Yes, I'm sure all this must be confusing encountering it for the first time!
Once you get your set and start racing things will fall into place.
Let's talk about powerbases (pbs) and power supplies first.
The powerbase is a half straight piece of track that has a box on the side containing the electronics that provide electrical power and car control to the track.
A power supply is a thing that provides electrical power to the pb. The power supply can be either a Scaley wallwart or a large, general purpose power supply like people buy for their work benches. These larger, generic or "third party" power supply units (PSUs) are better than the stock Scaley wallwarts because:
1. they typically allow you to vary the voltage the PSU puts out and
2. they can provide much more current (Amps) to the track.
Here is a good third party PSU
from a good place to buy it.
The Scaley 6 car pb has two power supply jacks on it. The two jacks allow you to plug in two Scaley c7004 wallwarts
into the pb. Scaley says one c7004 provides enough power for 3 cars, two for 6 cars. In reality, SSD is underpowered even with 2 Scaley wallwarts, but this problem is due to 2 factors, the low power (5A) provided by even 2 wallwarts and the design of the 6 car pb itself.
To overcome the low power problem, users here developed several work arounds. First they added 3rd party PSUs like the one I linked you to that can provide more than 5 amps. For more information, see the two threads under Power Supply in the really useful technical links thread.
Second, they wired the lane change track pieces so that they receive their own power separately from the track. See this thread
under lane changers in the really useful technical links thread.
Third, they developed a way to use the signals from one pb that drive the power output section of that pb to drive the power output section on a second pb. This is called the Master/Slave (MS) mod. See the dummies guide
also from the really useful technical links thread.
Fourth, they put a lot of effort into reducing the small voltage drops that occur at every track joint, either by running powertaps (see the text on "power distribution plan about 2/3 of the way down this page
on building analog drivers stations) or by putting copper tape over the track rails
Here, let me say again that SSD works fine out of the box for 4 cars on a set-length track. You do not need all these mods to enjoy SSD. Many of us used the stock stuff on layouts up to 70 feet and were happy. Where the weaknesses of stock SSD show up is when you have a long track and 6 cars with magnets or powerful motors trying to race.
Recently, RichG - who is kind of the lead wizard on SSD - discovered a board called the Simple-H
that we can wire into our 6 car pbs. That is described in the high power MOSFET output stage
thread that you read.
Rich has developed other products for SSD, most importantly a lap display
that takes the lap and timing info from the 6 car pb and displays it very nicely. Rich is about to make another batch of these, you should definitely pick one up by sending him a private message (PM). You can do that by clicking on his name in this post
and then clicking on "send message".
Now lets talk about computer programs and then we'll talk about how you get all this neat stuff.
SSD does not need a computer program running on a regular PC to work. The 6 car pb is, itself, a small computer and comes with a computer porgram burned on a chip inside of it. Some of our guys (AndyS, Riko, and RichG) thought this program could be made to work better - like by supporting ghost cars - and so they came up with a new program that REPLACES the stock program in the pb. This new program is called Powerbase Pro (PB Pro)
It is possible to use SSD with a program running on a PC, but that is something completely different from the firmware code inside the PB. The third party programs that run on your PC are known generically as Race Management Software (RMS) and there are about 4 of them. These RMS programs display lap timing information and may also provide features like fuel or tire management and pit lane features - like forcing you to go into the pits to refuel.
Only the 6 car pb can take advantage of RMS software because only it has what is called an "AUX jack" - a data connector that sends data out of the pb. As it comes, the stock 6car pb can only send data out of the pb. But recently, the PB-Pro firmware that we use to replace the firmware that comes in the stock pb was modified to allow two way communications between the pb and a PC. This has opened up a wide range of possibilies for a RMS program running on a PC to interact with the pb, but these are just starting to be explored.
Most of us do not yet use a PC with SSD, but many do use a PC with an RMS for lap timing. To use a PC with SSD, you need a thing called an Aux Cable that runs from the aux jack to either a serial (RS232) or USB jack on your PC. RichG makes these, you can PM him to get one - it is the thing shown in the graphic below his signature on all of his posts.
Whew! Okay, I gave you the link at Scaley-USA where you can order a 6 car pb. You must buy this separately as all the sets now come with only a 4 car pb. To get the PB-Pro upgrade to the firmware in the 6 car pb and also to get the Simple-H mod improvement to the power out of the pb you need to send a PM to TXSlotRacer, a guy named Adam who lives in Dallas and is one of our tech guys. To find him, click on members at the top of the page and search for "txslotracer".
RichG is just now finalizing the details - and therefore the cost - of the Simple-H mod, but you can send Adam a 6 car pb and get PB-Pro now.
Hope this helps - once you get your set it will make more sense. I have to tell you, once you get racing SSD with some friends it is all worth it - tons of fun!