How to make a christmas tree reader for drag racing

Is it possible with today's technology to build or install a sensor that will pick up the first amber on Christmas Tree & activate delay box. If so what kind of supplies would I need & i also need a wiring Schematic.


  • This smacks of a homework assignment. It is indeed possible. Do some research, take a look at the sensors available on the Parallax web site and then come back with some ideas. Everyone is willing to help but unwilling to do your homework for you.
  • PublisonPublison Posts: 11,366
    edited 2016-11-16 - 17:03:21
    Welcome to the forums!

    Is this for a NHRA christmas tree, or for a soap box derby, or a pinewood derby?

    Where is the detector located?

    Sound like it would need some computing power. You might try: for some ideas.

    If it is for smaller venues, we might be able to help.

  • Christmas tree at non sanctioned track for test-n -tunes. Detector would be located on car pointed toward Christmas.
  • dave74 wrote: »
    Christmas tree at non sanctioned track for test-n -tunes. Detector would be located on car pointed toward Christmas.

    So this is a full size track?

  • dave74 wrote: »
    Christmas tree at non sanctioned track for test-n -tunes. Detector would be located on car pointed toward Christmas.

    Sound like trying to cheat driver reaction time? :)

  • Not cheating because not using during completion or eliminations.
  • Test- n- tune are where you pay track to make passes not track pay you like in competition. There are some people who say this impossible.
  • This has turned in to more of a science project a tree reader just to prove a point that this can be done with todays technology
  • Could this project be accomplished using PRI or PRI mini?
  • Clock LoopClock Loop Posts: 1,605
    edited 2016-11-16 - 20:46:23
    If you use binocular type lenses(these would help eliminate the light from the sun) , and aim the sensor directly at the light, it would work.

    You would need time to test it, this means you would need to test at the same distance as the racecar..
    If you can find an identical light, buy one for at home, and set up the same distances, use binocular like lens to enlarge the light at far distance.

    This color sensor would most likely do the job, as long as you use a lens focused and aimed properly.

    The schematic and code can be found in the app notes with the color sensor.
    Find the downloads and documentation below.

    You can develop the code and device probably using a standard stoplight in the street. This would prove you can use a lens to magnify the light, and would prove it will work in daylight and night, and you can tweak the code so it behaves how you want.

    What you are doing here is not a beginner project, for a proof of concept project, its not cheap, the color sensor is 60$, and that doesn't include the daughter board or the propeller board for programming.
    Not does this include the lens you need or the attachment/box of the lens to the color sensor.

    But can it be done? Absolutely, but it would take some experience in electronics and programming to get it going and right.
  • ...or can lead to some experience in electronics and programming...

    I think this is a very interesting project.



  • Is there a part# for binocular lens?
  • You are not talking about a long distance here. 10-15 feet between car and tree? So even a simple one foot plastic tube exactly focused on the tree segment you are interested in should give you a dark/light response. No color detection needed just dark/light with a adjustable threshold.

    The problem is the alignment of the plastic tube on the car to the tree to be watched.

    Cheap astronomical telescopes have a small tube attached to the main scope to 'point' it to the place you want to are observe, maybe this could work here too.

    So some sort of gimbal attached inside the car with two tubes slightly angled to each other should allow you to position it quite fast, some manual experience needed for the angle between the tubes. Just look thru one of the tubes to adjust the other one with some photo-transistor/photo-resistor? (or what they are called in English) in it.

    Put a potentiometer in it to adjust the sensitivity, point to the tree segment you are interested in and dial it down to barely not responding to ambient light.

    If the segment of the tree lights up you should get a measurable response.

    Keep it simple,

  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 3,322
    edited 2016-11-18 - 02:31:01
    I was thinking open CV but that will be blinded at times. I don't see how to reliably do this during parts of the day. If the device is permittable, mod the tree with an RF transmitter.

  • ms robot could you tell me what supplies I need to do this project simple & schematic. Thanks!
  • Could you send a drawing of what you talking about?
  • Any body got any thoughts on how to make this project a reality & simple. Thanks!
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