News and Articles

04 Apr 2017
by petreldata
Comments are closed

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
Comments are closed

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
Comments are closed

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
Comments are closed

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.

© 2017 - Petrel Data Systems - Solo Race Technology