FW: RE: Re: Race timing

Bob Apter <bapter@...>



From: Bob Apter [mailto:bapter@...]
Sent: Saturday, October 22, 2005 3:36 PM
To: 'SoundRowers@...'
Cc: lew plummer; larry bussinger; 'Michael Lampi'
Subject: RE: [SoundRowers] Re: Race timing


The San Juan Challenge has used a computer program for a number of years, that includes tapping in the time on the laptop at the finish line.  It’s a program that was custom designed for us by George Mauler, a friend of Lew Plummer’s.  It is also intended to sort by overall place, as well as place within a class.  In addition, it adds the times together for the 2 days of the San Juan Challenge to produce results for the two-day race, or for either day alone.


When it works well, it has been wonderful. One can make changes in a racer’s class easily and reprint new results. The downsides have been:  it hasn’t been foolproof, it has required quite a bit of tweaking over the years, it has required George to attend and help out on race day, and there have been issues of vulnerability to weather.  There can still be errors from data entry, such as putting someone in the wrong gender, wrong boat class, etc.


Computerized timing has held promise to simplify the 2-day calculations, but the problems noted above are still there.


These difficulties have been a factor in my favoring the SJC going to a one-day format, at least for now, and going back to the relative simplicity of non-computerized timing.


The Ski to Sea race, because of its size and complexity, uses computerized timing and results generation.  Larry Bussinger may want to comment on their experience.


Lew, would you care to comment about our experience with the computer program for the SJC?


Bob Apter


From: SoundRowers@... [mailto:SoundRowers@...] On Behalf Of Michael Lampi
Sent: Friday, October 21, 2005 6:52 PM
To: SoundRowers@...
Subject: [SoundRowers] Re: Race timing


--- In SoundRowers@..., "Reivers" wrote:
> The finish line is the battle zone for the volunteers.  When I heard
> of the timer programs[...].  One of the programs uses multiple
hand-helds to record
> finishes, then when they are synchronized to the main laptop there is
> a way to arbitrate or make corrections.  This way you can use a
> couple of volunteers doing their thing at the finish line and pretty
> much capture most finishers in some way. 
> The finishes are easy for the hand-held.  The user just taps the boat
> number to capture time/place order of finish.  For larger races the
> user may have to page to the boat number.  One of these programs is a
> shareware deal.  So the only expense is the hand-held.  I guess that
> is a BIG only. 
> All this is great.  But Michael's observations are well considered. 
> I agree with him:  it's just probably not time for SR to get on this
> particular bleeding edge.  We need a real gung-ho race director with
> a stack of savvy volunteers to show us how. 
> Maybe we can corner Michael after a race and talk more.
> rd

A handheld PDA can be obtained quite cheaply these days, especially if
it is purchased from the used market. If the battery can be replaced
or supplemented so that it can last for the duration of the
registration process and the start and finishing of the race(s), then
it might be an option to be explored.

I have an older iPAQ and an ancient HP Jornada that could be used for
such things along with keyboards for each. Both would need replacement
batteries, unfortunately, as they would not be up to the task of
powering the PDA's for a long enough period of time. Yes, I *could*
take along their chargers and a UPS or two if that was the only
option, but that would be a pain in the posterior.

If a laptop were considered desirable for the data entry and results
editing, then we would probably be able to do that on most any laptop
without requiring the PDA keyboards - or possible in conjunction so
we could have multiple data entry positions at registration.

Zeke's program pretty much required a laptop only. I don't have one
available with adequate battery life or that is modern enough and
still expendable. A laptop at the finish line (end of a dock, etc.)
would also be a pain in the arm to hold onto.

The shareware timer programs I saw last year were pretty good, though
each had their own problems and none seemed to be able to sync with
other PDAs for merging results. Reivers, could you point me at them?

Otherwise, we do have some technically savvy folks around here who
might be cajoled into coming up with something. (Yeah, yeah. I'm a
software engineer, too, and could probably come up with something if
only I had the time.)

Anybody game to try?

--Michael Lampi

P.S. We could give this scheme a try at the winter series of races.






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