Integrated video and data for race planes is becoming increasingly popular in the aviation industries. While the benefits of using data logging in motorsport and vehicle dynamics testing are well known, it has only been in the last few years that systems have started synchronising video as well.
Applied Measurement are industry leaders in test and measurement, and developed the VBOX Video Flight Recorder to provide an all-in-one video and GPS data logger that can systematically film and record each flight, while logging over 30 channels of engine and flight data, and show all this information in one easy to use software package.
WINGMATE are experts in data acquisition and analysis and its Flight Data Recorder for light aircraft provides six degrees of freedom data logging using three axis accelerometers and three axis MEMS gyroscopes while the in-built GPS engine provides global position and speed. The pilot can overlay each flight onto Google Earth to show the exact flight path and show the data at each point on that path. One of the functions that makes WINGMATE truly unique is that it also presents a flight report containing a list of typical flight quality indicators such as take-off performance and landing quality.
So, when Matt Hall needed an integrated video and data acquisition system for his race plane, the two companies got together to provide him with a fully customised system.
Peter Wezenbeek, director technical development at WINGMATE, has been working with Matt and the team to design a system architecture that uses all available data. The heart of the system is a dedicated WINGMATE Gateway that interfaces and decodes data from a number of sources like the engine data system, flight performance sensors and its own internal sensors. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is extremely demanding for both Matt and his MXS race plane with competition manoeuvres up to 10 G. With this in mind, the WINGMATE was customised with ±12 G nine degrees of freedom accelerometers and gyros to accurately measure Matt’s flying performance.
All data collected by the WINGMATE Gateway is sent to the VBOX Video Flight Recorder over CAN. The VBOX Video Flight Recorder combines its powerful GPS data logger with a high quality multi-camera video recorder and a real-time graphics engine. With both forward and pilot facing cameras combined with a customisable graphical overlay, the VBOX Video Flight Recorder streams the video onto an SD card or USB HDD. Eighteen parameters including speed, track and altitude are all provided by the VBOX’s 20 Hz GPS Engine. The VBOX’s inbuilt CAN data channel records 32 variables of engine and aircraft data from the WINGMATE Gateway and synchronises it with the video.
From this wealth of information, the video only highlights key performance indicators that Matt chose, providing quick feedback between flying sessions. The time between runs in the track is critical for the MHR team to quickly identify any issues with the race plane and where time can be gained on the course. Circuit Tools software is a race-track focused, data-analysis package designed for VBOX GPS Video recorders. The software is designed to automate many tasks and quickly present Matt and the team with the crucial information required to improve lap-times.
Applied Measurement’s application engineer, Owen Castle, has a strong background in aviation and aerobatic flying and was instrumental in developing the VBOX flight recorder for MHR, and has since further engineered the system for instrument flying with VOR, NDB and DME simulation. Owen worked with Peter to ensure compatibility between the two systems went as smoothly as possible before flight testing began in January.
Peter Wezenbeek is part of the MHR team as Matt’s tactician. His first-hand experience as the Control Systems Engineer for Fernando Alonso in the Renault Formula 1 Team has given him a unique insight into the power of data collection. During his time in F1, Peter used test and race data to come up with strategies to improve both vehicle and driver performance contributing to winning two World Championships.
At Red Bull Air Race weekends, Peter will be analysing the race plane data in depth, using dedicated simulation and analysis tools developed by WINGMATE, to provide valuable insight to improve Matt Hall’s race performance over the season.
The VBOX Video Flight Recorder combination with the WINGMATE Gateway is now available for all pilots. The advantage this complete system has over traditional video-only solutions is that the whole picture is given – from the pilot’s actions in the cockpit through to accurate information on the aircraft’s global position, attitude, flight and engine performance.
The WINGMATE Gateway and VBOX Video Flight Recorder are ideally suited for aerobatic training and competition and will also prove valuable tools for quality control in all facets of commercial and military aviation operations and flight training. For ab-initio through to commercial pilot training it can re-enforce the lessons learned and experience gained during each and every flight.
“It’s been a pleasure to see the two companies working together as a team to provide the best possible product.” – Matt Hall, Matt Hall Racing
On behalf of Applied Measurement Australia and WINGMATE Avionics, we wish Matt Hall Racing every success during the 2015 Red Bull Air Race World Championship!