Cheap AF Cool Suit

No talk. Gimme parts to order

Total: $234.50

Tech Talk Time

The basic parts list comes to about $60. The other $180 is for a legit cool suit and fittings. I personally chose this route because:

  • I suck at sewing
  • I don’t have patience to sew all those lines
  • I’m sure they routed the lines better than I could
  • Dry break fittings are nice so I don’t leak everywhere

Regardless of the shirt, the 12v pump is hot glued or bolted or affixed somehow to the bottom of the cooler. The double ended barbs and wiring are routed to a high point on the cooler where they are hot glued to prevent leaks. From there, the 5/16 hose can be routed. to the barbs and out to the cool suit. It’s also recommended to put a filter or sliced up 5/16 hose on the pump’s intake to prevent clogs.

Tips and Tricks

  • If you have a fire suit, you’ll need to cut an access hole
  • My rig is setup to run on ignition on. But if no suit is plugged in, you might burn out the motor
  • Smaller coolers weigh less but require more refilling. I went through 3 bags of ice and still ran out with my 5 quart.
  • Think about the easiest way to drain the box.
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Getting into Sim Drifting

I’ve gotten a TON of people saying that they would get into sim racing if it wasn’t the the high cost of entry. A great setup will cost a lot of money, but it’s possible to get started and gradually upgrade your rig. Here’s a baseline of how to incrementally getting into things.

Don’t I need a PC?

Yes. The PlayStation and Xbox versions of Assetto Corsa do not support mods. Here are the system requirements for Assetto Corsa as a baseline. For the computer illiterate, basically any laptop/computer in the passed decade can run this game. In fact, one of my spare laptops from 2013 runs the game for live streams.

Stage 0 – PC and Controller ($8-$500)

If you already have a PC and a gaming console, you can already get started. If you’re patient, I’ve seen the humble bundle do as low as $8 for Assetto. If you have a PlayStation, here’s how to hook up the controller to your PC. Xbox controllers hook up to windows as is but here’s a guide for settings. Or just pick up this USB xbox controller for windows.

For a PC, I suggest going to Facebook market place and picking up a used unit for cheap. If you have the coin, there are many prebuilt companies that make good machines. I don’t recommend going with Dell or HP as they don’t have the best deals. I also suggest staying away from laptops as they do not upgrade. But, if you need something for now, basically any PC will do.

Stage 1 – Wheels, shifters, and pedals ($300+)

Once you get the basics out of the way, the controller will frustrate you and you’ll want more. There’s 3 options, cheap, good, and stupid good. Those are gear drive wheels, belt drive, and direct drive respectively. Price ranges are $300, ~$800, ~$1,500+ (again, respectively).

Gear Drive – Gear drive units are garbage but where most people start. The shifter and pedals are cheap and usable when you upgrade the wheel. Gear drive wheels tend to not be able to keep up with quick lock-to-lock movements so you’ll wind up “helping” the wheel. Especially if you install a larger aftermarket wheel. Logitech G923 (with shifter)and thrustmaster T150s are in this range.

Belt Drive – These are the Thrustmaster T300 (with shifter)or the Fanatec CSL Elite (uh, go to their website, it’s a mess to explain). These units give great force feedback and are in a very affordable price range. This is the minimum range I would suggest. You don’t NEED beyond this.

Direct Drive – Fanatec is in the middle of releasing their $400 (shipped) “CSL direct drive base”. With their (needlessly expensive) power brick upgrade, it blows the belt drive units out of the water and likely will become the industry standard. The existing direct drive units are amazing but are also at least 3x the cost. Worth noting that the Fanatec units do not come with steering wheels and you NEED their proprietary wheels because that’s what allows you to change settings and jazz. It’s stupid. But also, a full fanatec setup with shifter and pedals will go beyond $1k.

Stage 2 – VR or triple monitors ($300-$500)

To start – VR is the way to go if you want to better your IRL driving. But your PC will need to be up to very up to date and many people either can’t get used to it (vomit town) or argue that triple monitors are better (it’s not).

VR headsets – Hands down the best bang for the buck is a quest 2. If you can find used oculus rift or quest 1s for cheaper, I still consider the quest 2 worth the extra money. 90FPS mode has been unlocked and 120 is on the way. The link cable has been ironed out and only 1 step more than the rift to hook up to a PC. On top of that, if you have a baller wifi router, you can go wireless.

Triple screens – While you can find stands for $50, get at least a sturdy stand like this one. You CAN use the regular stands but positioning them on a table becomes annoying. For monitors, you can get some as cheap as $100 per screen but generally have bad refresh rates (the linked ones are 75hz) and not very large. You can find them used for cheap as well. Just try to keep them to the same size. The total cost of these are generally the same or more than just getting a VR headset. It is worth noting that triple screens are much less demanding on your system than VR.

Stage 3 – Rumblers, wind, and motion rigs ($$$$$$)

As most people won’t get to this point, I’ll only lightly touch on it. I personally use dual seat shakers and pedal rumblers powered by an arduino with simhub. I also have some PC fans hooked up to simulate side to side wind. The most I got out of it was the seat rumblers as it made it easier to tell engine RPM without having to look at it. The wind is just nice. The pedal shakers are meh.

For a motion rig, you can DIY for as little as $1k but DofReality sells some kits for $2k+. I would really like to try it out myself but my rig is compact and wouldn’t take this addition well.

Summary

If you don’t already have a PC, you can get into the sim drift world for about $600 minimum ($300 for the G923 and assuming you can find a used PC on FB market place for another $300). If you’re super strapped for cash, you can start with a controller for just the cost of a used PC.

While the total cost will be over $2,000, a serious rig can start small and upgrade as you can afford it. Seeing the incremental jumps in ability will also be very rewarding.

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The Case for Sim Drifting for IRL Drifting

Many view sim racing as fun but with no application to real life drifting. While sim drifting will never reach full realism, there still are many merits that make it a worthwhile investment. For anyone who can’t currently drive, the benefits are great. For those who already drift in real life, sim racing provides the ability to hone skills with no risk. This article pertains to sim drifting with some form of a steering wheel setup and not a controller.

Physical Driving Comparison

Analogous to real life:

  • Steering sensitivity (wheel goes numb when under steering)
  • Reaction times
  • Pedal sensitivity (to a point)
  • Shifting/hand braking (if setup properly)

Not realistic:

  • G forces
  • True levels of wheel force feedback
  • True pedal feel (see pedal sensitivity)
  • Heat/fatigue of being in the car
  • Other senses (wind, depth perception without VR, etc)

Can be realistic if you put money into your rig:

  • Vibrations/RPMs (transducers/pedal shakers)
  • Depth perception (VR)
  • Depth of field (triple monitor or VR)
  • Some G forces (through a motion rig)
  • Wind

Benefits for Newbies

For anyone who is very new to drifting or has never drifted in real life, a sim rig can greatly shorten the time it takes to get used to drifting in real life. The best part about sim drifting for a new drifter is the ability to learn rpm management and figure 8s with no down time between sessions. In real life, this part of development can take a long time before a driver can build enough muscle memory.

Benefits:

  • Easy/Unlimited seat time
  • No vehicle maintenance (crashes, tires, etc)
  • Techniques that work in the sim work in real life. (clutch kicking, hand brake, etc)

Downsides:

  • Lack of G forces can make the transition to real life difficult (arguable)
  • The money spend on the sim could be spent on a real car
  • Potential to build bad habits

Benefits for Seasoned Drivers

Once the basics are down, sim drifting can still be very useful. Again, it will never replace real life seat time, but when events can be so far apart, sim racing can be useful.

Benefits:

  • Previewing new tracks prior to going IRL
  • Practicing new techniques (Left foot braking, no hand brake usage, etc)
  • Learning/Practicing tandem with no risk
  • Keeping reaction time and base muscle memory between events
  • Learning weight management without G forces (arguable)

Downsides:

  • Potential to build bad habits
  • Building muscle memory towards the sim specifically and not real life driving
  • A more realistic sim setup is expensive
  • Initial buy in (for existing IRL drivers) is money that could be used towards the car

When it comes to drifting, there are 2 attitudes – I know everything until proven I don’t know everything -or- I know nothing and must strive to learn everything. Drivers in the first category will reject sim drifting as they believe they have nothing to gain for it. The latter group can use sim drifting as a way to search for the potential lessons it can teach.

Aside from money, a drifter has no excuse to not use sim drifting to help their real driving.

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Drift on Assetto Corsa for $20 or less

Not everyone is ready to throw down hundreds or thousands of dollars for a fanatec or logitech wheel setup. Maybe you just want to bang doors with your friends. Here’s a guide on how to join the fun for as cheap as possible.

What do I buy?

All you have to do is buy Assetto Corsa on Steam! Sometimes, the humble bundle will have it on sale for less. So keep an eye out.

The season pass and ultimate edition just have expansion packs. There’s also a competition version of Assetto Corsa, but that’s like iRacing where it’s league based. We just want to jam out.

What Platform is Assetto on?

Assetto Corsa is available on PS4 but does not support mods. So, unfortunately, you need a PC. Thankfully, Assetto is a 6 year old game so any computer with recent enough hardware can play it. Even laptops. You might not have graphics settings to max, but that’s ok! Click the link under the image below for more in depth information on the system specs needed.

What Hardware do I need?

You can play with a mouse and keyboard but that’s really difficult. If you already have a Play Station or Xbox, you can simply hook up one of those controllers to your computer.

PS4 to PC guide

Xbox One to PC guide

Otherwise, Amazon sells really cheap controllers too. But your mileage may vary.

Setting up the Controller

This part is up for debate but try out various settings for controllers until something works for you.

General Settings to try

Xbox One Controller specific settings

If you find perfect settings for controllers, please let me know!

Now What?

Now that you’re setup, click this guide to install cars/tracks and get onto our server. Note that the cars are still current but track isn’t. Join the Facebook group for the most up to date content.

Click here for a guide on setting the game up and getting the most out of it.

That’s it!

For $20, it’s a pretty good way to test the waters of sim racing. When we can’t get to the track in real life, we can at least text/voice chat while crashing into our friends on familiar tracks. Driving with a controller in a sim is challenging. But it can help you evaluate if you really want to get a steering wheel/VR/cockpit.

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Assetto Corsa Tips and Tricks

This is a general post on tips that are the most helpful when drifting (non VR) in Assetto Corsa.

Shortcuts/tips:

  1. Virtual Mirror: F11 toggles this on and off. Depending on what car you’re driving, the rear view mirror isn’t in the best spot, or visible at all. If F11 doesn’t work, try this link
  2. Use in game chat: Move your mouse to the right when in game and driving to pull down the main menu. One of the options will be for a chat window.
  3. Join the Discord: Search for the “Drift Nirvana” discord to chat with us while we play. The voice channel is invaluable to organize trains and tell people where you are.
  4. Bind headlights and horn to buttons you can use. It’s really helpful to signal to other players you can’t chat with. (In content manager, click settings in the top right, Assetto Corsa in the middle of the top panel. Controls, then buttons).
  5. Can’t find a server? Make sure the empty/full/missing options aren’t checked. Should look like this:

6. Enable showing drivers’ names so you know who’s who (also kph to mph):

7. When installing a new track/car pack, it’s best to delete the old folder first. Leaving in the old folder might cause checksum errors when you log into the server.

In Depth fixes


Bind “Teleport to Pits”!!! When you spin out in front of people or just want to get back to grid quickly, this button will help you a ton!


Extras

Custom shaders patch is a great way to add visual enhancements to the game

Set favorite servers!

Change your name and nationality

General shortcut keys (stolen from google):

IN-GAME:
CTRL+R : replay
CTRL+S : slow motion (replay)
CTRL+A : ABS on/off
CTRL+T : cycle traction control modes
CTRL+H : show/hide apps
CTRL+O : restart session
CTRL+L : disable names
CTRL+M : toggle mouse steering
CTRL+G : gearbox Auto
CTRL+I : racing line on/off
CTRL+Q : damage displayer on/off
CTRL+J : show damage displayer

F1 : cycle car cameras
F2 : random cameras
F3 : track cameras
F5 : pivot camera around the car
F6 : cycle on-board cameras
F8 : in-game screenshot
F9 : toggle bottom learderboard
F11 : toggle virtual mirror
F12 : (Steam related) screenshot
+/- : Change Force Feedback (disabled in replays)
Ctrl +/- : Change onboard FOV
Ctrl Shift +/- : Change saturation
PageUp/Down : adjust exposure
Home : Open/close console
1 .. 0 : Turbo boost management

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Assetto Corsa: Drift Nirvana Server Setup

Introduction

Assetto Corsa is arguably an out of date game but it maintains a strong following and mod community. For drifting, it’s become a de-facto sim for the PC. This article will go into basic setup to get you into the official Summit Point Assetto Corsa Server.

Prerequisites – What do I need?

Assetto Corsa is a PC based game. IE Not PS4/XBone. Purchase the $20 option. The other options are simply expansion packs – https://store.steampowered.com/app/244210/Assetto_Corsa/

Cars – Tando Buddies’ pro/am cars – https://drive.google.com/open?id=1QQVFPPxXK_hHFkx-Px9LyRMYunLaj4gk&fbclid=IwAR0Odw_CLfjPcM2-3zBJu8mnoDzv7gx5zwhb28rxlFHkfA2xn-MXRoPiUS8

Summit Point Raceway (4/13/2020) – https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Ud8ZUYuQRwiCNXltBNgidlrn5gchqjdN

Old Dominion Speedway (4/6/2020) – https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Ju6rAqZO1PlRGVmz0n7Oa28Zx0Gatj2t

Server IP address: 66.23.202.171:8338

Optional but suggested is the content manager. It will let you get into games online without having to go through the game UI. It also helps you save presets, mark favorite servers, and see what assets you’re missing BEFORE you join the server – https://assettocorsa.club/content-manager.html

Installing the Cars and Tracks

By default, steam installs assetto into the following folder: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\assettocorsa

Cars should be unzipped into the “C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\assettocorsa\content\cars” directory and tracks into the “C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\assettocorsa\content\tracks”

The kn5 file name must match the folder name and be in the root directory of that track. Also, don’t worry, the texture folder and fbx files are from my local development. You shouldn’t have those.

Joining the Server

Download and put the content manager exe file anywhere desired. Google around for how to best set this up for you. But to join the server, click the online tab and ensure the following options are selected:

From there, click the + at the bottom of the screen and input our IP address (66.23.202.171:8338)

From here, the server should show up. If not, check the previous screen shot to make sure empty and missing servers show up.

From there, pick a car on the right and click join at the bottom. Also, click the favorite button to show up this server in your favorites tab.


General troubleshooting:
If the server doesn’t show up, try searching for “summit point raceway” or “Drift nirvana” under the kunos tab.
If the server shows up but won’t let you join, the right tab should show you what assets you’re missing.
If you join the server but get a “checksum failed” error, you might have an old version of the track or improperly installed it. Try deleting the track folder and unzipping it from the latest version.

Setting Up Your Car

The tando pro/am cars are high horse power. The number keys at the top of the keyboard can lower the boost levels for you. 1 will lower them to non pro/am hp levels. 6 seems to be a base setting. I leave mine on 100% (0).

3.9 or 4.1 gearing works on most cars. Comp tires are compulsory.

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Formula Drift 2020 Rulebook Changes – Update

After my last article about the rule changes, I had a couple of questions. I emailed Ryan Sage at Formula Drift to see how accurate I was on my suppositions. Ryan passed on the information and got back to me with some clarifications. So here’s portions of their responses and, of course, more of my opinions.

Pretty accurately stated:

He is close on a few items and way over thinking others items. 

Bell housings and Transaxles

Trans axle, nothing to do with corvette all about advantages of Transaxle conversionBellhousing is pretty close

I’m still unsure of the advantages of transaxles outside of weight. But this makes sense.

Driver Viewable Camera

Driver viewable camera is a live view, not stopping them from reviewing their cameras later.

I don’t recall the rules stating a live view camera. So I’m still not sure about this one. But the clarification makes things a little more clear. You can use gopros and what not in/on your car, you just can’t be watching them during your run. Who would do/does that?

Data Monitoring

This part got lengthy so I’m going to paraphrase and quote where possible.

Data will be recorded live and not handed over by the team after events. They’ll attach a module to the CAN plug on the A pillar to record data “…similar to SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge recorded via CAN”. My research on this series hasn’t turned up much for their CAN recording modules but they do have a requirement for timing equipment that makes sense. Although they mention that each module will need to be configured per car. It looks like each car will be getting their own module instead of ad-hoc attaching them at grid.

The data will be used for later analysis and not live judging. From the FD standpoint, only 1 car in Pro2 couldn’t meet the CAN requirement easily so this change shouldn’t cause much monetary/time commitment from any driver.

I want to give the data to the teams that don’t have data. Even in a penalty situation, there would not be a reason to release more than what was absolutely required.

The requirement for data monitoring is meant to help drivers but also to give FD data logs to check for cheating later on. They do specifically mention my concern for cheating as difficult to fib the outputs and “we have to start somewhere”.

I still have a ton of questions but I’m sure I could fill an hour or six with just technical talk like this. The answers given have enough clarity that I’m looking forward to how this pans out next season. It’s a good start into better safety and the modern age of automotive electronics.

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Formula Drift 2020 Rulebook Changes

Warning - This is an opinion article. I try not to write first person and try to give balanced opinions. Since many of these rules don't come with reasons, any explanation is supposition on my part and to be taken as such. 

Formula drift is nice enough to publicly give out the rulebook these days. They even highlight changes in red to make skimming it that much easier. Here are some highlights of the current iteration of the 2020 FD rulebook. Because many changes are clerical or for clarity, this article will only be covering the interesting additions or changes.

Trans Bellhousing

B/C bullet points are about transaxles. Formula Drift is likely specifying the rise in popularity of the Corvette platform as a whole. So you can keep it factory, or convert the rear into a classic style differential. The car will still have to adhere to the other rules about mounting points and locations, but it’s odd that the book specifies not allowing conversions to become a transaxle. I’m not sure there would be an advantage of doing a transaxle conversion, outside of weight distribution.

Bullet E covers SFI 6.16.3 for bellhousings. The purpose is to contain the clutch mechanisms in case something should happen. I haven’t seen instances in motorsports recently relating to this that might cause this change in rules. But, it’s all about safety. This doesn’t dictate what type of transmission a vehicle has to run, but this does discourage transmissions where the bellhousing is one piece with the transmission from the factory. BMW ZF transmissions, for instance, don’t have aftermarket support for this style bellhousing. Adapting one shouldn’t be too difficult in theory. For most aftermarket transmissions, these bellhousings don’t seem too expensive.

Drivers Aids

Not much of a technical change here but the explicit banning of in/on car cameras is perplexing. I’d like to know the reason for this. Perhaps rear cameras for viewing the chase driver after a run could give the driver an advantage. Maybe reviewing forward facing video could help decide whether or not to petition. Regardless, this is why FD should always have a running/recording live camera in every driver’s car.

Data Monitoring

Here’s the part that is the most interesting to me and seems to be the source of a lot of debate online. It’s likely a “slippery slope” into Formula Drift starting to implement more strict rules. Personally, I think FD isn’t trying to put too much money into this and will have to catch up eventually.

A – Recording data is now compulsory. Every logger and every ECU will record in its own proprietary format. Even CAN protocols can use varying identifiers for whatever PID. CSV format, excel format, and others means that Formula Drift will not be able to quickly parse through anyone’s logs. Nor does this rule state when the data has to be given to Formula Drift. The most likely scenario is that FD wants to keep the data around in case of a petition or foul play is suspected.

FD cannot intuitively know the non standard PIDs and their associated values. EG: a driver could have a nitrous bottle temperature sensor that reads at PID 010A. Where 255 is 0F and 0 is 150F. By default, this is a fuel pressure PID and it’s reading backwards. FD would just see weird fuel pressure numbers and have no idea what it could mean. The other side of the coin is that CAN systems are not necessarily bound to OBD2 specs and PIDs. Baud rates can be found and connected to it live but the extracted data can be in any format. Some PIDs stretch multiple broadcast messages. Some contain multiple messages in one. Formula Drift cannot know this without a spec sheet from the driver and even then, it would be on the honor system.

B – Standardized CAN connectors. With this connector, Formula Drift can hook up a generic OBD2 style CAN reader to any car at any time. Assuming this is OBD2 spec, the reader can only read live data. This will not be able to automatically download log files as stated in bullet A. During yearly inspection, the CAN system will be tested and a log file will hopefully be taken to use as a comparison for later in the year. Without the logging aspect, this plug can’t really do much. It’s also very simple to build a “translation box” that can doctor the CAN messages between the ECU and the connector. CAN modules can be as small as a dime so hiding one wouldn’t be too difficult. Even aftermarket ECUs can be programmed which PIDs to give out and formulas to apply prior to transmission (Think C to F conversions). At best, this connector will allow Formula Drift to see some live data and record it for analysis later. It cannot be used to decide if someone has a GPS module in their car.

C – Non CAN vehicles will be penalized. This makes sense. The LS platform is CAN by default and the 2JZ will need an aftermarket ECU for FD level power anyway. No modern aftermarket ECU lacks CAN connectivity. I would be surprised if this inconvenienced anyone in the current Pro1 FD field.

D. May be used for judging or technical purposes. Unless FD has a module that plugs into this new connector and wirelessly transmits the data during runs (it won’t), this can’t be used for live judging. This will be for petitions and checking cars for unauthorized aids like traction control (lol), GPS units, or others. Default CAN OBD2 protocols have no useful information for live judging. Maybe the throttle pedal but there isn’t even a standard brake PID. Even then, FD isn’t mandating what PIDs must be available and that they must adhere to the OBD2 standard. 0117 (throttle position) very well could be boost levels instead.

E. Data disclosure. “We won’t give out your data, unless you’re cheating”. Giving other teams your logged data (assuming it’s truthful) could be devastating for a team. So Formula Drift wants to assure drivers they aren’t going to make these logs public. Unless you cheat. Although, I’m willing to bet they would only give out the pertinent data and not the entirety of the log file.

F. The rules may change as seen fit. This seems like Formula Drift are setting up to modify these data logging rules mid season. They likely know everything I said above (I hope) and are deciding on ways to combat this without the need for a standardized NASCAR like ECU setup. For instance, factory vehicles these days have 3 or more CAN systems that don’t necessarily talk to each other outside of a few bridges. What’s stopping a separate traction control module on a separate CAN line that won’t connect to the FD connector?

It will be interesting to see how Formula Drift implements this without stepping on too many toes. Their history tends to be on under regulation rather than over regulation (IMO). Formula Drift, if you read this, call me. I can help 🙂

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The Case for Data

Regardless of the pitfalls of the DOSS system (talked about in this blog’s most recent article), there still is a good use case for data and telemetry information. Knowing if a vehicle was faster on entry or had better proximity with hard data could lead to different results. In some cases, the answer to the question of “did this driver straighten out?” could be made automatically.

To begin to discuss and implement data metrics, two issues have to be solved:

The first issue is cost. NASCAR and F1 have HD quality on board cameras and live data overlays for the viewer while Formula D has, at best, a replay from a streaming drone at low resolution. Technology isn’t cheap and the cost/benefit analysis is murky enough that FD might be averse to investing the money. Since the original implementation of the DOSS system, technology has gotten much better and much cheaper. Theoretically, the hardware required for this type of data should be more accessible.

The second issue is how the data is used. DOSS pre chewed certain numbers and used a proprietary calculation to decide scores. Inherently, for this judged sport, this “kills” the spirit of drifting. Instead of using the numbers to calculate a score, the collected data could be used to inform judging more accurately. Each collected piece of data should be shown to the viewer and to the judges to show hard facts that can then be used to create a score.

Types of Possible Metrics

Proximity

One of the easier possible metrics is proximity. Distance sensors are placed on the same spot on both cars (between the front axles or mid roof line) and the distance between the two sensors are tracked during the run.

Possible metrics are:

  • Average proximity during the entire run
  • Farthest proximity – This can be used to define what is considered “inactive chase”
  • Closest proximity
  • Average proximity per zone

Speed(s)

Formula Drift has, in the past, used a radar gun to judge entry speeds. The reason why it was dropped and why it wasn’t viewable via the live stream isn’t certain. Regardless, it was a simple metric that helped determine outcomes. Modern GPS equipment can update about 10 times per second and can give extremely accurate speed data instead of a radar gun.

The main issue with this is likely removal of subjectivity. The downfall of the DOSS system is its heavy reliance on overall speed. Instead of using this information to populate a predetermined calculation, speed related data can be displayed for the judges and audience. Speed metrics can then be used to render a judgement. The audience has more information to see the judges’ calls, and drives up viewer engagement.

Possible metrics are:

  • Entry speeds
  • Total speed averaged across the whole run (also doable via a stop watch)
  • Average/highest speed through each zone
  • Judgments on decel zones. IE “parking it” when a driver shouldn’t or decel in an accel zone
  • Top speed
  • Average speed per run used to determine if someone is sandbagging and intentionally driving slow during competition

Clipping Point Proximity

Using the same proximity sensors as mentioned above, distance measurements can be done by clipping points and zones. Knowing for certain one driver was closer to a clipping point can help both qualifying and competition/tandem judgments. Because there are more sensors, cones get hit, and there’s likely calibration necessary, this metric may be difficult to implement and keep accurate.

Possible metrics are:

  • Average proximity on an outer zone
  • Distances to inner clips per run
  • General distances to help derive qualifying numbers
  • Visual candy for the audience

Metrics/data in General

These are three, generally cost effective, possibilities to enhance judging and sometimes viewer enjoyment. Many more metrics are possible but unlikely due to cost or complexity of implementation. One of the easier ways to advocate for metrics is to use it for entertainment instead of judging. The more information viewers have, the better their understanding and engagement.

Possible non judgement data for viewers:

  • Tire life
  • Tire temperature
  • Wheel speed(s)
  • Driver radio chatter
  • Live speed/angle/etc overlays
  • Vehicle metrics (engine temp/throttle/braking/etc)
  • In car video replays

Why no angle metrics?

For complexity reasons, drift angle has been purposefully left out of this article. Measurement of slip angle is highly debated around the world and there doesn’t appear to be a single agreed upon way to measure it. Four wheel drifting is still over steer and concepts like ackerman make it impossible to measure angle accurately from the front wheels alone. Without consistent measurement between cars, drift angle still isn’t worth using as judging criteria.

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The case against the DOSS DriftBox

D1GP in Japan uses a system called DOSS (d1gp original scoring system). DOSS is a proprietary implementation of the DriftBox. Keeping in mind that the majority of this blog has been tech based, one would assume that I would love the DriftBox. After seeing its usage in D1GP, the response from drivers, and my own research, I’ve decided that the DriftBox is a half baked attempt that hurts more than it helps.

Subjectivity vs Metrics

Drifting has its roots in subjectivity. Inherently, that gut reaction/impression cannot be taken away. Many fans consider putting solid numbers behind judging to be killing the spirit of the sport. They don’t necessarily need to be mutually exclusive. For example, Formula Drift currently uses decel zones as judging criteria. But without the metrics behind it, there isn’t a final truth behind someone brake checking the car behind them.

DOSS

The DOSS system is a driver’s upper roll cage mounted unit that mounts to the front of a vehicle. According to the spec sheet, it’s no more than a GPS and a 6 axis accelerometer/gyroscope. The GPS module is a 10hz unit that can theoretically do up to 10 samples per second. 10hz is pretty industry standard so the GPS module itself has stood the test of time. The accelerometer also seems pretty industry standard with its accuracy and update rate.

The screen doesn’t look too sexy, but that’s not really that necessary for judging.

Per this Japanese article for the 2019 season, the DOSS system scores by totaling , vehicle top speed, highest angle, maintenance of angle (not wavering), average speed (per section), rate to angle, and rate of change of angle in transitions. This is a pretty big difference in judging criteria in the US. Specifically Formula Drift. The difference is likely due to both the Japanese ideals, and the limitations of the DOSS system.

Breakdown by classic FD judging criteria

Line Judgement

Internet searching for how the DOSS module judges line came up with nothing. Their literature says it scores “per section” but I don’t see specifics on how this works. It’s conjecture, but it seems like sectors/sections are done by a remote computer that live analyzes by GPS coordinates and arbitrary lines drawn on a map. By its own literature, being off line (off course) is human judged. So proximity to inner clips and outer zones are not judged by DOSS.

Angle

The spec sheet specifies an angle calculation but it’s most definitely wrong. Without external sensors and multiple accelerometers (I can’t find any literature pointing towards this), angle must be judged by the main unit on the front of the vehicle. The distance between the front axis of rotation (between the front wheels) and the unit itself will yield different angle measurements depending on the distance between those two points. These will differ greatly between car models.

Regardless of that, there is no intuitive way for the module to be able to tell if the vehicle is understeering or oversteering. With all my research of angle measurements, no one system is foolproof and each has their own pros and cons. The DOSS system in particular, uses an overly simplified system that can yield very incorrect information.

Speed

It’s a GPS. That’s what it does. Speed is the only measurement that is accurate. The 10hz refresh rate does leave something to be desired. But 10 measurements per second is more than enough for basic judging. This is also why the main complaint about the DOSS system is that it heavily favors speed. It’s the only good measurement possible.

Bringing it all together

The total judgement score of the DOSS system is heavily weighted towards speeds and acceleration. Assuming someone attempts to properly calibrate each unit for angle on each car and the flawed angle calculation at least being consistent between vehicles, the angle calculations are mainly used for “highest angle achieved”. The rest of the angle calculations are rate to angle and consistency of angle. These calculations all favor the fastest driver and not the highest angled driver or the most accurate driver.

Many drivers have complained that you “drive to what the box wants”. And that’s pretty accurate. The DOSS system was setup to use the data given to find a measurement that it could produce. The criteria given by the DriftBox is very limiting and judges to a very skewed ideal of what drifting is.

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