Arc Lighter in a Slot Car Controller

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About: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with.

This is my slot car controller arc lighter. Never thought I would be putting those words together in a sentence!

The controller is from a Scalextric type racetrack but a crappy, cheap version. I found a pair of them in the dump and thought they might come in handy for a build one day – and they did!

The main parts to the lighter are an arc generator which creates a very hot arc that can melt solder. It’s run on a li-ion battery and is re-chargeable.

I’ve been having a lot of fun trying different things to burn with this, although it has to be said, it’s not pleasant when you get a zap from the end!

It’s not a hard build but it is a little squashy inside the controller so you will might have to come up with some creative ways to get all the parts inside.

Step 1: Parts and Tools

Parts

1. Slot car controller – eBay

2. Arc Igniter – eBay

3. Micro lever switch – eBay

4. Brass rod – eBay

5. Li-ion Battery (Small) – eBay

6. Li-ion charger – eBay

Tools

1. Soldering Iron

2. Hot glue

3. Plyers

4. Wire cutters

5. Dremel (always comes in handy)

6. Drill

Step 2: Pull Apart the Controller

Steps:

1. Un-screw and remove all of the screws holding the controller together

2. Carefully remove one side of the cover. Inside there is a spring and trigger. Remove this but make sure you keep it

3. Also inside will be a small piece of plastic with wire wrapped around it. Remove this as well. I replaced this part with a small piece of prototype board later in the build but there is no reason why you can’t use it.

4. Cut all wire connections

5. You should have an empty controller.

Step 3: Working Out How to Add All of the Parts Inside the Controller

Steps:

1. You need to be able to fit inside the controller, the arc generator, battery, re-charger, switch and lever.

2. Lay one side of the case flat and start to try and fir the parts inside. IYou will find that there are small gussets and plastic pins inside the controller that might have to be removed. Check first to see if they are needed at all to close the controller together etc and if not, remove them.

3. The spark generator takes up a bit of room so I found the best place for it was at the back of the controller. I had to trim a small gusset in order for it to fit.

4. The battery can fit into the handle and the re-charge module I found had to come out the top.

5. Lastly, you need to add the lever and spring back into place and make sure it works still.

Step 4: Adding the Lever Switch and Charger

The trigger on the controller activates the lighter. Once the trigger is pulled back, it activates micro lever switch inside the controller, which turns on the arc igniter

Steps:

1. First, you need to work out where to attach the micro lever switch inside the controller. I found the best place was on the small piece of plastic strip that has the wire wrapped around it. This is a type of resistor and is used to control the speed of the slot car.

2. I decided not to use this and just cut a piece of prototype board (circuit board) to the right size.

3. Place the piece of plastic strip back into the grooves and whist the trigger is pulled back mark where the lever switch will need to be glued into place onto the plastic strip

4. Add some superglue to the strip and glue the switch onto it.

5. Place back into the controller to make sure it is in the right position

6. To add the charger you will need to make a small slit into the controller for the female charging socket to pock through. Measure where the head of the socket touches the inside of the case and drill 3 small holes with a drill.

9. With a pair of wire cutter, remove any small pieces of plastic and file the slit to remove any excess plastic.

10. Once the slit is large enough to fit the head of the socket, add a little super glue or hot glue and stick into place

Step 5: Wiring Up the Parts

The wiring is pretty simple. I’ve provided a schematic on how it’s all wired together

Steps:

1. First, you need to wire the battery up. You can buy small battery holders for these batteries but I just used some electrical tape, which did the job. Add a couple of small battery terminals to the ends of the battery and tightly wrap tape around the battery. If you haven’t got battery terminals just add some solder to a couple of lengths of wire and take these on

2. Solder a wire to each battery terminal and add these to the battery solder pads on the charging module.

3. To connect the switch add a wire to the middle solder pin and also the one which is labelled NO (Normally Open)

4. Solder one wire from the switch to the positive solder point on the charging module. Solder the other to the arc generator

5. Next, solder the other wire on the arc generator to the negative solder pad on the charging module.

6. To test, place the 2 other wires on the arc generator close together and push the lever on the switch. You should see a nice spark being generated across the wires

Step 6: Adding the Spark Section to the Controller and Finishing-up

Now you have everything wired-up, the last thing to do is to add some wire to the front for the spark. Initially I used screws for this but they were too thick. I decided to use some brass rod, which worked well.

Steps:

1. Drill a couple of small holes into the front of the controller

2. The brass wire needs to have the ends bent 90 degrees so when they are inside the lighter the 2 end face each other. Use a pair of plyers to do this. You can trim them later so don’t worry if they are a little long on the ends

3. Add some solder to the ends of the brass wire and solder on the wires from the arc generator.

4. Place the 2 pieces of brass into the holes you drilled earlier and hot glue them into place. You want to make sure that you don’t skimp on the glue as you need to insulate this part so the spark doesn’t jump across.

5. Test to make sure it all works. If so, close-up the controller and screw it back together

6. I also added a small hole so I could see the LED’s on the charging module. The light changes from yellow to blue once charged.

Now go out and see what you can burn. Have fun and be safe

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