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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there


Digital slot racing system:
Here's a short description of a digital slot racing system, that I hope will help overcome some of the problems with the commercially available systems.
A very basic block diagram could look like this:
System block diagram
There are many ways to enhance the functionality and performance of a digital slot racing system, by using a PC program with real time interface to the slot racing system.
The following ideas are among others inspired from Scalextric RMS and Sport World PC programs.
Each function is listed separately ... the idea was to start with a very basic program, that will support the most basic timing functions, and then enhance the functionality as the project evolves?.

RS232 base station real time interface:
The RS232 interface with a simple command based protocol and standard UART hardware interface without flow control, will provide the PC with car position and timing data, as well as throttle control data.
<add detailed description of protocol>

Race management:
The program should be able to handle both single races and multiple race championchips, including qualifying for grid positions (much like RMS).

Race timing display:
The real time display should be able to display both laptiming, sectortiming, fastest lap and position.

Race modes:
The program should handle both lap based Grand Prix type racing, as well as time based endurance racing.

Save and restore:
It would be nice to have the ability to save and resore different race setups and results.

Fuel consumption and pit stop control:
By monitoring the continuous stream of car throttle data, it should be possible to implement a realistic fuel consumption based pit stop strategy. It might also be possible to support special pit lane sensors?.

Base station software upgrades:
The base station has the ability to program itself at runtime. It would be nice to be able to upgrade the software, by downloading a patch from the internet.

Track lighting control:
The slot system can be fitted with start lights, pit entry and exit lights, flag signals lights and normal track lighting for night racing. A simple interface for manual light control and automatic starting lights would be nice. A more sophisticated interactive control of blue signal lights for lapping drivers, yellow lights for deslotted cars in a section of the track would be cool.


Sound:
A realistic realtime racetrack sound emulation for various car types like engines, brakes the crowd etc. would really add to the atmosphere of slot racing. It could be done by replaying prerecorded soundbites. A live speaker commentary on lap times, fastest lap, positions and pitstops would be even more cool.


Safety car and ghost driver control:
The PC program has the ability to take control of one or more cars on the track, by providing the base station with throttle commands. One way to make this function work, could be to record a lap by driving the car manually, and then let the base station replay this sequence of throttle commands. Lap timing messages could be used to syncronize the control squence.
Having several computer driven opponents, would be a nice feature when you're a little short on playmates.

The safety car function could be automated, if there was a predefined place for parking the safetycar when not in use. The safety car should automatically catch the leading car, when full course yellow is active. Perhaps the rear lights in the car controller could be used for the flashing roof top lights.

Telemetry:
By monitoring the continuous stream of car throttle data, it should be possible to implement a telemetry display and race statistics for interactive practice sessions. By logging the realtime throttle data lap by lap, and superimposing them graphically on top of each other, it would be possible to pick out the places on the track where you are consistent and where you are more sloppy.

Car setup:
The car setup management should include editing curves for throttle response, traction control and ABS.

Power management:
The power management could include voltage setup, maximum speed limit, maximum acceleration/braking limits etc..
These functions could be used to equalise performance between different cars, or to reduce the speed when the kids want to play with your "toys".


Track design editor:
Much like the RMS software, we could include a track editor, and provide a way to share the designs via internet. The design could also tell the telemetry and safety car sections, where sensors are placed. Naming corners could be used for the commentary.

Virtual racing:
Like sport world, it would be cool to enable virtual remote racing via internet link.

These are just some preliminary ideas ... please comment, add or modify as you see fit.


Søren
 

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Sounds good. With exception of "remote racing" these are all meat and potato requirements that are expected from digital timing and scoring.

As they say, the devil is in the details.
 

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René &#39;Vialli&#39; Christensen
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QUOTE (SWoRd @ 18 Dec 2004, 19:48)Sound:
A realistic realtime racetrack sound emulation for various car types like engines, brakes the crowd etc. would really add to the atmosphere of slot racing. It could be done by replaying prerecorded soundbites. A live speaker commentary on lap times, fastest lap, positions and pitstops would be even more cool.


Søren
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>
How about cheering when you overtake a car?
 

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René &#39;Vialli&#39; Christensen
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QUOTE (SWoRd @ 18 Dec 2004, 19:48)Safety car and ghost driver control:
The PC program has the ability to take control of one or more cars on the track, by providing the base station with throttle commands. One way to make this function work, could be to record a lap by driving the car manually, and then let the base station replay this sequence of throttle commands. Lap timing messages could be used to syncronize the control squence.
Having several computer driven opponents, would be a nice feature when you're a little short on playmates.

The safety car function could be automated, if there was a predefined place for parking the safetycar when not in use. The safety car should automatically catch the leading car, when full course yellow is active. Perhaps the rear lights in the car controller could be used for the flashing roof top lights.

Søren
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Wouv, this would be great. I often raced my cars one at the time and compared the times as in a race. This would mean that I could let the pc take control of five cars and race one myself.
Not that I'm short of playmates - just the bunnies
- but I care for my cars I don't want to let the other guys race them! But that's quiet another story!
 

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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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355 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi darainbow
QUOTE (darainbow @ 18 Dec 2004, 20:22)Sounds good. With exception of "remote racing" these are all meat and potato requirements that are expected from digital timing and scoring.

As they say, the devil is in the details.Many of the ideas are pretty obvious, although my current Scalextric RMS system (which I don't think is far behind the current standards), also lack the following features:

sector timing
save and restore results
support of special pit lane sensors
base station software upgrades
start lights
pit entry and exit lights
flag signal lights
normal track lighting for night racing
interactive control of blue signal lights for lapping drivers
yellow lights for deslotted cars in a section of the track
sound emulation for various car types like engines, brakes and the crowd
live speaker commentary on lap times, fastest lap, positions and pitstops
safety car control
ghost driver control
record a lap control squence
telemetry
car setup management including throttle response, traction control and ABS
power management including voltage setup, maximum speed limit, maximum acceleration/braking limits
naming corners for the commentary

Best regards
Søren
 

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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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355 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
QUOTE (Slotrace.dk @ 18 Dec 2004, 20:26)How about cheering when you overtake a car?Cool


Søren
 

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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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355 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
QUOTE (Slotrace.dk @ 18 Dec 2004, 20:31)Wouv, this would be great. I often raced my cars one at the time and compared the times as in a race. This would mean that I could let the pc take control of five cars and race one myself.Yes, and you could choose a lap from your training session to use as ghost car opponents. This would allow you to adjust the level of ghost car performance by choosing a faster or slower laptime.

Furhermore, by looking at the telemetry from several laps, you should be able to pick out which spots on the track you are not very consistent, and thus need to practice more.


Søren
 

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I tell you what... Be REALLY careful
. Scalextric is going to hate you (or hire you).

If you find a half of an scaley car on your pillow in the morning or a dismembered scaley driver figure spread across the hood of your car you will know that you are stepping on someone's toes.

These are good ideas.

-Maltese
 

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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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355 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
QUOTE (Maltese @ 19 Dec 2004, 00:56)I tell you what... Be REALLY careful
. Scalextric is going to hate you (or hire you).Ha,ha ... not exactly a grim destiny, to make a living by working with slot cars.


QUOTE These are good ideas.Tank you very much
... although not all of the ideas are mine.


Søren
 

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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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355 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi all


I've been thinking a bit about some security issues Beppe has raised in another thread. We want to avoid everybody being suspicious about other drivers having modified with their car controller to boost more power.

It would be much more fun if we can concentrate on racing.


My previous proposal were to put both the motor current control algorithm and the acceleration/braking algorithm in the car controller. The acceleration and braking algorithm does open a possibility for cheating, if you run the track at a higher voltage, to gain some of the other benefits this gives you.

There's not much code space in the small Tiny13 controllers (only 1K), so it would be difficult to fit effective security precautions into the car controller code.

Another point is that you don't have control over which cars the drivers bring to the track, but as a racing organiser you normally have control over the track installation ... drivers can't replace the base station without being spotted.


There's no reason why you couldn't split the motor control algorithms (acceleration and braking) from the regulation algorithm (motor current).
If we move the control algorithms to the base station, we gain several advantages:

The slot protocol will be more simple (my favorite priciple
), because you don't have to communicate the curve settings to the car.

The base station software (16K or 32K) have enough room to implement authentication id's, that the PC could use to verify that the code in the base station is the one you want. You could also reprogram the base station with a code that is widely accepted as "fair" before important events.

If we distribute the base station code freely in a format that's difficult to modify, and add the authentication features described, all drivers that want to check the code before they come to the race, can download it to their own track, and test it thoroughly.

If the code is available for everybody to download and test, I think you will prevent a lot of suspicion.


It's a combination of some security and open availability ... I realise that you can never have 100% security, but what do you think about this proposal.


Søren
 

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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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355 Posts
It's me again


I'm just about finished with the base station layout. Here's a small sketch of a digital system eurocard panel.

The 160x100mm PCB cost about $30 from Olimex and will include:
1 Base station with PC interface, 2 power connections and 8 controller connections.
1 Base station sensor with 2 timing interfaces and 2 slot connections.
4 Lane change drivers with 2 sensors and 2 solenoid drivers.
14 Car controllers with sensor, front light, rear light and motor connection.
16 Light controllers with 4 LED lamp connections.

I thought it would form a pretty good all-round digital start set at a reasonable price.

I also noticed that Olimex offer electronic assembly and test at reasonable prices. I think I'll look into this possibility ... it's easier if the boards are ready assembled, and you just have to connect the wires to your track.

Søren
 

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This all looks great!

The main thing that comes to mind is that for a spec that will keep present and future slotters happy, the base station should be inherently USB, not RS232. Is the use of a different chip possible, to get rid of the need to convert to RS232 altogether? It seems strange to specify a protocol for the future based on outdated technology.
 

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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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355 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
QUOTE (astro @ 19 Dec 2004, 17:49)The main thing that comes to mind is that for a spec that will keep present and future slotters happy, the base station should be inherently USB, not RS232. Is the use of a different chip possible, to get rid of the need to convert to RS232 altogether?It is possible if you choose a more expensive processor with built in USB controller, and add some extra external USB physical interface hardware.

Not only are the controllers more expensive, but they also have less performance, because the USB interface put a much heavier load on the processor than RS232 does.

QUOTE It seems strange to specify a protocol for the future based on outdated technology.I don't agree that the RS232 interface is outdated. It's designed for different requirements, that RS232 can't meet.

If you don't need a 1,2 or 12 Mbit data transfer rate, and you don't want to use the built in power supply, then why bother choosing a more expensive and complex solution?.

There are standard adapters on the market that will solve the USB interface issue.

I have very good experience with choosing the simplest solution that will do the job. I could understand you point, if USB had an advantage over RS232 in this application, but as far as I can see, the USB solution only have drawbacks seen from a cost and technical point of view.

I don't think I could make a built in solution much cheaper than the $19,95 Olimex charges, and it would take at least a month of programming and debugging ... is it really that bad to use the adapter?. It's small enough to fit inside the connector housing.

Søren
 

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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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QUOTE (astro @ 19 Dec 2004, 20:46)so how do we decide if the base should be usb or rs232? vote?I would suggest a two step procedure:

1) We ask the other participants in this forum, how they feel about this issue. Based on the discussion we could try and deduct the general consensus on this issue.

2) We look for a person - in this forum or elsewhere? - that is willing to design, implement and debug the chosen solution.

How does that sound.


Colin has kindly volunteered to act as coordinator for the system specification and the PC software design project.

How do you feel we should proceed with issues like these Colin?.

Best regards
Søren
 

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WE NEED YOU!

Hi Søren
QUOTE Colin has kindly volunteered to act as coordinator for the system specification and the PC software design project. smile.gif
How do you feel we should proceed with issues like these Colin?.

I think it is time to ask for ALL interested parties to state ALL of their NEEDS, WISHES, (no matter how crazy) and to volunteer their own expertise, especially in the following areas; LC Hardware development (not the electronics as Søren has this under control), this could be How to adapt the Command System to individual brands of Commercial LC track, modifying existing tracks to accept LC's? Is this possible? (including Routed wood), and PC software development? etc.

There have been a few questions asked about various issues, I will list some of these over the next day or so and ask for comments both good and bad for example: -

ASTRO asked a very good question; Should the communication be USB or RS232? This may seem like a simple question to answer, but is it? There are a lot of older cheep "junk" PC's out there that probably don't have a USB port! So put on your thinking caps and send me your comments and offers of HELP, so we can get this project into High Gear.


To quote a famous movie "This could be the start of a beautiful friendship" so get in on the ground floor for this exciting new project

Those interested can PM any/all info directly to Søren or preferably myself or post a reply here on this post.

I will PM all those who have offered their help in the past, but if I miss out or you think you can offer some help (no matter how small), or you know of someone else who may want offer there time and effort, now is the time to act.

SO LET THE FUN BEGIN
 

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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi Colin

Great initiative.


QUOTE (kcelectronics @ 19 Dec 2004, 23:49)I think it is time to ask for ALL interested parties to state ALL of their NEEDS, WISHES, (no matter how crazy) and to volunteer their own expertise, especially in the following areas; LC Hardware development (not the electronics as Søren has this under control), this could be How to adapt the Command System to individual brands of Commercial LC track, modifying existing tracks to accept LC's? Is this possible? (including Routed wood), and PC software development? etc.I did manage to get both a Scalextric and a Carrera mounting option to fit on the preliminary layout of the lane change driver.

The sensors can either be mounted with 3 1/16" spacing or 3 7/8" spacing ... perhaps we can even mount both sensors in parallel, if it's dark enough under the track, that the other sensor doesn't interfere with the one being used.

That would enable you to mount the lane change driver under any track without modifying the PCB.
I'm not quite sure if these two spacings will cover all our needs???.

The preliminary layout uses the scalextric 3,5mm stereo mini jack as solenoid connector.
Maybe I should just change it to soldering pads for compatibility with other brands of lane change tracks?.
I'm not quite sure what connectors the other brands use?.

Søren

PS: Please don't hesitate to share your ideas, however silly they may seem

Often they will spark other ideas.
 

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Beppe Giannini
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For what it's worth :

- LC mechanism. A routed track would most probably use a single action electromagnet (with spring return, it stays energized for an adjustable time after the sensor is triggered), about 12 V - 1.5/3 W

- LC anti-collision interlock. Allow me to insist on this, if it's not wanted it can be disabled - a sensor on the other lane acts on the passage of any car and inhibits the electromagnet, again for an adjustable time
Trouble is, the SSD mechanism is quite peculiar, so the interlock would be different there

Beppe
 

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Soren Winkler Rasmussen
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi Beppe
QUOTE (Xlot @ 20 Dec 2004, 09:39)- LC mechanism. A routed track would most probably use a single action electromagnet (with spring return, it stays energized for an adjustable time after the sensor is triggered), about 12 V - 1.5/3 WBoth options should be possible with the current HW design, although the PUMH11 driver transistors are under dimentioned for the currents you specify here.

Perhaps I need to change to a stronger driver?.
Does anybody have the possibility to measure the DC resistance of a Scalextric lane change solenoid? (it should be accessable on the small mini jack connector).

QUOTE - LC anti-collision interlock. Allow me to insist on this, if it's not wanted it can be disabled - a sensor on the other lane acts on the passage of any car and inhibits the electromagnet, again for an adjustable time
Trouble is, the SSD mechanism is quite peculiar, so the interlock would be different there.It seems possible to do, but we need to define a lane change configuration message in the slot communication protocol.

The current protocol proposal has plenty of unused telegrams, so as far as I can see, it's only a specification problem.

Søren
 

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René &#39;Vialli&#39; Christensen
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QUOTE (SWoRd @ 19 Dec 2004, 14:57)It's me again


I'm just about finished with the base station layout. Here's a small sketch of a digital system eurocard panel.

Søren
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Søren, what is it suppose to be?

A screenshot of the timer program or what?
I'm lost here!


Are you all working on the project in the same time that you write about it here?
 
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