Arduino Based Pinewood Derby Timer

Here's a place for members to buy, sell, trade or list wanted supplies, tools, etc.. This is not a forum for commercial merchants to advertise in.
Post Reply
User avatar
Scoremaker
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 122
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2003 2:28 pm
Location: Watauga,Texas

Arduino Based Pinewood Derby Timer

Post by Scoremaker » Thu Mar 31, 2016 11:59 pm

PINEWOOD DERBY RACE TRACK TIMERS -- BUILD YOUR OWN OR LET ME DESIGN & BUILD FOR YOU
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
wiring/connectors
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



User avatar
Scoremaker
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 122
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2003 2:28 pm
Location: Watauga,Texas

Re: Arduino Based Pinewood Derby Timer

Post by Scoremaker » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:07 am




User avatar
gpraceman
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4605
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2003 12:46 am
Location: Highlands Ranch, CO
Contact:

Re: Arduino Based Pinewood Derby Timer

Post by gpraceman » Fri Apr 01, 2016 8:33 am

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but I've never been a fan of timers that do not have some sort of on board display of the heat results, at least not for running a race with. For a test track, that type of timer will work well. The problem that I see is if there is an issue with the computer or the computer interface, then you cannot run your race. But if there was a results display on the timer, the race could still be run. I get customers calling and emailing all the time that have run into problems with the computer interface, so it is an all too often problem. Usually, it is a USB driver issue, but not always. It is safe to say that it is the #1 tech support issue that we deal with every season.

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.


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.

User avatar
Darin McGrew
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 1735
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 1:23 pm
Location: Mountain View, CA
Contact:

Re: Arduino Based Pinewood Derby Timer

Post by Darin McGrew » Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:29 am

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.
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.

We can never remember which is second and which is third though, so we build a separate display with 4-inch seven-segment displays.



User avatar
billv
Apprentice
Apprentice
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2016 12:45 pm
Location: Arlington, TX
Contact:

Re: Arduino Based Pinewood Derby Timer

Post by billv » Mon Jun 06, 2016 3:54 pm

Randy Lisano is absolutely correct. Having numeric displays to display the finish order and/or finish times is a big advantage and a good fallback if computer problems are encountered. My intent in creating this design as shown in the video from an earlier post was to present a design using minimal components for those who may not be as tech savvy, or those who just want to keep costs down. I’ve also designed and built derby timers having numeric displays for 3, 4 and 6-lane tracks that operate in both a stand-alone mode or with a PC connected.

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 billv923@outlook.com.

billv



Sandbug304
Apprentice
Apprentice
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:05 pm
Location: Glendale, CA

Re: Arduino Based Pinewood Derby Timer

Post by Sandbug304 » Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:15 pm

Interested in a timer build. Email sent!



Post Reply