Re: Pinewood Derby
Blaine S Nay (b.nay@JUNO.COM)
Tue, 3 Jun 1997 20:35:59 EDT
>I am looking for plans for a six-lane derby track and also some
>recommendations for pinewood derby software.
>We need this for a district derby that will be run for about 600
I went whole-hog with my track. I made it out of varnished birch-veneer
plywood for a nice smooth surface. Rather than the usual lath lanes
which the cars straddle, I installed 3/8x3/4" oak strips dividing the
lanes (like curbs on a road). This way, car bellies never drag on the
track. Otherwise, the track is pretty much like the standard Cub Scout
3-lane design. As for 6 lanes, just double the width of a 3-lane track.
As for a timer, I use the DBC-Mifco SuperTimer ith RaceManager from,
90 Fleet Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801
I saw their ad in Scouting magazine.
This timer uses an IBM-compatible PC as a timer (I use an old Compaq
Portable, 1984 vintage I picked up for $50). dbf-mifco sends its
"SuperTimer" software, a card that goes in the PC, some cable, and
switches that install on the starting gate and finish line. It doesn't
bridge over the track like some electronic timers and therfore doesn't
affect photo-taking or block tall cars. It doesn't use photocells, so
camera flashes don't foul it up either. The timer handles up to 7 lanes.
The "SuperTimer" software simply measures the time of each car as it
crosses the finish line. It works great! Accuracy is down to something
like .0001 second!
The optional RaceManager software is, in my opinion, essential. It not
only times the cars, but it schedules them as well. In the first heat,
cars are run at random. The computer remembers the time for each car.
In the second and subsequent heats (we run three), fast cars run against
fast cars, slow cars against slow cars (to increase excitement and
eliminate humiliation). RaceManager rotates the lane which each car runs
in and keeps an average time for each car. This way, the advantage of a
"fast" lane is negated. At the conclusion of the race, the Cubmaster
gets a printout with top average scores for each den, pack, or other
class you define as well as top overal scores. The race moves very
quickly so there isn't time for anybody to get bored. You're able to
quit while everyone's still having fun. Parents (the most critial factor
in the race) always seem to accept the results without question -- no
heated discussions over close finishes!
A 6-lane track would be nice for large groups as you describe, but 3
lanes will do well too. You just have to schedule each class (ie
age-group) for different times of the day. I'd recommend that even for a
600-scout race on a 6-lane track, too. Otherwise, many people will get
bored after a couple of hours of race-watching.
Blaine S Nay; Anchorage, Alaska
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City