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Building a part time digital track?
#1

Apologies here as I am a complete newbie to the world of digital.  I am currently completely redesigning my home layout and, as you do, I got thinking.

I already have my fully analog layout planned for the space I have and I'm happy with it.  Power is supplied by a Fusion 200W adjustable power supply (something I like as I can easily vary the voltage depending on what series of cars I'm running, or drop it right down if my kids want to play) and I use the same Truspeed controller wired to a small 3 pin plug that I use for club racing.  The club I race at is analog as is every one of my cars.  But...

I also like the idea of having a few digital touring cars and being able to run digital at the occasional family BBQ/friends round for beers time etc.  

So my (very hypothetical) question is this.  Is it possible to run two systems (1 analog/1 digital) on the same track as long as one is powered off at all times? I want to build the track as planned with my fusion power supply and club spec controller stations as this is how I would use it 99% of the time.  But given that the standard digital system allows an analog mode, is it safe to assume that the digital lane changers could (hypothetically) be left in on an analog track running a standard power supply?  (I'd only plan on using straight lane changers and not the curves)?  Then, to run digital, could I leave the fusion supply off and instead use a separate Scalextric digital power base and controllers.
[+] 1 member Likes AdeC's post
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#2

It's fine to leave the digital lane changers in while the track is being used as analog.
However, it's NOT ok to leave the digital power base connected while using analog, even if the digital base is not powered. This is because the analog power can go back into the digital power output and damage the electrics in the base.
What you need to do is cut the power delivery wires from under the digital base, and send them to a switch. Do the same for your analog power delivery wires to the other side of the switch. The center of the switch goes to the track, or your power distribution block.
This is what I have done, and it works quite well. You just need to be sure that your switch is able to handle the power (with some headroom) of your most demanding cars... times 6, because with digital you might have 6 of them running. A 4 pole, double throw (4PDT) of sufficient amperage will be needed for each pair of lanes. My track is only two lanes, which makes that easy.
[+] 3 members Like MrFlippant's post
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#3

Agree 100% with Greg's answer to your hypothetical question  Thumbup

I've also been thinking - if your main focus is analogue, I would keep the track for that. Squeezing in lane changers and a pit lane (you really need one to get the most out of digital) will be a pain if you don't use them often. And you'll need to tape the flippers for analogue so they don't catch the cars.

Another option would be some digital rug racing for the family fun. It's more investment, but might work better? Something like this at Jadlams is a great digital starter set - 34ft long (fits an 8 x 4ft space) with ARC Pro, 4 digital cars & controllers and a pit lane. If you preferred touring cars, I'm sure they'd swap them.

Of course, if you're actually very tempted by going digital for the long term, then there's plenty of expertise here to help you design a permanent layout which is both a great digital track and a decent analogue layout, with as few compromises as possible. There's also the option of the older Advanced Powerbase (see a thread here), which has better software and pace car features.

Although ARC Pro (and the APB) can run analogue as well as digital, it won't be anywhere near as good for your club racing cars as the Fusion and Truspeeds - so Greg's 4PDT switch is the ideal solution if you go for a hybrid track.
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#4

Yeah, I did the "analog mode" on the digital base thing for a while. As you say, still not as good as true analog. Besides, the club guys really like to use their own controller, which isn't possible unless you do the switch and provide true analog controller connections.
I still use the analog mode of the power base for lap timing/counting, though. It just doesn't realize it's not controlling the cars, too. ;-)
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#5

All makes sense, I like the idea of using a 4PDT switch and I'm pretty sure my planned analogue layout could accommodate 3 lane changers.  To allow a pit lane may require some minor alterations but it's not an impossibility; it would definitely only be a single lane pit though.  How long are the pit entry/exit sections?
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#6

Scalextric Digital pit lane entry and exit pieces are 1.5 full straights in length.
Carrera's are one full straight long.
In both cases, it's best to have at least one half straight before a lane changer, to ensure the car is not at an angle while crossing over the sensor, which can cause the sensor to be missed and the lane changer to not be in the correct/desired position.
[+] 1 member Likes MrFlippant's post
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#7

Curve ball answer.

If you were to select oxigen as your digital system instead of Scalextric, then you could simply build your analogue layout as planned, and when you require digital running, use a straight-wired 3 pin plug to give your rails 100% DC power, which is what oxigen cars require to run.

o2 lane change drivers are powered by the track or could be powered independently. You’d need magnets only for a finish line. All car control is wireless from the throttle to the car.

I actually think this would be the simplest method of having a decent 3-pin analogue / digital hybrid, you don’t have to unplug or isolate anything, and you can use your analogue 3pin controllers freely for normal operation. You also get to utilise your Fusion power supply for both analogue and digital running.

When I first started building oxigen circuits my main power feed actually utilised this exact setup so that if oxigen failed for whatever reason, the track could still be driven analogue with a 3 pin plug. We don’t use that now but it was perfectly operational when we did.

I have even taken an oxigen chipped car and controller to an analogue club, put my direct wire 3 pin plug in, and then driven the car wirelessly. Caused a few raised eyebrows when I started wondering around the room while doing so!

This would most likely be a more costly solution, because oxigen isn’t cheap. But is an option.
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#8

I've done that a few times, though I usually do it with the CRI rather than an oXigen car. Years ago, we had a race series where I chipped my car because I wanted to see how competitive oXigen was along side analog cars in the same race. It fared quite well, but on the rare times when someone else's car landed in my lane... they were NOT happy about it. LOL
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