Test track

General track discussions.
Post Reply
Rukkian
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:59 pm
Location: West Des Mones, IA

Test track

Post by Rukkian » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:16 am

Over the weekend, my sons, my father any myself all spent about 4 hours creating a test track. It turned out pretty good, and we now have a 2 lane 24' test track that is actually really fast due to the surface being really smooth. We did not build a support to keep it up, as I plan to just set it up on either the kitchen table, or a step stool for now, but would like some advice.

We do not have a timer, as getting my better half to agree to that would not be worth it at this point, as the track was tough enough. What I plan to do is use the faster of last years 2 cars as a constant, and then judge the new cars based on how far they are ahead of last years, as it still seems to run pretty good. I drew several lines, each 2" apart by the finish line, and will use that to judge the difference we can make. I know this will not be real accurate, but it is better than nothing.

My question comes from, what would be the better test - raise the end up and get a faster speed, or keep it low, so they coast longer? My thought was that the main area you typically loose is on the flat (due to alignment, death rattle, etc), so I would think slower would help determine that, but would like the opinions of the experts here.

I am not electronically inclined when it comes to circuits, but if somebody know of a very cheap way to setup a timer that is accurate, or has a one lane timer they no longer need, I would be interested.

Thanks.



User avatar
FatSebastian
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 2646
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:49 pm
Location: Boogerton, PA

Re: Test track

Post by FatSebastian » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:35 am

Rukkian wrote:what would be the better test - raise the end up and get a faster speed, or keep it low, so they coast longer?
Lower = slower. When trying to judge between two cars by eyeball, then slower can be advantageous. However, various performance issues may tend to reveal themselves only at higher speeds. If you must fix the track to a constant height for testing purposes, then higher is probably a more realistic racing condition. We ran our homemade track both at 2.5' and at 4', but ultimately we extended our homemade test track, fixed the starting height at 4', and added a single lane timer.
Rukkian wrote:We do not have a timer, as getting my better half to agree to that would not be worth it at this point.
We were able to justify the expense of the timer to a degree by giving it to the children as a Christmas gift one year along with some other PWD-related things.



rpcarpe
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 736
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:58 am
Location: Huntsville, Alabama

Re: Test track

Post by rpcarpe » Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:57 pm

I'd fix the height at 4', standard. If you want to watch slower, just start the cars 1/2 way down the slope. When I test cars pre-race, roll forward & back on the flat, start it just above the curve, then a full run with eyeballs front, back & side.


My wife started a new support group... Widows of the Pinewood Derby.

User avatar
gpraceman
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4769
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2003 12:46 am
Location: Highlands Ranch, CO
Contact:

Re: Test track

Post by gpraceman » Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:06 pm

Check out the K1 Cheap Kit with Computer Interface from http://www.microwizard.com/k1page.html for $60. If you don't want to solder it together, it is $20 more. Build a wooden enclosure to house the electronics and you've got a good quality timer on the cheap. Then connect it up to a computer so you can capture the heat times.


Randy Lisano
Romans 5:8

Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

BallBoy
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 196
Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:46 pm
Location: SoJo, UT
Contact:

Re: Test track

Post by BallBoy » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:36 pm

For general testing I suggest that you make you test track feel like the official track your pack uses. In my experience races are won and lost on the flat section, though both the slope and transition are critical elements to master as well. Also, you could allow several different setups of your test track to test each of these elements. One to mimic the slope of the official track, another to mimic the transition from slope to flat and finally one to mimic the flat section. A car that does well at all three of those elements should do well come racetime.



Rukkian
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:59 pm
Location: West Des Mones, IA

Re: Test track

Post by Rukkian » Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:27 am

I got a look at the track our new pack has last night, and it looks to be in pretty bad shape, this should be interesting. It is 3 lane, and they actually have a timer, with GPRM, which is nice, however the track looks very old. I guess we will see come race day. We are not really worried about the pack races, as we will be heading up to the district races in our old district since it will be my older son's last year, and they have no district or council races in our new council.

The track we will use in district is a pretty new 48' best track, and was really smooth last year, and since that is where the competition will probably be greatest, that is what we plan to work towards.


As for the $60 option, there is no way I could float that by the mrs, as she is already not happy at what I spent on tungsten weights for 2 cars, and the other accessories so far, and that just won't fly at this point.



User avatar
Scubersteve
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 199
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:34 pm
Location: Milton, Fl
Contact:

Re: Test track

Post by Scubersteve » Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:50 pm

well, if the time ever comes when the funds are available, I recommend swan-tech timers.
You can get two for $81 including shipping. I got a couple and they are very easy to set up.
I am very happy with them.


If you don't take your fun seriously, who will?

Rukkian
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:59 pm
Location: West Des Mones, IA

Re: Test track

Post by Rukkian » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:29 am

well, if the time ever comes when the funds are available, I recommend swan-tech timers.
You can get two for $81 including shipping. I got a couple and they are very easy to set up.
I am very happy with them.
Thanks for that info, I had noticed their site, and may pick one up.



quadad
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 494
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:51 pm
Location: SE, WI

Re: Test track

Post by quadad » Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:45 pm

My two cents would be that the timer isn't going to be of greatest advantage if your test track doesn't lay out and act like the race track. To optimize your setup, you need to be working on a similar-to track. Otherwise you are perfecting for the wrong track as a car that wiggles on one track might not wiggle on another. This includes the start section height, slope, flat length, guide strip friction and joint quality.

When in what sounds like a somewhat similar situation, until we got some feedback on how our cars ran on an aluminum track, we made some rather blind adjustments that worked out fairly well. Generally, we lightened up by some measure on our drift for the aluminum track than what we ran on a wooden track. We may have gone a little more aggressive on COM as well, but I don't think much. The better quality aluminum track guides and reasonable slope, etc., allowed us to do this.

Any test and tune time you could get on any similar type track would be great. There may be Packs nearby with an aluminum track, there are some commercial centers now with them and most of the league folks use these tracks (you might be able to mail in a car and pay to get a handful of runs - depending on how far you want to go with this).

Once you have some feel for how your style of cars performs with a given COM and drift, then you can work from their to attempt to perfect the setup. No guarantees as each car is a little bit different. Optimum tuning requires the similar-to track. When our boys were racing their cars would basically finish in order of the very best wheels and setup to the least best wheels and setup every time. This included a typical mix of wheelbase, but we had typical COMs, for each that worked on our Pack's track. So that is the ultimate recommendation - put all the effort you can into helping your boys make the highest quality wheels, polishing and alignment.

My biggest concern regarding any older, wooden track would be the quality of the joints and the severity of the stop section. Some years our boys raced their Pack cars first at a nearby open Cub Scout race. The stop sections were a murderer's row that either slammed your car into a wall or allowed them to drop onto the floor from a huge finish section incline. Some Packs think that's fun, and I can't argue with their desire, it just wasn't my desire to have our carefully built and setup cars get beat up. So here's hoping that your cars see the aluminum track first. Presumably you will be able to make some adjustment mods then for each track. Good luck ! :thumbup:



Rukkian
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:59 pm
Location: West Des Mones, IA

Re: Test track

Post by Rukkian » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:02 pm

Thanks for the responses everybody. As for the track, as far as I know there are no resources around, and I will probably not send it in, as the point is not to get the fastest car, but the time spent with the kids, just trying to make the best of it. This is the first year we have had any kind of test track, and have just gone in blind (other than a short tuning board), so I figure it would have to be better than nothing.

As I still have yet to get the rules for the pack race, we may keep the speed axels and matched wheels we bought for the district and council races, and use a set from the box. We do not care much about the pack race, as I do not get the feeling it will be much competition anyways, and supposedly every single kid gets a trophy so nobody feels bad, which I do not agree with, then if the cars get messed up, we have several months to rebuild them if need be.



User avatar
Scubersteve
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 199
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:34 pm
Location: Milton, Fl
Contact:

Re: Test track

Post by Scubersteve » Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:05 pm

If nobody minds I'll piggyback my test track stuff onto this thread...

I built a two lane test track 32' total length as that's all I have room for. Approximately 26.5' timed length.
I used that vinyl coated shower board stuff and foam wood-looking trim for the guide strips. (it was cheaper and more uniform than the actual wood stuff)
It just uses a weighted hinge controlled by a gate latch for the start pin mechanism.
I've got two swan-tech timers announcing the results.
It's no Besttrack, but it's way better than nothing.
Image
Image


If you don't take your fun seriously, who will?

quadad
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 494
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:51 pm
Location: SE, WI

Re: Test track

Post by quadad » Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:39 pm

Our 3-lane, full length practice track was also built using inexpensive materials. It lasted long enough for our purposes and was probably a little over $100 including the timer kit. I only offer that mocking up the desired track's configuration is of greatest value because the stability issues you see in the flat are as a result of the speed you get from the starting point and how your car gets comes out of the transition. None of that will be similar to the real track if you don't have the full length to play with, even on a temporarily setup basis. With any practice track you will see if there are some significant running problems, I am just not convinced you will be able to really 'tune' your car or predict which is fastest.

One other note - since you have time, kids love running their cars down the practice track - even made for play cars.



Post Reply