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Lane changers not working

Hi guys, wondering if anyone has a solution for some temper-mental lane changers. Bought a Scalextric Arc Pro set in January with two X lane changers, which worked perfectly. Then in February I bought a third X lane changer and added it to the track. Worked fine for awhile then stopped resetting after car made a lane change. This affected all the cars on the track. Lane changer would not return to normal setting. After flipping it over and checking under the plastic plates I could not find anything out of the ordinary. Still would not work. Then about a week later I tried it again and "low and behold" it worked fine. Tried another car and again it worked fine. 
Now two months go by and the third lane changer is acting up again; same issue as before. Today I tried racing and now a second lane changer is not returning once a car changes lanes. So this makes 2 lane changers not returning after a car changes lanes.
I have had some continuity issues in the past, but have checked track joints and seem to have them fixed. Also I use Inox and clean the track regularly. 
Any ideas as to what I need to do to have these back to working again? I really want to have more fun with this set, but am getting a tad frustrated. Is there such a thing as flawless lane changing? Or is this just pie in the sky?
[+] 1 member Likes Zippideedooda's post

Your assumption that the lane changers will reset to a normal position is not correct (afaik). It stays in the position till the next car comes over the sensor. It will then reset or stay in the position if the car wants to change lanes.
[+] 1 member Likes Henk's post

In addition to Henk’s comment, it is worth giving the sensors in the lane changer a regular clean. Mostly that will be giving a good blow of air (lungs, air can, airbrush all work well) to get rid of any accumulated dust, dirt, fluff or misplaced scenic material. To ‘work, the sensor has to have a clear view of the cars’ LEDs. If the dirt is more encrusted, a damp cotton bud (Q-tip) will help. Be gentle.

Another thing that might give intermittent function is ambient light. The sensors really don’t like direct sunlight. If you can shade the sensors - or shut curtains or blinds - that will help. It might be worth adjusting any artificial light, just to be sure.

Otherwise, your care of joins and regularly cleaning will all help keep things trouble free. I reckon it’s a sensor issue - most likely dirt or light or a bit of both. My experience is lane chargers are not 100% trouble-free, but I’d hope for significantly better than 90%. Any problems should be limited to driver or car error.

So Henk,  you are saying that once car "A" makes a lane change, the flipper stays in that position until another car "B" comes along? Then when car B crosses the sensor it triggers the LC back to the straight ahead position, unless that driver also hits their LC button and makes the same lane change?
[+] 1 member Likes Zippideedooda's post

Woodcote, Thanks for this suggestion. I have never thought or heard of cleaning the sensors before, but it makes a lot of sense. I will give this a try. I have heard where the guide flag on the car can knock a sensor out of alinement if the guide is too deep in the slot.
Your other observation could be happening here as well. My track is exposed to a window that sunlight streams in during the day and can illuminate the two LC's that are giving me trouble. It could be they work correctly on cloudy days or when we are running at night. I will have to take note of this, to see if this is a possibility. Great suggestions!

I am also grateful for your articles on how to run races and setups in Arc Pro. Eagerly awaiting more follow up articles.
[+] 1 member Likes Zippideedooda's post

(12th-May-21, 02:41 AM)Zippideedooda Wrote:  So Henk,  you are saying that once car "A" makes a lane change, the flipper stays in that position until another car "B" comes along? Then when car B crosses the sensor it triggers the LC back to the straight ahead position, unless that driver also hits their LC button and makes the same lane change?

That is exactly what happens...

If you  want to test it (using ARC PRO) you can set up a race with regular car and a pace car then cover the LED with black tape. Start the race and since the sensor doesn't get a signal from the pace car the flipper won't change and the pace car will follow the race car.
Take the tape off and you can see that the flipper always goes back to straight.

I do this sometimes to make racing a little more interesting. The only downside is the pace car will not count laps if the LED is covered up.

Well I have cleaned all the sensors with alcohol and Q-tip, and left the overhead LED light off so it could not cause an interference with the sensors. The weather this morning is overcast so external daylight should not be an issue. But my two troublesome LC's still will not switch back to straight when a second car comes along. All my cars make the same lane change. So I am out of ideas again. 

Still wondering if others have experienced these LC issues? 

What should I try next?

Well I think I will take the track apart from LC2 to LC3 and check to make sure I have tight joints through that section. Maybe a power drop through them is causing some of the LC's from getting enough power to function correctly.

At the same time I can look underneath the LC's bottom covers again to see if pins are still in place. Ambulance
[+] 1 member Likes Zippideedooda's post

I’ve been thinking about this…

It seems like it’s an intermittent problem - not a permanent one. But when it is a problem, it affects all your cars. That would suggest the sensors, but if cleaning the sensors and avoiding any strong, direct light didn’t do the trick, there must be something else going on…

If it’s intermittent, I don’t think it’s a pin or solenoid hook out of place. That would be permanent. You could listen as you push a car over the sensor. If you hear the solenoid fire, but then there’s no flipper movement, something is loose.

Power issues could cause an intermittent problem. The easiest way to check is to place the lane changers - one at a time - in a small oval with the powerbase. If you have the same problem, check the tabs on the lane changers and tighten them. If they work fine in the oval, check the power distribution around your main track is sufficient.  Some questions…
  • How long is your track?
  • How far away (how many track pieces) from the powerbase are the problem lane changers?
  • Do you notice a power drop near the problem lane changers? In other words, are the cars slower?
  • Do you have any power taps / jumpers in your track?
  • Are you using one or two power supplies plugged into the ARC Pro powerbase?
It is possible to power the lane changers directly via power taps - run the cable from a track piece adjoining the powerbase to the same rails on the lane changer. However, this isn’t usually necessary - the lane changers should function reliably with ‘normal’ power distribution.

On our 100 to 150ft long WHO/digital tracks, we have the option of running power taps to three track pieces - usually at  1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 of the lap. However, we often just use two - and on occasion we’ve forgot to connect the taps, so have run successfully with none! We usually have six lane changers in our layouts - five straight lane changers and a pit entry. We use two standard P9300 Scalextric digital power supplies to run six cars. The cars we use are non-magnet with either the standard Scalextric motor or the 23k orange/red can Group C motor.

One final consideration - which I don’t think is a problem here - is the positioning of the lane changers. If they are positioned immediately after a corner piece, the cars’ LED will not line up with the sensor and the flipper will not move. If you are running with magnets, a half straight between corner and lane changers should be okay. Running without magnets, a full straight or more is best - depending on the nature of the corner and how fast / sideways the cars are on corner exit. I would expect this to have a more random effect - not what you describe.

I hope that helps.

Thanks Woodcote for the suggestions. 
The track is only 40ft. long. There are pictures of it in the members tracks forum threads.

The 2nd LC is 20 track sections from the power base section.

The 3rd LC is 34 track sections from the power base.

Yes there is a noticeable power drop in one of the lanes between the two LC's. I suspect this is what is causing the intermittent operation.

For this short of a track I did not feel I needed any jumpers.

And I have two factory power supplies feeding the power base/track.

I have made the track without the aid of a track planer, and as such had to draw the final connections together to fit to make up for a slight gap (1cm) in alinement. This is what I now feel is the issue. After disassembling the track at LC3 and then making sure all track sections are nice and tight between LC2 and LC3, the gap is more than I like. I have decided to redo this section by removing a half straight and replacing it with a combination short straight and quarter straight. This should reduce the gap on the opposing straight where LC3 is and improve the track joints. However, I don't have the two short pieces and have had to order them. 

I know this may sound confusing, but I think it will improve the track connections and the conductivity to the LC's. I will post a follow-up to let you know how it goes when the new track pieces arrive.

Thank you for your follow up. Its good to know I am not on a high wire here without a net.


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