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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Current Layout - 59' of Carrera Track | Only the middle lanes are powered
(clockwise: track record 5.33 inside - 5.42 outside)
(counterclockwise: track record 5.14 inside - 5.19 outside)


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Previous Layout - 81' Feet of Carrera Digital

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My current slot car journey started six months ago with the purchase of a Carrera digital set. Prior to that it was decades ago (more than I care to count) as a kid. I raced HO at home and occasionally 1/24 scale at my local hobby store. My brother worked there and he was the real racer. Scratch built his cars and won so often as a kid he joined the MRC racing team and represented them in the area.

The little time I did spend on the big (commercial) track I do remember being swept away. One sweeping curve after another never ending. It wasn't lap after lap rather it was an endless journey sliding from one corner to the next. That memory is what got me to purchase the Carrera set. I had the time and was interested if that journey still existed. I thought with digital it had the possibility of being even better.

I had three tables built and almost instantly the track length tripled. Virtually all of the laps were solo with an occasional guest crashing here and there. I had all of the digital features and found I only used Check Lanes beyond lap timing. It beeps each time you set a sector low time. I would power up and run x laps until I couldn't get Check Lane to beep any more. :)

Around this time I decided to expand again. The layout was enjoyable but the cars weren't of the '60s and I needed more speed variation to increase the challenge. I ended up with the layout shown above and I will say for Carrera cars and digital features it's really nice. So much so I felt I had taken it as far as I could and I had a really nice home layout. However that wasn't my vision and soon I was looking at other car manufacturers. I wanted something old school and shortly a RevoSlot showed up at the track.

Within the first few laps it was painful. That car was being so held-back by the layout it was a shame. It wanted to fly through the curves sliding out of one into another not continually stopping and starting and never really getting a chance to perform as it was designed. I had found old school cars... now I just needed an old school layout.

As much as I like Carrera I have never liked their shoulders (probably not any others as well). Beyond the fit issues (often not aligning with the track) they always feel "tacked" on. Something you would see on a home layout and I was looking for old school commercial track vibes. So I figured I could accomplish two things at once, create a four lane layout (no shoulders required) which would also force me into sweeping curves. I would only run the middle lanes.

I toyed with the idea months ago but I didn't have the old schools cars then and didn't want to give up the track length. Now all I needed was a nice layout go to with the nice cars. Fortunately Chris - DSR volunteered to design a layout and I was impressed enough to give it a try. For me it screams old school.

Initially I constructed what I could out of existing pieces and the impression convinced me to order the rest. There is just something about four lanes that speaks to me and the sweeping curves brought back memories. Completing the layout and placing the temporary track supports I was ready to find out... bad mistake or my past captured in my future? Luckily, it was instantly the later. After the first lap there wasn't any doubt I had a mini commercial track... at least close enough to leave digital in the dust.

UPDATE 1:

After a couple of days and several hundred laps I couldn't be happier. I have tweaked the track supports a bit, added a few guardrails (although I hardly ever deslot) and ran laps. After running with my RevoSlot I tried a Carrera car and after a couple of laps straight to the garage. Why would I want to run them? The RevoSlot (with its metal chassis) hugs the road and when you really push it smoothly slides totally under control. Let's just say the Carrera isn't as smooth sailing.

The layout flow is wonderful. I feel four or five sectors (depending on how smooth you are) when driving and they all seem natural, an extension of the previous sector. I don't notice I've completed a lap rather it's onto the next sector. Just one long never ending (fast) road course.

UPDATE 2:

Received my second controller and have been running laps in each lane. Most of the laps have been on the outer (middle) lane with very few on the inside (middle). Interesting just now I did thirty laps in each lane and my best time for each lane was identical at 5.48 seconds. I'm sure a 5.2x or faster is there as I haven't really push the car nor am I comfortable with the layout yet. My mind keeps thinking I'm running the old layout. :)

UPDATE 3:

After a month the layout still feels brand new. With one sweeping curve turning into another there isn't one "defining" moment where you recognize you are turning lap after lap. Rather it feels like you are driving down a country road that never ends. It winds through the countryside until you decide to pull off the road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Analog Configuration

Having decided to go 100% analog (was using TEK-Slots which allows running analog cars digitally) I wanted to go all the way bypassing Carrera Evolution. In essence only the track would be Carrera. After several trips to Menards I had a "wiring board" constructed loosely based on Professor Motor's 2 Lane Wiring Center. It was easy enough even with my sorely lacking skills although the soldering iron put up one heck of a fight. If Menards had terminal block jumpers it would have been done in well less than half the time!

Power wise I decided on the IKococator DC Power Supply. I believe 99% of the low-end power supplies have the same guts and are simply sold by different companies. This model features digital adjustments versus a "fine tuning" knob and has an output switch. Also the display isn't overly bright. I would have ordered black but it was out of stock for several months. Initially I tried a Wamptek however its display was too bright and the case had multiple finish issues along with quite a bit of plastic.

For a controller I relied on Greg's advice and went with the Professor Motor PMTR2111 "Club Racer PRO" Electronic Controller. I figured his knowledge is far superior to any research I may have done. It features variable braking and sensitivity both of which come in very handy and of which I was previously using digitally. It also has a status light which was nice when I was troubleshooting the wiring board.

I'm only powering the middle lanes however I have another terminal block mounted just in case I decide to do the other two down the road. Or perhaps for wire taps at some point. I used brass track clips to connect the power to the lanes so the Carrera track is still factory in every way. Cost wise it's roughly the same as buying Carrera's analog power supply and connecting track. Not including my untold hours most people wouldn't have taken. :)

On first blush everything appears to be working like a champ. Only issue I ran into was not noticing how they connected ground to several of the wires. Once I added a couple more jumpers the car took off and away I raced. Looking back most people would probably take four hours or so to accomplish the task and it feels rather old school... just what I was looking for.


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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Cars and More

For one reason or another I'm not a car collector. Flying around the track they all look the same. :) Now I do care how they handle and I have no experience with analog cars. As such I went with RevoSlot since other than the body they are entirely metal. I like their weight and construction which brings back memories of long ago. I need two in case one hits the garage and looking over their showroom one caught my eye. So much so I ended up getting two in different colors. Usually I don't prefer black slot cars (too hard to see going around the track) but in this case it's menacing enough I went for it. Rather stealth. They have that clear plastic body vibe I raced as a youth... catching a theme here... old school.

I have two House Cars for guests. Policar PCT01X/Y and they can have them. :) Now they might be a good value however it's doubtful you would run them unless they were the only cars at the track. And going forward I'm guessing I'll add another two cars from other manufacturers just for the different (handling) experience. That makes six which will top my record of three over the last six months.

My Cars... RevoSlot Toyota GT1

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Guest Cars... Policar PCT01X/Y
(Mutt and Jeff)

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Appreciate that you tried my layout idea!
I had a few doubts going in but I think they were based on Carrera cars. With this layout you need a really nice handling car as the straights only exist to get you to the next curve. The RevoSlot feels like it has been set free, conquering one turn after another. Just added my initial impression in the first post so I won't repeat myself here...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sold my TEK-Slots so no going back there. Overall my impression is very positive. It's built of quality materials and does exactly what it says it will. If one is Carrera digitally based and wants to run an occasional analog car it's the perfect solution. If you want to really run analog cars you probably have two better choices. Chip them and they will support all the digital features or go "pure" analog and forget digital all together.

In my case once I experienced better performing cars (than Carrera) and after months of never taking advantage of the digital features it was an easy decision. Pure analog it was. I wanted to go four lanes anyway which TEK-Slots doesn't support. I could have rewired the CU to power the middle lanes however there would be nothing digital about the track to make it worthwhile. Also I got off to a shaky start with it trying to run a Carrera digital car in analog mode (it doesn't work). Along with the various warnings such as not truing your tires, using high performance motors, I was always thinking about the TEK-Slots's chip and I wasn't really running analog.

Bottom line I'd highly recommend it if it fits your use case. Unfortunately or fortunately it didn't mine and I hope it does the new owner. :)
 

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Greg Gaub
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If you want to really run analog cars you probably have two better choices. Chip them and they will support all the digital features or go "pure" analog and forget digital all together.
There's the third option, of course... adding pure analog, but using a switch between the analog control and the digital control... NOT using a "chip the lane" product like Tek-Slots... more like an Omnislotbox solution, except without all the bells, whistles, and expense. ;-) This way, I don't have to completely give up digital, even if most of my racing is analog. Then again, when I do race digital, it's with all the bells and whistles that only digital can provide. :) For your use case, this was definitely the way to go. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
There's the third option, of course...
Yeah being able to (cleanly) switch is certainly a valid option. And if I hadn't lived with digital for six months one I would have probably given serious consideration. In my case there would never be a reason to throw the switch. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Policar PCT01T - Subaru BRZ

On my search for house cars I came across this guy. Dirt cheap, rubber mirrors, no wings to break and it looks like the tires aren't half bad. If my guests do bang them up I believe you can get Slot.it replacement parts. They aren't on order (yet) however right now they are at the top of the list. Heck I might even let my wife race one of them. :)

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Greg Gaub
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Yeah, those are good house cars. One of the guys in my analog club has a set he uses for IROC racing. They're pretty stuck on Scalextric track, but probably won't be so bad on Carrera (stainless steel rails have less magnetic effect). And yeah, their tires are pretty good. The best part is the variety of colors they come in, and their nice low price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The best part is the variety of colors they come in, and their nice low price.
I ran across two for $36. Perhaps not the colors I wanted but what the heck! As far as racing I believe you can remove the magnet, motor might be a little under powered and handling is so-so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Here's a good one. As shown in the first post I only made a few track supports and even at that they aren't (exactly) the same height on either side nevertheless one to the next. So of course the track dipped between the supports and I really didn't want to make any more. I figured with them not being "level" it might even make things worse. However the dips were bugging me to no end and I wanted to resolve it somehow.

Well today after lunch my wife talked me into stopping at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and looking around I saw wood flooring. Next second I thought why can't I place them between my supports and level everything up! I have used the planks for chair mats and still had several collecting dust. The ones I have are roughly two-thirds as wide as the four lanes so they are completely hidden and they seem to do the trick. Certainly not perfect but it just might be close enough to stop bugging me after a while. :)

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Another RevoSlot was delivered to the track today as shown in the third post. Surprisingly it performs just like my first. :) Two Guest Cars and the second controller should follow shortly. I have only driven the one lane to any extent and I'm looking forward to driving the other. It's much tighter and more challenging so they should play off of each other nicely.
 

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Greg Gaub
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I keep forgetting if this has been mentioned or not... but you know that the slot car racing of your youth still exists, right? Have you already searched for commercial raceways in your area? Even if you don't want to go to such a place, and would rather race at home, you can still get the cars like you remember. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Have you already searched for commercial raceways in your area? Even if you don't want to go to such a place, and would rather race at home, you can still get the cars like you remember. :)
I don't believe there are any within the greater Indianapolis area. It's not getting what I remember to a large degree. Rather it's a quality level and I'm more than happy to have today's version. Such as the RevoSlot. Today I was turning laps on both lanes and outside of one being tighter they were identical. On my previous layout (2 lane) I never liked the outside as you were always aware of the shoulders. They made themselves known with any degree of sliding as the transition wasn't smooth. Was it my driving or the shoulder? Probably both. :)

Bottom line I have a vision of what slot racing should be and I'm more than delighted to take advantage of its evolution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
yeah, I didn't say they were good race cars, just that they'd be good for newbies to sling around. ;-)
I received two today (as pictured in the third post)... Hmmm... what can I say. The way they handle I put the magnet back. :) At least you can slide a bit and they are plenty fast for guests. Also there is something nice about throwing a car around knowing you don't give a heck what happens to it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
5.48 Seconds

Second controller arrived and I spent some time turning laps with the RevoSlot. 95% of my laps have been on the outer (middle) lane. It's smoother and I would guess faster. The inner (middle) takes a little more attention getting in and out of the corners. Especially when you just ran the outer. It takes at least a few laps to adjust. After a bit I decided to time each lane and after thirty laps to my surprise fast laps were identical at 5.48 seconds. The track designer says the length is identical but lap times too! Who needs Lane Changers? :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
People who enjoy racing with more cars than lanes. ;-)
That reminds of a 1/32 set I had around a decade ago. Can't remember who made it but the car had AI and learned your layout. Or at least it tried to however it wasn't very successful as it would deslot almost every lap. I guess if your layout was just right it might have worked. Eventually I unloaded everything on eBay and I remember the message... this car deslots itself... what's wrong!
 
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