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School Controller Project

2415 Views 15 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  shakey

I am currently in the designing the stage of my A2 Product Design A level.

The product I have to chosen to design and make is a Model Railway/Scalextric Controller. I have come up with a few specifications for what I am designing. Must be;
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Able to use with Model Railways and Scalextrics (so there will be a 12 Volt setting and a 16 Volt setting on the transformer.)
  • Able to use more than one at the same time without interference (so more than one frequency must be selectable
  • Wireless via Infra-red (to be legal!)

Regarding the make, the main body will be made from laser cut acrylic and the interals will be on PCB (printed circuit board).

Regarding help with it, I will be getting electrical help for the internals from my Brother and my Dad who both have degree's in electronics, a friend who is currently taking a degree in electronics and 2 other friends who are very good with electronics.

In making it I will seek help from my teacher, who (rather unsurprisingly) is very good at designing and making well designed products. Also in the making I will need to be able to make PCB, as my school doesn't have the facilities to make it, the same friend who is taking a degree in eletronics also has access to facilities that can make it.

I will be keeping this thread up to date with progress, idea's and soon, an online survey to help me get feedback. I have already made a CAD drawing which I will upload as soon as I can so you can get an idea of what I am going to make.

If you have any questions, queries, feedback or help, don't hesitate as I need as much feedback as I can get

Many Thanks

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Hi Shakey

Good luck with the project.

I am not sure there is a good connection between a slot car controller and a train controller. With a train controller you want gradual changes in speed with the option to leave the controller at a set speed, this can be accomplished with rotary or slider system. With a slot car you want lots of fast changes of speed with very little time where the controller is set or held at one speed.

The other thing to consider is the wireless system - what are you planning to use? Are you thinking of 2.4gHz? Lots of work involved there I think - which is why the likes of and scorpius are still developing their wireless systems years are announcing they were making them.

I am sure you will find some helpful suggestions through this forum

Infra-Red, unless I'm mistaken, requires line of sight (or bounced line of sight) to work. If you consider how most people hold a slot controller (pointing down towards the ground) then sending and receiving a signal might prove difficult and in my opinion there is nothing worse than a patchy signal to control speed.

Bluetooth might be a better option.
Hi Shakey
Best of luck with the project
It does sound very ambitious to do all that to a high standard. There's so much else for students to do in their A2 year, I hope you haven't let yourself in for too much work!

DM has already pointed out, model railway controllers and slot car controllers are quite different things.
Not sure what you mean about 12 Volt setting and a 16 Volt setting on the transformer. In slot cars controllers and power supply are separate.
For sure it'll be a challenge to produce a product that does two rather different things.
Well I have changed my mind about this, it is now just going to be a scalextric controller, as you have already mentioned about the need to change speed quickly and trains just have a constant speed. I also just need a small bit of help, does anyone know of any wireless ANALOGUE controllers? As while searching, they were either, analogue and not wireless or digital and wireless. As I need a product to compare mine to.

Thanks very much

Carrera did analog wireless controllers - they used infra-red I think.

here is a review -
I did have a slotcar set with wireless analogue controllers which I picked up years ago at a catalogue clearance place for about £10 or something similiarly cheap. 32 scale, two Pug 306 WRC cars that each had 2 x AA batteries inside them so ran in a slot that lacked any tape/braid. I'm about 90% certain it was branded up as "Majorette", the French toy car company but was probably made by somebody else originally and branded according to market.

The controllers were similar to the more modern RC car controllers with a twistable, spring-loaded wheel, except obviously it was throttle on the slotcars not steering. I assume they must have had batteries in them as well.

Sadly I threw it out a couple of months ago in a house move otherwise I would have been happy to let you have the controllers.

Radio is perfectly legal in the UK if you stick with 27 or 40 MHz for so-called "land models" (stepping outside of these bands are not!), go 2.4GHz Spektrum if you want to be posh!

For 27MHz You could get a RC car receiver for about £15-20 off eBay and gut a cheap 27MHz toy for the transmitter gubbins. They are usually on the yellow crystal frequency, tri-bands yellow and two others.

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QUOTE (dangermouse @ 23 Jun 2011, 11:27) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Carrera did analog wireless controllers - they used infra-red I think.

here is a review -

The Carrera wireless controllers do work great - you do need line of sight to the tower, but it is not tricky to teach the racers about that. I agree there may be better solutions though.
Sorry about the lack of updates (School Holidays
) Well, I've started work on it and I have spoken to my brother about creating a circuit for it, it will be powered by radio frequencies (like RC Cars) I have a Remote controller Porshe to take apart, work on and discover how it works, so I could recreate it in my controller.

I have a few weeks before I have to start working on the design of the circuit, so I have time to work out how to make the circuit!

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Hi Shakey
Hope I'm not being to picky with this, but there can be extra marks for coursework in making it clear.

When you say it will be powered by radio frequencies I guess you are saying it will be controlled by radio frequencies, but powered by batteries (which is how electric RC cars work) - or in the case of slot cars pick up power from rails either side of the slot.
It is possible to power cars by radio frequencies, but there are serious safety and regulatory issues in doing that.
Sorry, my mistake, I meant controlled by Radio Frequencies, and powered through the pickups as usually seen on Slot cars. (sorry silly mistake

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The case might not nessisarily be made from laser cut arcyrlic, it might be made from vacuum formed plastic.

This is a great project you are working on

I am very interested in what your doing,especially since you are talking about using existing products like the R/C car.
I was asking about this a while ago,but was too chicken to try it;
a thread on slot forum

And now here you go.....
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Me too 2fer. Wont you have to have same cristals both car & controler? starting to sound like digital
Thanks for the support guys

I have just been told that I need to do 'more' so not only will I be designing and making the controller, I will be creating a storage box for it and 2 cars, and also I will have to redesign the logo.

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Just a quick ask, to make the circuit easier to design and make (and cheaper and lighter) I've decided to cut a few corner on the wireless front. There'll only be 4 or 5 speed steps. The examiner probably wouldn't be able to see this, (as only pictures will be posted in my folder and they probably wouldn't come for a 'play').

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