FSAE Dashboard Design

A dashboard system was developed for UofT’s drivers to provide better monitoring of the vehicle’s setup & conditions.

The goal was to develop a more efficient process of reading and analyzing performance data from the University of Toronto’s Formula SAE vehicle during on-track testing sessions. At the time, the FSAE team was restricted to reading the data on an external computer only after they had completed their runs.

Designing a dashboard that incorporated peripheral devices such as a tachometer and LCD screen, would provide data in real-time, which would improve the team’s ability to track vehicle setup-related performance metrics. The added LCD screen would read out live values from sensors placed at various locations throughout the car, and would also facilitate the ability for the driver and surrounding team members to input their given suspension setup that they were currently utilizing during a given testing session.

The LCD would interface with the driver through the use of a pushbutton and a digital encoder. The tachometer, which would include rev lights and a seven-segment display, would serve to give the driver both a quantitative and qualitative reference in regards to the engine’s current rpm. Underneath the dash panel, a microcontroller would control these new functions, and the final circuit would be a combination of terminal wiring and a soldered protoboard. The microcontroller would attain the given vehicle performance metrics through CAN (Control Area Network) communication with the team’s onboard data logging unit.

After setting up the vehicle’s tire pressures, camber & toe settings, etc., the issue became monitoring which physical setup was being used during each batch of testing data. To solve this, the driver or crew member would be able to power the dashboard and press the momentary pushbutton, which would take them to the testing setup menu. From here, the LCD display would show a list of settings to be modified such as the number of utilized camber shims, individual tire pressures, etc. Each setting could be toggled through via use of the rotary encoder, and either modified or used to enter another subsequent tier of the menu system via the built-in pushbutton on the encoder. To illustrate this concept, refer to the top image on the left. The green box represents the initial entry to the menu, the blue boxes represent menu options, and the orange boxes represent modifiable values whose increments and range were set in the program’s code.

The lower images to the left illustrate the program flow while in either live sensor readout mode or vehicle setup mode.