Application Note


The Judge detects the arrival of the cars when they break vertical beams of infrared light. The beams are generated under your track, and aimed upward into the photodetector above.

For wood tracks, the illuminator is a circuit card containing the emitters, and a cable which plugs into the Judge and supplies power. It is usually mounted with small screws, although velcro also works. We recommended that your remove the illuminator for storage to prevent damage.
For Hot Wheels tracks and other plastic tracks, the Judge usually has the emitters mounted in a base, and power is supplied through the metal side panels eliminating the power cable. This makes the Judge a single integrated unit.
For BestTrack, the illuminators are mounted on small individual cards which are attached to the track bottom by double-sided foam tape. The illuminators are not removed during storage, but the cable should be carefully tucked inside the track to protect from damage.

A "Better Way" Iluminator Installation for BestTrack

The illuminator for the BestTrack is frankly a compromise between the best solution, and what Judge customers are normally able to accomplish at their location. These instructions show how to improve the installation of your illuminators. You will need soldering skills, and the ability to drill accurately located holes in your track.

1. This is the standard illuminator supplied with the BestTrack Judge.

Note that assembly consists of small circuit cards connected by cables that loop from lane to lane beneath the track. The assembly is subject to damage if the loops are accidently snagged during storage or transit.

By burying the wiring within the track, the illuminators are protected from damage.

2. To retrofit your BestTrack, first use a soldering iron to remove all existing wiring, leaving the boards in place. You could strip off the jacket and reuse the existing wires, but it is recommended that you use teflon-insulated wire for the final wiring step. Teflon does not melt.

Number all the track lanes beginning with Number 1 as the left-most lane, as defined by the driver of the car. Note that the direction of the car's travel is from the top of the photo to the bottom. You will be disassembling the track, and it is important that you reassemble it the same way.

Stick small pieces of masking tape on the track's two outside edges. Mark them Lane 1, and the highest number lane. This will remind you not to drill holes in them.

3. Disassemble the finish line track section into individual lanes.

Next, drill a 1/8" diameter pilot hole through all interior sidewalls, making sure that they line up with each other. Be precise, locating the hole centers exactly the same distance from the ends of the lanes.It is vital that all hole centers are the same distance from the ends. It is NOT vital that they be exactly under the finish line

Vertically, locate all hole centers exactly 0.60 inch above the bottom edge of the track See drawing below. Use a center punch for precision.

A drill press is much better than a hand drill. Enlarge all holes to 1/4" diameter. Making a pilot hole first makes drilling much easier.

4. Locate all holes exactly 0.60 inches above track bottom.

5. Make a 1/4" hole on outside sidewall of Lane 1 to mount the connector shown here.

Locate this hole three inches uphill or downhill from the finish line so that it does not interfere with the mounting blocks.

Deburr all holes. The sharp edges can cut through the wiring insulation and cause a short circuit. Deburring can be done by carving off the burrs with a utility knife. It can also be done by hand-twisting a large diameter drill bit or a countersink bit.

Mount the connector on Lane 1 using the supplied nut.

6. Now, reassemble the track, and then solder in the wires.

All boards are interconnected by black wires attached to the board pattern marked "COM"

All boards are interconnected by red wires attached to the pattern marked "+V"

The red and black wire from the connector goes to +V and COM of Lane 1, respectively.

A green wire connects the unmarked center patterns between the +V and COM patterns.

7. This photo illustrates the wiring more clearly. The wires are shortened for clarity.

The odd and even lane number boards are slightly different, and not interchangible, so they are identified by Lane Numbers on little labels if you get the components for a new installation.

The black cable is the external removable power connection between the Judge and the illuminators.

If you wish to retrofit your BestTrack, send $19.00 (incuding shipping) for a "Better Way" Kit. The kit contains: the finished removable external power cable, the socket, colored teflon wires, cut to length with stripped ends, and a supply of solder.

If you are buying a new Judge, let us know you want to bury your cables according to the instructions above. We will include with your order the cable and separate numbered lane boards completely as shown in Photo 6, along with wire and solder. It will come with instructions. There is no charge for the components in this case.