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#1 Mach9

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 10:05 PM

My friend and I just finished a 4 lane home/club type track at his shop. We are now looking at counter systems and maybe power supplies too. We are primarily looking at Lapmaster and Trackmate, but could possibly be swayed into something else. My question now is, which systems A-will run "breakout" races and B-will operate on Windows 8.1? Also, I see two Trackmate systems that say they are intended for dead strip use. Does anybody know what the difference is between the two?
As far as power supplies, it's a 4 lane, longest lane is 61'. We will be running lower end stuff, nothing high powered. What amp rating should we be looking at? Thanks for all advice!


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#2 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 01:03 AM

Power:  Set it up for stabile power.  Homesets come with very low output (1-3 amps) for safety and simplicity - theirs - no fusing and the voltage is always fluctuating under load.  Figure FIVE amps per lane for stabile voltage for homeset racers.

 

Lap counters: The latest and greatest usually cost too much and lets you do more than you ever need to do...like lapmaster.  Trakmate does more than most clubs need as it is - and does run in windows. Win 8 is such a joke to me in trying to eliminate the mouse and make the touch screen a requirement.   Just plug it in to that retired laptop running ANY xx86 including XP or 7 and have fun.

 

Our Great Lakes Slot Car Club has more than half a dozen home (plastic and wood) tracks we race on powered by Pyramid 25 amp variable voltage power supplies and running Trakmate with an extra monitor for the racers to see what the race director sees. Use the mouse or the space bar for track calls.

 

It is not hard to add a dead strip to a plastic track, or use the infared photo eyes.

 

Breakout?  Have to read to online manual again....I think that is a minimum lap time?


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#3 dalek

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 08:10 AM

SlotTrak looks very good to me.  You can download it and run it in demo mode for free. It costs $75 to register it.

 

I found it here:  http://slotblog.net/...timing-systems/

 

We're in the process of getting it installed at P-1 Raceway in Winter Garden, FL which is currently running TrackMate.  SlotTrack can be used with the TrackMate hardware.  It can also be used with other lap counting types.

 

There are two issues with Trackmate that caused me to look around for different software. 

 

First, it doesn't have Qualifying. 

 

Secondly, it deducts the coast time from the total time of the heat every time there is a track call.  This gives an advantage to guys sitting out when a heat has an unusual number of track calls.

 

I will probably post more about SlotTrak after we've used it awhile.


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#4 Mach9

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 05:29 PM

   Thanks for the info. Will look into Slottrak. On the coast time deal with Trackmate, is that coast time adjustable, or some arbitrary number that the developers have set in stone? No qualifying.....hmmmm. Thanks again. MJ


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#5 Samiam

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 07:15 PM

Secondly, it deducts the coast time from the total time of the heat every time there is a track call.  This gives an advantage to guys sitting out when a heat has an unusual number of track calls.

Does anyone know if there is a way to add the lost time to the heat ? This glich makes any Round Robin racing with this system a very unfair affair.


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#6 dalek

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 09:36 AM

One other reason we like SlotTrak:  

 

At those times when there is no track power (track call or end of heat) and your car coasts through or comes to a stop in the lap counter and you wonder if you got your lap, SlotTrak lets you know you got it by displaying an exclamation point next to your lap count. 

 

I think there is only one other timing system that does this, I think it's the old SRT timing system.  It displays a + next to your lap count to let you know you got your lap.


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#7 Tom Thumb Hobbies

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 10:06 AM

LapMaster also indicates that you got your lap by highlighting your laps in green. In fact there is very little that LapMaster doesn't do.
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#8 Mark Crowley

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 10:27 AM

Trackmate has variable track call delay of 0-3 seconds.  Restarts can be instant or count down.

Trackmate also supports breakout times and indicates if you got your lap.

Coast time is adjustable.

http://www.trackmate...counter-manual/

Mark



#9 dalek

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 02:33 PM

Trackmate also... indicates if you got your lap.

 

http://www.trackmate...counter-manual/

 

 

I read the manual, cover to cover, and saw no reference to "indicates if you got your lap".

 

I have TrakMate loaded on my PC and am running it in demo mode.  I can't find anything that even hints that it shows when you got your lap.

 

Mark (or anyone), can you tell me how TrakMate shows when you got your lap while coasting through the lap counter?

 

Regards,

 

Dale


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#10 MarkH

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 04:05 PM

The lap cell goes black background after a car goes through. I see it every week at the club races. Most of the track have TrackMate. I have Lap Master. Both indicate when a car goes through under track call.


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#11 Mark Crowley

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Posted 07 March 2015 - 05:37 PM

I read the manual, cover to cover, and saw no reference to "indicates if you got your lap".

Mark (or anyone), can you tell me how TrakMate shows when you got your lap while coasting through the lap counter?

Regards,

Dale

Put your demo in race mode and start the race.  You will see an asterisk come and go in the laps column.  Hit pause (track call) and it will hold the asterisks until you restart.  There is a setting to adjust the time to continue counting laps after a track call and also an instantaneous restart or a count down to restart setting. Trackmate is the only software I have ever setup for slot cars so I have not idea how it ranks against the other offerings,  but I really like its flexibility and ease of use.

Mark



#12 dalek

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 01:32 PM

The lap cell goes black background after a car goes through. I see it every week at the club races. Most of the track have TrackMate. 

 

 

Put your demo in race mode and start the race.  You will see an asterisk come and go in the laps column.  Hit pause (track call) and it will hold the asterisks until you restart.  

 

At the raceway nor in demo mode have we ever seen the lap cell background turn black or asterisks come and go.

 

I'll call TrakMate and ask them about this issue.

 

Thanks for the replies.


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#13 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 08:18 PM

Ran  at the club this weekend with an 'updated' trakmate program.  The asterick worked, the breakout worked.  Coast is new to me....as far as I know, the car can coast and count a lap, but the total heat time is never changed. The coast is a bonus for those that can benifit.  The 'best change' that I found was the 'next racer on deck' was not buried in the display flag - another graphic I would like to see different...just a red or green or yellow dot would be fine with me.  If you have the older software, I would check for an update now and then.


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#14 Mach9

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 08:47 PM

Thanks for all of the replies. Race Coordinator looks very interesting. But, I've reading off and on all day and I still haven't figured out what hardware/interface we would need for a 4 lane, routed MDF track with dead strip. Anybody know?


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#15 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 11:17 AM

All led and deadstrips are very simple wiring : one single signal wire per lane and a common ground for all wired to a terminal strip.  The appropriate pins for input on the CPU harness hook up there.  Same for all as far as I know.  Led may need a power source ?  The dead strip is just a circuit where the car is the switch to make closure.


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#16 dalek

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 07:58 PM

Thanks for all of the replies. Race Coordinator looks very interesting. But, I've reading off and on all day and I still haven't figured out what hardware/interface we would need for a 4 lane, routed MDF track with dead strip. Anybody know?

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I can tell, you have to have an interface (a black box so to speak) to count laps.  I checked the TrakMate site and you can get one of thier's for a four lane track with dead strip for about $200.  If you race your track in both directions (bidirectional unit), about $220.

 

Of course the TrakMate box works with their software (which is free) but, also with Race Coordinator, SlotTrak, and maybe some others.

 

I don't know if there is a cheaper box available or not.  Maybe there are used units out there on Ebay or such.


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#17 dalek

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 08:09 PM

If you have the older software, I would check for an update now and then.

 

I downloaded the program (version 6.8.1) from TrakMate's site just a few days ago so I assumed I had the latest version.  Wrong!

 

I called TrakMate and he told me the link on their site hasn't been updated to allow downloading the latest version (7 something).

 

He said he will e-mail a link to me in a couple of weeks when he gets back from vacation.  And at some point they will update the link on their site to point to the latest version.


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#18 Mark Crowley

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 09:25 PM

At the raceway nor in demo mode have we ever seen the lap cell background turn black or asterisks come and go.

I'll call TrakMate and ask them about this issue.

Thanks for the replies.

It must be the version you are running.  At Raytown International Raceway we run SCLTimer 6.9.6.  (I am not a track owner but I set up the Trackmate software for them.  Both drag and road.)

I don't know the latest official version number but Daniel keeps the latest beta versions at:  http://www.trackmate...ng.com/sclbeta/ Try any of these and you will get asterisks in demo and race mode.

The only real problem we have during a race is when someone jumps into another lane and passes the lap counter.  I think the software can handle adding or deducting laps at the end of each heat but we are hesitant to change the count unless it was obvious exactly what happened.  I don't know if any software can handle this situation.  This might be a good topic for another thread.

Mark



#19 SlotCarsten

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 02:34 AM

I would assume most lap counter software has a "Minimum time" feature. Atleast LapMaster does.

 

If you run two cars in the same lane past the counter, one of the times will be below the minimum time, and the sensing dosn't count.

In LapMaster you can have this trigger an automated trackcall. That will possibly save a car headed for disaster, and it will give you time to bring things in order.
LapMaster will show the track in question with a red background in the counter field to indicate that it did not count. (It would be green if it just counted). It will also announce what happened in the loudspeaker system. Finally LapMaster also predicts the sector that the cars ought to be in based on the timing from last count. So if it displays a high sector count you know a car ought to be behind and not in front of the counter. Very nice when you have a major crash with cars going everyware in a pile across the counter system.

 

The counter should also be designed in souch a way that even if the car just rools to a standstil on the counter, it should still count. For that reason the deadstrip should be pre charged with a voltage high enough to ensure a count.

 

LapMaster does not do time compensation for "coasting" or "rolling" at track calls. Our recommended solution is to use the "auto-brake" system.

When LapMaster powers off, it does not just power off, but it can be configured to actively "brake" the cars just like the controller does.

At my club we regulary run 1/24 hardbody cars. very heavy with weak motors. Without the brake feature you can get a "good roll" of 12 feets or more. Enough to forward you a place or two in the final result. With the auto brake the roll is reduced to 3 or 4 feet. This feature is significant enough that it makes a clear impact on the performance statistics (stability) that are also provided by LapMaster.


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#20 Mark Crowley

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 09:07 AM

I would assume most lap counter software has a "Minimum time" feature. Atleast LapMaster does.

 

Dooh.  Now that is an easy solution to our "runner" problem.  I don't remember seeing anything like "auto-brake" in Trackmate but I will give it another look.



#21 SlotCarsten

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 09:42 AM

"Auto break" is not a software option.

 

It is a question on how you wire the track power relays.

 

You need to use relays of the "douple throw" type. That is a relay that either makes contact to one contact point or another.
(In oposition to "single throw" relays that can only turn one contact on or off).

 

Correctly wired, (the "Common" pin towards the track, and "NO" towards the power supply, and "NC" towards the other side of the track), the relay either supplies power, or short circuits the track, which is the same as breaking.

 

You need separate relays for each lane for this to work. You can insert a switch in the "NC" line if you want the ability to turn it on and off.

There are other possible schemes, however the crusial point for whatever you do is that you cannot brake and supply power at the same time, or things will go horrible wrong. A double throw relay fullfils that requirement.

 

The terms "Common" and "NO" = "Normally open" and "NC" = "Normally closed" are labeling that you usual will find on relays.

On automobile relays Common is "30", "NO" is 87 and "NC" is 87A


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#22 Mark Crowley

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 11:25 AM

"Auto break" is not a software option.

 

It is a question on how you wire the track power relays.

CG:

Thank you for the clear yet detailed instructions.  Must say your willingness to help someone using a competitors product caught me off guard.  You have earned my respect.

Anyone reading this thread and purchasing new track hardware and software should take note of your knowledge and support.  Setting up and trouble shooting a track has to be one of the most frustrating (and sometimes expensive) tasks an owner will encounter.  

Thanks again:

Mark



#23 Mach9

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 09:06 PM

  After reading all replies and a lot of discussion, the owner has ordered Track Mate. I think he has made a good choice. We'll find out in a week or so. We have also downloaded Race Coordinator and played with the demo. It supposedly works with the Track Mate board so that gives us a 2nd option. Can't wait! Thanks for all of the advice! MJ


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#24 Trevor Neilson

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 11:25 PM

  After reading all replies and a lot of discussion, the owner has ordered Track Mate. I think he has made a good choice. We'll find out in a week or so. We have also downloaded Race Coordinator and played with the demo. It supposedly works with the Track Mate board so that gives us a 2nd option. Can't wait! Thanks for all of the advice! MJ

Yes it will. We use RC on all 3 tracks we race here. The only problem (well there are a couple) but the main one is that it is quite complicated to set up. But once you get your head around it, it's not to bad. If set up right you can run the whole nights program without touching anything (well just the track call button for the next heat etc). You can add your own sound to the track calls as well (but this is not supported by the maker). I added Murrry Walker to mine to make it a bit more interesting . Don't know about the dead strip though. 



#25 Mach9

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 01:20 PM

Well, we got the TrackMate system and have it installed and working. But, we had to borrow another computer with Win7 as the one he was going to use has Win8 and it will not recognize the board. We get some kind of error message when we hit the "automated port recognition" button or whatever it is called. We installed the "Black Track" USB driver, but it still does not work. Is this system even compatible with Win8? Or are we doing something wrong? Thanks in advance. MJ

Mack Johnson
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