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Wanted: A Simple Lap Counter

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  • #76
    Less confused now

    http://slotcarillustrated.com/portal...ad.php?t=25110

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    • #77
      Originally posted by el gecko View Post
      What about a simple mechanical switch that is pressed to the side when the guide flag/pin passes by?

      It would be normally open, and when pressed, a piece (of paper clip maybe?) would contact a strip of spring steel, closing the circuit and sending the signal to the computer.

      It would probably need a debounce (possibly via software?) but is there any reason you couldn't just wire up the positive and negative to a printer/serial plug? Pretty sure all printer/serial ports have a few +5V pins, so it could just run on that, maybe with a capacitor or something.

      Thoughts?
      I was going to try this. I found some micro momentary switches with swing arms. Theoretically, these arms would be mounted through the slot with the switch outside the slot under the track. However, even the smallest switches I was able to find were too large to mount under the track where they needed to be to get the arm across the slot. If I can find them,, I will post pictures...

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      • #78
        Bringing this thread around again.
        Iíll have to go back and reread it.

        Could the Hall effect sensor in the AFX lapcounter be replaced with a reed switch or dead strip?

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        • #79
          I lost track of this thread. Here is the latest version (#11!) of my article on dead strips.
          https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ax...P8U1MTsd0fb65F
          I wonder if the OP ever found an answer to his problem. With respect to dead strips those are actually powered by either your computer or by something like a Trackmate interface unit. A car crossing the dead strip causes a partial short circuit and the voltage drop caused by that is what triggers a count. A car's motor is a generator, so as long as the car is moving there will be a voltage across the motor terminals. If your dead strips are not wired properly the voltage generated by the motor will fool the computer into thinking that the car was not even there. What people usually notice in that case is that the counter works OK if the cars go slow enough. The cheap and easy solution to the problem would seem to be to only run very slow cars.

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          • #80
            The OP here.
            I cut some recesses in the track for Modeltronics reed switches. My G-Jet and SRT imitations close the switch when they go by.
            Looks like I will get some DROK counters off the auction site and try them. Unlike the ones Ed showed, these use an external power supply, need a switch to activate, and another switch to clear.
            Since I have no need for race management, these should do.

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            • #81
              The sad thing is, after all this futzing around with different kinds of sensors and switches and whatnot, you could have simply bought (or built) a light bridge and hooked up an old laptop and been lapping and timing every type of car for over a year now.

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              • #82
                The OP stated that he did not want to use a light bridge. I did suggest using reed switches back at the beginning of this thread. It would be nice if someone would offer an updated version of the old TrikTrax unit. Those had a large LED display that toggled between counting and timing laps. Mine has a remote reset feature.

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                • #83
                  Originally posted by RichD View Post
                  The OP stated that he did not want to use a light bridge. I did suggest using reed switches back at the beginning of this thread. It would be nice if someone would offer an updated version of the old TrikTrax unit. Those had a large LED display that toggled between counting and timing laps. Mine has a remote reset feature.
                  Sure, but the track was already wired for photo cell sensors, the cable was correctly terminated at a plug and everything. All Wicker Bill would have needed to do is install a light bridge, whether it was one he bought or one he built, and hook up a computer to the printer plug with Trackmate or Race Coordinator software. A light bridge is a small compromise, and maybe seems overkill for "just lap counting" but would be much more reliable for all types of chassis and would have been a much simpler setup than all this custom work. I get the DIY mentality but this whole thing seems completely unnecessary.

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                  • #84
                    Originally posted by el gecko View Post
                    Sure, but the track was already wired for photo cell sensors, the cable was correctly terminated at a plug and everything. All Wicker Bill would have needed to do is install a light bridge, whether it was one he bought or one he built, and hook up a computer to the printer plug with Trackmate or Race Coordinator software. A light bridge is a small compromise, and maybe seems overkill for "just lap counting" but would be much more reliable for all types of chassis and would have been a much simpler setup than all this custom work. I get the DIY mentality but this whole thing seems completely unnecessary.
                    Look. The request was for a simple lap counter. No light bridge. No computer. No race management. No lap Timer.
                    A SIMPLE LAP COUNTER.
                    It may exist as a $350 DS unit, but thatís not in the budget. $100, yes. $350, no.
                    Rich D. gets it.

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                    • #85
                      Originally posted by Wicker Bill View Post
                      Look. The request was for a simple lap counter. No light bridge. No computer. No race management. No lap Timer.
                      A SIMPLE LAP COUNTER.
                      It may exist as a $350 DS unit, but that’s not in the budget. $100, yes. $350, no.
                      Rich D. gets it.
                      You can get a prewired 4-LED kit with power adapter from Trackmate for $38.00. Or if you don't mind soldering, you can get the DIY kit for $24.

                      You can get a few pieces of balsa from Home Depot for a few bucks to incorporate those LEDs into your own lightbridge. Which could be removable since it's not tied into any other structures or wiring.

                      If you happen to have an old laptop with a printer port, you can use that with Race Coordinator, which is free, and have a complete, fully functioning system for under $50. Just because RC happens to do timing as well, doesn't mean you need to use that part of it. The reed switches and whatnot are just creating additional complexity for a truly simple problem. The track was already prewired! All you needed to do was light up the infrared over the sensors and plug in the computer! OY!
                      Last edited by el gecko; 02-04-2019, 04:08 PM.

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                      • #86
                        I've finally finished my simple lap counter.

                        I sourced four DROK counters from eBay. I wanted the look of a raised scoring tower, and found a baseball display case at Michael's. I shortened the case, cut a hole in each side for the counters, and fabricated a bottom out of 5/16" PVC sheet. I supported the assembly on a piece of 1/2" PVC pipe. A piece of 2 conductor 26 gauge wire fed power to the switches; counters were hooked up with a Cat V patch cable. Both are fed through the PVC pipe and plug in under the layout. That was the easy part.

                        I experimented with various reed switches and placement. Nothing worked with every type of car I tried (T-Jets through Mega G+).
                        While scouring the racks at the local Radio Shack, I spied a small switch: Radio Shack 275-0008 1mA 5VDC Detect Switch. We opened the package and rang with an ohmmeter to make sure it was normally open.
                        Not wanting to carve up the MaxTrak just yet, I mounted the switch to an AFX straight. Using a temporary track, I thought I had it made. Then I found out some guide pins weren't long enough. Raising the switch worked, so out came the tools to attack the MaxTrak. First one in and...it doesn't work. A bit of fiddling and then I put a capacitor in parallel with the switch. Success!!!
                        I ran every type of HO car through the switch and they all activated it. Three more lanes and I was in sliced bread territory.

                        All said and done, I have what I was looking for: a simple lap counter.

                        Lap Counter 001.JPG

                        Lap Counter 002.JPG

                        All I need now is a crew to patch the reed switch holes.
                        I think a TV crew and some railings would look good on top of the tower.
                        Thanks for all the suggestions (well, most) and persevering through my thread.

                        Comment


                        • #87
                          I've finally finished my simple lap counter.

                          I sourced four DROK counters from eBay. I wanted the look of a raised scoring tower, and found a baseball display case at Michael's. I shortened the case, cut a hole in each side for the counters, and fabricated a bottom out of 5/16" PVC sheet. I supported the assembly on a piece of 1/2" PVC pipe. A piece of 2 conductor 26 gauge wire fed power to the switches; counters were hooked up with a Cat V patch cable. Both are fed through the PVC pipe and plug in under the layout. That was the easy part.

                          I experimented with various reed switches and placement. Nothing worked with every type of car I tried (T-Jets through Mega G+).
                          While scouring the racks at the local Radio Shack, I spied a small switch: Radio Shack 275-0008 1mA 5VDC Detect Switch. We opened the package and rang with an ohmmeter to make sure it was normally open.
                          Not wanting to carve up the MaxTrak just yet, I mounted the switch to an AFX straight. Using a temporary track, I thought I had it made. Then I found out some guide pins weren't long enough. Raising the switch worked, so out came the tools to attack the MaxTrak. First one in and...it doesn't work. A bit of fiddling and then I put a capacitor in parallel with the switch. Success!!!
                          I ran every type of HO car through the switch and they all activated it. Three more lanes and I was in sliced bread territory.

                          All said and done, I have what I was looking for: a simple lap counter.

                          Lap Counter 001.JPG

                          Lap Counter 002.JPG

                          All I need now is a crew to patch the reed switch holes.
                          I think a TV crew and some railings would look good on top of the tower.
                          Thanks for all the suggestions (well, most) and persevering through my thread.

                          Comment


                          • #88
                            I've finally finished my simple lap counter.

                            I sourced four DROK counters from eBay. I wanted the look of a raised scoring tower, and found a baseball display case at Michael's. I shortened the case, cut a hole in each side for the counters, and fabricated a bottom out of 5/16" PVC sheet. I supported the assembly on a piece of 1/2" PVC pipe. A piece of 2 conductor 26 gauge wire fed power to the switches; counters were hooked up with a Cat V patch cable. Both are fed through the PVC pipe and plug in under the layout. That was the easy part.

                            I experimented with various reed switches and placement. Nothing worked with every type of car I tried (T-Jets through Mega G+).
                            While scouring the racks at the local Radio Shack, I spied a small switch: Radio Shack 275-0008 1mA 5VDC Detect Switch. We opened the package and rang with an ohmmeter to make sure it was normally open.
                            Not wanting to carve up the MaxTrak just yet, I mounted the switch to an AFX straight. Using a temporary track, I thought I had it made. Then I found out some guide pins weren't long enough. Raising the switch worked, so out came the tools to attack the MaxTrak. First one in and...it doesn't work. A bit of fiddling and then I put a capacitor in parallel with the switch. Success!!!
                            I ran every type of HO car through the switch and they all activated it. Three more lanes and I was in sliced bread territory.

                            All said and done, I have what I was looking for: a simple lap counter.

                            Lap Counter 001.JPG



                            Lap Counter 002.JPG

                            All I need now is a crew to patch the reed switch holes.
                            I think a TV crew and some railings would look good on top of the tower.
                            Thanks for all the suggestions (well, most) and persevering through my thread.

                            Comment


                            • #89
                              Sorry for multiple posts. First time posting pictures here.
                              Iííd appreciate it if a moderator could delete the multiple posts.

                              The lump in the infield is a magnet used for testing smoke detectors. Itís used here to reset the counters. Each counter has a reed switch mounted in the tower. A wave of the magnet and every lane goes back to zero.
                              Last edited by Wicker Bill; 05-22-2019, 06:03 PM. Reason: Additional information.

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                              • #90
                                Appears to have turned out very nice! Good job!

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