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Yesterday, while traipsing miserably around my local supermarket, my glazed eyes lit up slightly when I spied a counter filled with 1/32 scale cars!

So I abandoned food shopping and discovered a choice of Mini, Nissan Skyline, Viper and Audi TT.
Not bad looking little models for £9.99.
Electrically powered by two AA batteries (3 volts).
But a closer check revealed that these cars were remote controlled by an infra-red transmitter.
No speed control, but forwards and reverse, left, and right steering, working lights and a working horn! They even had opening doors - but not powered windows!

Just £9.99, remember, all-in.
THEN I discovered that this price also includes a fully functional digital wrist-watch with all the car controls built in to it.
Simply incredible pricing.

Then the little brain started working overtime.
If all of that can be sold at less than ten quid, is infra-red control a practical alternative to the current slew of digital slot cars? Hell, the whole caboodle was selling for the price of a single decoder chip or the price of a single throttle!

Is there a reason why infra red isn't used?
Eliminate ALL track wiring other than a nice hefty 12 volts feed?
I know some infra red devices are incredibly directional but I also have a TV that will work no matter where I point the transmitter, so I see no problem there.
Any good answers to this?
Is it too good to be true and, if so, what is the snag?
 

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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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Hi Tropi

QUOTE (Tropi @ 5 Dec 2004, 16:24)<snip>
Any good answers to this?
Is it too good to be true and, if so, what is the snag?
IMHO the short answers are quantities and profit margin


The toy market can sell much higher quantities than the more serious hobby market.

Furthermore, the slot car manufacturers doesn't necessarily see a big profit margin as a bad thing


They've got big marketing budgets, because they want to sell the same product continuously, whereas the toy manufacturers typically sell large quantities to a few large retailers, that do their own advertising.

I'm currently working on a do-it-yourself digital control system for slot cars, and as far as I can see, it should be possible to build both car controller and command center, with superior performance, for less than half the price of the commercially available solutions.

Best regards
Søren
 

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Beppe Giannini
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I'm sure much more capable minds will reply, but range for one is an issue - remember Russell's thread about F1 Konamis ? I saw them at the Milan Hobby Expo, and you had to point the "controller" at them, with max. range around 3 m

Beppe
 

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Cheap decoder chips is the key. I'm pretty sure they are manufactured for pennies apiece.

I wonder how the carrera replacements will be priced? Their digital cars are only $5 more than standard analog cars.
 

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2 issues here - the radio controlled side and the price issue.

Price - scalextric can sell very nicely detailed cars (cheaper indy open wheel ones) at £15. I haven't seen the supermarket cars, but is the finish, acuracy, livery etc up to that standard? Are the wheels as round, basically is it as well made as slot cars that we are used to? I can't answer that.

Radio control - it is another possible means of mcpl racing, I seem to remember that there was a solution like this at last years toy fair. Most of the people who don't like mcpl/digital dislike qualities other than the techno aspect, so I cannot see it helping those people. It would be a technically viable solution, although it brings its own particular engineering problems (if there are 6 RC channels used, how do you make sure you are not changing lanes of your next door neighbours slot set?) and costs etc.
 

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Why not make your own digital set?

Route a couple of slots. Route a couple of change over bits between the lanes, and widen the slot to over twice the width of the normal slot, just before the entrance to the LC.

Put a pin guide into the bottom of the £9.99 cars.

You're ready to go!

Drive the cars round using only the throttle, when you get to a lane change section, steer in the direction that you want to go.

Simple.

McLaren
 

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Just to clarify a point, which I failed to make in the least clear, initially!

I wasn't suggesting free ranging remote or radio control, but simply to send control signals to 'normal' slot cars, still running in and powered by the standard slot and rails, using the infra-red purely for speed control (and flashing the stupid, useless lights and beeping the horn!).

I don't think range is really much of a problem, Beppe.
Maximum range would only need to be about 10 to 15 metres, at the very most, and half of us can't even differentiate between 1/32 scale cars that far away!
I feel sure the range could be achieved.

I don't think numbers of channels is a problem either.
I already have four domestic remote controls that do not interfere with each other and I believe that it is very easy to reprogram the 'Universal remote controllers' that are readily available as replacements for this purpose.

These cars are definitely not Scalextric standard but really not that bad either.
What was amazing me was the digital watch with all controls thrown in along with each car, at the price.

To an electronic moron like me, infra-red just seems so much simpler than mixing control and power on the same transmission 'lines' with all its problems.
I LOVE simple!


PS. Absolutely NOT knocking you electronic geniuses, not one bit of it. I love what you are doing too and am lurking and learning all the time. I'm just looking at alternatives for fun and possibly further elucidation.
 

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Sorry, that just isn't a problem with many infra-red setups.
I can point my remote literally anywhere and it works pefectly.
You wouldn't believe the places I have pointed my remote!
It bounces off walls, ceilings, absolutely anything
I can stick a book in front of it and it still works.
Next!
 

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QUOTE (Tropi @ 5 Dec 2004, 19:59)Sorry, that just isn't a problem with many infra-red setups.
I can pont my remote literally anywhere and it works pefectly.
It bounces off walls, ceilings, absolutely anything
I can stick a book in front of it and it still works.
Next!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Ummm, how about: IR Is Like, So 1990's
 

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QUOTE is infra-red control a practical alternative to the current slew of digital slot cars?

Many moons ago there was an IR car racing circuit featured in Elektor magazine so this kind of thing can and has been done. One problem though - you need some form of feedback from the car to work the lap timers/counters.
 

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Jim Moyes
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I bought one of these last week and bored everyone down at the club on Thursday night with pretty much the exact same argument as you, Tropi. I got the Skyline-not a fantastic model, the Mini looks very good though, but thats not the point- and as Tropi states you get a Radio Control 1/32 Diecast car with opening doors, working lights, horn, alarm (though I haven't sussed that out yet), a working digital wrist/stopwatch incorporating the car controls already fitted with batteries, two spare batteries for the watch, a "static" chassis, interior, dashboard & another set of round wheels & tyres that you can fit with the supplied screwdriver.

And, to be precise, mine was £8.99!

Sorry chaps, but I haven't seen a reasonable argument yet to explain the fact that an average slot car costs 3 times this apart from the fact that "they" can get away with it!

Mr.M
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
LOL!

This is a kind of multiple points topic.
But I chose to pop it in the digital board because the now long-established, simple and cheap infra-red control system seems like a viable alternative to squirting ungodly PWM info down the same pipeline as the power supply.
 
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