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Track power issue

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  • Track power issue

    I put this here, but could be at any scale track.
    Hosted a race today and observed an interesting issue.
    Its a 1/32 scale 4 lane plastic track, Artin, powered by a variable power supply (30v, 20amps).
    One of the lanes seemed "sluggish", not at one section, but all the way around was the consensus.

    Since we race time/distance, it was not an issue as everyone had to run the same way. After everyone left I tested the volts with a multimeter at various points of the track for each lane. They were ALL the same! The offending lane was the same as the other 4.

    Has anyone come across this issue? What am I missing?

  • #2
    You'll need to test the voltage with a load on the track to increase the current. That is to simulate a car running on the track. You haven't described how the track is wired or if the same controller is used on a particular lane, so I'm limited in my response. I am not familiar with Artin particularly. If the controllers are always used on the same lane, try moving the controller from the "bad" lane to another and see if the issue moves with the controller. It sounds like you have a high resistance short on that lane (similar to having 2 or more cars on the same lane). This will reduce the voltage available to the car. Patience, we'll figure it out.


    • #3
      I can rule out a controller issue, as everyone was using their own controller.

      The track is wired with trackmate hardware controlled by a computer software program. Standard setup with brakes (3 connections).

      I haven't tested with load, I will try that to see what happens. Thinking I might be left in the same place.

      yes, patience...


      • #4
        A simple way to find bad contact at the joints is to remove one piece of track, at around the half-way point of the circuit from the controller hookups. Then drive the car around the track in each lane, from there until it either slows/stops - in which case you've found a problem - or it reaches the track break.

        Put it back on the track right after the break, see if it moves when you pull the controller. If not, push it along until it regains power. There's your problem.

        The nature of a race circuit, is that it's an electrical circuit too, and this can disguise where the issues are; but it's a simple process of elimination to find where the voltage cuts out or reduces, once you remove one piece.

        Note: I'm guessing this wouldn't work so good with digital though ...
        Last edited by Wet Coast Racer; 02-02-2019, 09:10 PM.


        • #5
          Glen has stated that power in one lane seems to be down all the way around the track. If that is the case then the problem is not likely to be a poor connection somewhere around the track. Open circuit voltage measurements will not tell you anything unless there is a spot that that is completely open. As has been previously said there must be a load on the circuit to get meaningful voltage readings. For a start disconnect the last section before the one where power comes in. Put your most power hungry car, or maybe two of them with the rear tires off the track on that last section in the good lane and punch the controller. Take a voltage reading on the section where the power comes in and on that last section, both readings should be about the same. Repeat the procedure for the bad lane. You may see a fairly large voltage drop, say 1-2 volts, but maybe not if the actual poor connection is closer to the power supply. In that case the voltage at the track would be lower than at the power supply. You would have to find a poor connection between the power supply and the track for that lane. A partial short circuit could also cause a voltage drop. If you have a short circuit the power supply amp meter would be reading even if there was no car on the track.


          • #6
            Update on further testing.
            Baseline: unencumbered all lanes read the same voltage at all sections of the track.
            I added a load to the one lane and tested, no change.
            The amp meter on the PS is at zero when no load (no cars on the track) is applied.

            A load was added on the lane next to it, the voltage dropped in the lane in question by .10 volts, not a bunch, but still dropped, while the added lane stayed at the same benchmark.

            To level set here, the sluggishness is not to the point were the track times are greatly challenged like a 1-2 volt drop would. It's mainly the feel that a car loses its "pop" when applying full throttle.


            • #7
              Without knowing how you have wired the track, I can only give some ideas to check out. It sounds like there might be a "bad" connection for that lane, that only becomes apparent during higher current draw. So, what is different about that lane from the others? You could just go and clean up all the connections for that lane and see if that takes care of the issue. On the other hand I find it odd that you see any voltage change on the "bad" lane when you apply a load to an adjacent lane. Have you wired the power along the drivers panel? Is the "bad lane the last in line to the power supply? When I wire tracks, I use a center point wiring concept. The power supply positive goes to a buss bar from which each lane draws it's power (to the drivers panel - white controller boot) individually. If My Gallery is up, I have some pictures of how I wire tracks.


              • #8
                Yes, its odd to me also, that is why I posted the issue. To see if anyone has encountered the same.
                My PS goes to one central connection point in the middle of the track and each driver station is individually connected from there.

                I am going to (when time permits) rewire the bad lane. Will see if that remedies the issue.


                • #9
                  If one lane is down on power the voltage would have to be significantly lower, much more than 0.1 volt. I am not familiar with Artin track. With Scalextric track the rails can sometimes be lower than the track surface. If the car's braids are not adjusted correctly they can make poor contact.


                  • #10
                    Thanks Rich,

                    Seems odd to me, but had to ask the community. When I get time, I will just rewire the lane and check the joints.


                    • #11
                      If the power in the lane was down ALL THE WAY AROUND the track, you are in luck. There issue is not in the track, but in the wiring.

                      The best solution is to take apart the wiring connections to that lane, one at a time, clean, reassemble and tighten. Odds are that will fix it.

                      Better yet, clean up and tighten ALL the wiring connections. It helps.

                      Ed Bianchi


                      • #12
                        Without knowing the load value its hard to tell how the lane would react when cars are running. 0.1V drop with a 10 Amp load would indicate very stout wiring. 0.1V drop with a 0.1 Amp load would indicate a wiring resistance of one ohm. That would greatly impact a cars performance.

                        You're on the right track. If the track is in a semi-wet basement or outdoors (in a garage or out building) it can help to use some dielectric grease on all screwed connections to prevent corrosion.


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