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Simon Platten
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

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I have seen them and thought the same as you.....wish I had your talent.
On a site called "Instructables" there was a little talk about making an Arduino into a lap counter.

I hope you do something with this. I think it would solve an accuracy problem and make a good option for analog track users that have a computer with USB only hook-ups.

That price seems very good too!
 

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Slot Car Racer and Builder
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HI Ihave been playing with a ARDUINO Nano since christmas my son brought me one to play with never done anything like it before but plenty of info on net and have so far built a Drag Strip start lights and crude timing very pleased well worth a look
Alan
 

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Simon Platten
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies, excellent link Dangermouse!

I think I might just get one to play with. If there are any electronics wizards out there, plz get in contact. I have an idea which I've been discussing with PCSlot, need help with the hardware. The goal is to develop a low cost timing system which could be used with analog and digital systems.
 

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Hi Sy,
That looks a great little board
and with 14 I/O lines it can be made to do a lot of nice things me thinks!
However, it might not help with the problems of detecting digital cars, I have been playing with the Velleman board I/O inputs and as yet cannot think of a way to decode the car ID.

I had a chat with a fellow electronics chap and he is giving it some thought for us too

He seems to think like me that a barcode label on the car undersides is not a good idea as it would most certainly require a laser to be reliable enough.

I am looking into finding out how to read back the car ID but this may defeat the object of a cheap system and may not be able to detect a car with no ID in the same race?? , will let you know on that one.

I keep going back to my first idea of a clip on slotted plastic thing that clips on the car and can be read with opto sensors with a light bridge, like I said it seems to work and is cheap (I love that word cheap!!)

Cheers!
Rich
 

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Simon Platten
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Richard,

The lasers I'm thinking of using are straight out of a DVD ROM, the laser diode is very cheap, and speed shouldn't be an issue as they manage to read a DVD at very much higher data rates than we are intending.

Will explore some more
 

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Simon Platten
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok, now the idea is kind of out...the plan is to create a system that would enable a simple barcode sticker to be used on the chasis of the car, then as the car passes over the laser diode assembly it would scan the car.

This system would work for both analogue and digital systems without modification. Laser diode's are cheap, so providing I can figure out how to turn one of these into a barcode reader it should be a good system.

Each lane will require its own laser diode, I want to get the target build cost to under 50 GBP for the complete system including the CPU board, this would allow for two laser diode assembles, but the system will be scalable to any number of lanes.

Anyone interested in this project please contact either myself or PCSlot.
 

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DT
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What about RFID instead of barcode? You could probably get away with one reader. RFID tags are available as slat stick on (this for example) so you could still stick them to the bottom of a car.

The shop you mention before: Cool Components, has RFID readers to link up to the Arduino.
 

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I don't think barcode scanners would work, but the same / similar system that is used with mini-z cars might be an option. It involves a small pcb that you can laminate and put inside the chassis of the car. I've used two sizes, and although there's not a lot in it, we'd be best using the smaller of the two if you can get hold of them. The mini-z club I go to does them for about £4 each, so they're not the most thing on the market, alternatively, there's amb systems that are used in radio control and bigger sports, but the average hardware (aka personal transponder) starts at about £45, and can sometimes get inteference from power sources like motors, so the location of it would be important.
 

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Simon Platten
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I will certainly explore other options, such as the RFID. Thanks for the replies.
 

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Simon Platten
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I think the problem with the RFID idea is the range of the detection, with the barcode reading, the barcode is read when the barcode is directly over the scanner. With RFID the car could be detected before it crosses the race line.

I'm going to investigate making my own scanner using an infared transmitted/receiver from maplins.
 

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Simon Platten
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I ordered the Arduino Uno 3 yesterday, total cost inc. VAT and deliver £25, arrived today, its very small, plugged it into the system, ran up the free IDE. Loaded one of the Samples 'Blink' which causes an LED to flash on and off...uploaded it and what can I say, its simlicity itself, much simpler than a PIC. Will start playing right away, here is the sample code just so you can see....BTW, a C compiler for a PIC is serious money.

CODE/*
Blink
Turns on an LED on for one second, then off for one second, repeatedly.

This example code is in the public domain.
*/

void setup() {
// initialize the digital pin as an output.
// Pin 13 has an LED connected on most Arduino boards:
pinMode(13, OUTPUT);
}

void loop() {
digitalWrite(13, HIGH); // set the LED on
delay(1000); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(13, LOW); // set the LED off
delay(1000); // wait for a second
}
 

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Simon Platten
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm really impressed with this little board, day 2 and I have connected to my PC and Mac book pro and programmed the device from both. I had a play with the USB interface tonight, the pc and mac see the device as a serial port. I ran up a terminal on the pc. Set the Arduino UNO 3 to 57600 and got it to read the USB device as a serial port. When I type different keys on the pc I got the board to light different LEDs. Very simple and worked very well.

Off to buy more components tomorrow so I can play some more. Eventually I will develop a protocol for communicating with the board and publish it so other software packages can interface to it.
 

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Hi Sy,

Looks like your project is fairly similar to my mbed project. If you're interested in using the same protocol as me I'm happy to share it. I haven't posted mine yet as it's been a bit flexible while I establish what features I can and want to offer.

Also if I can offer any other tips from almost a year of tinkering with a similar embedded system, let me know!
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you, would be good to develop a joint protocol, I'll post when I get near the time.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hi Graham, to be honest, if you look at the Arduino site there is so many examples and tutorials already written, it isn't difficult at all...
 
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