News and Articles

01 Oct 2017
by petreldata
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SoloStorm Video Overlay Engine 2.0

We’re adding a number of new features to the SoloStorm video overlay engine to make it easier to compare video from multiple cameras and separate laps.

With the focus on multiple video sources, we have built new layouts for side-by-side, top-and-bottom, flexible picture-in-picture, and ghost (semi-transparent) overlays.

There are flexible clipping and stretching options for each layout, as well as the ability to sync the videos by distance instead of current lap time. This allows you to better understand the differences between driver inputs, vehicle position, and response.

We have also made the overlay settings smarter by saving your selections and allowing you to reuse them when creating additional videos.

Building upon recent changes to improve the overlay visuals, we have had to revisit how information is displayed in order to allow data from 2 different laps to be rendered simultaneously for easy comparison.

Visual design was definitely the most challenging part of this project. Since we received excellent feedback when testing the last change to the overlay design, we are looking for more of the same before putting this into the Beta release stream.

If you want to try out the new overlay engine, shoot a quick email to support and we will send you the link to the latest ‘canary’ download.

In the meantime, check out these screen caps of some different overlay layouts.

Side by Side

Side by Side Comparison by Distance

 

Top and Bottom

Top and Bottom Comparison by Distance

 

Flexible Picture in Picture

Flexible Picture in Picture Comparison by Distance

29 Aug 2017
by petreldata
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Updates to SoloStorm Video Overlay

We have always believed that using a ‘clean’ layout is key to communicating information when viewing video with overlaid data. Nothing cluttered and flashy – just the minimum that you need. Think more airplane, and less video game.

Since we added support for steering and brake sensors, we needed to revisit how vehicle data is visually represented when overlaid on top of video. Doing this while keeping true to a minimalist aesthetic is a challenge.

We have decided to go with a mostly analog gauge solution for RPM, throttle, brakes and steering information. We feel that it communicates information effectively while still delivering a compact layout that does not distract from the video itself.

Check out this video for a look at how it is shaping up:

There will also be some more improvements on the way for video overlays, offering multiple layouts as well as more ways to display 2 videos together.

04 Apr 2017
by petreldata
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RacePi – Using a Raspberry Pi with SoloStorm

RacePi Hardware ComponentsWe were recently approached by Donour Sizemore from the New Jersey region about adding support to SoloStorm for an open-source data logger that he is building around a Raspberry Pi ‘hobbyist’ computer.

Donour has put together a cost-effective yet powerful data logger that can be built for about $100, and is working on interfacing it with his Ford Focus RS in order to pull some of the custom CAN channels that the ECU supports – such as steering wheel angle and brake pressure. While you can do much of this with off-the-shelf solutions such as the RaceCapture line of data loggers, some people are just hackers at heart and love to build their own solution – and we like to support them.

While Donour was making progress on the hardware, he was looking for an analysis solution that would work well for him – so he contacted Mike @ Petrel Data Systems.

After looking at the challenge, we decided that the easiest solution was to implement a real-time stream from the RacePi to SoloStorm via Bluetooth that used the Race Technology telemetry protocol. Their protocol is efficient, well documented, and is already supported by SoloStorm. We also have code that is used to encode a telemetry stream that we shared with Donour to help him in his development.

Donour is working with us to add some additional channels to the messaging protocol, in order to support things like gyro rates and wheel speeds – and he hopes to perform some real-time math to calculate slip angles and other factors that contribute to tuning a tire and chassis combination.

The RacePi source code is freely available on Github and you can contact Donour through there as well.

You can learn more about the Raspberry Pi 3.

05 Dec 2016
by mmarich
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Support for Polaroid Cube+ WiFi Camera Coming in SoloStorm v8

Polaroid Cube+ WiFi CameraIn addition to adding support for the new RaceCapture via WiFi, we ‘ve added support for the Polaroid Cube+ WiFi camera to SoloStorm v8. We will also be announcing a new SoloStorm RaceCapture turn-key package once integration testing is complete and the update is released.

Unfortunately, using a WiFi connection to connect to any device means that any other WiFi enabled devices can not be used by SoloStorm at the same time, for example the use of multiple WiFi cameras – but it does add more ways you can learn to be a faster driver, and we like that.

The Polaroid Cube+ camera appears to be a good bargain for the money – video is of decent quality, the unit seems durable, and it responds well to remote commands. There are, however, 2 disadvantages when using a Cube+:

  1. Only full-resolution video is recorded. This means that it takes a long time to download video in between runs for review, which is probably something that you will want to disable.
  2. The audio stream in Cube+ videos is encoded in a format that is not supported natively by Android devices. When you play the video file with the native Android player (which is used when viewing a real-time overlay), there is no sound. Fortunately, you can install the free VLC video player from the Google Play Store, which supports the audio codec and will play sound. This can not be used to review video with a real-time overlay. Also, the video overlay and sync options are not available.

Still, if you have a Cube+ camera and want to capture video for later review, or you are on a tight budget, then this could be a solution. Leaving the camera connected to USB power is highly recommended.

Given that GoPro cameras offer a low resolution preview file which can be quickly downloaded and reviewed, we still recommend it as the camera to have for the serious competitor.

27 Oct 2016
by mmarich
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Using SoloStorm with iRacing

We all know that iRacing is the most popular racing simulator, and many people who use it also drive real cars on the same tracks as in the sim. Wouldn’t it be nice to share data and compare laps between them?

We were also looking for ways to better test new SoloStorm features, and thought that integrating with iRacing would be a huge productivity boost.

After some intense work, here’s what we wound up with

solostorm-iracing-nurburgring

Overall, the results are very good. Lap timing is extremely close (less than 0.1s error on the Nurburgring, and we can still improve that significantly), and car position is consistent. This is kind of a big deal since iRacing does not stream GPS position in real time so as not to facilitate cheating. Therefore, we need a map of the course, the location of the start/finish, and a bunch of math to calculate where the car is on track.

This works with tracks downloaded form Podium, however in some cases (like the Nurburgring Tourist Driving configuration with bridge to gantry times), an iRacing telemetry file had to be imported to provide the necessary information. Yes, we have automated that process, and need to figure out how to share those additional tracks.

There is still a lot of work to be completed, along with work on basic Time Attack features, but this functionality should be available in the next release for anyone that wants to try it.

To make this work, you will need to configure a new Bluetooth COM port on your iRacing PC, and then download and run a program (from us) that streams iRacing telemetry to the COM port.

If this proves to be a popular feature, we will also be looking at ways to auto-detect tracks, and streamline configuration in general.

20 Jul 2016
by mmarich
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Improving Search in SoloStorm Cloud

As competitors, we gain the most when we share and compare what we have learned with others.

When we originally built SoloStorm Cloud, we wanted to make it easy to quickly share information with our friends and fellow racers.

What began as an experiment to see if anyone would actually use it, has become a service that over half of SoloStorm users have accessed. Many consider it indispensable.

While this service is still in Beta, we want to make sure that the it works as expected. One feature that had a design flaw in it was searching for logs matching a selected event.

To define the location of an event, we round the GPS coordinates to a 100 meter box. While this isn’t perfect because of boundary conditions, we wanted to see if it would work as-is. As it turns out, the answer was ‘no’. Some people has issues with logs not being found or going ‘missing’ in their list of logs stored in the cloud.

Therefore, we have made changes to the search algorithm in order to use a ‘nine squares’ approach, where surrounding coordinate ‘boxes’ are also included in the results.

This change is now in production, and while you don’t need to update SoloStorm to use the new search, some housekeeping things were taken care of in the interface between the app and the service that affect the log download progress indicator, so check for an update.

At some point in the future, we may revisit how events are identified in order to make searching more efficient, but this should be transparent to customers. We have quite a few ideas on how to improve SoloStorm Cloud in order to make it easier to search and share with other users, as well as send data to other platforms such as the upcoming Podium service.

08 May 2016
by petreldata
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Support for Time Attack Racing

Do you want the same advantage that SoloStorm offers Autocrossers, but for Time Attack and lapping days?

We’ve released the first version of SoloStorm that will give you just that.

If you are on the Beta release program, then just check for updates. Not on the Beta release program? Send an email to support@petreldata.com and we can add you.

The initial set of features includes a dedicated Time Attack race mode, a track list powered by Podium.live, a lap and sector timing screen, as well as analysis customized for circuit racing.

We made a short video to show you how to configure and use SoloStorm for Time Attack:

Please give it a shot, and let us know what you think!

25 Jan 2016
by petreldata
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Comparing More Than Two Laps

SoloStorm was built around a pretty simple idea: compare two laps together in order to figure out where you can go faster.

Over time, a number of people have asked to be able to compare additional logs at the same time. We decided to experiment with this, and here’s how it looks so far:

Compare Multiple Log and Video in SoloStorm

A couple of key points stand out. First, you must compare the laps in distance mode, otherwise there is too much noise in the channel traces. Given that, the Time Delta channel becomes even more important.

Also, providing useful information about many open logs on a smartphone screen is a real challenge; six seems to be the maximum number. We are still trying a few things, but this feature should be ready for general release before the spring season.

A note to our color blind customers: stick with only two open logs. We have optimized the rendering of the first two open logs for you by allowing for a special color palette, but there’s not a lot to work with.

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