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I found that a timer helps becase now I can compare my times from D64 to the times my car gets on my track. Now I know what times I need to see on my track to be competitive at D64, although my building skills still aren't there yet. Not only that, but I can test things like different types of graphite, and actually quantify the degree of improvement or lack thereof. The timer is a great tool to assist in the learning curve. Spending time doing it is the most important part, for sure, but the timer is a valuable assistant, at least it is for me.
Before I had a timer I used the same method of testing modified cars as Mattman. I had a car or 2 that were consistently fast and would test new builds against those cars. Using that method definitely works and is capable of helping you build winning cars. That being said, a timer makes the process so much easier. Not only are you able to immediately know immediately when you stand but it allows you to make small adjustments to the car to find just a bit more speed.
Chaos Canyon has recommended that I post here about a Race Start timer and speed measuring device for Hot Wheels style diecast cars I have made. It uses Arduino microprocessor, some basic electronic components and perspex for the casing.
You can see a short demo of the unit on my YouTube channel, CooksProjects.
Check out more details and videos over on this thread.
There is no question in my mind a timer helps. It can also hurt. What is fast on your track at home doesn't make you fast halfway across the country on someone else's track of different lengths, ramp heights and track surfaces. Even Room temperatures and humidity. Ever get a small piece of hair or debris on your track and see how much it slows your car down in a scale quarter mile? It's significant. Imagine a whole 20 feet of foreign bumps and surfaces. Two of the top drag racers around don't use timers. One doesn't even have a track so there is speed without timers but these guys are the minority and are very good at what they do. I pretty much have the times of my track very well in sync with the tracks at D64 and DCRX because they are similar in size with mine. To the point I can almost tell within a couple thousandths of a second what they will run. RedPill Hill gives me trouble but his track is very unique. If you don't have a timer, race at other tracks often and when you get the cars back. Use them as guides for your next build. D64 has a video where he says what the difference in a car length is on his track. At most places it's somewhere around 100th of a second but if you want to know for sure just watch a past race at a track that you want to race at and look at what the times are for cars that are car length apart. Then take your test car and you'll know every car length you beat it by is about how much your time will come down. It's not foolproof but it will do the trick until you are able to get a timing system.
Subsequent to my post of 12 Apr, and due to the unprecedented demand, we have designed and made a production version of the timer - the Race Timer and Speedometer v1.0. This version adds additional features to the DIY version.
The timer electronics are completely self-contained in PLA plastic that is made from renewable resources and is biodegradable. Simply place it over 1, or 2 tracks (max track width 42mm [1.65"]), plug in the power, choose the timer function you want, and race! All the information is displayed on the onboard LCD. No track modification or other wires are needed. This also means it is easily moved, allowing speed measurements at any place on your track layout. This allows so much more analysis of your track and car. e.g. What speed do the cars enter a corner? What speed means they crash? How much speed is lost, or gained, on a section of track? Which car is faster and by how much? All this information can be easily obtained and used for fun or further analysis.
The Race Timer can dual function also as a Speedometer. The mode is selected at power up. Either:
a. Race Timer. Start a race with an audio and lights start sequence. See the winning lane instantly by the over lane LED. Measure the race length (1/100th), the time difference between each lane (1/1000th of a second) and the speed of the car at the finish in Km/h. One car crashed? No worries. The Race Timer will automatically call the race ended 10 seconds after the first car passes the finish line and display the winning cars data. After each race, the unit resets to start another.
b. Speedometer. Continuously measure, and instantly display, the speed of every car that passes through the unit. Each lane is monitored and it's speed iis displayed n Km/h on the LCD.
We also have a datalink option available that allows even more precise data measured down to 1/millionths of a second to be output to a computer. This version also reports the actual speed of the car in meters/second, Kilometres per hour and miles per hour, as well as the equivalent scale speed.
If you would like further information, please visit our website at www.cooksprojects.com to see details of the production version and the latest stock levels. Please use the ‘contact us’ pages to request any further information. We have an online store here as well.
You can find the video of the new production version at:
And the best part is, the data that can be obtained from this Race Timer adds to the fun of finding the best track and car tweaks. So just how fast is your car going? ????
I really wish I had a timer, but I use the same method as Mattman does currently. I have a mod that is very consistent, and I can measure a fast mod by how much it can beat it. But a timer would be awesome!