How To Build an Electronic Finish Line

Diecast64 Monday, 1/13/2020

Hey guys I’ve been working on a how-to for making an electronic finish line for a while.  I finally finished it.  There is an extensive post with pictures and links you can find here:

 It is based on the finish line that I use on my shelf track.  I wrote it so that if you have zero electronics background you should still be able to build it.  I also wrote it so that if you have limited resources and building skills, you should still be able to build it.  If your skills or resources are more advanced, take the basic idea and get creative.  I also made a video. The post is way more detailed, but here is the main idea.

 Hopefully this will be helpful for some of you.  Let me know if anything is unclear in the article so I can fix it and make it more understandable. 


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Go_Time 1/13/20

This is awesome!!! Thank you for the article. 

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redlinederby 1/13/20
Site manager

Wow...great work! Nice full featured tutorial. This might get me to dig out my Arduino from when I tried to make a finish line years ago. I used PVC pipe as the structure and my prototype worked well but the thing was HUGE with the project box and everything. 

I'd love to have something that I could build an API for and connect to the web site. That's my dream. Wish I had enough knowledge and backbone to figure out how to connect Arduino or RPi to the 3DBM finish line I have, rather than build a whole new finish line.

Thanks for the share!

  • The 3DBM finish line is based on an Arduino so all the resistors would be the correct voltage. — 3DBotMaker
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Mattman213 1/13/20

I just finished up something very similar but used photoresistors to sense the car crossing and trigger the win light.  Used a broked 60's finish line to put all the lights and sensors and its been fantastic (once I finally got it all to work properly).  I followed an article that 3D Botmaker posted here a long time ago.  Love seeing this kinda stuff!


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redlinederby 1/13/20
Site manager

I don't think I would have thought to use the sensors with the paddles on top rather than having the car break the sensor. Interesting. It's a nice way to get the guts out of the bottom, everything is on top. 

  • Not only does it get the guts off the bottom, but you don't have any issues with sensitivity from background or outside light when it's enclosed at the top. — Diecast64
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redlinederby 3/29/20
Site manager

I dug out my Arduino and got a couple of the sensors Robby outlined and spent some time refreshing myself on how all that stuff works. Managed to get it hooked up to my Raspberry Pi too so I have an internet connection for it. Seeing if I can come up with a framework that will not only show the lane winner and time, but also pass that data on to the web site for automatic results reporting. It's something to play with for a stuff!

  • Keep at it, interested in seeing the results! — Mattman213
  • Did you get any further with this at all? — Chaos_Canyon
  • Sadly, no. Other things and life stepped in so this took a backseat. I have a working finish line so I'm not desperate but I do want to keep moving on my idea. — redlinederby
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Gunslinger 10/2/20

Hey guys... new guy Steve aka Gunslinger Garage here.  Does anyone use a raspberry pi for finish line stuff?

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redlinederby 10/2/20
Site manager

I'm working with a raspberry pi on a finish line. You can certainly use a Pi instead of an Arudino if you have the wiring skills. I found the Arduino easier to do prototyping and wiring with but programming it isn't much different, if you're talking the actual code.

I'm actually using my Pi with my Arduino. My Arduino doesn't have wifi so I'm using the Pi to connect online. I'm passing the race data from the Arduino to the Pi and then out to the cloud.

I haven't worked on my finish line much lately as other projects have taken priority but hopefully get back to it soon. I've proved the concept to myself so now it's just getting things structured so I can try it with my track. 

  • Keep me updated please ???? — Gunslinger
  • I'll be sharing the build here when I get back around to it, no worries — redlinederby
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Peter_Bee 10/2/20

Before my Stroke, I would have loved this article. But now, well, I can barely handle the hot glue gun...the rest is too technical for my addled brain. It's great video though ,and the article is well structured Robby. You're definitely a credit to the hobby. See ya the races at D64 in a few weeks!

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