a pup missing us than a pup hurting himself. Oddly enough we used to think the cats slept all day, boy were we wrong!

Man vs. Food Cameo

By | Food, Television, Video | No Comments

So, if you’re food obsessed like Neil and I, you love pretty much the entire line-up of both the Food Network and Travel Channel. I used to laugh at my parents for sitting mesmerized while Malto Mario talked pastas and seafood, but now in my late-twenties Neil and I could easily watch food and travel shows all day. So we were surprised when we didn’t know our friends Matt and Katie (just married this weekend) had made it onto the show Man vs. Food. Check out one of my favorite episodes of all time below. They are in the opening scene in the upper right.

For reference, a beautiful recent photo of the happy couple:

The video (They are in the opening scene of the first part):

How awesome huh? Hat tip to Kyle Burke for sharing that with us this weekend. Stay tuned, later in the week I’ll unveil the invite and program designs I made for their wedding!