CHAMPCAR/CART: Racing Electronics 101: A Dictionary

Racing Electronics 101 The Official Magneti Marelli Dictionary CLEVELAND (June 23, 1998) -- The Magneti Marelli electronics and fuel management system developed specifically for...

Racing Electronics 101 The Official Magneti Marelli Dictionary

CLEVELAND (June 23, 1998) -- The Magneti Marelli electronics and fuel management system developed specifically for the Mercedes-Benz IC108E Champ Car engine is made up of many complex components. The system may be complex, but understanding each component’s role doesn’t have to be. Here is a beginner’s guide to understanding the Magneti Marelli electronics system on a CART FedEx Champ car, complete with the Italian translation of each of the components:

ALTERNATOR (Alternatore) Provides the electrical energy necessary to power all of the electrical components on the car.

BOOST CONTROL (controllo del boost) The Magneti Marelli Engine Control Unit (ECU) uses this software strategy to regulate the turbocharged air pressure (boost) in the engine air inlet manifold.

CAM/CRANK SENSORS (sensori scam e smot) Sensors which measure engine speed and phase, and provide the timing for the injection and ignition commands issued by the ECU to the injector and coil drivers.

CDI COIL DRIVERS (driver di accensione capacitiva) CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) Coil Drivers generate the high voltage pulse which direct the spark plugs to ignite the air-fuel mixture in the cylinders. They are controlled by the ECU.

DATA LOGGER (acquisitore di dati) One of the "black boxes" on the left sidepod of the car. An electronic memory device for recording sensor readings and control information from the ECU. Data recorded is used for in-depth analysis of all systems on the race car.

DAG (Data Acquisition Geek) no Italian translation Computer in hand, this person acquires and analyzes the massive amounts of data generated by the system.

DAG STAND no Italian translation The mobile stand in each team’s pit area that serves as the work station for the DAG and other team personnel. Most DAG Stands have become high-tech rolling tool boxes.

ENGINE CONTROL UNIT (ECU) (centralina di controllo motore) The brains of the system, and the biggest of the "black boxes" on the left sidepod of the car. The ECU is used to control most of the functions of the engine, especially fuel delivery and ignition timing. Its basic function is to command the fuel injectors to deliver a specific quantity of fuel and the ignition coils to ignite the mixture based upon a combination of pre-programmed software strategies and the continuously updated data received from the sensors.

ENGINE MAP ARCHITECTURE (architettura di mappa motore) On the steering wheel of each Mercedes-powered Champ car is an eight-position fuel mixture switch that selects between different fuel management settings. The engine map architecture is pre-programmed software that determines a map of the many engine parameters (fuel, spark, etc.) in each of those eight settings.

MAGNETI MARELLI (Magneti Marelli S.p.a.) Based in Milan, an international supplier of automotive components and systems, including: engine control systems, instrument panels, air conditioning systems, lighting, fuel delivery systems, mirrors, exhaust systems, mechanical and electronic components, shock absorbers and lubricants. Clients include Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Ferrari, Fiat, General Motors, Ford and Harley-Davidson, contributing to combined worldwide sales of more than $3.9 billion.

MAGNETI MARELLI ANALYSIS SOFTWARE (software di analisi dati) PC-based software used to download and analyze data from the data logger, including lap-by-lap analysis in real-time when connected to a radio-telemetry system mounted on the car.

MAGNETI MARELLI MAPPING SOFTWARE (software di mappatura) This software is used to program ideal engine settings, or "maps." At the track, the software allows engineers to check engine parameters before starting the engine and during warm-up. Mapping software provides tools for modifying engine parameters "on-the-fly" with the eight-position fuel mixture switch.

MODULAR SOFTWARE (software modulare) Software which allows functions to be added or removed from the program. A modular approach allows data gained in racing and testing to be more useful.

REAL-TIME TELEMETRY (telemetria tempo reale) The continuous transmission of data via radio from the data logger to a ground-receiver station on the DAG stand to monitor the behavior of the race car on track.

VOLTAGE REGULATOR (regolatore di tensione) The voltage regulator converts the alternator output from alternating to direct current to ensure voltage levels remain within strict tolerances.

WIRING LOOMS (cablaggi) Complex sets of wires that snake through the car, connecting each sensor or component to the rest of the system.

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Series IndyCar