How To: Create Data Overlays

For a list of GPS systems and dataloggers that have been known to work, please see Compatible Data Sources. Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list, as far more products may also be compatible.

To add a data overlay to a RaceRender project, you will generally need to first use the data system's software to export your data into a compatible CSV, tab-delimited Text, VBO, GPX, TCX, FIT, or NMEA file, if it isn't already:
  • Many data acquisition systems, similar smartphone apps, GPS-enabled video cameras, and even some general GPS devices, are capable of saving data into one or more of these formats.

  • CSV format is common for motorsports and other dataloggers, and is also known as a comma-delimited text or spreadsheet file.
  • Similar spreadsheet-style text file formats delimited by commas, tabs, or semi-colons, may also work.
  • VBO files that use typical formatting often also work.
  • GPX, TCX, FIT, and NMEA formats are most commonly used by general GPS dataloggers, and more detail is included below.
  • Some GPS-enabled cameras embed NMEA data into their .MOV or .MP4 video file, which RaceRender may be able to automatically detect and extract for you.

  • Click here to view instructions for specific data acquisition systems & products.

Once you have your data in a compatible file format, it can be added to the current project as an input file. You can do this either during the initial project setup on the New Project Menu, or at any time on the Main screen. A version of the Template Menu will appear and display several data overlay templates to choose from.

You can visualize additional data channels and add more display objects by using the Add button above the Display Objects list, using the "Add a Display Object" icon above the Input Files list, or by right-clicking on an input file in the list and selecting "Create Display Object". These will open the Display Object Toolbox to give you a visual menu of available options. More Info on Displaying Additional Data Channels

The Synchronization Tool can be used to synchronize the data file with the video files of your project.

Because data product capabilities vary widely, some data visualization objects and options may not be supported by your data file. It is recommended that you arrange and configure the data visualization objects to your liking, and then create a template of them, so that they can be easily imported into your future projects. Template files you create can also be shared with other RaceRender users.

RaceRender's data features require certain data to be provided in the input file, and in a form that it recognizes. Depending on the actual output of your data system's hardware and/or software, some RaceRender features may not be functional with all data sources or in all cases. In some cases, you may be able to improve compatibility by manually assigning the data fields on the Input File Configuration screen.

How to Fix Missing Lap Numbers & Times

Some data systems do not provide lap numbers in their exported data, or in a compatible format. This is needed for several features, including lap counters & timers, and cleaner drawing of track maps. However, this missing lap data can be substituted by manually setting the Start / Finish point, from the Input File Configuration screen.

Note: RaceRender will automatically attempt to do this for you, if the data file provides standard GPS decimal coordinates, and it contains laps around at a recognized track configuration. This should work in many cases, but will not be able to accommodate every data system or race course.

How to Display Speeds in MPH, Km/h, Knots, or m/s

There are two ways to choose the units that speeds are displayed in:
  • Method #1:

    Click the Project Setup button on the main screen and change the "Preferred Speed Unit" setting to your desired unit of measure: MPH, Km/h, Knots, or m/s.

    This setting is applied to the vehicle speed display in the current project, when practical. Changing this will also set the default for future projects.

    This is only applied when the data file's "Vehicle Speed" field selection is still set to automatic (on the Input File Configuration screen), which is typical. If displayed speeds are still using the wrong unit, please use Method #2 below.

  • Method #2:

    By default, RaceRender will attempt to convert and display speeds in the unit you selected in Method #1 above. Some data files may be unclear, so it wont always be able to do that.

    To use other units for the speed, or to manually adjust it, please follow these steps:

    1) Double-Click on your data file under the "Input Files" list. This will open the Input File Configuration screen.

    2) Go down to the selection for the "Vehicle Speed" data field, and replace the automatic setting by choosing the appropriate field name from the drop-down list.

    3) The boxes to the right of the "Vehicle Speed" selection should no longer be grayed-out. You can now either enter your own conversion factor, or use the "From" and "To" drop-down lists to calculate one for you. Set the "From" selection to match the units used in your data file, and the "To" selection to be the units that you want the speedometer and other visualizations to use.

Gear Number Estimation Feature

When your data file contains a "Gear" or similar data channel that contains the current gear number, RaceRender can easily display that. This is the preferred method, but is not available from all data systems.

The current gear number will be automatically estimated if your data file does not contain actual gear information, but it does contain both engine RPM and vehicle speed. Because this is a universal feature that could be applied to a wide variety of data systems, vehicles, and circumstances, results will vary and it will not work perfectly for all situations. If you find that the indicated gear is not accurate and/or fluctuates wildly, then you may want to disable the gear indicator display. The cause for those issues is often a lag in the speed and/or RPM readings, resulting in an inconsistent ratio between the two, and therefore RaceRender is unable to clearly distinguish the vehicle's true gear ratios. The most common problem sources are a lag in GPS speed readings (can apply to some GPS hardware or data systems more than others), excessive clutch or wheel slip, and automatic transmissions when the torque converter is not locked.

For best results with gear number estimation, have your data system obtain speed readings via OBD-2 or directly from a vehicle speed sensor, if possible. Those data sources tend to be more responsive and maintain a more consistent relationship to the measured engine RPM. To make RaceRender use an alternate speed reading, double-click on your data file under the "Input Files" list, then change the "Vehicle Speed" selection to the desired data channel.

NMEA, GPX, TCX, and FIT Format Support   (General GPS Loggers)

Note: The GPX format referred to in this section is the GPS eXchage file format (.GPX), and should not be confused with dataloggers that may use the letters "GPX" in their product name.

RaceRender also includes support for the NMEA 0183, GPX (GPS eXchange), and Garmin TCX and FIT file formats, which are used by many popular GPS loggers. NMEA is also often used in compatible GPS-enabled video cameras. Support for these formats requires certain typical characteristics, such as the data samples must contain timing data and be in normal sequential order, and any NMEA, GPX, or TCX files must be in standard ASCII or UTF-8 text encoding. Many common GPS data fields are supported, but some non-standard or extension data might not be picked up.

When compatible GPS data is present, this will typically provide data for a track map and vehicle position, and lap numbers and times at certain race tracks, but other data may or may not be available via these formats. RaceRender can usually estimate speed, heading, and G-force from the GPS data, when they are not otherwise provided or supported from the data file. In order to get lap counts and times, as well as draw a cleaner track map (based on one selected lap), you may need to manually set the Start / Finish point. RaceRender will also attempt to do that for you automatically for recognized race courses, but it can't accommodate all situations.

NMEA data must contain RMC, GGA, and/or GLL sentences, in the standard format of one NMEA 0183 text sentence per text line. Valid fix times are required on all applicable NMEA samples, and they should be marked as Active where applicable. RMC and GGA are recommended; GLL support is included for compatibility reasons. All NMEA sentences must start with "$GP", such as "$GPRMC", "$GPGGA", and "$GPGLL".

GPX, TCX, and FIT data will only work if the session is logged as a set of "track" points (not waypoints, etc), and each of those points includes a timestamp in the standard format.

GPX is a somewhat loose format, so there may be variations that do not work with RaceRender, and non-standard or "extensions" data may not be picked up. Generally speaking, the file must begin with an <?xml> tag, and for GPX, each track point should look similar to the following example:

  <trkpt lat="39.602613" lon="-105.020217">

The time tag is always required. The elevation and speed tags are optional, but recommended.

GPX and TCX speeds are expected to be measured in meters per second (m/s), but some systems have been known to use km/h instead. If that's the case, the the speeds may be incorrectly high when displayed in RaceRender. This can be resolved by double-clicking on the data file under the "Input Files" list to open its Input File Configuration screen, then going down to the "Vehicle Speed" selection, selecting the Speed field, and then using the controls on the right to convert it from km/h to your desired display unit.

How to Export a Datalogger Session into a Compatible File

Click here to view instructions for specific data acquisition systems & products.