New Timing System

Timing System

Moderator: Jani Soderhall

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Josh Howard
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:40 am
Location: Antrim N.H

New Timing System

Post by Josh Howard » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:40 am

I have been working on designing a new low cost timing system for a couple months now and have finally gotten to the point where I can post about it. I have studied a lot of the systems out there and have listened to what people do and don't like. There was a lot to consider but cost was the main issue. Yes the ones on the market work well but I thought I could do better. The first prototype will be finished this month. I used an 8 core, "YES 8 CORE", chip from Parallax. It is higher priced than most others but delivers unprecedented capabilities. Having 8 cores means I have the most precise timing system available. Each course will run parallel on seprate cores. I have also ditched the tape strips for pneumatic pressure sensors. You can get a 100 foot spool of tubing for the same price as a one foot tape strip. It requires less voltage so you can have accurate timing at longer distances and not worry about breaking a tube. The interface will be the same as the excelmate software but with more options. It will also use an sd card for up to 32 gigs of on board storage. The timer will constantly back up race data incase it gets unplugged, and just for storage. It will also include video output for viewing of race data on a tv so the guy timing goes uninterrupted.

I hope to have a wireless version out next year but that will take more development time than I previously thought. "The first version was supposed to be wireless. I also want to have network support and an ID card system so everyone can just slide a card and be entered in the race. No list needed.
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Jani Soderhall
ISSA President 2011-2020
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Re: New Timing System

Post by Jani Soderhall » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:57 pm

This sounds very promising. I didn't even react when you put up comments about building a timer before. Other people have tried before without succeeding, but this is now starting to sound interesting.

You probably should make your timer Trackmate compatible in whatever way you can. I'm thinking primarily about details like:

fixed beep start
random beep start
possibility to use tape switches or light beams, or pressure sensors
"cable" compatibility

Frankly speaking, there is no real need for this new timer. The Trackmate is working great and there are plenty of them available. What is more important is to enhance the record keeping, ie a good integration with a software to handle the whole race. We have a thousand items to discuss there, if you are willing to keep working on it.

/Jani

Josh Howard
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:40 am
Location: Antrim N.H

Re: New Timing System

Post by Josh Howard » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:41 am

My main reason for making a system is because we don't have the money for an expensive system for our race here in Antrim. We want to to be be as professional as possible so I have to at least match the trackmate feature for feature. I am going to be doing the timing so it will make it even easier for me since I know the system inside and out. I may start selling them if people take interest in them. I hope to keep development going for many years so there we will be many new features to come. My main goal is to make a timing system that can interface with an Android tablet for easy use anywhere.
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Jani Soderhall
ISSA President 2011-2020
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Re: New Timing System

Post by Jani Soderhall » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:47 pm

Thanks for the explanation Josh. I look forward to talk to you more on the topic. I started a project around 2004 to build a timer too. What I wanted to achieve was complete PC control of the timer. It wasn't going to be a timer for practice - only for racing.

The idea was to have a really simple box, with no display, no buttons, just PC controlled. We eventually abandoned the project for lack of time to do the programming. The entire hardware solution was done, including a prototype that was built.

Then later Marcus Seyffarth stepped in to do the ExcelMate software which uses the current TrackMate abilities to communicate. It doesn't do the whole lot of what we wanted to do, but it does automate the running of the race.

The problem with programming a solution is that you need to take into account all the stuff that could potentially happen at a race and that you normally deal with just manually:

- Racers not starting in order (skip a pair, to keep the pace up)
- One racing missing, someone else is put in last minute to form a pair
- New riders being added to the end of the list
- Re-runs
- Keep time (and cone count) for a DQ rider.

Other cool things that need to be taken into account if possible:

- First day starting order - Sort racers according to world ranking (backwards)
- Avoid skaters from the same country meeting each others
- Second day starting order - Results of first day (backwards)

Let's work on the list!

/Jani

Josh Howard
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:40 am
Location: Antrim N.H

Re: New Timing System

Post by Josh Howard » Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:57 pm

That is basically what I am aiming for as well. I want he timer to be command driven so all the work is done on the PC side. The PC will send commands to the timer via a serial socket. The timer has a big case statement that reads in the commands from the PC and performs the coresponding process. I am done with the hardware part of timer and I am working on the programming right now. I can do anything I want in C# and will be using it to design the PC application. I can do anything you guys want.

For example:

The PC would send:

"playStartTone,true" <- this will output the start beep sequence with a random start.
"playStartTone,false" <- this will output the start beep sequence with a set start.
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Lenny Poage
Lenny Poage
Lenny Poage
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Re: New Timing System

Post by Lenny Poage » Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:25 pm

Any word/progress on this? I'm VERY interested in looking at and buying a new system for the Cone Fest in Sept. Our Trakmate is wacked out.
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Neil Orta
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Re: New Timing System

Post by Neil Orta » Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:49 am

There are a few of us interested.......:)

Josh Howard
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:40 am
Location: Antrim N.H

Re: New Timing System

Post by Josh Howard » Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:11 pm

Sorry I haven't responded. I don't come on here much. The prototype is done and has been tested once. It worked very well. Right now I am building a better more robust model which will eventually be manufactured with glen chapmans help. He has been helping me and is happy with it so far. I am finishing the windows application right now and should be finished soon. I hope to be done by spring but that could change. Friend me on facebook. I have pictures there and should have a video of everything up soon. https://m.facebook.com/?refsrc=http%3A% ... 0029795138
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Josh Howard
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:40 am
Location: Antrim N.H

Re: New Timing System

Post by Josh Howard » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:33 am

Here are some pictures of what I have so far. The piece in the bottom left on the first picture is an RF transceiver. Not yet implemented but should be working soon. It's an RFM22-b.
Image
Image
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