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ARC PRO+ is it time for a fully loaded version?
#1

There has been discussion elsewhere around what would transform the APC PRO into a truely impressive successor to the APB C7042 powerbase. This aging SSD powerbase has a loyal and passionate group of enthusiast users. So can the ARC PRO, in a derivative variant, ever meet the needs of these enthusiasts?

Let’s use this thread to discuss and implement those new features that may win over enthusiasts and novices alike... well at least lets try :)

Lets call this unofficial project.. ARC PRO+

C
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#2

It is probably unwise to call the project ARC PRO+ as this may give the impression the development effort is linked to, or endorsed, Hornby as the owner of the ARC products e.g. ARC ONE, ARC AIR and ARC PRO.

So instead lets call the project... powerbase-2020

This recognises the effort is unofficial with no links to Hornby other than their product is used as the basis for this independent development effort.

OK?

C
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#3

So powerbase-2020 requires a capability to handle start/finish line sensors for up to 4 main race lanes and up 2 pit lanes that may run in parallel with the start-finish line. Lets call this a 4+2 start/finish line sensor.

This defines the first work-package for powerbase-2020.

Over the summer of 2019 I will report on progress in development of a 4+2 start/finish line sensor system which is directly compatible with the current ARC PRO powerbase. Thank you to slot-racer friends in Scandinavia for committing resources and time to development and testing for this workstream - hugely kind.

Also, by way of introduction please see below the first prototype of this sensor system (4 main race lanes only).
   

C
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#4

Looking forward to following progress Dr_C.

Whatever the project is called, it is fabulous to see development plans for ARC Pro. It's what any vibrant, forward-looking hobby community does - taking the latest kit and making it even better. Thanks for committing your skills and enthusiasm to this project Thumbup
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#5

Wavegreen Welcome to the forum Clive, good to have you on board. I freely admit to being an analogue dinosaur but do follow the digital stuff you are developing. Most of it is way over my head but I can see its advantages and appreciate the work you are doing.

Question for you - how long do you think it will be before digital is truly 'plug and play'? A lot of clever people are doing amazing things with it but, in order for it to become the norm, then it needs to be as simple as using a TV remote before the average customer will really embrace it.
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#6

hi CMOTD, many thanks for the kind welcome... the plug-and-play question is a great one... but not one I can answer in terms of building systems piece by piece. That said, ARC based box sets are already, I believe, plug-and-play systems.

C
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#7

How about Boiled Pickled Sp@m?
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#8

next up... some photos of the heart of the new multisensor node... a 20 pin PIC16F1619 microcontroller... or PIC16 for short.

Meanwhile... dvd3500 are you feeling ok?

;)

C
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#9

So a key feature of Project Powerbase-2020 will be a fully featured 4 lane plus 2 pit lane multi-sensor node.

This will be based on a Microchip 16F1619 microcontroller which has 20 pins. Two pins will directly interface with hardwired sensor input channels of ARC PRO. Six pins will be for start/finish sensors (ARC-PRO or APB style sensors) and a further six pins will be for pit exit signals (more than needed I know!). Two pins are for power, two pins for pc serial port comms and two pins for I2C wireless comms.

So next up some photos of the development platform... then the firmware writing begins...

C

   
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#10

I have had a bit of a re-think about this project...

The objective of the project is to expand the capability of the ARC PRO to include a 4 lane start/finish line and options for sensing slotcars entering/exitting pit lanes.

My above earlier plan was to use a PIC microcontroller as a sensor hub with all coding written in PIC ASM. This is quite hard and still leaves the challenges unanswered in terms of comms with the race management software.

So a new plan is emerging to use an ESP32 microcontroller which has onboard WiFi and BLE capability. These microcontrollers are very fast and have the necessary number of I/O pins for an advanced multisensor system.

More to follow...

C
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