Slot Cars Rule !!!

Controllers

There are controllers a plenty nowadays: the old style resistors with or without dynamic braking, diode controllers and electronic controllers, price can range form a few bucks to 100’s of dollars … In the following we’ll talk about the basic resistive and diode controllers.


Sensitivity of controllers: how many ohms do you need? Or in the case of diode controllers, how many diodes?

  • If you are not satisfied with your controller and pulling the trigger feels more like an on-off situation you might be experiencing any of the following.

  • If all the voltage comes right away and the car takes off too fast as soon as you touch the trigger, you do not have enough ohms in your controllers. On a diode controller, you do not have enough diodes.

  • If nothing happens when you start pulling the trigger and the car only starts moving as you reach the end of the trigger range, you have too many ohms. On a diode controller you have too many diodes.

  • Ideally you want the car to start moving very slowly as soon as you pull the trigger and keep accelerating smoothly as you pull the trigger all the way to the maximum. Obviously some of that will still depend on the cars/motors as well, not just the controllers.

  • Which controller works best for you depends on:

    • Voltage you use: for higher voltages you will need higher ohms controllers, or larger number of diodes

    • Motors you use: the more current your motors draw, the lower the ohms you want. This however, does not affect any of the of the electronic controllers (diode based like the PM or transistor based like the Parma)

    • Your driving style: Do you like a smooth response or are you more of an “on-off” kind of driver?


Controllers and Drive Voltage: At this point I think it is worth mentioning a few facts about controllers for 1/43 slots.
  • The stock controllers from Artin measure anywhere between 22 and 25 Ohms, but they are designed to work with the Artin wall warts which are essentially unregulated 7.5V, 800 mA power supplies. This means that at full power, the voltage is actually less than the full 7.5 V. Also, the stock controllers are "two wire" controllers and do not have the third wire for dynamic braking. One of the best upgrades for 1/43 is to actually get controllers with that third wire as the braking performance of the Artin 1/43 stock motor is relatively poor. This is a bit less critical for Carrera Go!!! as the cars have so much magnet that their braking performance is adequate without the brake circuit at the controller.

  • Here are some values I recommend for your controllers and the voltage from a regulated power supply. Of course, remember that it also depends on your driving style, your specific track layout and length, and the actual power supply you have.

    • For Artin cars without magnets: use 6V and 15 Ohm controllers

    • For Artin cars with magnets: use 7.5 V and 7 to 12 Ohm controllers

    • For Carrera Go!!! cars without magnets: use 10 V and 25 Ohm or more controllers

    • For Carrera Go!!! cars with magnets; use 12-15V and 15 to 25 Ohm controllers.

  • For 25 and 15-Ohm controllers, I use the Parma economy controllers (great buy at $20) and for 7 Ohm I tried a Parma Sebring Controller (tough to find). If you buy them used, make sure to buy the newer models that have a nylon trigger instead of the older models that have a metal trigger.

  • I am also using a Professor Motor controller. I use the low sensitivity series but anyone of them should work with the caveat that you will have to adjust the sensitivity of the controller to make it work well at low voltage for Artin 1/43 cars (for example buy it with the adjustable sensitivity kit). These will work fine down to 10V and acceptable down to 8V.

  • I also purchased a Parma Electronic Controller (basic model). I like these a lot because they will work exactly the same way for low and high voltage and give you the same driving feel (this is not the case for either diode controllers like those from Professor Motor or any resistor based controller). The only drawback is that even with the maximum sensitivity they still are very punchy (suits me fine but not everyone might like this).


Brakes: Most controllers now come equipped with a third wire for dynamic braking, implementing what is called dynamic braking by turning your motor into a dynamo when the controller throttle is released.

If you really want brakes but don’t want to buy aftermarket controllers, here is a very simple and cheap way of upgrading stock 1/43 Artin controllers.

Driver Stations:
  • Note that I believe that Banana plugs offer one of the best possible compromise for most people as they are really cheap and can be found solder-less (part numbers J145-ND red, J144-ND white, J-146 ND black, at Digikey).

  • Here is a great write-up on a step by step controller hook-up by Steve Sawtelle. Steve has a lot more info about that kind of stuff on his web site.

  • I have also made upgraded driver stations for my new layout. They are easy to build, cheap (less than $30 per station) and offer a lot of functionality (direction switch per lane, brake sensitivity adjustment per lane, voltage adjustment per lane, voltmeter, auxiliary function buttons, etc ...): check it out.

  • If you think the previous driver station is too fancy or too complex, I also designed a much simpler and cheaper one (less than $10 in parts) with less functionality (direction switch per lane and optional brake sensitivity adjustment per lane): check it out.