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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As a complete technological ignoramus, I was wondering if it were possible to directly connect infra red sensors to a USB plug. I tried to doing this with a gamepad which worked when unopened but when I opened it, it turned out the PCB was made of some sort of Chinese shortbread and pretty much crumbled in my hands. It would be nice if one could take the Gordian approach, rather than acquiring another gamepad, with similar likely results!
 

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Rich Dumas
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As it happens I just puchased Trackmate which has its own interface unit. Trackmate uses a serial connection to a computer, so I also got a serial to USB connector. I first installed the driver for the connector, then plugged in the connector and waited for the computer to recognize that. I then went into Device Manager and found that the connector was on comm port 3, so when I set up the Trackmate software I selected that input. Everything worked perfectly. The type of adapter that you would use would depend on what sort of sensors that you plan to use. The serial interface is good if you are going to use IR sensors, microswitches or magnetic reed switches. It would not be safe to connect dead strips directly to a serial port. The adapter that I have uses a DB-9 connector, which is typical. You can look here and see how to wire the plug with IR sensors: http://www.hoslotcarracing.com/ look under Electronics, then Lap Counter. You would have to be certain that the software that you plan to use would support a serial connection. The various race managment programs have a help section that adresses connection issues. The HO Slot Car Racing website mentions a joystick to USB adapter that works with his Lap Timer 2000 software. Some of the available software works with a parallel or printer connection and there are parallel to USB connectors available, but a lot of people have not been able to get those to work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for taking the time to give this information: I actually have some photo-sensors with a serial output, but unfortunately it is an old one which doesnt have the number of pins that current serial plugs have, so I can't just hook it into a USB adapter. Also, the photo-sensors plugged directly into the computer without adverse effect, so my presumption was that one could do the same with infra-red sensors; are you implying that this is impossible and that there has to be some intermediation, via a game pad or similar controller?
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
The serial and USB adapters are not digital I/O, a parrellel port has data lines that you can hook up to directly, where as serial interfaces have data lines that you cannot use directly without a software driver. In the case of USB, this is a lot more complicated than an RS232 serial port.

If you want to use a USB port I would look at the PC Slot Mouse thread in this forum.
 

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Rich Dumas
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I suppose that Trackmate is popular where I live because you just plug it in and it works. If you are looking for something cheaper wiring the sensors to a DB-25 connector and plugging that into a joystick to USB adapter will work with Laptimer 2000. It might also work with other software.
 
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