Apart from one-off designs according to our customer's specification, we sell a Electronic Amplifier Plug for proportional valves, and a forklift control board. Most of all, though, we are probably known for the oXigen 2.4 GHz control system
In the last years most of our design efforts have been focused on the world of small scale racing – also known as ‘slot car racing’. Apart from being the makers of fine racing models and state of the art tuning parts, we decided that a new approach was necessary if the world of slot car racing had to evolve beyond the current offerings for the so-called ‘digital slot racing’.
Being engineers and racers, we designed and built a proprietary 2.4GHz system named oXigen (Oxygen in Catalan language) as none of the commercially available offerings met our requirements. Now, after more than seven years of development, we believe that our 2.4GHz system may find interesting industrial applications as well.
Despite its apparently humble task (after all, we’re dealing with toy cars), the requirements from ‘anorak’ players are quite demanding. Traditionally, the player is used to having a direct, analog, wired connection to the model car, as such being void of any delays or interference. Thus, we have to deliver a driving feeling which must be indistinguishable from what the racer is used to, taking in account the crowded and shared space in the 2.4GHz realm.
On top of that, we wanted to create an environment where the race director would have complete control on pretty much every aspect of the play field.
The system is a star network of up to twenty (extendible to forty-eight) modules, where a PC is the central command and control console and each module, in the current form, consists of a master and a slave. Each master is a bridge between the slave and the central intelligence (a PC).
The communication between the masters and the PC is done on two (for redundancy) shared frequencies through a 2.4 GHz USB key. The PC sends information to the remote masters every 30ms, such information packet consisting of a private (addressing each master in round robin fashion) part and a public part. The public part is read by all masters at the same time, whereas the private part is, as expected, read only by the master node which the message is being addressed to. It is thus possible to send information to all masters at once and to address the single node as well.
When addressed individually during the round robin operation, each single master returns a payload to the central PC’s 2.4GHz USB receiver dongle. In its current form the payload consists of racing car status such as on / off track, in or out of pitlane, throttle average, lap timing and counter, together with other parameters such as master and slave firmware versions and quality of radio link.
The communication between the master and the slave peaks at a frequency of 200Hz, with a 66Hz average, and happens on three different 2.4 GHz channel, all of the three channels being used within the 30 mS base time slot. All masters and slave pairs operate on their own independent frequencies, and are independent of each other.
In the current specialized firmware the masters send power and braking information to the slave (in-car pcb), merging the drivers’ requests (e.g. throttle and brake, lane changing action) and the working parameters received from the PC (e.g. speed, braking and lane changing limits) in a coherent set of control parameters. The returned payload from the slave to the master carries lap timing information as well as some other parameters such as firmware release and radio communication diagnostic information.
The firmware for the PC USB receiver can be easily upgraded from the PC, whereas the master and slave’s firmware is reprogrammable Over-The-Air (OTA) from the PC itself through the USB 2.4 GHz dongle, using our own custom written PC Bootloading software.
The next generation of master and slaves is reprogrammable using a simple smart phone – either Android or iOs
The video below shows what's certainly the largest race of this type on Earth. All electronics management system is based on oxigen.