One Micro Bit Accomplishes Its Goal

Like the Raspberry Pi, the BBC Micro Bit had a goal of being foremost an educational device. Such an inexpensive computer works well with the current trend of cutting public school budgets wherever possible while still being able to get kids interested in coding and computers in general. While both computers have been co-opted by hackers for all kinds of projects (the Pi especially), [David]’s latest build keeps at least his grandkids interested in computers by using the Micro Bit to add some cool features to an old toy.

The toy in question is an old Scalextric slot car racetrack – another well-known product of the UK. But what fun is a race if you can’t keep track of laps or lap times? With the BBC Mirco Bit and some hardware, the new-and-improved racetrack can do all of these things. It also implements a drag race-style light system to start the race and can tell if a car false starts. It may be a little difficult to intuit all of the information that the Micro Bit is displaying on its LED array, but it shouldn’t take too much practice.

The project page goes into great detail on how the project was constructed. Be sure to check out the video below for some exciting races! The build is certain to entertain [David]’s grandkids for some time, as well as help them get involved with programming and building anything that they can imagine. Maybe they’ll even get around to building a robot or two.

Thanks to [Mark] for sending in this tip!

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Robotic Scalextrics

scalectrics

At the Volkswagen factory there are two towers – AutoTürme – filled with gigantic robots lifting cars into parking spaces. It’s by far the most efficient way of putting a huge number of cars in a small footprint. Slot cars exist, so how about a completely overwrought yet entirely awesome robotic parking garage for 1:32 scale cars? (.es, Google translatrix)

The project is built around several ‘racks’ to hold cars arranged around a central elevator. An Arduino takes care of moving all the motors and reading all the sensors, with the basic idea behind the project being the ability to select a car and have it appear in the pit of the track a few moments later.

Although this is just one small part of what is already a very impressive slot car track, it is however the most electronic. Other unique additions include a very unique cantilever/suspension bridge and the usual modeling techniques of creating a landscape with little more than cardboard and glue.

The best way to get a sense of how cool the parking garage is through the video. You can check that out below.

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Replacement controllers for slot car racing

replacement-controllers-for-slot-car-racing

That blur on the right is a car racing into the frame. But look around the rest of the image and you’ll see the area is littered with extra hardware. [Matthew], [Doug], and [Barry] have been hard at work adding extra functionality and replacing the original controllers on this Scalextric slot car setup. So far it looks like their build log has not caught up with all the work they’ve done. We’re hoping to learn more details as they have time to write about them (this is coursework at University so we’re sure there’s a lot on their plates). But for now there are several videos and a gallery of images to drool over.

The cars are controlled by the voltage level in the track. The team replaced the stock controllers with a Raspberry Pi. It manages that voltage using Pulse-Width Modulation via MOSFETs. This allows the races to be automated but also makes it simple for a human operator to use just about any input device imaginable to control the cars. For good measure they also added a lap counter that uses an IR LED and detector to sense when a car passes the finish line.

After viewing several of their videos we think the goal of the project is to log the fasts times without sending the cars flying off the tracks during the turns.