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Three Experienced Slot Car Racers Test Digital Systems

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  • Three Experienced Slot Car Racers Test Digital Systems

    Three Experienced Slot Car Racers Test Digital Systems



    While looking around at iHobby 2008 in Chicago, Kevin Kosir, Roberto Smaldone and I had an idea. None of us had much, if any, experience with digital slot car systems and with all the main manufacturers there; Carrera, Ninco, Scalextric and SCX, there was no better time to test them head to head. I have been a model railroader as well as a slot car racer for as long as I can remember and have used model train digital systems for many years. Read More...







  • #2
    Let's race!

    If you guys are ever in College Station, TX, please drop in and let's race.

    My Scalextric Sport Digital layout has

    1. 22 amps to the track - all the Pyramid 26 will supply.

    2. Lap timing to .001, on both RMS and a stand alone lap display

    3. Switchable between 6 cars digital or 2 cars analog.

    3. Automatic throttle calibration

    4. Fuel management - top speed of cars increases as fuel is burned, cars stop when empty, pit lane speed limit can be set in RMS

    5. Pace or ghost cars - is 16 enough? With or without lane changing, or with lane changing limited by time window (delayed opening or closed within specified time)

    6. Track call - with programmable delay

    7. Throttle maps

    8. No continutity issues

    9. Throttle limiting for kids & newbies

    Digital systems are subject to an interesting phenomenon created by the web and the global market called "cooperative development". They are being developed by users, not by the manufacturers, just as mountain bikes were.

    For more info, send me a PM.

    Well back to work, have 6 guys coming to race on a 2 lane track this weekend!

    Paul
    Circuit TrustChrist

    Comment


    • #3
      I wish that the slot car industry would Study the model railroad industry and set one universal digital standard. We would spend more money than we are spending on digital right now. A lot of us are trying to wait for that one uinversal design...

      But that is like asking to survive a nuclear bomb exploding 1 inch above your head without any injury!

      Such a shame.

      Also no mention of the AC2car system, Hold it.. AC2car is not digital but functions better than digital.

      Comment


      • #4
        Agreed on the standard thing. No digital for me until the manufacturers grow up.

        Randy

        Comment


        • #5
          Great. Grumpy old men. Typical.

          Old time slot racers don't seem to like it as much as the younger generations. I've got an SCX Digital setup (60') set up to run 6 cars - GT's are my choice. About 50% of the track is 3-lane. I checked all the others prior to purchase and made my choice based on SCX having designed their digital track with digital needs in mind rather than just retro-fitting a system to their current track. And you forgot one EXTREMELY critical issue. Support. SCX has amazing customer service and support that should eliminate any doubts in your mind on which system you should support. With the mechanical (non-power sucking) gate system and a wide variety of track pieces you can build some pretty amazing layouts. I've also got a Scaley copper-taped, analog track (50') and we enjoy that as well. But digital is a lot of fun, it's just different.

          And that's why you should have at least two systems at home.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by kidvoltage View Post
            Great. Grumpy old men. Typical.

            Old time slot racers don't seem to like it as much as the younger generations. I've got an SCX Digital setup (60') set up to run 6 cars - GT's are my choice. About 50% of the track is 3-lane. I checked all the others prior to purchase and made my choice based on SCX having designed their digital track with digital needs in mind rather than just retro-fitting a system to their current track. And you forgot one EXTREMELY critical issue. Support. SCX has amazing customer service and support that should eliminate any doubts in your mind on which system you should support. With the mechanical (non-power sucking) gate system and a wide variety of track pieces you can build some pretty amazing layouts. I've also got a Scaley copper-taped, analog track (50') and we enjoy that as well. But digital is a lot of fun, it's just different.

            And that's why you should have at least two systems at home.
            kid,
            Plain and simple - "Ditto". Anything more in regards to that bunk which passes for a review is not worth my breath.

            Comment


            • #7
              I thought it was a good, if brief, review of the currently available systems. I have considered converting my 2 lane Sport track to digital, but I want to be able to run analog cars without changing track sections or other major work to the track. I think the new Scalextric digital powerbase allows this? If so, I may be going digital soon? It would be fun to be able to use refueling during the race too, and a ghost car or two.

              Comment


              • #8
                Howdy Pete. You should be able to get re-fueling without going digital. Many of the computerized software solutions offer that. I think the real glory of digital is the ability to run multiple cars on the same lane with overtaking and passing. There is the issue of car-bashing but for SCX we have junior speed which is a lot like running cars on 10v or so. You're more than welcome to come give our digital setup a try. Seattle's just a puddle jump away.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yes, I am familiar with the race software which has fueling, we run it on my friend's 4 lane. But I meant I wanted that capability with a digital system which would also let me run 4 or more cars on my 2 lane track and still run some of the hundreds of analog cars I have. I'll try and stop by if I'm near Hillsboro sometime.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I understand where you are coming from. I considered that option long and hard before making my decision.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      cannot believe

                      this inaccurate article is on the home page of sci
                      unless
                      sci stands for slot car inquirer

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I appreciated the article overall. All of the mfgers make claims about their digital offerings but it is very difficult for people like me to discern how they work and the differences between them.

                        The first digital car I saw was a first gen Carrera and I thought, hmm the car receives the signal and it switches between lanes. Then I saw a Scaley track at a LHS track and I thought, hmm the track receives the signal and switches the lanes like a train track. Then I built a 4 lane Carrera track and noticed that I can't switch between lanes 2 and 3. Then I looked at my buddy's DCC HO train layout and thought, hmmm it would be nice if I could fit all my cars with the same affordable digital unit and control them individually.

                        Then I saw that after 2 years my buddies and I had 20-30 cars and lots of track and thought, hmmm how can we do a digital layout where we could all convert some of our cars and still use our existing tracks.

                        Here is what I wanted from that article, that I didn't get. Is digital racing more fun than analog racing? Which digital format was more fun? Is it worth switching to digital? How can I use my 20-30 cars on both a digital and analog layout?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Digital is a great concept. Just seems no-one has got it nailed on yet. There isnt anything available just yet to warrant making the switch (for me anyway) Maybe when scorpius or the slot it version is all done digital will be a winner. I like the idea of one brain that can be used on a variety of track types. Enduro and team type racing would be fabulous with a well sorted digital system.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            SCX Digital: A rebuttal on the "con's" and much more.

                            My take on this article is that it was written from the perspective of being an "introduction" to digital slot racing and because of that it's expected to be not as in-depth as some of us may have wished it to be.

                            With that said, I encourage anyone reading this article to not base their purchase decision on it but instead spend more time doing research on SCI before spending your hard earned cash. In the end, what you'll probably realize is that the four digital systems offer up a different set of features and that the right system for you is the one that really fits your needs. Thus, the only way you can make an incorrect purchase is if you just didn't do your homework first.

                            Anyway, going back to the article, I did want to clarify my position on one of the brands mentioned. Being that I am a fervent SCX Digital supporter, I felt many of the features described needed more fine tuning so that everyone would understand why SCX chose a particular route. My intent is not to say that you should pick SCX Digital for your next slot system (I do find many plusses in the other systems too; just to be fair) but you should at least know why certain things considered a "con" can actually be a "pro" from another perspective.

                            So let's begin w/ the list of the "cons" and re-evaluate if they really are con's:

                            Mechanical lane change system susceptible to wear and restricts car choice:
                            It's true that the guides on the SCX Digital system "might" have more wear and tear vs an electrical system. The plunger assemby that drops down from the car will physically rub against the lane change gate to force it open for changing lanes. However, just how much wear we are talking about is a big question mark. At least by my own experience, I don't see that particular part wearing out any faster than just an ordinary guide blade rubbing up against a slot wall. Thus, one way or another, guide blades (as a given) will wear out one way or another on all the brands.

                            Now, in respect to car choices, it's understandable that the SCX chip is bigger and it also must be fitted into the front end of the car. Thus, a big restriction is that small chassis cars are usually not going to get the digital treatment (unless one can figure out a way to fit it like a few people I know who have converted the Morgan Aero 8 into digital). However, how big an issue is this really? There are slot cars of varying sizes & racing classification and for the most part many of them can easily fit the chip inside of them. So unless you are someone who is not willing to drive anything other than a Fiat 124 Spyder or a Renault Alpine A110, you should probably move on to a different brand. However, if you can get past that and realize what makes a mechanical lane changer so great, then read on....

                            So now it's time to talk about why mechanical is so great. In a nutshell, mechanical changers (unlike electrical) will not steal power from your cars and cause what is known as "surging". Surging is very much like stuttering and limits how well your car can perform on the track. In fact, it's such a problem that many slot hobbyist have gone as far as to modify their electrical lane changers to provide them independent power supplies to reduce the issue (I'm not sure how many people want to buy a slot set and be told this is an option you might want to undertake). Now, in regards to mechanical, you would not have to deal with this issue at all and better yet you can actually add as many lane changers as you want to your layout w/o causing any performance issues (electrical lane changers have a limit as to how many changers can be added due to the power draw issues).

                            Track not wide enough for 1/24 scale cars:
                            That definitely is true. However, SCX Digital as in the "track system itself" was never meant for anything other than 1/32nd scale. When SCX went about designing the digital systems way back when, they started everything from scratch including the choice of "not" adapting their old analog track to be digital. They are the only manufacturer to make such a decision and the reason was because they wanted to implement the third power rail (known as the Powerline) for running accessories like lap counters and chronometers all over the track w/o the need for unsightly wiring. So when they designed this track knowing it was never meant for any other scale than 1/32nd, of course their not going to think about making the track big enough for 1/24th scale since they never had any intention to make 1/24th scale cars for the system in the first place. Hence, this is neither a pro or a con issue. If there are not going to be any 1/24th scale SCX Digital compatible cars, the track doesn't have to be big enough for 1/24 scale.

                            Only the car being programmed can be on the track:
                            Why should this be a big deal? When most people are getting ready to race, there is that time spent to program / assign the car to a controller and thus no one can really do anything until the procedure is complete on all six cars (or am I wrong about that). Thus, is this really a con or just a personal preference? Because I don't have all the facts on the other brands procedure for programming, I'll leave this topic as open ended w/ no real conclusion.

                            Digital track not compatible, nor are there adapters to fit with other types of track:
                            This is actually my favorite "pro" for SCX Digital. As mentioned in the "1/24th scale" con, SCX Digital track is not backward compatible w/ analog track due to the inclusion of the Powerline. The Powerline is a third power rail added to the track as a means to create a real "Plug & Play" concept while not stealing power away from the cars. Any time that SCX wants to add a new (and very cool) accessory to the system, it's a matter of just plugging it into the track w/o any additional wires running around the place. In addition, the Powerline does not only deliver power but also "data" throughout the track so as to completely integrate the race management system from one central location (Pit Box) and then feed that data out to the appropriate accessories (lap counter and chronometer). Not to mention, with the upcoming stop light, two way communication between it and the Pit Box will be integrated so they can talk to each other and properly carry out the new penalty functions (in other words, other brands may need to totally replace a control box to add a new feature; SCX doesn't need to do that due to its open architecture w/ the Powerline). And one last thing, all SCX Digital accessories use bright LED's to light up their displays instead of the dark and hard to read LCD's used by the competition. The reason that SCX can do this and the competition can't is due to the Powerline as well. Separate power supplies in the Pit Box feed the accessories and the track w/ power that is never shared between the two and thus provides a more even power distribution to maximize performance.

                            So by taking all this into account, what you get in the end w/ SCX Digital track is a system that is well prepared for future expansion that does not need to be completely revamped every few years to accomodate a new feature. That's the greatest "pro" statement I can make because it means I have a system that I can continully build on and not have to constantly replace hardware to maintain (unlike Scalextric and Carrera w/ their 2nd and 3rd generation hardware).


                            So that's my perspective on the whole "con" issue for SCX Digital. Some of you may not agree with what I said and that's okay. As long as everyone knows that every company has a "con" that can also be a "pro" (and vice versa), I believe it can only better educate everyone in deciding which brand is ultimately the best for their needs.

                            Best regards,

                            Dave
                            Last edited by LDFan; 01-25-2009, 06:57 PM. Reason: Grammatical errors

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My take on the 'experienced' slot racers review

                              Pros:
                              This article was published on SCI
                              Cons:
                              This article was published on SCI

                              After reading this review I was uncertain as to whether I owned the same SCX-Digital system these guys were talking about. It is quite obvious to anyone who owns this system that the 'experienced' guys didn't really take time to experience the system at all.

                              We will all make our decisions as to what digital system we will purchase based on our own investigations of the manufacturers and their offerings, involving a great deal of research. More research I may add, than a casual afternoon strolling through a hobby show.

                              While I appreciate the many reviews offered here at SCI, it is my opinion that the 'experienced racers', on this one at least, have experienced a 'swing and a miss'.

                              Happy slotting.
                              Last edited by FWon; 01-25-2009, 02:18 PM.

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