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Premium Member
912 Posts
There's a bunch of considerations.
And people's feelings for this can break a club into smitherings....


Slotracing, the Sport, use bananas. And basically have to with the amp's they draw!
These bananas can then be configured to coincide with more common contacts.
There's supposedly an old variant of an English contact that can be used safely.

A possible way, for those that can differentiate "live wire" from "dormant wire" is to use the more modern three pole contacts used with, as an example, computers.
Remove the wall contact....
Which in this case is vitally important!
...and substitute it with your controller.

And then you use the "dormant female" end to plug into the usually "dormant male".
The male you get from such things as computer power supplies etc.
That would make for a both cheap and relieable (And safe!) standard.

Yes, I quite agree. Don't mix high wall voltage this way.
There's just one thing... you can't mix them this way.
The end that could carry power no longer have the contact for it.

At home people tend continue with the "home plug".
The mis-connected three or six mm phono plug.

Yes, misconnected. As in...
"Why do englishmen prefer their beers cold?"
"Because Lucas invented their refrigeraters."
...the rest of the world knows to use minus for ground.

There's the added problem with not having a car in the slot while switching these plugs.
Somewhere in that switch there will be contact either between plus and minus or between power and track. A power short or max power to the car...

You also need a fairly good quality, else the "rings" tend to get unscrewed inside them.

But it is an easy and fast variant.

Some would like to see the XLR contact used.
Could work.
I do have a nagging feeling that there is a problem with them.
Not sure what it is, but something don't feel right with it.

Rich Dumas
4,330 Posts
XLR connectors have become more popular with 1/32nd tracks in the US. All of the Shoreline Model Raceways tracks have them. I believe that we started the trend. XLR connectors have many virtues. They can carry a lot of current, there is only a single connection to make, the connectors lock in place, they do not short, they cannot be connected incorrectly and they cannot be plugged into a wall outlet. Screw post connectors at the driver's stations with alligator clips on the controllers are the rule on 1/24th and HO tracks It can spoil your whole day if you hook up wrong and it can even spoil the track owner's day if he has a big power supply and neglected to include the proper protection.

Premium Member
912 Posts
I never understood alligator clips. There's just no good reason for them. No good reason.

OK, I have found the reason XLR doesn't work. They "lock in place".
When racing people have this tendency to not be quite clear about what they should do in which order.
Like check that the contact actually have slipped free, before running of to your new position...

At least my tables are NOT made to withstand that kind of abuse from the generic 80 plus kilograms (still) anchored to it.
Unfortunately (in this case) XLR's are. Are made for as in "Sid Vicious in concert".

If your haste make things break, then better your controller contact than my slottrack.
(As my slottrack is routed it is the same as the table.)

The reversed power cable have similar problems, to much punch to connect and to much pull to disconnect.

Anyhow, whatever is good and works for you works good for you.

Right, I hear some muttering now.
Yes, any other contacts are to be either weak enough or have the connector on a dongle. Like a dead man's grip, sort of. Ideally.
And that dongle in a case so it's easy to stick the controller into it.

That afore mentioned 6mm phono plug, and a "turret" connector.

There are no really good solutions.
Do whatever you think works well.

Rich Dumas
4,330 Posts
Alligator clips don't make sense to me either, my track is HO and that is what I have. HO racers are ultra conservative I guess. We run track calls at our HO races most of the time, but mine is the only track out of a dozen or so that has a track call button. I have been tempted to add XLR connectors, but I expect that nobody else would use them, that being the case installing the female connectors at the driver's stations and male connectors on all of my controllers would be a waste of time and effort. I do have an XLR to alligator clip adapter.
In practice we have never had someone fail to disconnect properly, even when we do driver changes during an endurance race. With most of our tracks the table or connectors would not be likely to go any place. My experience has been that if something can possibly go wrong it will sooner or later. Those wishing to sleep soundly at night might be better off using banana plugs, however banana jacks that are mounted pointing up would cause the same problem as XLRs that are not disconnected before the driver runs off. Having seen a very expensive custom track go up in smoke when someone hooked up wrong with a car on the track I worry more about that.

8,449 Posts
I tried to tackle the absurdity of a hook-up system one can still get wrong with potentially bad consequences after weeks, months, even years of use, but none of the US racers had a really cohesive reason for it's continued use.

1,497 Posts
when RTR club racing finally started revival in NZ (several years behind europe), there was just one RTR club for some years.
They used XLR and were negative polarity - to stay consistent with their many home plastic tracks.

When I set up the 2nd club - in a different part of the country - we went positive polarity, to get wider access to controllers, and because there were a few metal chassis clubs around, and we thought we might one day inter-act.

We also used XLR plugs, but used the reverse ends -ie the -ve polarity club has female cords, we have male cords.

Metal chassis racers use the old "jug plugs", which was somewhere I didn't want to go. But we have lots of XLR to Jug plug adapters around club, as some members also race metal chassis here and nationally now, and one local track was fitted with the jug plugs as the builder was focusing on a test track for metal chassis racing.

In 6 years I have fixed exactly one shorted out XLR controller plug that someone in-experienced tried to solder up, that tripped the safety on our power supply.

We now have a number of clubs around NZ, all +ve polarity except the original club, and XLR has become the standard.

No matter what connector someone uses, if they try and walk away with their controller plugged in, it is likely to be sideways to the push-in angle, as they slide to the next lane station; so it is almost immaterial whether the connector locks or not. In that circumstance no connector will just pull out, and damage will be determined by the amount of force they applied as they walk with controller in hand.

In practice, no-one round our club does that, maybe we're a bit more relaxed, and usually allow 75 - 90 seconds for lane swap between heats, so it's all quite "mechanical"
End of heat we over-ride the "dead track" to recover our cars, pull our controller, pick up the car and shuffle one lane sideways. Peel the existing lane colour round label off the car, replace it with the next one, wipe our tyres on tape to remove any dust, hit the track, run a couple of laps warm-up, then line up. Someone kills the power over-ride [for "dead track starts] ready for the software to do the countdown, and we often still have 15 - 20 seconds to spare.

XLR at least has internal wire locks, are metal, and pretty bullet proof [I used to use them as a 'roadie' for bands 30 years back on all our mikes, and they are hard to break]
In practice, I don't think we've ever had someone pull so hard they ripped the wires on their controller or broke a driver station, and of some couple of hundred controllers I have "plugged up" for customers before delivery, I've never ever had one back for plug repair. So I don't think the fact that they lock creates any real damage issue.

That they DO lock has probably saved a bunch of guys bacon as it is pretty seldom that someone only part pushes one in without clicking the latch, thus finding he has no power at start of a heat - or losing power part way through because he didn't quite push it in hard enough.

Certainly, for all the reasons RichD mentioned, XLRs are one good choice, and I am glad we chose them and developed the "standard" here.
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