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Timing Systems Types And Setting Up

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Ardunio UNO will do all you need, if you are not using pits for refueling. EBay is the cheapest option, I brought my last one with screw shield and relay board all for around 20.00.

The sketch and all the info is in the RC latest download.



Hobart Miniature Car Club


Tassie Resins










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Hi Guys

Just wondering if someone could help. I have been successfully running Race Coordinator timing software on my old laptop through the Parallel Port. I want to upgrade to a newer laptop which of cause does not have a parallel port. I have a cable to convert the parallel port cable from the track to a USB port for the laptop. Has anyone had any success with this conversion as I really do not want to have to rewire the track cable if I do not have too


Thanks in advance

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great thread here guys! I am currently getting the peices i need to make a timing system:


- Ardunio uno (in the mail)

- 3 x Jaycar ZD1950 Infra-red receivers

- 3 x Jaycar ZD1945 Infra-red LED transmitter

- race coordinator

- Computer with usb only.


What i need though is a wiring diagram for the ardunio and recievers and does race coordinator load the right codes for the ardunio or do i have to somehow program the ardunio before i use it??


your help will be much appreciated!



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Mr postman came today with my Arduino uno board!!!!!! I followed the instructons from race cordinator and setup the board as per instructions. At first it didn't work and i started to question myself if i had got the right sensors but then after a bit of googling i found that i hadn't set the com port right in the track setup! Once i changed that it all worked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the cheapest setup ever and can do 4 lanes apart from the old computer i had the setup only cost about $30.

I have attached a photo of my bench test setup using the mobile flash led as the light bridge and just waving my hand through the light simulating car passing!

thanks guys for all your help!!!





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Dumb me, only just realised that there is a directory on the Trackmate site which contains the latest Trackmate Software downloads.


Note, - 7.2 SORT of worked on a very old XP machine, 7.4 didn't . . . so don't ever delete your current install of Trackmate till the new one is tested. - They all install in unique directories, they don't over-write.


7.53 has nice big fonts for the end of heat and end of race data - and the data windows are the correct size.



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I'm building yet another track for someone, and this time I have been asked to supply it with timing.

I will be trying the Arduino set up with race coordinator. Looks easy enough.

A man without a woman is like a neck without a pain.

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Yo guys,


I have been updating my original post in this thread and replacing the lost pictures.

I am sure it isn't 100%, so anyone who sees obviously wrong info., or glaring omissions, please holler and I'll edit it.

We could probably add current sources for LEDs and transistors, and any other makers of boards etc.


I also haven't done anything about arduino based systems yet, maybe someone using them regularly would like to write a chunk and I'll add it to the post.


The reason for updating, is so that anyone who is a newbie has that one place to get the majority of information to research a timing system, which was my original intention - which I see was 8 years ago - time sure does fly.

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There are a number of free 'software only' packages available in Windows and DOS. There are also pay to download Windows ones, and some systems you can purchase which consist of both a hardware board or box, which you plug into your PC; and a software package that controls it.

No one size fits all. ** The most commonly used packages




** Race Coordinator ** - Donation-ware - powerful and friendly, well supported. http://www.racecoordinator.net/

Race Coordinator now works as software only or using the Trackmate interface board, Arduino interface

boards, DS Systems, Slotmaster and other hardware boards. Widely used as alternate software with the

TRACKMATE hardware board below. Fully programmable screens, and there are many clever users offering

their customization for free on forums. The developer often visits Auslot, SCI and Slotforum UK to interact.



OR, you can buy a Viasue package https://racecoordinator.net/viasue.html, which adds an Arduino

robotics hardware board, programmed to work with Race Coordinator, so you get greater functionality


** Laptimer 2000 **- Freeware, http://www.hoslotcarracing.com/ been around many years, doesn't

have a lot of fancy features, but for home racer who don't need lane rotation and totaling, is typically

the easiest to set up and use. It is easiest to use with an OOOOLD PC with a DB25 printer port.



However you will need an old PC with a DB25 parallel port or a Joystick/serial port


** Ultimate Racer 3.0 - Donationware http://www.uracerweb.org/ (includes powerful track designer)




SCRaceTime - http://www.scracetime.de/ (German package, don't know anything about it)


SlotRaceManager -

DOS based, no longer available online or supported. I have a copy should anyone need it.


SlotCarManager (Donationware, includes track designer)

No longer available online. I have a copy if anyone needs it.







** TRACKMATE - http://www.trackmateracing.com/shop/

A medium priced solution which is rock solid. The latest version has Cat5 cable connections to the

timing loom and USB connection to the PC, whereas older versions needed a serial to USB adapter

which often made matching it with modern PCs an issue.

Purchase of the board gives you the software as well, and free updates when they come out. It is also

widely used for the hardware package only, in conjunction with Race Coordinator Software.






** Arduino robotics boards

Arduino is the name of a line of Italian robotics boards, of which many Chinese factories make clones

- or close to clones.

With a firmware patch available from Race Coordinator, and the Race Coordinator software, two

versions of this board called UNO and Mega can be used as hardware to run the race control on tracks,

and perform the functions like track power switching.

The advantage is that they are much cheaper than a proprietary board made by a company specifically

for Slot racing.

The dis-advantage is that it takes a fair bit of computer savvy to configure the electronics side, and wire

them to the timing and power control correctly, and not all cloned Arduino boards work properly.

Also, some PCs seem to need certain windows updates and extensions manually installed to enable

them to work properly.




DS-RacingProducts - DS-Racing Products - Sophisticated and more expensive system made in Spain

by IBB Slotracing. More suited to large club or public raceway setups. The most favoured solution in

European clubs. It is now available in Australia.

I haven't used it, but those who do swear by it as being rock solid and capable of recording lots of data

- which they love analysing.



IBB are currently developing a new race control system with smaller boards. I am not aware of when it will

reach the market.



Slotmaster - www.slotmaster.com




PCLapcounter - http://pclapcounter.be/ hardware & Software package, fairly pricey





Startline http://www.startline.net.au/

Australian made hardware and software package, unsure if still available or supported.



Most of these can be used with several types of sensing to activate the software counting.


1) Photo-transistor sensors that respond by turning on and off in response to the presence and removal

of some kind of visible light, or infra-red light.


2) "dead-strip" which is a short section of track where the left and right rails are isolated from the rest of

the circuit (on each lane), The braids of the car short from one side to the other through the motor like

turning on a switch for a moment as the car passes over that isolated section of track.


3) Micro-switches or magnetic switches, which just act like the above, usually triggered by the car guide,

or the motor magnet.


In all these cases, the "sensor" is simply acting like an electrical light switch, ie, it completes the circuit

as when you turn on a light, or "opens" it, as when you switch off a light.


The software is "looking at" the wires connected to these "switches", and goes

"oh yeah, it turned on for a moment", - or "it turned off for a moment" - better add one more lap to that

lane count, and oh yeah, it's been 4.65 seconds since it last happened, so that's how long it took the

car to do the lap.. I better add all that into the race data for the guys and store it till the race ends"

. . . really, it's that simple.....


Some packages such as Ultimate Racer can also be driven by a web camera attached to the PC,

where a defined screen area of what the camera sees, gets triggered by the movement of a car.

[sounds weird, and I haven't tried it, but I've read a number of reports where people use it quite

successfully.] To me the downside is that between the car and the camera, hands can get in the

way and falsely trigger it, and also, if the camera gets bumped, you lose the actual correct "triggering"]


Ultimate Racer can also be configured to work with outside hardware boards to do more sophisticated

things. . . but that's another story.




These days this is the most common way to trigger the race control software.


You wire up SENSORS to the appropriate pins on a lead which connects to the hardware board

of your timing system if you have that kind; or directly into a port on your computer which is specified

by a software only system.


SENSORS : You can use photo-transistors which sense visible light, or ones which sense "I.R."

Infra-red light which is invisible to the human eye. I.R. is popular because you don't have to "see"

the bright light shining down onto the track, especially if you do night racing, but you do need a bit

more electrical savvy and confidence to set them up. (They are visible as a pink light through the

lens of a digital camera or cell-phone, which is how I always check that they are working.)

Then; you supply a light source for the photo-transistors.




A typical 4 lane timing cable/loom, wired with a Cat-5 connector to go into a Trackmate board, and 4

photo-transistors on the other end.


If you have a red coloured Trackmate board, or an older PC with a DB25 printer port, you can wire a cable to go directly into that DB25 port

You wire up the Photo-transistors to the appropriate pins on a lead connected to a DB25 printer plug (the old standard printer plugs.) These are SENSORS – a switch operated by light. Below is a 4 lane sensor wired up.


In the picture:

the Brown wire is connected to pin 10 for lane one of the sensor, and it's Brown/white "partner" underneath to Pin 22

the Orange wire is connected to pin 11 for lane two of the sensor, and it's orange/white "partner" underneath to Pin 23

the Green wire is connected to pin 12 for lane three of the sensor, and it's Green/white "partner" underneath to Pin 24

the Blue wire is connected to pin 13 for lane four of the sensor, and it's blue/white "partner" underneath to Pin 25






One quick note - Make sure you have the "legs" the right way around on the photo transistor, or it won't work.

The diagram below appears as being switched left to right because it is displayed from the PINS side of

the plug, not the REAR of the plug where I took the photographs.




But as it shows, you need the short leg of the sensor wired to the TOP pin, and the long leg of the sensor wired to

the BOTTOM pin. It also does show you the pin numbers each wire is connected to. You will need those numbers if

you use UR3.0, because that software package allows you to decide which pins are assigned to which lane counting.


I have run a software patch with my own old red "Trackmate" system which causes most PCs and versions

of windows operating system to recognise USB inputs as serial "com ports" for input, given that PCs

with old fashioned DB25 cables are becoming rarer. You use the DB25 to USB adapter lead that comes

with that software. This is called the PL2303, and the patch for various systems can be

downloaded from here http://www.prolific....loads.asp?id=31



LIGHT SOURCE FOR Photo-sensors

For visible light, some people just use a fluoro lamp across the track, built into a bridge, others use

some small LEDs which emit visible light, usually built into a bridge of some kind. I don't recommend

the basic room light, as it is often too low, and can be affected by people moving about.

if you use IR photo-transistors, you need to use IR frequency LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes.)


One quick note - Make sure you have the "legs" the right way around on the LEDs, or you will blow them up.

One side is positive, the other negative. Generally, the long leg is the positive side, but do check the

specification sheet that should come with them.


To power the LEDs you need a small DC source. This only needs to be about 30milli-amp output for each

LED, so if you have a 2 or 3 lane track, an old cell phone charger of 100ma or so will be fine.

You can adjust the value of resistors used, to work with anything from say 3 to 12 volts.


Here is a wiring diagram with some typical values and the very simple circuit outlined, and below is a link

for an excel spreadsheet which will calculate the resistor value needed to wire in with either visible

or Infra-Red LEDs




Click the link below to get a spreadsheet which will help you calculate the resistor value required to

use in a circuit with your choice of LED and power supply.


LED Powering Formula


Choose an old phone charger or similar wall-plug DC supply.

Input the nominal voltage of the LED (usually about 1.2 volts), and the current rating of the LED

- which is usually about 20 milliamps; then choose a resistor of near as value to the big blue figure

the spreadsheet kicks out at you.


Some common results would be

4.5 volts use 160 ohm resistors

6 volts use 240 or 270 ohm resistors

7.5 volts use 300 ohm resistors

9 volts use 360 or 390 ohm resistors

12 volts use 510 or 560 ohm resistors


These resistors values at the 1.2 stated voltage will give you a current through each LED of about 20ma.

This is the most common rated drive current for LEDs, but in practice, I have driven some myself at

up to 3 times that for short periods, and on my own track I have driven them at around 25ma for the

past 3 years, and none have failed – we never miss laps as we have plenty of "invisible" I.R. light.




The shot above is a custom PC board in which LEDs are mounted with current control resistors ready

for installation in some kind of light bridge. DC power can be fed to the + and - points at either end.




The shot above is what I made for one of my tracks. I mounted the LEDs poking out the bottom of this

bridge, then added the 2nd sidewall, and painted and decorated it. The power wires for the LEDs came

out one end and disappeared into the Superstructure of the track, where I connected them to a small

DC power supply robbed from a defunct cellphone.


The image below shows a start finish banner from anther track I built, which has the I.R. LEDs built in.

Wiring hidden, very simple - not flash modelling, others will do it better than my ham-fists can achieve.





There is another type of "all in one" photo-transistor unit with LEDs that can be mounted in a slot.

The wiring principles are the same but you need to know which side is the photo-transistor to connect

to your timing, and which side is the LEDs needing some DC voltage to drive them.




These need to be mounted in the slot so they are as near as possible to flush with the surface.

The advantage of these is that they are discreet and false triggers above the track by hands or

de-slotted cars passing under the light bridge are eliminated.

However as the light source is broken by the slot guide, which is a very short pulse, and blue

colour guides are often transparent to the IR light, laps can be missed.


For those who don't feel able to build the timing cable or light bridge for themselves, ask around

your club, or on forum for someone who could do it for you.If that fails, contact me, as I still make

up systems for people.





The idea of a dead strip is that you have a short strip of the "track" where one side of the copper

tape/braid or rails of a plastic track is actually isolated from the power. So, as the car passes over

the "isolated" section of track which may be 5 to 10cm long (depending on things like typical car

speed on your track and the location of the dead-strip), the pick-ups of the car close/complete

that small length of isolated circuit from the left to the right side, and you run a wire from each side of that

small piece of track back to your timing software to the computer, where it is connected via a

printer cable as if it had the photo-transistor type of sensor.

So in effect, the pickups of the car become the "switch".


This USED TO BE the default system for counting laps, and in practice is very reliable if you set it

up with the right sort of length of "dead-strip".


If it is too short, and the cars go over it too quickly, it may not 'trigger", and if you out it somewhere

where cars may have just de-slotted, you can miss laps, or get a car straying from another lane to

create a false count as it's pick-ups brush across the dead strip. Too long, and the car slows more

than is desirable during the dead strip - or even stops ...... but done right, they are just fine, and

have the advantage of there being nothing needed above the track surface, and never needing

maintenance or alignment.


Dead strips are polarity sensitive due to the “back EMF” created by motors. Wired one way, the EMF

helps the switching, wired the other way, it tries to prevent it. If you connect a dead strip backwards

they will only count properly with very low powered or if the car is moving very slowly.

Many people that encounter that problem think that the dead strips need to be longer, but if the

polarity is correct dead strips as short as 1.5 inches will work perfectly.


Here is a diagram showing correct wiring, and some basic components to use, which are to protect

the PC input at the "other end" of the cable, and assumes that each of four lanes will connect to pins

4 - 7 on a DB25 printer port.






Also, you absolutely have to keep track voltage away from the dead strips.


This can be done by having a gap either side of the dead strip….. long enough to ensure that car

braids cannot simultaneously short out the dead strip while being on live track, ie a section say

20 - 25mm where there is no braid/tape at all.


If you want to run a track which has dead-strips for timing both ways; you will need to use some DPDT

switches to reverse the circuit so the wires still go to the right pin numbers on your computer, and the

PC is protected by the circuit drown above.


If using a DB25 (old parallel printer port, you may need to set the parallel port to 'SPP' mode in the

pc's BIOS, depending upon how many lanes you have, and whether you want to use the software

to do tasks other than counting laps.

eg, Ultimate racer is capable of running a lot of different add-on facilities, and Race Coordinator can work

with at least 8 lanes, requiring use of pins usually configured for the Bi-directional modes of printer ports.


You can then use pins 10-17 for triggers.


These three lanes are wired to pins 11/12/13 with a common ground to pin 25

Make sure you get the port address (ie 0x378) from there and enter it in the settings of Ultimate Racer

if you are using that package.


For use of Dead Strips with Trackmate, the correct protection module supplied by Trackmate is strongly

recommended. Also, Trackmate uses specific pins for input.



Lane 1 = Pin 10

Lane 2 = Pin 11

Lane 3 = Pin 12

Lane 4 = Pin 13

Lane 5 = Pin 6

Lane 6 = Pin 7

Lane 7 = Pin 8

Lane 8 = Pin 9

These are all tied back to the same common rail of pins 18 - 25



There are also a couple more sensors that can be used. One type has the lever arm of a micro-switch

down in the slot. Micro-switches work well once you adjust them properly. HO tracks mostly use

magnetic reed switches, those would work in 1/32nd scale if you always ran with traction magnets,

but motor magnets alone are not likely to trip them. SOME reed-switches are also polarity sensitive,

so you should check that point out if you plan to use these.


Whichever hardware and software combination you decide to use, you will need to configure the software

so that it is "looking at" the right pin numbers, on the right connector type and number on your PC.

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Key Features

  • The Acer Aspire XC-230 Desktop comes with 4GB DDR3 memory as standard, ensuring quick operation.
  • There are 8 USB slots in total (6x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0) for the Acer desktop, letting you use several USB peripherals at the same time.


Guys this question reflects my absolute inability to comprehend computers, but my old HP desktop has died.

I am running race co-ordinator and plan to move to arduiono as well.


will these acer Aspire XC-230 Desktop ibe sufficient???

Featuring an AMD E1-7010 1.5GHz dual-core processor, tPre-installed with Microsoft Windows 10, t

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