If you’re racing Formula Mazda then you already know how important seat time is. But what about head time? Data analysis is a key factor in understanding what is happening as you drive, and this quick introduction will not only have you looking at your data but using it to improve your lap-times and build driving consistency.
NOTE: This introduction is built around the AIM MXL Pista Data Logger and AIM’s Race Studio 2 analysis software, commonly installed on Formula Mazda race cars. If you have the newer MXL 2, or if you’re using the Pi System 2 the concepts will still apply though you’ll be using different tools to do the actual analysis.
Step 1: Get Race Studio 2
You’ll find Race Studio 2, available free of charge, from the AIM website. If you’ve already installed Race Studio 2, you’ll find updates at the site as well. The figure below shows the site, and the current version.
FIG 1 - Race Studio Download
If you’re downloading for the first time, you’ll automatically download the most current version; If you’ve already installed Race Studio periodically check the version you have (see below) versus the most current version. Updates are easy to install.
FIG 2 - Version Info
With Race Studio 2 installed, the first thing you depends on what you’ve already done:
If you’ve already configured your data logger, and you have session data (perhaps you purchased your Formula Mazda with the logger already installed and working) then you can skip directly to “Get Data.”
If you’re just now installing your logger, or if you want to change an existing configuration before you start collecting (more) data, then read this next section.
Step 2: Configure your MXL Pista.
Device configuration is straightforward. But first….make a list of all of your sensors, and trace the wiring back to the MXL, noting the channel that each sensor is plugged into. The MXL supports 8 channels plus engine RPM and wheel-sensor speed, plus GPS. If you’re using GPS (recommended) you can omit the wheel sensor speed input if you’d like. In any event, you want to ensure that you know what data is on what channel before you start your configuration.
With your channel info handy, connect your laptop using the USB-to-MXL data cable. Open up Race Studio 2, and at the splash screen select “Download Data.” It’s important to do this first if you are planning to change the device configuration AND you want to save your existing data: changing the device configuration can remove or remap your existing data.
With your existing data saved (if needed) select “Configure Device.” Rename the channels as needed: by default they are Channel_1, Channel_2, etc. It’s a lot easier to analyze data when the channel is called “Water_Temp” than it is when you just leave the defaults. When configuring your MXL, you can also decide what to place on the dash screen, and you can set alarms (e.g., water temp in excess of 200F) as well as your shift lights. See the figure below.
FIG 3 - Device Setup
With your configuration done and checked, run a few sessions. Then download your new data. TIP: Rename the session files to make it easy later on to remember which data was what session at which track, etc.
Now open a session: you’ll see a layout similar to that shown below. Choose a lap, and click into your channels: as you do you’ll create new “Measures” views of your data, generally (by default) showing time or distance on the “x” or bottom axis, and the actual channel reading (for example, degreesF) on the left (or right) “y” or vertical axis.
Fig 4 - Typical Session
With your MXL set up and session data being recorded, you’re ready to begin more advanced analysis. The following videos, from AIM, will help you take what you’ve learned in this introduction and begin applying to your racing development.
Also, be sure to look for webinars and local day-long sessions offered by AIM's training team. They are really well done: we highly recommend them.