How an electronics engineer and motoring hobbyist used weigh monitoring capabilities on a Nissan Skyline using a cost-effective wireless telemetry system.
Performance monitoring is a key part of Formula One and top teams, like McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull invest millions each year in gathering and analysing data. However, for motoring hobbyists without the budgets and staff of an F1 team, gathering performance data is not so simple. So, when, Mantracourt Electronics engineer and motoring hobbyist, Marek Gmitro wanted to gather weight distribution data on his Nissan Skyline, he used wireless telemetry systems made by Mantracourt and fitted it with the company’s T24 high-precision sensor system to monitor the weight and analyse performance.
“I always enjoyed how well my Nissan Skyline handled, but wanted to drive a vehicle with a bit more power. So, I set about replacing the car’s original 3.5 litre V6 engine with a larger, more powerful 4.5 litre V8 engine. The Nissan V8 boasts higher horsepower and higher torque than the V6 and with the extra two cylinders and larger displacement adds more low end torque which improved driveability. However, replacing the car’s engine created a few challenges that I had to solve,” explained Marek.
Because of the extra two cylinders on the V8 adding overall length of the engine, fitment to the original location of the V6 was not ideal. Because of the potential weight shift that might occur, the V8 had to be relocated further inside towards the firewall. Any change in weight distribution changes the handling, centre of gravity and suspension performance.
For instance, when a vehicle brakes around a corner the force of the turn transfers the vehicle weight forward and there is less weight over the rear wheels which in this case are transferring power to the road. If the car has altered weight distribution, it may create excessive oversteering or understeering and cause major risks to safety. Due to weight distribution changes, suspension that isn’t aligned properly will cause tyres to wear down more quickly and unevenly, leading to costly and frequent replacements.
“Surprisingly the new engine had only increased the Skyline’s weight from 1413 kg to 1445 kg, adding 0.3% of weight distribution towards the front axle . Without access to any data of similar swaps, guesswork would be the last option as an engineer. It is important to have as much data to hand as possible and make decisions based on proof rather than assumptions,” continued Marek.
“Fortunately, I had access to Mantracourt’s T24 wireless telemetry weighing systems and with the help of my colleagues I was able to collect good data of the original weight distribution. This allowed me to align the engine correctly to minimise changes to an already well performing vehicle,” added Marek.
“Our T24 series includes a wide range of acquisition modules, transmitters, receivers, displays, enclosures and base stations, so it was simple to find a system for Marek to work with. Furthermore, as this was for a hobby application, it felt like a good idea to make it as easy to deploy as possible. T24 can be as simple or complicated as required,” explained Tom Lilly, application engineer at Mantracourt.
“The system we provided for monitoring the Nissan Skyline’s power and weight distribution was a 2.4 GHz T24 system comprising of two axle weigh pad scales that sit underneath the car’s tyres. We used corner weighing jigs with wireless loadcells mounted on the wheel supports to record the precise weight. We were then able to display the data from these load cells wirelessly using our free LOG100 software. This also allows constant logging of real time data,” continued Lilly.
“Because I am a huge car enthusiast, joining my career with my hobby in this project was a fantastic opportunity. From a hobbyist perspective, operating our weighing system used in high end motorsports was surprisingly easy. After all, for us hobbyists, working on the car is as much fun as driving it,” concluded Marek.
This project proved that you do not have to have the team, facilities and budget of a Formula One team for a vehicle to take advantage of performance monitoring technology.
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