DADiSP helps Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Inc. to stay ahead of the competition.

When you’re driving a few hundred miles an hour around a race track, you want to be certain your vehicle is in top shape. Your life depends on having accurate information about its condition. Mark Harrah, president of Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Inc., North Carolina, conducts research on and develops race cars for the Jasper Engine Winston Cup team, both on and off the track. It is his job to be aware at all times of the condition of the cars and drivers on his team so that they can maximise speed and minimise danger while racing in world-class competitions.

It’s not easy to calibrate a sensitive racing engine. Testing must be done while the car is on the track, so the instrumentation must be durable and portable. The sensor system used on the car must be extensive enough to pick up even the slightest anomaly, so that the vehicle can be fine-tuned to run at its best and keep the driver safe. The software used for analysing sensor data must be extremely efficient in order to handle data from almost twenty sensors. It must also provide clear display of all information to minimise errors in reading vital indicators.

Mark Harrah uses DADiSP (graphic display and data management software) to keep Jasper’s vehicles fast and safe. Mark and his Jasper team depend on DADiSP for engine development before a car is brought to the track and for testing it once it gets there. They use DADISP to analyse various chassis and engine functions on a car to determine what configurations work best.

Jasper’s on-track testing takes place on tracks at Michigan International and Daytona. A car is driven for a few laps to get baseline recordings of the relevant parameters; then one component of the engine function or chassis at a time is systematically changed. Measurements are taken which indicate how the change affects the car’s performance. Seventeen sensors are running on a car while it is on the track. A data acquisition module is used to acquire several kinds of sensor input simultaneously. After a run, the car is brought into the pits and the data are downloaded into an IBM-compatible laptop and analysed with DADiSP.

In the first part of testing, temperature data are acquired on the outer, middle, and inner surface of a car’s tyres by means of infra-red sensors in three places on each tyre. This analysis indicates the camber, castor, and toe-in of the car at different ride heights as well as in the corners of the track. DADiSP helps determine the weight distribution of the car by measuring and displaying the temperatures of the tyres. Next, RPM sensors are run on the engine and on the differential to determine the maximum and minimum RPM of the engine. Wheel RPM measurements are taken to determine proper gear ratios. Exhaust gas temperatures are measured to determine proper carburettor jetting and manifold distribution. Data are then extracted from a 3-axis accelerometer to measure longitudinal, lateral, and vertical g-forces on the car, and a throttle potentiometer is used to measure the position of the throttle. Shock sensors measure the movement of the suspension and the velocity of the shock absorber. Finally, pressure sensors are run on various parts of the car to find high and low pressure areas, especially around the induction system.

Mark Harrah says that all of these tests “just touch on the surface” of how Jasper uses DADiSP to analyse and improve their racing vehicles. “DADiSP plays a very important part in helping us to hold our own in the most competitive racing in the world. The next time you turn on the TV and see a Winston Cup race, root for the number 55 Jasper Engine car, and realise DADiSP helps us run up front.”

DADiSP is supplied and supported in the UK and Ireland by Adept Scientific plc, Amor Way, Letchworth, Herts. SG6 1ZA; telephone +44 (0) 203 695 7810, fax +44 (0) 203 695 7819, email; or see Adept’s World Wide Web site Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.

With offices in the UK, USA, Germany and throughout the Nordic region, Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.

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