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Arduino Based MAGRacing

54020 Views 343 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  Merc_A
A new place to share out thoughts on an Arduino based system.

Here is an image of the basic components so we can get an idea of the feasibility. I currently only have 315MHz Tx and Rx, but the 2.4GHz tranceivers are in the post.

more info on my site at

Helium Frog Arduino Slotless
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That would be great Martin. Thanks. I will get it out to you this week. I think I have 123D. Will give it a try as well.

Thanks again. Joel
Looking forward to seeing your PCB chassis 1 32 Slotter,

I came across a twin pack of cheap RC cars for $29.99 at Kmart (USA or Au). The Controllers look like they could make good cheap Mag controllers.
$1500.00. But what an amazing machine. Very tempting.
I was just drooling over it also and can´t wait for it to come into production. Hope they can sort out the reflow.
That PCB printer looks amazing. I am a little cautious however as I know the Reprap community has been trying to do this for about 5 years now. This includes many University research departments. For a company to announce that they have solved all the problems and are going to sell the machines seems a big step all at once. I hope it does work though as they will make millions from this and solve one major bottleneck for small companies.

Other news from Helium Frog!
I have continued my work on a track made from 0.1mm shim steel cut into 5mm width sections.

The car drives around the track and I can even get the back end hanging out a little before the car comes adrift. The pit / lane change plates still need more work and any gaps in the track at corners can cause "Offs". I do however think that this is a much better method of laying track than routing or card filling. It can be cut easily with scissors.I probably spent about £4 worth of shim doing the above track and I think with a bit of paint you wouldn't see the shim at all. 0.05mm thick shim would be even easier to hide.

I am still not happy with the total magnetic force on the cars (I am used to slot cars I suppose!) but I think with a bit of work I think this method may be a winner as it already is on a par with the 0.8mm wire. I tried some proper tyres on the car and this seemed to work as well.

I am going to do a few force experiments on the magnets and see what values they are capable of with wire and shim and also how the "Ride height" of the magnet affects adhesion.

At least now I have a track to test out the new chassis designs!
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Very nice try. But you have v to count with the area for the magnetics. I shure that 0.8 mm wire has moore magnetic potential than 0.1x5 mm shims!
trye use 0.8 at corners and 0.6 for the strenghts.
@ Lasp

Perhaps you need to calculate the cross sectional area.... It is identical at 0.5 sq mm! The shim also presents its cross sectional area much closer to the magnet than the wire which will make a difference (I think the force drops off at approximately a cubic rate vs distance. This seems correct as when I dropped the wire 0.5mm in to the wood, the magnetic force was much reduced.

But anyway I will conduct a few experiments to see what values we are getting between the two methods.
Looks good ,watching with great interest.

Re Magnetic grip......I found with my test track that driven hard into a corner (corner radius 385mm to centre of wire) , the car would start to slide first, then leave the wire.
Is this the same for the shim method so far?

Yes that seems about right, my track is quite small, and the corners quite tight. I just watched a few magracing videos on youtube and the grip seems to be about the same as those cars. Over the weekend I swapped a few magnets around in my cars to check out a few things and the grip was about the same.

I was chatting to a guy from work today and he has some experience at using neodymium magnets in a few projects. Not all are the same....N52 being the strongest grade. These are only generally for large sized magnets. An N42 6dia x 6mm deep can give 1.4Kg pull, so we should be able to get enough for what we need! I am not sure of the grade of magnets used in the standard chassis, so maybe these could be changed.
@ Martin. ..
Your 0.01 shim shouldn't be to difficult to make level with the track. 2 or 3 good coats of paint from a roller should get you there. Just tape off the shims until you get the track surface level with the shims. Then one light coat to finish it off. I am thinking I will try this technique as well. On my routed track I did this. And the copper tape was much thicker.

It was 0.1mm thick tape (Not 0.01mm!) but I think 0.05mm will work also.
I have also located some steel strip on a roll. I was looking today and 0.1mm thick steel is used for battery terminals.

Search for "Nickel plated steel strip" on ebay, etc. and you will find lots of suppliers. They sell in 7mm, 5mm amd 3mm widths on a 100m roll. It is quite cheap (about £30).

I was thinking that it might be worth trying 3mm wide to stop the "hunting" left and right on a straight and also using some short 50mm sections cut at the correct angle to facet the corners. This might be easier than cutting curves in rolled shim. But this is quite easy also but not quite as quick to do.
Just uploaded a quick video of the progress so far. Car is running on a 0.1mm x 5mm wide shim steel track. Magnet is set a bit low in the video and I have added in a larger 6mm magnet so still experimenting with the setup. The masking tape is starting to dry out now and needs reworking. Using the 6mm diameter magnet on the 5mm wide track has eliminated the "Hunting" on the straights.

Lots of grip is available using this setup. Much more work to do until the car runs perfectly. Steering is still causing issues, but N20 motor is plenty powerful enough to move the wheels and seems to have just the right amount of force. Its the 3D printed mechanism that needs work so it moves smoothly.

Youtube Video
Looks great Martin

So this is the car you built yourself?
Seems to have plenty of power :)
Just spotted this on indegogo. It may solve our in car electronics.

I see the in car board is arduino based, Open source and has steering and motor. This looks very close to what we want for magracing. Its likely to be bluetooth based, but I'm sure we could hack up a hand controller.

Arduino based racing
Come on Martin. What is the fun in that? After all, you have been on the cutting edge of developing the system that we have as of to date. Once you figure out your steering you will have a home run.

Cool system though.
I had a play around with RF Duino which of course is Bluetooth 4.0 (low power). I found in my limited testing that range was about 3m even with the BT power on the Rfduino at max & Iphone5s indoor direct line of sight.

Notice how close these guys are to the track. Could be just co-incidence.

With the Nordic units we got to about 30m in a warehouse (all metal construction)

Looks like a fun project though , I like the integration of 3D printing to make it more fun and customiseable.
I don't want to sound like "Nigel negative" in my previous post,so please don't take it the wrong way :)

The PCB could be very useful, how long until one can be delivered for a closer look?
@ Drifter2
Don't worry, I too am not fond of Bluetooth as I think its difficult to set up. I seem to remember the delivery date was September 2015...Perhaps we will be in production by then!!

@1 32 slotter
That arduino racer startup looks quite interesting. I would love to have a close look at that PCB to see what components they are using to keep the cost that low. Perhaps once we all decide on standard setup we could club together and get something like that made so cars would be easy to convert.

In other news I was having a think today about the hall sensors in the chassis to measure lap times and detect the start finish line. I know hall sensors respond very quickly as they are used in automotive trigger wheels. If you could add two (one either side of the car) you may be able to do some quite interesting things such as get unique codes from the track. I won't go into it here, but I have posted a little more thoughts on my blog if anyone is interested.

By the way you can get some quite thin "magnetic paper" (0.3mm) which might be of use. It's used to make novelty fridge magnets using a standard inkjet printer. It might be possible to do a simple counting code with just one hall effect sensor and a few strips of this across the track.
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