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Alternative to Current Digital Approach?

3302 Views 42 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  darainbow
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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This is actually an interesting thread! And it may well be touching on some of tomorrow's digital control concepts.

Tropi actually has a very valid point about IR. It is a technology that has made huge advances over the years. IR detectors no longer need direct line of sight in order to function - IR, like all light, reflects from surfaces and modern detectors can pick up the much-weakened bounced signals. Yes, some "path" from transmitter to receiver must exist, and it can't be too convoluted but good equipment no longer requires accurate aiming by the user.

Beyond IR though, is a vast range of other wireless technologies. Take a look at a modern cellular phone for example. Take one apart and look at the circuitry. 90% of the unit's bulk is there just to house the battery, provide us with a viewable screen, and give us buttons almost large enough that we can actually see them! Yet they contain a transmitter, receiver, microprocessor, display and other interface circuits, and more memory than the first PCs! Wireless mice, keyboards, LANs, etc. are some of the areas where the very sort of technology that may suit us is being advanced in earnest today (and they are already very old news!).

DCC, and related technologies, are quite antiquated. I really doubt that they will survive much longer IF digital control really takes off in the marketplace. Our application is, in reality, so simple that it could be done with a single chip and one or two tiny external components.

As for whether the future, in slots, is wireless, or via the power rails, I'm not going to speculate on that. But I doubt that it will look anything like it does now in five years - if it is still around.
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Transmission and reception rates for IR CAN be fast though! Very fast! I suspect the SCX equipment was using cheap and slow components or transmission rates. IR travels at the speed of light. How much faster can it get than that?
Speed of gravity, JP? If you fall out of an airplane (God forbid!), you will fall at what? About 120 MPH? Speed of light? 186,000 MPS! The only thing faster than light is the speed of female gossip!

Wait a minute!
I may have discovered the key to the future of digital!

I'm kidding, ladies.....
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So, JP... what you're saying is.... my wife taps into gravity when she talks with other women?
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And... in an attempt to stay on topic....
Light can carry information. I don't believe gravity can? Except for that nasty splat when a solid object like ground is encountered?
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