I have been an electronic design engineer for over 35 years after graduating in 1975 with a first-class honours’ degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
For more information on my design capabilites please visit Electronic Design Now.
Most of my working life has been spent designing automatic test equipment, however I have also designed electronic telephone exchange equipment, swimming pool controllers, gas detection systems and PCI instruments.
Although a hardware engineer I have had a large amount experience writing Visual Basic Code to test my hardware designs.
I first designed a lap counter in 1996 after getting frustrated at the lack of timing and counting equipment available at that time. This first system was very basic. However, I then wrote an article in the National Scalextric Collectors Club magazine describing a proposal for a full Race Operating system.
Following a very good response from this article I received 5 firm orders all of which were prepared to wait the 3-month development time. The first system was a standalone microprocessor-based system that had its own 4 lane display.
However, it could be connected to a PC to run a C++ program within DOS. This system was very expensive to produce so I quickly progressed to an ISA PC card that could support 6 lanes. At that point I also rewrote the code into Visual Basic.
I continued to make sales of this system on a regular basis and exported all over the world, including Japan and Australia.
I used to attend my local slot car club in Bournemouth where I would act as race controller to learn and improve my system. I did this for about a year and made vast improvements to the software during this period. I also took input from all my customers and made many improvements on their behalf. I was the first to introduce many new ideas including Fuel Management and Leader Lights.
After the ISA bus started to become obsolete I developed a new PCI interface that could support 8 lanes. I introduced "Time Sell" software at this time to allow shops or business to sell time on individual lanes.
The PCI hardware has been very successful with many systems sold over the last ten years since it was introduced in 2001. However, I have been asked many times by customers if I could produce a system that would run from a laptop. Additionally, PCI is now being phased out to be replaced by PCI express.
Therefore, it was time to move on again - hence the new introduction of my new USB system.
This supports 8 lanes and has all the same features and performance as the PCI card. I always believe in producing all the hardware and software myself to give the customer a full integrated system that I could easily support.
Although I fully guarantee my system for one year I promise to give a life time support, email and phone for advice and suggestions to any problems my customers may have. If on the rare occasion parts do fail, then I if I can't help the customer to fix it himself then I will carry out repairs quickly and cost effectively.
During the life of the product I have come to realise that nearly every slot car club races in their own unique way. Some race for laps, some time, some score with points some with laps. The differences are endless. That is way I have tried to make the software as versatile as possible to cater for all those needs.
Even with the sequence editor used to rotate the heats, my automatic system that gave 6 different ways was not enough. Therefore, I introduced a manual system so that customers could choose exactly how they wanted to rotate the drivers and marshals. It even includes an elimination sequence to allow only the best drivers to continue to the end.
I hope this page has allowed you to gain an insight about me and how this system was developed.