Product reports from Independent Users

 

 

The following article appeared in the April 1998 Newsletter of the National Scalextric Collectors Club. It was written by Adrain Norman of the Viking Club.

Slot Master' Race Control and Management PC System

During the last twelve months our club has been using a computer controlled race management system. For all you club organisers still using a manual system you might consider using a computerised system if you find your club nights are becoming too busy for your race organiser, or that racers are querying the results (as if they would!). When I looked into buying a system for our club I wanted two benefits; no manual recording of results and scores and, secondly, driver confidence in lap recording integrity.

After trials with various systems, visiting other clubs and talking to people we settled on a product called 'Slot Master' produced by Dave Lelievre. Slot Master has been evolving since it was first advertised in this newsletter several years ago. Originally a track side box of electronics offering full race control it is now also available as a PC based Windows 3.x or Windows95 application with 'online' race control and 'offline' editing. Our club started with the basic Slot Master PC system. Our initial system came with infra red sensors, cabling, external traffic light display, PC interface card and software. We had to insert the sensors in to the slots on our mdf track (they can also be supplied already fitted to plexy track if required) and then fit the special interface card into a 286 PC. We are in the process of adding 'false start detection' and will later look at incorporating the individual lane power control module. Windows 3.x or Win/95 are not necessary for the basic system as the software will run direct from DOS. During the year we have upgraded to each new release of the software as new enhancements have become available. In fact, we are now at a point where we run the latest version on a laptop with a port simulator docking station (to house the special interface card) running Windows 3.11.

On-line software:

The latest on-line software is easy to use. It incorporates all the facilities you would expect to find. Driver names, car/team names can be added for free practice, timed practice and standard race. If you prefer, you can use the 'sequence control' whereby you add all the driver names to a pool and the software automatically sorts out who is going to race in each heat and what lane they will race in. Additionally, the 'sequence' allows three different modes of sequencing. All points scoring is automatic. You can choose what points will be awarded for all of the finishing places including fastest lap bonus. During the race the screen displays fastest and last lap times and speeds, race position, number of laps covered, elapsed time etc. There is also a 'no. of laps completed' manual over-ride for each lane should a car de-slot and miss the sensor. The false start detection feature monitors the car's power during the red traffic light, and issues a penalty ( displayed in red on the screen) if any driver starts to early. This penalty can be in the form of user defined time delay which cuts the power to the track or alternatively it will force the driver to complete extra penalty laps. There are too many functions to mention here but this covers the important ones.

Off-line software:

As a separate program the 'Slot Master off-line' application is an excellent help to make the evenings racing run smoothly. This windows application is well designed and very user friendly. The program is designed to be used for the administration of your clubs members results and grading positions. It looks at the 'on-line' race results file and gives you all the facts and figures that the 'on-line' software gives but, additionally, it also allows you to set up league tables for use in the 'on-line' sequence mode. More than that, you can specify a 'master' race results file. This can be used to retain the results for, say, the 'Touring Car championship' (all groups) and after the next round of this championship (possibly at the clubs next weekly meeting) the 'weekly' results file can be appended to the 'master' file. This will give you a running total of the championship as the meetings proceed through the year.