PO Box 314
Kings Mills, OH 45034-0314
Copyright 2012 BRS Hobbies. All rights reserved.
Getting Started in NINCO N-Digital
Over the years, we have helped a lot of customers get started in digital slot car racing. The biggest challenge is equipping slot car enthusiasts with the knowledge to get the right products in their hands and to give them the information necessary to get the most out of those products. Sometimes the difference between an awesome experience and an average experience is a small adjustment to the track and/or the cars. The goal of this article is to guide you step by step on which products to get started with in N-Digital and how to best use them, so you get the most enjoyment out of digital slot car racing.
Here are some advantages for choosing NINCO N-Digital:
- The lap counter is built into the N-Digital central console. With an analog race set, the lap counter would need to be purchased separately.
- You can race up to 8 drivers on a two lane track. This allows more people to participate in the racing at the same time. (For serious racing, we find the power on the track to be the best when racing with a maximum of 5 cars).
- The track has very good track connections, which is extremely important with any digital track.
- Ninco track is wider than Artin, SCX, and Scalextric track. The extra width is helpful when you have a lot of cars on the track.
- The NINCO track has a textured surface which offers plenty of grip with the stock rubber tires, which saves on the expense of having to get aftermarket tires to get good grip on the track.
The ideal way to get started with NINCO N-Digital would be to get the NINCO 40104 N-Digital Master Track Race Set (includes 3 - N-Digital decoder chips), three NINCO 1 analog slot cars, one pack of NINCO 80112 ProRace suspension guides and one bottle of INOX M3 track cleaner.
Another option, if you are on a tighter budget, would be to get a NINCO analog race set that comes with NINCO 1 analog slot cars, an N-Digital Conversion Kit (includes 3 - N-Digital decoder chips), one additional NINCO 1 analog slot car, one pack of 80112 ProRace Suspension Guides and one bottle of INOX M3 track cleaner. You could also get the NINCO analog race set, ProRace guides and INOX M3 track cleaner now and then convert the race set to N-Digital in the future by purchasing the N-Digital Conversion Kit and one NINCO 1 analog slot car.
If you need more than three cars to race at the same time (for either N-Digital set up mentioned above) you will need an additional NINCO 1 N-Digital slot car (comes from the factory with the N-Digital decoder chip installed) and one N-Digital controller for each additional driver. If racing with 4 or more cars, we recommend getting a second N-Digital transformer.
The NINCO 1 slot cars are durable and run great on an N-Digital slot car track with or without the traction magnet. The N-Digital central console has two skill level settings - Amateur and PRO. This gives you 4 performance options (listed below from easy to more difficult) when racing with the NINCO 1 slot cars -
The first thing that you should do after getting your N-Digital products is install the N-Digital decoder chip, ProRace guides and ProRace braid in each car. The installation is straight forward with the NINCO 1 slot cars.
You remove the body from the chassis by removing the body screws, which are found on the bottom of the chassis (the body screw location may vary depending on the model; including some models that require the guide to be rotated in one direction to access the body screw).
- Option 1 - NINCO 1 slot car w/ the traction magnet in the Amateur mode. The cars can pretty much run wide open around the track using this set up. The control of the car is better when using the N-Digital Progressive controller in this mode.
- Option 2 - NINCO 1 slot car w/ the traction magnet in the PRO mode. High speed racing that is great for those who want to race against friends without a lot of de-slots.
- Option 3 - NINCO 1 slot car without the traction magnet in the Amateur mode. This set up is ideal for trying no mag racing for the first time. It takes some learning on how to keep the rear end from sliding out as you manage the throttle around the curves. The control of the car is better when using the N-Digital Progressive controller in this mode.
- Option 4 - NINCO 1 slot car without the traction magnet in the PRO mode. This set up is a lot of fun for those skilled drivers who like to race at more realistic speeds and enjoy finding areas of the track where the car will stick to get a slightly quicker lap time.
Then remove the two motor wire connectors from the motor and remove the guide from the chassis by pulling it down from the underside of the chassis.
Next install the ProRace guide into the chassis by pushing the guide post into the chassis. The decoder chip should be mounted with the included double sided tape in correct orientation so the motor wires are on the same side as the motor. If a greater thickness is needed to reach between the chassis and the decoder chip case, stack two pieces of double sided tape on top of each other. The next step is to connect each motor connector to the motor and feed the other set of wires through the eyelet. Then put a piece of braid into the guide slot and push in the eyelet with wire into the slot to secure the braid into the guide. Repeat for the other braid.
Push the braid towards the front of the car to widen the braid and adjust the braid so it is slightly curved down towards the rails. You can check if the braid is correctly adjusted by placing the car on a piece of track to see if the braid matches the rail spacing and contacts the rail with the full length of the braid.
Make sure the guide somewhat self centers by adjusting the wires that go to the guide so they are equal in length. You can use a small amount of hot glue to hold the wires correctly to the chassis underneath the front axle. Be sure to leave enough excess wire on each side so the guide can turn freely in both directions to it’s limit without over straining the wires. If not enough wire is available from the decoder chip to get the self centering effect, then the next best option is to allow the wires to be positioned either under or over the axle. Just be sure that the wires don’t rub on the front axle and/or catch on the underside of the body as you pivot the guide.
The last step is to put the body back on the chassis by installing each body screw in the holes that are located on the bottom of the chassis. Repeat this entire procedure for each remaining slot car.
It can help the handling of the Ninco cars if you first tighten the body screws and then loosen them between ¼ to 1 full turn. This allows the body to float on the chassis which results in a more consistent handling slot car. This is best done after the car has been run for at least a 100 laps, this allows the tires to break in which gives the driver a better feel for the car and what adjustments are either helping or hurting the car. You can also try keeping the front body screw tight with the rear loose and vice versa. Once you have found a good combination of front and rear body screw looseness if any, write it down (for example: 1/2 turn loose front and 1 turn loose rear).
Once all the slot cars have the N-Digital deocder chips installed, then the next step would be to set up a small test track oval using the N-Digital Central Console, N-Digital Lane Changers, straight track and curves. It is important to take note of the proper orientation of the central console and the lane changers which should be set up for the car to go around the track clockwise (the cars should cross the central console from right to the left when looking at the front of the display screen). The cars will cross the red and white striped areas of the lane changers first which contains the lane change flipper.
Here is the procedure for programming each car -
Once programming is complete, press the start button to exit the programming mode and set up the different race settings to practice or race. Try running the cars around the track to ensure everything is working properly and to familiarize yourself with how the cars change lanes and run around the track.
- Put 1 car on the track and make sure that it is not on the N-Digital central console start/finish track or any of the N-Digital lane change track.
- Press the menu button and Car will flash on the screen.
- Press the lane change button on controller #1 while Car is still flashing on the screen.
- The car should drive around the track with Car on the screen using controller #1.
- Take the car off the track and then I.D. the next car following the above steps for the next controller #2.
- Follow the same steps for each additional car/controller.
The cars can catch on the small cut out of the lane change flipper, so we strongly recommend using an Evergreen .010" thick styrene sheet cut approximately 7/8" long x 3/16" wide to direct the guide past the cut out to prevent it from catching. The strip should overlap the end of the plastic slot liner by about 1/16 of an inch. The styrene strip can be tacked into place with a small amount of plastic compatible super glue.
You are now ready to set up your track. Here are a few considerations:
- It is best to install the lane changers either a quarter straight after, or a half straight after the exit of the curve. What makes this an ideal place for a lane changer is that the cars are accelerating at the exit of the curve which is an easier time to perform a lane change as opposed to entering a curve, which would require you to concentrate on braking and changing lanes at the same time. Another good place to put a lane changer is in a slow to medium speed part of the track that generally requires a fairly constant throttle.
- In regards to the N-Digital central console position, it is a good idea to place it with at least one standard straight before it and in a place where the cars are going at about ½ speed. Also, the underside of the central console track has a plastic cover that is thicker than the underside of a regular NINCO straight track which can cause a slight ramp to the start/finish track. This ramp can cause the cars to miss some of the dead strip area of the start/finish track. To ensure a nice level track leading up to the start/finish track, it is best to use a thin piece of cardboard under the track before the start/finish track section.
After setting up your track, it is best to clean the rails with INOX M3. It is a track cleaner that makes a tremendous difference to the overall performance of any 1/32 digital slot car track. You apply the INOX M3 to the rails by putting a small amount on a clean lint free cloth and wiping it on the rails. Then wipe off any excess INOX M3 by using a clean lint free cloth (not treated with INOX M3 this time) to wipe over the rails. You can also apply a very small amount to the braids of each car and wipe off any excess with a clean lint free cloth. Please do not spray the INOX M3 directly on the track surface.
Also, the Ninco track is very good but sometimes the slot width gets a little narrow at the track joints. To open up the slots at the track joints, use a popsicle stick or other similar object and push against one side of the slot, then the other side of the slot. Repeat the steps until the slot width matches the width near the middle of each track piece. The cars can get hung up at these joints if the slot width is too narrow. This is something that should only need to be done after setting up a new NINCO track layout for the first time.
If you have made it this far, then you are ready to experience digital racing at it’s best.
Here is additional information on some N-Digital products that are aimed to enhance your overall experience and customize your track to suit your individual needs.
1) Display Options - The central console does display race information but isn’t always easy for all the drivers to view the screen during a race. For this reason, it helps to have an easier viewing display for all drivers of the key race information such as the driver position and the lap count.
NINCO offers the N-Digital Control Tower which is a stand alone product that connects to the track with a special half straight track. The Control Tower displays the race position of each car and either the number of laps or minutes remaining in the race. The display is updated every time a car crosses the start/finish line, so the racing results are always displayed in real time. You can also use more than one Control Tower on the same track. It swivels 360°, so it can be positioned anywhere and still viewed easily. To further enhance the visibility of the display you can use a small light(s) such as the ones that clip on your ear for reading a book. This light can be set on the race track table with the light aimed on the display.
Another option is the MAARDS Race Display Software for N-Digital which requires a computer but displays all the information of the central console including the fuel level for each car on a computer monitor screen. You can use the MAARDS software along with the control tower or by itself. It is a really good option if you have a suitable computer that you can use along with your track. Please note that this product is NOT made by NINCO but is compatible with N-Digital.
2) N-Digital Pit Lane Kit - This product adds another element to the racing requiring each car to perform a certain number of pit stops on the track. The only limitation of the pit lane is that only one car can pit at a time - if two cars are in the pit lane, the second car in will immediately start refueling when the first car is finished refueling. We find it best when racing with a lot of drivers, to pit either a few laps early or to short pit the first stop to minimize the possibility of needing to pit when the pit lane is being used already. If you pit with other cars in the pit lane your stop will take longer which is similar to a 1:1 race where cars can get delayed either entering or exiting the pit stop with other cars pitting at the same time. You can also extend the pit lane by using the NINCO #10117 Single Lane Straight Track.
3) Pace Car Module for Ninco N-Digital - The Pace Car Module for N-Digital allows any N-Digital chipped car to be a pace car that travels at a constant speed and changes lanes randomly. The speed of the pace car and the lane changing frequency is adjustable by turning the corresponding knob. The NINCO 1 cars are ideal to use as a pace car, in Amateur or PRO mode, since they hold the track at a high constant speed. It can be challenging to race one or more NINCO 1 pace cars with the traction magnet in the PRO mode against your NINCO 1 car without the traction magnet. This product is ideal if you tend to race with few drivers since it adds to the racing action by having another car on the track which represents lap traffic that can hold up drivers and allow for more passing opportunities. Please note that this product is NOT made by NINCO but is compatible with N-Digital.
Why aren't all the cars that started the race being included in the race information of the central console?
All the cars must start the race at the beginning of the race and the last car must cross the start/finish line within 4 seconds of the first car. If you have a full field of cars and a large track, you can do a rolling start. A rolling start is performed by setting up the starting grid right after the start/finish line of the N-Digital central console, then at start of the race the cars start off slowly and maintain about ½ speed around the track until the cars pass the start/finish line, then the race officially starts. It is important that the field of cars is somewhat close together on this pace lap and are in the same positions as set up on the starting grid (This is the same thing they do at the Indy 500).
Why do I sometimes get a missed lane change or an unwanted lane change?
The first thing to check is that the track rails and the braid on each car are clean. INOX M3 is the best track cleaner that we have tested for maintaining clean track rails and braid on a digital track. The second thing to check is to be sure to push the braid towards the front of the car to widen the braid and adjust the braid so it is slightly curved down towards the rails. You can check to see if the braid is correctly adjusted by placing the car on a piece of track to see if the braid matches the rail and makes contact to the rail with the full length of the braid.
Additional things to check if the above information did not solve the problem:
a) Be sure that each car doesn’t have any electrical components that come with the original car that connect the (+) and (-) guide and motor wires together such as an electrical choke, capacitor, etc. If the car does have any of these components remove them from the car. Also, if the car has a light circuit it will need to be isolated and connected to the light output of the N-Digital decoder chip. Do not connect the lights directly to the guide to N-Digital decoder chip wires.
b) It helps to run power taps from the N-Digital central console track or the track connected next to it to any N-Digital lane changers on the track. The Ninco #10314 Power Track Booster Cables are plug & play and work great for this. If you have more than 4 lane changers on your track, you can just run the power taps to those lane change tracks that are not functioning 100% correctly of the time.
At the start of the race all the cars just stop on the track, move a little bit and stop again, why is this happening?
This is the overload protection kicking in since the cars draw the most current from a stopped position which can cause the overload protection to turn on. This should only be a problem when racing with 6 or more cars at the same time. Two solutions would be to instruct all the drivers to slowly accelerate rather than hold down full throttle at the start of the race, or do a rolling start. A rolling start is performed by setting up the starting grid right after the start/finish line of the N-Digital central console, then at start of the race the cars start off slowly and maintain about ½ speed around the track until the cars pass the start/finish line which officially starts the race. It is important that the field of cars is somewhat close together on this pace lap and are in the same positions as set up on the starting grid. A rolling start prevents the overload protection from turning on since the cars draw a lot less current once in motion.
© 2012 BRS Hobbies. All Rights Reserved. Getting Started in NINCO N-Digital.