My-Chron wireless timing system

Timing System

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Curt Kimbel
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Post by Curt Kimbel » Fri Apr 25, 2003 10:54 pm

I've been testing the My-Chron timer for about a month and am very impressed. It is small, easy to use, takes seconds to set up, and gives immediate feedback.

I've mounted the sensor and display to my board, and also to my leg, both methods worked well, though I prefer the board mount; I like to look down and see my time as I cross the finish.

Last season I timed every run with a hand held stopwatch. Every change I made was based on the timer. There were times when I found rolling on harder wheels was faster than pumping softer wheels on a particualr course. Some days I could look around and know exactly who was a threat and who had no chance simply by looking at what they were running.

With a simple timing system you know if your wheels are faster, if your new truck is really an improvment, if a bushing change helps, what effect flex has on a particular course, if you're losing time at the start, how your times are effected by stance, arm position, etc.

Everyone will eventually be timing every run, and it will be very hard to compete without real time information.

If you'd like more info on the My-Chron check it out at :

http://members.tripod.com/roeracer/id30.htm

Good luck, may our sport continue to grow.

Curt

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Post by Vlad Popov » Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:05 pm

I was Curt’s first customer. The timer is nothing more then an expensive stopwatch. It took about 30 minutes to adjust/program and set up. The beam is strong, 5 yards from the course in the daylight wasn’t a problem. I was gonna test it on reliability and validity against Tway’s timer, but we had manual starts at the last race.
So far, the timer works and I’m very happy.

In no way it’s a substitute for race timers. But it’s a great practice tool. Thanks Curt.

Vlad.

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Post by Glenn S » Tue Apr 29, 2003 3:00 am

Vlad Popov wrote:The timer is nothing more then an expensive stopwatch.
Vlad.
Surely Vlad this timer has to be much better than the use of a stopwatch in the skaters hand. I can’t see anyone able to press the start/stop button anywhere near the same time over and over, especially while concentrating on skating. With this timing system the timer is started and stopped I would think with much more exactness and consistency. Do you not use yours every time you practice?

If you were running often a bunch of different "pre-marked" courses for practice and you set the transmitters in the same spot for each of those different courses, your times would be very accurate. And you could compare your times from the past and see what improvement hopefully was achieved.

This seems like the best solo/practice timing option out there. It is in essence a wireless system. Just set the transmitters at the start and finish and run the course any time your ready. You are in control of the timer and able to keep track of your times which are recorded and kept in the timer itself.

Setup for the day of this system has to be way easier than other systems out there.

I also wonder if big races like those of FCR would allow you to use this timer during practice. If one person set up transmitters from either lap timer company (My-Chron or XT-Racing) at the start and finish, anyone with a timer/receiver unit from either company could know what their times are during practice.

Also, split timing is an option with these timers. All that is need is to put an additional transmitter(set to split-time frequency) in the middle of the course.

I will be getting an Ultra-Lap this week and will post back what I think.

But I think that Curt is still providing the best price on such a timer here and I think that is key.
Last edited by Glenn S on Thu Oct 30, 2003 7:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Curt Kimbel
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Post by Curt Kimbel » Tue Apr 29, 2003 3:44 pm

The nice thing about these wireless timing systems is that you can set them up in a few seconds. Place a beacon at the top and bottom of the course and start running. add additional beacons if you want split times.

They'll tell you immedeiatly which wheels are faster, if your board is working, if you have the right bushings, if your push start needs work, etc.

They are not the answer to race timing. They are a tool to tune your board, wheels, trucks and technique.

Curt

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Post by Curt Kimbel » Tue Apr 29, 2003 4:30 pm

Things I learned timing every run last season (based on timing and logging thousands of runs last year):

Wheels: One particular set of wheels is always faster. Sometimes the fastest wheels feel rough and uncomfortable. Only by timing will you know which are perfect for the course you’re riding. For example, I often ran different wheels than most other racers last season, even at Morro. It was a simple decision. If they were quicker on the clock, I ran them.

Boards: Softer, flexier boards work better on some courses, while stiffer boards are much faster on other courses. Soft boards often feel funky and not as stable. Again, when the timer tells you it’s faster, you ride it, funky or not.

Stance: Every board I own has an optimal stance location. For me, it can make as much as a second difference when testing on a 50-cone/16 second course.

Wedge: I’ll see a wedge change on the watch every time.

Technique: This is where the magic is. You can have the perfect setup, but if you are not 100% efficient with your body mechanics you will not be fast. I kept playing with stance, knees, upper body position, and arm motion until my times began to drop. Once I found the most efficient movement I become a much-improved racer.

Reliable, repeatable performance: It took a heck of a long time to get to the point where I could run nearly the same times all day long. A race day requires approximately 12 hard runs + 6-8 practice runs. I would time every run and see how long before my performance started to wane, and limit my practice on race day accordingly.

You cannot feel a half second, yet a half second is the difference between winning comfortably and getting smoked.

Curt

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Post by Vlad Popov » Tue Apr 29, 2003 10:24 pm

Glenn,

Since it’s infrared-beam operated, the opposite could be true, i.e., the more the distance- the more the accuracy (distance has 20 and 60 yard limits depending on the energy source used). If the beacons are too close to the sensor, it messes up the timer (tested).

I don’t think anyone can outlaw the use of this timer during race practice/actual race. The beacons can be installed anywhere outside the course. How would you know that I’m “carrying” a timer? It could be concealed anywhere on and inside (not tested yet) one’s body should that become an issue. The use of the illegal substances before/during the competition will most likely be addressed before this little timer gives anyone a problem. I don’t see it causing any stir. People time themselves with a stopwatch all the time. This is a stopwatch. Just more accurate (not yet validated against race timers) and expensive.

Timing is relative. Even if the times are not valid but consistent, timing would still be reliable and, thus, very useful to the racer.

When I practice I set up courses that don’t need no timer. I got this one for Virtual Slalom and pre-race practice, but I’ll use it everywhere now.

Happy customer.

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Post by Glenn S » Tue Apr 29, 2003 11:49 pm

Vlad,
Is the MyChron the timer that you use to set your cyber slalom records? Are you saying that this is no better than carrying a stopwatch in your hand?

And it was my mistake to say that the closer to the transmitter the receiver was the better, and edited that out. I have since been contacted by XT Racing regarding their transmitter, and this is what they said; “You had some concerns about the width of the IR beam and the accuracy of the times. I told you to put the transmitter close to the skateboard; a good distance is 5’ to 10’. Of course, you will have to test, but any closer and there is a chance that the receiver won’t pick up the trigger. One improvement that has been used before for straight-line timing is to surround the box with something (e.g. cardboard) that overhangs the transmitting side slightly (about 1”, any more and the beam may become too narrow). This will reduce the cone effect of the transmitter. I attached a picture of the process."

Also I've read that both the transmitter and receiver have to be at the same height and pointed at each other as best they can be, but not necessarily exact.

Image

Vlad, and you said:
"When I practice I set up courses that don’t need no timer"
But slalom is about time, how could this be? I am feeling that at practice and during race practice you should try to time your self when you can. I know that there could be just physical training times but I know of no timed sport where timing is not used in practice at least once in awhile.
Last edited by Glenn S on Thu Oct 30, 2003 8:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Vlad Popov » Wed Apr 30, 2003 12:11 am

I’d test it against Tway’s timer before using it for Cyber Slalom. If the time difference is +/- .02 – I’d use it, if it’s more then 0.05 sec, it’s a no go.

I have two cones with 1 square inch holes in each one made specifically for the beacons. I knew that it’d be an improvement apriory, as my highschool physics are strong enough to get me into a community college! :smile:


Edited part:

Glenn, you edit your post faster then I can reply. Fortunatelly, the agency I used to work for helped me develop my memory well enough to memorize every single post on this site. :smile:

Depends. I like courses on which timer is optional. Getting trough is already a hard enough task.

I will skate with the timer from now on.

Vlad.

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Post by Curt Kimbel » Wed Apr 30, 2003 2:59 am

I believe the beacon transmits a beam with a divergence angle of 17 degrees (the light comes out of the transmitter in a cone shaped pattern). You can easily modify the shape as Glen mentioned.

When the sensor breaks the edge of the cone, it senses the beam and switches the timer.

As Vlad mentioned, these wireless self timers are simply a race ready stopwatch, complete with race specific software, hooked to a sensor that automatically switches the stopwatch for you. They are effortles to use and very accurate.

I would not use them for race timing. It is better to view the readout at a central location, rather than chasing down the rider to view his board/time.

In every other type of racing (cars, motorcycles, etc.) racers time themselves with their own equipment to maximize their setup, then head out on the track for an "official" time.

The My-Chron and Ultra Lap are best used to maximize your technique and setup, then take off down the course knowing you're running your best. They elliminate the guess work.

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Post by John Gilmour » Wed Apr 30, 2003 3:35 am

The one thing that always concerned me with Light beams is if you are doing single track or during qualifications and someone accidentally moves them- and so far I have yet to see any one mark where the emitters legs are with chalk. With Tapeswitches moving them by accident is very unlikely.

Lightbeams can false trigger as well from reflections. I had a pair of lightbeams that would get tricked by reflections off of hub caps of passing cars.

Also you need a power source for each light beam emitter...making it all the more likely that one battery might fail and need to be replaced. Sure you can put fresh batteries in everytime...but it is also easy to forget this.

Lastly people will reach for beams - yet the tapeswitch always ensures that the persons wheels moved exactly the same distance for the length of the course if tape to tape timing is used.

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Post by Vlad Popov » Wed Apr 30, 2003 6:05 pm

John,
I agree. There is no substitute for tape switches.

Reaching for the finish line wouldn’t work with particular timer, because the sensor is mounted to the board. It would make sense to try to go faster to get a better time…ahh…wait a minute…I think it’s given.

Beacons can be mounted to a tripod(s) or just left on the ground. There is no way to insure their immobility during the race. But they can be hidden far away from the course (like, really far away).

If anyone else has the same thing set up on the same course at the same time, it’d be a mess. So in this case one will have to rely on somebody else’s beacon set. Which is fine by me.

The beacons work on 8 AA batteries or 12-volt motorcycle or car battery (I naturally have both). I think a 12-volt battery increases the beam’s range to 60 feet (or yards? I don't remember) Pretty big distance in any case, no? This has yet to be tested, but I believe the claimed difference in range between the battery power and AA-power is true.

Lastly, I didn’t have enough batteries for both beacons, so I picked up 4 dead ones from a trash can (at my house this time). The other 4 were brand new rechargeables that only were charged for an hour or so (instead of 8 hours). The beacon is still working. Kimbel tested his set much longer, and he says the beacons use very little battery power.

I gave up on mounting this thing to the nose of the board, and just used duct tape and Velcro to stick it to the bottom. No problem whatsoever. It might not look good to some (esp. those who see "art" before function in slalom decks), but it’s very functional and safe. If the board flips (happens sometimes), the $190 piece of equipment will still be intact/working.

I will bring it to the Gathering.

Vlad.

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Post by Curt Kimbel » Wed Apr 30, 2003 6:27 pm

I will have some timers at the Gathering as well.

You'll be surprised how simple it is, and that is the beauty of it.

The system is being used by thousands of kart and motorcycle racers, and has been for several years. This is not a prototype or something you need to "work the bugs out of". Stick it on your board, set the beacons where you want them and you'll be automatically logging your times.

Curt

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Post by Glenn S » Wed Apr 30, 2003 6:43 pm

Curt,
If the actual race timer at G3 is the tape switch kind, would you mind testing to see the difference between the two if you can?

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Post by Curt Kimbel » Thu May 01, 2003 2:33 pm

Glenn,

Absolutely, let's test.

What I really want to compare is the relative differences in times. If the tape strip timer shows you to have been a half second quicker than on a previous run, it should also show a half second on the My-Chron.

All these timers are merely a stopwatch chip and display tied to a sensor that trips the switch. Whether you ride over a strip, break a beam, or ride past a transmitter, it's all pretty much the same. The key to getting matching times will be the location of the transmitters with respect to the tape strips.

I have to wonder, has anyone ever calibrated a strip timer? Do we know for sure that the timers we have been using are perfect?

Has anyone ever tested a Brower vs a Tway vs any other timer? If they differ, which is the true time?

Looking forward to seeing you Saturday.

Curt

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Post by Glenn S » Thu May 01, 2003 6:22 pm

Curt,
Won't be there at the g3, that's why I was asking you to test against the tape-switch timer. :smile: Have fun gathering and good luck racing.

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Post by Vlad Popov » Tue Jun 24, 2003 3:08 am

I tested “Kimbel’s” timer against “Tway’s” timer. 0.06 – 0.07 sec difference (one way). Pretty consistent. Valid and reliable. The sensor and the beacons need to be secured for consistent timing. Duct tape does the trick.

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Post by Brady Mitchell » Tue Jun 24, 2003 4:25 am

Vlad,
Having read your comments, I want to pass on some info for batteries...

I bought some batteries over 2 years ago and I`m still using them. Besides longevity, they also last longer than any store bought battery on a single charge. Additionally, they are also hotter (for my nikon flash) and recycle for another flash faster. I use them in my digital camera, flashlights, CD player and what not. I bought 16 batteries and have not bought another since (over 2 years).

So what kind of battery is this? It`s a 1600 mAH rechargeable AA battery. I bought them and a charger for less than $60.

The cheapest and best place to buy them at is...

http://www.thomas-distributing.com/index.htm

They are now up to 2200mAH so probably even longer lasting on a single charge and hotter as well.

I recommend buying some and not buying batteries again.

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Post by Vlad Popov » Wed Jun 25, 2003 6:56 pm

Dear Brady,

Thanks for your advice. Here’s mine.

Firstly, shop around before you buy. You can get a similar kit online for half the price and less expensive shipping.

Second, let’s do some elementary math here.


I can buy 16 regular alkaline AA batteries for $4 at my local grocery store. That’s 25c a battery.

I can buy 24 batteries for the price of shipping from the site you provided.

Rechargeable batteries need a charger. That would be $32 with 4 batteries. And $6 for shipping. $38 total. I can get 152 regular batteries for that price.

The timer needs 16 batteries at ones. 16 rechargeable batteries with charger and shipping will be $75. Same $75 that can buy 300 regular batteries.

What say you?

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Post by Brady Mitchell » Thu Jun 26, 2003 1:59 am

Vlad,
It depends....

How many hours use do you get from a set of 16 batteries?

If you got 2 full days use out of it, it would take approximately 75 days use on $300 worth of store bought disposable batteries to match the cost of rechargeable batteries and charger.

If you happen to use the timer more than that, in let`s say 2 or 3 years, well then the rechargeable batteries would be the way to go.

Now add the use of the rechargeable batteries in other applications such as digital cameras, portable CD plater, etc,, then hands down the recharge batts win.

How long does those store batteries last in said timer ???...

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Brady Mitchell on 2003-06-25 20:00 ]</font>

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Post by Vlad Popov » Thu Jun 26, 2003 2:21 am

How many hours use do you get from a set of 16 batteries?

If you got 2 full days use out of it, it would take approximately 75 days use on $300 worth of store bought disposable batteries to match the cost of rechargeable batteries and charger.
Given that the timer worked on dead batteries I'd give it six months...and add another 16 rechargeable batteries as a backup, for rechargeable batteries loose charge quickly, and you'll have to carry 16 charged batteries with you, which would bring us to the total of over 500 regular batteries.

I have 16 rechargeable batteries that I bought for $2 in one of the US NAFTA colonies. They work great in high-energy devices such as a digital camera with zoom, LCD display, auto focus and flash. Really bad for clocks and timers.


Instead of making wrong assumptions and drawing wrong conclusions based on them, I'd test the timer and empirically determine the level of energy consumption. And then draw a valid conclusion based on the results of my test. Like I did when I compared wireless and wired timers.

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Post by Terry Kirby » Thu Jun 26, 2003 3:10 am

Its easy to just cruise into the mini mark and buy batteries. Its the American way. T

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Post by Vlad Popov » Thu Jun 26, 2003 6:42 pm

On 2003-06-25 21:10, Terence Kirby wrote:It's easy to just cruise into the mini mark and buy batteries. It's the American way. T
As long as they are made in a 3-World country and are (consequently) cheap :smile:

There is another timer on the market. Essentially the same thing. Motorcyclist magazine tested it a couple of months ago and was impressed.

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Post by Jim Siener » Tue Jul 15, 2003 4:39 pm

Hey Curt, i am interested in getting one of your timers. I've sent you an email at AOL but no response. Please get in touch with me, thanks.

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Post by Vlad Popov » Fri Aug 08, 2003 1:19 am

If you recently were lucky enough to get the timer for a fraction of its cost, lucky guy you, and don't have a manual, this might help.
It takes about 15 - 30 minutes to program My Chron Timer.

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Post by John Gilmour » Fri Aug 08, 2003 3:40 pm

It sounds like these things really might be teh simplest things for grass roots races. If you have two racers that own them and some velcro you can time just about anything- all that is needed is to bring some extra velcro strips.

I think the compactness is nice as well. This likely is the most accurate of the wireless tiemrs. And very cost effective. The beacons look like they are in durable housings not likely to sustain massive damage as opposed to some other systems.

I would like to buy one of these- but I wonder has anyone made any cool mounts for the timer module?

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Post by Wes Eastridge » Fri Aug 08, 2003 6:09 pm

On 2003-08-07 19:19, Vlad Popov wrote:
If you recently were lucky enough to get the timer for a fraction of its cost, lucky guy you...
I need that kind of luck. I think it is a decent practice timer, but I would need this kind of price discount in order to justify getting one.

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Post by Vlad Popov » Tue Mar 02, 2004 3:57 am

This is an update on my My-chron timer. I still use the original set of batteries and place my timer on my knee pad (on the inside), while securing the sensor on the shoe with the laces.

Also, there’s a new model on the market. Far more advanced and more expensive. But its interface is so screwed up that I won’t even mention the brand’s name.

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Post by Jim Siener » Tue Mar 02, 2004 11:55 pm

Vlad, are you doing this so you can change boards quickly? Otherwise why risk wiping out and crushing your timer. How long is the cord to your shoe? I got longer legs than you, might not work for me.

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Post by Vlad Popov » Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:13 pm

Timer's on the board again. It's the best way.

New batteries in the IR units ($7), and in the sensor unit ($6). Runs like new.

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Post by Michael Gira » Mon Sep 05, 2005 8:27 am

This looks good to me because of how quick and easy it is to set up and take down. But I'd really like to use it amongst a group of riders at practice sessions, and for informal jam races.

So the big question for me is how easy it is to transfer the timer and sensor from skater to skater. Is it something that could be done in about 15 seconds, or is it always going to a be frustratingly fiddly process? Are there any better pictures of ways to mount it to your board? Could you even sell board mounting kits with it?

If I had a bunch of board mounting kits to give away to other racers, and it took less than 15 seconds to transfer the timer and sensor from skater to skater, I'd be pretty happy. It'd be even better if the board mounting kits were not permanent, ie, could be easily removed from the board at the end of the session/race.

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Post by Vlad Popov » Sun Sep 11, 2005 3:11 am

It doesn't make sense. I just sold this timer and am buying a new Trakmate. It's inexpensive, reliable and it only takes about 5 minutes to set up.

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Post by Shane Anderson » Fri Sep 23, 2005 3:27 pm

I purchased a My-Chron Light MCL independent of the discussion here, but am glad to see this being discussed. My reason for purchasing it is specifically for practice sessions. It seems a quick inexpensive alternative to the Trackmate system, at least for the purpose that I am putting it to. At 150.00 in good used condition, the timer and two beacons are significantly less expensive than the alternative.

In any event, I've been playing around with it and there are some basic issues that I am wondering about:

1. When you pass the second beacon, it is the equivilent of a lap. Thereafter the timer continues to run of course, since as far as it knows, you are on your second "lap." I assume that the way you deal with this is two-fold:

A. Set Visualization of lap time to a relatively high value; at least enough to take a liesurely run out; and
B. Set Timer mode to "Y"

2. If you walk up the hill "inside" the becons, you are going to set off a lap time; do you turn it off until you are ready to go again so that you can preserve only real lap times?

Can you fellows who are using or have used this system please confirm, or better yet, expand on, the specific setups you use and HOW you use the unit? I'd really appreciate a quick start on this. Overall I like the unit, and feel it will help me to hone my skills faster. It sure is better than "Gee that FELT fast."

Thanks in advance.

Shane

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Post by Shane Anderson » Mon Sep 26, 2005 4:33 pm

Answered my own questions... thanks. Basically set the timer mode to "Y", "visualization" time to a relatively high value, 60 seconds. I reset the data and turn it off when walking back up. Works good enough for me.

Michael posted:

>> So the big question for me is how easy it is to transfer the timer and sensor from
>> skater to skater. Is it something that could be done in about 15 seconds, or is it always
>> going to a be frustratingly fiddly process? Are there any better pictures of ways to
>> mount it to your board? Could you even sell board mounting kits with it?

Michael I am using 3m Dual Lock which is very similar to velcro but which bonds with a more "rigid" and lower profile bond. I mounted the timer closer to the rear truck and the sensor up just behind the rear truck. I also put a couple of strips on the board along the wire between the timer and sensor, and have a couple of loose pieces of the stuff which I use to "capture" the wire. This is kind of a back up to the main fasteners on the unit, and also keeps the wire in line.

I have two boards set up, and it takes just about 15 seconds to swap. The unit is reasonably protected by virtue of being between the trucks, the sensor is very much protected by virture of being situated just behing the front truck; the extra strips holding the wire to the board should keep it from fouling anything and may help hold the unit to the board and keep it from being too beaten up if for any reason the primary fasteners fail. Just don't give your board to some flippin' curb slapper without taking the unit off first...

Best,

Shane

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Post by Vincent Berruchon » Fri Nov 11, 2005 4:57 pm

Pehaps there's something that I've not understand
what the maximum distance between two "beacons"? I'd like to know the maximum length of a race when you only have two "beacons"?
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Post by Shane Anderson » Fri Nov 11, 2005 8:12 pm

>> Pehaps there's something that I've not understand
>> what the maximum distance between two "beacons"? I'd like to know the maximum
>> length of a race when you only have two "beacons"?

Vincent:

The beacons can be miles apart. It does not matter. All they do is trigger the timer which is on your skateboard. They do not communicate with each other, they communicate with the timer.

Shane

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