Monitoring analog Carrera GO!!! slot car racetrack and showing data realtime.

Well hello there.
I've been looking into building some sort of monitoring solution for our analog slot car racetrack. It's an old one, but we have quite a good amount of track pieces. So it would be nice if there was a more digital way to monitor it without buying a whole new system. That could be very expensive if we wanted to get exactly the same setup.

After some research on various forums, I've become more and more certain that Arduino could be the solution to our needs. But not all the wanted features have I managed to see been done. So I'm asking her to see if anyone could shed some light on the whole thing.

First of all, I've never used one of these boards before, so I have a couple of question before I purchase one:
What board, and what other parts do we need in order to complete this project? And of course, would it be worth it - money wise?

It may look like I'm requiring a lot here, but I think it's not that much after all when you're done reading through.
The last part (Checkpoints), at the bottom, is something I would like to add in the future. So whatever board I'm settling for now must be able to handle that as well - if possible - when the time comes...

I'm now going to try to explain what we want to accomplish, along whit my understanding of how it might be done...

On the hand controller:

  • Reaction time (measure the delay after start untill the controller is pushed).

On the track:

  • Lap counter (when there's a change in circuit (this is one circuit change: default state > different state when car passes > back to default state), it's one lap count).
  • Lap timer (the time between each change).
  • speed detection when passing the lap counter/timer, and, if activated, at each checkpoint as well* (measuring the length of one circuit change).

Other stuff:

  • Physical lights on countdown (think I saw uno board had a couple of pins for that somewhere).
  • kill switch (manually turn the power off/on)

Here's the data that I would like to retrieve, and display realtime on an external monitor:
(Possibly through a computer, or if possible, directly. But all recorded data still needs to be stored somewhere for late use)

  • the lap count.
  • the lap time.
  • the speed (when passing each lap counter/timer, and, if activated, at each checkpoint*).
  • previous lap time.
  • best lap time.
  • the split time between drivers up to the leader (**) for each lap, and, if activated, at each checkpoint.*
    ** lock the time and display it, in additional to the continuing timer, when passing (always display it for each lap. but should be optionally for checkpoints* - if activated).

Details I would like to produce for a summary after the race is finished (for each driver):

  • reaction time on start.
  • total heat time / number of laps (if time based race).
  • fastest lap aka "best lap time" (which lap).
  • highest speed recorded (from when passing the lap counter/timer, or, if activated, at which checkpoint*)(which lap).
  • average time and speed based on each lap in the entire heat (if checkpoint is activated*, the average speed could be more accurate).

Additional features:

  • automatically turn on power when countdown is done for equal starts (to make it easier for younger kids).
  • Start timer when crossing a sensor if the cars enters from a sidetrack, or they don't start at the same time because of warmup.
  • Start counter/timer after x laps for warm ups laps.

* CHECKPOINTS for future expansion of the system:
Multiple checkpoints with speed detection (basically the same as the lap timer and counter):

  • each checkpoint must either have its own timer, that runs parallel with the lap timer, that stops when the checkpoint is reached. Or be able to just extract the time from the lap timer when reached.
  • In addition, it also needs to have another timer, that starts when reached and stops at the next checkpoint, in order to get the time between the two.
  • By knowing the distance between each checkpoint, and dividing it with the time used, it should be possible to get the speed between them. Then I could calculate the average speed throughout the entire lap, which then in turn could produce a more accurate average speed throughout the entire heat.

The data for this should be stored somewhere, preferably into a database, and not necessary displayed, and be available for later analysis.

I might be overcomplicating this, so it would be nice to see what you guys think.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm new to this, so any advice would be much appreciated..

If this whiole thing could be possible:

  • The first thing would be what board to use?
  • Then what other parts would be required?

Thanks in advance.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m new to this, so any advice would be much appreciated…

I think your project is probably beyond your current capabilities.

@Yawa, you need to break your project into smaller manageable pieces. I suggest starting with this…

  • the lap count.

Counting is trivial. The difficult part will be getting the track sensors to be reliable.