Individual lane control

Squeezing out those last few tenths

Individual lane control

Postby wixwacing » Fri 18 Jul, 2008 11:53 pm

One of the most frequent disincentives to social slot car racing is the disparity (unequalness) of seemingly equal models once raced against each other. Many time I have observed in racing that unless you race identical models it is hard to get parity even in similar classes ie. Scalextric Classic Le Mans for one. The GT40 and the Ferrari 330 just aren't the same car when it comes to racing, also, if you decide to introduce other makes, say, Fly or Ninco, then it is even harder to do what you want to do and that is race two dissimilar models against each other competitively! Disparity can also be caused by track lane lengths or the notorious outer lane syndrome where on four and six lane tracks, the outer lanes seem to be the hardest to race! Ever noticed? These things also apply to board tracks but are not as severe because traction magnets are taken out of play. On a board track of say, 25 metres, the disparity can be measured in tenths of seconds were as on a plastic track it can be measured in seconds!!

What to do, well, I think the Red Team have come closer to creating parity between dissimilar models simply because we want racing to be a test of driver ability and not model type or set up. We have embarked on stage one of the solution by introducing ceramic resistors into the power circuit via two six way rotary switches on each lane. The solution is basically a Coarse/fine adjustment. The six way coarse control introduces resistances at about 9 ohm steps in resistance into the power supply to the track and the second rotary switch fine control introduces a 'fine' adjustment to fit between the coarse adjustment for fine tuning. This switch has six low value ceramic resistors of less than a couple of ohms steps which can fine tune the range between each coarse adjustment.

The scenario is this, two favourite models, greatly mismatched, can be placed on the track and run quickly for a few laps against a lap timer to determine their potential fastest laps. The slower car then uses max power and the faster car is regulated to similar lap times. Racing can then take place with parity and the best driver will be the outcome. In theory you can then race a Scalextric Formula one against a Carrera F1 and after a slight adjustment to the Scaley lane, have a ding dong between two otherwise mismatched models. Likewise, LMP's can be matched. Classic Le Mans and a whole host of classes can be equalised to reduce the race to driver ability! In club racing, a 'dial in' feature can be used to set models to a standard handicap for the class!

Another useful feature and the original reason we experimented was to slow down some of the more flighty unstable models ie Revell Classic Muscle cars, Carrera Classics, Scalextric classics etc. We didn't want to bastardise the models by filling them with lead and changing wheels and tyres, so the simplest solution was to knock back the destructive forces ie volts, to a sensible but still fast level.

We first came up with the idea because we had been purchasing the latest offerings from Scalextric and were finding models would easily self-destruct if not 'tamed' in some way. Some models handle full speed well but others like the Classic GP's and Classic Rally etc in our view do NOT need to be run flat out and busted!


We have run it a couple of times now and are finding we can drag out some of the older models we had abandoned race-wise because of their differences. It also allows scratch built models to be matched with other RTR's in their class.

It would be easier to use a regulated adjustable power supply I hear you say. True, but firstly, they come at a good price whereas the switches and resistors are available for pennies, literally. Secondly, power supplies usually control total output and therefore you can't alter it lane by lane! unless you have one supply per lane (big bucks). Also, even with the digital readout models the power is adjusted by a rotary knob or slider with no detent (position click stops). With our system, the fact that you have a six position detent on each control and assuming you have made the unit correctly, you have a visual position indication (numbers or marks etc), then you can simply click to the preset of your choice in a trice! It will be the same every time! You can even record the handicap settings on a sticker on the bottom of the model for instant future reference!!


Lastly and as important is the fact that you can dial down the power on one lane for 'Junior' to race on (even though he holds the controller flat all the time!) It'll save a lot of walking on Dad's behalf! And perhaps 'Junior' might well persevere?


There will be some who poohoo the idea and likewise there will be some who have no one to race because the urge to win at any cost has driven others away. This regulator is designed to encourage parity of models and encourage variety on the track and reduce the need for a whole costly racing stable. It puts the emphasis on driver ability and in doing so will give more less technical people a reason to come back for more!
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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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