If you have a pinewood derby race track and found that the track timers out there are just too expensive for your budget, I may be able to help. As part of my hobby I have designed and built a number of track timers and have developed a low cost yet effective track timer that may suit your needs.
See the attached photos for two versions of a 6-lane timer. One design utilizes a gate (start) switch and infrared sensors at the finish line to provide elapsed race times to the nearest millisecond. The other slightly simpler design does not use a gate (start) switch and provides finish order sequence only.
Does your track have more or fewer lanes? No problem. My design is well documented and is relatively easy to modify by someone with basic technical and novice programming skills (see below for offer of assistance).
My design keeps hardware to a minimum and utilizes your PC (or MAC) to display race results. It is based on the Arduino UNO® micro-controller board (ref. https://www.arduino.cc/) and free public domain display software (ref. https://processing.org) to provide a low cost solution.
If you're interested in using this design to build your track timer please respond to this add and I will send you an email with an attached zip file containing all the information you need, including a schematic diagram, parts list, design notes, software installation notes, and software source code to get your project up and running.
NEED HELP BUILDING YOUR TIMER?
My services are available for a reasonable fee to cover expenses and supplies only (labor is free since this is my hobby). Services include:
• Modify software to accommodate the number of lanes of your track
$10 Flat fee
Includes updated schematic diagram and parts list
• Build the timer for you
$20 plus cost of parts and shipping
Includes any software changes that may be required to accommodate the number of lanes and
any unique features your track may have.
Assumes end user will install optical lane sensors, gate (start) switch and associated
If you are a scouting, Awana or other non-profit organization and don't have someone with the skills or resources to build your own track timer, I may be able to help and would charge you only for the materials needed for me to build and ship your timer. I anticipate material cost to be around $50.00. This cost is for the Arduino micro-controller board, gate (start) switch and lane sensors only and assumes you already have the track. Installation and wiring of the lane sensors and gate (start) switch to your track would still have to be performed by you. However, I can provide guidance via phone or email.
GrandPrix Race Manager™ Users:
If you're looking for a timer that works with the GrandPrix Race Manager™ professional software package by Lisano Enterprises, LLC (http://grandprix-software-central.com/), I have developed a version of my race timer that interfaces with it (A prototype is up and running). Let me know if you're interested in this design solution. Here is a You Tube video-https://youtu.be/g7ddm4JIcMs
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I'd recommend adding in some simple LED's as a rudimentary way to display the finish order. They can flash at different rates to indicate the finish order. Then someone has a fallback if they run into a computer or interface issue.
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.
- Darin McGrew
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- Location: Mountain View, CA
Our finish gate came with a "flashing LED" display. First place is a steady-on LED. Fourth place is a steady-off LED. Second and third place are flashing LEDs, one fast and one slow.gpraceman wrote:I'd recommend adding in some simple LED's as a rudimentary way to display the finish order. They can flash at different rates to indicate the finish order. Then someone has a fallback if they run into a computer or interface issue.
We can never remember which is second and which is third though, so we build a separate display with 4-inch seven-segment displays.
Having personally participated in running a number of races with my son (AKA Scoremaker) I’ve found that the younger youth are more interested in who won the race and not necessarily the finish time (many don’t yet grasp the concept of milliseconds). Hence if you’re going to build a timer with displays I recommend you at least use large single digit numeric displays (i.e. of the 2 – 3 inch tall variety) to display the finish order so that they can be seen from a good distance away. The common 0.56 inch numeric displays can be used to display the finish times.
Need some help with your timer design? Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.