New Product Preview - Remote Controlled Start Gate

Manufacturers of The Judge timers. Also manufactures solenoid start gates and light trees.

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New Product Preview - Remote Controlled Start Gate

Post by John Shreffler » Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:11 pm

I am offering a new electric start gate design, which will be controlled by my Light Tree. For now, it will configured only for the BestTrack. A similar concept for other tracks is under consideration.

http://www.newdirections.ws/BTG.htm
Last edited by John Shreffler on Thu Sep 25, 2008 7:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: New Product Preview - Remote Controlled Start Gate

Post by TAL » Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:33 pm

Hey John,
I think that is a great idea (pulling the start gate lever) That's the reason I rigged mine up like that last year on my Piandesio (freedom) track. That way the gate actually starts the timer and if the solenoid system fails you can always use the start lever manually and not upset the start/timer switch.

I have gradually been designing a way for it to also return the gate that also leaves the optional manual reset.



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Re: New Product Preview - Remote Controlled Start Gate

Post by John Shreffler » Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:50 pm

Hi TAL:

Returning the BestTrack gate to the closed position would require a lot of solenoid power. Since somebody has to be at the gate anyway to set the cars, it is not a big deal to [censored] the gate for the next race. Just a flick of the thumb.

I did make a gate last week for a 6 lane BestTrack that used two solenoids, one to hold it closed, and the other to open it (helped by the weight of the cars). This is a good hands-free solution, and it eliminates the springs. I can send you a photo of it if you are interested.


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Re: New Product Preview - Remote Controlled Start Gate

Post by Stan Pope » Thu Sep 25, 2008 12:23 am

John Shreffler wrote:I did make a gate last week for a 6 lane BestTrack that used two solenoids, one to hold it closed, and the other to open it (helped by the weight of the cars). This is a good hands-free solution, and it eliminates the springs.
(bold added)

If the cars are helping open the gate, then the gate is possibly interfering with their start and their times, giving an advantage to high-nose cars. Have you checked to assure that the gate is, in fact, getting out of the way faster than the cars accelerate?


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Re: New Product Preview - Remote Controlled Start Gate

Post by John Shreffler » Thu Sep 25, 2008 3:14 pm

Stan: The toggled solenoid gate was a one-of-a-kind design that I don't intend to make a permanent part of my product line. I hung a picture of it at http://www.newdirections.ws/images/togglegate.JPG

To answer your question, no I have not investigated your concern, although I don't think there would be much effect from high bumpers. At first, perhaps a tall bumper car would be doing most of the pushing, the solenoid would rapidly overtake and cause all pegs to be out front by the time the start is sensed. The sensor is a mag switch, and operates at a particular rotational angle of the peg bar, as opposed to for example the MW lazer gate which observes the cars. You can see the mag switch at http://www.newdirections.ws/new.htm#trouble


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Re: New Product Preview - Remote Controlled Start Gate

Post by Stan Pope » Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:19 pm

John Shreffler wrote:... although I don't think there would be much effect from high bumpers. At first, perhaps a tall bumper car would be doing most of the pushing, the solenoid would rapidly overtake and cause all pegs to be out front by the time the start is sensed. The sensor is a mag switch, and operates at a particular rotational angle of the peg bar, ...
Yes I understand that this was an investigational activity, not a "product development."

With respect to timing, any time the start gate interferes with the natural progress of the car's response to gravity, then the gate "changes the game." Even if the gate only interferes during the first 5 or 10 degrees of gate rotation, the elevated nose car is already running faster than the low nose car when the start is sensed because the low nose car has been held back more.


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Re: New Product Preview - Remote Controlled Start Gate

Post by John Shreffler » Sun Sep 28, 2008 8:02 am

Stan, your point is taken. There is nothing that beats a snap-open gate, so that the pegs are instanteously away from the cars. This approach eliminates the bumper height effect that has engendered a virtual cult following.

I have always considered the bumper height stuff as distracting and something to avoid, and the best way to do it is to limit the height of the pegs. The BestTrack pegs, for example, are made from 3.5" machine screws, and protrude a whopping 2.3" above the running surface. If there was a rule that limited the pegs to, say 1", the attention would return to the basics of friction and center of gravity. This might be a good topic to air out in more detail in a different section.


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Re: New Product Preview - Remote Controlled Start Gate

Post by Stan Pope » Sun Sep 28, 2008 10:30 am

John Shreffler wrote:Stan, your point is taken. There is nothing that beats a snap-open gate, so that the pegs are instanteously away from the cars. This approach eliminates the bumper height effect that has engendered a virtual cult following.

I have always considered the bumper height stuff as distracting and something to avoid, and the best way to do it is to limit the height of the pegs. The BestTrack pegs, for example, are made from 3.5" machine screws, and protrude a whopping 2.3" above the running surface. If there was a rule that limited the pegs to, say 1", the attention would return to the basics of friction and center of gravity. This might be a good topic to air out in more detail in a different section.
I agree, John! And we have beaten upon that topic a few times here on DT.

Our district rules have included that 1" limit for several years because we can't assure that (borrowed) tracks available for the district races will have "snap open" gates. For a poorly operated gate, pushing the 1" limit still introduces some advantage, but the advantage is small enough that it is not a "silver bullet." The winner must still do nothing poorly.

On the other hand, that 1" limit is below the potential height from an unaugmented pine block and thus introduces an "unnatural limit" on the car designer.

On the general topic of gate opening ... the most extreme case I've seen was at another council's big races: one of the track's gate was "push open", i.e. the cars pushed the gate open. Whenever the cars push open the gate, totally or partially, the car's heat times depend upon who they were racing. Usually the heat winner's time is not affected, but in some match-ups, the reverse is true. (An example is when a superior car races an otherwise inferior elevated nose car.) That would significantly undermine the purported accuracy advantage of timed racing.


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