Keeping simple children’s toys interesting with small modifications

souping_up_slot_cars

[Jaroslav] was racing slot cars with his son not too long ago, but like many of us discovered in our youth, driving cars around a small oval track can get dull after awhile. Rather than buy more track sections, he decided to fiddle with their cars a bit to make racing them a little more exciting.

After removing the top of his slot car, [Jaroslav] found that it cruised around corners with ease, giving him a distinct advantage over his son. He did the same with his son’s car to level the playing field, then he decided to add a few extra LEDs to make driving around the small track more lively.

Now, this obviously isn’t the most advanced of modifications, but it is a great example of extending the useful life of a toy by using cheap, easy to access components. We think that it would be reasonable to add even more features to the cars/track such as speed-dependent lighting or lap counters without changing the car dynamics all that much.

Any thoughts or suggestions to help [Jaroslav] soup up his kid’s race track even more? Share them with us in the comments.

Comments

  1. enystrom8734 says:

    I have one of those mini slot car tracks too, cheaply at a thrift store :D

    Made a digital track counter with and atmega out of the mechanical one that it included. Tracked times, and had ready set go lights. Next step was cutting power to the lane that won and such :D

  2. Nomad says:

    One question: Will this work with them digital slot cars? These are the ones where you can change lanes and stuff like that.

  3. Tech B. says:

    You could add two laser trip wire like devices and clock the speed. One os the lasers could double as the lap counter.

  4. Notary Sojac says:

    How about a persistence of vision type display to read out the score/lap number

  5. Chris says:

    I used to remove the car bodies to improve turning when I was a kid. It let me hold the throttle down to full tilt when racing.

    You can also had weight to the car to help with the turns if it’s still flipping. Obviously, you may sacrifice speed, but if you can take the turns faster, it may help you.

    I wonder if you could fiddle with the supply voltage to increase the speed…..

  6. Andy says:

    easiest Mods would be a set of foamy style tyre’s and adding a magnet to the rear end of the car. Grips like crazy and stick to the track like glue.

    When i was younger with my dad, we used to swap out the original motors for higher rpm versions that can be found in hobby stores or out of older battery operated cars etc.

    They never really did corners but they could do straights like a drag car ^_^

  7. Tom the Brat says:

    As a kid who liked them but found some friend’s boring, my advice is: Get more track.

  8. lit says:

    You know what never fails to spice up old toys?

    Fire.

    Seriously.

  9. milesinst says:

    POV!
    Add a throttle sound .wav synched with throttlr position

  10. N0LKK says:

    Sometimes the simple hacks,as this are the most satisfying for the person who discovers them dependently. As Tom adding more track is simple, but living quarters hamper that for many.

  11. t&p says:

    make homemade track! more involved and cheaper. You can make them do loops and stuff. Make it out of wood! The electronics isn’t(shouldn’t be) really complicated to do. And for something even better. Make it automated so it can be like a display piece! Then your son and you can start working together and make background for the track! Would be great bonding time and something that makes me wish I had kids. Racing these thing is out of the question because, as what was mentioned, the inner track car will always win.

  12. Chris says:

    Make a jump! Filing/grinding the slot into a V shape instead of just a || shape on the landing part of the straight will help catch the steering pin of the car (it’s very unlikely to land perfectly in the slot without this modification).

    Since the cars will practically be jumping out of the curve (or not to long after the curve if the straights are in more than one piece), training your skill to keep just the right speed so it lands back in the groove will be key to winning.

    Next step is to set up a couple of small obstacles to jump over. Too little speed over the jump and you crash in the obstacles. Too much and you’re off the track.

  13. Oscar says:

    This is a great idea for my old TCR track. Does anyone know where I may find additional cars? Should incase I foul one or two up.

  14. Jaydrive says:

    Hello folks

    I can answer some questions on this since I’m with a group that’s starting up and beleive me, some of our tracks have been large!

    Will it work on Digital? YES!

    Making a Jump – Already done by Scalextric UK, of course when you’re catching air there’s no power so the lights turn off. (Internal Battery mod?)

    You might be interested to know that Scalextric have a new device called the “Advanced 6 Car Powerbase” that has an RJ11 Interface, that although supplies data to an included tower display, but can also be used to interface to an RMS (Race Management Software) and will stop the race, cause Yellow Flag situations, Pacer Cars and so on.

    Details on the interface & USB adaptor cables can be found at http://ssdc.jackaments.com – that ALSO includes details on the protocol you need to talk to the powerbase.

    There is also another called PC Lap Counter, although a touch more expensive, it’s more powerful.

    I myself saw a photo of this with one of our tracks (not one of our biggest) but i had to go buy a certain toy to alter into a functioning vehicle to do what I’ve always wanted to do…

  15. AbsoluteZero says:

    Replace the body of each car with the body from a hotwheel or other scale model of the drivers (nascar or other) you wish to keep tabs on during a particular race. Scrape data from the official sports site and use it to control each car depending on what data you wish to see.

    One might layout the track to replicate the shape of a track such as Daytona International Speedway [ http://www.tickettoss.com/images/venue-maps/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway_all.gif ].

    I would probably just try to match the track-car’s lap time to the driver’s lap time. You can make the system self-calibrate to any new track layout (within a certain time:length parameter) by using pwm at a varying level for each of several laps while recording lap time. So now you know what pwm values will produce certain lap times. Take this a step further, work with your pwm/time values in relation to the length of the real racetrack and find how your pwm values relate to instantaneous speed on the real track.

    Since there is such a large difference of scale, the relative speed of the car is going to be very low, as is the probability of the car flying off the track at the corners. However, if we have crash data available for the car, maybe we propel it at full speed so the car leaves its track.

    Another approach might be to mount several straight pieces of track parallel to each other on a piece of plywood, using the display to show ordinal positions of each car. Have fun dealing with problems of precision of placement, modifying the cars to be able to stay on the track while moving backwards, etc.

  16. ino says:

    why don’t you try make your own track on your backyard, it’s quite simple and cheap too.

  17. Pyr says:

    Add some manner of tiny weaponry that can only be activated for brief amounts of time that will dislodge the opposing car from the track if they’re side by side.

    Alternatively, have both racers wield nerf guns and add a layer of diety-level sabotage to the races.

  18. swordfishBob says:

    A friend of mine fitted each car with a supercapacitor that charges via diode and resistor. After a couple of minutes it’s charged enough to power the headlights continuously while speed varies or the car even stops for a while.

  19. I’m currently making a slot car tape player. The magnetic tape rests on the track, and the car contains the tape head, amplifier, and speaker. I just posted the first test video last night:

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