Wireless Digital Control
Review by Doug T.
Preamble / disclaimer
It is difficult to review such control systems that work in so many different ways on many track systems with multiple variables that could affect the running and performance.
I am using my BLST track - a wooden routed track that has automatic lane changing. The track is located in a double garage.
Why BLST? I figured that we are bound by the slot - we don't steer our cars, we just control the throttle. Why then should we have a button to change lanes - not natural and with BLST, not essential. The BLST takes the lane changing out of your hands very well. You can still control when you would like to change lanes by coming up closer or hanging back from the car in front. It's a knack that you get used to and you're still just controlling the throttle.
I am not testing these systems on plastic tracks or in a club environment. I am basing some opinion on my experience with other track systems. I don't have a pit lane on my track now, but if the pit lane race management features develop, I may add on in the future.
We may add information to these reviews from other contributors and when further information is available. Comments are welcome on the associated topic. If anyone has anything to add to the reviews, please contact me on the forum.
What is Wireless control and how does it differ from conventional slot car control systems?
In a conventional analog system you send power though the controller to the track and you control the speed of the car by varying the voltage sent to the track by the controller. When there is no current the car doesn't go, full power and the car shoots off.
A conventional digital slot system has a constant track voltage, usually about 12 to 14 volts, but the wired controllers linked to a base station send the control signals to each car is down the rails along with the track power. The control signals are added on top of the power signal by the system. The more cars you have, the higher the current draw. In a noisy environment (rails & braids etc.) it is tricky to send control signals down the track too. Often this is the cause of much frustration, interference, signal loss and erratic behaviour with the cars.
With wireless systems, the track voltage is also constant, The cars receive signals from the controllers wirelessly over the air telling them to use various amounts of the track power to go at various speeds depending on what the driver wants. Also, lane change commands and other signals such as those to switch on lights can also be sent to the car.
The wireless digital systems allow all the power from the track to go to the cars and the control signals are sent to each car over the air by radio waves in a clean environment.
Control signals are sent from the controller to the car over the 2.4 GHz wireless band. These signals include throttle/brake information and lane change information. in some cases, the car sends information on position back to the throttle or dongle and the controlling PC. Information on the PC can be sent to the car and controller. This inter-connected network is known as a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN).
When a wireless control system is used on an Analog track (with separate lanes), the track voltage is set to the maximum (using a special plug inserted into the wired controller port - see details here ) and the cars equipped with wireless decoders are controlled by wireless throttles. The existing lap counters and Race Management Systems can be used. No PC is required.
When a wireless control system is used on a Digital track (with lane changers), a system to detect the cars passing over lane changers, Start/Finish lines and pit lane entry/exit points has to be used. Generally a computer based RMS is used to control these functions and to manage races.
Systems Tested: Scorpius Wireless Digital and Slot.it oXigen Wireless Digital
We heard rumours of the Scorpius wireless system at the beginning of 2008 and development started in March 2008. Slot.it announced the oXigen wireless system in September 2008 at the Slotlandia Milan Model Hobby Expo and showed some early ideas.
So with over 3 years of development done by the two companies, one in Australia and one in Italy, both systems were sent in for review at the beginning of June 2011. They arrived at my place within 4 days of each other! I have now reviewed both systems and inevitably I have made comparisons as they are both on my track at the same time. Use the links below to see the reviews and the comparison.
|Lo-Fi Version||Time is now: 26th May 2013 - 08:59|