Affordable dashboard drift-o-meter

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May 17, 2007 As motorsport evolves, so too do the technologies needed to measure it. Talk just became much cheaper in the world of drifting thanks to this device which will really put some numbers around who did what and when. The US$750 DriftBox is a GPS and accelerometer based performance meter that accurately measures not only your car's forward and lateral acceleration G-forces, but your instant and maximum drift angles as well. With real figures suddenly the ultimate arbiter, you're gonna have to get way more sideways to impress people.

As the sport of drifting has grown in popularity, it's become more and more important to develop technology that can measure the angle between the direction the car's facing and the direction it's moving in - thus determining a "drift" angle and telling competitors how far sideways they've got on a particular corner. The DriftBox isn't the first device to measure such information - Racelogic's earlier professional level datalogging equipment has been logging slip angles and other information for some time. But their VBOX machinery is very much industry-targeted, and it's been priced accordingly.

The DriftBox takes much of the VBOX functionality and puts it in a price range that's affordable to the average hooligan. It's also designed to sit right there on the dash and provide a range of realtime figures, where the VBOX units are typically screenless logging devices which would require taking home and plugging into a computer before the necessary high-fives could be administered.

The fun little device logs everything it measures 10 times a second to a removeable SD card for easy uploading to a PC. Metrics logged include: - Speed kmh or mph - Distance metres or feet - 4 accel ranges - 2 adjustable - 2 decel ranges - 2 adjustable - 4 distance ranges (1/4 mile etc) - 1 foot rollout option - G-force and peak G-force - Top speed - Average speed - Drift angle and peak drift angle - Lap times with up to 6 splits and 99 stored laps

Once uploaded to a PC, the supplied software allows for some pretty serious analysis. Graphs and mapped plots of your drive can be generated, and at any point on the plot the full range of speed, drift and performance data can be instantly accessed. For the racetrack driver, the unit also allows you to overlay up to 4 different laps of a particular track onto an accurate map of that track, showing the different lines you took on each lap - making the DriftBox a genuinely practical tool for serious competitive drivers even outside the drifting scene.

The DriftBox is already taking the subjectivity out of serious drift racing. Where once the judge's decisions were difficult to justify, the D1 Professional Drift Grand Prix Series is already requiring each competitor to fit a DriftBox and streaming the results in real-time to the judges. With hard figures right there in front of them, the winners become much easier to pick and the results become much more scientific. The machine's instant feedback is likely to make it a hit with road testers as well - with UK motoring TV show Fifth Gear already getting into the action.

Still, professional applications aside, the DriftBox's UK£465 (US$750) pricetag will be well within reach of performance car owners everywhere. It's the ultimate tool for settling bench racing arguments - which will either be extremely exciting or head-shakingly disgusting, depending on what side of the "road safety" debate you're sitting on. Moral judgements aside, this little hero-ometer is a great piece of technology!

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