My New F1 style starter

Timing System

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Michael Stride
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My New F1 style starter

Post by Michael Stride » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:29 pm

Working on a false start addition but here is my new F1 style starter:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vKsgN6tsyI
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Post by Jani Soderhall » Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:18 pm

I think there would be a real advantage if there is green light (all or just the last) instead of light going out. Green is really the easy to understand signal for everyone.

Ideally something like:

Idle - lights off
Get ready mode - yellow light (all or just one)
Starting mode - red, red, red (one at a time)
Random start - green light (all or just one)

(just invented, hmm, I don't watch F1 much...)

PS. I've been dreaming of this for years. Would be great if we could have it built into the Trakmate system (as an add on and compatible with ExcelMate).

/Jani

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Post by Michael Stride » Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:05 pm

Obviously you dont watch Formula 1 (!)

I think it would not be hard to program the chip to do exactly what you say, I'll ask the producer of the circuit and then all you need do is wire it in to trackmate. It has outputs so any electronics guy should be able to configure it.

I'll send you a link to them in a minute.
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Post by Michael Stride » Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:39 pm

Green is really the easy to understand signal for everyone.
We have a couple of seriously colour blind racers.
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Post by Jani Soderhall » Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:46 pm

Well just make the last one green then.

Thanks for your efforts to improve the system(s)!

/Jani

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Post by Chad Hegerty » Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:00 pm

Very nice idea. If I remember correctly most people who are color blind can distinguish between light on and off but not color. That is what makes the F1 style work in a universal setting. I don't think it would matter what color the lights were but they cannot change color or those that are color-blind may not be able to recognize the change. Having them just turn off means go. You could have beeps along with each light so those that close their eyes for focus during the count can still stay on track.

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Post by Michael Stride » Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:15 pm

Completely agree Chad.

I envisage the starter will say "Racers ready" then the racers focus on the lights, but I do agree beeps could be fun.

Once the sequence starts you can count to 5, but you will always need to watch to see when the lights go out at the random moment. You can run two sets of lights if need be, one pointing down the coarse so spectators / coneheads can see the start sequence and prepare.

You can wire relays to the light out puts to run bigger lights and/or buzzers. I am going to wire in two buzzers that are actually used on lorries for reverse warnings and place them on the ramps.

What I am now doing is wring in a simple quiz buzzer circuit that will stop the final beep and indicate who crossed the line in default. It would be nice if this made the lights flash, but I'll leave that for a day when I'm wide awake....

I have also wired it so that it will run off either a 12v charger, 12 v battery or a 13.8v car battery when electrics arnt available.
The clocks run off 9v batteries so actually you can run where you have no mains.


If it is of interest here is the actual circuit provider, I boufght the fully made up circuit and it arrived very quickly, but any hobbiest should be able to do it themselves:
http://picprojects.org.uk/shop/shop.htm
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Post by Jonathan Harms » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:23 am

Michael, have you been able to do anything more with this since your last post here? Just curious.

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Post by Michael Stride » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:16 pm

Yes, its now in a custom metal case, with a false start system integrated to stop the countdown if a racer jumps the start, with an indicator as to which lane jumped. Will post video once its completely tested.
In the meantime here it is in youtube, starting two of our timer clocks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vKsgN6tsyI
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Post by Michael Stride » Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:55 pm

Just done a video to show the new timer start system in action

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ388BA_AMc
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Post by Jani Soderhall » Sun Feb 27, 2011 4:29 pm

Nice!

Is the start beep a random beep, after the 5 lights?

Why is the button to reset the clock, at least after a false start, on the back of the box? Presumably the box will have to be positioned a few meters ahead of the starting ramp, so probably far from the timing table. Or did you put a remote on that one too.

Seems awkward also that you have to hold in the start sequence button and then release it when you're ready. As you know it happens quite often in races that the racers are not ready or an obstacle is on the course. Does it mean the starter will have to have his thumb on it all the time?

Is there a way for the starter to interrupt the start sequence?

...and finally when can we have one connected to the Trackmate?

Thanks for pushing the technology forward Michael!

/Jani

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Post by Michael Stride » Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:11 pm

Is the start beep a random beep, after the 5 lights?

Yes, just like F1. The lights stay lit for 1-4 seconds and extinguish at the same time as sounding the beepers and starting the clocks.

Why is the button to reset the clock, at least after a false start, on the back of the box? Presumably the box will have to be positioned a few meters ahead of the starting ramp, so probably far from the timing table. Or did you put a remote on that one too.

The lights should be placed in line with the first cones, one problem with false starts is recalling the racer if they have gone down the ramp. Hopefully the loud and painful fire alarm beep will alert them and they will stop the run if they have gone down the ramp. Due to the wiring the whole system has to go through a restart sequence to reset. Basically its the F1 timer system connected to a quiz buzzer indicator with a delay circuit of 6 seconds feature to turn of the false start system if the full sequence and lights and buzzer has completed. A remote reset would mean more wires to the starter table, but easy to wire across the reset button. Easy to add, but in my experince using a true random start really cuts down on false starts so resetting will not need to be done often. I 'll see how it works in a race situation.

Seems awkward also that you have to hold in the start sequence button and then release it when you're ready. As you know it happens quite often in races that the racers are not ready or an obstacle is on the course. Does it mean the starter will have to have his thumb on it all the time?

The system is static UNTIL you press and then release the button. The starter would hold the button, ask racers if they are ready, press down on the button, then release. You do not need to hold the button down all the time.

Is there a way for the starter to interrupt the start sequence?

Only by false starting as it stands. To add a stop to the sequence you can create a second button across the false start gates. In fact you would probably create a hand device with start, reset and stop buttons in one panel. I may make that during the next wet spell!

...and finally when can we have one connected to the Trackmate?

The F1 circuit is commercially available. Adding the false start indicator is just a quiz buzzer system wired into everything. I'm not familiar with the Trackmate fully but the F1 circuit creates a 1/2 second pulse that can fire relays so would I imagine create the start element on a Trackmate?

One thing we have found is that using the R.U. Ready LCD screens really adds to the race day experience, not only for racers but spectators, they can easily see who won each race (or at least before a cone count). By keeping it stand alone you do need to transpose the times to a computer system manually or a whiteboard, and we usually get the starter to have a pad to write the times on as a backup. By having the screens showing the times its easy for mates to double check your times without looking over the shoulders of the timing table or looking at a screen. Its great at the races we do as once the finish line has been crossed the times are on full display for everyone at the head of the course. If both raers hit the same amount of cones or none at all you immediatly know who has won. Thats why I dont like staggered starts, as you NEVER know who won until the timers tell you.

I will be testing the box at practice sessions (easy to do as it runs off 12v so I dont need a mains source) before the race season starts properly, we have some great races planned this year at Hog Hill , Brands Hatch and Brighton/Hove.[/i]
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Post by Michael Stride » Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:19 pm

I just though I can make a second starter remote, with a start button, reset and race stop button. That could be used alongside the hand held starter or a replacement.
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Post by Michael Stride » Sun Feb 27, 2011 7:30 pm

Just replied to a query and thought it best to post here as it may be of use to others:

The clocks are from RU Ready / Gunfighter.com, and are basically large stopwatches that I have wired to work off a simple on/off rather than the telephone wires they use.

Tape Switches are from tapeswitch.com. Not cheap, but robust and ideal for slalom.

Cable is D10 military specification from Ebay, very strong.

Cable Reels are from Ebay.

I use speaker push in connectors as they are so simple.

F1 Starter is sent assembled from http://picprojects.org.uk/projects/f1lights/index.htm
http://picprojects.biz/shop/article_500 ... K-SAKIT%26 Assembled its £35.

You need to buy 5 LED clusters, £8.50 each.

I linked that circuit to a quiz starter circuit I made from these notes: http://www.kpsec.freeuk.com/projects/quiz.htm I made it to be a 2 player circuit. By wiring a relay that cuts power to the F1 starter if triggered it ends the start sequence.

One problem is turning off the false start system once the start has happened. To do this I used an adjustable timer circuit http://www.quasarelectronics.com/3085_2 ... -timer.htm This circuit cust power to the false start section for 5-6 seconds so racers have that length of time to leave the gate without triggering the false start.

I cant offer it as a complete thing, I'm sure if you have a keen hobbiest who undertsand electronics they can construct it. You need to buy boxes, switches, wire etc but for me we have used the clocks sucesfully for our races with a simple push button start for a couple of years, I wanted something to complete the start process for racers. For me a large part of the fun of an event is created by the clarity of the start function for racers and spectators, this F1 system is easy to undertsand, automated and fun. False starts are drastically reduced by using a random start, but combined with the detector circuit it will hopefully cut them down further.....now we need to work out what a penalty should be.

I am absolutely NOT a fan of having a start 'window' nor staggered starts as having been at a race where I left AFTER a racer and Finished BEFORE them I was still marked as losing the leg...! This starts both lanes at the same time.

Hope its of use interest!
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Post by Chris Barker » Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:15 pm

Hi Michael,

So where would you propose this light tree be located relative to the ramps?

Personally, I find myself staring at the first cone or if on a BAR, I am staring at the bottom of the transition where the ramp meets the road.

It seems that if the lighting tree were centered between the ramps, each racer would have to learn to make the adjustment of changing visual focus from the tree to what is really important, making it down the ramp and setting your line to the first cone.

For a goofy rider, seems like the adjustment to looking to the center from the left ramp is more awkward since you have to look over your right/forward shoulder.

Depending on the location of light tree, some riders may have to make an adjustment to their starting position to avoid having the inside starting pole be in the line of sight to the tree.

Have you actually used this tree in a race and did you find it felt different to be using your eyes to trigger your start instead of your ears?

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Post by Michael Stride » Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:19 pm

It would be inline with the first cones or just back from there.

Racers will clearly see the lights (very bright) or if head down wait for the beep, which is placed by the hand grips on the ramp.

Unless you have tunnel vision (skate pun intended!)...you'll be fine.
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Post by Michael Stride » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:49 am

After a little shakedown test involving packing to a practice and testing in the field i've painted the front matte black and added a second row of LEDS. The leds areactually modulated so they arnt physically on all the time when lit actually flashing faster than the eye can see to conserve battery power.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmy33Ii4QWU
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Post by Wesley Tucker » Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:32 pm

Mike,

Not a criticism but a question:

You've got five LED lights for counting down to the start. Any reason the fourth lights can't be yellow and the fifth lights green?

When they were counting off I kind of expected it but then got two more red lights and the tone.

Just wondering.

Fantastic system by the way.
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Post by Michael Stride » Sun Mar 20, 2011 5:56 pm

A few reasons Wes... I know two UK rCers who are colour blind... Also this mimics a Formula One start sequence.

Actually the green light on the last light would not be correct as you don't go on when the last light lights.... But when it extinguishes after a random interval of zero to five seconds.


Lastly, the 25 led modules only come in red ... At least ones I could source in uk. I suppose I could wire a green light to go off at the same time as the beep, will investigate.
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Post by Michael Stride » Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:18 pm

Wes, I've just ordered some green led strips that I reckon I can wire into the beeper circuit, so will turn on green when the lights go out for a short time. I'll see how that looks and works.

You can never have enough pretty lights!
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Post by Wesley Tucker » Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:08 pm

Michael Stride wrote:A few reasons Wes... I know two UK rCers who are colour blind... Also this mimics a Formula One start sequence.

Actually the green light on the last light would not be correct as you don't go on when the last light lights.... But when it extinguishes after a random interval of zero to five seconds.
Well, as an Ugly American what I'm relating to is 1/4-mile drag racing. The "Christmas Tree" is vertical and goes red, red, red, yellow, go on Green.

What I've seen of F1 starts is just the graphic put up on the TV so I've never actually seen what the drivers see when standing still in the paddock waiting to go.

But, hey, it's all good. I do admire the work and expense you've put into this.

Oh, one last thing: are the lights only in metric?
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Post by Michael Stride » Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:37 pm

Yes, I have looked at the Drag Racing trees, interesting proposition. I decided against using that system as I didnt understand it. I know they do a staggered start which I really don't like.

I think they could possibly have a place in slalom, but I do prefer the dual start method for races. Also we dont consider 'reaction time' penalties. I have never been happy with that concept. I know some people like the idea of false starts withing a reaction time window, but as I personally have very quick reactions I know I'd be likely to fall foul of it.

We have used a random start method for a few races in the UK, generally the starter does this in his mind (which is anything BUT random in reality)..I tried to eliminate this by using an electronic die to tell the starter what the random should be...this worked better but honestly wasnt perfect. We found if the starter did not actually watch the racers then random starts were better...

What this circuit does is give a true random start generated within the system.

If a racer crosses the line before the start sequence triggers it stops the sequence. In practice we found random starts reduced false starts by a significant percentage, this will reduce it further. We didnt give a penalty to racers that false started, as the race was re-started. I'll discuss that with the UKSSA and see whether a false start should perhaps incur a penalty after one re-start, ie if a racer false starts twice. Dunno.

This is an F1 star, very similar to my stater: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHANtHiT ... re=related
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Post by Michael Stride » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:41 pm

Oh and Wes, I though the tree went Red, YELLOW YELLOW YELLOW then Green or Red?

Or are YOU colour blind???????
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Post by Wesley Tucker » Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:37 am

Michael Stride wrote:Oh and Wes, I though the tree went Red, YELLOW YELLOW YELLOW then Green or Red?

Or are YOU colour blind???????
Yellow
Yellow
Yellow
Green
RED ON FALSE START

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Post by Michael Stride » Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:38 am

A couple of things I don't like about the drag tree lights is they light downwards... Just seems ' wrong' to me. A race start is pyschcologically a build UP or a crescendo... So lights going downwards seem odd to me. Next , on a drag start the beeps are at a pre defined sequence with no random start. This encourages racers to learn the beeps, not something every racer can do, random eliminates this. Also, rather than racers striving to go AS the beep goes off, knowing when it's coming, a random start encourages racers to go once the final beep has sounded. It's a small difference but cuts down on false starts significantly. At a recent race I think we had only one or two all day.
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Post by Wesley Tucker » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:30 pm

Michael Stride wrote:A couple of things I don't like about the drag tree lights is they light downwards... Just seems ' wrong' to me.
Well, you know Mike, you can always just turn it upside down:

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Just sayin' . . . .
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Post by Michael Stride » Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:09 pm

Still dont like that system. Its not the light per se, its the introduction of reaction times and a standard beep start.

As I have explained a random start cuts down on False starts significantly.

It also means racers attending races do not need to learn the local beep system.

Every racer is on a level playing field.
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Post by Wesley Tucker » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:20 pm

Well, Michael, we'll have to agree to disagree.

The timing of a regular beep pattern is easily learned in practice. Hear it twice and it's down. During eliminations the aggressiveness of a perfectly timed start makes for better racing.

Two skaters just standing there with a finger in their ears until the "GO!" is as exciting as waiting for paint dry. Two skaters in the box anticipating an expected "GO!" on the nose means busting off the ramp like bats out of hell. Good stuff.

Going all the way back to Henry's crow hop start, it's all about practice, head games and timing. Whether standing flat footed in a start box or on a start ramp, the same attack for the first cone is part of racing.

And now I yield the soap box to the next Hyde Park hysteric with too much time on his hands.
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Post by Michael Stride » Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:14 pm

I dont have any time on my hands thanks Wes. I work damn hard and do this for fun.

The system you like so much gives rise to tons of false starts. Some races they do the dumb adding of false start penalties, thats no fun for me.

I have to disagree that the random start is like watching paint dry, I think that sound like an insult over the work we have done on giving a better racer and spectator experience.

Our timer connects to screens that many racers can actually see, rather than bent over a screen AFTER the race. These are real time.

The random start is used in Atheletics and Formula One Racing

I guess the lack of enthusiam fro Drag racing starts may have something to do with the fact the Europeans like to race around corners as our cars actually do that.....and supplies of pickups, dungarees and people called 'Bubba' are thin on the ground.

Also perhaps its becuase British athelete Linford Christie used to false start often as his reaction time was superior than most, leading to a DQ at the Atlanta Olympics....
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Post by Michael Stride » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:02 pm

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Post by Michael Stride » Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:58 pm

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Re: My New F1 style starter

Post by Michael Stride » Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:47 pm

Just added a video of the starting system in action at Brighton. Includes beeps, and false start detection......
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2b-s9RVBP8
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