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Mod'Ing Pb4 To Handle 6 Cars

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I'm in the process of reprogramming the PB4 to run pacers and ID 6 cars, amongst other bits and pieces.

 

The project has gone a bit quiet of late... for two reasons. Firstly, that there's been a bit of time taken up with the InCar-Pro upgrade; and Secondly, I only have one PB4 and so am hesitant to reload that until a lot of work is complete - its my only reference platform.

 

Anyway a small thought ran through my mind... I wondered if anyone in NZ had an unused PB4 gathering dust which they'd be willing to sacrifice to science... Only the PB is needed, not the PSU or throttles, so maybe its someone who has already upgraded to APB6. Anyway, if you do please PM me. I'm happy to fund shipping and a token amount for it. If you're really lucky (and I don't blow it up) you might even get it back and be the lucky first tester of enhanced PB4. No idea when though...

 

Ian


Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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Just a quick update...

 

I've passed the InCar-Pro out to all and sundry, so I'm now able to get back onto reprogramming the PB4 as a 6 car backup/programming device. This is good, as its a more challenging project and thereby will have more satisfaction (not to say that the InCar-Pro was not satisfying per se, just that it became a bit frustrating with the Rev F DPR chip)

 

Anyway, I have to refesh my memory where I was up to on the PB4 work, and will probably give everyone an update in a month or so.

 

This is gonna be so cool... key elements aimed for are

- To run 4 car as previously (of course)

- To program all 6 car IDs on the PB4

- To add a (fixed speed) Ghost car mode on ID 5 or 6 while racing. This could be used for true-ing tyres also.

- Discovering the upper limits of the PB4, and maybe uprate if realistic

- If possible, to connect to PC and receive Torque control data for programming InCar-Pro

- If possible, to add variable speed ghost cars by learning the throttle

 

The main thing is to provide a backup full ID programming tool which can be easily used offline for those hectic race nights.

 

(Before anyone grumbles, the PB4 can only realistically run 3-4 cars on a somewhat simple track, so don't expect this to be a full replacement for a proper 6 car controller)

 

We'll see what we can come up with...

 

Ian

Edited by MIH

Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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- To run 4 car as previously (of course)

- To program all 6 car IDs on the PB4

- To add a (fixed speed) Ghost car mode on ID 5 or 6 while racing. This could be used for true-ing tyres also.

- Discovering the upper limits of the PB4, and maybe uprate if realistic

- If possible, to connect to PC and receive Torque control data for programming InCar-Pro

- If possible, to add variable speed ghost cars by learning the throttle

 

Oops, I omitted:

- 1 channel Analog mode.


Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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A minor update...

 

I have tested the basic PB4-Pro firmware focussed on reproducing previous functionality. Its still a bit early to release, but it can right now:

  • Run the 4 cars in digital mode
  • Program all 6 car IDs in digital mode
  • Handles overload properly
  • Can set its default mode at startup for Analog or Digital

 

I'm just getting Analog mode set up, and then I'll get the Ghost Cars done.

 

Ian

Edited by MIH

Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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A minor update...

 

I have tested the basic PB4-Pro firmware focussed on reproducing previous functionality. Its still a bit early to release, but it can right now:

  • Run the 4 cars in digital mode
  • Program all 6 car IDs in digital mode
  • Handles overload properly
  • Can set its default mode at startup for Analog or Digital

 

I'm just getting Analog mode set up, and then I'll get the Ghost Cars done.

 

Ian

 

 

Watching with great interest................ :-)

Drifter


www.sydneyslotcars.com

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I am looking forward to seeing this complete too as it will make setting id's easier at my racemeets instead of using an old 6 car pb to do id's, will be much easier to just press one button

 

Well, it'll take 2 buttons for IDs 5 & 6 (hold down 4 + 1 together for car 5; and hold down 4 + 2 together for car 6) But its all programmed in the blink of an LED.

 

Ian


Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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Thats fine pressing 2 buttons, it will be still more simple than scrolling through powerbase menu's to id a car, some of the guys at my racemeets still have trouble scrolling through the menu on an old 6 car powerbase so half the time i am running around doing id's for people lol.

Edited by Johnsxr8

Check out North Brisbane Slotcar Racing: http://northbrisslots.forumotion.com

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Hey Ian ,what would be involved in making a device that programs car ids only?

Drifter

 

Easy. Believe it or not, you could probably do it with the 'old fashioned' parallel port. The critical thing is getting the PC to send the data with the exactly correct timing.

 

If one was created, what is it worth to you...? With that, we can see if something could be built for price.

 

Ian


Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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Hey Ian ,what would be involved in making a device that programs car ids only?

Drifter

 

Easy. Believe it or not, you could probably do it with the 'old fashioned' parallel port. The critical thing is getting the PC to send the data with the exactly correct timing.

 

If one was created, what is it worth to you...? With that, we can see if something could be built for price.

 

Ian

Sounds great , I'm a great fan of the parallel port, problem is they're becoming scarce and laptops becoming cheaper and of course so portable. That said the serial port would be more usefull ,maybe via a usb to serial adaptor, unless of course using a usb to parallel adaptor would work.

 

Certantly it would be handy to have a device to program car ids whilst the pb is in use. I guess it would come down to what's cheaper- a second pb6 /modded pb4 or a usb plug in device for a laptop.

If you could do one for say AU$100 I'll buy the first one.

Drifter


www.sydneyslotcars.com

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A little query in the back of my mind is - can the cable for the APB6 achieve it directly... Its USB and it naturally generates the anti-phase signal required. But I don't know if the signals can be generated at the exact speed required to program the cars, or if the voltage supplied is big enough to allow the chip to program.

 

But $100 is a big price - and a second-hand PB4 can be easily achieved with half that sum, and the upgrade wont be that expensive (although specialised tools are needed - like with PB6)

 

Ian


Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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A little query in the back of my mind is - can the cable for the APB6 achieve it directly... Its USB and it naturally generates the anti-phase signal required. But I don't know if the signals can be generated at the exact speed required to program the cars, or if the voltage supplied is big enough to allow the chip to program.

 

But $100 is a big price - and a second-hand PB4 can be easily achieved with half that sum, and the upgrade wont be that expensive (although specialised tools are needed - like with PB6)

 

Ian

 

Perhaps building a powerbase from your electric images site would provide a great tool for programming car ids and also double as a backup pb6. Could you suggest where to source the components and a rough total cost of them for someone who wants to 'warm the soldering iron' and 'have a go' :-)

Drifter

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www.sydneyslotcars.com

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Perhaps building a powerbase from your electric images site would provide a great tool for programming car ids and also double as a backup pb6. Could you suggest where to source the components and a rough total cost of them for someone who wants to 'warm the soldering iron' and 'have a go' :-)

Drifter

 

Yeah, maybe. The diagrams and code to run it are on the site. You could already do it, assuming you are solder-savvy enough to build it. ie, you know what you are doing, and have the supporting things like CPU programmers. (Though you might get yourself a programmer to do your cars up to InCar-PRO, in which case problem solved)

 

But being honest, the stuff thats published is all about learning how to do it yourself - a foot up you might say. To see it as a backup to PB6 or APB6 is a bit of a stretch, and you'd surely be disappointed. PB6 and APB6 give you much more as thay have track detectors to read car IDs, and interfaces to PCs. My stuff does not - and while I've got a detector circuit on the site too, I'm not joining them both together, lest Scaley come knocking at my door....

 

That being said, as a rug-racer we almost always get my own super-simple powerbase out, because the advantages of all the other gizmos is cute, but a PITA to set it all up and/or teach to use. People might cry that the APB6 stays in its box, and the PB6-Pro gathers dust on the shelf...! If I kept a permanent track, maybe different, but...

 

Ian


Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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That being said, as a rug-racer we almost always get my own super-simple powerbase out, because the advantages of all the other gizmos is cute, but a PITA to set it all up and/or teach to use. People might cry that the APB6 stays in its box, and the PB6-Pro gathers dust on the shelf...! If I kept a permanent track, maybe different, but...

 

Ian

 

You've 'hit the nail on the head' building your own and learning about how all this stuff works is what being a hobbyist is all about.

Sure if you just want to race, then grab all the ready made gear 'outa the box' with all the bells and whistles.


www.sydneyslotcars.com

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Just a brief update on progress...

 

I've been held up a bit creating a firmware updating method into the CPU. It requires a new external interface for the signals to connect with, and I intend to make it double up with Pit-PRO as well.

 

However there are a few electrical issues, along with the size of the bootloader code, which I am trying to find the best outcome for. There is also a real electrical risk in reloading the firmware, in that the PB4 electronic design is very poor, and if the CPU is not running 'properly' then the output drivers short out and can catch on fire. :o Yes I've popped a few in this exercise... letting the engineering smoke escape from the mosfets! It may be that I'll not allow user-upgrading of the firmware, just to mitigate that risk.

 

None the less, I'm continuing onwards and I do have an AUX-type port running for the PB4.

 

Ian


Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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So I got held up for a bit while I discovered there was some phantom power coming down the one-wire interface I was creating. This meant the CPU was running when I didn't know. Not a major problem, but it took a while to discover it.

 

So the one-wire interface is all set, and I'm successfully reprogramming from my new pseudo serial port. I've got a quite successfull way of preventing the crow-bar action on the output drivers, so the risk of a burn out I discussed before is all gone. The system is coming together well, and I'm now looking at getting the ghost-car functions running.

 

Ian


Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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Ian,

Sounds like great news on this project.

 

From what i have read, it sounds like you have already achieved what i need?

So, if i was to send you a 4car pb, would you be able to flash it with your magic wand, and make it ID cars 1-6?

That is all i require, no other functionality is needed, as it will be purely for ID'ing cars away from the race track.

If this is a service you can provide, please PM me with details.

 

Does the ID process happen as you press the button/s, or is there still the press and hold for 2secs before ID'ing commences?

Can the PB be run at a lower voltage when just used for ID'ng? Say 12v for example. (the 15v power supplys are fetching a premium since the APB6 was released).

 

Great work Ian,

Thanx for any info.


Hmm, everythings upside down??

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So, if i was to send you a 4car pb, would you be able to flash it with your magic wand, and make it ID cars 1-6?

That is all i require, no other functionality is needed, as it will be purely for ID'ing cars away from the race track.

If this is a service you can provide, please PM me with details.

My plan is to make it available for regional upgraders. However you can send your PB4 to me - just concerned about cost, since I'm half a world away from you...

 

Does the ID process happen as you press the button/s, or is there still the press and hold for 2secs before ID'ing commences?

No, its instant - but it requires a two-button operation for IDs 5 & 6

 

Can the PB be run at a lower voltage when just used for ID'ng? Say 12v for example. (the 15v power supplys are fetching a premium since the APB6 was released).

To be honest, I don't know. I believe it should be OK - I've just never tried it. Internally, the PB4 drops about 1.8v, so that for a 12v supply only about 10v would go to the track and therefore about 8.8v to the chip/motor. It should be enough.

 

My biggest challenge is working out how to mount the RJ11 socket body into the PB as its used for reprogramming using a PB-Pro cable - maybe a rather ugly dangling cable would be adequate...

 

Ian

  • Upvote 1

Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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Ahh right.

I have just been taking a look around your site Ian. Most impressive and very, very thorough.

Will you be publishing details of this mod on the site?

 

The flying lead and PIC programing kit used for your chip upgrade, is it the same type of method to upgrade the 4carpb, or are there some hardware components to add/remove also?


Hmm, everythings upside down??

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Ahh right.

I have just been taking a look around your site Ian. Most impressive and very, very thorough.

Will you be publishing details of this mod on the site?

 

The flying lead and PIC programing kit used for your chip upgrade, is it the same type of method to upgrade the 4carpb, or are there some hardware components to add/remove also?

 

The first-time load requires these PIC programmer tools. But after the code is replaced with PB4-Pro, and the board modified for the new interface, then program updates can be done from PC using a PB-Pro cable (older style PB6 - ie not the one for the new Advanced PB6).

 

Ian

  • Upvote 1

Linux: A '90s reincarnation of a '80s Operating System based on a '70s design philosophy

Website: www.electricimages.co.nz

InCar-PRO: Chip Main Page

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Hey Ian,

 

So with the right equipment and instructions from yourself, this is DIY for those that want to do it?

Will you be adding a section covering this to your site?


Hmm, everythings upside down??

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Hi Ian

 

just interested in whether you have made any progress on this project since your last post back in September. I have recently bought a digital set up with PB4, have currently got three straight lane changers and about 40ft of track. I haven't been able to get the garage cleared out enough to set up and get going yet but have been reading a lot of the posts on here and starting to get the feeling it may be a mission getting smooth racing without making some changes.

One of the things that is of interest in your project is achieving analogue as a choice with the PB4. I would be keen to have this feature and the pace car set up so wondering whether you have got things working at this point?

 

Thanks

Wayne


"Don't trust everything you read online" - W. Shakespeare

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