I’ve been racing for a year, and have decided it is time to build a track and host a race. I don’t have a lot of space, but that didn’t stop me from building an awesome model railroad.
- Portable with easy setup and take-down.
- Realistic drag racing action.
- Child friendly (grandkids, maker faires).
If you’ve been following my Quest for the Golden One series, you know I have an electronic timer. I used my Nerf Chronograph knowledge to do this, but wanted to build something a little more robust, and perhaps something that others could build. Using a combination of off-the-shelf electronics and custom circuit boards, I thought a modular approach would work well. My approach to projects is to break it into discrete, testable steps:
- Two IR-gates per lane to calculate speed as well as elapsed time (custom PCB).
- I2C bus displays to show speed and elapsed time (off-the-shelf).
- Two IR-gates to show staging and trigger start of race (custom PCB).
- I2C bus display Christmas Tree (custom)
- 9g hobby servo to start the race (off-the-shelf).
You will notice how similar the gates are. Can I do it with one circuit board?
- Bluetooth wireless starting and time reporting.
- MP3 sound effects (for local events).
- Burnout smoke from vape pen hack?
So, here is what I know how to do:
Here is what I need to learn:
- How drag racing works.
- Bluetooth communications.
- Logistics of running a mail-in race.
- How to make a compelling race video.
- How to build a community around a track.
I love learning, and sharing what I learn. One of my first steps was to go to a local drag race. Like die-cast racing, I found it a welcoming sport, filled with passionate people willing to share what they know. And so, the journey begins . . .
Open Source Philosopy (10/29/21)
Before I start getting too far into the details, I wanted to talk about Open Source because it is going to come into play in many areas in the project. Open Source, at its most fundamental, is about sharing openly. It means crediting people you are borrowing from, and sharing what you contribute. For my Open Source Turtle project, I credit those I borrowed ideas from, and share everything from CAD files, schematics, PCB files, software files, and the bill of materials (BOM). I also freely share instructions on how to build it.
You can Open Source to another level by utilizing Open Source software for the information you share so that no one will be limited by licences or proprietary formats. For me that means:
I’ll be the first to admit, none of these match their paid counter-parts for features or ease of use, but as a hobbyist, I don’t need all the bells and whistles and certainly don’t want Adobe Creative Cloud bogging my system down.
The other argument against Open Source is people who want to make money from their ideas. In a lot of cases, the myriad of licenses do not prohibit commercial use. Additionally, there are companies like Adafruit and Sparkfun that are thriving using Open Source designs. There are people (myself included) that are willing to pay a premium for well designed kits that come with good documentation, tutorials, and support.
Enough preaching. Here is a quick look at Version 0 from more than a year ago?!