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Hi All.
The Lane Brain project has grown and changed and grown since first announced. Next there was an interface (Race Base), then V-Dash, then wireless, routed application, flipper assembly, then making the chip compatible to other brands.
So Ive decided to roll all threads into just one now the projects direction has been re-established.
The total concept project is best described by breaking down into sections:

Scorpius
A proposed totally new DC or AC based 16 channel wireless digital slot car system that can run on most digital and all analog tracks.

Wireless controller
Called the Smart Controller this is the brains of the entire system and basically is a wireless controller with all the aux box type goodies on board. It will use Hall sensor technology. It is like a powerbase without the power. It will have a screen and run on batteries. It sends its commands straight to the car (or PC if needed). It will incorporate throttle manipulation programs, track call, ghost car, kiddies mode, pit stop commands etc

Wireless car chip
A new robust 3 amp 20V unit that can be changed to suit Scorpius, SSD, Ninco or Carrera at the press of a button. This is a universal chip and a major breakthrough in compatibility issues. With the Scorpius Smart Controller and Scorpius Chipped car you could run on any analog (with brakes) and most digital systems.

Wireless Lane Change board
Still called Lane Brain, it will be for now DC based not AC and will be converted to wireless to reduce set up time and costs. It has live flipper function, anti collision, race modes and about 15 other functions. See Lane Brain post for more detail.

Wireless USB dongle
This allows more complex programs to be operated from your laptop, and the method in which you download the latest firmware to Lane Brain, Smart Controller or car chip

Flipper assembly
Simply a custom made flipper assembly for SSD or Scorpius systems. Possible to make a Ninco/Carrera version too.

Routed track application
The system is made with timber routed track in mind, with the Lane Brain and Flipper Assembly especially designed for timber routed tracks.

SSD DC Conversion.
A simple way to gets as much trouble free power as you require, no need for MSS mods, no more digital glitches.
Simply put a switch on + and - between PB and track, switch off power from PB, connect say 15V DC PSU to rails.
You will of course need Scorpius Wireless Controller and at least one Scorpius car chip and its that simple. If you want to run just SSD chipped cars turn your DC PSU off and turn SSD PB back on. Even with an entirely based SSD system you can stiil run a Scorpius chipped car on it in conjunction with a Scorpius controller, and it will still change lanes, record laps, etc.

Will post more as project develops. Next step is to make at least 3 wireless cars/controllers for more testing/racing.
Cheers
Rick
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
QUOTE (chief32s @ 11 Nov 2007, 23:28) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I'm not sure why the lane change board (lane brain) needs to be wireless, if it is being triggered by the car's LED? But I am sure you have an excellent answer. Is it feeding information back to the computer/smart controller?

I would have thought that keeping all the race control information centrally (PC/laptop) based would have kept the wireless-controllers from getting overcomplicated, and kept both production and retail costs down, but I presume, looking at the direction you are going, that this must be more difficult than it appears.

Hi Guys and thanks for the comments.
Chief, Lane Brain has a lot of possible functions that operate through a PC, example recording throttle info. Also the thought of cables everywhere annoys me.
The advantage of going from controller straight to car is that its quicker and more reliable. All car functions will be from the controller. The LB speaks mainly with the PC. Obviously with everything wireless we have options as the project advances as all modules can speak to any other module. Example a lane change would be a signal from controller to Lane Brain, but a drivethrough penalty would be initiated from a software program on the PC, example PC tells Lane Brain to switch offending car to pit lane.
Now we have a solid grounding to go ahead now with a total concept. We have all the design finally, Lane Brain 75% complete, wireless prototype running, all the rest has a plan. Another advantage is my electronic engineer lJohn Huberts loves the project, and is a genius in my opinion. He has knowledge in hardware, firmware and software. He has been using digital wireless for 2 years now in another project and is totally confident it can in fact cut it.
Anyway Ill just keep plodding along.
The beauty of this project now is that you need just one controller and a few chips to get started in DC/AC digital racing. Lane Brain optional.

Cheers
Rick
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
QUOTE (chief32s @ 12 Nov 2007, 06:56) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Excellent Rick, my apologies for asking dumb questions. You and John keep up the good work.


As they say only answers are dumb, never the question.

QUOTE (tossedman @ 12 Nov 2007, 08:16) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hey Rick,

This is sounding better and better all the time. I like the fact that you're planning to encorporate routed tracks. I love the thought of a custom digital track that's not made of plastic. Along with Reckless, I too will be lurking with great interest in further developments.

Cheers,

Todd

Hi Todd,
I dream of routed digital, but I have to be patient. I even have my track plan ready to route! But need the plastic track for testing=(

QUOTE (Nigel Pendrigh @ 12 Nov 2007, 08:18) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>These ideas are fantastic :)

Thank you for summarizing the various threads - just this morning, I was reading the latest Lane Brain posts and wondering how it all fitted together with each other and the current SSD!

Scorpius - great name

Hi Nigel,
Yes it was getting a bit messy, decided to tidy it all up, still I know its hard for everyone to get the jist of every point. Any questions just ask


QUOTE (ferrari @ 12 Nov 2007, 09:15) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Rick,

Many great advancements
, which seem to close the gap between analogue and digital forms of racing and the need for two separate systems (please correct me if I have misunderstood).

Couple of questions:

What is the voltage drop across the chip? (0 would be nice)

Would multi-lane racing (e.g. 4 be possible)?

Best of luck in this project.


Scorpius

Regards
Pino

Hi Pino,
I think there will always be a voltage drop, I guess we just tweak up the PSU to compensate.
Any amount of lanes and cars is possible, although I think 3 is a nice number of lanes for digital.......
Im glad every one thinks the name is ok, the logo could read "Scorpius.......digital slot system with sting!"
Its actually a constellation of stars.
I hope to have 3 cars up and running within a few weeks, ill know more then.

Cheers
Rick
Ricke
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Pat. Pending
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi Ferrari,
As it stands you cant race a Scorpius chipped car on an analog track against an analog car (because Scorpius needs 12V all the time) unless you do the following.
Basically if you had a 2 lane analog track you could tape up say lane 1's hand throttle to full and place a Scorpius chipped car on lane 1 and keep lane 2 as per normal with analogue controller and car. And of course the chip soaks up a volt or two so one way would be to have seperately powered lanes as some tracks already do and up the supply on Lane 1 a volt or two extra to compensate and use two identical cars to adjust the power so its just right. Not a perfect solution, really one extra PSU and a rubber band. But it would be the cheapest and easiest solution.

Hi Xlot,
SSD uses frequency via LED, we use code instead.

Cheers
Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Thanks guys for the positive feedback,
Yesterday the car chip design was completed. We also finally come up with a solution for traction control which will included on car chip version II which is mainly firmware with a bit of hardware. Luckily it wont increase chip size. We have already worked out the protocols for the SSD and Ninco chip, just waiting for the 132 set to be released as well so we can dissect it also.
We got the revised chip size down to 30 x 14 mm, not the smallest but with the Ninco capacitor etc its hard. Our capacitor however is not designed to drive Ninco lights as we feel the trade off for lights is a massive 25V capacitor. We simply put a capactitor in that will just keep the chip running and nothing else. We feel size of chip has priority over accessories such as lights for now.

Size? I believe the SSD saloon chip is 30 x 15 and the F1 30 x 11 so we are only 15 x 3 larger than F1 chip. We feel 30 x 14 is good considering its wireless and will be upgradeable to 4 protocols. Of course Id like to have it smaller, but there is a lot of hardware to fit on such a small area.

Lights? Our chip includes light take off connector. A light module will be the last thing on our to do list however can confirm it will include two voltage levels for headlights (lo and hi beam), rear lights, brake lights. The light connector adds to the chip size too, as in the SSD saloon chip. But for now at least we have the hardware in place.
So we have ordered 100 unloaded boards initially. For testing purposes for now we are able to use the car chip in the hand throttle as well. Once we get this working properly then we can think about the smart controller board, which will be basically add the aux box type functions and a graphics screen.
My aim is to get a least 8 cars tested in anger on a race night before mid January before we can proceed. Who knows we may run into unexpected problems. Nothing is taken for granted. all fun though=)
cheers
Rick
 

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Hi Guys,
We started this stage of the project jus six weeks go. We almost have 4 controllers and 4 car chips finished, firmware and all. We decided for the best controller we know of as a basis, which is Pete Repetes modified Parmas. The car chips have Scorpius, SSD, Ninco and Carrera protocols installed and soon SCX when we add a solenoid driver to final version. (These new chips are only prototypes for testing). Today also we tested range outside which was over 100m, inside we estimate 25 metres. Car ID and mode (mode being Scorpius, SSD, Ninco or SSD) are currently being set using combinations of brake button and LC button.
Today also I finished hardwiring every track piece to the main power bus and converted the track to DC in preparation for testing, will be testing SSD and Ninco too which are AC. I should be able to test 3 cars this Friday night which I think will be a worlds first. Will report. Will wireless cut it? We'll soon find out.



Bottom



Top



Controller

Cheers
Rick
 

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QUOTE (RikoRocket @ 18 Dec 2007, 11:43) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Go Rick Go!


Next idea - relay signals over internet, webcam at your place, then I can race on your brilliant track! (You'll have to put my car back on when I come off though!
)

Love it


Riko
Cool idea, need a webcam for each car that has a tracking device. Ill leave this part up to you Riko
Then again why dont you get on a bloody plane and come here so you can whipped aussie style, what you reckon Drummer?


QUOTE (Nigel Pendrigh @ 18 Dec 2007, 17:45) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I know that you are joking RikoRocket - sort of!

I can see it happening!

Whats that? Putting Rikos car back on? Not likely


QUOTE (drummer @ 18 Dec 2007, 18:32) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>"Next idea - relay signals over internet"...
a friend and I spec'ed this circa 2000, something about pre-emption was the trick and in the process he came with an idea he said was 'patentable', I should give him a ring.
Imagine that, all the guys here on the digital forum having a internet race together, that is very possible. Make that call now Drummer!
Hmmm pre-emption hmmm internet delay compensation?
I think we need a high speed internet system that works first (example web cam thats real time with no breaks) and then we could implement this one day.
Where I am the internet onnections are pretty poor.
Then the problem of whos going to put Rikos car back on!

I'man
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Hi Guys.
Tonight was a special night. Chips arrived last night and was busting to test everything. Ive never soldered in a chip faster! So did it work? Well Im estatic to say all went better than expected. Initially I had a few stuttering moments, being in a hurry I didnt think it necssary to have the antenna sticking proud of the car. Today I drilled a hole and pushed the antenna through. The result was great. No glitches, stuttering, flat spots, lag or loss of power.
First I ran it on SSD (AC), then took out the SSD powerbase completely and ran 16V stright to rails now DC, works the same!
Back to SSD, lets line up a Scaley car against a Scorpius car, a drag race up the main straight. Winner? Scorpius by 3 car lengths!!!
Lane changing test, works ok too. Brakes? Not yet programmed.
I just bought a Carrera 132 and Ninco N digital set. Tommorrow Ill set up the Ninco set to see how it goes.
So how do I program car ID and mode change (mode=Scorpius, SSD Ninco, Carrera etc.) Well at present until the throttle screen and 5 way navigator button is installed we only have LC and brake button to work with.
To program car ID put car on track (and only that car), wait 10 seconds, press LC button for 3 seconds then push the button 5 times for car ID 5, 8 times for car ID 8, 16 times for car 16. Yes 16 cars (minimum). Wait 3 seconds then go.
To program mode use brake button, put car on tack, wait 10 seconds, push brake button for 3 seconds, then once for Scorpius, twice for SSD, three times for Carrera, 4 times SCX. Ninco is by default all the time, just place n race.
PhilR might be trialling this in his shop. Phil reckons he can fit 12 cars at once on the larger track and that means more turnover.
Also Phil having one track being Ninco and the other SSD, having the shop hire cars Scorpius chipped will mean the cars can run on both tracks which should mean having half the cars and chips.
More testing needed first though.
Next stage to program in the brakes, then think about a screen and an aux board to add functions.
Will post afw pics soon.
Cheers
Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Hi Guys,
Just swapped PSU's to a 30 Volt type, similar look to DSE 3800 type.
Ran 100 laps on 21 Volts, wow never gone faster on my track, and never missed a beat. The power is truly amazing. The motor got very hot but the chip remained just warm to the touch. When I get more chips to play with I will happily destroy one to test its limits. Anyway back to testing.........
Ah and no ID losses so far lol.......
 

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QUOTE (rolloverdj @ 21 Dec 2007, 12:13) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Rick,

This is absolutely awesome, some ground breaking stuff.

Be great to see some footage when you get the full system up and running with 16 cars. That would be something to behold.

Just shows you when someone does their research and understands what is required to make a slot car set work properly the final result is so much better than the large companies who just try and throw a half arsed version on to the market early.

Is there much communications lag between the controller and the car?

phil

No lag whatsover, even the slightest lag would be unacceptable.

QUOTE (PhilR @ 21 Dec 2007, 15:34) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I'm gonna be all over this like a rash!!
Hope to get my third table built over the Christmas break..It will be roughly 10metres by 4 metres.
It will be Ninco track and it will be the testing ground for racing using the Scorpius system and +10 cars!!

I've been dreaming about a digital system like this..
If it works,then it will help me to make a real sport out of digital slotcar racing...
Phil

I cant wait to see how it stacks up commercially. Ten cars with no power losses, now Im excited. Make sure you get it on video!
Othe good news is the quick release system I set up for yo with the MSetc makes it easy to convert to DC, simply remove PB and reconnect plugs and the power is now 0-18V 25 amp or 2.5 amps per car. The DS3800 PSU you have should do it easily.

Heres a pic of the Scorpius chip in comparison to a Slot.it chassis
Note also hw the AAA battery holder is a perfect friction fit into the Parma handle.
By the way the batteries will last over 1000 hours.



Its actually now the smallest chip with lights and 30 sq mm smaller than Ninco.

Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
QUOTE (bswan72 @ 22 Dec 2007, 12:03) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Cool project! Will you also develop this product to work with Artin DigiPro?

Any chance you will offer wireless controllers for the different brands of digital systems (SSD, N-Digital, D132, etc.)? I was thinking a little module that you plug into the power base along with a variation of your wireless controller.

Best regards,
Brian

hi Brian,
Not sure on Artin, how popular is it? Certainly it could be done.
Re wireless controller upgrades Id say no. My main interest is Scorpius as a complete and independent system. Being compatible to other brands is just a bonus.
Thanks for your interest.

Cheers
Rick
 
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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Hi Guys,
Tonight finally got a chance to set up my Ninco test track.



Scorpius chipped Slot.it Porsche on Ninco N Digital system



Closeup showing antenna on a beautiful Hydro Aluminium Slot.it

I eagerly placed car on Ninco track and nervously pressed throttle....guess what it works!
Now the lane change...yes it works too, wow Im excited.
I havent bothered to put a Ninco chip into a car yet. Too eager to trial Scorpius car on Ninco N Digital.
Ive purchased a Carrera set too but still to finish firmware for that.
Also tonight on the large SSD track I trialled lower voltage driveability. With SSD it cuts out at exactly 10.5 volts. With Scorpius I got it down to 8.5 volts. This is fantastic for non magnet and kids. The throttle curve of Petes controller together with the low low voltage makes it a pleasue to drive.
Plans for the final chip include 3 changes.
1) Include driver to power SCX solenoid
2) Include hardware to detect engine rpm for speedo and future functionality.
3) Analogue compatible. As it is you can run Scorpius car with Scopius controller on analogue track by using rubber band to hold trigger down on analogue controller in order to keep constant 12V on rails as Scorpius needs this.
However the final version will enable the car to to run on a standard analogue track with the standard analogue controller, with brakes.

One could say whats the use of putting a Scorpius chip in a SCX car. Well its only for SCX owners who if are willing to put a Scorpius chip in their car will be able to run on SCX and Ninco systems. If they are willing to put in one LED in the chassis it can also run on Scorpius and SSD, add another LED (offset) and it can run on Carrera too. Artin if added is similar to Carrera. So a Scorpius chipped SCX digi car with 2 additional 50 cent LEDs can run on any system.
But tonight its all about Ninco, so Im back to do some more testing.

Cheers
Rick
 
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Hi Guys,
Quick report on first slot car meet, just two of us, 2 x Slot.its (Porsches) 400 laps over a 90 min. period, no glitches, untold power,
no glitches, untold power,
no glitches, untold power
Oh and almost forgot to mention untold power!
Overall it was a real pleasure and so free with no controller cable. Stu is an old hand at racing and we had some mega close racing. Stu was blown away compared to the SSD system he is used to here at meets. Im confident I can get a digital slot car to 60+ km/h. Whats just as important is low end driveability, luckily the Scorpius system can go as low as 8.5 V.
Basically we tested it on Scalextric analogue, SSD, Ninco and Scorpius modes, all the same result.
Still early days I understand, but promising results.

Cheers
Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
Hi Merc,
Merry Christmas to you and thanks for your interest. 2008 WILL be a great year for digital slots with more surprises to come. Santas bringing me a Slot.it AEG Mercededes Sauber, woo hoo!

Cheers
Rick
 

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Hi Guys.
Test today. Scorpius V SSD
I set up a Hydro Aluminium Porsche ith 18K motor and Scorpius chip to compare against test Audi (Scorpius) firstly (not recorded) and sure enough they were identical, crossing the finish line at the same instant. Wanted to have a rough idea if Audi had "fluke" motor as you get sometimes. Answer no, just regular used 18K scaley cans.

Scorpius chipped 18K Slot.it Audi V SSD chipped 18K Jaguar

Scorpius by 4 car lengths

Scorpius chipped 18K Slot.it audi V SSD chipped 18K Aussie V8

Scorpius by 8 car lengths!

Scorpius chipped 18K slot.it Audi V SSD chipped 18K Slot.it Mercedes Sauber

Scorpius by 3 car lengths

All cars had one magnet, cleaned or new tyres, serviced and oiled.
Not a scientific test. Need to set up test drag strip (24m) again with Lane Brain and laptop. Will do.
Variables include human factor, motors, tyres, varying chassis'.
But still gives rough indication.
Even before removing 25K motors the 18K Scorpius cars were beating the Slot.it chipped 25K motor cars!

Why is the Scorpius chip superior? Ill keep that a secret for now

P.S. Still no I.D. losses, no blown chips, no LC glitches, touch wood!
Back to testing.

Cheers
Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Hi Eve,
Sure it could go commercial. But simply there is a lot of work to be done, mainly adding screen and functionality to hand controller, and a lot of firmware to be written. Unfortunately these things take time. Luckily the Lane Brain and the USB dongle has its ground work done. Main issue for guys like me would be price purely due to "scale of quantities". Regardless Im building this purely as a hobby first and any commerial ventures would be hard workti and time consuming not to mention a huge responsibility to your customers. Plus I already run a lanscaping business/nursery with 5 employees with is time consuming enough. Im sure it will pan out over time.

I was thinking maybe just start up small online with the release in stages?

First stage car and controller chip first up, this gives you 16 channels, unlimited DC power and multi brand compatibility. This is for people dying to use DC and not immediately fussed over lack of added functions like ghost car etc. This will suit Phil R's commercial track where he needs to keep it simple, robust, powerful and reliable.

The second release could be the hand controller board with screen and basic functionality such as track call, a ghost cars and basic pit functions.
Free upgrades would be made avilable as each week a new function is added.
Dont worry the first release controller chip is not wasted, its the car chip, simply use in a car.

Third release would be the Lane Brain (wireless and Scorpius flipper/solenoid pre made assembly. Decided not making it multi brand compatible, AC version is just way too expensive. It will be DC only, much simpler. So compatible to Scorpius only

Fourth release would be USB wireless dongle and a Scorpius only chip (tiny, very tiny). Multibrand compatible chip great but can shave it down to 25x8mm for Scorpius only.

Fifth release would be software for Race Management and any complex stuff such as analysing race info.

Im currently finalising my list of goodies (aux box type goodies) so John can plan out the controller/screen board.

If anyone has any ideas please feel free to add them.

Cheers
Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
Hi Eve,
Essentially both are wireless. This is more along the lines of bluetooth, a high speed efficient system (2.45GHz).

Cheers
Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
Yup, or AC fr that matter. In theory if you could get a PSU to supply 64 amps to the rails you could run 32 cars allowing 2 amps each. Or 16 cars allowing 4 amps each.
Cheers
 
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