Software for better performance
Computer Programs for Better Racing and Engine Building
Story Larry Jewett - Images courtesy of COMP Cams - May 01, 2011 09:00 AM
The trial-and-error method can get pretty expensive. When you’re doing track testing or building engines, you really don’t want to spend a lot of time and money correcting mistakes.
We are fortunate enough to have the technology that is quickly taking the “error” part of the trial-and-error equation out of the mix. The nice thing about it is that you no longer need elaborate, complicated computer equipment to get what you need. A simple laptop or desktop and a little common sense will go a long way.
There are several computer programs offered through the COMP Cams family of companies, including Powerhouse Products and Pro Racing SIM that will give you the winner’s edge without expending money on parts that didn’t get the results you were seeking.
We recently encountered an up-and-coming road racing team that was looking for ways to step up the program. Track testing was cost-prohibitive due to the team’s home base. Limited resources could be better used for equipment and logistics of the season.
A simple and immediate solution was the FastLapSIM5. This program gives the racing team a chance to simulate conditions that can produce an ideal lap, allowing the team to begin with attainable targets.
The program was developed with ease of operation in mind. Pull-down menus allow the user to set parameters before launching into a real-time data procurement. A main program screen allows the user to select vehicle components, dimensions and specifications. Track data, vehicle performance data curves and simulated numerical data are displayed in either chart of graphical form. Selections are made from the program menu bar. Component status boxes offer the choice of pre-selected options or allow the user to create custom information specific to an individual program. To input information, just fill in the areas with asterisks to reflect the values like engine and drivetrain. You can also use the pull-down menus provided by the PopUp DirectClick choices that allow you to choose from pre-selected defaults.
Once all of the parameters have been set, you simply hit “run” and let the program do its work. The calculations will work to develop an ideal race line, starting by approximating a series of points. Once the path is computed, a theoretical speed through each point will be determined, focusing on elements like tire grip and braking. The program will also add factors that may determine a more optimal path and calculate accordingly. When the simulation ends, you receive your data in graph or table form.
Those with decades of engine building experience may not need it, but they use it too. The Desktop Dyno program arrived on the scene a few years ago and gained immediate acceptance. It offers the chance to develop a power combination for the right application before ordering the first part.
The Windows-based program features simple operation to move easily toward the objective. It is capable of testing any four-cycle engine from single cylinder to 12 cylinder. You can plug in your own values or select from a wide variety of common engine aspects. Starting with a blank screen (similar to starting with a blank sheet of paper for any engine project), you begin input of the values for the combinations you would like to test. There are several calculators to aid you with detailed engine analysis. One of these is the CamMath quick calculator to get you through proper selection and set you onto the path to bring the moving parts into harmony.
Ease of operation becomes the main focus as you work through the aspects. DirectClick menus will offer the common combinations as a starting point or a way to familiarize yourself with the program’s function. The calculators aid the process in each section to build the virtual engine.
When you are ready to see how your engine will perform, it’s a simple click of the mouse. Results are displayed in 500 rpm increments from 1,000 to 14,500 rpm (user selected range). Combustion chamber modeling is included to get you within a reasonable variance from actual dyno cell results, which tend to vary by dyno manufacturer.
The results are displayed in table or graph form for analysis. Perhaps the best part is that if you don’t get the results you want, just change values and watch what happens. A little engine knowledge is necessary, but the program is designed to keep those values in balance.
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