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DIY timing tree.

Old 06-07-2021, 07:15 PM
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Default DIY timing tree.

So I知 trying to put my mind to work on how to come up with a DIY Tree setup. I知 reaching out to the page to see if anyone else has any ideas on how to make this happen.
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Old 06-08-2021, 05:22 AM
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Hey, me too! Seems like there are far too many racers and not enough timing trees to go around.

Some quick googling brings back this: https://www.instructables.com/Arduin...ce-Light-Tree/

Apparently a lot of people are building slot car drag tracks. The concept remains basically the same for us, but bigger, more complex, and more expensive. You need 5 sensors for each side (pre-stage, stage, 60ft, trap, and finish), the christmas tree, a printer, and something like an arduino/raspberry pi programmed to make it all jive. All said and done, you're probably in for $300-500 of materials plus time and labor.

...which means it's about as cheap and easy as finding a Traxxas DTS-1 on ebay.

Or just whip out a credit card with $1000 available and get this: https://portatree.com/Item/Eliminato...Portatree-Mini
but dont forget you still may want a time slip printer.

Last edited by Nineball; 06-08-2021 at 07:56 AM.
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:31 AM
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Still researching, dug a little up...

https://dragitanywhere.com/ is a very amateur looking website promising a timing system ready for purchase in 2021. We'll see what happens, I guess.

Drag Racing Timing Systems - Trackmate Racing is the most expensive option I've found, but they do offer a wireless setup and all the extras. Also the most functional and professional site in the bunch.

Electronic Flagging Systems, Portable & Wireless Timing Systems, LED Scoreboard Displays, and Interactive Applications is pretty serious looking, but their site only half-works for me.

https://accutimetiming.com/ is a company that seems to only want to do business with permanent tracks for full scale drag racing

https://www.pololu.com/blog/623/wire...racing-rc-cars just a brief blog post, but they seem to carry all kinds of electronic goodies for a project of this sort.
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:43 AM
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Seems like someone good with Adruino could build a setup and program to control the lights, timing, sensor system.

But you'd need to be able to source 110v power for the Lights themselves, or adapt 12v leds to be triggered by the adruino setup, to run the lights.
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Old 06-10-2021, 03:04 PM
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I've programmed a couple of drag race timing systems on Arduino and Raspberry Pi. (My computer skills are better than my slotcar track building skills.) I have also used the TrackMate system for slot car drag racing for a few years, back when I was into that. Honestly, if you're serious about this, save yourself the headaches and get the Trackmate system. The only issue I ever saw with it was the IR sensor (mounted under the track) started to slip, and if you were riding the wheelie bar it didn't trigger.

Back on subject.

The biggest issue you will run into it IO's. When you stop and think about it, at a minimum you need:
  • sensors:
    • staged
    • redlight (You want a sensor just in front of your staging beam, to tell when someone leaves early. Without it, you have to wait for the full length of the car to pass through the stage beam before you can trigger a red light. You can this sensor also doubles for reaction time.)
    • win
  • LED's
    • staged
    • green
    • red (good to have)
Times two lanes that 12 IO's. If you're going to do the full meal deal, for sensors alone you need: pre-staged, staged, red light, 60 foot, 330 foot, 1/2 track, 1/2 track MPH, 990 foot, finish line and finish line MPH. This is where things get costly. You quickly exceed any of the budget friendly boards out there, or you're trying to tie multiple boards together and keep the timing straight.

Building the sensors the be adjustable and semi-permanent (they are going to get hit) would probably be the next biggest expense. I was only ever working with HO slot cars, so I was able to get off cheaper. The tree itself isn't that big of an issue. Keep everything DC, and you can drive your bulbs off of a relay or transistor attached the Arduino.

On the programming side is where the fun begins. (OK I'm a nerd, and I freely admit it.) Normal head's up racing is actually pretty simple. You setup an interrupt function that looks for two staged cars. After they are staged, flash yellow, yellow, yellow, green then start watching the sensors. (I'm going to slip in the red light interrupt here. It needs to be active before the tree starts flashing.) Bracket racing gets a little more difficult. You'll need a way of inputting the dial-in. Once you have both, then you'll need to calculate the difference, and handicap the start. The way I approached it was an matrix of values comprised of lane, light number, on/off, and delay to the next bulb. It would look something like this
Right lane dial 1.1 Left Lane dial 1.0

Right lane 1 yellow on 0.1
Left Lane 1 yellow on 0.4
Right Lane 1 yellow off 0
Right Lane 2 yellow on 0.1

etc.

After the cars start moving, it's a matter of recording timestamps as they cross each sensor.

The win light is where things get a little tricky. For head's up, it's if the car didn't red light, the first across the finish line wins. (In the case of double red, the car leaving second gets the automatic win.) In bracket racing you need to calculate each car's ET, verify they didn't breakout, and declare the winner. (You also have a decision to make regarding the double red. Traditionally the first car to go red loses, even in bracket racing. Lately some tracks are switch the timing system to disqualify who had the worst red light.)

Troubleshooting the system is where the real headaches start to occur. You quickly realize that as fast as computers are, it takes time for them to process something. In the Christmas tree alone, anyone with experience with drag racing will be able to see that you left the delay between bulbs programmed to what they "should be." (This is what I did above.) In reality you need to figure out how much time it takes to turn bulbs on/off, and how long it takes to process the delay function. In reality the 0.4's above would be around 3.92. Trust me any experienced drag racer will red light if you don't factor that part in. The other piece to keep in mind are the timing beams do not "break" every time. So how do you want to handle that situation? At best you will need to factor in some type of maximum time, and have the collect time stamps function break with max values in the unknown fields.

I know all of this sounds really harsh, but I'm a nerd so I enjoyed building it. Looking back at what I've written I really enjoyed it. I did have one that had timing towers. You used them for entering your dial-in, and then it scrolled all your incrementals. People are going to want the time slips, and to see the results on a monitor, and the interwebs. By the time you take all of that into consideration, go buy something.

If you still want to go simple, you can always do some sort of single bulb on a foot switch for starting, and an independent win light system at the top end. For you win light, build a Game Show Buzzer (plans for these are all over the interwebs), and replace the buttons with a IR beams.
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:43 PM
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I'm hoping Traxxas will bring back the DTS-1.

I sent them an e-mail... I hope You guys will to
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Old 06-11-2021, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by estill View Post
I've programmed a couple of drag race timing systems on Arduino and Raspberry Pi. (My computer skills are better than my slotcar track building skills.) I have also used the TrackMate system for slot car drag racing for a few years, back when I was into that. Honestly, if you're serious about this, save yourself the headaches and get the Trackmate system. The only issue I ever saw with it was the IR sensor (mounted under the track) started to slip, and if you were riding the wheelie bar it didn't trigger.

Back on subject.

The biggest issue you will run into it IO's. When you stop and think about it, at a minimum you need:
  • sensors:
    • staged
    • redlight (You want a sensor just in front of your staging beam, to tell when someone leaves early. Without it, you have to wait for the full length of the car to pass through the stage beam before you can trigger a red light. You can this sensor also doubles for reaction time.)
    • win
  • LED's
    • staged
    • green
    • red (good to have)
Times two lanes that 12 IO's. If you're going to do the full meal deal, for sensors alone you need: pre-staged, staged, red light, 60 foot, 330 foot, 1/2 track, 1/2 track MPH, 990 foot, finish line and finish line MPH. This is where things get costly. You quickly exceed any of the budget friendly boards out there, or you're trying to tie multiple boards together and keep the timing straight.

Building the sensors the be adjustable and semi-permanent (they are going to get hit) would probably be the next biggest expense. I was only ever working with HO slot cars, so I was able to get off cheaper. The tree itself isn't that big of an issue. Keep everything DC, and you can drive your bulbs off of a relay or transistor attached the Arduino.

On the programming side is where the fun begins. (OK I'm a nerd, and I freely admit it.) Normal head's up racing is actually pretty simple. You setup an interrupt function that looks for two staged cars. After they are staged, flash yellow, yellow, yellow, green then start watching the sensors. (I'm going to slip in the red light interrupt here. It needs to be active before the tree starts flashing.) Bracket racing gets a little more difficult. You'll need a way of inputting the dial-in. Once you have both, then you'll need to calculate the difference, and handicap the start. The way I approached it was an matrix of values comprised of lane, light number, on/off, and delay to the next bulb. It would look something like this
Right lane dial 1.1 Left Lane dial 1.0

Right lane 1 yellow on 0.1
Left Lane 1 yellow on 0.4
Right Lane 1 yellow off 0
Right Lane 2 yellow on 0.1

etc.

After the cars start moving, it's a matter of recording timestamps as they cross each sensor.

The win light is where things get a little tricky. For head's up, it's if the car didn't red light, the first across the finish line wins. (In the case of double red, the car leaving second gets the automatic win.) In bracket racing you need to calculate each car's ET, verify they didn't breakout, and declare the winner. (You also have a decision to make regarding the double red. Traditionally the first car to go red loses, even in bracket racing. Lately some tracks are switch the timing system to disqualify who had the worst red light.)

Troubleshooting the system is where the real headaches start to occur. You quickly realize that as fast as computers are, it takes time for them to process something. In the Christmas tree alone, anyone with experience with drag racing will be able to see that you left the delay between bulbs programmed to what they "should be." (This is what I did above.) In reality you need to figure out how much time it takes to turn bulbs on/off, and how long it takes to process the delay function. In reality the 0.4's above would be around 3.92. Trust me any experienced drag racer will red light if you don't factor that part in. The other piece to keep in mind are the timing beams do not "break" every time. So how do you want to handle that situation? At best you will need to factor in some type of maximum time, and have the collect time stamps function break with max values in the unknown fields.

I know all of this sounds really harsh, but I'm a nerd so I enjoyed building it. Looking back at what I've written I really enjoyed it. I did have one that had timing towers. You used them for entering your dial-in, and then it scrolled all your incrementals. People are going to want the time slips, and to see the results on a monitor, and the interwebs. By the time you take all of that into consideration, go buy something.

If you still want to go simple, you can always do some sort of single bulb on a foot switch for starting, and an independent win light system at the top end. For you win light, build a Game Show Buzzer (plans for these are all over the interwebs), and replace the buttons with a IR beams.
My idea was for a Simple No Prep No Time Tree. But id like to have the following , Staged, Red Light for Jumps and Finish line. There are 12v LED Lights on Amazon for Cheap that come in Different Colors.
Building the tree for me would be the Easy Part. Getting the Beams and everything Programed would be the hard part for me. I do have a Raspberry Pi here, and an Arduino that i use to do some 3d printer programing.. Im Deff intersted in doing the project we can Make a BOM of parts needed and have it some what of a Open Source thing.

i priced a trackmate system and $2,000 is just not in my Budget

LED Lights
Amazon.com: " Purishion 10x 3/4"" Round LED Clearence Light Front Rear Side Marker Indicators Light for Truck Car Bus Trailer Van Caravan Boat, Taillight Brake Stop Lamp (12V, Green): Automotive Amazon.com: " Purishion 10x 3/4"" Round LED Clearence Light Front Rear Side Marker Indicators Light for Truck Car Bus Trailer Van Caravan Boat, Taillight Brake Stop Lamp (12V, Green): Automotive

Last edited by tcb22185; 06-11-2021 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 06-12-2021, 10:36 PM
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Pick a platform and I can share some of my code.

Those lights may not the the greatest. I'd be looking at led tail lights.

I should have some time Monday for a more meaningful post.
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Old 06-14-2021, 02:11 AM
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TM has a 900.00 option that will do pretty much everything an with a minit tree, or a few hundred more for a sized tree. At least as I understand it, but I'm not sure if that has all the traps and if other things are needed? Wires? Sensors? CPU? etc.
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Old 06-14-2021, 12:20 PM
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Sensors are going to be the hardest part. Take a look at https://www.hackster.io/mova2/long-r...r-panel-4dfc48 for the solution I would build. I've done this but only for "short" range. (I put the power IR transmitter/blaster on the outside of the lane, is shot it straight into the receiver.) The real trick here is the tube. You need the IR receiver deep enough that it receives a very narrow beam. Depending on how creative you get, you may get away with a single transmitter.

To keep thing simple I'd build two systems. For the top end, a simple Arduino that turns on the win light for 5-10 seconds, then auto-resets.

Pseudo-code would look like this:
starting line
while not both staged
check right lane
if stage beam broken turn on stage light
if red light beam broken turn on red light (do not disqualify)
check left lane
if stage beam broken turn on stage light
if red light beam broken turn on red light (do not disqualify)

when both are staged wait 2 seconds
if one is unstaged go back to staged loop

after the 2 second wait, program random delay of 2-5 seconds (This gives the second drive 4 seconds to get into position after they have staged.)
flash green

put the red light sensor on an interrupt that goes active after the 2 second pause. At the end of the interrput code remove the interrupt from the "other lane." This way you get only one red light.

Small Arduinos can be powered off a 12v battery and a voltage regulator. It's not the most efficient, and they can get hot. Look at places like Sparkfun as well as official Arduinos if you want to go that route.

Last edited by estill; 06-14-2021 at 12:23 PM. Reason: adding information
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Old 11-30-2021, 08:08 PM
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someone is doing it and charging Big money for it. Sorry for the brake. got busy racing. but If you look up BB Road Runner they offer a few different trees. but none of them have a timer. i broke down and bought there mini tree. but if i could find a way to add a timer to it that would be cool. Until then im stuck with the traxxas DTS1 for testing
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Old 01-02-2022, 07:44 PM
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I built myself a "instant green" tree. No sensors or time but I made it with a key fob to turn the lights on ran off a 120v cord. About 3ft tall standing up. Street racing kind of style to easily set up. Pm me for pics or I can make a thread
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Old 01-05-2022, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by HellcatTrx15 View Post
I built myself a "instant green" tree. No sensors or time but I made it with a key fob to turn the lights on ran off a 120v cord. About 3ft tall standing up. Street racing kind of style to easily set up. Pm me for pics or I can make a thread
That's what we've been using and a camera at the finish line. So far, everyone has been good at accepting the decision of the race master for "red lights".
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Old 01-05-2022, 01:26 PM
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What camera system are you using for the finish line? You have a pic of your system? I currently use the DTS-1 for races but want to incorporate the instant green for outlaw class. TY.
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Old 01-05-2022, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rskoncepts View Post
What camera system are you using for the finish line? You have a pic of your system? I currently use the DTS-1 for races but want to incorporate the instant green for outlaw class. TY.
A cell phone on a stand! )
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