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Getting Back Into Scale Racing--This Digital Thing is a Little Overwhelming!

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  • Getting Back Into Scale Racing--This Digital Thing is a Little Overwhelming!

    Hi All,

    I'm getting back into slot car racing after a long absence (about five years). I'm located in the Hartwell, Georgia area.

    My experience with slot car tracks is both plastic and routed wood (actually MDF). I had a 123’ Scalextric four-lane analog track with the typical driver stations from Slot Car Corner, Pyramid power supply and power taps (also made by Slot Car Corner). Race management software running on a PC, etc. Reverse switches. Track call buttons. Etc.

    We raced on it for nearly seven years until a move forced me to sell it.


    Several club members had either Scaley or SCX or Ninco tracks. No one at the time had Carrera. Perceived as too expensive, I guess.

    Then my club moved to routed tracks and several guys made some nice ones. I designed and built a nice routed track as well, but never completely finished it due to another move. It would lend itself to Carrera because my lane spacing was about the same (about 3.75 inches) as we were moving to 1/24 scale cars. But it was a four-lane analog design (at about 105’ per lane).

    Now I'm ready to build a track and want to go with Carrera. My conundrum is whether to stick with what I’m used to (analog with four lanes) or venture into digital and staying at two lanes.

    I’ve watched the videos on YouTube by Trevor Ursulescu of MadCapRomanian where he builds a four-lane digital track in Carrera but his assembly technique is vague and he offers no insights regarding powering the track, etc.

    The question is, having never experienced digital racing—am I going to be happy with two lanes (and some lane changers mixed in or cross overs)? Some say yes. Some say, it can get fiddly and can be a challenge for inexperienced racers with lots of wrecks. I've spent the past few hours here reading posts related to this and don't really have a good feel for the best way to go.

    I want a track that's at least 100'. Just a personal preference. I've got the room and the routed track I designed was exactly 105' each lane on a table 8' x 26'. If I go with two-lanes via digital, I probably won't need that big of a table to accommodate that length.

    I'm about ready to dive in, but I'm looking for a comfort factor regarding the swing to digital. And from there it would be nice to find some sort of tutorial on all things related--power taps, connector blocks, controllers, driver's stations, power supplies, connecting it all up, etc.

    As I recall, all of that was somewhat complicated with the four-lane analog tracks. But at the time, I had a lot of club participation, supervision and assistance in the build and set up.
    I probably won't have that here so it seems a little daunting.

    Also, I don't know if those of you building larger digital tracks are sticking with Carrera's controllers or doing something aftermarket. The Carrera controllers seem a little toy-like compared to expensive aftermarket models.

    Everyone here seems very helpful and I missed the site when it was down for awhile. I appreciate everyone's forbearance on bringing up a topic probably already covered here multiple times.

    Thanks!

    Wallace





  • #2
    I would look around for someone you can race digital with. If you have never done so, and are coming from a long time of analog racing, I wouldn't recommend it. Reading about it isn't always enough.

    Tell me this... if you came up behind another car in your lane, and every time you tried to change lanes, they happened to do the same and you were stuck behind them for a full lap.. or even multiple laps... what would you do? If you'd get ****ed off and ram them off the track, then digital is not for you. If you accept that as part and parcel of motorsport, and will stop changing lanes and let him get out of your way, then maybe digital is for you.

    Crashes will happen either way. And you're right, digital has more crashing opportunity, so you'll need to also be patient and help new drivers learn the ins and outs of shared-lane slot car racing.

    IMHO, the entire point of digital is to have that dodge and blocking kind of action. Sure, getting stuck behind another car sucks... but THAT'S RACING! I enjoy the challenge of out-thinking my opponent, or flat out out-driving them once I manage to get next to them, until *I* can get in front of them! As such, I believe that a 4 lane track for 6 car digital is just a waste of space, and splits up the cars too much, taking away the fun of the bumper to bumper and door to door racing. It might as well just be analog at that point.

    Don't get me wrong, I love analog racing, too. If you make a 4 lane track, it should at least be an analog track, even if you make it also digital. Even on my two lane digital track, I can run two lane analog races. Also, making it analog capable means you don't have to put a chip into EVERY SINGLE CAR just to drive it around.

    And yes, aftermarket controllers are available. Look at Digital Racing Solutions' RamJet-X for D132. Made in the USA!

    Comment


    • #3
      I think you will really enjoy what digital brings into play. You don't need more than two lanes. I've raced some on 4 lane digital and you lose to much interaction. I don't find getting stuck behind someone happening very often or for very long. It becomes a chess game. The pit stops, fuel management, weather and tire changes up things too. (Smartrace). The biggest thing that people have to learn is that their lane may well be occupied by another racer or a ghost car. That never happens with analog. You have to learn to keep your car more in your peripheral vision and pay attention what is going on in front of you and what is coming up. That is how you plan your moves and keep from rear ending someone. I find newbies too intently focused on just their car. Doing that is why you miss lane changers and blow by the pits and run up on someone.
      I hadn't run slots in 45 years until getting into Carrera two winters ago. It is some pretty terrific stuff. I didn't find the Carrera thumb controllers terrible, but I wasn't an active slotter engrained on triggers either. That said, I just got a Frankenslot wireless trigger a few weeks and do love it.
      Wireless is awesome too. No being tethered on a leash. You can constantly change the perspective of your track not being constrained to a drivers station.
      There are great people on this board willing to help and answer questions. Make use of it!

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you sir! Yes, based on similar advice from a former club member, I'm going ahead with the purchase of a digital set and try it out. Then expand to achieve a layout that I hope to enjoy for a long time. The beauty of plastic vs. routed is you always have the immediate ability to make changes in the layout anytime you want. Not so with a routed track. You better like it a lot.

        The concern as I mentioned above, is dealing with the complexities of a larger/longer track. When I built my Scalextric and the routed track, I had a lot of help with the track wiring guidebook from SlotCarCorner as well as help from club members who had already gone through it all successfully. I'm excited to be getting back into it.

        Comment


        • #5
          There isn't really much for wiring concerns. Really the only wiring is running power distribution around larger tracks to eliminate any voltage sag. My track is just shy of 100’ and supplied at 4 equal intervals. Really not that much difference than when it was only supplied at 2 spots. Carrera has good electrical contact between sections, never gave any problems for me.
          Another bonus with Carrera track is being able to run both 132 and 124. I like both! And you can justify buying twice as many cars!!

          Comment


          • #6
            Rokon and MrFlippant, thanks for your insights and advice. We move into our new place next week and it comes with a 24' x 30' detached garage (that's air conditioned and heated to boot!) and that's where this thing is going to take off (in addition to keeping a few motorcycles tucked away inside as well). I appreciate the insights into what you can do with digital vs. analog.

            However, I did keep a fairly large collection of analog slot cars (probably close to 50) in various makes--Scalextric, Carrera, SCX, Slot-it, Fly, Ninco and a few other brands. Is it possible to run these on a digital track? MrFlippant--you mentioned that possibility in your post, but what does it require in terms of reconfiguring the track?

            Comment


            • #7
              You can set up a Carrera digital track to run analog cars. I have no experience doing that so can't give much insight to it. The lane changers don't function and the analog cars can only run in one direction due to the lane changers. You should be able to find info about it somewhere on the forum.

              Comment


              • #8
                If you're afraid of the wiring aspect, then I'd suggest getting a Tek-Slots modded control unit. They take a regular Carrera Digital control unit (CU) and add analog function. You can even get one that will count laps for the analog cars. This can all be done DIY, but if you'd rather pay someone else to do it, they have nicely modded CUs ready to run.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MrFlippant View Post
                  If you're afraid of the wiring aspect, then I'd suggest getting a Tek-Slots modded control unit. They take a regular Carrera Digital control unit (CU) and add analog function. You can even get one that will count laps for the analog cars. This can all be done DIY, but if you'd rather pay someone else to do it, they have nicely modded CUs ready to run.
                  I went from plastic to wood, back to plastic, I went with digital Carrera. Why, because I usually run cars alone, and I like chasing ghost cars. Couldn’t do that on my analog track. I have 20 years worth of analog cars, and purchasing a Tek-Slot sealed the deal. I can run my analog cars with a flip of a switch, or chip my favorite analog cars. Best of both worlds.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Scatman1, thanks for your insights. Between you guys and YouTube videos from folks like Johnnie Hobby, First State Racing Club and Garage Maker Guy, I'm convinced going digital is the way for me to go. I'll be doing a lot of solo racing and chasing a ghost car sounds like fun and could help me hone those lane change and passing skills. Thanks guys! I'm excited about getting back into it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by whitefox View Post
                      Scatman1, thanks for your insights. Between you guys and YouTube videos from folks like Johnnie Hobby, First State Racing Club and Garage Maker Guy, I'm convinced going digital is the way for me to go. I'll be doing a lot of solo racing and chasing a ghost car sounds like fun and could help me hone those lane change and passing skills. Thanks guys! I'm excited about getting back into it.
                      Sounds great. My ghost cars are tuned and with magnets. The cars I drive are tuned but with no magnets. Makes it very challenging, and hard to win sometimes. You might want to look into purchasing Lane Gate Collision Avoidance chips to add to your lane Change section.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Wallace,
                        Just a couple of comments and everything posted here is spot on. Money is the key here. How much you got?
                        1: Consider buying a 1/24 digital set first. You may not want to run 1/24 cars now but it gives you a couple of cars to try (Awesome) AND it gives you the all important borders that you will need eventually if you want to lose the magnets. It is cheaper to buy in a set than purchased separately.
                        2: Tek Slots analog CU is the way to go to run your analog cars.
                        3: Lane Gate collision avoidance chips are also nice for new drivers but if your running mostly solo it's not really a necessity right off the bat.
                        Dave

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks for the insights Dave. Yes, I thought about buying that 1/24 set from Carrera. It would give me a pair of 1/24 cars as well as the wireless controllers. Doesn't look like it's going to be available until December--if that. But I will likely place an order. I might buy a 1/32 set as well to get the cars and more controllers and possibly track pieces that would be a part of my final design. Regarding money, I haven't really set a budget for this--so I guess that means money is no object. I want a really nice track that's over 100' with all the functionality being discussed here.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The reason I recommended the Lane gates, is when you run ghost cars, they will switch lanes like a Kamikazi, there’s no slowing down.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm still on the fence for the need of lane gates. Getting taken out by either a racer or a ghost does suck but ultimately it is your fault for being in the way. You know they might change lanes….. so either back off or punch it by them. It's racing, strategy plays a role. It is an eye opener that a slow ghost car can beat your fast racer. Shows the importance of not crashing. If they could make a lane gate for the pit exit I might be in, those are tough to avoid when someone pulls out not looking.

                              Comment

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