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Save thousands on data logging equipment by using your smart phone.... 

Data and Video Logging Applications Via your Smart Phone or Tablet

 

Michael Allen

                                                                                           

                                                                                               

                                                          

                                                                        

There are a variety of free or inexpensive smart phone and tablet applications that can be used for capturing lapping videos with data overlays.  See our article on how to use these apps by clicking how to.  Here is a review of some of the available apps:

 

Android Apps:

 

AlaprecorderHD

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The good news about AlaprecorderHD is that it is very user friendly and has a lot of desirable features.  The bad news is that it appears to be unsupported.  The user support forum has been down for maintenance for years and many reviews on the Play Store note that emails to the developer result in an error message.  This is too bad, since it seems to be the app of choice for Android users.  As long as there are no problems, it is the one that I intend to use for now.  A demo mode of the app is free so that you can test it out.  The upgrade to the full version is only $7.99.  The app records video with a track map showing your position on the track and a picture in picture display with a view of the track from Google Earth.  There is lap number and time, best time and up to 5 dials showing the data of your choice.  You can link to an external GPS receiver and an OBD-II reader via Bluetooth, as well as a remote camera.  The video with full data overlay can be viewed immediately on the device. Consider using a tablet for ease of viewing.  Video and data files can be uploaded to a computer in different formats, including RaceRender, making it convenient to use the RaceRender video editing software.  The reviews of this app are generally positive, noting that it is stable with some limited crashing.  By the way, all of these apps will crash from time to time and fail to record data at other times.  Be prepared to capture some, but not all of your runs.  The developers recommend against recording an entire track day due to memory issues.  The biggest concern with AlaprecorderHD is the lack of support.

 

RaceChrono

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RaceChrono is generally raved about in reviews.  It is easy to use and very stable.  It is a data logger only and does not capture video.  Motorcycle racers like to use it because you can turn it on and keep it in your pocket while it logs.  It, therefore, does not need to be mounted in your car.  If video is desired, the user will need to also run a separate camera like the GoPro Hero series.  The data and video files will then need to be uploaded separately to a computer for video editing.  RaceRender can handle merging separate sources of video and data to create a full video with data overlays.   The app has all of the functionality of Alaprecorder, except for the video, and yields a variety of tabular and graphic data representations.  It is free. 

 

Trackmaster

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Trackmaster has all of the features of the above.  It will record data and video which can be watched immediately on the device.  The developer maintains a website where sessions and data can be uploaded to the cloud.  The app can be set to speak your lap times to you while driving.  It has a predictive mode to compare your actual to your theoretical best lap time.  Track data can be shared via email, Facebook and Twitter.  You can overlay your laps to judge the consistency of your line.  The reviews site a tendency to crash and an overly complex user interface.  I tried this one and abandoned it due to this complexity.  The cost is $3.99.

 

Track Attack

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Track Attack is a newly released app that may turn out to be the pick for the Android users.  With this one you do not have to go through the process of loading track maps or setting start/finish lines.  The app will recognize the track you are on automatically and will mark the start finish line automatically as well.  This makes it the closest to simple plug and play.  The developer has a full website up and running as well as a user support forum.  The users can upload their track videos directly to the site to archive and share on-track exploits. This is yet another nice user friendly feature compared to others.  The app does not yet support external GPS, OBD-II data nor an external camera.  With all the plug and play features, this app has the potential to replace Alaprecorder as my personal choice.  This app has a free demo mode and is $14.99 for a full version.

 

iPhone Apps

 

Harry’s LapTimer

 

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Harald Schlangmann is both a software engineer and a driver.  He developed the app due to his interest in high performance driving events in cars and on motorbikes.  The app is highly accurate and allows auto start and stop and hands-free use while on the track.  There is support for picture in picture overlays and there is experimental integration for the Hero GoPro line of cameras.  Harry maintains an on-line library of over 450 tracks worldwide and there is a system for submitting your own custom tracks for certification and sharing with others.  LapTimer is highly customizable and there are multiple skins or looks available.  There are 3 iphone versions available at different but very affordable prices.  The Rookie edition is only $8.99 and allows data logging, but no video recording.  The PetrolHead version is $19.99 and integrates video.  The GrandPrix edition is $29.99 and has the most features including experimental support for the Hero GoPro cameras.  For Android users, only the Rookie edition is currently available.  Harry indicates that he is working on the PetrolHead edition for Android.  This one will allow data logging and video recording.  It should be available in March of 2014.  This is good news, since the app is highly sophisticated and Harry’s support is plentiful.  He is very responsive to requests for assistance and information.  Look for our upcoming interview with Harald Schlangmann in the next edition of autotrackdaymonthly.com. 

 

TrackAddict HD  

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This app was developed by the same individual who created the RaceRender video editing software.  Please see our interview with the developer in our Track Q & A article.  It is easy to use with blinking and then steady indicators to tell you that there are solid GPS and OBD-II connections available.  It can be set up to record automatically or manually.  There is predictive lap timing and one can utilize driving line, statistics and lap comparison features.  TrackAddict HD can work with external GPS and OBD-II sensors as well as the Hero GoPro cameras through Bluetooth connections.  There is a free demo version and the full paid option is only $7.99.  The developer maintains a forum for support of both the data logger and video editing products, which are fully integrated.  Requests for assistance are timely and spot on.  For example, this writer requested assistance with a video rendering and received prompt help.  The developer diagnosed the problem with my video and gave clear instruction on what steps to take to correct the issue.  Essentially, my recording was logging data but no video for the first 4 minutes due to a bad GPS signal.  After receiving advice via the forum, I was able to quickly sync the video with the data.  The result was a nice video with data overlays, including lap number, lap time, a track map with location and rpm and g-force meters.   Unfortunately, there are no plans to make this highly supported app available to the Android community.  

 

trackattack2c360x159Track Addict Developer Q & A:

We had a question and answer session with the developer of Track Attack, the latest and arguably the most advanced app available.  The interview will shed light on how to use all of these apps to your advantage and demonstrate many of their features.  Here is our interview with Gamaliel Aguilar-Gamez:

 

Q.  What led you to develop Track Attack?

A.  Track Attack is a project that my co-worker and I came up with 2.5 years ago.  We both work at Microsoft and used to work on a project together.  One day over lunch we were just casually talking and I mentioned that I had a bunch of ideas for apps, mostly around motorsports but I didn’t have the technical skills to actually make it happen (coding).  He mentioned that he wanted to work on cool projects outside of work but he lacked cool ideas that didn’t require a dedicated sales force.  So we decided to brainstorm, do some feasibility tests and see where it went.  

Track Attack was one of the ideas I had.  I’ve been in the high tech industry all of my career, have always been into cars and steadily getting more and more into track days.  I was dumbfounded that with the amount of computing power, network resources and sensors available on smartphones that someone hadn’t built an app for GPS based lap timing that enables people to share their experiences much easier.  Back then and even today, if you want to record video with a data overlay and share it online, you’re looking at $1,000+ and/or several hours of video editing to share just one lap.  So we decided to see if we can bring these basic but powerful scenarios to users:

       GPS based lap timing without requiring additional accessories (just the phone)

       HD video

       Ability to share with at most 2 touches or clicks from the users

 

Q.  Do you have a track driving history yourself?

A.  Yes.  I’ve been into cars since I can remember.  I grew up in a shop with my dad. He owned repair shops as the family business.  Back in 2009 or 2010, I decided I wanted more than just to have a cool looking car with high performance parts; I wanted to get on a race track.  So I did my High Performance Driver Training at Pro-formance Race School at Pacific Raceways and it’s been steadily downhill from there.  Here are the general highlights:

       November 2009 - HPDE School

       2010 – 3-4 Track Days

       2011 – 8-10 Track Days

       2012 – 15-18 Track Days

       Simraceway Formula 3 racing school

       Full season of NASA TT and was the TT3 NASA NW Champion

       Not my fastest lap/session but quality video -http://trackattackapp.com/?raceid=09abf415-bc7e-425f-bb17- 28c9d782d752&lapid=d1c31fbe-4f0c-4522-a171-3080f1548c40     

       My personal fastest lap at one of our local race tracks -http://trackattackapp.com/?raceid=02845e47-bcf4-442b-9d3d-af3c6e6d288d

       2 Day SCCA Racing Competition School @ Pro-formance Racing School

       Interim ICSCC racing license – 3 wheel to wheel races in Pro3 Racing class                            

Video of my first Pro3 race (watch me learn the hard way that on lap 1 with tons of traffic, we are nowhere near normal speeds and I could have passed people on the outside but instead got passed by a couple cars on the inside – bah!!!) -http://trackattackapp.com/?raceid=6aacc56d-408f-462f-aa1a-9ebba3a43405

Started Go Karting over the fall/winter to keep refining skills

Aside from the racing schools and renting a Pro3 car for wheel to wheel racing, almost all my time on the track was in an Evo 9.  It steadily went from a street car with basic mods, to a rarely driven track car to a fully dedicated race car in 2013. trackattack3c480x209

 

Q.  How can the app help a track day/high performance driving experience participant?

A.  I’ll be the first to say that Track Attack is for the HPDE/Track Day/club racer.  It is optimized to give lap times, session times, record video and share.  If someone is looking to consistently shave off more than a tenth of a second, Track Attack is all you need.  For those who are making a living or trying to make a living in racing, there are much better (and WAY more expensive) data logging and analytic solutions to make them a better driver.  BUT this is the best way for them to share non-proprietary in-car experiences.  Racing is some of the most emotional and exciting experiences that a person can have.    Track Attack enables people to ride shotgun.

For the non-pros, here’s some of the best ways to get value out of Track Attack:

Lap times – just the basics.  It’s amazing how many people show up to a track day and have no form of measuring their performance.     Track Attack lets you see real time, while you are driving, what your lap times are and see if what you’re trying differently is working. 

Post Session Debrief – Like any driving coach will preach, it is critical to come off the track and immediately do a debrief on what             went well, how the car was handling and any specific notes on corners.  Being able to see your lap times and immediately watch the         video with data overlay makes that debrief session on your own or with coaches even more powerful.  When I’ve had a driving coach       with me, it’s been incredible to talk through the laps for TT or qualifying for a W2W race and actually show him what I did.  He is able       to give me real feedback and actually show me on video what I should be doing versus just trying to recall what I did or hypothetically visualizing what the right thing would look like.

 

trackattack4c320x203Q.  What distinguishes your data logger from others?

A.   Additional Accessories Not Required – There are a couple other apps out there that have a good user base but one of them requires an external GPS accessory (an additional $85) and the other strongly recommends it.  There is value in having them, especially if you want to go really in-depth on analysis of segments but it makes it that much more complicated to use.  We want to make it as easy as possible to get started.

It’s more than an app – Track Attack is a full service where the app is fully integrated into the Track Attack website where all your session data and driving history is being stored.  This is super important for today and more importantly, for the future:

You have a driving record being stored with actual data of where you drove, your lap times and video if you upload.  Every racing school says you should keep a Drivers log in case you ever go to a new track or drive with a new organization – well now you have it forever, with real data, no opinions.

Sharing – people want to share their experiences but it’s hard to do so of video AND data.  It’s hard and expensive.  With Track Attack, users simply upload their video via the app to the site and they are able to share individual sessions and laps with one click.  Our site takes the video and session data to edit down the video into individual laps and then applies the data overlay real time.  No special software or skills required, just upload!

FUTURE – with having all this data about drivers, lap times and videos, it will enable us to create leaderboards for each track based on classes and really cool sharing and comparing scenarios.  This is going to be the most powerful part of Track Attack where drivers will be able to see how other drivers in similar cars are faster than them.

Works for all types of motorsports; this isn’t just for road racers.  Track Attack works for all types of motorsports: Hill Climb, Auto-X, Rally, Drag Racing or even just canyon carving.

 

Q.  What are its key features?

A.  It is tied to our track database that has 400+ race tracks worldwide (and users can create race tracks).

Instant video playback with data overlay (other apps, you have to select 1 lap at a time, have the phone process the video [takes 5-10 minutes per lap] and then the user can view the lap with data overlay)

Ability to share video + data with one click.trackattack5c400x245

 

Q.  What is your view on the role of data and video for driver improvement and self-coaching?

A.  Per the above answers, unless you’re out there just to have fun and not care about performance, it’s a must and with Track Attack needing just your smartphone and for the price of burger at Red Robin, there is no excuse for not having real data to help you get better.  The other thing I use Track Attack for is visualization.  I have gone into my race car with it on jacks, put Track Attack right above my steering wheel and driven my fastest laps over and over with the adjustments I want to make.  This way I can help program the new driving lines.

Here’s also Track Attack with the video positioned to record the driver to see what I am doing – super helpful training aid - http://trackattackapp.com/?raceid=e5ab6639-07f9-4c2b-a9a5-4c27cced7708&lapid=dd4f2585-33ec-4202-904a-868dd9a3012a

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