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Frequently Asked Questions

How can data acquisition help me win races?
Why Choose Corsa?
How can I understand all that data?
What about accuracy and resolution?
What kind of PC is needed to use the Corsa system?
What if I need help setting it up in my car?
Can I hook it up to my fuel injection system?
What sampling rates should I use?
Are there non-racing applications?
What is a CAN bus?
What is SAE J1939?

How can data acquisition help me win races? (Back To Top)
An on-board computer can help you understand what’s really happening to the vehicle on the racetrack so you spend less time guessing and doing trial-and-error setup and more time improving your performance. Here are a few examples:

  • Engine data can be very helpful for increasing both performance and reliability. Drag racers and tractor pullers, for example, find that knowing what the Exhaust Gas Temperatures (EGT) and supercharger boost were during the whole run. This allows them to tune the engine for performance and to prevent expensive meltdowns. Many racers also monitor fuel pressure and nitrous pressure for the same reason. Several customers have reported that the system saved them an engine by letting them detect a problem before the engine was destroyed.
  • Engine RPM is the most basic thing to record. Knowing RPM at every instant is a big help, especially combined with g readings and throttle position. In any class where you can change your gear ratios, this is very important to be competitive. A tach with a telltale might tell you that max RPM was 8200, but you don’t know if that was once, or every lap. Corsa Data Acquisition systems can show the exact engine RPM every moment on the track. You can even get a histogram that tells you how much time the engine spends at each different RPM range. You can combine this with throttle position or accelerometer data so you aren’t fooled by the times when the driver was off the gas.
  • Troubleshooting is much easier with a data recorder. If you have a miss or a stumble or if you’re just a little slower than you’d like, you can look at the data and see what’s causing it. Was the boost pressure up where it should be? Were there any dips or problems with fuel pressure? Did you have one cylinder going cold (or worse yet too hot)? Was the engine turning the RPM it should? Was the clutch or torque converter working properly? Were you getting more wheel spin than you want? We have all seen teams struggle chasing a “mysterious” problem. At Corsa we often hear from customers “We found our problem the first time out with the Corsa system. I wish we had bought this sooner!”
  • Wideband air-fuel-ratio (AFR) sensors are extremely useful for tuning carburetors or fuel injection systems. The Corsa AFR sensor gives you a graph showing the exact air-fuel-ratio (for example, 13:1) under all conditions. You can see how the fuel mixture changes with RPM, and how it changes with load or throttle position or other variables. This is exactly the information you need to tune and troubleshoot your fuel system. It’s much more convenient and accurate than reading sparkplugs and it can show you the conditions all through the race – not just what the sparkplug saw the instant before the engine was shut down. Note that the Corsa AFR sensor is a true wideband unit that will give accurate readings from about 10.5 :1 to17:1. Inexpensive "O2" sensors only tell you if your fuel ratio is lean or rich. They can't tell you if you're only a little bit lean or about to destroy your engine. Our sensor can help you quickly determine how much tuning you need to do. The Corsa AFR sensor will work with leaded or unleaded gasoline, alcohol, and other fuels. (Sensor life is reduced when using leaded fuel.)
  • Driver development in road racing and oval track racing can result in very large improvements in lap times. A data recorder allows the driver to analyze what he’s doing, and how to improve. If you have two drivers, they can compare their laps and see where each one gains or loses time, and why. A driver can compare his best lap to other laps and see where the difference is. Drivers can try different techniques or styles and see what difference they make. Many customers report a substantial improvement in lap times from analyzing braking performance alone. In addition to stripcharts and other data, the Corsa system can display the “traction circle” which is a way to see how fully the driver is using the car’s potential. The DeBrief 3 software automatically makes a map of the track and plots the data within the map so it’s easy to understand what you’re seeing.
  • Vehicle and suspension tuning. A data acquisition system can help you tune almost every part of the car. You can spot understeer and oversteer in the data. You can see how the car responds to the driver’s input. With suspension position sensors you can measure body roll, squat and dive, and wheel motions for suspension and shock absorber tuning.
  • Before and after testing. When you make a change on the car, you’d like to know what that change did. Lap times are part of the story, but some changes help the car in one place and hurt in another. With the Corsa system, you can look at data from before and after the change was made, and see exactly how much it helps or hurts performance at every instant on the track.

Why Choose Corsa? (Back To Top)

  • Ease of use: Our wireless One Button Download means that it's extremely easy to get, use, and quickly understand your data. The Corsa system is designed to be easy for ordinary racers to use.
  • Expandability: The standard Corsa system comes with 11 channels, and there are expansion boxes to add as many channels as needed. You can easily add more sensors later without having to throw away or change your existing equipment.
  • Price: The Corsa system is very reasonably priced compared to other systems. We want to make the competitive advantages of data acquisition available to the average racer.
  • Support: Corsa has free toll-free phone support. Our staff are very willing to help you solve your problems.
  • Experience: Corsa has been in the racing data acquisition business since 1991. We've learned over the years how to help people in ways they may not have even realized.
  • Improve your Performance! Using the Corsa data acquisition system will help you learn more every time you go on the track. You'll be able to get a good setup in a very short amount of time, be able to spot expensive problems before they become expensive, and best of all, lower your track times quickly. Those are real competitive advantages for every team.
How can I understand all that data? (Back To Top)
Some of it is easier than you think. Many of our customers start out with one question; a variable they already know they need to measure. For instance they want to know how much torque converter slip they have, or they need to know turbocharger boost pressure. Generally you can answer a question like that the first time you use a Corsa Data Logger. You can look at the graph of boost pressure versus time in the race for instance, and it’s easy to understand.

The next step is to look at more channels and see how they relate to each other. For instance you can put engine RPM and driveshaft or input shaft RPM in the same window and see the differences. This is your torque converter or clutch slip. You can get fancy and make calculated channels to read slip directly in each gear, but just looking at the engine RPM in detail all during the pass and comparing it to driveshaft RPM can tell you a lot. Similarly you can look exhaust gas temperatures (EGT's) to see if the engine is running too rich or lean. Then compare the EGT graphs for all the cylinders, and see what you can find. Every engine is different, but for your engine you’ll probably have a pretty good idea what it means if cylinder 1 is running hotter than the rest and what you might do to change it.

Once the basic questions are answered and a few different races have been recorded, the smart racer will start asking questions. “What caused this funny dip in the accelerometer trace?” Or, “What can I see in the data that relates to a problem the driver reported at this point on the track?” That’s the fun part – using the data to improve your performance.

What about accuracy and resolution? (Back To Top)
The accuracy of the Corsa system is more than adequate for almost any application. Wireless Corsa Data Loggers are 16 bits digital and 12 bits analog. Accuracy is one part in 4096, or about 0.025% of full scale for analog measurements. If you are measuring pressure from 0 to 200 PSI, the data is accurate to 0.05 PSI. As accuracy depends on good installation of quality sensors, Corsa only supplies sensors that have been tested and proven superior. In other words, Corsa Data Loggers are is extremely accurate.

What kind of PC is needed to use the Corsa system? (Back To Top)
You need a computer that runs Windows 98 or later (Windows ME is not supported). It needs to have a USB port for the Corsa radio, and at least 25mb disk space available. You don’t need to take your latest and most expensive computer to the track, an older laptop will do fine. You could even install an old desktop computer in your trailer!

What if I need help installing my system? (Back To Top)
In addition to our installation and operations manual, Corsa offers free technical support over the phone and via e-mail. We can help you get up and running with the system, answer questions about sensor hookup and anything else. You can email us your data files and we can discuss them with you on the phone.

We also offer paid installation and support services. A Corsa technician can meet you at your shop, at the track, or you can bring your vehicle to our shop in Michigan. We can help you install the system, we can help you learn to use it, and we can help you analyze your data at the track.

In some cases, we have been able to work informally with teams on special projects. Whenever possible, we do like to meet our customers at the racetrack. We can’t guarantee free at-track support, but call us about your project and your schedule and we’ll see what we can do.

Can I hook it up to my fuel injection system? (Back To Top)
The wireless EZ II Data Logger can usually be hooked up to the sensors your fuel injection system already has. Vehicle speed, engine RPM, and throttle position are common examples. The Corsa system has an optional CAN bus interface that can read data from your ECU if it has CAN output.

What sampling rates should I use? (Back To Top)
This depends on what you’re measuring, and what type of racing you do. You need to sample fast enough so you don’t miss an important change, but if you sample too fast you spend a lot more money and end up with huge data files that don’t really tell you any more. Some drag racers sample EGT’s 100 times a second, but the truth is that the thermocouple physically can’t change temperature that fast. On the other hand, you need 100 samples per second or more to measure shock absorber velocity. Here are some suggestions:

  • Drag racing: Start with 20 samples a second for each channel. That is fine for most sampling except for suspension motion during the launch.
  • Tractor pulling: 20 samples a second is good.
  • Road and oval track racing: 10 samples per second is common for driver inputs and vehicle acceleration. The driver and the car can’t do much in less than 1/10 second. Faster sampling is only good if you have memory to spare; it's not essential. Because road races are longer, you need either slow sampling rates or a lot of memory.
  • Suspension and shock absorbers: For body motion (roll, squat, dive) 10 or 20 samples per second is usually good.
  • Shock velocity measurement: 100 - 500 samples per second. This high rate is needed partly because shock position data is differentiated in the software to get shock velocity.

Are there non-racing applications? (Back To Top)
Corsa data acquisition systems are currently being used in a variety of applications. We have customers measuring and testing everything from aerobatic aircraft to heavy equipment. Corsa systems can be used on dynos or test bench setups as well as on on in vehicles. Corsa systems can work well for field test or equipment monitoring, as well as for development testing. If you have an application outside racing, please call us to discuss how we can help. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Price: Wireless Corsa data logger systems are extremely reasonable compared to most other industrial data acquisition systems.
  • Ease of Use: Corsa systems can automatically start and stop recording as needed and work with no operator intervention.
  • Long recording times: The EZ-CF datalogger uses removable Compact Flash memory cards and can record for days or weeks with no operator action needed.
  • Simplicity: Corsa systems are easy to install, configure and use. We designed our systems to “plug and play” with sensors and your vehicle.
  • Durability: Wireless Corsa Data Loggers are small, light, and very rugged. They are easy to install and draw very little power from the vehicle.
  • Flexibility: A wide range of sensors and options are available. The EZ II Data Logger can be connected to your own equipment as well as to standard Corsa sensors. Analog, speed, thermocouple, and CAN signals are all supported.
  • Data Analysis: Use our general-purpose data viewer, or save files in .CSV (comma separated variables) format and bring them into almost any data analysis package from Excel to MatLab to custom applications.
  • Customizable: We’d be happy to discuss custom versions or additions to tailor the system to your needs. Corsa firmware and software architecture makes it easy to design to custom peripherals and different versions at a reasonable cost.

What is a CAN bus? (Back To Top)
CAN (controller area network) is a 2-wire communication system used in many vehicles. Some engine control units (ECU) will have a CAN output. CAN is used in some racing fuel injection computers, and in most new vehicle applications. The optional EZ-CAN module allows the Corsa Data Logger to record any CAN messages, just as if they were from conventional sensors. For instance, you could record engine RPM without having to install another sensor since the ECU already broadcasts an RPM message. If your ECU broadcasts messages for ignition timing or fuel injection duty cycle, you could log that data even though there’s no sensor that measures it directly.

To use the CAN bus, you need to confirm that your ECU (or other devices on the car) broadcasts CAN messages, and find out what messages are available. Then it’s a simple matter to set up the EZ-CAN to look for those messages and record them. This will depend on what’s installed on your vehicle, so call Corsa to discuss the details.

What is SAE J1939? (Back To Top)
SAE J1939 is a standard for CAN bus communication, commonly used on diesel trucks. The Corsa EZ-J1939 module supports this standard. If your vehicle uses J1939, it’s easy to record many different channels from the engine controller. Engine RPM, injector duty cycle, commanded fueling, load or throttle position, vehicle speed, intake temperature and pressure are just a few common examples.

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