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expressemery

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Track building cleaning and maintenance .
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expressemery

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Cool layout sheet

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expressemery

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Here is the method I use to secure track to table. I then use hobby putty to fill joints and sand.

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RAMP Racing

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Nice track, wish I had one.

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Brooklands

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I used Elmer's Glue, Gorilla Wood Glue, and hot glue to attach the Atlas and Lionel Track to the wood on my new layout.  I used Sikken's Kombi Putty for smoothing the junctions and other seams.  You can follow the progress on the building of the New Brooklands Sppedway at http://www.reesed.com/NewBrooklands/NewBrooklands.html.  If you want to see the original track I built before I had to demolish it to move, please check out http://www.reesed.com/speedway/index.htm.

[0427Smoothing] 
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expressemery

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Modern AFX and Tyco slot car motors require a power supply producing 18 to 20 volts of direct current (VDC), while older Model Motoring cars require 20 to 24 VDC. The wall-outlet power pack supplied with most boxed racing sets is not sufficient for use on large table-mounted racing layouts.

DC power supplies normally have two specifications, the output voltage and the output current. Modern HO slot car motors require at least 18 VDC, and 1 ampere or more of current for proper operation. Most of the DC power supplies currently being manufactured provide only 12 to 13.8 VDC. These WILL NOT work for HO slot car tracks. They will however work properly for larger 1:32 and 1:24 scale slot car tracks.

A good quality DC power supply is essential to safe, trouble-free racing and prolonged motor life. Investing in a good power supply will quickly pay for itself in motor savings alone.

A good rule of thumb to use when determining the size of the power supply required is to multiply the number of lanes by 1 ampere or more. Especially long layouts or very hot motor armatures may require more power, but 1-2 amperes per lane should be sufficient for all but the most demanding racing situations.

A 5-10 ampere DC power supply would be a good choice for a long 4-lane racing layout. This should provide sufficient power with an adequate reserve.

Power needs to be applied evenly around the entire race track. Slot car tracks with lane lengths greater than about 20-25 feet will need to have power applied at several locations. The rail connections at the joints in plastic sectional track are the single largest factor contributing to voltage drops as the cars move farther and farther away from the power terminal track.

It is often said that power should be applied every 15 or 20 feet for an even power distribution. This is true, but an even better way of determining power terminal track spacing is to count track joints. It is the joints that rob your track of power not just the length. Applying power every 12 to 15 track joints will assure that your track is properly powered.

It is important to determine where power will be applied before you build your track and mount it permanently to a table. Racers who skimp on adequate track power distribution will be disappointed when they have completed their track and find that cars slow dramatically on those sections of the race track farthest from the power taps.

Replacing the power supply with a unit producing higher amperage has very little effect on power distribution. Inadequate power distribution produces voltage drops around the circuit. All of the amps in the world can't overcome this drop in voltage though.

Powering each lane with 1 or 2 amperes is sufficient if power is distributed evenly. It's far more important to apply track power evenly around the racing circuit than it is to have a high-output power supply feeding a single set of power terminal tracks. Regardless of the power supply output, cars will slow down dramatically as they travel farther away from the power source.

Generally speaking, a 4-lane race track mounted on a 4x8 foot table would require 2 or 3 power taps, while a 4x12 foot table would probably require at least 4 or 5 taps. Even larger and longer race tracks may need as many as 10 power taps. Count the joints for a single lane and then divide by 12 or 15 to get a better idea as to how many power taps your particular track design requires.

 

Commercial HO Power Supplies
Astron is a good source of high quality DC power supplies for HO slot car racing layouts. Astron offers several nice 0-30 Volt Variable DC Power Supply models producing 10 amperes of power or more. Astron power supplies are fully regulated. A regulated power supply eliminates power surges associated with other multi-lane power supplies.

A large voltmeter and ammeter on the front panel show the current output power status. Output voltage is adjustable from 0-30 VDC. Modern HO slot car motors run at 18 VDC, but with an adjustable power supply you can also reduce the voltage when young racers or novices are running.

Older Aurora T-Jets like slightly higher voltages around 20-22 VDC, so an adjustable power supply is ideal here too. Higher voltages equate to faster speeds, but also hotter motors, so it's always a good idea to stay within the recommended voltage range for the type of slot cars being raced.

I've sold other less capable power supplies over the years, but now I stock only the best. A good power supply is a big investment. Don't waste your time and money on lower-priced units that burn up and can't be easily repaired. Some of the junk sold on eBay is just that junk.

Three different HO Power Supply Models are available:

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If you feel comfortable building your own electronics projects you can easily make the DC power supply illustrated below for under $25 dollars per lane.

Single Lane DC Power Supply Schematic


If you would like to provide individual power supplies for each lane of your race track this simple design will produce 3.5 amperes per lane. This power supply would be ideal for large layouts or HO Slot Cars using hot armatures.

This power supply design uses only three (3) components available from Radio Shack's web site or your local Electronics Parts Store.

Parts Required

  • T1 - 16 Volt - 3.5A CT Transformer
  • D1 - 50 Volt - 10A Full Wave Rectifier
  • C1 - 2200 uF - 35V Electrolytic Capacitor
  • A 4-lane power supply using four (4) of each of the components listed above will cost you less than $100.00, yet will provide 3.5 amperes per lane, for a total power output of nearly 15 amperes.

    This power supply design uses a classic full wave diode bridge circuit (D1) to rectify the transformer's secondary AC output (T1). The capacitor (C1) smoothes DC ripple.

    The instructions and schematic for building your own custom power supply have intentionally been left rather vague. If you're comfortable working with the 120 VAC primary side of the transformer, or know someone who is, perhaps a HAM radio operator, then this would be a simple one-evening project. Due to the high voltage primary wiring on the transformer this project should only be undertaken by someone who understands what they're doing. This is NOT a good first project for the electronics novice!



    Power Requirements

    The table below shows the maximum peak current (amps) drawn by various types of HO slot car motors.

    HO Motor Power Chart
     
     
    Track Wiring

    Neat track wiring is important. Spend the extra time to properly wire your slot car racing layout. Solder all connections whenever possible, or use crimp-on connectors if you do not want to solder. Use 14 of 16 gauge stranded wire for all power, controller and track connections. The increased wire gauge will guarantee safe racing.

    The diagram below illustrates the basic track wiring required for a single lane. Expand this for the number of lanes your racing layout has.

    Single-Lane Basic Track Wiring Scheme


    A 2 ampere fuse should be sufficient to protect your car and controller. If you run hotter motor armatures you may need to increase the fuse rating to 3-5 amperes. Each lane should be individually fused. Do not use a single fuse for all lanes.

    If your controllers do not include a brake circuit the red wire at the drivers stations will be unused. It's always a good idea to wire your track for brakes even if you don't plan to use controllers with brakes initially. Re-wiring for brakes can be a real headache later on. It costs next to nothing to provide the brake circuit right from the start.

    See the Construction section of this web site for step-by-step pictures of a 4-lane raceway being built and wired using the wiring schematics below.

    The diagram below illustrates typical 4-lane wiring using standard dual-row barrier terminal blocks for all power, controller and track connections. This wiring method uses solderless crimp-on spade lugs for all barrier terminal connections.

    Longer race tracks will require power to be applied at several locations around the racing circuit. The barrier terminal blocks on the right side of the diagram below illustrate a wiring scheme for a track with power applied at two individual points on the race track. You can add extra terminal blocks if you plan to apply power in more than two locations. The actual length of the wires between the track terminal blocks on the right side of the drawing will be longer than those illustrated below.

    4-Lane Track Wiring Diagram


    The 4-lane track wiring diagram shown above can be used with a single power supply or individual power supplies connected to each of the four lanes. If a single power supply is to be used bridge the four positive power lines (white wires) together with a jumper wire. Use a second jumper to bridge the four negative power lines (red wires) together as well.

    Required 4-Lane Track Wiring Parts

  • (3) - 8 Position Barrier Terminal Blocks
  • (4) - 4 Position Barrier Terminal Blocks
  • (48) - #6 Spade Lug Terminals
  • (50) - Feet of White 16 Gauge Wire
  • (50) - Feet of Black 16 Gauge Wire
  • (50) - Feet of Red 16 Gauge Wire
  • The wiring diagrams illustrated above assumes that power fuses are installed at each of the four driver's stations. See the Track Wiring Supplies section at the end of this page to order these parts.

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    Driver's Stations

    Simple and very functional driver's stations can easily be made to allow racers to connect their hand controls. Purchase a 2x4 inch plastic project box from Radio Shack (Part No. 270-1802) for each lane. These boxes come with both a plastic and aluminum cover. Use the plastic cover and paint it to match the color of the lane it will control. Only the plastic cover is required, so save the aluminum cover and the lower section of the box itself for other projects.

    Hand controls normally have black and white power wires and a red brake connection. You can purchase corresponding black, white and red banana jacks and plugs in the Track Wiring Supplies section at the end of this page.

    Do not use the banana jacks and plugs sold at Radio Shack though as these are very poorly made and will not maintain a good electrical connection. Radio Shack does not offer a white banana plug or jack. It is very important that you maintain the red, white and black color scheme so as not to confuse racers.

    The diagram below illustrates a single lane's driver station. The banana jacks are mounted in 5/16 inch holes drilled on 1 inch centers.

    3-Wire Drivers Station with Brake


    If you have hand controls that will always be used with your race track install banana plugs on each of the three controller leads, maintaining the proper color coding.

    If you would like to use alligator clips to connect your hand controls then remove the hoods from the banana plugs and just insert them in the jacks. These bare plugs will form posts that can be used to attach the alligator clips to.

    If you mount banana plugs on some controllers and leave the alligator clips on other hand controls then purchase some extra banana plugs to use as posts when you want to use your hand controls with alligator clips.

    Fused 3-Wire Drivers Station with Brake

    If you want to add a power fuse at each driver's station purchase a 2x6 inch project case instead (Cat No. 270-1804). The additional length will allow enough room for its mounting.

    See the Construction section of this web site for pictures of Fused 3-Wire Driver's Stations being installed in a 4-lane raceway.

    If you would prefer to purchase ready-made driver's stations instead of building your own I offer both fused and standard models. I highly recommend that you purchase the Fused version though. It's much easier and less expensive to replace a 50 cent fuse than it is to replace a burned out power resistor in a hand control. Fuses at the drivers stations will also protect your track itself against potentially high current shorts.

    My drivers stations come complete with CNC-machined white ABS plastic drivers station panels. These panels are much stronger than the Radio Shack project box covers and can easily be painted to match your tracks' lane colors.

    Each kit includes a CNC-Machined driver station panel, both Banana Jacks and Plugs in the correct Red, White and Black color codes and all wire leads with soldered spade lugs pre-installed. A 4-Position Barrier Terminal Block is also included for simple connections to the power supply and track. Fused stations include a Panel Fuse Holder and two (2) 3 Ampere fuses (1 as a spare.)

    These are first rate drivers stations that look great and perform well. If you want to add the professional appearance of high-quality drivers stations to your raceway, then these are the ones for you.

    Keep in mind though, that if you're purchasing a Fused Track Wiring Kit you're already getting Fused 3-Wire Drivers Stations, so you don't need to order them separately.


     Fused 3-Wire Drivers Station$49.99
     3-Wire Drivers Station$45.99
     
    Power Terminal Tracks

    Power terminal tracks from Tyco and Tomy are expensive and will not allow you to use individual power supplies for each lane. Longer layouts need to have power applied at several locations on the layout. Using manufactured power terminal tracks can become quite costly.

    This section describes a method of making your own power terminal tracks from standard straight track sections.

    Making your own power terminal tracks is quite easy. All you will need is a soldering iron, soldering flux for electronics, and some rosin-core electrical solder. You will also need some short lengths of 16-18 gauge connection wire.

    Note: The information provided here can also be used to attach wires to dead track sections used for electronic lap counters.

    Start by placing a straight section of slot car track upside down on a towel dampened with cold tap water. The damp towel will prevent heat from the soldering iron being transferred to the plastic track.

    The metal power rails running along each side of the guide pin slot are secured to the plastic track itself at 3 inch intervals. Locate a pair of these mounting points midway down the length of the straight track section and place a small dab of soldering flux on the exposed metal rail mounting points.

    Cut two 12 inch lengths of hook-up wire and strip away 1/4" of the insulation from one end of each wire. With a hot soldering iron heat the exposed wire and apply a small amount of solder to the heated wire. This tinning process will make later attachment to the metal power rails much easier.

    Place one of the tinned hook-up wires at the point on the metal power rail where you had previously applied soldering flux and hold your soldering iron on the joint. Apply a small amount of additional solder once the flux begins to boil, and then carefully removed the soldering iron. Let the solder cool naturally, do not blow on the heated solder though, as this may fracture the soldered joint you just made.

    Repeat the process described above for the remaining three metal power rails on a two-lane section of plastic slot car track.

    Longer slot car tracks will require power terminal tracks placed at intervals around the circuit. The running length of track between power terminals is not nearly as important as the number of track joints separating the power terminals. The track joints themselves are the largest source of electrical resistance. A good rule of thumb is to use a power terminal track for every 12-15 track sections.

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    Track Power Testing

    Nothing is more frustrating than racing on a slot car track with corroded or loose power rail connections. Here is a simple and fool-proof method of locating bad track joints.

    Start by first removing the last track section before the power terminal track and then slowly drive a car around the track until it stops. Whenever the car stops inspect and clean the power rail joints at the track section just before the loss of power occurred. Repeat this process for all lanes until the car travels around the entire circuit without slowing or stopping.

    Track Power Testing Procedure


    Finish up by replacing the last section of track and now you'll have a race track without any power losses.

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    Motor Braking

    Motor braking will allow your slot car to stop much more quickly. Normally, without motor braking, your slot car will continue to roll after power is removed from the motor, but with a motor braking circuit your slot car will stop much faster. This will allow you to drive deeper into a turn before slowing.

    Any slot car track can easily be wired for motor braking using the track wiring diagram below.

    Motor Braking Circuit


    The red brake wire leading from the driver's station to the negative power rail in the illustration above is all that is required to add a motor braking circuit to your HO Slot Car Track. See the Power section of this web site for more information about wiring a track for brakes.

    The wiring diagram below illustrates a typical track wiring scheme for a simple 4-lane slot car track employing motor braking.

    Typical 4-Lane Track wiring Diagram


    The principle behind motor braking is quite simple actually. Normally, a DC motor will spin freely when power is removed. Motor braking involves placing a shunt across the commutator poles to increase its turning resistance, and thus slowing its armature.

    If you elect to install motor braking circuits on your slot car track you can easily defeat them by simply leaving the red brake wire on your hand controllers unconnected. This will allow you to run with or without the benefits of motor braking. You will find the effects of motor braking to be quite beneficial though, and will probably want to race with them in the circuit.


    Controllers with Stereo Plugs

    Several 1:32 scale race sets now include 3-wire 1/8" stereo mini-jacks for hand control connections. The diagram below illustrates the plug wiring as used by both Scalextric Sport and Ninco for their set hand controls.

    Scalextric Sport & Ninco Hand control Plug Wiring


    Most commercial slot car tracks built in the 1960s used 1/4" Stereo Phone Plugs, but this practice was quickly abandoned because when the hand control was plugged in or removed it created a momentary short while the plug slid out of the jack. Modern 1:32 scale track manufactures all warn users to make sure the power pack is unplugged before inserting or removing a controller plug for this very same reason.


    Controller Impedance

    Commercial after-market slot car hand controllers come in a variety of resistor sizes. Hand controllers built specifically for HO Slot Car Racing are normally rated at 60, 45 and 25 ohms of electrical resistance, or impedance to current flow.

    The hand controllers supplied in most boxed race sets are rated at approximately 60 ohms.

    You may find however that replacing the stock 60 ohm hand controllers with lower impedance units in the 45 ohm range makes for better car control.

    A properly selected hand controller should allow your slot car to slowly creep away when the trigger is squeezed just a fraction of an inch. As you continue to squeeze the trigger the car should accelerate in a linear fashion throughout the controllers trigger range.

    If your hand controller behaves more like an on-off switch than a variable throttle control you have selected a controller with too low of an impedance rating.

    The chart below describes recommended hand controller impedance ratings for the various types of HO Slot Cars and motors currently available:

  • 90 Ohm - Model Motoring Thunderjets
  • 60 Ohm - Aurora A/FX & Auto World
  • 45 Ohm - Stock Tomy AFX, Life-Like & Tyco Cars
  • 25 Ohm - Modified Tomy AFX and Tyco Cars
  • 15 Ohm - Open and Highly Modified Motors
  • A good quality 45 ohm hand controller will work with just about all of the slot cars listed above except those with open or highly modified motors.

    If you are only going to buy one set of hand controllers to replace your boxed set controllers the 45 ohm rating is probably your best bet. It will have a wide enough control range to smoothly drive everything from a Model Motoring Thunderjet to a modified Tyco or Tomy AFX slot car.

    Note: The resistors used in most of the better slot car hand controllers are easily replaced. You can always replace the current power resistor with a different rating if your tastes or needs change.


    1:32 Scale Racers

    Recommended power resistor impedances for 1:32 scale racing differ slightly from HO slot cars. The list below describes the various uses for 15-45 Ohm Controllers:

  • 45 Ohm - Home Set Cars on Small Tracks
  • 35 Ohm - Home Set Cars on Medium Tracks
  • 25 Ohm - Home Set Cars on Large Tracks
  • 15 Ohm - Hot Motors on Large Tracks
  • Home Set Cars such as those produced by Scalextric, Ninco, FLY and Carrera generally work best with a 45 Ohm Hand control on smaller tracks with short straights. As the size of a track increases, i.e. longer straights, the power resistor impedance can be lowered. A 25 Ohm control will work best on home tracks in the 6x12 to 8x20 foot range.

    Hot Motors such as the ProSlot EuroCan, TSFR and NSR Boxers work well with a 15-25 Ohm control on large tracks with long straights. Slot.It and FLY Racing motors, while considered hotter, still work well with a 25 Ohm control on larger tracks.

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    Computer Interfaces

    The diagrams below illustrate the various port interfaces possible using an MS DOS or Microsoft Windows based computer system. Wiring diagrams are shown for the Joystick Game Pad Interface, The Parallel Printer Port and the Serial I/O Port.


    Joystick Interface

    The diagram below illustrates a typical slot car lap counter interface using the joystick game port found on most personal computers. The longer lead on the photo-cell (Emitter) is connected to the common signal ground (pin 4).

    Joystick Game Port Interface Wiring Diagram


    The numbered connections running down the left edge of the wiring diagram correspond to the numbered pins on the Joystick Game Port connector. The four sensors numbered Lane 1 - 4 correspond to the switches or photo-cells needed for each lane on your slot car track.

    The 100K Ohm resistors aren't used by the lap counter itself, but must be included to represent the X- and Y-Axis potentiometers found in a joystick device. Without them MS Windows can not detect a joystick device connected to the game pad port.

    Warning: Run two separate wires from each sensor at the track all of the way back to the connector at the computer. Do not tie the ground lines (pin 4) together under the track.

    If your PC has a multi-media sound card installed check the connectors at the rear of this card, most sound cards have an integral 15-pin joystick game port built in. The standard joystick game port can handle up to four "fire" buttons, that is enough for a simple four lane lap counter. If your computer does not have a joystick game card installed you can purchase one for as little as $25.00 dollars.

    You will also need to configure MS Windows to recognize the joystick interface cable you've built. Follow the instructions described in the Joystick Configuration section to define a suitable device.



    Printer Interface

    The diagrams below illustrate typical slot car lap counter interfaces using the Parallel Printer Port found on most personal computers. The longer lead on the photo-cell (Emitter) is connected to the common signal ground (pin 25).

    TrakMate Printer Port Interface Wiring Diagram
     
    VRS Printer Port Interface Wiring Diagram


    The wiring diagrams above illustrate typical 4-lane lap counter interfaces. The numbered connections running down the left edge of the wiring diagram correspond to the numbered pins on the Parallel Printer Port connector. The four sensors numbered Lane 1 - 4 correspond to the switches or photo-cells needed for each lane of your slot car track.

    Warning: Run two separate wires from each sensor at the track all of the way back to the connector at the computer. Do not tie the ground lines (pin 25) together under the track.

    Note: Pins 18 - 25 on the standard LPT port are all grounded, so you could just as easily used separate ground pins for each of the four sensor lines.



    Serial I/O Interface

    The diagram below illustrates a typical slot car lap counter interface using the Serial I/O Port found on most personal computers. Both DB-25 and DB-9 connectors are shown below. Most lap top computers use the smaller DB-9 connector, while full-sized desktop system usually have DB-25 connectors.

    Serial I/O DB-25 Port Interface Wiring Diagram
     
    Serial I/O DB-9 Port Interface Wiring Diagram


    The wiring diagram above illustrates a typical 4-lane lap counter interface. The numbered connections running down the left edge of the wiring diagram correspond to the numbered pins on the Serial I/O Port connector. The longer lead on the photo-cell (Emitter) is connected to the common signal ground (pin 7 or 5).

    Warning: Run two separate wires from each sensor at the track all of the way back to the connector at the computer. Do not tie the ground lines (pin 5/7) together under the track.


    Track Switches & Sensors

    Several different methods are available for detecting when a slot car passes over the start/finish line of your slot car track. These approaches break down into two basic categories; electro-mechanical and optical. Of the two, optical detection is the better choice.



    Dead Tracks

    The Dead Track method requires a specially made section of straight track as illustrated below.

    Dead Track Illustration w/ Jumpers


    Two 5/8" sections of each rail must be removed to create a short dead rail approximately 3" in length. The two red wires in the diagram above are connected to the joystick game port interface card to create a "switch". When a slot car passes over this section of track the pickup brushes and motor "close" the switch.

    Because you have cut the lane rails to create a dead section you will need to also tie the power rails back together with short jumper wires. The blue wires in the diagram above allow power to flow around the dead section.

    There will be a momentary loss of power to a slot car as it passes over this dead section of track. To avoid stalls you should place your dead track section along a fast straight.

    Tip: The easiest way to create a dead track section is to use a 6" section of straight track with 5/8" sections removed from the rails at both ends of this piece of track. Position this dead track section between two straight tracks wired as power terminal sections. See the Power section of this web site for further instructions on making power terminal tracks and dead sections.

    Warning: Dead Track sections can be harmful to the printer and serial ports. DC motors act like DC generators when they spin freely, so dangerous voltages (Back-EMF) can be induced into the signal lines as cars coast over the dead section.

    Note: The Joystick interface has isolated inputs that protect the port from these dangerous and potentially damaging DC pulses, but printer and serial ports do NOT.


    Photo-Cells

    The Photo-Cell Switch method requires a small 1/8" hole to be drilled between the guide pin slot and one of the power rails. The photo-cell is mounted under the track facing up through the hole you drilled. The photo-cell leads are then connected directly to the joystick game port interface board.

    See the Construction section of this web site for detailed photographs of how the photo-cells can be mounted under the track.

    I sell 2- and 4-Lane Photo-Cell Cables with your choice of Joystick or Printer port interfaces in the Lap Timer 2000 Cable Kits section at the end of this page.

    Photo-cells are sensitive to the infra-red (heat) portion of the light spectrum. Any small incandescent lamp will produce enough heat energy to work properly.

    Fluorescent light however does not contain enough infra-red energy to work reliably.

    If you plan to use IR-LED devices as emitters keep in mind when wiring and testing that they produce no visible light, but will produce infra-red energy suitable for use with photo-cell detectors.

    A light source must be placed directly above the section of track containing the photo-cell switches. Each time a car passes over the photo-transistor the light beam will be broken causing the switch to close.


    Magnetic Reed Switches

    The Magnetic Reed Switch method requires small magnetic reed switches to be placed under each lane. As a slot car passes over this section of track the slot car's motor or traction magnets momentarily closes the reed switch.

    Reed Switches suitable for lap counters are available in the Lap Timer 2000 Components section at the end of this page.

    Orientation of the reeds inside the switch itself is very important. Make sure you install the reed switches so that the two moving blades are positioned next to one another like the diagram below.

    Reed Switch Track Placement


    When a slot car passes over the reed switch the two blades should move from side to side, not up and down. If installed incorrectly the strong magnets used in slot cars will pull the upper blade away from the lower blade instead of drawing them together as they were designed to operate.


    Scalextric Lap Counter

    Racers with Scalextric 1:32 scale slot car tracks can use the Scalextric RMS Multi-Lane Extension Kit (C.8147) with integral mechanical reed switches to count and time laps on Scalextric Classic and Sport tracks.

    Scalextric RMS Multi-Lane Extension Kit (C.8147)


    The diagram below describes the pinouts for the standard mini-phone plug the track section uses to connect to an external lap counter.

    Scalextric Pinouts


    The Scalextric RMS Multi-Lane Extension Kit is a 2-lane track section. For tracks with more than two lanes use one lap counter section for each two lanes.


    Implementation

    Of the three lap sensor types described above, the Photo-Cell method is the best. The Reed Switch and Dead Track methods are problematic with older Aurora Model Motoring Thunderjet slot cars that don't employ traction magnets, and can also be unreliable with fast-moving modern slot cars.

    For 1:32 scale tracks the Scalextric RMS Track Expansion Kit with internal switches is extremely reliable.



    Timing Gantry

    If your room light is low or you have Fluorescent ceiling lights you may want to create a small bridge or timing gantry spanning that portion of track containing the photo-cells. The underside of the bridge can contain high-intensity lamps or Infra-Red LED devices that shine directly down on the photo cells. This method also prevents false triggers if racer's shadows fall on the photo cells.

    Your local Radio Shack sells photo-cells that are ideal for use as slot car lap counters. Ask the clerk for RS Part No. 276-145.

    If you elect to build the timing gantry as well, Radio Shack makes matching high-output Infra-Red LEDs for mounting on the underside of the gantry. Ask the clerk for RS Part No. 276-143.

    The diagram below illustrates the power supply and wiring required to build a 4-lane timing gantry. The current limiting resistors are connected to the Cathode (negative) side of the infra-red LED devices.

    Infra-Red LEDs w/ Resistors (4)


    The picture below illustrates an easy and attractive means of incorporating a timing gantry using a simple pedestrian foot bridge. The LEDs can be mounted under the bridge itself, shining down towards the photo-cells mounted under the track. This timing gantry was built using an HO Pedestrian Bridge painted white. I sell this Pedestrian Bridge in the Lap Timer 2000 Components section at the end of this page.

    4-Lane HO Pedestrian Bridge Kit Assembled & Painted


    This bridge is ideal for an HO scale raceway. The bridge section itself is just over 6 inches wide, allowing it to easily span a 4-lane straightaway. The billboard sections on either side of the walkway are perfect for sponsors' decals or your raceway's name.

    4-Lane Dunlop Tire Bridge


    I also sell the attractive 4-Lane Dunlop tire Bridge shown above in the Lap Timer 2000 Components section. This bridge works well for raceways with a European sportscar or long distance endurance racing theme. This bridge is a replica of the famous footbridge at Le Mans.


    I have a pre-assembled LED bar with 18 Red LED devices mounted on a narrow circuit board that works perfectly as a timing gantry. This circuit board is powered by any 12 VDC power pack producing at least 200 mA. See the Lap Timer 2000 Components section at the end of this page.

    7" Red LED Bar w/18 LEDs Installed


    Racers with 1:32 or 1:24 scale tracks can eliminate the overhead timing gantry completely by mounting the IR LED emitter on one side of the slot and the photo-cell on the other side. Enclosing the entire system under the track is much neater and more reliable. The guide flag itself acts as a shutter when it passes between the emitter and detector. The Ninco electronic lap counters use this same approach.


    USB & Lap Top Users

    Many newer Lap Top computers no longer provide printer or joystick ports, but instead offer USB interface capabilities. Radio Shack sells a USB/Joystick adapter that will allow you to use the USB port on your Lap Top computer with a Joystick Interface cable.

    Radio Shavk - USB to Joystick Adapter - 26-728


    Ask your local Radio Shack salesman for RS part number 26-728 or 26-164.


    Track Power Relay Wiring


    Lap Timer 2000 can be used to turn track power on and off automatically. This is best accomplished with a DC/DC Solid State Power Relay. These devices have very low trigger current requirements and will work with any lap top or desktop computer having an LPT port.

    Kyoto DC/DC Solid State Relay


    Track power will automatically be turned on when a race is started, and off at the end of the race, or whenever the Race | Pause command is issued.


    MS Windows Software

    I have written a small MS Windows program to count and time laps on race tracks with up to 4 lanes. The software is free and may be copied and distributed as long as all copyright notices remain intact and the application files are not modified in any way.

    This computer software is designed to work with any MS Windows 95/98/ME/XP/NT/2000 computer system. Lap Timer 2000 includes interfaces for both the serial, and parallel printer ports as well as a PC keyboard and the standard joystick game port.

    The screen shot below illustrates the Lap Timer 2000 main window. The current lap time is displayed using a large 90 point font to facilitate easy viewing from across a room. The current lap time displayed for each lane is updated each time a slot car passes over the lap counter track. The current Lap No. will also be updated when a slot car passes over the lap counter.

    The Lap Timer 2000 main window is actually 700x555 pixels in size.

    Lap Timer 2000 Main Window


    Up to four (4) lanes may be simultaneously monitored and displayed. The background color of each lane's display can be configured by the user to reflect the actual lane color coding used. The Best Lap region records the fastest lap time recorded during the current session. A single race or practice session can record up to 4096 laps per lane. An optional Average MPH/KPH speed can also be displayed. This information will appear in-between the Lap No. and Best Lap display regions for each lane.

    For accurate average lap speed calculations you must specify the scale of your slot cars and the running lap length for each lane. Distances and speeds can be defined in either U.S. (Imperial) or Metric units of measure.

    You may also view a detailed report listing all lap times recorded for each lane during the current session using the View | Lap Times... menu command.

    Races can be run for a specified length of time or until a preset number of laps have been completed. A race summary file is created when a race is completed. This race summary file can be viewed or printed. The race summary includes the number of laps completed as well as individual lap times for each competitor. Here is a Sample of the Race Results File that Lap Timer 2000 generates.

    Click your mouse on the program title below to download the latest release of Lap Timer 2000.


    Download Lap Timer 2000   Lap Timer 2000 v6.3 (616K)


    LapTimer 2000 includes TrakMate compatibility, support for MS Windows XP, race pause and resume facilities and an extensive help file with interface cable building instructions and wiring diagrams.

    You can purchase ready-made Lap Timer 2000 interface cables or make your own using the information provided earlier on this page.

    The interface cables sold below include photo-cells which are mounted under your slot car track. The photo-cells are connected to s small junction box that is mounted under the table. The junction box included in the interface kit uses a standard RJ-45 modular network jack. The kit also includes an 8 foot Cat-5 Network cable and a Printer or Joystick connector with an RJ-45 jack enclosed in the plastic hood. Software is provided on a 3-1/2" disk as well.

    Lap Timer 2000 Photo-Cell Kit
     
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