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How Slot Car Racing Works


Slot Car Controllers
Top skiers Anja Paerson of Sweden, left, and Germany's Hilde Gerg relax while racing each other on a Carrera slot car course at the Audi lounge in Bormio, northern Italy, Feb. 1, 2005.
Top skiers Anja Paerson of Sweden, left, and Germany's Hilde Gerg relax while racing each other on a Carrera slot car course at the Audi lounge in Bormio, northern Italy, Feb. 1, 2005.
AP Photo/Diether Endlicher

A slot car needs more than outright speed t­o win a race; it also requires controlled acceleration and breaking, too. Analog slot car controllers do this by distributing the desired amount of voltage to the car. A trigger on an analog controller moves an electrical contact along a resistor. As the trigger is squeezed, more voltage is sent to the slot car's specific track, which in turn increases the vehicle's speed. The controller's resistance is measured in ohms, and changing the amount resistance has a positive effect on the slot car's response time.

Some modern controllers offer slot car braking systems as well. Instead of just releasing or easing off of the trigger to slow the car down, some controllers come with braking systems that, at the push of a button, send negative voltage to the car's electric motor. This slows and stops the car much faster than a conventional controller can. Other even more advanced controllers allow racers to fine-tune the amount of braking power the controller applies to the car. Electronic controllers, unlike analog controllers, do not use the variable resistance method for power delivery, but instead use an electronic circuit to dispense the correct amount of voltage to the car. Improved car control and the ability to command a wide array of cars with varying magnet and motor setups are the primary advantages of electronic slot car controllers.

Remember, if you're in the market to buy an electronic controller, a new slot car motor or even a complete slot car racing set, it's always a good idea to do a little research. Find out what you like and don't like and pay attention to what other enthusiasts are saying, too. Spending a little extra time up front may end up saving you a lot of time, money and effort later on.

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