Tue, 19 Jan 2010
Digital Slot Cars
We have got a new slot cars set for Christmas. I had one when I was a child, and I quite liked to play with it, build and tune my own cars, etc. Several years later, we had an 8-track slot cars simulator in our SGI computer lab. Well, today's state-of-the-art slot cars systems are completely different beasts to what I used to know.
The system we have is SCX Digital 1:32. I have bought an F-1 set with one additional car (guess which one :-) and some track parts. The features and my experience so far include:
- The speed of the car is communicated in a digital way rather that by changing the voltage in the rails, so it is possible to have several cars in a single lane without interfering with each other, to overtake, etc.
- The car can change lanes using a separate button on a controller.
- It is possible to race with refuelling in a pit box, and the players can choose their own refuelling strategy: a near-empty car is a bit faster, the car uses less fuel when not driven at full throttle, etc.
- The cars are fast: the system has so called "junior mode" with a limited top speed, and a full speed mode, which is very hard to use without derailing frequently. Even in junior mode, I use the full throttle only in a finish line.
- The cars have adjustable magnets under their rear axles, so they withstand much higher speeds in curves than what I had been used to from my childhood.
- There is also a lap counter, but it counts the laps for the leading car only, so after derailing several times nobody knows whether he is two meters or two laps behind the leader. The full timer and lap counter can be bought separately, though.
- The cars have adjustable electronic brakes. I usually set it to 0% in junior mode, and to 50% in full speed mode.
There are only two drawbacks: firstly, it is probably the most expensive slot cars system available, and then the F-1 cars are very brittle. Especially the mirrors of Ferrari are prone to snapping off.
4 replies for this story:
And what was the exact price? Single H0 scale model railway engine with a digital control, lights and sound can easily cost more than 500 euro… (Well, H0 is 1:87 scale, this thing is insanely large, 1:32 is suitable for a garden railway, not an indoor model.)
Yenya wrote: Re: thingie
The price was slightly more than 500 euro. As for the model railway, the advantage of slot cars track is that it can be easily dismantled, so even though the circuit can be about 4 to 2-3 meters, it does not occupy the floor space permanently. That said, model railway is a different kind of hobby (I used to have a TT-scale set; the only drawback was that all engines were modelled after German railway ones, not ČSD ones I have been used to see in real life).
Honza Holcapek wrote: International competition of self-driving slot cars
Just in case you don't already know of this event: http://brnonow.com/2010/04/competition-of-self-driving-slot-cars/
Yenya wrote: Re: International competition of self-driving slot cars
I did not know about it, thanks for the info. However, I do not posess enough hw-fu to build such a car, and I generally prefer to control the car myself :-). It would nevertheless be interesting to have such cars with accelerometers and some kind of CPU + devel environment pre-built, and compete in writing firmware for these cars. Or maybe equip the cars with some kind of telemetry and control them using laptops.