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Introducing Digital

Image of Matt TaylorMATT TAYLOR takes us through Digital Slot Car Racing, what it is, and what it can do.

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What is Digital?

Over the past few years, many manufacturers have started to produce their own digital slot car systems. These are more advanced than the standard analogue systems. In principle, a digital control system allows you to run multiple cars on the same track at the same time, unlike conventional slot car racing in which you will have one car per lane.

The Worthing HO Club Time Trial track at our 2019 Autofest Event. This digital layout uses the standard crossover to create a single lane track, while allowing two cars to race at the same time.

A standard system is fine for home use between two people but when you have the family around for Christmas, to be able to get everyone racing at the same time digital is the way to go. With a digital system, multiple cars all running at the same time around a track can create a bit more mayhem, or realism, depending how you look at it! Think of the recent Formula 1 race at Jeddah with more red flags than a Spanish bullfighting ring.

Standard analogue systems control each lane by varying the amount of power fed to the track. The more power fed, the faster the car will go and vice versa. With digital control, the power to the track is constant and the throttle sends a digital signal along the track telling the respective car how fast it should be going. Each handset is bound to its car although this is easily changed, and allows you to change lanes as and when you wish.

Scalextric Digital

Scalextric released their digital system under the name ARC PRO. To complement the system, they have produced Left and right hand Pit Lanes, as well as a Lane Change Crossover. These components allow you to switch lanes and pit as desired. They activate using an additional button on the handset that when pressed, diverts the blades in the track to allow you to change lanes. Of course, you can add multiples of any of these components, and could use the pit lane and Single Lane Track to create overtaking lanes or three lane tracks.

At the point of writing C1404M is the current ARC PRO starter set.

ARC PRO is typically available in starter sets to get you going right from the chequered flag. It comprises digital fitted cars, digital controllers, and of course track to build your circuit. If you want more cars you just select the one you like and add a digital chip. Converting many of the cars in the Scalextric range is easy, as the majority come 'Digital Plug Ready', or DPR for short. Simply swap the blanking plate for the chip, available separately, and start racing. Which chip you need depends on the style of car, but all DPR cars are easy to convert. Other cars need a little more work, but I will be looking at how this is achieved in a future issue of Racing Lines.

Alongside the digital systems Scalextric have released hybrid sets. These are known as their ARC AIR range. They are still standard analogue sets, but with added digital technology. Both ARC AIR and ARC PRO have a bluetooth transmitter built into their start lines which can communicate with a tablet or smartphone via an app.

World GT Arc Air starter set is pictured here with the app displayed.

The app is available to download from the respective app stores, if they are compatible. When connected, this allows you to set up different race modes including a quick race, grand prix race, and endurance racing. All can be adjusted to how you would like to race. You can build a 'collection' of cars in the app, so if you are a collector of cars you can work out with the app which one is the fastest. Not only that, but the app will also simulate tire wear, fuel consumption, and measure lap times too.

Additionally to these systems, Scalextric have also introduced a system called Spark Plug. This is still analogue racing, but uses a different app on a smartphone or tablet as a controller, instead of a conventional trigger.

The C8333 Spark Plug Dongle can be seen here with it's appropriate app. There are sets available, or this can be added to some existing sets.

SCX Advanced

Like Scalextric, SCX also offers a digital system but they have done it slightly differently. SCX produces two distinct ranges, their Standard range, and their Advanced range. Their standard range is, as the name suggests, their standard analogue track and the Advance is the additional digital components and digital fitted cars.

SCXE10402 GT3 Racing starter set from SCX gives you the perfect start in SCX Advance racing.

The standard track sections, excluding the powerbases, will work with both analogue and digital systems and SCX produce a Pit Lane, as well as Single Lane Track to extend your pit lane, a Crossover, and even Track Deviation Set too. Their sets allow control of up to three cars on the track at once but by including extra Bluetooth adapters you can control up to a whopping nine cars on any one track.

Unlike Scalextric, SCX offers a selection of chip fitted cars. This means that the cars can be used right out of the box, no chip fitting required. There is also an app which can be downloaded, and races can be set up as required.

From left to right, top to bottom; Mercedes AMG GT3, Porshe 911 GT3 Hybrid, Porshe Rally Orriols, and Audi R8 LMS GT3 Seinteloc are all available as digitally fitted cars.

SCX also offer upgrade kits to get you going on converting your existing track, an example of this is SCXE10407, in which you get two decoders, two controllers and a lane changer. So, if you have a set already you can install the chips in cars that are not already fitted and convert your track in one handy pack. Converting SCX Chip ready cars is also easy and I will cover this in a future issue as well.

SCXE10407 upgrades your existing SCX system to digital with ease.

If you like the idea of using the SCX system but not sure how it’s compatible with Scalextric, SCX do make an adaptor to the Classic Scalextric system under reference SCXU10364, but you would need to combine this with a C8222 to join with current Scalextric track. It’s unfortunate that a direct adaptor isn’t available. But this might be something that comes in the future, anything is possible!

Slot It Oxygen

From the outside it doesn't look like Slot It produces any starter sets, but in fact they do, just under the Policar range. These are all analogue sets, but Slot It also makes a range of digital components including a controller, digital chips and their own digital system designed for more advanced users and slot clubs looking to run digital, called Oxygen. All the digital components are produced under the Slot It banner. The controllers are available under the name SCP, and the latest model SCP-3 was released this year. The system is designed to be connected to a laptop or desktop computer and when done will give you race results including lap times and other statistics.

The SCP3 controller is shown here with the addional SISCP301C power supply cartridge.

This controller, unlike typical digital controllers, gives you finer control, the ability to adjust the braking and acceleration curves while you're racing, and make adjustments as required. Another feature of the controller is its compatibility with Scalextric, SCX and its own system, making it a versatile unit. To find out just what it can do take a look at the instructions here.

I mentioned earlier about fitting a chip into cars which are not ready for chips. The Oxygen In Car Chip, SIO201C1 is the chip to use. This chip is compatible with Scalextric and Carrera digital systems so can be used on these as well as Slot It's own. Essentially, the Oxygen is a system that is aimed at the more serious racer, but can happily be used alongside any home racing setup for more tuned races. More information on this system can be found through our product pages and on Slot It’s website.

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