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Need PWD Track/Timer/Software Reccommedations

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This year will mark my fourth and last PWD for my Pack (Pk 461-Cleve, Oh)and I'd like to leave them with a better setup than I inherited.


I have searched a bit and would like recommendations on the following:


1. Piantedosi 4-6 Lane Track

2. Micro Wizard GP3 - P3LCD Timer, Laser Gate, PS pc serial interface

3. DerbyMaster Software

4. Anything else???


I know this is an expensive setup and I don't know if we can cough up the money for it, but isn't it better to do it once and do it right?


I picked Piantedosi because it seems to be a very high quality product. Betacraft (I believe) would be the same amount just for the extrusions, Besttrack looks nice (except for the straight-down, sudden curve first section)and I've heard that the aluminum tracks are so fast that you may have to add 1-2 sections just to differentiate who the winner is. Supertrack, the pastic one, doesn't look like it will hold up or is repairable. Some of the DIY models w/plans on the net look nice - but I don't know if I have the time or patience for all that.


I'd like to go with a 6 lane track to shorten the race time, using average elasped time over, say, 4 runs to determine the winner. I have 40-50 kids and we run the race on 2 two-lane tracks. We run a double elimination(one for the tigers, one for everyone) and it takes 3-4 hours, with many losing interest after 20 min.

(Recommendations on alternatives to double-elimination also welcome.)


Micro Wizard seems to have the best selection of timers out there. I'm looking for simplicity, ACCURACY, and the ability to chart manually or run it all on a pc. My current tracks use 2 microswitches and a homemade flip-flop circuit (I think that's what its called, one circuit locks out the other once its made). It runs on batteries and we've had mistakes on close races. One dad (the winnerlast 3 years running) videotaped races to dispute unfavorable race results. (I think he cheated and paid someone to build a car for him -way too professional for kid work -recommendations accepted here on what too look for in terms of cheaters)


Any recommendations on the $25 Son of a Cheap Timer?

(just in case they don't give me any money :(


Software: DerbyMaster seemed to have the edge here. It runs on different methods, seemed to have better connectivity with different timers and Raceview seemed to have some limitations or gotcha's.



PS: Can I put this system togather and then give the trophies to the kids with the slowest times - at least I'll know that they worked on the car themselves?






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I posted this questions on the CubScout forum and got several advices. We had a 6-lanes wooden (handbuilt) track. Over 6-years of Houston humidity, two of the lanes warped to the point that every car jumped track and the "back-weighted" cars went flying to the next lane. We ran our races based on average time from each of the six lanes; as the result, the winner came from the car who can stay on the track! For 97 cars, it took us 2 hours (from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm). To keep the boys from being bored, we interjected (between heats) awards for the different categories. Everyone went home with at least one ribbon! So we had many categories ... but it kept the boys excited between races. We sold our wooden track this year.


The boys hunkered down and pulled in $1500 from the popcorn sales and this year we are getting an aluminum track from BestTrack. We are getting Microwizard's GrandPrix timer with all of the fixin'. We are getting Enterprising Idea's Derby Master for the software. We elected to go with the Aluminum track because of the humidity issue with storing the wooden track. We got Microwizard's since it Infrared timing is more accurate and less prone to wear and tear trip gates. The Derby Master is as good as others, but it has the various option of races that we can choose from.


If we can run 91 cars through 6 lanes with the wooden track, the aluminum track will only help us timewise. The total cost of our aluminum track is about $1450. Way more than what we want but then again ... it will last longer than anything and alot of abuses ... except for boys! :)


For a Pack 40-50 ... I would think that a 4-lane track is more than enough to rotate the cars through. Off course, having a great pit crew will facilitate your races!


By the way, we will have a "preview race" on our new track December 13th. Can't wait. Our official race is in January. I will let you know the feedback of the track system ... if you are interested!


On the issue of Dad built, well if you have an "open class" then the Dads will have something to show off their engineering skills. I usually tell my parents as a guideline is that it should be boys' built. At Tiger age 20% of it is his, Wolf 40% of it is his, Bears 60% of it is his, Webelos 1 80% of is his , and Webelos 2 95% of it is his (5% for the powertool should be the parent). We can get away for the "inspired" Dads. All that we can do is to level the playing field! I usually hold an orientation/ workshop. Basically, I divulge all of the nitty secrets of pinewood derby that I can find on the Net to all Dads ... and Cubs ... it's up to them on how to implement it. I get all available power tool users to offer their power tools to members of their Dens and other Dens. When you have a leveled playing field ... everyone including the ones that was made by a kids will be competitive! The highly engineered cars will win ... but not by much! This is my fifth year with my son ... we have not won ... last year he built his own (90%) and finished 17 overall in the class of 97 cars ... He was proud and so was I! Good luck.




(This message has been edited by Pack38Scouter)

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I'll make a plug for the Raceview software. We built a new 6 lane track last year and ran the District PWD race with Raceview. We connected a projector and showed the races and results on a screen as we went along. It went fine and we had no problems with the software.



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When I was Cub Committee Chair a couple years ago, we bought the Piantadosi 4-lane track, and it was fabulous. The workmanship was out of this world, it was pre-drilled for "the Judge" race timer, and "the Judge" came with links installed to plug into a notebook...can't remember what software we used though.


My $.02: If you're in a humid area where warping may be a problem, consider aluminum. My son's raced on them at District, and I don't like aluminum tracks -- they just don't feel, sound or "look" right to this old-fashioned dad. As an alternative, seal the wooden track very well. The Piantadosi tracks come to you bare wood -- your option to paint, stain, seal, whatever. We used several coats of clear acrylic seal, lightly sanded between each -- worked great and protected the wood.


One thing I'm reading that concerns me is that time seems to be an issue for the adults when selecting tracks and choosing a race method. I never used time as a criteria when I set up PWDs. These boys build these cars to race them. The ribbons for appearance and the plastic drivers license, the checkered flag bunting, and all that hoo-hah is icing -- the racing is the cake. When I had a hand in it, I always selected the race method that resulted in every Scout racing his car as many times as possible -- as many as 20 heats in his age group. Single or double elimination is a no-go. The Scouts don't put in all that time to race twice, then watch.


Also, we did something procedurally that isn't a universal practice in packs/districts I've seen. Once a car is checked in, nobody other than the Scout who built it, touches it. That includes putting it in the pit, getting it from the pit, repairs (with his dad if necessary), placing it on the track to race, etc. I don't understand why everybody doesn't do it this way. Gets the Scouts involved, makes it their race, and the last thing you want is some adult dropping a car or putting it on the track backwards.


Your committee can give awards for anything they want, including slowest car if desired. I wouldn't make a big fuss over that, personally. Just because a car is slow doesn't mean the Scout did the work -- there are un-handy dads out there, too. The underlying goal is to get the dads and Scouts working together on this, and for the Scouts to have fun on race day (we always had a PA system with race sounds, pizza, coupons for free stuff donated by local merchants, etc.). Of course they want to win races, too, and they'll know who had the fastest car. How big a deal that will be to them, though, is based in large part on how PWD is portrayed by parents and leaders. For those Scouts with "win at all costs" parents and den leaders, they'll be crushed if they don't win.


One more bit of advice on the Piantadosi outfit. It's a small, family run company that gets a lot of business, especially starting this time of year -- they make each track to order. If you decide to order a track from them, order soon -- it takes a while to get done and shipped to you.

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