Looking at the data

After all of the preparation and the hectic three-day karting weekend, it’s been a case of leaving the kart well alone and enjoying free time this week. I’ve no enthusiasm to clean the kart at the moment but I did get around to downloading the Alfano data to take a look at the data logging.

I’ve said it before but the Alfano ADM BOX4-GPS really is a fantastic piece of kit. It lays all of the data out in front of you, in a single window and it’s great to see how the sessions unfolded, when the tyres came on and how we fared in the traffic against how we ran with some clear track in front of us.

ScreenShot 035The data itself is a little surprising; the rev range suggests that we might have considered a sprocket change, Junior’s fastest laps don’t look that clean in terms of the nice, smooth acceleration out of the corners that you’d expect to see. Most surprising was a string of laps that Junior put in when running with his pals in the second heat: four laps within 0.04s and a theoretical best amongst those that would have missed the track record by only 0.05s! Of course a theoretical best means very little and it goes to show the benefit of having a tow. If anybody is going to break the lap record any time soon they’ll be doing it on their way to front rather than simply driving away from the pack! It is pleasing but largely meaningless if you lack the race craft to put your kart on the podium. It’s almost as if the second phase of Junior’s karting education begins now and I can’t help but wonder if this is where the hard part begins…

Nice theoretical!

This is what we should be aiming for!

An early start to 2015

Although our kart was stripped in preparation for having the chassis powder coated, I took up the offer of a rolling chassis loan and we headed to Llandow for our first practice of the year. We had a few things on the agenda: make sure the Alfano ADM data logger (an eBay Christmas purchase) worked, test the case of carbs (another eBay purchase) that I had bought and sent straight off for cleaning and rebuilding and also to try out my own Christmas presents: a Sony AS30 Actioncam and a digital tyre pressure gauge.

We got a bit of a surprise when we turned up and the circuit was locked but we were still on track for the day’s first session a little after 10:30. It was a beautifully sunny winter’s day but there was a bitter wind and I opted to don the waterproofs to keep warm. We had a few early hiccups: Junior complained the seat was too small and that he was unable to turn the wheel! This was the seat that was two sizes bigger than his seat and that I had used for the IKR Parent’s Race but, once we had moved the steering column forward, he was happy. Thankfully the Alfano system worked perfectly so we could actually see what we were doing on track! We were with another JTKM and, despite the presence of a couple of Honda cadets, it was nice that the circuit maintained an open pit lane as it meant that we could pretty much come and go as we pleased, only having to make way for a handful of arrive/drive sessions. The cadets weren’t a problem either and Junior gave them plenty of space when he caught them.

The day went reasonably well; although I’m not sure that Junior is really consistent enough to get reliable data on the carbs (having said that, he did manage to post consecutive identical laps and follow them up with another 3/100ths slower!), he found one that he thinks that he had a preference for – it was the first time we’ve used an 820 although I wasn’t telling him the series as we tested them (I’ve not yet had a chance to look at the data from a carb perspective). He was getting much needed track experience and was trying some different lines in various parts of the track. On the downside, I didn’t really give the digital tyre gauge a proper test (I need to read the manual again! :S) and the Sony camera didn’t really do itself justice owing to a lack of mounting options – the flat mount that we had to use was too flat for the FP7 nassau and I think just moved to one side (the curved mount curved the wrong way to be of any use), it really needed screwing to the nassau. The footage was underwhelming too but this might be down to my laptop’s ability to playback 1080p @60fps. The Alfano data was, once I managed to install the software on Windows 8 and to get it talking to my laptop bluetooth, really impressive – after getting home, I was entertaining myself watching Junior’s laps racing themselves into the early hours.

Alfano's VisualData analysis software

Alfano’s VisualData analysis software

You can click the above pic to open a larger version. Clockwise from top-left is the RPM range histogram; lap deltas (entering the final hairpin both yellow and blue laps are ahead of his red lap, which was our fastest on the day – Junior’s blue lap loses 3.35m here!); the RPM (top) and speed (bottom) line graph; sectors table; track map showing acceleration/decceleration. As you can see, there is a gold mine of data in there! 😀

On the flip side, check out the Llandow track map according the Sony camera GPS:

This isn't actually the shape of the Llandow track :S

This isn’t actually the shape of the Llandow track :S

Cost of day: £35 practice fee, £6 bridge toll, £16 petrol, £6 fuel, £9 chain lube

Costs since last post: £70 carb cleaning and rebuilds, £30 cost of new OTK steering wheel after selling the F1 wheel

Total spent this year: £172

Another karting Christmas

Junior had only a few wants this Christmas: a new racesuit with matching gloves and boots. His old Sparco suit is now a couple of years old (buying a suit a couple of sizes too big proved to be a good idea), has a broken zip and the main red colour has run into the white stripes making them closer to pink than white! There weren’t any suits out there he liked so I designed one that combined a couple of classic racing liveries: the Lotus colours (that he already has on his kart) and the old Gulf white with red/blue stripe design. It took a little bit of time to (and a trip to Grand Prix Racewear) to get it right but I am really pleased with the outcome (perhaps more importantly, he is too!). The are a few little niggles: The stripe down the sleeve was supposed to be thinner than the main stripe and the elasticated cuffs and legs feel like they might go before Junior grows but my biggest fear, the size of the thing, was unfounded – I would definitely recommend getting measured up by the professionals though. The whole ensemble makes it first appearance at Christmas Karting on Monday night when Junior will definitely be looking like the kid wearing his Christmas presents!

As the suit was more money than we’ve ever spent on any single Christmas present other than the kart itself, it was always going to be a struggle to give that appearance of a sack full of presents on Christmas morning. I’ve no idea where we got them but the Christmas sacks we’ve always used for the kids are easily a metre tall – they have done very well out of us over the years! Pretty much everything that I had bought for the kart in the past eight weeks was wrapped up and used as stocking fillers: a couple of axles (one a new forum purchase, the other a used once [genuinely!!!] eBay purchase), a new looking airbox and a newly kitted 820 carb – both from UK Karting. In addition, I used a little sleight of hand; selling Junior’s Mychron and USB data key to fund an Alfano ADM purchase from eBay. It’s the GPS version which Junior had seen previously and really liked the look of and, provided it works properly when we take it to the track and I get to grips with the poorly translated instructions and what many reckon to be sub-optimal software, should prove to be a good deal. It was a nice surprise for Junior too. Of course, this also meant that it was time to say goodbye to the C-K-R F1 Mycrhon 4 steering wheel which Junior was very fond of but needs must and I sold it on the sly! The Mychron/data key and wheel went for £280 and the Alfano with a new 2014 OTK steering from eBay was £305 with Junior using his Christmas money to make up the balance 😉

As for me, I treated myself to some new toys: a digital tyre pressure gauge and a Sony action camera. I hope to combine it with the Alfano to produce some nice dashboard videos but only time will tell whether that proves to be as easy as it sounds!

Here’s hoping that Santa was good to you also 😀

Costs since last post (I don’t publish the Christmas costs, that just doesn’t seem right!): £20 front torsion bar welded in.

Total spent this year: £4,395