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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Guys,
Are many guys here into digital or interested? If so I suggest a dedicated digital slot car forum. Moderators?
 

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Im seriously considering switching from HO to 1/32 digital for my next slot car track build.

Due to some changes in my life my HO track is gone for good and probably in a landfill somewhere.I still have all of my HO stuff,minus the track.

Im intrigued by digital and all that it has to offer.It really seems like something I would like to get involved in,but trying to educate myself on the different setups and what they can and can not do has pretty much had me running around in circles.

I give a +1 for a dedicated digital forum.Sure,there are other places on the internet where it is discussed.But Im not really into the "attitude"of many of those other DL's.I like the way that HT is moderated,and prefer to keep my business here.

Mike
 

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I'm in.

Made the switch from crazy fast HO to 1/32 myself. Have built or more correctly am building1/32 digital Scally set on top of my routed HO Track. No plans as of yet to make the 1/32 track hinge up to the wall but who knows? I would welcome digital input without having to wade through other topics.

later, The still trying to get up the courage to convert a couple of my non digital ready cars to digital Rockinator
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ok we have 3, do I hear 4? :)

I seen a track in Spain where the table spins upside down like pig on a spit and hey presto, another track! Then you lock it in place using supports.
Any of the mods here do slot cars?
 

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Hmmm looks like digital slot racing doesnt appeal to many here :confused:...ok lets stay in the dark ages!
Maybe you can float the idea in the 1:32 section first, and send Hank a link to the discussion thread so he can watch the responses.

This site is primarily HO but I think I speak for everyone when I say we enjoy all scales.
 

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LED Burner Outer
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I for one am very interested. Sadly, I am also broke and about to get more broke due to vehicle troubles. I am also not a follower of what's fashionable. Here's a good example... My first CD player was purchased a mere 5 1/2 years ago. I think the digital technology is cool as heck. But until it fits in HO scale cars along with all the other junk I tend to try to install in them it just won't work for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My feeling is HO is way too fast for changing lanes. Although it is possible to design a chip for HO i cant see enough demand......
And if this is primarily a HO site thats fair enough.....
 

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This site is primarily HO but I think I speak for everyone when I say we enjoy all scales.
Oh definitely.But I dont think it was by design.Im guessing that it's just how things turned out.

And as far as the discussion and open exchange of ideas concerning all things HO,this site has no equal.The endless bickering that takes place on almost all of the other HO dl's does not go on here.The same people,about the same things,year in and year out.
And that is what makes Hobby Talk a fantastic source of information concerning HO slot cars,for new folks that come along,and guys that have been into the hobby for quite awhile like myself.The regulars on here are all class acts.

Are there other forums that discuss digital slot car racing???Yep.But from what Ive seen and read,it goes back to,from what I see,endless bickering.

So,what Im getting at is that if there was to be a dedicated digital forum here,it could possibly,given time,become a place where information on the topic would be exchanged freely and openly.In the same way that HO is here.

Just a thought.

Mike

PS:Happy holidays to all of you guys out there.Pretty much everything I learned about HO slot cars when I got back into the hobby a few years back I learned here.

THANKS GUYS!!!:wave::wave:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I think I know which forum you are talking about, but it seems to have settled down a lot in the last 12 months. It was unbelieveable the ganging up and abuse at one stage. There are 2 other major slot car only forums where there is real respect, a lot of talent and virtually no bickering, but they are pretty much 1:32, with only a little HO and 1:24
 

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I think I know which forum you are talking about, but it seems to have settled down a lot in the last 12 months. It was unbelieveable the ganging up and abuse at one stage. There are 2 other major slot car only forums where there is real respect, a lot of talent and virtually no bickering, but they are pretty much 1:32, with only a little HO and 1:24
There is more then one.And there are a few that make big dramatic exits from the hobby forever,and then return. a few months later.I have enough drama in my life at home and work.You get the point.

But back to the topic at hand.......

Im the kind of guy that researches things and turns over as many rocks as I can to find out as much information as I can before I drop any dough.I made a lot of mistakes when I got back into HO slot car racing.This time around,when I do finally go digital,I want to go into it 1000% prepared.

Why the switch???Well,for one my eyes arent what they once were.I like the amazing amount of well done cars that are done in 1/32 scale.And truth be told,99.9% of the time I race by myself.It looks like with digital I would be able to run other cars,I guess what you would call "ghost cars" while you are racing alone.

Im still not 100% sure.Im going to research as much as I can.There is still a possibility that I may just stay with HO.But if I do,Im going to go the easy way.Which would be to spend the dough and order a 16X4 4 lane Max Track.

So I guess we will wait and see and keep the discussion going.

Mike
 

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Ugh....me invent wheel

Maybe you can float the idea in the 1:32 section first, and send Hank a link to the discussion thread so he can watch the responses.

This site is primarily HO but I think I speak for everyone when I say we enjoy all scales.
I would tend to agree with Doba. Using the 1/32 forum is the logical first move. Then organize your digitized posse into a functioning group that can light up the switchboard. Perhaps the newly amalgamated digital hord could take the initiative to use our already available multi room chat feature to further your cause and strengthen your standing within the existing forum structure. Although "Slot Cars" is generally in use full time; there is no reason that during the interum, a fledgling group couldnt use another unused chat room regardless of it's dedicated title. A "build your own room" feature exists as well. Keep in mind that usage is historically the unit of measure required to get a new forum established.

As for being in the "dark ages" I would beg to differ with you. Hobby Talk is full of innovative people with a broad range of new ideas. Classifying us as medieval in a trolling broadstroke probably didnt help your cause much. Many of us cave dwellers call this place home. We have boards with nails in them...and we know how to use them. :tongue:
 

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I've tried the digital sets and I thought they were a lot of fun, but it's really a different sort of game than traditional straight-up slot car racing. Digital slot car racing is really a "tweener" between traditional slot car racing and slotless racing, which debuted 30+ years ago. Digital appears to be garnering a better following than slotless, so it may survive where slotless essentially failed. Although the future of digital slot cars looks bright it is not without its problems.

There is nothing technically advanced or sophisticated about digital slot cars. They use the same technology strategy that's been in widespread use for decades in control networks, from home and office automation networks X10 and LonWorks to industrial automation networks like HART and CAN-bus. All of these involve superimposing a control signal on top of or alongside a power bus. Traditional slot cars work just like traditional building or plant automation, to turn something on or off you turn the power going to the device on or off, or vary the voltage or current level between the controller and the device, i.e. analog control. With a control network the power is always on, but there is a separate control signal that is sent from the controller to the device telling it to turn on or off, speed it up, slow it down, or do any number of things. Control networks allow for a lot more intelligence between the controller and the device, and that's where the real power in the system exists. In a digital slot car system the device is of course, the car.

One of the problems faced by digital slot cars is exactly the same problem faced by control networks: a lack of and/or multiple competing standards. Unlike traditional on/off or analog voltage or current control once you place intelligence in the device you need a "language" or "protocol" to allow the controller to talk to the device. Part of this protocol involves the physical attributes of the control strategy, like what voltage and current levels are used for powering the device, the type of wiring layout used, the way the control signal is placed on the wire/bus, and the actual signaling mechanism used to convey the control message between the controller and the car. If all this sounds too complicated, just think about your home touch tone phone which uses the same exact technique in a way that you can actually relate to because you can hear it! When you press the keys on your touch tone phone it is encoding a command, the key press, on top of the line carrier as a pulse at a specific frequency. Each key has a specific frequency and the encoding strategy is called frequency shift keying, or FSK. This is digital control and it works great because every phone made follows the same standard. Part of the standard is the physical things like wires and jacks and what phone keys get mapped to what frequencies, or tones. But there is also another layer of protocol on top of the numbers and tones. The additional protocol specifies things like phone numbers, area codes, and how to embed other data like facsimile or dial-up internet information. The important point is that for the system to work across a broad range of products from multiple vendors everyone has to agree on the standard way to do things and standard protocols. This is where control networks and digital slot car systems fall short. Everyone is doing their own thing and there is not open interoperability between competing systems. The last thing I would want to see is a digital HO system from Tomy AFX that is incompatible with a digital HO system from Life-Like and AutoWorld. The HO market, and I contend the 1:32 market, is not big enough to support multiple competing digital standards. There must be 100% compatibility across all digital tracks, controllers, power units, track extenders, and cars. Anything less is going to further fragment the market and decrease participation. If the 1:32 digital market can get its act together, only then will it serve as a model for what a digital HO system might be.

That being said, there's still a lot of untapped potential in the analog systems. Digital systems are all about putting more intelligence in the system to allow new and exiting race formats to be created. With current digital systems this involves running multiple cars on the same lane and allowing lane changes. However, there are other forms of intelligence that can be pulled into analog systems through the use of smarter race management and race format control using technology already available in analog systems. The greatest opportunity for analog racing exist in the powerful computers that most modern setups have sitting there doing the trivial tasks of counting and timing laps. Using a PC to count laps and time laps is nice, but it can do so much more. Better systems like TrackMate do a pretty good job of local race management, but they are still barely scratching the surface versus what they could be doing.

With no additional hardware needed, a better race management system would not only count & time laps and manage the race day functions, it would also manage the whole race series and coordinate all season statistics and standings across all tracks in all track locations that are part of the series. This information could feed up into state, regional, and national level racing series. If a racer from one series shows up at a race in another series, all of his data should be available and integrate seamlessly into the local racing scene. Yeah, the stats from one series may be somewhat meaningless in another, but having a national database of racer statistics and track statistics and a way to drop any racer into a race anywhere would build a better sense of community and commonality. In other words, help establish a standard and improve interoperability through common data, common formats, and common rules.

With some minor additional hardware, including additional per-lane sensors, per-lane lights, and per-lane power on/off control, an analog system could be setup to enforce a "gas mileage" and "required pit stop" racing format on top of the traditional fixed lap or fixed time formats.

1) Each lane would be equipped with a "pit box" which consists of 2 sensors that are readable by the computer. One sensor detects when the car is in the pit box and the other detect when it leaves the pit box.

2) The race management computer would keep track of the mileage for each car (laps run) and require the car to be in the pit box for a designated time to "refuel."

3) An additional light would be placed at each drivers station and it would flash when a pit stop is required. Once the light starts flashing the race management computer would enforce either a fixed or random number of laps before the car is out of fuel. The race coordinator would decide how the warning light to empty transition occurs.

4) The amount of fuel added would be based on the time the car stays in the pit box, so it's not just a fixed time delay to refuel. If you leave early you get less fuel. This allows a pit strategy to be available to the driver. Once the car is full the light would stop flashing.

5) What happens when a car is out of fuel would be a user defined setting in the software. Several options are likely, but at the very least the computer would kill power to the lane. One option could be to leave power off on the lane for the remainder of the heat. Another option would be to leave it off for a fixed period of time, say 20 seconds to simulate the car rolling around. In the case of the timed delay the lane power would come back on and the car would go around to the pit box. If it missed the pit box again, the subsequent
penalty could also be user defined. Maybe on the second miss it's lights out for that lane until the end of the heat, or maybe an even longer time delay.

I realize this is a pretty elaborate discussion, but it is all very doable using the tools and technology we currently have. I'm simply pointing out that there is a lot of life left in the analog world for improvements, none of which involve redesigning the track, cars, or controllers, or limiting interoperability. We've already injected computers into our systems already, we're just not using them effectively. Also keep in mind that the current forms of analog slot car racing are very exciting as they currently exist. The simplicity and the basic formula for competitive slot car racing is time tested and proven and must still be available as other variations are added. Adding incremental changes to analog would breathe more life into it, but we cannot give up anything in the process. Today, moving to digital involve compromises and I would prefer that these compromises be eliminated before we see digital HO.

Since digital is currently limited to 1:32 and 1:43 I would suggest trying to build consensus in the 1:32 forum for a digital forum or subforum.
 

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Interesting topic guys. On digital HO. I had a dream that I was racing on a routed, banked oval, and you could pit stop using analog cars. Each lane had its own pit lane that was connected to the racing lane, and ran across all lanes to the pit road in the middle. To pit, you hit a switch which turned the slot, much like a train track, to the pit lane. Your speed, and gravity, helped the car cross the lanes. It was up to the racers to watch for cars pitting, as it is in real life. Pit road was powered, so you drove to your pit box. The lanes on pit road didn´t cross. Once refueling was done, you watched out for racers on the track, and powered back up to your lane. Was a cool dream and I was having a blast. I believe something like this is possible for analog racing, with the computer enhancements mentioned by AfxToo.

I believe there have been several discussions here about digital systems.
Because of the technicality, it would be good to have them all grouped under it´s own section.
 

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My idea for a pit stops would not include any switching or lane changing since that would be too mechanically complex. The pit box would simply be a section of the existing track delineated by two sensors immediately in front of each drivers station, one to tell the computer when you enter the box and another to tell the computer when you leave the box. There would be a minimum time in the box before it would be recognized as a pit stop. I'm thinking something like 10" - 15" of "pit box" and you could actually do a rolling pit stop, a splash and go so to speak. Instead of a simple blinking light to tell you when you are nearly out of fuel a better implementation would include a segmented light bar on the drivers station indicating fuel level. When you are in the pit box the gauge would increment. You could also stop whenever you want to stop, say when you get up a few laps and want to ensure you have enough full to finish without another stop.

If you wanted to get really fancy with fuel management you could add analog to digital converters to each lane and calculate fuel consumption based on both the number of laps and sampled voltage level over time. This would allow for a mileage strategy to be used. However, this would start to get into higher levels of complexity and probably be better suited for a dedicated controller, like a micro or nano PLC.

The most important thing for me is to add "refueling" as a way to add another dimension to the race strategy without requiring any changes to the tracks or cars and without inducing wrecks. The whole thing could be turned off for conventional racing formats.
 

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LED Burner Outer
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Another HO issue comes to mind

I just had a Doh! moment. :drunk: I run primarily T jets. The digital "chip" needs to be installed between the pick ups and the motor to control speed function. T jet and AFX pick ups are by design attached to the motor which means a complete redesign of the pick up assembly would be needed. Something like a TYCO pro style pick up system would be easier to convert as there are wires between the pick up assembly and the motor, which would make chip installation a cakewalk compared to other type chassis.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
There is nothing technically advanced or sophisticated about digital slot cars.
Unless of course it 2,4GHZ wireless :)


One of the problems faced by digital slot cars is exactly the same problem faced by control networks: a lack of and/or multiple competing standards.
X-Box, Playstation and Nintendo Wii are the proof consumers wont stay away from enjoyment just because there is more than 1 standard.

The HO market, and I contend the 1:32 market, is not big enough to support multiple competing digital standards. There must be 100% compatibility across all digital tracks, controllers, power units, track extenders, and cars. Anything less is going to further fragment the market and decrease participation. If the 1:32 digital market can get its act together, only then will it serve as a model for what a digital HO system might be.
Well 1:32 is for sure big enough, digital is very slowly but very surely increasing its market share.
Id have to say all 4 manufacturers in 1:32 are trying to wipe each other out totally. There will be no standard in digital for a very very long time, if ever.
Not sure HO suits digital, way too fast, but hey Id be interested in one day trying to shrink my car chip to suit HO.

That being said, there's still a lot of untapped potential in the analog systems. Digital systems are all about putting more intelligence in the system to allow new and exiting race formats to be created. With current digital systems this involves running multiple cars on the same lane and allowing lane changes. However, there are other forms of intelligence that can be pulled into analog systems through the use of smarter race management and race format control using technology already available in analog systems. The greatest opportunity for analog racing exist in the powerful computers that most modern setups have sitting there doing the trivial tasks of counting and timing laps. Using a PC to count laps and time laps is nice, but it can do so much more. Better systems like TrackMate do a pretty good job of local race management, but they are still barely scratching the surface versus what they could be doing.
You need various interfaces to do more. Currently the only interface apart from the controller knobs is the lap counter. Digital has interfaces also in the track, cars and throttles.

Race management has peaked for analog, there are so many out there, most with fuel management for years now.

With no additional hardware needed, a better race management system would not only count & time laps and manage the race day functions, it would also manage the whole race series and coordinate all season statistics and standings across all tracks in all track locations that are part of the series. This information could feed up into state, regional, and national level racing series. If a racer from one series shows up at a race in another series, all of his data should be available and integrate seamlessly into the local racing scene. Yeah, the stats from one series may be somewhat meaningless in another, but having a national database of racer statistics and track statistics and a way to drop any racer into a race anywhere would build a better sense of community and commonality. In other words, help establish a standard and improve interoperability through common data, common formats, and common rules.
A bit off track from digital and analog slot cars and the actual RMS. That would be a seperate program connected to its own server run and written by the organisation. Manufacturers wouldnt be interested as its a non money spinner.

With some minor additional hardware, including additional per-lane sensors, per-lane lights, and per-lane power on/off control, an analog system could be setup to enforce a "gas mileage" and "required pit stop" racing format on top of the traditional fixed lap or fixed time formats.
All been done years ago for analog. Heck they even use webcam to detect cars in pits and many interfaces available online.





Since digital is currently limited to 1:32 and 1:43 I would suggest trying to build consensus in the 1:32 forum for a digital forum or subforum
Digital currently covers 1:43 1:32 1:24.

Rick
 
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