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Understanding Telemetry

10/18/2005 by

Copyright:© 2005 Horizon Hobby, Inc.

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Races are often won and lost during practice, testing, and development, pure and simple. If you’ve ever watched a Formula 1 race or practice session, I’m sure you have seen drivers sitting in the cockpit looking at a monitor. Those screens can show a variety of information, from live television feeds to data from the car’s onboard computer gathered from the last run. The onboard computer can record and display steering input, throttle and brake curves, engine temps, and more. While this can provide excellent real-time information for full-sized race drivers, what if you could shrink the technology down for use in radio controlled cars? With Spektrum 2.4GHz technology, telemetry for RC cars and trucks is now a reality.

The Components

While just a few years ago the thought of on-board real-time telemetry for radio controlled cars was thought to be unattainable, it’s closer to reality than ever before thanks to Spektrum 2.4GHz DSM technology. The higher frequency not only provides amazing signal strength and integrity, but the components that make up the Spektrum system unlock a whole new world for racers. The standard Spektrum module (or radio in the case of the DX3) and the SR3000 receiver were designed from the ground up with the intention of being able to utilize telemetry. While we have referred to the SR3000 unit as a receiver, truth is, it’s actually a transceiver – a unit that both transmits and receives. Turns out our marketing people wanted to keep the DSM equipment as “familiar” as possible. So they took a little license in the naming. When combined with any of the Spektrum telemetry modules, racers can now unlock information and data that they had only dreamed of before. In fact, with this two-way data transfer, racers can now truly get more out of practice.

The Features

Have you ever been to a track where you can’t get that extra tenth or two that would help move you up to a better qualifying or finishing position? I know I have. With the on-board telemetry that will be available soon for Spektrum-equipped drivers, you will soon be able to monitor the onboard status of many of your different racing components.

Temperature Gauge

In nitro racing, the engine and head temperatures can indicate whether or not your 2-stroke power plant is tuned properly. There are other manufacturers who sell onboard temperature gauges, but what about one that alerted you on the driver’s stand if and when your engine temp exceeded a set limit? This would save wear and tear on your engine by preventing extreme overheating. It would save you time and money in the long run by preventing expensive piston and sleeve rebuilds, all while extending the life of your glow plugs. The receiver unit will alert you by vibrating if the sensor reads that the temperature has exceeded your pre-set limit. With this information you can pit during practice and change the needle settings yourself, have your pitman do so during a fuel stop, or even change the percent of nitro you are using. You will even know when your engine reaches optimum temperature to truly fine tune the engine for practice, qualifying, and mains.

The temperature sensor can also be of benefit to electric racers as well. Electric motors don’t like being overheated. The hotter a motor may get, the weaker the magnetic field will be. Racers will also find that a hotter motor tends to run less efficiently and may need to be rebuilt more frequently. By placing the sensor on the motor can or on the motor mount, racers will be able to monitor the temperature to make important decisions such as gear changes, roll out changes, brush and spring changes, and even timing changes.

Lap Counter

For people who travel to races around the country, practice at the host track is often very limited. With that in mind, it’s cost prohibitive to fly out to a venue weeks ahead of time to get practice on the actual race surface. The practical solution would be to find a test surface locally that closely resembles the race facility. For example, if a race is going to be held on asphalt, a racer will often practice on an open lot with similar grip characteristics to the race track. But how does a racer determine if a specific chassis or setup change improves lap times or not? By utilizing a personal lap counting system a racer gets accurate lap time information for each and every lap they turned during a particular test run. Lap counting systems are nothing new, but none have been this small and compact before now. With the Spektrum Lap Counting Module, all you need to do is plug in the lead from the optical sensor to the Spektrum SR3000 transceiver, mount the sensor somewhere on the chassis that will provide an unobstructed view out of the car’s body, and set the data recorder along the side of the track. Every time you pass the data recorder, it will store each lap time along with letting you know what your fastest lap was and how many laps you turned. In all, the data recorder can store up to 99-individual lap times.

Voltage Sensor

While you’ve been able to cycle your batteries on matchers and chargers in the past to rate them, there’s never been a true test available to figure out which battery pack is actually the best performer on the track. There are super-duper charging and discharging machines out there, but they only give you discharge information based on a linear discharge curve. While this can give you a good idea as to which pack is the best, it does so in an unrealistic environment. The Spektrum Voltage Sensor can now relay real-time battery voltage information back to the data recorder, providing you, the racer, with definitive information you need to choose the right pack. The Spektrum Voltage Sensor will give you the ultimate real-world test of which battery pack performs best under race conditions.

But the Spektrum Voltage Sensor isn’t just for electric racers. Nitro powered cars and trucks use battery packs as well. Don’t forget about your receiver packs. Runaway cars and trucks can be a scary thing, especially for high-powered and heavy nitro cars. Now you can monitor the voltage of your receiver pack remotely with the optional Spektrum Voltage Monitor Module. This little gizmo will keep an eye on your receiver pack voltage and alert you if the voltage drops below a pre-set level. Not only does this let you know when you need to replace or recharge your receiver batteries, but having this information can possibly prevent a runaway vehicle and keep spectators and turn marshals from being injured.

Spektrum’s 2.4GHz technology allows racers to have access to information that they only dreamed of in the past. The real-time, two-way data transfer unlocks a completely new aspect to the racer. Imagine never having to read your engine temp with a clumsy and often inaccurate temperature gun. Or how about knowing which battery pack of yours is really the best in race conditions? Or how about knowing if you’re overheating your electric motor and hurting its performance? You can now unlock all those benefits with Spektrum Telemetry Modules. Compact, affordable, and reliable, the future is truly now.

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