Slot Cars Adelaide

The Trackmate SCL3 Lap counting interface

FPR has had many years of reliable lap counting from the original"Re" RS232 serial lap counting interface. Now with the new WAR 8 lane Trackmate SCL3 USB has been installed for dead strip lap counting. I am also installing the SCL3  on the FPR & LP 4 lane tracks I will run this in parallel for the original Trackmate Serial interfaces.

This will give a main & backup counting system. This is to give backup counting for enduros and championships . 

To load up the drivers in the PC for Trackmate interface is simple if the procedure is followed I have written with pictures below. 

 

 

 TM SCL3 - 2

TM SCL 3 - 3

TM SCL3-4

TM SCL3 - 5

TM SCL3 -6

Arduino Uno Interface to Race Coordinator

Dave has now added the Arduino Interface to Race Coordinator.

He has been working with John V. in Melbourne to get the interface operating.

All now seems to be correct. This provides a inexpensive & simple alternative for lap 

 Having direct interface with USB connection is a good step and has been

long awaited by those wishing to eliminate the USB to RS 232 convertors that 

added to expense and  created opportunity  for faults to occur. 

Here are the details supplied by John V. in Melbourne.  

 Hi All,

I have finally completed my Arduino-based track control "box".

Components:-
1xArduino Uno  R3 (genuine) $30

Available from Aztronics

3x10A solid-state relays $24

internet - china Solid State Relay SSR DC-DC 10A 3-32VDC/5-220VDC

http://www.ebay.com.au/ - Link : http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/300553670794?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

 

1xDecor 1.25L clear container $4
1x4 point bus/bridge (Donated)
3xZD1950 photo-sensors $1.95ea

Here are the sensors I use. Pick them up from Jaycar electronics - part number ZD1950 Link :
hw.asp?ID=ZD1ttp://www.jaycar.com.au/productVie950

Arduino male/male wire pack $3.95

Available on Ebay ex China
Total Cost: $67.80

Software
RC 1.7.1.13 (new Beta version that supports Arduino)
Arduino 1.0.5 (install incl. USB driver)

Arduino - from Race Coordinator data file

Arduino Uno and Race Coordinator
This document describes the pin assignments for the Arduino Uno used from Race Coordinator, and a suggested sensor setup for the Arduino board. These pin assignments should be the same on any of the Arduino boards but the interface has only been tested on the Arduino Uno. The Arduino Uno has sufficient pins to fully support a 4 lane circuit.
In addition to an Arduino Uno board and a version of Race Coordinator which supports the Arduino interface, you must also upload the Race Coordinator lapCounter.ino sketch to the Arduino board. The process to install the Arduino environment, required drivers and upload instructions are detailed on the Arduino getting started page at http://arduino.cc/en/Guide/HomePage. If you follow these instructions on the Arduino site simply open the lapCounter.ino sketch instead of blink sketch suggested in the tutorial.
Pin Assignments
Pin
Use
Wiring
4-7 Lane sensors for lane 1-4 Pins 4-7 are the inputs from the track sensors, to record laps from each lane.
8-11
Track lane relays lane 1-4
If a relay board is connected then these pins will enable Race Coordinator to control power to each lane.
12 Track call button Connect a push to make switch to pin 12 if a track call is required.
A0-A5
Starting lights
If starting lights are required then LED’s should be connected to these pins via a suitable resistor. The supply voltage is 5v so for a typical LED a 150ohm resistor would be needed.
Obviously for a 1, 2 or 3 lane track you would simply use the correct number of pins and leave the rest unconnected.
The diagram below shows how a typical 2 lane lap counter can be connected to the Arduino Uno. The example shows the use of 2 Photo Transistors mounted in the track for recording the laps; however alternatives could include Light Dependent Resistors or Slotted Optical Transistors. In addition to the circuit you will also need a light source above the sensors to ensure sufficient light to correctly detect cars. This can be a simple desk lamp or light bridge.

Race Coordinator - now interfaced with DS Equpment

 I have been testing for Dave from Race Coordinator to get his software to operate with DS 300 lap counters and the Stop/ Go Box. It took quite a bit of testing and work on the software to get the Race Coordinator software to correctly count laps and record lap times. Dave & I  spent a few weeks to get to the RC and DS working together.

The end solution was to let the DS box supply the information and control the race protocol. The Race Coordinator controls the Race grid and heat rotations RC has many options on how to organize and run races - all can be configured by the user.

This is where Race Coordinator is a great solution to Race Managent or Coordinator - as the name indicates. 

RC has an excellent recording system . Part laps can be added for timed heats and results are editable by exporting to an MS  Exell spreadsheet.

Races are automatically recorded ready for exporting. The result can be removed if not required .

The driver list can be put in order of seeding which can then be  organised into groups of similar drivers or grouping car types. 

There are many other features.

Race Coordinator now can be used as a companion to DS by using the DS to control track power via the DS 61 stop & go boxes.

 Fuel races are not available with the full DS interface as yet . However Phidget interface for that may be developed for that. 

Dave has added complete Phidget power control and that may the option you want fuel races. 

 The program has to be configured to allow full DS control . I have added screen shots to help with the configure procedure.

Download the software from the Race Coordinator site . 

Site link          http://www.racecoordinator.net/download.html

Then select  the Beta version (test program) and will it be:

03.11.2012 Race Coordinator v1.5.0.7  or a higher end number as new versions are released. 

The program can be run without DS or track connected in Demo mode to try it out.

There are very good Wizards for the set up and  a full range of video tutorials .

It does take a little learning but it is well worth the effort .  Below are the screen shots of how I have configured the program. Many of the configurations can be varied by the user but some can't for DS operation. 

Software , Interface & Sensor Tester

Hi. I asked a month ago if people thought my idea of a lap counter checker would work,
I received the motor & gearbox from China a couple of days ago.
They revolve once every 7 secs according the the specs . I had to fit a Voltage control in the circuit . This is the $5 lead dimmer with a PWM circuit so it can handle up to 6 amps without any problem .
Great voltage controls for the price.  
The geared motors were $5 each = A small shipping charge . I got one for each lane. I used volume control knobs to screw lock  on to the gearbox shaft. to this I attached a short piece of electrical channel
. i retained that by a screw into the top of the volume knob.  
With The led Dimmer ( speed control ) I turn the motors off until the start lights go green then bring up to the desired " lap" speed.
So I can set this running and run each heat of a race until the race is complete thus checking the sensors , the computer , the interface and the software - with out a car on the track.

Hopefully by using the checker before each major event - problems ( hopefully none)  be rectified before the event. If a problem does occur it should make it a lot easier to find.
attached is a  video of it operating .

 

Race Day Tips

I have had a special next heat window xaml file written by Dave. This provides  "next window" in the race day drop down menu. When selected a moveable window is placed on the race day scree. This displays drivers for the next heat while the presnt heat is running.

It will disappear if you go to select another reporting window ot click on the race day screen. So for recording "Part Lap". I record the part laps manually at the end of each heat. I then enter them into each heat & driver at the end of the Race but before the next race. 

Race Coordinator - FPR custom rotation

A word dock to assist entering the Driver Rotations into the custom rotation  section of Race Day set up . The rotation is giving each group of 4 drivers 2 races on & then off until all groups have done their 2 heats. The lane movement is still round robin but only within each group. This enables to organize drivers of simmilar abilty to race only with those in their group. 

Also different classes could be run on the same grid  but in different heats .                  The document can be downloaded from the document page #2. Hear is the link to the document's page. Page #2 will have to be selected

lDocuments                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Configuration of Race Coordinator for DS interface

 This is the configuration screens to  set up RC . It is not all the configuration steps are included. I only show those settings necessary to interface RC with DS and to operate the DS stop/ go boxes. That is to give power control to the DS 300. 

DS controls start, stop and pause. these controls are disabled in the RC.   Minimum lap time is set only in the DS . RC is set to 1 second.  I am using the Keystone RS232 to USB connector. To ensure the port is connected I have the connector visible so I can check the green led is on . This occurs in the Track expert screen and in the Race screen only. It will flash in the race set up screen & other screens. I use the COM 4 port selection in RC. COM 3 does not connect with the USB connector. I foind I have to remove & replace the USB plug to get my computer to recognize the USB in COM 4 on start up only. I think that may be a fault with my computer. 

The Track Expert allows to set up a track. It only allows one track at the moment due to some confusion with people setting up races in the wrong track and wondering why it would not work. Therefore there is no Track Set up wizard available.  The one track can be edited or changed to another in the Track Set up pull down window. 

 Here is the Set Up For RC to interface with the DS box. Next to the "General" tabis the "Lanes" tap . I have shown the setting of that at the end of this section.

This is the Track Expert  Configure screen. To change the track name &  details use the screen used to get this screen, Which is accessed by clicking on the Track expert tab. This screen is under the "general" tab . To set the lane colors go to the"lanes" tab  Under Lanes you clear existing lane with "remove" then write the lane color. There is download list on the RC site and there is a large range of colors  For green you would use "green' For a lighter shade you may use "Lime" and so on. Lane length is then added and hit the add button. You can't change the order the colours have to be entered in the correct order.

Ok now to the Track Set up. Select the port  that works for you. For me it was COM 4

then select the type of DS interface . DS 300  is selected in this case . The DSxx was selected on the previous "general " screen. If you have the correct port the green led on the Keystone USB Connector will stay on - if you are using that to connect.  If that is the case then hit Accept. And you go back to the "general" screen. The Keystone light will start flashing - that is normal. We now have to hi light the only Track in the 

RH window. Then hit Update button and a little circle will indicate the update is occurring. You may have to do this procedure on each start up of going to the track config sceen and if all is set  ok go back to the general screen and update. Any change on any  Screen will have to be updated if changes are made.                              Remember the keystone light will flash until we get to the race screen. I have not used a direct RS232 connection so I do not know how it happens with that port.          

Expert Race Manager Settings.

We hit the red window close button for exit  from track setup .  Next we move to Expert Race Manager by clicking on the tab  . This is the Main Race set up screen.

 The race format is set on the DS interface only!                                                        The method of the race is controlled only by the DS box. Select on the DS whether you wish to run by finishing the race after a number of laps or after a selected time. 

The settings in Race Coordinator are left as described below for either Laps or Time settings on the DS. 

 The minimum lap time is set to 1 second in this shot. You can configure to your preference here. If a car crosses the sensors on the wrong lane and the time is less than this setting the lap will not be recorded in RC for the wrong lane. A lap would have to be added to the correct lane score manually.                                                       The DS also has  a setting  for the min lap time.  This is found by holding the pause button for more than 2 seconds . Pt and the seconds number will appear. This can be adjusted with the mode button . the pause button is then pressed to return to normal operation.   The DS setting has no influence on the RC false lap recording                            

The other boxes with numbers in RC  are all set to zero on this screen.                     The Audio Start Call Out is xaim file is removed . As well the Auto Start Callouts are all removed.                                                                                                            This is because RC has nothing to do with the starts so RC call outs would be out of sync. These callouts are in orange print and there is 6 or so to remove from the "Auto Starts Callouts  box.                                                                                             The screen should look like the one above. Once it does select the track on the right click on it to hi-light and then click on the update button. 

                                            HEATS   SCREEN                                                                The next button down in Race Set up is the Heats Screen. This is all your choice and does not have to be set up especially for the DS interface. so I did not include the screen here. The wizard will  guide you on the set up for the "Heats' screen. You will have to update after making changes - as usual.

            SCORING  SCREEN                                                         The next button is the Scoring . This does need some settings for the DS

  The setting in the centre boxes are the ones to set up for DS . I use the DS set for    Pt - OFF which is a hot start for the DS. Although not shown in the shot I now also check "Hot Start" in RC. If you use Pt-ON power on at Go  You may want to experiment with the RC start settings.  False starts penalties are optional.

In Finish method  choose what you have set the DS to Lap  or time races. ( I am not sure what happens if you set differently - try it out. ) 

Allow finish is disabled in RC as is Drift laps in this special version of RC for the  DS interface. These must be set to 0. 

The overall ranking  boxes best to  refer to the wizards for set up.                             Once all settings are complete - select the race name and hit update. 

FUEL SCREEN                                                               The next is easy. Fuel is not interfaced at his stage due to no fuel stop sensing in the DS sensors and interface connection. It may be added later via a seperate sensor. Also track power may have to be controlled by Phidgets instead of the DS Stop / Go boxes.  Unless someone has worked out how to use fuel with the full DS system.  Do not check any of the blue check boxes in fuel . If you do the fuel will possibly run out part way through the race . The RC will stop recording laps . The DS will continue to register and stop the race as ordered 

 

The fuel selection boxes are not checked as above.

                                     UI  Screen  

The UI screen is now selected with the Ui button. 

The Main alteration for the DS is here. The Race start and the restart  xami  Files are removed by select and then delete key. The four othe start settings below the file boxes are all set to 0. The rest of the  check boxes and xani files can be chosen as required by the user. There is information in the wizard and the video tutorials about the selections there.

          GROUPS SCREEN and IMAGES SCREEN 

The " Groups" and "images' Screens are not influenced by the DS so study the wizard and the tutorials to choose your preferences for those setting. 

Now to the "Audio' Screen in Race set up  . Here is a bag of worms for you to  sort out.

Depending how you set the DS box with the start method may alter what you can use here for Audio notifications. The DS box can be set to Ti ON or OFF via holding the  pause  button down for about 3 seconds to get it into the set mode, The ti- ON and Ti-OFF are toggled with the mode button on the DS once it is displaying either Ti- On or Ti - OFF on the DS led screen. With Ti- ON it is no power at the stop Go box until 

the start gas been signaled  by the res led going out. With T--Off setting there is a delay to the go signal with leds flashing anda beep - beep audio. the power comes on at the stop / go boxes when the go button is pressed. but the start is indicated about

  five seconds later. So that is a "HOT START" controlled only by the DS.                        For this reason the audio sync will most likely be out. So it may be best to remove the audio calls by removing the files and there directories . However try them out with which ever setting you have for starts on the DS. The files can also be written to sync with the DS . Check with RC support and the tutorials for this. No matter what audio is set - if any,  it will not affect the control of the race.  So something to play with here.  

 

 

                                 RACE DAY SETTINGS  TRANSFER.

         To save setting up each individual race if other races are going to be same the settings can be transffered on the creation of a new race.

Select the race set up main screen for the race formatted as you like.  then change its name to the the new Race. Go tho the "Add" button and a new race will be created with the same settings. The settings can then be customized in the new race if you wish. 

                                 LANE FORMAT SCREEN.

This is a flick back to the first screen in "Track set up". In Track set up you have a screen selector for "Lanes" to repeat you have to remove any lanes that may of come set with the program. The you can add your lane colors. This is done as shown by typing the color you want in lane color and set the lengh then update that colour.

Next the lane color for lane 2 can be added. The select add lane again.

when the colors are added for all lanes and are in the correct order select the track on the RH side and update the settings. 

That's it for now but will update as I come across different settings while running a race meetings- updated 12/3 2012

Links for detailed information

PC LAPCOUNTER (PCLC)    -   home page       -  http://www.pclapcounter.be/                                          -  Using PCLC with DS     -      PCLC /DS Interface /power interface                               - Using PCLC with Trackmate -   PCLC/ TRACMATE  INTERFACE

DS LAP COUNTERS 

          - 3rd party home page -  PUNKJOB  HOME PAGE   - Contains many links for DS             - Download copy of DS Manual  - DS PDF MANUAL 

Track Interfaces for timing and race management

My experiences are mainly with DS lap counting interfaces. I like them because you can run and control races with only that equipment. They do not have the ability to record results or to organize a race program. That is why they are able to interface  with computers. This gives the computer the ability to control the race grids and how the  drivers are allocated to lanes in rotation. Also fastest lap times are recorded in the computer as well as the results of each heat if the race grid. these results are then able to be printed and saved in files.

More detail of the computer connection and set up in later sections. Both Mac OS and PC platforms can be used with DS interfaces. The Mac platform . Mac software for DS interfaces is hard to find. One of the best is RACE MANAGER by Dale Thomas . Unfortunately he past away last year so the program is no longer supported or avaliable. Many copies are around though  and may be able to be obtained - it was a free download. The early version served s for over 3 years with no faults it just di not have the "bells & whistles" of the later versions.  The last version of that was V1.5.O more on the software in another section.

I will go into its operation & versions in another section. This software intefaces with TrackMate And Phidgets as well but I have not tried Phiget interfaces yet . I have one on the way and will have a go at it later on & will generate a section on Phidgets as I understand them. The other program that full interfaces with DS is their own program Winslot. I have not tried that as by reading other peoples forums it was not ideal. However that is a few years ago and it may be updated. Check on support though apparently as it also hard to get        much in English as DS is made in Spain. But it is an excellent product. Like all interfaces guard against a reverse voltage from the supply voltage (9 t0 12 V). it does support either dead strips or led/light bridges and other sensors I haven't tried.           I don't like the  track dead strips . I lost a lane on my DS 300 through a car stopping on the strip and sending a reverse spike to the DS. This can't happen with a light bridge.

 

 

 

LAP COUNTING & TIMING

 I have started this page to record my experiences with Lap Countining and Race Management Software for analogue slot car  tracks While forums are great and you get many opinions it does take a lot of reading & searching so I building this Page,

It is ONLY from my point of view and interpretation so please check the support of any of the software I mention please to check my interpretation and replies I have quoted. This is only as a summary of my experience with software & interfaces . I may have equipment that is a little faulty but I don't know how to confirm that unless I get another unit to check it. That hits the back pocket a bit to much.  This page will be building as I get more information so check say monthly if you have an interest in it.

Most of the software writers have forums & email support so refer to them as well.

If you wish to add a comment or information please email me and I will add it to the page if it applies to my aims. here is the email link     fpr10@bigpond .com

The DS Interface

Race Manager & DS Winslot software  use the DS interface Sensors  and the DS Stop & Go Boxes  to completely control the race and track power switching. As far as I am aware they are the only software that does.

PC Lap Counter & SlotTrack and some others use the DS Interface (DS 200,300) to         and track sensors to read the information of lap counting and timing from the DS interface but that is all. I have not used these race management  programs . The PC Lap counter does have good reports and support and seems a very comprehensive system. I may try it using as suggested with a Phidget used to control the track power in conjunction with the DS. Phidgets O/O/4 and O/O/8

Like all interfaces guard against a reverse voltage from the supply voltage (9 t0 12 V). it does support either dead strips or led/light bridges and other sensors I haven't tried.  I don't like the  track dead strips . I lost a lane on my DS 300 through a car stopping on the strip and sending a reverse spike to the DS. This can't happen with a light bridge.

The Trackmate interface

The Trackmate interface can operate from several software packages that support it.

I have used it with the TrackMate Software, Race Manager and Race Coordinator.

It functioned well  the computer & software controls the race management and the relay for track power.

The counting of laps was accurate with the Race Manager  and Race Coordinator

software. I tested the DS 300 and the Trackmate  with the Race Manager side by side using 2 Mac G4 computers.The sensors for each interface where under the same light bridge. I found the lap count identical over 4 lanes . There is a difference in recording lap times though. The Trackmate interface has shown some variation up and down a maximum   of 0.3 seconds. So one of the interfaces is swinging up down in its readings. I suspect it is the Trackmate. So I will test further when time.