It is essential that your chosen race control system works with the car detection on the track.
Some race control systems work with dead strips, others with light sensors etc.
The best place to start is by choosing the race control system you want.
Then fit whatever detection is recommended by the chosen race control system maker. That can be dead strip / light beam across the slot / light detector at the bottom of the slot etc.
I would say the advantage of dead strip over lightbridge is it can only be operated by a slot car travelling along the slot not hands or slot cars having an accident and the advantage over in the slot optical is it doesn't care how deep your guide is or what material its made of. These are issues I've encountered, can't really halp with disadvantages of dead strip as yet to encounter any.
Dead strip always works and doesn't count false laps, the only downside is that a slow moving car can get stuck on them.
I've made a mechanical sensor out of an old lap counter which works very well, probably wears the guide though.
Some disadvanteges of the deadstrip. I have encountered motors that for some reason do not trigger the deadstrip reliably. Furthermore relying on short circuit deadstrip can be sensitive for cleanliness of the track or braid. Cars stalling at deadstrip was mentioned. Also deadstrip can never be as accurate as a very good sensor. Triggering spot may vary depending on where the guide is at the car and how soon a guide blade generates short as it moves on the deadstrip. Very light cars may have some triggering problems. .... And of cource for the most anal racers it can be annoying that part of the track lacks electricity and they can not achieve the absolute maximum speed for the track.
I give you that that if you have bad sensors, then you are better off with deadstrip. But if you have very good opticals sensors, the sensors beat deadstrip hands down.
The problem with dead strips not always counting properly is easy to fix, just reverse the wires that go to each one. The cause of the problem is the voltage that the car's motor generates wanting to cancel out the voltage in the counting circuit. All of our tracks but one use dead strips, we have used them for many years with no problem. As far I know all of the race control and lap counting programs have a dead strip setting.
Agreed dead short, same rail strips are not great and can see the accuracy issue on a Drag Strip but for real world circiut racing (with good electronics) I would still favour a dead strip. Is the not having power all the way round a joke that's going over my head or are you really that hardcore?
Few years ago I was commissioned to built my laser sensors for a large routed MDF track. Overloaded with work my first reply for the club owner was: "Why don´t you just use deadstrips? That´s what everybody uses on these large tracks" ... and the club owner replied: "We want to have FULL POWER at every spot on the track and that plan does not include use of deadstrips". (Dunno how serious he was !!???)
I am not against deadstrip, just pointing out few drawbacks.
The key is a good race control system and putting the strip/ sensor in the right place.
Get those two right and don't worry about choosing strip or sensor. Just follow the race control system instructions.
The strip/ sensor is best placed on a flat piece of straight not too near the exit of a corner and not near any hills. Don't have them too near where cars commonly deslot - difficult to know if a car came out just before or just after!
There are problems with optical detectors when bits of debris get into the slot, this is easy to fix by cleaning out the slot.
There were problems with guides not being opaque enough for some optical detectors, those somewhat translucent guides don't seem to be in use these days.
The well designed system for dead strips are very reliable, a lot of the problems attributed to dead strips are really system problems, not problems inherent in using a dead strip.
If you are bothered about a few cm. of dead track, split tape rather than dead strips can be used. Most places don't worry about a few cm. of dead track part way down a straight - which if course is where it should be,
Why not do waht we did in the ECRA days? If you are using a wooden routed track just split the negative rail (normally the left tape) long ways for 300mm. You will not have a dead spot at all and you can wire the detector across the split tape.
It relies on the pickup bridging the gap in the split tape. Also you will need to use copper tape for that section because you can't split braid longways.
That system has several other advantages, it is not polarity sensitive and there is almost no chance that track voltage might get fed to the computer port. Trackmate uses an elaborate system with resistors, capoacitors and zener diodes to eliminate that second problem. If it was my track I would use strips of brass instead of copper tape.
The dozen or so tracks that have existed in our club over the years have mostly used dead strips. When properly installed and placed, they have worked flawlessly and the few inches of 'no power' is fully transparent, again, if installed at the right spot on the track.
The few light sensors used generally functioned well, but had more problems than the dead strips.
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