@Murray: Yes and if this seems to be the best and the cost effective solution we have right now, then its always better to push things and get this thing up and running. I think the timing too is essential. Right now it seems to be ideal but if things get worse, then trying something this will be different altogether.
You're right, Nadine, and what you say is especially true because the mechanical lap counters of the 1960s were notorious for running into problems. This solves the problems in a simple, relatively inexpensive, and up-to-date manner.
Yes naperlou, the model train industry uses DCC (Digital Command and Controll) to run trians around the track. This is a digital system that I had often wondered when a similar structure would be set up for the slot car world. Seems that they do have this. The bluetooth described here is simply a low cost way of adding these features into the cheap slot cars sets. As far as the phone monitoring, this is just a way of marketing to the new generation. I know my model train layout has DCC and a link to my laptop that allows me to use my phone, Ipad, android tablet, or any smart device with an app to control my trains. This is not really new, just the form and cost to slot cars is being promoted.
ttemple, that sounds like more fun. I don't really see the need for bluetooth for the cars. Some model trains (usually HO) have remote control for the trains that communicates through the track. This is all that is needed. I expect that Bluetooth could be useful for communicating from the controller to the phone or iPad, but any equipped PC could do that.
That said, Nordic makes some great Bluetooth chips.
Before you buy, make sure and look up the stuff that allows multiple cars in the same lanes and lane switching. Slot racing isn't what it used to be. The local hobby store has a track set up that allows 6 cars to share the same track. Any number of cars can share the same lane. The track is two or more lanes wide, and it has crossover sections where you can switch lanes to pass cars that are in your lane. The controllers communicate with the car to control the speed and lane changing. There is an automatic lap counter that tracks all of the cars on the track, and keeps track of who is in what position.
It also tracks "fuel" consumption, and forces pit stops to take on fuel. The whole thing is very realistic. The difference between what I am describing, and what the article describes is the ability to have more cars than lanes, and the ability to follow each other in the same lane, and controlled lane changing. The track is powered by a constant voltage, and the cars control the speed, based upon communications from the controllers.
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
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