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Lap Timer 2019 - Which to Get

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  • #16
    Originally posted by dinglebery View Post
    I'm not using Dead Strips, I'm using IR. Back to my question... please!

    Once the Trackmate system is installed and working, do I need to start a "race" in order to get lap times? Or does the system automatically update the clock after every pass of a flag across the IR sensor?
    You do have to start a "race" of some kind to get lap times, else the software just sits there smiling at you. But it doesn't have to be a Lap Race, Time Race or Round Robin, etc
    The Trackmate software has many different "race" modes, one of which is simply "Practice" which will continue as long as you leave it running in that mode.

    I suggest you get the software installed as soon as you get the package, and mess around with it. Nothing you can break, and you can simply set it in demo mode if you wish.
    It comes with instructions, but I find them a bit difficult to follow, so I wrote my own "Quick Start Guide" for customers.
    You (and anyone else reading) are most welcome to PM me with your email address and I will send a PDF copy.
    Last edited by SlotsNZ; 07-19-2019, 12:39 AM.

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    • #17
      With all of the computer based systems you can run in practice mode, in that case the lap time will be updated every time you cross the sensors. Usually there will will be an audible indication of that as well. If the new lap time is lower than the preceding ones there will be a different sound. There will be a different column on the display for your best lap time. If you are practicing you do not want to have to keep an eye on the display to see how you are doing. If you want to get a better idea of how the Trackmate software works you can download it and install it on your computer. You can then run the software in demo mode without connecting to a track or hardware.
      Here is another free software system: http://www.slottrak.com/
      Someone mentioned that dead strip systems are no longer popular, however in my area nearly all of the tracks use dead strips, that is over two dozen tracks. It is not a good idea to apply external power to a conventional dead strip, actually there is already a voltage there, see my article for details on that. We rarely have a problem with someone's car coming to rest right on a dead strip, with 1/32nd cars you can use the inline style dead strips that are mentioned in the article.
      Last edited by RichD; 07-19-2019, 07:11 AM.

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      • #18
        Thanks guys for all your help and info!
        ...the Lap Timer computer arrived!
        IMG_7198 Resized.jpg

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        • #19
          I forgot to mention that Trackmate can call out your lap times, that feature only works for one lane at a time however. Race Coordinator does that for all of the lanes at once if I recall correctly, but things could get confusing with more than one car on the track.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by RichD View Post
            I forgot to mention that Trackmate can call out your lap times, that feature only works for one lane at a time however...
            That's cool! One lane at a time - does that mean it will only pronounce one lane? or is there a specified amount of time between pronouncing timing from L1 to L2 or vice-versa?

            I didn't read that the Brix I purchased is Win10 compatible Only, so it's taking me a bit longer to get the OS installed. Once I get it all sorted and updated I'll install the software. I never used Win10 either, so I wonder if I'll even like it...

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            • #21
              With Trackmate you select the lane that you want to have the lap times announced on, the times for the other lanes will not be announced. You hit Alt and the lane number at the same time to pick the lane. Repeating the procedure using the same lane number will turn the feature off. Two programs in the voice driver directory that is included in the software package must be installed on your computer. Those are not included when you install Trackmate. There is a PDF included with the software that is the instruction manual, but a few things are missing from that. I have a list of shortcut keys and other info that I found years ago on the Trackmate site. Drop me a PM if you would like a copy of that.

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              • #22
                That is not correct Rich.
                In practice mode on Trackmate, you simply open the sound menu, tick the box "announce lap times" and it then proceeds to announce lap times for all lanes.
                It also does this in race modes such as round robin - I forgot to turn it off before first race class a couple of weeks back and we drove all the driver mad for a heat or two.

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                • #23
                  Awesome! I got the computer up and running with Trackmate installed - the hardware will arrive during the week. I did see what SlotsNZ mentioned - announce lap times - check box and I adjusted the number of lanes to two. I re-labeled the lanes to Inside and Outside. I just have to change the colors...
                  Thanks guys for your help!

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                  • #24
                    If the OP should want a cheap, temporary "track call" button, look for the floor switches they sell for Christmas trees this holiday season. (Obviously these are AC, so in my case I run power strips from it that are screwed to the side of the table, as I use tri-power packs.)

                    I found some that have LED "green for on" and "red for off" that were about $5 or less. Yes, a primitive solution in the face of so much excellent knowledge here, but cheap and easy has the allure of being cheap and easy. ;-) I'll upgrade to a relay...someday. Happy racing.

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                    • #25
                      Clever idea NCSS

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                      • #26
                        I was not aware that the newer versions of Trackmate allowed you to activate the announce lap times feature that way. When a new version comes out there is usually not complete documentation to go with it. I usually download and install the latest version of Trackmate as soon as I become aware of it. I do some testing with the new version, including running a few dummy races to be sure there are no glitches. If there is a problem with the program I might uninstall that version or just delete the shortcut. I have had problems with the latest releases of Trackmate that were not an issue with the older ones. Since I run races on my track once in a while and people are coming from a considerable distance I must use software that I feel is reliable. Other people may have used a version of a release that gave me grief with no issues at all.
                        Some of the tracks that I race on simply use a doorbell button for track calls. My own track has arcade style buttons mounted in small plastic project boxes on long extension cords. If there are enough racers someone that is marshaling can be in charge of the button, otherwise the button can be moved to a place where it can be pushed by one of the racers. Some tracks have a track call button at each driver's station, If two people push their button at the same time the track call can be cancelled unless you program in a delay. We prefer to have the track call activated with no delay however. It is also possible to include a latching relay in the pause control circuit so that the circuit is deactivated at the first push and a separate reset button must be pushed before racing can be resumed.
                        Many of our tracks have stop and go lights, those can be activated by an Arduino board, but ours just use a relay that turns on at the same time as the track power relay, so the light is red when track power is off and green when it is on.




                        Last edited by RichD; 07-22-2019, 06:50 AM.

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                        • #27
                          Interesting. Thanks RichD for the pics!
                          Once I get the system installed and test it out I'm sure I'll know rather quickly if I want that feature.

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                          • #28
                            Some clubs use track call a lot, even when two cars come off together or there is any small marshaling delay. I guess it depends both on the preference of the people in their racing philosophy, the number of marshals at hand, and on the track design. My mob only use it in the case of unreachable cars. We recently ran an event at a larger track (about 100 foot) in our club with 23 drivers, a series of three races, so 69 heats across the full day of racing. The first track call came in about the 50th heat.

                            You CAN also just activate a track call in Trackmate by hitting the Space Bar on the PC. Then hit it again to resume. As we usually have someone standing adjacent to the PC during racing, that is about the only one that gets used around the half dozen tracks in our club. Some don't have any other "button". Mine does, - the red button on the central panel sitting between lane 2 and 3 driver stations; but I cannot recall the last time someone pushed it, as all corners are easily reachable, and when our marshals get around to pulling their hands out of their pockets, they're usually passably swift. At least by the end of the heat . . . . . . . or thereabouts [just joking]

                            stations2.jpg
                            Last edited by SlotsNZ; 07-23-2019, 02:56 AM.

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                            • #29
                              I've installed a wireless system on both my tracks. It is a radio-controlled 110VAC switch that interrupts power to a relay, opening the DC power circuit. The relay was necessary because my power supplies store a bit of power, and they don't shut off instantaneously. The remote is battery powered and looks a whole lot like a miniature garage door opener remote. A marshal or a bystander is recruited to operate the remote.

                              Being wireless the remote can be anywhere. Convenient. Also, there's one less wire to trip over.

                              The only issue with my particular unit is the 'off' button is heavily de-bounced. You can't just jab the button -- you have to hold it down for a fraction of a second. Otherwise it won't shut off. After a few tries you get used to holding the button down.

                              This kind of wireless system is available in home centers and onlline at the usual suspects. I can't recommend one over the other. De-bounce times never make it into the published specs.

                              De-bouncing is important for push-button controls. Too short a de-bounce and you can get more than one input per push. Too long and the button might not 'see' your push at all. Have you heard of trade-offs? This one is a classic.

                              Ed Bianchi

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                              • #30
                                Remember that the OP was talking about a two lane track where it is unlikely that any formal races would be run. Getting back to the voice announcement feature that is included in Trackmate, that would be especially useful if you did not have a display that could be easily read from the driver's positions. If the track had very short straights you would not have a chance to check out the display without slowing down.
                                I checked the four versions that I now have installed on my track computer, the oldest is 7.61, that does not have a sound choice in the task bar, you have to go to the settings menu to see the sound options and voice announcements are not an option there. The same goes for 8.40. 8.52 and 9.10 both have Sounds in the task bar and the voice announcements can be turned on there. I also looked at the documentation for those last two versions and the voice announcement choice is not shown.
                                I recently installed SlotTrak and that has voice announcements.

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