By: Mikko Nassi Updated: April 2012.
Making the final decision
Before we go any further there are some issues you should factor in to your decision other than the quality and features of the logger and its software such as what system is popular where you drive or which system do your teammates have? A lot of value from data logging is derived from comparing laps so it’s good if you use the same system. Does your local kart shop stock parts and sell the system? You don’t want to be stranded because a sensor broke and you can’t find a replacement.
Here’s an approximate list of prices obtained from the internet for readers to get a general idea of the differences in pricing of the different systems.
MyChron4 – 255 EUR
eBox Gold – 325 EUR
eBox Extreme – 520 EUR
Unipro 6002 – 455 EUR
Unipro 6003 – 510 EUR
Unipro 7002 – 510 EUR
Unipro 7003 – 569 EUR
(All unipro prices for base kit – only timing, temp and rpm sensors)
Alfano PRO V2 – 280 EUR
Alfano PRO+ LV – 340 EUR
Alfano AStrO LV – 480 EUR
(Only RPM and Timing sensors)
Pi Clubman Logger with X-Sport Dash – 3,000 EUR
(including wheelspeed sensor and a fair bit more – waiting for more pricing info on kart-kits from Pi)
The MyChron4 and the Alfano seem like the top value-for-money systems particularly for simple data logging only. The Pi is in a class of it’s own on price.
Customer Care / Technical Response
In the midst of writing this article and going through the various programs from the respective manufacturers, I naturally had some questions I wanted to ask the manufacturers. Software issues or questions about the technical solutions of their products for example.
This turned out to be a great way of testing out one very important aspect of data logging equipment – customer support for technical assistance or product problems. If you’re heading into a race and suddenly a problem arises with your software or your logger, you want a response quickly. Or even if it’s not a time-critical issue it’s still nice to know that they are there for you.
I emailed Pi Research, Aim (MyChron), and Alfano all on the same day asking some simple questions and I also mentioned that I was writing an article comparing their products with their competitors’ (that should give them even more reason to respond).
A day later I had yet to receive any replies so I tried my luck with Unipro. Within hours I had a response from Claus Lok Mortensen telling me that he will get back to me later – I thought well this is promising. True to his word not much later I got very detailed answers to my questions. He told me the reasons behind the issues I raised, and he actually emailed me the Alpha version of their new software so that I could see for myself what direction they had taken with their new software. Now that was a response! This is also the reason why I’ve been able to offer in-depth Unipro information in this article.
After a week of waiting I’ve yet to hear back from the others.
Just a note that some companies such as Aim and Pi have their own separate customer service and technical teams in their large markets such as the USA, so your customer service experiences may vary depending on your location.
At the moment I use the Unipro 6003 on my kart, and I don’t have any complaints other than the software not really being 100% to my preferences (new one that I like more is on the way), however I can still accomplish everything I want without much annoyance. It’s an extremely solid system, and has some very smart solutions. I love the display and using it at the track – very intuitive. I rarely have to check the manual so it’s easy to get a hand of just by flipping through the options. I see no reason to change to another logger at the moment.
With the Unipro I use the RPM, wheel speed (front), water temp, and a power valve sensor. Next addition will probably be a temperature sensor (exhaust). I’m also waiting for their G-force sensor and new software to be released.
If I didn’t currently have a data logging system I might get the MyChron4. I’d also like to add the eBox Extreme and a bunch of sensors.
If I didn’t have to pay for it, I’d get the Pi system with the 50hz+ sampling rate and all the bells and whistles (Delta Lite logger with tyre temperature, pressure, etc.).
I wouldn’t go for an Alfano again simply because I just do not like their software. Their displays are ok and I like using them, but I have to be comfortable in front of the PC as well. As mentioned earlier though if you can get the hang of their software you should definitely give their products a thought.
Remember that one data logger is not suitable for all drivers. If for example all you will ever need is an RPM trace, temperature, and timing without any intentions to constantly pour over data then just pick one that fits your budget and use it.
To select your system look carefully at what you want to use now and in the future. There might be some specific features that you are interested in that are only available in one or two systems such as the GPS sensor from MyChron which would limit your choices. If you know you will be constantly pouring over data I’d advise against the Alfano system unless you know you can get comfortable with the software.
If you aren’t interested in data logging (why did you read this article?) but just want a display for RPM, temp and times then you can probably go with the cheapest system available to you.
Links to Manufacturer Websites
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