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Latest News

19Jan

BSC Registrations are open

Good to see former British Sprint champion Mark Harrison has entered this year, running in his Reynard F3000, which is a 3.0l V8 engined car. Mark won in 2003, and it'll be great to see how he gets on against the other V8's.

I'm not entering the Sprint Leaders again this year, as a protest. In 2020 all of the British Sprint class awards were given over to the Sprint Leaders Championship, and for the second year, we still have no BSC class awards to fight over (despite some drivers claiming they won their class). Oddly, the BSC has also dropped the ModProd class, which means Zoe's EcoBoost Westfield is no longer eligible to run, unless it goes in to Sports Libre with Simon Bainbridge. Thats ok though, it'll leave to me to fully focus on the BSC, and I wont have to do any additional events to try to get Sprint Leaders points, and I save myself £45.00 to spend on other things.

14Jan

Rear suspension

Having waited almost three weeks for a set of Schnorr washers to arrive, I placed a fresh order with Merlin Motorsport and they made sure that they arrived this week. I've yet to see the washers from the ebay seller, although they have apparently sent a second set, so I'll be tripping over the damn things if they do ever show up. Anyway, I've now refitted all the suspension brackets on the gearbox using the washers, and the rear suspension is now back on the car. I've refitted the NAS bolts, everything is torqued up, so the next job now is to clean and repair the damage to the rear diffuser. Once that is done I can refit it, and get the car back on to its wheels ready for the rolling road session.

Rear suspension refitted


6Jan

Castle combe 2021

A short video of me driving at Castle Combe in October, the clips were provided by Speed-On-Screen aka Andy Laurence. Some shots are of me on the qualifying rims, and others on the run off rims, so I've had to stitch the clips together just to make it flow better. I really like the sound of the exhaust, contrary to what others say. Sure it's not great during the launch phase, that's the ignition retard cutting the power to reduce wheelspin, but once she's running I think the turbo makes a great sound. See what you think.



4Jan

80 days to go

Still quite a long way to go until we're out for the first round of the year at Cadwell Park. Its too early for entries to be open for events, so for now I've registered on the HSA site for the 2022 season, renewing my subscription to Speedscene magazine and registering in Class L for another year. I'm really just waiting on the rear wing brackets, and then the car can be driven again. I'm getting some other parts CNC machined to save weight, but they're not critical. There are no electronic changes planned, but I am working on a new side-skirt system, as I'm still not that happy with the way the nylon skirts are touching the ground and wearing down. I'll reveal more in due course.


30Dec

Progress

A belated happy christmas. Hope you got everything you wanted :D

I've put the dampers, and rocker assemblies back on the gearbox. I'm still waiting for the locking washers to arrive, so the suspension arms will have to wait a few more days.



I've pulled the trigger on getting the rear wing brackets manufactured. I'm expecting them back by the end of the January 2022. And I had to collect the van from storage a couple of days ago, to recharge the main and leisure batteries. After two days on the driveway with the charger connected, the van is now safely back, and ready for the next outing, which will be the dyno trip down to SRD Tuning in the new year. My Pycom battery monitor device had reported the batteries were both well below 12V, so I knew I had to take some action.



Both batteries now show a good healthy charge, so the van could be returned to storage again.

21Dec

Putting the car back together

I've refitted the gearbox, plumbed the dry sump tank back in and refilled the tank with engine oil. I have run out of Schnorr locking washers so I've ordered various sizes, M6-M12, and when they arrive after Christmas I'll make sure all the fasteners have them fitted. The Kruger Engineering upper rear mygale suspension mounts are now on the gearbox, and they look great with the fresh black anodised finish.


18Dec

The gearbox is back

Now I just need to refit it, fill it with oil, put the suspension back on etc etc. Thanks to Mark Bailey Racing for the excellent service. It was a good trip down from Leicester, again, another chance to stretch the legs on my 335D, which is just getting better and better to drive. Its just had its major service, so was purring with the new oil and filters. What was annoying about the service was they dont top up the Ad Blue. When I collected the car it randomly warned that the Ad Blue reserve had been reached, and when I contacted BMW they said that it wasnt an item they'd include in the service. Also they dont know how much is left in the tank, so wouldnt be able to top it up! Yet they top up and charge for screen wash, and that doesnt give you any indication how full or empty it is. Another missed opportunity to get 100% customer satisfaction BMW. I ended up buying a 10l tank of the stuff, and emtpied the whole lot in to the tank on the local garage forecourt, so its now carrying 10kg of ballast again.

The Autosport show in January 2022 has been postponed. Covid is on the rise, and they couldnt take the risk of the government locking everyone down in January. It is just 98 days until Cadwell, and I hope that doesnt get cancelled too, as I really want to drive the circuit again.


16Dec

Saving more weight

I've drawn a replacement rear wing support, a pair are needed to fit the FTR-202 bearing cover. The original supports, made from 6mm 6082T6 aluminium, weigh almost 1000g each, and using Fusion I've brought that weight down to <600g each by adding a recessed area to each side where the section is reduced from 6mm to 2mm thick. I'll send these off to get them CNC machined and should have them back in January 2022.


15Dec

101 days and counting

Its only 101 days until the first round of the 2022 championship, which will be held at Cadwell Park at the end of March. The last time I drove there, was 15 years ago, in the Fiesta. And I believe everyone else is in the same boat. In fact I think I was at the same BSC meeting which was also their last visit to the circuit, in 2006.

The gearbox is ready for collection. Once its back I'll put the rear of the car back together, and refit the rear suspension. I need to clean and repair the diffuser, a previously repaired section has come away from the carbon, but its another easy repair.

11Dec

Printed brackets

The pair of reservoir brackets arrived, and they fit the bodies perfectly. I'll attach them to the gearbox when its all back together again.

3D printer brackets

9Dec

Gearbox service

I dropped the gearbox off with Mark Bailey Racing today; he took the side cover off and removed the diff and the initial CWP inspection looks to have passed. There is some wear, but not enough to worry about. Mark's changing a few parts over, and reshimming the diff, and it should be ready for collection next weekend. It was the first time out in my F31 335D for quite a while. I was at my customer's site in Andover in the morning, and then I drove over to Marks' workshop after lunch, which was slow through Devices. And then the journey back to Leicester was pretty awful, but I so seldomly drive the beemer, that its easy to forget how pleasant it is to drive. In the wet, without the weight of the gearbox in the boot, it was just brilliant on the new tyres. I fitted a set of Hankook Ventus S1 Evo 3's to replace the awful BMW standard run flats, which were all very badly worn on their shoulders, and it wouldnt have passed the first MOT on them anyway. With mine and the car's battery's recharged, I look forward to the trip down south to collect the refreshed box again next week.

FTR gearbox

8Dec

Ansys stress analysis

For the gearbox mounted damper brackets, I've run a basic stress analysis in Ansys Workbench, and with 5000N applied the design looks to be OK. I may even consider getting these printed, using Onyx again. Once I've done some more stress analysis I'll make a decision.


Ansys stress analysis

7Dec

3D Printing

I've sent the damper reservoir brackets drawing off for 3D printing. I've found a firm that can print in Onyx, carbon infused nylon, which I expect will be strong enough to support the weight of the reservoirs. Delivery is 3-5 days so I'm hoping to get them back soon.

We've lost Snetterton from the 2022 calendar. Not heard the reason why. I can only assume its cost related. We're told we may be going to Cadwell instead, which I've driven on several times, so if we do go, at least I do have experience of that circuit. Not that that really matters, I broke the class record on my first visit to Kirkistown on my 4th ever run of the circuit, running a win off, and I hadnt been to Curborough for 5 years, but smashed the class record in October and got an FTD.

2Dec

Replacement rear suspension brackets

Kruger Engineering have done a great job of these complex upper rear suspension mounts for the Mygale. Copies of the original parts, these look great, especially with the black anodised finish. This week I've removed the rear suspension and I'm about to remove the gearbox, so I'll be fitting these back on when I reassemble everything. The front brackets I re-designed are currently being manufactured, I should have them back for Xmas.

Kruger Engineering brackets
I've also designed a bracket to support the Intrax damper reservoirs. These bolt to the sides of the gearbox, and will replace the heath-robinson brackets that I made. Hoping to get them manufactured and fitted in the new year.



I'm cleaning all parts I've removed, in an ultrasonic cleaning bath. Using Mykal degreasing solvent, nothing fancy. They just need leaving overnight to soak, then 15 minutes with the ultrasonic treatment and they come out looking as good as new. Of course, now they're clean, I can inspect them for cracks. Pete had a few failures this year, and I dont want the same outcome, so I'm making sure everything is up to scratch before refitting them.

Cleaned components

1Dec

Sensor fitted

I fitted the Deutsch DTM 3-way connector to the new hall-effect gearbox sensor, plugged it in, and made sure it works, which of course it did. For reference, pin 1 is 5V, 2 is the sensor output, and 3 is signal ground. I've also fitted a DTM connector to a spare hall-effect sensor, a Penny and Giles device, and that will be my spare for 2022.

My re-ground front brake disks are now back from Kruger Engineering, and they've also supplied a pair of rear suspension mounts, which are copies of the Mygale mounts. I'll get some photos up.

29Nov

New sensor

The hall-effect sensor turned up from Active Sensors. Just waiting now on the 3way DTM connector to arrive and I can fit it.
Active Sensors
I've redesigned the lower front suspension bracket for the Mygale. This has additonal webbing and is 5mm longer overall than the Radical bracket, so shouldnt flex or crack under braking.


22Nov

Gear position voltages

I've sourced a replacement sensor, just waiting for it to arrive in the post. The sensor I'm replacing is a Novitechnik SP2846-345-065-101, which is a mechanical sensor. I'm replacing it with a hall-effect device, to eliminate any future issues with noise. The gear voltages from all the drives in 2021 are shown below. Again I used the data in SQL to extract the min, max and average. The lines either side of each average gear voltage, are the min and max voltages seen on all the runs at that event.

The standard deviation does seem to increase during the year, but then you'd expect that to some extent with a mechanical device. The reason there are gaps in the 6th gear trace is because I didnt reach 6th gear on some of the shorter tracks. This is another example of using the data to determine potential issues. It's just a shame I didnt spot it before the false neutral at Castle Combe.

Gear position voltages during 2021

18Nov

Gear position sensor

Looking at the data from 2021, there looks to be an issue with the signal from the gear position sensor. This resulted in the first and only false neutral all year, at Castle Combe. With the trace from April compared to October, there is significantly more noise on the gear voltage (mV) seen at the last event, so I'll replace the sensor with a new one for 2022. The gearbox is coming out of the car anyway, as it needs a service, the diff needs shimming, and two gear ratios need changing, so I'll replace it when it's returned from MBR.

Blyton trace
Castle Combe trace

Looking at the data taken from the car, I wrote a SQL query to count the number of gear changes, and the figure is 2538 during 2021, all of which were trouble free, apart from one false neutral. Thats not bad at all is it?

SQL query using LAG to determine gear changes

17Nov

British Sprint Awards

I collected my 4th place award on Saturday. An odd introduction from Paul Parker, I was expecting at least a Well Done, or such like, but no, I got "I wish the exhaust sounded nicer, 4th place, Graham Blackwell". I wonder what the intro will be next year should I win it :D

Top 12 drivers present
Left to Right: Graham Blackwell, Rob Tonge, Terry Holmes, Pete Goulding, Graham Porrett, John Loudon, Matt Hillam, Mark Anson, Simon Bainbridge, and champion Steve Miles. Absent were Steve Broughton and Simon Wallis.

Congratulations to all the drivers on a great season.

Collecting my 4th place award

13Nov

2021 review


What modifications worked and what didn't

Changing to Yaw based traction control - Worked

This was the single biggest change for 2021, and one that made the largest impact, and took the longest amount of time to tune. Lots of experimentation with the settings, lead to it really starting to work mid-season, where I could finally build the confidence to apply the throttle earlier and earlier out of the slow corners. There is still some tweaking to do, particularly in the wet, during launch, however, its really paid dividends. I've not been working alone either, I've had the invaluable assistance of a leading Syvecs expert, and during the year we've honed the settings to make it better and better.

Launch control adjustments - Worked

During 2021 I made 83 launch control starts, with zero drive shaft failures. My quickest launch was 2.16s 64ft at Castle Combe in October. There's definitely a sub 2.0s launch in the car, and with constant improvements during the year, I'll continue analysing the data and adjusting the settings in 2022 until I get down to the times I'm happy with.

Redesigned rear wheel speed sensor pickups - Worked

I've run for the whole of 2021 without a single issue with the rear wheel speed sensor pickups. I designed the reluctance rings, and the 3D printed plastic GT101 mounts, and the system has worked perfectly all year. The rings and brackets are available in my shop, and can be seen fitted on several other cars in the paddock.

Dual fuel pump setup - Worked

My twin tank and twin pump setup has worked 100% all year, with not a single instance of fuel surge. Noticeable at Knockhill and Lydden before I changed the setup, this year I've been able to knock seconds off my PB's and the class records, at both circuits, where the car was previously prone to fuel surge. The only issue I have got, is with the fuel level sender unit inside the fuel tank. Its not giving consistent readings, however, that could be caused by the digital gauge I've sourced, so I may wire the sender unit in to a spare input on the ECU, so the ECU can report the fuel level via CAN on the dashboard instead.

Race Technology DASH4PRO CAN conversion - Worked

The CAN version of the dash replaced the RS232 version, and after some programming of the CAN stream and the dashboard layout, I've got a fully featured rich display of all the parameters that matter, and the dashboard never missed a beat all year.

VVT timing - Worked

I wired in the exhaust VVTi cam solenoid to the ECU, which had never been connected previously, and with the output enabled, the ECU has reported not a single VVT Failure all year. This means when I go back to the Dyno we can work on tuning the Exhaust camshaft timing, to see if we can get even more power from my Area-Six EcoBoost engine.

Powerlite battery upgrade - Worked

The PS-09 battery really struggled to start the engine during 2020, so I contacted Powerlite and they arranged for a free PS-20 replacement. I must say that the performance of the PS-20 has been brilliant. It starts the engine from cold, every time, and of the 83 runs this year, the battery never missed a beat.

Cold air intake - Worked

The CAI definitely drove the ambient air temperatures down. It does need insulating from heat soak though. I'll do that over the winter break.

Funk Motorsport Turbo blanket - Worked

The heat released from the turbo was kept under control by the turbo blanket, which in turn reduced temperatures under the engine cover.

Fast acting air charge temperature sensor - Worked

This has had quite an affect on the performance this year. On the one hand the ECU is able to react more quickly to temperature changes. On the other, had I not fitted the fast acting sensor, then the ECU may not have tripped at Snetterton when the ACT rose above 80C. But I'd rather the ECU trip, than the engine suffer damage because a sensor wasnt reporting temperatures quickly enough.

Alternator under ECU control - Worked

All year I've had the ECU turn the alternator output on and off depending on the throttle position, and battery voltage, and its worked really well, reducing the load on the engine on full throttle, when the conditions allowed.

Rewiring the X10 - Worked

I rewired the X10 expander unit to allow me to connect damper potentiometers, and to move the wheel speed sensors off the ECU and on to the X10, and its all worked perfectly all year. I did have a noisey front left sensor, which was a recurring problem, until I fitted a replacement at Kirkistown and that seems to have finally cured the issue.

Rewiring the chassis - Worked

At the start of the year, I removed the battery terminal posts from the cockpit floor, relocating the Lithium battery to the intercooler side pod, and this allowed me to remove the heavy duty copper cables that ran inside the car, and use shorter cables to provide power to the starter motor. This freed up space inside the cockpit, and I had no issues at all with battery power during the year.

Barge board removal - Worked

For Snetterton I raised the front wing angle to a new higher angle than I'd ever run before, and on the first timed run the ACT temperature exceeded 80C and tripped the ECU. After some head scratching, rather than lower the wing angle I tried removing both barge boards, and this transformed the ACT temperatures. The front end grip was phenomenal too, so since that weekend, the barge boards have been consigned to the garage roof, and the car has been incredible to drive. I had to trim the nose cone to allow the steeper wing angle, but by doing that I have a new Max Aero setting for the front, and this has been used to good effect at several circuits, allowing me to make huge improvements in my times. I'll continue to use the new settings in 2022.

Diffuser floor attachment - Worked

After several years of struggling to get the leading edge of the diffuser floor to remain attached to the underside of the chassis floor, I found a way of securing it properly, and this has made a big difference to the balance of the car.

All in all, its been a great year, with just a single ECU trip at Snetterton, and the exhaust pipe fracture at Castle Combe on the final run of the year, which given the abuse the car has had, and compared to other less fortunate drivers, I think is a fair return on the time and effort invested in preparing and racing the car.

7Nov

Numbers on

I've replaced the old number 8's with the new number 4's. And I've replaced the IGN switch with a new one, again, it's IP67 spec so its weather proof. Everything tests out ok. The next job I'll be starting is to check the chassis over. So all joints and suspension components will be inspected for cracks/wear etc.

I'm still getting to grips with analysing the engine data. I've tried a few different tools to enable Machine Learning, and I'm now looking at Orange, which is very easy to use, and is providing some promising results so far.

4Nov

Exhaust repaired

The exhaust pipe is now fitted back on the turbo. It had to be Tig welded, and Nigel's done a great job. I'll make a support bracket for the pipe, so hopefully it wont happen again. Having said that, the weld was 9 years old, and the pipe had been through a very large number of heat cycles, so I guess it was just one of those things, and I should have checked it every now and again. I've also replaced all the plastic pipes providing air to the pneumatic shift system.

3Nov

Data analysis

With the dust settled on the 2021 championship, I've started looking through the data captured from the car, and I've discovered a potential issue with the wiring. Let me explain.

Over the weekend, I've taken every LRD log file catpured from the Life ECU during 2021, and exported them one at a time, in to CSV format. Basically, every time the engine is started and stopped, the ECU saves the data during that run, in the ECU's internal memory, for downloading. If you dont download the data, its eventually overwritten, so its best to download the data after every run at the circuit, so you have a record of the whole year.

When you export the data to CSV, you're allowed to specify the frequency that the data is exported at. It suggests 1000Hz, as that the highest sampling frequency used when the engine is running. However each log file would be 1000s of megabytes in size, and thats too much detail to wade through. So instead, I've decided on a 10Hz export rate, which results in files up to 10MB in size, which is far more manageable.

I've installed Microsoft SQL Server Express on my Desktop PC, and I've created a database called EHM. In the database, I've a table called mygale_data, in to which I have imported all of the data from the eighty three exported CSV files. Prior to importing the files, they were all modified with an extra column, which I've called eventID, and each file has been given a unique number which the eventID column is populated with. This allows me to group the imported rows in to seperate events, using the eventID. I've created another table called event_details, which holds the filenames, the corresponding eventid's, and the run order for that event.

That task took me around 6 hours to process and import all of the CSV files, and I've now got a table with ~320,000 rows of data in it. So what I can do now, is create SQL reports which interrogate all of the information from the car. The target is to use Machine Learning, so the computer can be taught what a healthy engine looks like, and as the data is analysed it can potentially pinpoint issues which could indicate impending component failure.

One thing that became apparent, was the engine died on me at Castle Combe on my T2 run off run, albiet briefly, and the cause was the ENGINE ENABLE signal went from OK to OFF to OK, at which point the power returned and I carried on around the circuit. So, had this happened before? At Curborough the week before I did experience the same symptons on one run, but at the time I didnt find the cause. Would a report in SQL find otherwise?


Yes. The results show that the ENGINE ENABLE signal also changed during the P2 practice run at Curborough on the figure of 8 course.

I've included the lat and long G forces in the results, the vehicle speed, and the throttle position, as well as the onTime (the time the engine had been running prior to the enable switch glitching)

So I've checked the toggle switch that provides the IGN on/off signal (ENGINE ENABLE) to the ECU. I cant find anything wrong with it. The wiring looks ok, again, all seems to be working correctly. However, to be on the safe side, I've ordered a replacement switch, as it is 8 years old, and I'll swap it out. I dont know if the G forces present during the glitches caused the switch to fail briefly. I cant find anything else in the data that would pinpoint the cause, other than potentially a faulty switch/wiring. Anyway, with the switch replaced I'll have to wait until I next go testing to see if the problem has gone away.


I'm now looking through the other channels in the database, to see if there's anything else I can learn from the information I've captured. I've installed Pytorch and I'm learning how to use Python to provide the machine learning element, which is going to take some time to master. What else could we learn from analysing the data? What other areas can we benefit from examining? Driver performance, maybe?