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Test track for students at school


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#1 Stan

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 03:37 PM

I'm trying to start a slot car club at the school where I teach. We have very little space, and very little budget, being a small public charter school. So I have been walking students over to my garage to race on a 4-lane Carrera layout. It would be really great if the club could have its own track, but the budget and storage limitations would require something rather unique. So, with that in mind, I put together a small test track yesterday and this morning.
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I haven't ever built a track before, so I took lots of pictures, thinking it might help someone else who also hasn't yet had the courage to build a track. It was easier than I thought! And I learned a lot.
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So if it sounds interesting, join me in the next few posts as I explain how to stumble through your first test track!

Stan
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#2 Stan

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 04:15 PM

I knew I was a goner the minute I stepped into the stained-glass shop!

Having raced on club tracks, home tracks and a couple commercial tracks, one of the big building questions I had is how well the quite popular copper tape would hold up in construction and in regular use. Since I have no experience with the copper personally, I decided the only way to answer my questions was to see for myself. I love the commercial braid, but for my first couple of ventures, the economy and ease of copper tape might just be what the doctor ordered.

When I saw a big wall display with all the various copper tape, my curiosity was instantly converted to MISSION. "HERE WE GO!" $7 bucks worth of Venture tape and I'm all in! The shop even gave me an old roll they had laying in the back so I could experiment. Next stop: grab a sheet of 1/2" mdf, a quart of paint, a 1/8" router bit, and head for home!

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So now what? Guess I better make a couple jigs. The goal is not to spend a small fortune on stuff, so let's use as many items we already have laying around in the garage as possible. I'm into it about $60 bucks, so if that's all I spend on this test track, then great. Plus, if I do another, I'll have the jigs and bit, and everything I've learned.

My mdf sheet is cut down to 3' x 6' for ease of transportation and storage. Why not have them do that for you at the lumber store. I want to use the outside edge as a guide to route my lane, so instead of a jig saw, I'll use my router to round the two ends. To do that, I'll cut a long slice out of a sheet of leftover 1/4" plywood to use as a large radius arm. Take the plate off your router, and use it to mark the plywood. We'll attach the plywood arm directly to the router with 3 screws instead of the router base plate.

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The arm needs to be roughly 24" inches long to swing the 18" radius I need. When working with thin plywood, you must sand all the edges before running your hands over the wood. The thin pieces that splinter off will cut quite deeply into your fingers. I used a hole saw on the drill press to cut out the center hole of the jig.

As long as we're into the plywood, lets make another smaller jig that will help us in routing a slot later.

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This one has an end just like the other jig, but only needs to be 8" or 9" long. Note that I marked out lines of 1" increments from the center of the hole.

Here are both plywood jigs...

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The long one is already attached to the router using 3 10-32 flat head screws.

Hope you're having fun! Let's warm up our coffee, and get ready to make some real sawdust in the next post!

Stan
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#3 Stan

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 04:54 PM

First, we should find and mark the exact center of the 3' width of our mdf sheet.

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In this case, 18" is the center. We also need to mark that same radius in from the long ends of the sheet. So our router will swing around a 180 degree arc and round each end of our mdf sheet.

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Now, exactly 18" from the center of your router bit, drill a small hole in the long plywood jig. That will be our center to swing the router around.

To help with this, set the router and jig against the outer edge of the sheet like this...

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I have a 1/4" straight bit inserted in the router.

Now mark the jig exactly where your center mark on the mdf is...

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...and transfer that to the center line of the jig.

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Now you can drill your hole in the jig.

Take a small nail and start a hole at the mark in the mdf sheet. Then pull it out and feed the nail through the hole in the jig and into that starter hole in the mdf. Tap it in a little deeper.

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Now we're set to make some sawdust. I'm going to close the garage door, and see you next post.

Stan
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#4 Stan

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 05:05 PM

Go slowly and smoothly... this is fun right? So why rush it.

Make sure you plan what's under the mdf, so you don't route into your wife's favorite table, and that you figure out where the router cord is going to need to be at the end of the swing.

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I'd never get it this smooth with a jig saw!

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A nice oval! Take a minute and hand sand the edges where the curves meet the straights.

Now we're done with the long jig. If your hair is not full of fine sawdust at this point, you're not really trying!!!!

See you in a bit.

Stan
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#5 Stan

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 05:31 PM

I did the two end cuts each in just one pass with the 1/4" router bit. When routing an outside edge where only one side of the bit is cutting, I like to push the router against the motion of the cutters on the bit. It doesn't want to run as much for me. When routing your slot, since both sides of the bit are cutting, it seems to matter less.

Now let's get the small jig out...

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I want approximately 5" between the slot and the outer edge of the straights. The 1/4" ply is not quite thick enough to support a post, so I attached a scrap of 1 x 2 on the top, so that I could drive two nails into it from the bottom. You may be wondering why I put in two guide posts instead of just one. First, if you just have one, then your router can swing very easily side to side and create big squiggles in the path of your slot. Secondly, with two pins, as the leading pin of the jig reaches the corner, it will start to turn the front of the jig before the back. This has a nice effect of easing into the turn, so the cars enter more smoothly than on snap-together plastic track, where the fixed radius piece sharply meets a straight.

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I lightly sanded the pins, and then rubbed a little bar soap on the inside edge. The best way to do this is to use some sort of rollers or bearings instead of small straight pins. The skinny pins will push harder and will notice even tiny bumps in the edge. But, today, I'm using the nails because I have a jar full of them!

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Let's mount our jig and hit the slopes! I just put the pins against the straight side, and lowered the whole router down onto the mdf to start.

If you've never seen a 1/8" bit before, you'll be shocked at how tiny it looks. The depth of your slot should be greater than 1/4" and about 3/4ths the way into the mdf.

Push it slowly! It will get hot.

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Use a couple small nails and vacuum to clean up the slot dust. I say "nails" because the vacuum will probably eat your first one!

There will probably be some small wiggles in your slot. Don't go back and try to fix them unless they are really bad. The slot car won't notice tiny ones. Putting the router back in will only make things worse.

But since this is my "test" track, I want to experiment in fixing things as well. So in a couple spots, I scraped in some bondo filler. The stuff hardens in just a couple minutes so work fast.

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While this stuff sets up, I'm off to get lunch. See you soon.

Stan
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#6 Stan

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 05:41 PM

Let's sand things up nice and smooth...

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And carefully re-route...

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All the messy stuff is done! Let's clean up our dust.

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You can't get the mdf too clean. After sweeping and vacuuming, a lightly damp rag still finds as much sawdust as a set of silicone tires!

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Well, now we have some painting to do. I'm going to give it a couple coats and let it dry overnight.

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But, we should do one more thing before calling it a day...

...make another jig! This one will get used for laying down our copper tape tomorrow.

I need a cold beverage. See you in a flash!
Stan Ferris

#7 HarV Wallbanger III

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 05:43 PM

Looks good Stan,
Hey Stan you need a SLOP track! Single lane on a 2'X4' Home Depot precut board. See Table Top Racing

I use a little Microsizers RC lap counter and they could race each other for laps, times to laps or fast lap.

Barney Poynor
"BRONCO" BARNEY
Team CORT!

Hello my name is Barney and I was... I am addicted to glue, magnets, and wings... I have been clean and sober years now... NOW I'm hooked on 1/32 club track racing! Dang!
 

"Even if you're on the Right Track, you'll get run over if you just sit there!"

If you remember
screw-on braid, motors that look like padlocks, that dang fuse wire in Cox controllers, "hand" painted bodies, the very first can motors from Mabuchi, and the smell of wintergreen then you are OLD!... like me!

Enjoy life! Race Slot Cars and read SlotBlog!


#8 HarV Wallbanger III

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 05:47 PM

Here are some more tracks being built for our event.... SLOP (Super Little Open Proxy)
Slop Track 1.jpg
Slop track 2.jpg

Barney Poynor
"BRONCO" BARNEY
Team CORT!

Hello my name is Barney and I was... I am addicted to glue, magnets, and wings... I have been clean and sober years now... NOW I'm hooked on 1/32 club track racing! Dang!
 

"Even if you're on the Right Track, you'll get run over if you just sit there!"

If you remember
screw-on braid, motors that look like padlocks, that dang fuse wire in Cox controllers, "hand" painted bodies, the very first can motors from Mabuchi, and the smell of wintergreen then you are OLD!... like me!

Enjoy life! Race Slot Cars and read SlotBlog!


#9 Stan

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 06:07 PM

What we need the taping jig to do, is hold the roll of copper tape without it coming uncoiled, and then to help us keep the location of the tape the same distance from the slot when we glue it down.

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You can see I used a set up block, a small scrap of clear plastic, and the yellow disk. Use anything for the disk-- even a CD or even a square piece of thin wood. I just happened to have this plastic disk handy.

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From the bottom, you can see there's a small nail inserted. That will ride in the slot as we push the jig along. The copper spool goes on the side, such that when you pull the end of the tape forward, the copper is on the bottom. It will wrap around the front of the base toward the back of the jig, allowing the adhesive to stick it down on the track. Manually start by peeling back the paper, and then once you start pushing the jib, the paper will keep separating from the copper automatically.

The key to making the jig work, is filing and rounding a small notch that will hold the tape in position as you move the jig...

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Before we tape this morning, I want to just stiffen the mdf a bit, as I am worried that flexing it may loosen the copper tape when it gets moved at school. So with some scrap 1 x 2, lets glue on a couple ribs on the back side.

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While we're at it, on the front, let's drill some holes for wiring.

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Three on the side for the controller hookup and power supply, and then one for each of the copper tape lines. Counter-sink those two on top, and stagger them to make wiring easier.

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I'm going to lightly clean the slot area...

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The tape is Venture 1/4" by 1 mil thickness.

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Well, what are we waiting for? Let's get to tapin' and git er done!

Stan
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#10 Stan

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 06:09 PM

Looks good Stan,
Hey Stan you need a SLOP track! Single lane on a 2'X4' Home Depot precut board. See Table Top Racing

I use a little Microsizers RC lap counter and they could race each other for laps, times to laps or fast lap.


Love your tracks, HarV!
Stan Ferris

#11 Stan

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 06:21 PM

Pull the backing forward and wrap the foil underneath the bottom of the jig. Start ahead of where you want it to get a running start. You can clean up the beginning later.

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You don't want too much tension or stretch on the copper as you lay it down. Let it wrinkle a bit in the turns for now.

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My jig seemed happy when I let the back side swing out a bit, especially in the curves.

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Here's a short video clip where I make a couple short pushes with the jig...

http://s677.photobucket.com/albums/vv139/stanfm/Student%20Slot%20Car%20Club/?action=viewĄt=MOV08409.mp4

Let's fire up the soldering iron. Join me in the next post!

Stan
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#12 68Caddy

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 06:32 PM

Love it Stan great work and great tutorial. ;) Thanks for sharing that.


Nesta
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#13 Stan

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 06:47 PM

Starting and ending at the screw hole, I trimmed the copper tape so that each end covered about half the hole. I also cleaned off the adhesive in the back so that any overlap would conduct.

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I burnished the tape with this small plastic handle.

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And then with a small screw driver handle.

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The edges seem really flat and flush to the board.

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Niiice!

I'm not being overly protective of the tape at this point, since this track is a test to see how well it holds up...

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The next step is probably not necessary, but I want some additional practice with the copper tape, so I'll solder around the heads of the two bolts where they meet the copper. I'm sure the pressure would work just fine, but I want to see how the tape and solder get along.

I made up a wire for the bottom...

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and installed it...

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Everything checks out with the meter.

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To match our club tracks, positive to white, negative to red.

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One thing left to do... test her out in the next post!

Stan
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#14 Old pink can guy

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 06:53 PM

Very nice Stan. Great job.
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#15 Stan

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 08:07 PM

Done!

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Here's the track with the three jigs I had to fabricate...

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And, it actually works...

http://s677.photobucket.com/albums/vv139/stanfm/Student%20Slot%20Car%20Club/?action=viewĄt=MOV08429.mp4

http://s677.photobucket.com/albums/vv139/stanfm/Student%20Slot%20Car%20Club/?action=viewĄt=MOV08431.mp4

What a fun project! Here are some observations:

1. Laying the copper is quite easy with some sort of jig.

2. It seems to be very conductive... even though it is very thin. in fact, it seems more like the braid than the metal rail on my plastic track for the same length. I think the steel in the rails builds up resistance quickly.

3. Cars running on painted mdf are like "butter." Even this small track runs just like wood should-- very smooth and solid feeling. There is just something wonderful about a wood track.

4. Still need to experiment with patching the copper.

5. I'll wait and see how the tape holds up to some abuse.

6. I have a new appreciation for smaller footprint tracks. Running laps on this test track is fun!

7. If the tape holds up, there will be a couple more track builds in my future for sure!

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Stan
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#16 CruzinBob

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 08:31 PM

Very nice tutorial Stan! You ARE the teacher :)
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#17 HarV Wallbanger III

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 11:14 AM

It came out great Stan! My track was my 2nd and my first copper tape track. I have ran over 2500 laps on it with no wear showing so far. I like your idea on the tape laying tool too! Great job!

Barney Poynor
"BRONCO" BARNEY
Team CORT!

Hello my name is Barney and I was... I am addicted to glue, magnets, and wings... I have been clean and sober years now... NOW I'm hooked on 1/32 club track racing! Dang!
 

"Even if you're on the Right Track, you'll get run over if you just sit there!"

If you remember
screw-on braid, motors that look like padlocks, that dang fuse wire in Cox controllers, "hand" painted bodies, the very first can motors from Mabuchi, and the smell of wintergreen then you are OLD!... like me!

Enjoy life! Race Slot Cars and read SlotBlog!


#18 Stan

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 12:47 PM

That's good to hear! I love the Magnabraid and race on it every week on Bob Scott's beautiful tracks. But buying a spool of it just to experiment with is too costly. Once I know what I'm doing, and have a long term track design in mind, I'll consider the braid. But in the meantime, the copper is cheap and easy to play with.

Stan
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#19 Jacob Shiplet

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 01:25 PM

Very cool Stan. I enjoyed reading this and hopefully gave others some insight into this. I might have to looking to something like this.
Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.

#20 Stan

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 06:20 PM

Some of us can't ever leave well enough alone! I just had to do a couple tweeks to my jigs.

First, I added a small plastic drawer handle to the taping tool that will smooth the path of the tape...
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And then, I added some bathroom door rollers to my routing jig instead of the two nails... it should work much smoother next time!
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Stan
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#21 Dayble

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 11:25 PM

Stan,

I have a set of legs from a folding table that you are welcome to.

I see where this is going...

Next, multiple lanes, then pinch lanes, then crossovers and pretty soon a partnership with Bob! :D
Dave Deuble

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#22 HarV Wallbanger III

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 11:26 PM

Here are some pics of how I did the wires. Oh also I use a 12v 5 amp computer charger to power it. They are cheap on ebay and will power 2 cars on a chase race. The little Hammerhead March 761 is Falcon 2 powered.

I used slots to bring the tape under the track for the crossovers
Amoeba Lost Patrol 5.jpg

Lost Patrol track build 3.jpg

Lost Patrol track build 7.jpg

Barney Poynor
"BRONCO" BARNEY
Team CORT!

Hello my name is Barney and I was... I am addicted to glue, magnets, and wings... I have been clean and sober years now... NOW I'm hooked on 1/32 club track racing! Dang!
 

"Even if you're on the Right Track, you'll get run over if you just sit there!"

If you remember
screw-on braid, motors that look like padlocks, that dang fuse wire in Cox controllers, "hand" painted bodies, the very first can motors from Mabuchi, and the smell of wintergreen then you are OLD!... like me!

Enjoy life! Race Slot Cars and read SlotBlog!


#23 Stan

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 11:39 PM

Stan,

I have a set of legs from a folding table that you are welcome to.

I see where this is going...

Next, multiple lanes, then pinch lanes, then crossovers and pretty soon a partnership with Bob! :D


Bob is the MAN when it comes to track building. I'm happy to glean a few table scraps of knowledge from him now and then-- but mostly admire his work.

I'll let you know about the legs. I want this to get kicked around in the room for a few weeks and see how the tape holds up as it gets moved around and stored up against the wall.

Stan
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#24 Stan

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 11:42 PM

Here are some pics of how I did the wires. Oh also I use a 12v 5 amp computer charger to power it. They are cheap on ebay and will power 2 cars on a chase race. The little Hammerhead March 761 is Falcon 2 powered.

I used slots to bring the tape under the track for the crossovers
Amoeba Lost Patrol 5.jpg

Lost Patrol track build 3.jpg

Lost Patrol track build 7.jpg


Barn, when you run the tape under the table, how are you reconnecting it? The slots you cut are great...and the photo looks as if you routed a slight recess for the tape?

Stan
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#25 HarV Wallbanger III

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 03:19 PM

Yes I did a very slight (ghost) recess just to see if I could. I solder them under the track and use wires to connect them. Then put Gorilla tape over to keep them down if needed.
Lost Patrol track build 5.jpg

Lost Patrol track build 6.jpg

The computer charger works great and about $10. on ebay.

Barney Poynor
"BRONCO" BARNEY
Team CORT!

Hello my name is Barney and I was... I am addicted to glue, magnets, and wings... I have been clean and sober years now... NOW I'm hooked on 1/32 club track racing! Dang!
 

"Even if you're on the Right Track, you'll get run over if you just sit there!"

If you remember
screw-on braid, motors that look like padlocks, that dang fuse wire in Cox controllers, "hand" painted bodies, the very first can motors from Mabuchi, and the smell of wintergreen then you are OLD!... like me!

Enjoy life! Race Slot Cars and read SlotBlog!


#26 HarV Wallbanger III

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 03:25 PM

The little bumps are from the nails used with Luf's slot strip I used from Dennis. Here is a great link on them if you want to check it out. Many great links of track pics, how to and tips.

OldSlotRacer Tools

Barney Poynor
"BRONCO" BARNEY
Team CORT!

Hello my name is Barney and I was... I am addicted to glue, magnets, and wings... I have been clean and sober years now... NOW I'm hooked on 1/32 club track racing! Dang!
 

"Even if you're on the Right Track, you'll get run over if you just sit there!"

If you remember
screw-on braid, motors that look like padlocks, that dang fuse wire in Cox controllers, "hand" painted bodies, the very first can motors from Mabuchi, and the smell of wintergreen then you are OLD!... like me!

Enjoy life! Race Slot Cars and read SlotBlog!


#27 Stan

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 08:19 PM

Barn,

That photo shows exactly what I thought you did.... thanks!

I took the test track to school today, and the kids went crazy during study hall! I looked over and saw 4 or 5 sprint cars circling on the track all at once on occasion. I set the power supply at 9v but they were cranking it up to 14v and we had some cars shooting across the room a few times! Not sure one lane is going to do it for a test track...??!?

Stan
Stan Ferris

#28 Stan

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 08:57 AM

Not much of the school year left... and it's starting to get warm in my garage, so I'd better get busy building a real track for the kids to use at school!
Here's the rough plan...

Posted Image

...Looks like only nano-cars will race on this one! :laugh2:

I'll start a new thread for this build.

Stan
Stan Ferris

#29 Dayble

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 04:58 PM

Stan you are just incredible. That track design looks vaguely familiar but unique at the same time. :laugh2:

Let me know how I can help.
Dave Deuble

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I'd rather be racing!

#30 Stan

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 11:56 AM

Stan you are just incredible. That track design looks vaguely familiar but unique at the same time. :laugh2:

Let me know how I can help.


What Dave is hinting at is his awesome club track. He designed it and had Bob Scott build it. It is a varying length long oval with a banked turn, and a pitched swerving section, and also a squeeze. Racing on it is FAST and FURIOUS! It was the first AZGR track I raced on and my first Carerra track copied part of the design. Our student track will pay homage to it as well, but with restrictions.

Stan
Stan Ferris

#31 Stan

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 05:48 PM

You may be thinking that one lane is not nearly exciting enough to keep students interested. But with a little device called a Microsizer lap counter (less than $20 with shipping) it can come alive.

Posted Image

I drew a start/finish line with a sharpie, and added the timer, and now the kids want to compete to see who can get either the most laps in a finite time, or how quickly they can do a set number of laps.

Posted Image

It has an IR bulb and sensor, with blinking lights and beeps to alert the driver of race start, end, and getting close to the end.

Posted Image

Now students can actually practice their driving and compete at the same time!
Thanks for the suggestion, Barney!

Stan
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#32 Alchemist

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 06:34 PM

That is just awesome Stan! I know you inspire your students otherwise they would not be excited!! I can only imagine the excitement your students share.

Great job Stan!



Ernie
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#33 Stan

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 09:34 AM

Finally got around to installing some barriers on our small test track before school this morning. The kids insist on driving as close to mach 1 as possible, and so we've had some carnage and mayhem caused by brass chassis cars flying off the track at table height!

Posted Image

We can't race at Ingram Hill today, as the new track build has filled any available space in my garage. Hopefully I can get to routing some lanes tomorrow morning.

Stan
Stan Ferris

#34 HarV Wallbanger III

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 10:50 AM

Looks good Stan. The lap timer/counter makes it so all can race each other on a single lane track and be fun.

Barney Poynor
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