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Do better controllers give you an edge?


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#1 gatormark

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 04:59 AM

OK so we have decided to race Hawk 7 like the rest of the world and it's fun and cheap.

But do these 500 dollar controllers give you an edge? And if so, what's the sense in running 7s if the controller takes ya over the top?
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#2 Racer36

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 06:54 AM

Better clubs will make you a better golfer...
A better bat will make you a better baseball player...

Get the idea?
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#3 Pappy

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 08:02 AM

Twelve years ago I thought the controller didn't make a difference, all you had to do was match up the ohms in the controller to the motor you were using.

I used a 4 ohm Parma Turbo controller for almost everything I ran. It wasn't until I drove on my first oval track that I found out that wasn't true. On the outer lanes I couldn't get off the gas and back into the throttle fast enough to keep from losing my momentum. With a good adjustable controller I could dial out the brakes and didn't lose my momentum. In the last few years I've learned there's a lot more to it than that. Being able to adjust the power curve is as important as being able to adjust the brakes.

So to answer your question, the answer is "yes," they do give you an edge and worth the money if you are serious about your racing.
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#4 Justin A. Porter

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 08:09 AM

No matter what car you race, the only link between it and you is your controller.
 
The more sensitive, the more precise, and the more tailored to your driving the controller can be, the more consistent you as a driver can be. 
 
Even an entry-level electronic, such as the basic Koford KOF641, Ruddock DR30, or Difalco Genesis Pro will easily shave multiple tenths off of your lap time without any change to your car.
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#5 Eddie Fleming

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 09:35 AM

Do better controllers give you an edge?
 
Yes and no, to a point.
 
You can do a lot with a resistor controller like adding a brake rheostat and a blast relay along with the resistor that matches your driving/track and car.
 
What you can't do is fine-tune the power curve to match different cars or tracks without changing out the resistor. That becomes all driver input.
 
Resistor controllers also require more maintenance to keep a smooth trigger feel, and at best may not be as smooth as an electronic unit.
 
You do not need to spend $500. A low end Koford (M641 or M642) or a good use controller can be had for $200 or so. While not a necessity I would say it is a very nice thing to have.
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#6 Fast Freddie

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 09:55 AM

The electronic controllers of today do give the racer an advantage, more so on the flat track then the high banked tracks. Mainly because of the wide range of addjustments they have. It makes it much easier to drive the car and tailor the car to your needs and reactions. 

Some can be very costly but they seem to be worth every penny.
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#7 MSwiss

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:43 AM

All the above are great posts.

As alluded to, it all depends on the car and track.

Our Wednesday night GTP racing started with my rental controllers staying on the lanes. Only within the last six months, or so, did I let guys start using their own controllers.

While the most prolific winner has his own Third Eye Hitman FET, he still uses the rental style, Koford 3 ohm controller for the GTP race.

They match the spec Hawk Retro motor well, and running full brakes is pretty much always desirable.

On the King, with these high downforce cars, it's pretty much just on and off.

The flat track is a different story.
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#8 John C Martin

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:58 AM

IMO... yes.

Try one, you'll buy one. $300-ish for a Third Eye Hitman or Difalco Is all you need...
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#9 Wizard Of Iz

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 12:52 PM

IMO... yes.

Try one, you'll buy one. $300-ish for a Third Eye Hitman or Difalco Is all you need...

 

Nailed it!  Even a lower-end electronic controller will make a difference. It's why we used Difalco's rental controllers for our rental fleet. They were durable and greatly improved the experience for our rental customers.

 

Two quick examples...

 

First... When we opened back in 2010 we had a number of veteran racers dust off their old stuff and come out to race. One racer was determined to make his trusty resistor controller work. He tried different resistors. He tried external resistors. He tried adding a brake rheostat. And, he still struggled. Multiple racers asked him to try their electronic controller and he resisted.

 

Finally... one night his controller lost a clip and he was forced to borrow a controller. He ordered a Difalco Genesis that night and went from being a backmarker in his group to a weekly contender.

 

Second... As a racer you get spoiled by the technology. A customer at our raceway asked me to drive his young son's RTR to see if was working properly after repairs following some nasty wall shots. I picked up the guy's 4-ohm controller and could barely keep the car on the track though I could tell the car was generally fine. Switched to my electronic controller and everything was just fine.  


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#10 Bob Kurkowski

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 01:59 PM

If you're looking for a good controller with a few bells and whistles at a very reasonable price you may want to look at Professor Motors 'Pro' series controllers. I have one and for the toothbrush style motors. It works great and has been very reliable.

 

As for the 500 dollar controllers giving you a edge, don't tell Rick Davis because I seen him use his Parma Turbo from the '60s to win many races. Long story short is if your a chitty driver, save your money for beer.

 

Bob K.


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#11 Dave Crevie

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 02:01 PM

Spending a ton of money on equipment is not going to automatically make you a top podium finisher. That part is in you. It will level the playing field some, but the best racers have more than a fancy controller.

 

Buy the best controller you can comfortably afford, then spend as much time as you can racing. Race every class your track supports. Don't be afraid to fall off. Just use common sense to analyze why it happened, then work to correct that.

 

I have many times watched Mike Swiss jump into an empty spot during a weekly race, grabbing a rental controller and the car he loans out to other racers and which has not been serviced in many races, and just hammer the field.

 

It just shows that the driver is the most valuable tool in slot racing.  


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#12 Kevin Donovan

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 02:19 PM

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#13 Robert BG

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:15 PM

I resisted giving up my old resistor controller for years and back then I still won plenty of races. I used a Parma Turbo with big Trinity wire for flexis and a converted Turbo external resistor controller for wings. Generally speaking, my buddy and I who used a Turbo himself were the top two contenders at our local track and we consistently beat folks with electronic controllers...

That was up until we started traveling to big races. We knew we were fast but no matter what we were .1-.2 off of the pace and there wasn't a thing we could do to make up the difference.

That was up until I tried a Difalco and within two laps I had gained .2 tenths and I haven't looked back since.
 
Now while I'm all for electronic controllers you can make a resistor setup competitive if you have the right resistor in it, proper big gauge wires, adjustable brake and a blast relay. But to be honest you'd still be somewhat handicapped on slower technical tracks and for the amount of work it'd require you're honestly better off with a Difalco.
 
As far as what controller to choose, you honestly can't go wrong with a Difalco and if you do, he'll upgrade it for you until it's right. ;) There are a lot of controllers to choose from but I doubt you'll find too many dissatisfied Difalco customers. He's got some of the best service after the sale of any company I've dealt with (in and out of slots), he'll take the time to work with you on problems and upgrades as needed to grow with you and on top of all this they are affordable. You'd really have to spend a lot to beat a Difalco controller and even then you probably won't beat his service.

 

I mean for example, I'd been away from slots since '05-06 and my controller in question was from '05 or so and upon returning I sent Jim a email on a Sunday afternoon. I explained how old my controller was and what I wanted to do and before the evening news was over he had outlined three ways for me to upgrade my current setup. I don't know about you but when was the last time you've heard back from a company about a 12+ year old product and that fast?


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#14 Kevin Donovan

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:26 PM

If the track isn't too technical – something like a King for example, a 3 or 4 ohm resistor controller should work fine with a Hawk motor.



#15 Richard G With

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:38 PM

It isn't necessary to cough up $300-$500. Get one of the Difalco kits and upgrade your old Parma resistor control.

If you can hook up lead wires, you can probably install the Difalco kit!

 

The adjustability may not be so important on King tracks but it made a huge difference for me with Retro cars at Dallas. I'd call it a necessity in that environment.


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#16 gc4895

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 05:41 PM

Difalco is amazing. I found a Difalco kit'troller that I put together 20 years ago that I know I paid well less than $100 for. I emailed Jim about upgrading it to a current model and he got right back to me. Box of parts and a little soldering later I now have a Genesis HD30.

 

That is making a old silk purse into a new silk purse - no sow's ears need apply. No planned obsolescence invited into his shop. Well done. 


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#17 Alan Dodson

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 06:09 PM

One benefit of an electronic controller like the Difalco HD30 is that you can use it for any class of car you race. I use mine for everything from Group F wing cars, winged flexi 16Ds, Hawk 7 GTP cars on a King track, and three classes of retro cars on a flat track. Just swap out the plug in resistor module and I'm all set.

 

And I agree on the service from Difalco, too. Jim has always been more than helpful to me, no matter what the problem, even helping me revive an old controller I bought off of eBay. IMHO, you can't go wrong investing in a good quality electronic controller.



#18 NSwanberg

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 01:34 AM

I still feel I can turn a faster lap with the correct resistor controller. But as that resistor arcs sparks and heats up I can definitely turn more consistent fast laps with a transistor controller. Difalco has never let me down but sometimes a Third Eye seems to have better brakes and I like the Third Eye for vibrator motors.

 

I borrowed Carsteen controller one time. The brakes were so much better than anything else I had available to me that day I thought it suspicious. Must be a MOSFET brake?


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#19 LindsayB

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 02:18 AM

I actually quite liked driving with the Koford resistor controller.


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#20 dalek

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 10:45 AM


As far as brakes go, I recently discovered that a brake relay can make a big difference.
 
I was running one of my cars, and I asked Marcus (P-1 Raceway owner) to drive it so I could compare my best lap to the best lap he could do.
 
He has a current model high tech Third Eye controller, I was using my Difalco controller that has a blast relay and brake relay.  
 
As he was hooking up his controller, I mentioned that the car's brakes were a little weak.
 
When he started driving the car, he said "the brakes seem OK." I could see that the car was stopping faster with his controller. He was able to drive deeper into the corners, and his best lap was about a half tenth faster than my best lap.
 
So I checked my contoller and discovered that one of the wires on the brake relay was broken.
 
When I fixed it, I could immediately see the difference in braking, and I was able to turn a best lap as fast as Marcus's.
 
===============
 
I have two Difalcos – one has a brake relay and blast relay, the other has neither.
 
The one with the brake relay is one that I bought used about a year ago, and I realize now that the brake relay wire was broken when I bought it.
 
Since the braking was the same when I used either of my controllers, I didn't know there was a problem.
 
===============
 
Also, I know to keep the brake contacts clean on the Difalco controllers. The brake contacts consist of the brass plate on the back of the trigger making contact with the brass screw head when the trigger is released. That little point of contact can get pitted over time. When I neglected to clean the contacts, my cars started doing intermittent wall shots.
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#21 spudboy

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 10:35 PM

When I got re-involved with slot cars in '08 I needed a controller but didn't want to spend much money. My raceway ordered me a 2 ohm Parma TQ controller. I swapped a trigger I had profiled from a classic controller and put ball bearings in, too. It worked for my Retro racing and I sorta liked being the oddball with a retro-style controller.  Retro cars, retro controller.
 
After a while it needed a rebuild and I added a brake rheostat and relay. I had fun doing it and it helped reinforce some slot car fundamentals for me as well.  

Eventually I bought an electronic controller. It is a better tool, but I have nostalgia for the old analog unit.
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#22 Bill from NH

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 05:36 PM

I think better controllers may give some a psychological edge, but don't automatically make a mediocre driver competitive with the top of the field. What it provides is a greater means for tuning the controller, to your driving style, to the track, & to a car. Yes I have an older Ruddock DR-40 & a PM, but I also have a Parma Turbo, a Parma double micro controller & the parts to build a second. If I was more into competitive racing today, I could buy a current controller with more leading-edge technology than those I currently own, but I'm not.


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#23 Adam Chance

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 02:55 PM

I wondered this myself. In looking at buying to the hobby I was surprised at the cost of the high end controllers. I wondered what all the bells and whistles did.



#24 Samiam

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 03:22 PM

A better controller won't necessarily give you an edge, but an inferior one will definitely put you at a disadvantage.


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#25 CoastalAngler1

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 03:47 PM

Mark, we will meet this weekend if you're going to the race at Fast Eddie's.  I have both a DiFalco and a 3rd Eye Hitman, both in the $250 range. You are welcome to try them.  The brakes on the 3rd Eye are a little better than the DiFalco IMO.  I've only been racing 2.5 years - hope to see you at the race.

 

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I'm an indian haha.  

Believe me, you want a good controller if you want to keep up in Florida.


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