A local church group that I attend needed some help with an Awana project. They use a pinewood derby track for racing cars, and they needed a timer built for it. I don’t attend the Awana club usually, and I was not present for the races last time they held them, but I guess they borrowed a track and timer for those races. Now they bought their own track, and need a timer for it.

I priced the times out online, you can buy some nice pre-made ones for about $350-$400. That’s a lot of money. After a little research, I found we could make one for about $85! So, here I am, building a timer.

I found a lot of reference material out there for making your own timer, but the best by far was here: https://www.dfgtec.com/pdt 

It is a great and informative website that uses an Ardiuno Uno powered configuration with several parts from Adafruit and elsewhere. They have done all the heavy lifting on the build and, best of all, their schematics were open source! So, I went with it.


They sold some of the parts on their website, and others you had to get elsewhere, but it was very clean and informative. They sold this PDT shield for the Arduino, and then you have to solder all the parts onto it, which was pretty fun to do, as the shield made everything a lot easier to maintain.

Now I just have to finish putting it together!

Linux – keep it simple.

2 Replies to “Building a Pinewood Derby Timer: Getting the schematics and parts list…”

  1. You say you can build it for $85. Is that parts plus labor? I suspect the $85 in parts is reasonable, but all your time is worth something. I realize you are volunteering your time, but if you track your hours, you might discover the finished product might cost about the same as the catalog item.

    I remember Awana Club from my childhood, and the pinewood derby races. I never achieved any awards, but I remember the spectacle and good times with friends!

    1. Very true. Even at $10/hour, I think I’ve put around 24 hours into the project, so easily worth at least the $350 for the timer. (240+85=$325). Not to mention solder, sanding paper, cut off wheels, and other expendables that were untracked in the making of it. However, there’s something so satisfying in doing it yourself! Even better if you can involve the club kids in making the timer (which I couldn’t do in this case…) which would teach them something invaluable.

      I whole heartedly agree though, purchased vs home made costs and time is always going to be the better deal to buy outright. But then again, you and I wouldn’t be the people we were if we didn’t do our own projects. 😀

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