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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
some great work has been done here in order to get digital slotracing up and running. My proposal is to found something like the NMRA (the standardisation body for RR-DCC), which would moderate the standardisation process for digital slotracing. DCC is a very good start into digital slotracing, as it provides a reliable, proven protocol for transmitting signals over DC. But it is foreseeable, that the DCC specification will need to be modified in order to better suit to slotracing needs. Some of the tasks of such a body would be
  • set up and run a .org website being the home for information on the standard and specifications to be established
  • moderate the standardisation process through RFCs, similar to IT standards development
  • get in touch with all manufacturers and ask them to open the protocol they use
  • Create a compatibility label for products developed for that standard
If we have a look at how model railroaders organise themselves through the NMRA in order to protect consumers from uselessly propretary products lacking compatibility, I think it is about time to do something similar for slotracing.

A look into history of NMRA/DCC shows that such a federation would be helpful: Some 25 years ago, a small German firm (Lenz Elektronik) invented a protocol transmitting signals over DC and being very reliable and robust working under difficult conditions like bad contacts between rails and locos. Lenz started creating first products and, at the same time, opened up the protocol description and applied for standardisation within the NMRA. This is how DCC came into life, with only one manufacturer resisting (Märklin).

So, anybody out there who would be interested in taking part? I could contribute webserver, .org domain, maybe some OpenSource CMS installed there.
Best
Joerg Resch
 

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Julius Wilkko
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Hi!

I'm interested. Hopefully people will get interested eventually. But I am very sceptic. It may be that slotcar enthusiasts are different breed than rr-hobbyists. Digital has divided the slotcar world. Many people like the simplicity of slotracing without digital, just set up the track and drive. Club racers see digital as limiting factor when trying to achieve new lap-records.

I wish that we could have some kind of digital standard, but it takes huge amount of work to develope something like this. Let me know if you are willing to host some files/programs/documentation that are produced as DCC design/spec proceeds, these can possibly serve as some kind of basis/knowledge base for the spec. Naturally the best would be if one of the major manufacturers would be willing to open their spec and we could use it but I cannot see that happen.

Julius
 

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Beppe Giannini
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Welcome, Joerg !

Julius has a point, of course - but let's look at this in perspective

When I became intersted in MCPL/digital (two years ago), the very few like-minded people were considered crackpots and immediately booed down

Today, it's fair to say that the majority of slot racers are at least willing to give it a try - and this without most of them having actually experienced it yet !

So, things are changing - Scalextric Digital will be on sale shortly, no matter how many people initially buy it I'm sure quite a lot will try it in shops or clubs

Once they do - and like it - the need for a standard will acquire full force : because the same people will want to know whether they should buy Scalextric or wait for Ninco - and in any case their investment cannot be made obsolete within six months (look what just happened with SCX) !! Edited, remembering Fate's war horse : actually, it's not only buyers, but also retailers who will not want to be stuck with unsaleable merchandise

Now, will Scalextric or Ninco become slot racing's "Lenz" or shall "we" develop the protocol ?
I don't know, and can only watch from the sidelines - but a ) I'm optimistic that we'll get there - hey, I don't suppose the NMRA was born overnight - and b ) it's rather obvious that the first step will be dissecting and evaluating Scalextric's system

And, I like a lot your mission statement :
QUOTE moderate the standardisation process for digital slotracing

Ciao
Beppe
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi Julius, Ciao Beppe,
thanks for your replies.
QUOTE Let me know if you are willing to host some files/programs/documentation that are produced as DCC design/spec proceeds, these can possibly serve as some kind of basis/knowledge base for the spec..
Yes of course, I can make a webserver available. We just have to find a Domain name for it, preferably .org. I would then get some content management system installed, not a real problem. But we should first discuss a bit further, maybe some more people join, and then start spreading tasks and responsibilities


QUOTE Naturally the best would be if one of the major manufacturers would be willing to open their spec and we could use it but I cannot see that happen.
I don´t think that it would be extremely difficult to get one of the large manufacturers with digital products available or in pipeline to propose his implementation for standardisation, because standards-conformity sells. It may be nearly impossible though, to get them all.

QUOTE Now, will Scalextric or Ninco become slot racing's "Lenz" or shall "we" develop the protocol ?
I don't know, and can only watch from the sidelines - but a ) I'm optimistic that we'll get there and b ) it's rather obvious that the first step will be dissecting and evaluating Scalextric's system
Yes, you are right. I have been testing Carrera Pro-X and SCX Digital and have slightly scratched the protocol surface. Together with some information I have on the Scalextric system, it seems to me that there is room for a standardisation process. Different from railroading-DCC, slotracing manufacturers have so far not invested into complex central units. Such investment nowadays is always a risk, because any piece of software on a computer may take over the central unit job.
It is the market who decides wether a system and/or a standard gain momentum or not. I strongly propose to start standardisation now, because the task will not become easier.
Best
Joerg
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have approached Scalextric now with a request to discuss possibilities to open their implementation of digital slotracing towards a standards board. I´ll keep you informed.
Any ideas for an organisation name and domain name?
Best
Joerg
 

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The manufactuers might want there own system to become the standard so they can licence it out to other people.

In the way VHS was invented by JVC and then licenced by every other video maker.

I think if you want to propose a standard you would be best coming up with your own...obviously not an easy task.

Would it not be an idea to get some of the big clubs like the NSCC to be involved with you?

Alan
 

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QUOTE (joergresch @ 1 Sep 2004, 09:34)Hi,
for Germany, the second half of November 2004 is planned for delivery to the shops.
Joerg
Do you have more information ? Up to now, I only know of a set with Porsche Boxster and Audi TT.
Waht other sets / cars are planned, how much does it cost ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi derekaluk,
thanks for your reply. It´s not me who wants to propose a standard. I´m just proposing that we together should take care that such a standard develops. But you´re right, some of the larger existing clubs/associations should be involved. I´ll try to get in touch.
Best
Joerg
 

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Julius Wilkko
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QUOTE Any ideas for an organisation name and domain name?

How about "ICSDCCS" = "International Committee for Slotcar Digital Command Control Standard"


It would be responsible for providing each slotcar in the world its individual address through www.ICSDCCS.org


But seriously folks, I hope one of the big manufacturers will answer to you Joerg.

Cheers!

Julius
 

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Julius Wilkko
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Great offer Nuro!

I am willing to contribute if someone sets up a site.

Julius
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
hi everybody,
thanks a lot for your responses. I have so far not received positive replies from the manufacturers, just one negative one. Carrera do not have interest in disclosing any information on their protocol to anybody. Carrera want to avoid that small firms offer pro-x compatible devices because this would be felt as an offence.
I have a domain and organisation name proposal as well:
"International Slotracing Federation", which may acronym to "Interslot". interslot.org would be free. As I´m not a native English speaking person: would "interslot" be ok?
Best
Joerg
 

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Getting stuff in place to push for and guide a standard seems a great idea

QUOTE I don´t think that it would be extremely difficult to get one of the large manufacturers with digital products available or in pipeline to propose his implementation for standardisation, because standards-conformity sells.

In my opinion, it is far too soon for any of the companies to open their source. With a new SYSTEM (as opposed to a video recorder - a one off unit + media) - there are a load of follow up devices that can be marketed, digital add on products that some of us have speculated, alternative control centre programs etc etc. If they opened the source, it would allow a competitor or an aftersales company to beat them to the release of such add on products.

Since SCX, Carrera, Scalextric and Ninco chose not to work together from the start, I think their best marketing ploy to defend and maximise their development investments is to keep everything in house for 18-36 months, then talk standards
 

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I am pretty sure Astro is correctly forecasting that the main manufacturers will not talk to their competitors or to anyone else about their own proprietary 'solutions' for some considerable time, if ever.

This, in turn, will probably ensure that potential customers will remain confused and resistant to purchase any digital system and that will likely lead to the even earlier abandonment of digital by the smaller players. Players in this case meaning both manufacturers and punters alike. It's a recipe for a real screw up, unless ONE manufacturer's system is so obviously and demonstrably superior to all others that all others retire very swiftly from the race, before too many customers become totally and utterly peed off with the incompatibilties that they only come to understand AFTER investing rather a lot of money in a dead end system.
 

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The manufacturers are gonna suffer if they don`t do something about compatibility as right now cross sales between different manufacturers in terms of cars and some track does them all a favour.
 
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