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Hi Guys,
Going routed soon and wanted certain features added to existing lane changers and sort of got carried away. Like to thank richG and Drummer for cool advice and encouragement along the way.
Basically the Lane Brain is an upgraded lane change circuit board to use when I construct my new routed track soon. It could be made to fit in existing lane changers too.
Lane Brain standalone functions.
1)Liven flippers, 11 to 18 volts, much needed.
2)Anti-collision, much needed also.
3)Multilane start/finish timing. One Lane Brain will do tw
o lanes, 2 will do 4 lanes, 3 will do 6 lanes. There is no limit, its also accurate to 0.001 seconds unlike the standard one which is accurate to 0.016 seconds.
4)Guaranteed car LED recognition at lane changers. This is done by incorporating an array of 5 I.D. sensors across te circuit board instead of one, simply expose where required by removing small section of track, small slot or drill holes. No longer will the deadstrip be an advantage.
5)Pit Bay detection, send data to Rich's Fuel Tower!

Ok add an interface (Nicname: Race Base) and PC +software and get the following:
5a)Auto Pit Mode, automatically guides car goes in correct pit bay, no car can enter where its not wanted. Two or more cars be be assigned to any pit bay.
When car enters pit bay sends data to PC for refuelling or still send To RichG's Fuel Tower.
6)Pit Lane Detection, creates a zone so throttle is reduced to 25% (variable). Can also be used where guys have a single pit lane for pit functions, but not pit bays (XLC arrangement, dual pit lane)
7)Bi-Directional mode. Self explanatory, comes with inputs for optional I.D. sensors that simply plug in, hit the Bi-Directional button and off you go, of course youll need flippers on exit.
8)Remote Positioned I.D. Sensors. I.D sensors can snap off circuit board, add a fly lead and place I.D. sensors further back for where two lanes converge over a longer distance, eg routed tracks.
9)Remote Reconfiguration of I.C's in both Lane Brain and Race Base. (reprogrammable I.C's) Get the latest downloads via net, press a few buttons and you have latest version.
10)Sector timing.
Race Modes
11) Personal Default Raceline. Put the system into "Learn Mode" and each driver does a few laps, when each is happy with his chosen raceline set it to a choice of race modes and start racing. If you wish to vary from your chosen race mode simply hit LC button, the system automatically guides you back to your preffered race line. Each driver can have a different combination from another driver.
12)Learn Mode, used for learning Personal Default Raceline.
13)Pursuit Mode, system detects when a car is advancing on car ahead and freezes cars ability to change lanes until pursuing car passes. Data is updated at each Lane Brain (each LC) however if you are simply keeping up the system runs as per normal, its to simulate good sportsmanship as in 1:1 racing where cars being lapped allow faster drivers through unhibited. Note Pursuit Mode can be made to run with Personal Default Raceline
14)SSD Mode, standard mode self explanatory.

Aux Box (Part of Race Base)
15)Throttle Manipulation. The Race Base being an interface also has 8 throttle inputs and outputs, and it will take analog or digital controllers, the plug type will be standard SSD, so I will need an adaptor made up.
With Throttle Manipulation you can do all the typical RMS functions
16)Pit lane speed reduction
17)Refuelling functions
18)Ghost car functions including set speed or variable speed set by driver doing laps, Race Base remembers data and replicates it. Software will be able to use Lane Brain data from all around the track to constantly analyse and recalibrate.
19)Stop/Go penalty function.
20)Drive through penalty function
21)Simulated tyre wear function
22)Simulated fuel tank weight function
23)Realtime playbacks, this is a hard ask because how do you replay a race in real time if car deslots and is manually placed back on track? Any ideas? Software will be able to use Lane Brain data from all around the track to constantly analyse and recalibrate.
Note functions 18 to 23 havent yet had software written, but Im sure once programmers know hardware is available its only a matter of time till someone writes it.
24)LCD screen on Race Base with various select buttons.
25)6 LCD screen outputs and LCD screens with beeper to notify of key events.
Other notes:
All Lane Brains connect to each other via 2 pair wire connected in series. Each Lane Brain gets allocated a unique address to allow Race Base to differentiate between each other for race mode and other functions. Also to differentiate between a Lane Brain being used for Start/Finish line timing functions, pit bay detection, pit lane detection and various lane changing functions.
Will it be commercially available?, probably but not yet determined, at the moment it is just a personal project. Final specifications and block diagrams are almost finished and printed circuit boards being made next fortnight. Prototypes should be available for Beta testing within say 8 weeks. Im guessing there will be glitches and faults, lots of testing and retesting. Price if ever released? To be totally honest, not cheap as it will be in low production runs and demand for such a specialised product low. Also take into account it is feature rich, and wont be for everyone. It will definetley be dearer than say a Pit Lane LC, so would be much more cost effective say on a freshly consructed routed track. Solenoids and flippers? I plan to make a module that simply screws onto 12mm Plywood. The Race Base will cost more again.
Fitting? The Lane Brain will have a seperate 12 V input, daisy chained to each Lane Brain. If retrofitted to plastic LC will need larger cover to protect circuitry. Attaching power wire to flipper? Im thinking on a non soldering self tapping grub screw that screws into hollow setion in each flipper, wont be plug n play but close as possible. So to wrap it up, the complete system will have a Lane Brain for each LC, one Race Base interface and one LCD scren for each driver plus cables, power pack and software.
Cheers

I'man
 

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Wow Rick, big project, big spec.
You mean it doesn't clean the track?


We look forward to further updates. Best of luck.

Rich
 

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Iman

That sounds amazing.

the bit that caught my attension was the Lane Brain..
A rebuild of the lane change circuit board with live flippers and possibility to ID the car, that is my cup of tea.
If you want anyone to test this out me on the list.

I have been wanting to return my attensions to the Exit flipper and make it live.
A heavy work load at the moment has meant in the short time i have had with my track i have just been testing and fine tuning all my mods.

Good luck with the project.

Shaunbmx
 

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Hey Injectorman, next stop the moon?

Can we get the flippers to go into random mode occasionally so that it puts you off line? Could we get them to tap out a beat flip flop flip flop, could be great! Clackety clack


No, this is pure genius stuff, Rick. Very good. My only worry is that with the amount of complexity/functionality that the only person who could afford the end product would be you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Guys,
@Rich, yer forgot to add its got track cleaner function
Yes a big spec but SSD is a big toy


@Riko, yup not cheap, I realise that already, Ill see what I can do about those flippers, what sort of rhythm do you prefer? Latin? Something funky perhaps?
. I think the main problem will be simply the fact that tracks have multiple LC's, hence the expense, thought of making it all run from race base, but I would still need new LC board regardless to get liven flipper and the array of I.D. sensors, once you go that far it doesnt cost much extra to add more hardware. good thing is its 2 toys in one so not so bad. I guess it aimed towards a potential club quality system, not for home use.

@Shaun, yes the Lane Brain is the most important bit for me too, only added aux box functions because once all the hardware was added for the Lane Brains seperate control box it will cost hardly any extra for additional aux box hardware. The software may be a different story, and will be happy just using PCLapcounter for now. Initially I wanted all the Lane Brain (Ill call it LB from now on) features standalone, but soon realised you need a way of choosing between modes and adding the control box was the cheapest easiest way, I tried to get as many features standalone as possible, but for certain functions its easier to use PC.

@1eye101, no Ill be using plastic track for testing, as they will fit into existing LC's (not pit lane, for that it will have to be remotely mounted with cables extended for sensors and flipper wire.

Seriously though to remove half these functions would see the price reduced marginally, hence the spec. Im mainly doing it for the love of the sport, IF it ever goes commercial it would be a bonus, but not sure if Id even get the development costs back.

Cheers
 

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Phew Rick,
I have got to echo the praise shown above sounds FANTASTIC! .....
But
if it's not Plug"N" Play sounds like it's way out of my league,... though I'd love to see this develop.... and hope it would get to the commercial stage.. we've seen interesting projects on here before, not many get that far so I'm wishing you all the best and for not just selfish reasons
I hope you succeed good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Ian,
Not plug n play, but I hope to have it at a "no soldering" level, and hoping to just unscrew coverplate, new board fits straight in, one wire goes to flipper, screw in a lug which holds wire into flipper void to conduct, screw new coverplate on, and plug into 12V powerpack bus. So at least one "plug" there and use of a screwdriver. Not too difficult. Theres always plus's and minuses for any mod. Just need to find the right size screw for flipper and then custom make a coverplate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
In theory software could be writtento run 6 ghost cars. Could use sensors and program to stop cars rear ending, could have random lane changing (Rikos idea, clickety clack,) and anti collision could stop accidents at lane changers.
Cheers.
 

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I-man!

Awesome ideas!


i'd be interested in helping out with the software as this develops!

I've got pitlane detection software already working - forcing re-fueling only while in the pits... I like the idea of guiding the car to it's proper pit bay...

Will Race Base have bi-directional communication with the PC? Is this intended as an addition to the PB or will it be a replacement?

wrt ghost cars... actually, since we already have access to the throttle data with 0.1 sec resolution, capturing this data and re-using it to run with the Race Base woudl allow the PC to 'drive' the car... you'd have to capture a few laps to optimize this, but one could envision a program that teaches itself the best throttle profile for a lap and car combo... one thought i had some time back was to link this approach to a track layout file which would let the PC 'know' what coming up ahead...

Sounds like great ideas! I'm looking forward to the next update!
Ruben
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Cool Rubenio,
Yup Race Base (RB) will send AND receive data, will keep you informed opf upcoming developments, I cant wait to see the "complete SSD RMS software package".
The Pitlane can have entry and exit sensors, and the Pit Bay can have seperate entry and exit sensors. This will among other things accomodate guys with single pit lanes and double (XLC) pit lanes.
Its not a replacement for the PB, but as Rich once pointed out, if we were to add the drive unit to the picture with upgraded power it could in fact replace the PB, however that is not my intention.
And yes imagine multiple ghost cars for the lone slotter!
Cheers
Rick
 

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Forgot to mention at this stage the LB has spare digital I/O's and spare analogue I/O's. Uses can include driving start lights power, sending data to other accesories and adding more sensors should the need arise during testing.
Also now will be able to time 8 lanes with one Lane Brain with its existing 4 IR phototransistors, and 4 spare analog inputs. This will reduce costs and simplify things.
Also another improvement today was to combine the data cable bus that is daisy chained between LB's and connected to Race Base, with the data cable bus that links all the screens. This will tidy up the cables, reduce costs and headaches.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi Guys,
Today was thinking about a bit more regarding finer detail and features.
How to have the driver screen set up?
Will I have buttons on it?
What sort of info to display?
Beeper?
How to differentiate whos beeper is whos?

Initial thoughts were to be able to change parameters etc and make it full on.
Then thought the KIS principle, keep it simple.
What are the critical info driver needs and what info isnt crucial.
There would be no buttons, believe not enough time during racing to press buttons etc, and changing throttle curves can be done over at the PC beween races, just trying to simplify it and reduce costs.
As the display is to be a 2 x 20 (2 lines, 20 characters per line) Im trying to decide what info is possible. Dont forget one screen per driver.
This is one possibility:

FU82 T42 L7.421 PEN
P3 L21/25 F7,318 SG

Read as first line Fuel 82% still remaining, Tyres 42% still remaining, Last Lap Time 7.421 Penalty (flashes if a penalty is to be served)
2nd line: position 3rd, Lap21 out of 25, Fastest lap 7.318, Penalty type: In this case Stop/Go, could be a time penalty, eg 30, 30 second penalty)
A beeper notifies penalties, need to refuel, need for tyres, and fastest lap.
Looking into possibility of having different tone beeps for different drivers.
Two beeps could be reminder and 3 beeps last lap before running out of fuel.
Lane Brain could automatically guide penalised car not only to pit lane, but even to stop/go penalty bay, and even cut power once there until penalty served using RB.

Another basic function I want on the RMS I forgot to mention is false start function, program automatically sends beep and PEN flash to driver dash.

Another function I was dubious about was "Track Call". However on GP weekend at Saxs a while back we used it when numbers were low (3 drivers) and was good when marshalls are short in supply. Sax told me about a way to reduce cars to a crawl rather than stop dead using resistance, this allows good drivers to still gain a little ground yet still maintain sanity whilst cars are being reslotted. After consulting Matt we have both decided to include it in the system using RB and program to manipulate throttle speed, and nicname it "Track Crawl"......Now how to trigger it if dash is to have no buttons?
Thought of using LC and Brake buttons pushed simultaneously, RB will detect and reduce speed of cars considerably, when ok to go any driver can resume race mode by also pressing both buttons simultaneously, so utilising what we already have, and LB automatically detects pitting cars, so that method will be available to me, can make it optional if some people already using that combination for pitting.

Any ideas or constructive criticism welcome, anything you'd like to see added?
Cheers
I'man
 

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Good stuff Rick


A few quick comments for your consideration


Are you not intending this to work in harmony with the RMS programs out there? Just that refuel option was push both buttons on most of the RMS variants, so track call would clash.

On the crawl function, aren't we going to see a lot of cars creep onto the dead sections of LCs and then stop? I suppose it depends on how fast the crawl is, but in practice it would need to be reasonably fast to be sure of not getting stuck.

On the beeper, what about about pulsing out a number, beep space beep is throttle 1, beep, beep space beep beep is throttle 2, etc. That way you wouldn't need any learning process to acquaint drivers with their signal.

On the lap, as you said above you have no time to look away from the car, so it needs to assimulated real quick. Suggest for lap numbers rather than L21/25 you just have 2 digits counting down, thats what you want to know - how far to the end. So L21/25 would be 04

Oh, and I would have the position P03 in the most prominent place so top row left side
 

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I think we are going to have to start issuing licences for use of controller buttons.
I allready get a clash between my use of the LC button, Press for 5 seconds in Practice mode, to reset the Lap Display, and one of the software programs that require the LC button to be pressed during refueling.

One thing to remember is that there is no difference to the codes sent for zero throttle with Dynamic braking enabled and the Brake button, so Brake button not much use unless Dynamic braking not selected. Also Rick remember to detect the button / controller usage you will have to connect up to the Aux port, will require another serial port, not sure if you had planned on that?

Ooh and while I remember, Fuel Tower now has a beeper, so I claim 2300Hz + or - 10%


Rich
 

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Hi Riko,
Yes considered using both buttons to trigger "Track Crawl" would clash with existing programs, but would make it optional, so you have choice as to wether use or not. Keeping hand(s) on throttle advantageous too.
Lane Brain automatically detects pitting car so would free up both button function.

On the crawl function we have the LB keeping all flippers alive

PO3 Top left? Done.
Cheers Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Pace Car Option,
Just thinking system detects automatically if car deslots and sends Pace car out.
Initially Pace car is parked in Pace Car bay.
Pace car, like a ghost car knows the track and which speed to use to suit purpose, push both buttons on throttle to notify RB of intention to restart race, Pace Car is guided back to pit lane and pit bay by LB's, car parks in pit bay, throttle manipulated to zero. Waits till next incident. Need pit bay specially alocated to store Pace Car, like to use the SLR with the flashing roof and headlights.
Rick
 
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