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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been searching around and would like some advice.

I'm interested in Slowing Down my HO scale slotless cars. However this is a Tyco TCR (command control) type track that uses Rectified A/C power not D/C power.

I thought about limiting the Controller arms, but I'm afraid of the extra Heat that will occur and possibly burned fingers/melted plastic, this did happen to me once as a child.

I thought about an adjustable power supply but i'm not sure which to buy and they are a bit expensive and its a different situation in regards to A/C power to the track.

then i thought about the JAM cars used on the tracks, they are designed to be slower and while they have worm gears in the rear to take impacts which is a different gear ratio then the racing cars they do use a inline resistor to the motor along with diodes.

the diodes I'm sure have to do with the the jam car working on either rail with any race car used on the track to make sure it always receives forward producing power, since the TCR cars use polarity direction to determine left or right lock of the front tires for lane changes.

I know that diodes also have a voltage drop across them however you could not use them on the command control racing cars because of the polarity changes to the motor direction. so that leaves the inline resistor, I'm thinking to take one out of a wrecked JAM car and use it in one of the racing cars as a test.

i figured if the resistor could handle the wattage requirements in the jam car it should work in the racing car, since the resistor is inline with the motor it shouldn't overheat the hand controller, and have the same effect of slowing the cars down.

the problem is i would love to build a control box and make slowing the cars down really simple and have it be adjustable, i thought about grabbing a Rheostat with a high wattage rating, but i'm not sure. it would be easy to grab a resistor setup from a jam car and try it on a wrecked chassis and see what happens..

well I'm wondering if anyone has experience in something like this and could offer some advice.

thanks in advance.
 

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A simple way to reduce voltage to the cars is using diodes.
Each diode will reduce the voltage about 3/4 of a volt (the exact voltage drop depends on the load)
For AC, two diodes are needed connected in opposite directions.

You could have a rotary switch with one diode step at each switch position. Quite a few guys have built these for reducing the voltage on DC track power. For AC you need a pair of diodes (one connected each way) at each step.
 

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Rich Dumas
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The simple solution would seem to be to use a 100 watt variable power resistor, that would be a lot cheaper than a 100 watt rheostat. There is a problem with using any sort of resistor to drop the voltage. The voltage drop across the resistor will vary as the load varies, with two cars starting at the same time the load would be about 6 amps, once the cars get moving but are still accelerating they will use about 1 amp and that will drop to 0.5 amps once the cars hit top speed. In that case the voltage drop across a 1 ohm resistor would be 6, 1 and 0.5 volts. If you can live with the cars being sluggish when starting from a dead stop you could try a 10 ohm resistor, that would drop 5-10 volts at the maximum resistance. I am a little unclear on how the slotless system works and I am too lazy to do any research, but I expect that it works like the AC2 system where the track power is AC, there is a diode in series with each controller, one wired in the opposite direction from the other and matching diodes in the cars. Each car sees a DC voltage that is derived from half of the AC sine wave. Using a system like that you could drop the voltage by putting more diodes in series with the ones that are in series with the controllers. The diodes will drop 0.7 volts each, which will be independant of the load unless the diodes are too small. Another thing that would work well is to plug the power supply into a variable autotransformer, these are calles Variacs or Powerstats in the US. Sadly Variacs are very expensive, but you may be able to locate a cheap one on ebay. Do not be tempted to use a regular light dimmer, some of those would cause the power supply to burn out immediatly.
 

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I think TCR cars have Mabuchi can motors, the same size as the ones in Tomy Turbo HO cars, these motors are also used in model trains and come in a huge range of speeds, find some slower motors and fit them, the ones from Tyco Pro cars would probably be suitable.

Alternatively put resistors on the cars, that'll slow them down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
i will try and get some more of the TCR controllers to open up and look inside at the circuit if i see the Diodes being used on each side of the circuit then i will see the effect of adding more diodes.

I looked into adjustable power supplies and they are very expensive, i took Slot centrals Advice and i bought a 24VDC 50VA transformer to replace the 24VDC 10VA that tyco provides, the idea is to make the slotless system work better it needs at least 2 amps. the stock power brick gives about .416 amps so the 50VA i got should provide 2.08 amps to the track.

the racing cars do not seem to have any diodes wired into them like the Jam cars do. have to look into that as well. the problem with a diode in this type of system is the use of reverse polarity.
I know some Zener diodes allow reverse voltage over a threshold but i believe that would just stall out the car during a lane change. An adjustable power supply would be great by i can't seem to locate anything that would work for this type of system.

seems that installing a Daughter board of Diodes somewhere in the system might be the ticket just have to figure out where its safe to tap in and do minimal damage to the track power set.
 

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Rich Dumas
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I would expect that the power supply would have AC out, not DC. I was confused when you said "rectified AC", rectified AC would be DC. If there are no diodes in the cars the system must not work like AC2 does.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The system is dirty dc, it's a split form of AC power where the sin wave is split to 2 channels one with a negative polarity the other with positive, they call it rectified AC power it's a 24volt VAC output, it's the simplest conversion of AC power.

It is not true DC power there doesn't seem to be a complete rectifier In the system, except on the obstacle or jam car, which does appear to have 4 diodes setup to take power from either a or b cars when one of the other cars is running, it's the only car that has all 3 rails in con act contact and will run regardless of either car or by itself when either trigger is depressed.

They say the voltage is split 12v per track, but I don't have everything I need to have a running set yet, and start really testing things out. From the looks of the power track all the splitting and control of the power is done inside the controllers themselves.

For steering the direction switch on the controller powers each rail with either positive or negative biased power, the gear box on the racing cars is setup with a left and right gear and one pinion on the motor, it's designed to run either counter clockwise or clockwise and maintain forward only direction.

The armature shaft extends out the front of the motor with another gear on the end, this gear spins and drives the steering system with is either full lock left or full lock right, keeping the car always turning into the outer or inner track walls maintaining a left and right lane on the track.

This is the tyco version of slotless.

Ideal used a sun gear planetary differential in the rear of the car, with separate gears driving each rear tire independently the motor bias counterclockwise or clockwise caused the inner or outer rear tire to run faster then the other turning the car again into the inner or outer track walls. The front wheels had an adjustable guide plate that you could trim if you found the car did not respond as well in one direction over another.

aFX and aurora used a similar system to the tyco tcr 1991-1993 cars, in that the front tires turned left or right.

The complaint was there system was easier to break.

That's the general gist of how slotless cars functioned in an age before remote control was small enough to fit into a HO scale car chassis.

The problem with the system is curves and centrifugal forces, I'm looking to improve on it for my home setup.

First thing besides higher bite tires is slowing the cars down so the outer lane car cannot cheat off the track walls in turns.
Similar issues occur with 4 lane slot car setups.

When driving a single car on the track with obstacles and avoidance driving it can be allot of fun.

But I need to slow the cars down, since I don't have access to a ideal power booster setup to copy a schematic from, I need to sacrifice a set of tyco controllers before I can really see how tyco managed to power the controllers.
Hopefully when I crack open one I will see 1 diode per channel 4 total, but I doubt it because of how the jam car is setup electrically. I suspect the system is super simple with no real power filtering or control over the dirty current used.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well I found a 18vac 50va power supply to try out after I see if the 24vac 50va power supply works.

It's a 6 volt drop better then trying to hack up the controllers maybe this will have the same effect I'm looking for.
 

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Rich Dumas
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With the AC2 system two cars can run on the same lane. Each controller controls the amplitude of half of the AC sine wave and the diode in the car detrmines which controller it will work with. The cars see a very dirty DC voltage. It is really half wave rectification, with full wave rectification the negative half of the sine wave gets flipped to fill in the gaps that you have with half wave rectification.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
With the other slotless like tyco, ideal, aurora, the system uses 6 rails.
3 on each side, the cars are set to configuration A or B by moving the pickups into 2 of 3 positions, each side has a common rail. The jam car uses all 3 rails, it's designed to run when ever the control is triggered for either car.
It's the only car that has a full rectifier built into a board on the chassis, making it the only car to run on DC power.

The other cars are running on a half rectifier I actually found the diagram online showing how power is distributed.

Both cars will see both sides of the AC power sin wave, depending on how the steering switch is set.

Interesting to note I did some reaserch into the ideal super power booster system.

Ideal actually split the AC power filtered it and made negative and positive true DC seperate power system,
They then allowed the system to balance between both cars using a double slider pontemeter, with a quad transistor,this allowed you to dial down power giving to one car and balance out a faster car, in addition they limited top speed voltage from both cars and used a slow charging capacitor, that would allow for a 30 percent sped boost ever other lap that could only by used once per charge this was to allow a lane change. Really complex circuit for it's time, and very cool.

Tyco never did anything remotely this complex. One day I will have to get my hands on one and rewire it to work on a tyco system. With this system from ideal you do lose the obstacle or jam car option.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
wow, Well i got some junk controllers to scavenge parts from so i opened one up for the first time, i have to say i was shocked at how simple the circuit is.

simple is not the word, cheap is more the word, i can see why the tcr system had so many problems.

All the magic to how the TCR left/right system works is housed inside each controller.

A single Diode does all the filtering for the positive and negative side of the A/C current. it is on a 2 way switch. so it is either filtering one half of the A/C power or it is blocking half of the a/c power.

That means you could not use multiple diodes to lower the Voltage because you would cause a big voltage drop to half of the given power, it is already a problem since half of the power to the car is biased -.06 volts already.

Basically Tyco made the system so cheap its actually causing problems. It would of been nice had Tyco really used a Half rectifier and provided really good DC filtered power to both sides of the system. instead you have a extremely/cheap simple half rectifier to half the circuit with a -.6 volt drop and unfiltered full voltage A/C biased power to the other half.

they didn't even try balancing the A and B controllers so that if one car is biased negative in one direction that the other car should be biased in the opposite direction.

I can see why the later 'Ideal' slotless system was a little better on the circuit since they did try to provide the track with a slightly better power system.

observations: You really need to ditch the original power block it only provides 1 amp on the newer 20Volt VAC adapter from tyco and .42 amps under the original 24volt system.
the entire system drags down heavily when you add either the jam car or another car.

i'm thinking to add a second Diode reversed to the original one in the hand controller, that should at least Bias the voltage in both directions so one side of the power system is no higher then the other.

in a perfect world it would be nice to totally rewire the system use a DC supply with a 4 way switch in each controller, Transistor control the trigger get rid of the Resistor, but that would require 3 connectors to the power track per channel among other things.

I think a lot of the problems with the Tyco system are just caused by how cheaply made it was.

Well i'm going to try to add a second diode to the system and see how a better power supply makes things. I'm thinking about adding a low pass filter to the system as well to at least even out the power a little.

As for the jam car as suspected its the only car running on DC power and unsurprisingly its the smoothest car on the track.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
i wanted to edit my post to include switching out the single Diode for a Diac setup,, thats a 'diode for alternating current' this should equalize the voltage bias on both sides of the switch for left or right operation, but it might give me a choppy voltage on the low end before the Diac voltage threshold triggers.

i have an extra junk controller that i will remove the switch for the lane change and wire in a diac and see what happens, this way if it doesn't work right i can just swap out the switch and cause little damage.

there is a way to use a diac along with a Triac and create a Dimmer switch for A/C loads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The diac didn't work out, the threshold voltage would break in one direction faster then the other and it would work with the motor rotation in one direction and not the other. So no dice on that end without a major redesign of the speed controllers so forget that.

I played around with the older tyco slotless system ' command and control' and I can see why it was a miserable failure.

The truth is the 1991-1993 tyco tcr system as tyco designed it works very well, it's also easy to disadvantage a faster car by setting up the jam car to run on the outer track. Forcing a lane change.

I setup a jam car controller so the single driver doesn't have to deal with the jam car dragging down performance it's basically a on off switch with fuse protection, so just incase the jam car gets jammed it can't overload the on off switch.
The controller works on the unused controller connector. It works really well for single player and practice.

I also found out that too much steering control of the chassis is a really bad thing it causes the cars to chatter too much as they drive and basically makes the chassis undrivable. I had one New from the box wide chassis car that drove me insane and nothing I did would fix it, I ended up replacing the chassis with an old car and it worked perfectly.

The new chassis steering was so tight left to right that it was bouncing the front end of the car up and down and ejecting it from the track. The trick is the get the chassis setup to flow nicely and have enough steering to change lanes fast.
Horrible tolerance on some new chassis.

Can't wait for my replacement power supplies to show up to see what effect they will have.
 

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Rich Dumas
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If I recall correctly the output of a triac is not a sine wave and if it is not a transformer located after it would overheat. You need four diodes to get full wave rectification.
 

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correct it filters out about 1/8 from the start of the sign wave so instead of a nice ~ its more |-\ because you have to make the threshold voltage before the diode will allow current to flow there is a benefit once threshold is reached the .6 voltage drop across the regular diode goes away
.

usually a DIAC is used to Drive a Triac and it acts like a Transistor but for AC power that is the big difference here is dealing with AC power.

there are many separate circuits using triacs outside of any transformer and i have not read about any overheat issues. i didn't see anything happen when i tried it other then a non-responsive car in the stronger diode direction since the tolerance on them is +-10-20%.

going full rectification is pointless in this type of slotless system it would require redesign of the power track to include a 3 prong connector, or building a complex board attached to the power track and changing everything over to digital or transistor operation I'm not investing that much into this set so i gave up on it.

you can hear and visually see the issue in regards to the .6 voltage drop in one direction, It might be a good idea for me to take the controllers and swap around the Diode so anytime the car is pushing the front tires to the right that car would get the .6 voltage drop from the diode and Balance that car out from being able to use the outer wall as an advantage.

really the biggest issue in fairness between the cars has been the quality of the chassis itself the tolerance between chassis and parts is awful, you can take one right out of the package and it will either run well or really bad. you can see how frustrating this would be for a young child that owned this type of set.

its quite easy to eject a car from the track in turns so lower speed is key i found the sweet spot is right in the middle of the 50 OHM resistor in the controller the problem is the controllers overheat Badly when using them for more then 5 minutes, lower voltage would help by running the resistor in the top range towards closed circuit instead of in the middle with a higher resistance. OR i will need to modify the controllers and add a CPU fan to force cool the controllers. installing a aftermarket resistor from parma might be a problem due to the gun design. any aftermarket controller would need to be modified with a current polarity switch and a diode to keep have slotless steering function, might look into that as an option in the future if aftermarket controllers handle the heat better, again this was one of my fears getting into slotless again after 30 years. seems i was right since i had both controllers smoking in no time and obviously taking out performance until the controllers cooled down again.

oh well the wait begins for deliveries.
 

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Tcr tricks:

So I hacked together a few modifications to improve the Tcr experience.

First I built a JAM car override controller.
The problem with the jam car is it draws power from both rails and it reacts to how much total power is available. The idea is when 2 people are controlling cars at any given point the power split between 2 players would be enough to drive the jam cars. Of course there is additional load on both cars because of the obstacle car, it's not too bad when 2 cars have good flow around the track. However it completely kills the single player experience of driving and makes it a horrible failure. So I built a simple control box with a 10 amp switch and a fuse, that simply gives full power to the opposite controller port. This gives the jam car all the additional power it needs and will not draw down the single player car, this makes it fun and challenging to complete with the jam car.

In addition you can set up a double jam car which can be used to further challenge the single player driver or it makes an excellent track cleaner and track warm up tool.

Next problem is the controller overheating issue. for Tcr mid range throttle is critical however as we all know if you run in the mid range of the resistor the controller will quickly overheat not only smoking or melting the controller but also causing a huge raise in resistance of the controller which quickly grinds the cars to a halt, we have all seen this in HO racing and it's annoying.

I used 2 12 volt silent CPU fans and very slightly modified one side of the controller housing, some wire, a switch, and 9 volt battery hookup. The setup works great and I was able to keep low speed crawling the car for 10 minutes without any loss of power and just a hint of plastic smell but no smoke, after running at low speed I went right back to full power with no loss of speed caused by any overheating. This increased the fun factor of the race set, since both cars could match speed indefinitely and really get into overtaking and lane changes with no problems.

Here is a picture of the jam car controller and the 2 modified controllers with fan cooling.


Why didn't tyco create these as hop ups or optional parts these 2 small hacks have made the racing set alot more fun.

Here is a video of the jam car controller used as a track cleaner and also optional double obstacle without a racing car.


Here is another video showing the issue when using a single car and obstacle car, then the same setup with the jam car controller used.



Let's see what else I come up with


It actually took me longer to fabricate the on off switch mount for both the controllers then building the jam car box and installing the fans on the controller bodies.

The weight of the 9 volt doesn't not interfere with the weight of the controller I placed it down low on the wire to lower the center of gravity when holding it. I could of gone further and created a power box on the table and just run another connector the full wire length but I thought it was over kill, plus I could do it later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I went with a 18 volt transformer with a higher amp rating, what is funny is even more voltage is getting to the track rails now.

so before i measured about 9.5 volts now i get about 10.9 hitting the rails.
but the better power supply has smoothed out the cars operation.

I can see this might be a great Candidate for a solid 12 Volt Power source with a 4 amp supply.
 
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