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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Race Fans.


I made an experimental timing system over the summer for £0.00 p !!!

I had an old Motorola DEXT "ANDROID" cell-phone kickin' around...
...with the "ANDROID" App. called 'LapStar Talking Stopwatch' on it ( FREE !!! )...

...& a FINGER !

Press the screen with a spare finger as your car crosses the line !

Talking lap-times, no need to take your eyes off the track !

Simple !

One cell-phone per driver I'm afraid, but HEY, most peeps have 'em now !

Not a totaly ideal 'race system'; but HEY, "wha' you wan' for an hours soldering & NO CASH !"

Could be perfect for 'Timed Rally Stages', car set-up, & general driving where a 'Talking & Logging Timer' is needed. CHEAP !

How to make it better ??? Mmm..........

I know 'Electro-mechanical' !!!
-----------------------------------

Crude 'old-school' stuff, but it works; & any idiot with a soldering-iron & a battery or two can make it.

Here's what I did.

The trigger mechanism was a very small ( V3 type I think they're called ) microswitch from RS Components...
...a small solenoid from wherever I hoarded that from...
...& a 9 volt battery with clip ( don't use the one from your smoke-alarm; you might not live to regret it ! )...
...NO dangerous voltages involved either; could be good for 'Blue Peter' ! ( anyone got an empty cereal box ? ).

Hardly needs any further explanation realy, does it ?

The microswitch was connected to a thin flexy plastic paddle covered in teflon ( slippy & doesn't damage your cars ).
Battery wired up as well in series to your small solenoid.
The solenoid is held with a 'watchamacallit', over the cell-phone App. 'Lap Button'.

TALKING LAP-TIMES ! for next to nothing.

Speaker-phone, headphones or 500 Watt PA system riggable !!!.

Very easy for a total electronics novice to make in a few hours.

Check this Android timing App. out peoples; with FINGER or SOLENOID, it's way cool & FREE !!!

The micro-switch paddle could easily be replaced with a conventional 'light-bridge' or 'dead-strip', for better 'nose across the line' triggering.
Other forms of lane trigger could be used as well.

Cheers

Si.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Hi again petrol-heads.

I should have added...

...most "ANDROID" devices have a 'capacitive touch-screen'.

You can now get thermal-gloves to operate them in cold weather !

These gloves have foil-fingers ( your hand normaly works fine, but not with wooley mits ! )

The solenoid actuator in this case, should be covered in something SOFT anyhow...

...soft conductive plastic can be found in microphone cable, static protection materials; or alternatly aluminium-foil over foam is good.
A wire should be taken from the solenoid actuator to the "ANDROID" device casing ( resting it on aluminium foil works fine, with the solenoid actuator connected to this ).

My lash-up was indeed made from a 'Blue Peter' cereal box ( thankfully, none of Val's tights were needed ! ).

Any comments questions or the name of a good analyist are always welcome !

Cheers

Si.

P.S. Door-lock solenoids are NOT recomended; my cell-phone has 'Gorilla Glass' so I'm told by the salesman, so it's probably OK for the monkeys that drive at MRW Motor Speedway !
 

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Simon Platten
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Hi Si,

I did quite a bit of work creating an Android interface, this interfaced to a PC over wireless. The Android handset was just a slave to display the data acquired by the PC lap-timing system. I've parked the project for now, until I get the hardware sorted out. Once thats good, then the PC can talk to the hardware and serve the data to the remote devices, iPad, iPhone, iPod or Android device....at least thats the plan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi PCSlot

Thanks for the 'Blue Peter Badge', I always wanted one of those !

I was wondering what to do with the backlog of old cell-phones that seem to build-up quite rapidly these days !!!
My pre ANDROID LG-Viewty 990, got turned into a slightly dodgey 'camera-car' for the circuit.
The Motorola DEXT with the 'LapStar Talking Stopwatch' App. was my first ANDROID device.

There seems to be a need out there for simple single-lane 'Rally Stage Timing' so I thought I'd bung the idea up on the forum, as I hadn't seen it elsewhere.

I figure that anyone who can solder-in a slotcar motor & tinker with it's mechanics can make this pretty easy.

I am thinking to start making a single-lane track in the spring ( either hill-climb style or an urban vibe, dunno yet ).
I will be needing a timing system, so a bit of a repackaging of this experiment could be just the job.

The 'LapStar Talking Stopwatch' App. speaks the lap-times in a variable resolution also.
It times to 1000th of a second, but I prefer the voice to speak the lap-time to a tenth ( it's good enough, and much less distracting to listen to when driving the circuit ).

The basic accuracy is really down to how well you get your solenoid set-up with the ANDROID touch-screen.
As said, a simple 'paddle-microswitch' works OK.
I might use a light-bridge for my 1-lane track, or a slot mounted micro-switch.
A dead-strip would probably work fine also, and could even be directly connected to the ANDROID trigger-solenoid, as back-EMF etc. isn't gonna bother the system in the slightest I would imagine.

The software has various data storage options, and if I recall correctly speaks in different languages, voice-speeds & accents !
( I think I set mine to a chilled-out West-Coast US babe ! )

I am just looking at the moment to make an improved 'non Blue Peter' cell-phone & solenoid holder ( easy peasey, bit of MDF or aluminium or styrene sheet, whatever ).
Also maybe a simple light-bridge which will need a small relay to operate the solenoid.
Dead strips as said, should be OK without a relay.

The solenoid I used, I think came from a busted printer ( which have lots of other cool parts in, well worth taking apart ! ).
An alternative might be the type of solenoids people use for DIY track-flippers or train-sets.
Also RS & Farnell, I think supply small-size solenoids as well.

There's no reason why a 2-lane version wouldn't work ( you would need 2 ANDROID devices though ).
The devices would start more-or-less in sync.
A further sophistication, would be to add a 'track power' circuit to your relay; which would mean a race would start in total sync.

A simple analog or digital countdown timer could be added for 'race-starts' & could incorporate a basic 'start-light' system.

Cheers

Si.

The talking bit's GREAT while driving, as whenever I rubber-neck the timing screen, I'm straight off on a trip to the Armco !!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
" I did quite a bit of work creating an Android interface, this interfaced to a PC over wireless. The Android handset was just a slave to display the data acquired by the PC lap-timing system. I've parked the project for now, until I get the hardware sorted out. Once thats good, then the PC can talk to the hardware and serve the data to the remote devices, iPad, iPhone, iPod or Android device....at least thats the plan. "

Hi Sy

Having looked around the timing forum a bit.
There seems to be no ANDROID software that I've seen, designed for DIRECT timing input.

I like your idea of remote ANDROID timing screens.

My background is in various hardware type electronics; so software is a mystery to me !

Why not bypass the need for a PC altogether, & connect your hardware straight to an ANDROID device.
With no expensive keyboard, hinges, casing & no doubt VERY expensive Windows OS license; these ANDROID tablets are VERY cheap.

It seems to me if you could electronicaly log data 'straight-into' an ANDROID device with an I/O board; you would have a system that no one else seems to have tried yet.

I'm probably replying in the wrong thread; I had a look at your ANDROID thread, but I'm no software guy.

Cheers

Si.
 

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Hi Si,
I think its a very good idea doing that, its really cheap and should not be too difficult for anyone to do if they have these phones gathering dust in the cupboard

Its great fun when you get "something for nothing" by using up stuff that is just lying around and putting it to good use again.
Cheers!
Rich
 

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Simon Platten
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Hi Si, when I learn a bit more about the Arduino and it's capabilities I might have ago at writing an implementation of MQTT for it...this is a messaging system, which clients subscribe to, then when new data is available, all subscribers get the update. So imagine all the android devices are subscribers and the lap timer is the publisher...could work quite well...would need to buy the wireless add on for Arduino, which isn't expensive either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
" Its great fun when you get "something for nothing" by using up stuff that is just lying around and putting it to good use again. "

Cheers! Rich

Hi Rich

I guess you must be a 'Wombles' fan as well then !!!

I think it used to be 'on the box' straight after Blue Peter, as I recall !

That Tobomory was a clever old-stick !
Used to cook-up all sorts of tech stuff in his underground burrow 'Womble workshop' !

I seem to remember him doing all sorts of stuff with busted bicycles & the like.
I guess a 2012 Womble engineer would be doing tech-stuff with the likes of the throw-away cell-phones & computers of today.

Just need a 'Womble bag' & a quick 'skip-dive' outside a high-tech office !

Cheers

Si.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi again clock-watchers !

Just to state the OBVIOUS ( it always helps me though ! ).

I was talking about OLD cell-phones...
...but since there's no special mods. wireing or changes needed on the cell ( or ANDROID tablet etc. )...
...There's NO need to use an OLD one at all.
You can use your current cell or ANDROID device without any problem.

Also...

The 'Talking Lap Timer' could easily be added to an existing PC based or other existing timing system.
A relay may be needed to run the 2 systems together ( esp. on unprotected parallel ports ).
But the existing timing system would continue to function.

But with the added bonus of 'Talking Lap Times' as well as PC or 'whathaveyou', logged data.
The ANDROID software App. logs data as well of course & has memory storage as well.

Cheers

Si.
 
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