Here at Apex Speed Technology, we’ve spent a lot of time evaluating different ways of collecting data. As much as electronic data recorders make sense, for some things nothing beats good ‘ol video. Thanks for advances in resolution, compactness and robustness, you can learn a lot about your car without breaking the bank.
One of our first applications of video to examine chassis construction was early in Apex’s days, working on the Synergy Racing Daytona Prototype. This car was developed first with a Dinan V8 and later a Porsche motor, with expert chassis engineer Gary Grossenbacher in charge. We used video under the rear bodywork to evaluate chassis flex, and combined this with strain gauge data to max chassis stiffness changes. 6 years ago, the video systems we were using were bulky and low-res. It was tricky to get anything solid, and the systems were very failure prone.
Moving forward, we started using ChaseCam video systems in offshore powerboats with Chief Racing Engines.
These installations demanded durability, with intense vibration and salt spray. Chief pioneered multi-camera systems in their installations, with both AIM & ChaseCam components. They also featured our first attempts at using GPS speed sensing.
2011 brings us the Replay XD1080p, which redefines what we’ve come to expect from motorsports video. The potential for using camera in an engineering role is incredible. One great example is at Road America in preparation for the 2011 SCCA Runoffs. Apex Speed Technology ran one of these cameras on Lee Alexander’s Stohr DSR which would eventually win pole position and finish second in the race. The results were truly remarkable. Mounted on a suspension member looking at the tire, we were able to see in detail tire deflection as the car went around the nearly 4 miles Road America circuit. The camera didn’t miss a beat – despite the intense temperatures from the brake disk glowing about a foot away!
The potential for these cameras don’t just end in suspension – they have live HDMI out, which makes them excellent for use in dyno rooms. For example, you can mount one and a timing light to a motor to monitor ignition advance all the time. Also, their setup is now user-definable. You have the options to set autofocus, white balance and more. Finally, pricing is incredible – the Replay XD1080p‘s for example, cost $299, which makes carrying one around in a toolbox a no-brainer for quick work at the track. And if you’re afraid of losing the camera, a non-HD Replay XD is just $189.