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  • OS3 vs. DiFalco Controllers

    I'm in the market for a new, up-market controller for 1/32nd scale racing. At the moment I am focused on the One Stop Slot Shop (OS3) and the DiFalco controllers.

    This is for competition. I have been using a Professor Motor Club Racer Pro controller, which I like a lot, but does not have all the features of a top-line controller. And I am really trying to break into the top ranks in the IHSR slot racing series -- when it resumes. A top-line controller will probably be necessary.

    My impression is the OS3 controllers are advanced handles, with some unique features, but pretty much set -- you can't update or customize them. The DiFalco controllers seem to be more modular -- you can update and customize them.

    My preference has always been to buy things that "Just Work" -- I have loved Apple products since my original 1984 Macintosh. I see the DiFalco products as belonging to the early IBM PC philosophy -- you can get under the hood and screw with everything -- an invitation to dive down a rabbit hole and never see the bottom.

    So I am looking for comments and guidance. Primarily on the OS3 and the DiFalco, but I'm willing to consider other options if you can do an impressive sales job on me.

    Ed Bianchi

  • #2
    Where I race Difalcos are just about the only 1/32nd controllers that I see. I have a Genesis and those can be fine tuned by changing a resistor board, the Neo model is cheaper, it lacks the full power and full brake features that the Genesis has, but those may be of little benefit in most cases. I use an OS3 Pro HO controller, I have not tried, or even seen the 1/32nd version. In addition to the usual brake, sensitivity and choke pots the OS3 has slide switches to get three different brake and sensitivity ranges. Since I have never tried the OS3 I am not certain if those ranges are appropriate. In the case of the two Difalco controllers the brake adjustment has worked for many different cars and if the sensitivity adjustment does not have the correct range you can change the resistor board.
    Other factors need to be taken into account, especially if you actually race. You don't want a controller that could fail in the middle of a race. Both controllers are robust, the Difalco has both a diode and a self resetting circuit breaker to guard against overloads and misconnections. The OS3 has an automotive type fuse that can get knocked out of its socket, if you buy one of these be sure to tape the fuse to the socket. Comfort is another factor, if a controller does not feel good in your hand you will not be happy with it in the long run.
    Probably other controllers will be suggested, if it is at all possible try out a controller before you buy one.

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't know the OS3 at all, so can only comment on Difalco vs. ACD, 3rd Eye, Carsteen.
      Disclaimer - I have now been selling Difalco for 6 years, I may be biased.

      Most guys in our club start with a Professor Motor (I sell those too), I have upgraded umpteen 2120 entry level models to be equivalent to a 2110 with the variable sensitivity and brake controls, and used to get Andy to make me batches of Club Racer 2116 with the bias resistor set to a different value, so they worked better at 9 - 12 volts.
      (Don't sell enough these days to do that as existing ones also get traded and passed on) - These also are dead reliable. I can only remember one I sold having a failed brake circuit, and one cooked over the years.

      But in a chase for speed in our club - and others around NZ, I always saw guys upgrading to ACD, 3rd Eye, and Carsteen. 4 years ago, we had 3 guys in our club using Difalcos. Now we have about 12.
      That's not from me pushing them, some were actually bought 2nd hand while I was living overseas in 2016/2017

      They have proved very reliable, and can be repaired without sending back to Jim at base. I have replaced in total since 2014 one blown power transistor (user hookup error for negative polarity), and a handful of rheostats. Other power transistors I bought in 2015 are still sitting on my shelf.

      And while some brands seem to suffer with failed brake circuits, I have not seen this on any Difalcos.

      - Funnily enough, I don't use a lot of the features of my DD304 Genesis. I mostly run full brakes, and don't wind down the Mush control other than one class on small tracks.
      I use the standard DD262 network. I have tried faster networks and don't like them. I am about to get some even slower D282 networks and try one myself, as I spend much of my time on our small tracks with the sensitivity turned most of the way down
      For a much bigger track like Shoreline, you may find the standard network and sensitivity higher are all you need, you may even prefer a custom network like the "West Coast" work well there.
      I mostly use full brake as we mainly run FC130 motors, but if using Flat-6 or boxer motors I am dialing out some brake.

      The biggest thing I would suggest is that whatever you buy, ensure you have a "full power relay" which clicks in at full throttle. It does seem to provide a small advantage.

      Comment


      • #4
        Caveat: I am not trying to convince anybody of anything or to change anybody's mind.

        Having said that: I must admit that I continue to be puzzled by the fact that Slot.it controllers never even rate a mention when people talk about somewhat serious controllers. I have been HEAVILY using Slot.it controllers for about 12 years now. Started with a 1.0, went to a 1.1 and have been using a 2.0 for some years now. And, as per HO RacePro's comment, I certainly find them to fall in the category of "Just Working".

        Twelve years, not one problem. And when I say "heavy use", I mean HEAVY use! In addition to weekly races, hosting numerous proxies and two Western Canada TT races, I have now competed in five 24 hour races with Slot.it controllers. And if they aren't any good, I seriously doubt that I would have ended up on the winning team in two 24 hour races in 2019 (OK, so I am a sucker for punishment....).

        What I like:

        * Never have to do maintenance or cleaning
        * I do not like the "scratchy" feel of contact/resistance type controllers. The Hall sensor approach is MUCH more to my liking: absolutely smooth.
        * Not everybody's cup of tea but I LIKE the "soft" feel of Slot.it controller triggers. Makes precise control a breeze and it even makes a 51 minute stint in a 24 hour race much easier to bear.
        * No need to buy and swap cartridges
        * I never have to think about the controller: just plug in and race.

        To each his own, but I find them relatively inexpensive, ergonomically friendly, dead simple to use with a feel I prefer and completely reliable. What's not to like? My personal opinion is that anybody considering a somewhat decent controller owes it to themselves to at least try it as an option.

        Alwyn

        Comment


        • #5
          Now that SuperSlab mentions it, I have noticed that several IHSR racers use SlotIt controllers. Don't know why that fact had slipped my mind.

          Any other votes for SlotIt?

          Ed Bianchi

          Comment


          • #6
            Yeah, what is it with SlotIt controllers, nobody in our club uses one but one club member has one but can't find that competitive feel with it. I've had a go with it once and didn't like it straight away, maybe because I hadn't had a chance to experiment as time was short. I'm one of three Synapse controller owners in the club, I love mine, also wiperless but uses a potentiometer that Futaba, Sanwa, KO etc have been using for decades in R/C.

            I don't think I've handled either a Difalco or OS3 but both look great controllers and I did consider for a long time getting one before going wiperless.

            Comment


            • #7
              Does the Synapse make full use of that pot, and go in two directions?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by NicoRosberg. View Post
                Does the Synapse make full use of that pot, and go in two directions?
                I would say about the same throw as my Sanwa M11 pistol and Futaba 3VC stick tranny. Don't forget R/C trannys have a centring spring, the pot doesn't have two sides as such, the steering one will get more full use than the throttle as you tend not to push forward for braking but set the ESC to do that as the throttle reaches the dead band as it takes less time that way...and time = laps.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Mind you I'm like a lonely guy on the desolate island with just a slot car track. I don't bring my cars anywhere to run them, I'm not part of a group that gets together, it's just me, my wife and our track we built. Sounds kinda lonely as I read that back... but it's great fun!!
                  Now to the controller - Slot.it is all I've ever known. I just got a V2 and for the first time feel "complete" after trying out "Ghost Mode". It's tremendous hearing the cars go around on their own while I tinker on the bench!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    One of the guys in my club is a dealer and he does carry the Slot.it controller. I believe that many of the people in my club tried that one and opted for a Difalco. The Slot.it has a lot of possible combinations of settings, hundreds I believe. Finding the perfect combination is going to take some time, but there is an online selector of some sort to help with that. It is also more difficult to change some settings on the fly because there are more knobs to fumble with, the three basic controls do have larger knobs however. Two of the major controls do have different names than most other makers use. Minimum Speed Tuning = Sensitivity and Antispin Control = Choke.
                    I did try the Slot.it myself but was not quite able to match the lap times that I got with the 15 band Difalco that I was using at the time. Perhaps I might have done better if I had more time to fuss with the adjustments. One other issue that is unique to me is that I hold the controller backwards and use my thumb on the trigger.
                    One final thing is that the Slot.it is a PWM device, so the output is not pure DC, possibly that makes no difference at all or it may cause DC motors to run hotter than they would on pure DC.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RichD View Post
                      One final thing is that the Slot.it is a PWM device, so the output is not pure DC, possibly that makes no difference at all or it may cause DC motors to run hotter than they would on pure DC.
                      You'll probably find the opposite, less heat generated.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Proven fact that PWM drives result in greater motor heat and greater EMI/RFI emissions. Its the 0-100-0% output modulated by the drive operating frequency that generates both.

                        Ed. I'm curious why you started a thread about finding a 1/32 scale controller here as opposed to the 1/32 forum. Trying to stir the pot again?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Maddman,

                          Oh I do love to stir the pot!

                          But actually, I started composing this post with the idea that I'd use the controller for both HO and 1/32nd, so the Paddock seemed like the appropriate forum. By the time I finished my post I had realized I really only needed the controller for 1/32nd. But I had already posted a draft and several edits in the Paddock. I didn't know how to transfer it to the 1/32nd forum, and I didn't think it would be kosher to duplicate it. That is the whole sad story.

                          As for pulse-width-modulated power, it essentially imposes a unipolar AC signal on top of the DC output. The power in the AC signal is entirely wasted, and ends up as heat, primarily in the motor.

                          You can, however, put a largish capacitor across the power output, and that will smooth out the signal. Trouble is, if the pulse-width-modulation is being output by the controller, any capacitance across the controller leads will also delay changes to the power output to your car. A little like turbo-lag. Would it be long enough to be an issue? Ehhh, could be!

                          That, plus the heat issue, sounds like enough reason to avoid the SlotIt controller, and any similar controller.

                          True yes? Ah, dunno. As said earlier, the SlotIt controllers are used by some of the hot-shoes in the IHSR club.

                          Reply hazy. Try again.

                          Ed Bianchi

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by HO RacePro View Post
                            Maddman,

                            Oh I do love to stir the pot!

                            But actually, I started composing this post with the idea that I'd use the controller for both HO and 1/32nd, so the Paddock seemed like the appropriate forum. By the time I finished my post I had realized I really only needed the controller for 1/32nd. But I had already posted a draft and several edits in the Paddock. I didn't know how to transfer it to the 1/32nd forum, and I didn't think it would be kosher to duplicate it.
                            Hi Ed, I'll flag this and either Alan or Russell will Move it from The Paddock to 1/32 Forum when they have a moment.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by HO RacePro View Post
                              As for pulse-width-modulated power, it essentially imposes a unipolar AC signal on top of the DC output. The power in the AC signal is entirely wasted, and ends up as heat, primarily in the motor.
                              Say what? As far as I understand it, PWM is a switching mode. The full DC voltage is on or off in a varying time ratio to determine the equivalent voltage. For instance: on a 12V DC supply, to send the full 12V to the motor, the circuit is on 100% of the time, off 0% of the time. For power similar to 6V, on 50% of the time, off 50% of the time. This is of course simplified but I do not understand what you mean by "a unipolar AC signal on top of the DC output". Perhaps you have a trace that shows this to help me understand? "Normal" PWM looks as follows:

                              PWM.jpg

                              Of course there WILL be "noise" in the 12V signal plus there is likely some switching "ringing" on the PWM on-off so the signal would never be as clean as the one shown above. And is this switching harmful to the motor in any MEANINGFUL way? Quite frankly, I struggle to see why PWM would be significantly worse than a normal averagely noisy 12V supply.

                              Originally posted by HO RacePro View Post
                              You can, however, put a largish capacitor across the power output, and that will smooth out the signal. Trouble is, if the pulse-width-modulation is being output by the controller, any capacitance across the controller leads will also delay changes to the power output to your car. A little like turbo-lag. Would it be long enough to be an issue? Ehhh, could be!

                              That, plus the heat issue, sounds like enough reason to avoid the SlotIt controller, and any similar controller.

                              True yes? Ah, dunno. As said earlier, the SlotIt controllers are used by some of the hot-shoes in the IHSR club.
                              I still struggle to understand where the AC that you mentioned would be coming from and how it would cause heat. Even if that were so, I think at worst what you are talking about here is something akin to the implied accuracy of converted numbers. People take a number accurate to within 10%, convert it with a set conversion factor and show the result to 10 decimals or 0.01%. Reality is that the number STILL is no more accurate than 10% and the extra digits mean nothing.

                              In real life? As I mentioned: I have used mine in several 24 hour races and I have not killed any motors. And I do pretty well with my controller. I suspect that a lot of this is more a matter of familiarity than anything else. I am familiar with my controller, I like it and I do well enough with it. Others are used to something else and have the same result.

                              As for adjustments: I use my Slot.it in linear mode and I find I do not fiddle around very much at all with most settings. Pretty much only the brakes.... And if I really HAVE to I would rather experiment a bit with (for instance) sensitivity etc than try out different networks on a controller.

                              But that is just me: I am a simple soul. And as I said at the beginning: to each his own.

                              Comment

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