Jan 21, 2015 | By Alec

It’s no secret that desktop 3D printers have proven to be excellent devices for making toys and accessories, but with the spoiled kids of today’s world you might need to go for that extra mile to give your children a truly remarkable home-made toy. And that is exactly what Reddit user Apachexmd has done by creating a truly remarkable, room-filling toy that will undoubtedly provide countless hours of fun: a Hot Wheels drag race track.

As he explained on Reddit, Apachexmd wanted to construct something fun for this three-year-old’s birthday. Being an electrician by trade and a tinkerer by heart, he decided to build a drag race timer with his 3D printer. This ambitious project took him more than two and a half weeks to complete from start to finish, a bit longer than initatially anticipated; as he remarked, ‘I literally just finished programming the thing the night before his party.’

But truth be told, not everything is 3D printed. Can you imagine 3D printing all that track (easily 12 foot of it)? Instead, he relied on Blu Track, a cheap and versatile race track alternative that can used for any project you have in mind. Barring all the electrical components, just about all the other parts are 3D printed.

In a nutshell, this comes down to two main parts: the starting gate and the finish line. The starting gate has one crucial job, and that is ensuring that all cars leave the gate at the same time. To do so, Apachexmd installed an electronically controlled servo and a hinge with four machine screws (one for each of the race cars) sticking out. When the start button (3D printed) is pressed, the screws are pulled back and the cars are subjected to the full force of gravity.

Now once all these reach the end of the track, we need to find out who wins! The finish line has therefore been outfitted with four laser diodes that shine upwards through the track towards four phototransistors. Once a car breaks the beam, the car’s time is detected. That is then displayed on the eight 7-segment displays attached to the top of the finish line, allowing you to keep track of the order in which the cars reach the finish line (and declare your own victory). It even displays the order in which the cars arrive, making it easy to find out how you did.

While this sounds relatively straight forward, it’s everything but that. The whole system runs on an Arduino Uno, and features a whole host of electronic components (a voltage regulator, a 2S Lipo battery, LED displays, a USB and power port, a RJ45 coupling, a servo motor, and lots of wiring). All of that has been encased and assembled into a custom-made setup featuring a host of 3D printed components and a piece of crash rail the designer found in the trash at a job site. Sadly, he hasn’t yet gotten round to sharing all of his designs or writing a tutorial, so anyone wanting to recreate this race track for their own kids (or themselves) will have to rely on their own ingenuity for now.

Apachexmd did promise his Reddit friends to release more details about the production process on YouMagine in the near future, so we'll have to be patient for now. However, everything has been printed in ABS filament, and looks to be done on a regular FDM printer. Recreating one for yourself therefore shouldn’t be much of a problem.

And if you’re looking for inspiration, just check out the footage of the race track in action below! Apachexmd said it was a big hit at his son’s birthday party. ‘But you guys are right, I think I love it more. And so did a few of the other adults at the party.’


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Rodolfo Prieto wrote at 8/18/2016 9:02:57 PM:

do you buy?

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