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Alternative software available for PC unit.

195979 Views 1211 Replies 106 Participants Last post by  VCR
I wasn't very happy with the X-Lap software that came with the PC unit. So I've written my own RMS software (Windows) for Carrera digital, using the protocol information so generously provided by SFI member brumbaer at his website.

My software includes some things I thought were lacking in X-Lap:

You can automagically rotate cars or drivers in a session. If you have 10 drivers and 5 controllers (as we did here the night of the first test), the software will rotate through the ten drivers, giving each a chance to race all 5 cars associated with the 5 controllers. Likewise, if 2 drivers want to each drive 3 cars in a session (as my wife and I just did this afternoon), the software will track the results.

There is support for sounds. Lap, best lap, and leader lap. Two laps to go and or final lap (lap counted race), 30 seconds to go (in a timed race). Announcement of leader (or not). Announcement of checkered flag in lap counted race (or not).

There is a practice mode as well as a race mode. Just click the practice button and drive. For race modes, the heats must be started from the Black Box after the software has been setup with driver and/or car information.

The race screen always fills the desktop. It reports laps, best lap, last lap, position and time-to-leader (or laps behind leader).

You can count/not count ghost and pace cars. You can require them to finish the race, or not. When you're rotating cars, you have the option to rotate the ghost and pace cars, or leave them the same for the entire session.

The software has been used on exactly two machines at this point- both mine. If anyone is interested in trying it out, send me a PM and I'll put together an install package (with some instructions- currently ther is no in-program help) and make it available. It is and will remain free....
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Fantastic that a windows alternative to X-Lap has been written.

I will happily give it a try. Have sent a PM.

Also for anyone that wants to run the software and has not bought X-Lap and the PC-Unit, PM me and I will send you info and prices on my Carrera to USB lead.

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QUOTE (poolschool @ 1 Mar 2009, 10:45) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>On that note, most computers running WIN 98 have a DB9 serial port on them, as the data from the lap counter is serial, do you need to go through a serial to USB converter, as the FTDI based one, or just go straight from the lap counter to the DB9 serial port?

You either need to use a Serial to USB converter like the FTDI chip that my cables are based on, or you can go to the Serial port. This will need to be through a level convrter such as the Max232 range of chips. It will not work when directly connected, the Lap Counter has 5V level signals and the PC requires RS232 levels.

Hi Bruce

Interesting stuff and not something I had considered.

To what degree is loss of communication & dropped comm a problem with the CU? Is this just an issue with the new CU or also the old lap counter?

Having a quick read about USB Transfer Size & Latancy it seems that the way things work is that with the standard setup the chip waits for the buffer to be full (4096 Bytes) or when the Latency Timer times out (16mS from the last transfer) So if we are typically seeing less that 4096 Bytes, then it will probably be the the Latency Timer will be determining when transfers are made?

So with your settings of 64 Bytes & 48mS it is likely that it is now the Transfer size that is now running the show? Was there a reason why you turned the Latency up?

Probably worth doing a bit of maths on the typical packet sizes to see what is going on? I will also have a think about this is the context of Scalextric & Ninco, although I have not heard of any comms issues there may be a gain to be had, particularily with the new Scalextric Powerbase, C7042, which like Carrera is very comms intensive with the PC constantly polling the Powerbase with small packets.

FTDI document AN 107 worth a read, in particular 6.2 & 6.3.
Also see AN232B-04

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I suspect this is one of those tricky times where all the theory is not as good as the practical solution.
I guess also to some degree the tuning of the parameters is compensating for a flaw in the CU firmware, as in all honesty it should not matter within reason what these variables are set to, and the unit should definitely not hang?

Do we know if the CU has the same problems with the Carrera PC Unit or just with the FTDI cable?

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CP210x should be fine, it has VCP divers available and it's functionality looks very similar to the FTDI FT232, although personally I would have stuck with the tried & tested FTDI device. Assume you have a complete assembly / cable as opposed to a chip? You will of course need to fit a Mini Din to plug up to the CU.

Bruce's software is a PC program like SSDC, not a firmware upgrade.

Hopefully Bruce will be back, we have all had the occasional attack from a disgruntled customer.

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