Connecting your track to your computer?

How DO they do that??

Connecting your track to your computer?

Postby wixwacing » Fri 01 Apr, 2011 3:21 pm

More and more people find the need to connect their computers to their tracks. While a lot of people run makers race management systems or even simple lap counters, more and more hobbyist want a bit more from their systems. So what do you need. First up you need a computer and on that computer the race program of your choice. It gets harder when you want to connect the computer to the track. The simplest method is to have some light or infra red sensors let into the track and a light source overhead. This is then connected to the port recommended by the program maker and functions as a basic lap counter.

One step further is to have start lights. Again a fairly easy process and something the average person can do. But if you are an avid racer, or even part of the club racing circuit, you might want to expand the system to track relays. These will control track power to each lane and are part of the starting and finishing sequences. But this can be a little harder. Because of the voltages involved, track power needs to be controlled by relays, and relays need low voltage control.

The system which we have been using in Brisbane for quite a while now is track lane power relays controlled by an 18 pin Darlington transistor switching package. The chip is controlled by the computer program and the chip in turn controls the relays. The chip is also used to run a set of countdown start lights. Simple enough for those even with the basic of electronic knowledge, and all parts are available from Jaycar. The timing sensors still go direct to the computer but are routed through the same plug.

Note this board has four relay bypass switches (at the top), on some programs you will not get track power if the computer is not booted up. This allows a quick lane power option if you just want to spend a little while testing.


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Now, I wonder who this one is for? Mmmmmmmm?
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Re: Connecting your track to your computer?

Postby bov » Wed 14 Mar, 2012 5:47 pm

Hello Phil,

I'm trying to do this very thing.....

I have a 'plug n play' sensor harness connected through the 25 pin printer port to my old PC for lap timing, which works great with a variety of RMS programmes - but it's time to 'up the ante' and incorporate power control into the system....

I think I need to attach a relay (or a 'relay activator') to this same printer plug, and then insert the power relay between the power supply and the controller stations?

Would it be possible to have a list of components and a wiring diagram? But a bit simpler, it's only for a 2 lane track..... :grin:

As you can guess, I'm not terribly electrically savvy.....
Cheers, Tony.
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Re: Connecting your track to your computer?

Postby wixwacing » Sun 18 Mar, 2012 3:41 pm

Hi Tony

I don't have any circuit diagrams as such except for the relay board in question. I can give you that and you will need to adapt the bits to your needs. Basically, the relays are 12 v and a computer is usually about 5 v so an electronic relay is needed in the form of darlinton pair transistors. These are like a miniature really which can use 5v to switch 12v. Stay tuned.
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When I'm not racing slotcars,
I'm out in the back yard, burning food!!

When I win, it's because of my talent, not my car or my controller!
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Re: Connecting your track to your computer?

Postby bov » Sun 18 Mar, 2012 9:12 pm

Hello Phil,

Thanks for your help!

Cheers, Tony.
Cheers, Tony.
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Re: Connecting your track to your computer?

Postby RLackhan » Thu 22 Mar, 2012 1:24 am

I race on a Carrera 132 digital wireless system. We do not particularly like their lap counter and would like to put in a home made pc lap counter system. Is there information that i can get my hands on to attempt it on my own? How do I get the program for my computer?

Appreciate your help on this.
Thks
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Re: Connecting your track to your computer?

Postby wixwacing » Wed 11 Apr, 2012 11:25 pm

Hi RLackhan

Apologies in the delay for the reply but here goes.

You firstly need to obtain a copy of the race management program you would like to use. there are several on the market, These range from shareware programs to full on money up front programs which can be a nightmare for the beginner. So, choose the program, and once you have that, it will tell you what hardware to use.

I have used VRS 2001 for a long time now as it only needs a computer running XP and a couple of IR sensors to get it up and running, check out this link:

Virtual Race Systems
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When I'm not racing slotcars,
I'm out in the back yard, burning food!!

When I win, it's because of my talent, not my car or my controller!
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Re: Connecting your track to your computer?

Postby slotwheels32 » Fri 06 Mar, 2015 11:43 pm

hi, will introduce myself in proper place but a dilemma still destroying me, I have a module alike that one, works fine, but the very old pc and software are a nightmare, even more can't look at the screen with all the ancient pixel fonts, after a long search this forum saved my day, maybe. So module card can work with other software? please and tthanks
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Re: Connecting your track to your computer?

Postby wixwacing » Sun 08 Mar, 2015 11:14 pm

Hi Hotwheels, sounds like you have problems!

The interface illustrated is for the VRS race management system but the basic components are similar in most race manager programs, just the parallel port pin allocations change from program to program.

From what you are saying it sounds like you need to update your computer first. A PC or laptop computer five or six years old should be OK (it should have a 25 pin com port, usually standard)and Windows XP operating system works fine for most programs on the market. Once you have done this you can then decide on the race management program you want to run, from there you need to obtain a hardware list for that program (i.e. relays, switches, lights, any i.c. components).

I have found VRS perfect for beginners and experienced race groups alike. It is a very useful 'point and click' program which anyone can use without any special skills. Plus its minimum set up is just I.R. sensors, the rest can come later!!

Keep me in touch with how you get on.

Wixwacing
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When I'm not racing slotcars,
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When I win, it's because of my talent, not my car or my controller!
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Re: Connecting your track to your computer?

Postby slotwheels32 » Mon 09 Mar, 2015 7:10 pm

I will post some detailed pictures soon. but still no idea of the wiring, imagine a box full of wires, dont know where to start explain. Sure about the club used a dead strip and did not found them, so no sensors and were they were attached to, thanks for the reply. Ramon, Slot wheels 32
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Re: Connecting your track to your computer?

Postby wixwacing » Mon 09 Mar, 2015 10:21 pm

Hi Ramon
Lets start at the beginning

What race program are you using, or you intend to use?

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When I win, it's because of my talent, not my car or my controller!
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