New timing system for race organizers: Chronocone 2004

Timing System

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Pat Chewning
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New timing system for race organizers: Chronocone 2004

Post by Pat Chewning » Sat Mar 06, 2004 5:32 am

Over the winter I finished development of a timing system for slalom races. The goals of this project were:

1) Compatible with Trackmate wiring. This allows one set of wires to use either Trackmate or Chronocone. Now you can have a backup system ready to plug in right away. Use your same tape switches.

2) Automated output to MS Excel spreadsheet. This allows instant calculation of results.

3) Low-cost. The hardware components consist of a custom circuit board with 4 IC's on it wired to the circuit board from a cheap computer game pad.

4) Lots of features:
Tone count-down (you choose the tones and how many)
Common start at the tone, or individual start from the tape switches.
Cone penalties: per-cone, cone limit for DQ, clean-run bonus, etc
False start: Set a threshold for early or late starts, choose an action (DQ, time penalty, or no-action) for a false start.
List of racers entered and display race order. Choose in order or out of order, choose to swap lanes.

The downside is that the system needs a computer (laptop) to attach to. But most races have a computer anyway to calculate the results..... The timing system plugs into the USB port of the computer.

I ordered 6 of the circuit boards so I will be offering 5 of these systems to other race organizers under the following terms:

1) You must be a race organizer planning on holding a race.
2) The software is free.
3) The hardware is either $50 or approx equal skateboard goods (wheels, deck, bearings, trucks, etc)
4) You must be willing to wait for me to finish building the remaining units.
5) You must be willing to test the system prior to holding a race, have some computer skills (MS Excel, installing programs on your computer).
6) You must be willing to give me feedback on any problems, suggestions for improvements, etc.
7) You understand that this is not a full-time moneymaking venture for me ... so the documentation is sketchy (plans to improve it), the support is haphazard (that's why only 6 being built), and the build quality is home-built. But it works.

Try out the software at:
http://home.comcast.net/~pchewn/Chronoc ... ne2004.htm

You should download and save the User's manual file and the Chronocone2004.msi file. The Chronocone 2004.msi file is a standard Microsoft install file.

Test drive the system.

If you are still interested, send me an email.

When I have time I will post up some diagrams, schematics, and user documentation for anyone who might want to build their own system. But this is much more difficult without the custom PCB ....

Planned enhancements and upgrades:
Software upgrades are free (downloadable)
Add a practice mode (e.g. Cyberslalom practice)
Add a comment field for each race. (Organizers can optionally enter a comment to be recorded with each race)
Automated Excel spreadsheet templates for various forms of racer brackets (to receive results from Chronocone, calculate next racer bracket, automate list of racers for next race).

At a minumum, running the software stand-alone makes for great keyboard racing! You set up a race (e.g. against Kenny). You initiate the start sequence. You hear the tones. You stop your clock sooner than Kenny's. You give Kenny a couple of cone penalties. You beat Kenny!

PS: The software has been tested on MS XP. It should work on Windows 2000 and Windows NT, but I didn't test it yet.

-- Pat
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Fri Jun 04, 2004 7:37 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Game Pads gave up their lives for Chronocone

Post by Pat Chewning » Fri Mar 12, 2004 10:29 pm

Six game pads gave up their lives today to become components of Chronocone 2004 slalom race timing units.

Chronocone 2004 -- coming to a race near you.

Image
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<Ed note: Images copied onto this server. /Jani >
Original posting of images here

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Post by Jack Quarantillo » Fri Mar 12, 2004 11:06 pm

That's pretty cool. I wish I qualified. Any DC Outlaws want to chip in on one of these for our crew?

2 questions:

1. I'm assuming the tones and timing are coming from the Laptop, correct?

2. Could you split the RJ11 cable and run this parallel with a Trackmate (in start from tape mode)?

I'll probably download the software just to mess with it.

I'll let you know if I find any suprise "features" (...cough...bugs....cough)

Q

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Chronocone 2004 technical details

Post by Pat Chewning » Fri Mar 12, 2004 11:56 pm

Chronocone 2004 is compatible with Trackmate wiring, but it probably won't work to simultaneously connect both systems to the same wires and tape switches. (Might be a good experiment to try).

The flow is like this:

1) Tape switch
2) Telephone wire
3) Goes to custom circuit board for noise immunity and pulse stretching
4) Goes to disected game controller to buttons 1,2,3,4
5) USB port of game controller to PC or laptop. (Items 2, 3, 4 are in one box -- Chronocone 2004 Hardware)
6) Chronocone 2004 software on laptop polls the game controller for tape switch activity. Software accepts user input for tones (# and style), cone penalties, racer names, false-start thresholds, DQ, etc.
7) Each time a racer runs, the raw time, cone count, reaction time, DQ status, resulting time, and DATE/TIME (clock setting) is output to a file.
8. At any time MS Excel can be invoked from within Chronocone 2004 to view the data.
9) At the end of the race, MS Excel is used to import the data, sort the results, generate the list of racers for the next heat, etc.

The hardware consists of a box with Chronocone 2004 custom circuit board and the useful portions of a disected USB game controller.

The software is written in Visual Basic. It runs on any PC with MS Windows 2000, NT, or XP. The PC requires a USB port.

The software uses DirectX to rapidly poll the game port. Older MS Operating systems may have to update DirectX. Very old systems cannot run DirectX (Windows 95).

The output file format is written to be imported into MS Excel. Other spreadsheet programs might also be able to use this file format (text, comma-separated values).

The PC's sound card generates the tones. The output of the sound card should be run to amplified speakers at a big race, so the racers and fans can hear the tones.
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Fri Jun 04, 2004 7:28 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Marcus Seyffarth » Wed Mar 24, 2004 6:16 pm

Good to see that more than just the Swedes belive that computers are the way to go.

I really only have one question, why don't you switch from using a USB to using the COM port like the EttSexEtt timer. This way you wouldn't have to buy and modify the game controllers, instead you'd need 5ft of wire and a 9pin connector for a buck or 2. And if you still give the software away for free then everybody with a laptop could have their own timing system for less than $5! Wehoo!!!

I think the idea is great and we use our system every week. You have probably seen our old version of the system, I can put a copy of the latest on the web if you'd like to download it and check out our latest features, with MP3's playing during race, tome countdown, false start detection, XML file output, creation of HTML file and yada yada yada. Lots of things you already have or easily could add if you want, and like...

Best /Marcus

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Post by Pat Chewning » Thu Mar 25, 2004 3:24 am

Marcus Seyffarth wrote:I really only have one question, why don't you switch from using a USB to using the COM port like the EttSexEtt timer. This way you wouldn't have to buy and modify the game controllers, instead you'd need 5ft of wire and a 9pin connector for a buck or 2. And if you still give the software away for free then everybody with a laptop could have their own timing system for less than $5! Wehoo!!!

Best /Marcus
I would have liked to use the Serial Port but when I started the project I looked on the back of my laptop and THERE IS NO SERIAL PORT! The only way I get a serial port is when its docked at work -- pretty useless for timing skateboard races. I looked at a number of the newer laptops and a lot of them are not supporting serial ports or parallel ports -- everything is USB.

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Post by Marcus Seyffarth » Thu Mar 25, 2004 8:44 am

That explains it... I guess my computer is old then. Anyhow, since there's only one (most of the time) seriall port on laptops you need to use the USB if you wanna race parallell so we bougth one of these:

http://www.sewelld.com/USBtoSerial.asp

Have you tried to run it on handhelds, i.e. compaq ipaq?

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Bug: Two pushes of RESET required to clear DQ checkbox

Post by Pat Chewning » Tue Mar 30, 2004 7:50 pm

Found by: Pat Chewning
Software Rev 3.0

Symptom: Under certain conditions, it will take 2 pushes of the RESET button to clear everything to 0 for the next race. This happens when using one of the features to automatically enter a DQ for a racer (e.g. starting too early or exceeding a certain cone count).

Work-Around: Push the RESET button twice if all of the fields do not get cleared on the first RESET.

Proposed fix: Easy. Next REV of Chronocone should run 2 reset operations for each push of the button.

6/18/04: Bug fixed in version 4.0 of Chronocone.
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Bug Found: Start/Stop before final start tone (REV 3.0)

Post by Pat Chewning » Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:01 pm

Symptom: A START followed quickly by a STOP will give an erroneous value for the "Reaction Time" if the START/STOP happens before the "GO" tone when running a common-start race.

Work-Around: A normal skateboard race is not likely to see this event, since the racer would have to start the race on the first count-down tone (about 4 seconds too early) and finish the race before the "GO" tone. (Total time on course about 4 seconds)

Why does it happen: The reaction time calculation takes the time from START and subtracts the time from GO. It does this when the timer is armed and running. In this case the timer is no longer armed and running (it has stopped when the STOP switch has been activated). So it uses the value of the GO time from the last race (because it has no new value for GO yet).

Proposed fix: Probably not going to fix this since the event is so unlikely.
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Proposed new feature: Lane assignment of switches

Post by Pat Chewning » Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:10 pm

Rev 3.0 of Chronocone

When running a race sometimes in the rush to get things wired up, the right lane tape switch might be wired to the left lane.

Instead of forcing the crew to re-wire or physically swap the right and left lane switches, why not have an option under Chronocone to assign the meaning of a particular hardware switch to a function? 4 switches to be assigned to RIGHT START, LEFT START, RIGHT STOP, LEFT STOP .

Proposal: Add someday, but not in Rev 4.0
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Proposed new feature: Speed Trap

Post by Pat Chewning » Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:15 pm

We have the switches and the timing. Why not add a feature where the distance between switches can be entered and then an average speed computed on-the-fly.

This would be particularly useful for single-lane downhill or GS courses where the normal 2 switches could be used for the course timing (and average speed on the course), and the two other two switches could be placed in the fastest portion of the course to get a measurement of speed in the "speed trap".

Would require: User input of distance between switches. User selection of km/hr or MPH. Extra display text boxes to show speed on main RACE window.

Proposal: Added to REV 4.0 -- Put distance in feet or m, select KPH or MPH -- speed displayed on race page.
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sun Jun 20, 2004 4:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Bug: Hardware must be plugged in before starting program

Post by Pat Chewning » Wed Mar 31, 2004 12:56 am

Chronocone Version 3.0

Symtom: You start up the program without the hardware connected. Then you plug in the hardware. There is no feature in the program to re-check for the hardware, so it never recognizes it.

Work-Around: Exit the program. Plug in the hardware. Re-start the program. Or always remember to plug in the HW before starting the program.

Proposal: Fix it in Version 4.0 -- Add a means to re-test for the presence of the hardware.

6/18/04 -- Fixed in REV 4.0
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Add "Surprise" start-tone as starting option

Post by Pat Chewning » Mon May 03, 2004 7:08 am

It has been suggested that a "surprise" start tone would be more useful to force racers to start simultaneously (rather than the cadence tone count-down).

The proposal is to add a start option which is not preceded by any tones. A single tone sounds at an indeterminate time and starts the race, similar to a starting gun at a track meet or a swim meet.

Method #1: The start tone is initiated immediately by pressing the RACE button on the timer. The indeterminate time is created by the person pushing the RACE button (at a random indeterminate time).

Method #2: The start tone is initiated by pressing the RACE button on the timer. After a computer-generated random time, the start tone sounds. The computer-generated random time amount would have to be bounded by a MIN and a MAX (default 0 and 3 seconds?).

WORK-AROUND: In theory, Method #1 can be acheived by setting the # of tones to 1 or 0 on the Chronocone system. However, a bug exists that prevents this from working.

Proposal: Fix the bug in Chronocone 4.0 and allow Method #1 to be used by setting the #of tones to 1 or 0 .

6/18/04 -- Fixed in REV 4.0
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Chronocone 3.0 bug: Fewer than 2 start tones

Post by Pat Chewning » Mon May 03, 2004 7:13 am

In Chronocone 3.0 if you select a small number of tones, you don't get the right result.

Select 2 tones: One count-down tone and then GO tone -- this is correct.
Select 1 tone: One count-down tone and then GO tone -- this is wrong.
Select 0 tones: One count-down tone and then GO tone -- this is wrong.

Selecting either 0 or 1 tones should just give the "GO" tone and no others.

Proposal: Fix in Chronocone 4.0

6/18/04 -- fixed in REV 4.0
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Proposed Feature: Highlighted signaling of a false start

Post by Pat Chewning » Mon May 03, 2004 7:22 am

In some races, a false start needs to be signaled immediately so the race can be aborted and re-started. Using version 3.0, the race organizer would have to monitor either the "reaction time" or the "DQ" setting to see if a false start happened, then activate a signal to the racers. We would like to automate this.

Proposal: (For adding to Version 4.0)

In the Start Penalty options, add a means to selectively activate a false-start alarm sound if the racer has a start that falls within the thresholds for too early or too late for the start. Have an optional sound WAV file be played immediately if this occurs.

Clearly highlight the appropriate racer who generated the false start. (e.g. By highlighting his "reaction time" in red background)

6/18/04 -- Added to REV 4.0 A "siren" sound goes off on a false start (if selected). The guilty racer has a big red highlighted "DQ" on the display screen. The "siren" sound is a selectable WAV file.
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by John Gilmour » Mon May 03, 2004 3:17 pm

great idea!

I also like the idea of a downloadable wav file. That could get funny.
One good turn deserves another
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Bug Found: Does not work under Windows98

Post by Pat Chewning » Fri Jun 04, 2004 7:00 am

Chris Barker found out that Chronocone does not work on his computer running under Win98.

Proposal: Change documentation to remove Win98 as a supported OS

Fixed in V4.0 documentation
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Tue Jun 22, 2004 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Potential operator errors: Cone count

Post by Pat Chewning » Fri Jun 04, 2004 7:04 am

The cone count entry is a list box that has cones from 0 to 25 cones. As you scroll, the # of cones is shown in the list box. However, to actually enter the # of cones, the value in the list box must be clicked. There is a potential that people could miss the correct entry of the # of cones by failing to click.

Proposal: Change the program so that whatever is shown as the #of cones is immediately entered as the cone count.

6/18/04 -- Fixed in REV 4.0 The cone count is now a optionbox which only shows cone counts that you have clicked. It's also easier to quickly click on the correct cone count.
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Correcting the output file on-the-fly

Post by Pat Chewning » Fri Jun 04, 2004 7:11 am

The output file from Chronocone can be viewed in Excel by a click of a button. The file opens in "read-only" mode for viewing.

Sometimes it would be nice to open the file for editing, to correct some info, delete an aborted run, etc.

The problem would be if the file were left open in Excel while Chronocone was trying to write to it.

No guarantees, but I'll look at changing this so the file opens for writing, and see if I can ensure that it is closed before trying to save more data from Chronocone.

-- Maybe fixed in the future????

6/18/04 Fixed in REV 4.0 -- There are now two buttons: "Show Results" and "Edit Results". One opens the file READ-ONLY. The other opens for READ/WRITE.
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Single-lane timing output instead of dual lane?

Post by Pat Chewning » Fri Jun 04, 2004 7:14 am

Chronocone always outputs data from both lanes, even if only one is being used. This is a minor hassle as 1/2 of the data needs to be thrown away when running a single-lane race.

Sorting by LANE makes deleting the data easy.

This is a low-priority feature that probably won't be added since it's so easy to sort and keep only the "good" lane data.

Done: I changed my mind. When outputing directly to Excel, this is important for single-lane races. Add option for single-lane output in Version 4.5
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Screen visibility in sunlight.

Post by Pat Chewning » Fri Jun 04, 2004 7:17 am

The choice of background colors and text color/font/boldness makes some fields difficult to see when operating in bright sunlight.

Of course, we rarely get bright sunlight here in Oregon, so I just noticed this now.

Proposal: Change text and background to provide more contrast.

6/18/04 -- Fixed in REV 4.0
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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2nd run swap lanes for ALL racers.

Post by Pat Chewning » Fri Jun 04, 2004 7:23 am

You've run the 1st run, now you are running the 2nd run. Chronocone allows you to swap lanes for the selected racers who are ready to go. But you have to do this for each racer pair as they are selected. It would be convenient if a "swap all" function were available so the entire list of racers was swapped from right to left.

Proposal: Add "swap all" function.

6/18/04 -- Added to REV 4.0
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Interface to LED display for displaying times RIGHT NOW

Post by Pat Chewning » Fri Jun 04, 2004 7:47 am

Relatively inexpensive LED scrolling displays are available. It would be really nice if the racer's time and cones were instantly displayed for spectators and racers to view.

I have purchased a used display on EBAY and will experimentally interface to it so that racer name, time, cones will be displayed as soon as the data is stored.

I'm using the Alpha 221 display because it was cheap on EBAY, we have some where I work, so software and debugging should be easy, and it appears to be made by a company that continues to develop more displays.

Several displays could be connected to show the results at the start, finish, and mid-point of the course. However, the 1st baby step will be to get a single display interfaced to Chronocone.

The display I bought from EBAY (Alpha 221) was dead on arrival. So I ordered a new one (PROLITE). It works fine and I've figured out how to drive it from Chronocone. So we will soon have an option to display results immediately on an LED scrolling display.

Done: Added to Version 4.5 -- output Racer Name, Cones, final time to an LED display board. Preamble, postamble, COMM port, baud, etc will be settable options to allow different message boards to be used.
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:16 am, edited 2 times in total.

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can these be read in bright sunlight?

Post by John Gilmour » Fri Jun 04, 2004 6:07 pm

battery consumption?

Fragile

do you have a link?

Ultimately would wirelessly networking some cheap outdated laptops be the cheapest solution?
One good turn deserves another
john gilmour

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Remote display of times during a race

Post by Pat Chewning » Sat Jun 05, 2004 1:17 am

JG:

http://www.alpha-american.com/signs.html

http://www.ams-e.com/AlphaGraphiques1_e.html

These can be networked together on RS-485 .

I don't think a little laptop display is good for displaying info to spectators and racers.

-- Pat

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Feature Request: Interface to external "Christmas Tree

Post by Pat Chewning » Sat Jun 19, 2004 1:39 pm

Jack Smith wants an interface to a "Christmas Tree" light display. This would be a visual count-down to start in addition to the tone count-down.

I offered to do this by connecting another computer monitor. Jack really wants a real live drag-race-style Christmas Tree light with huge bright light bulbs in red, yellow, yellow, and green.

I can think of a few ways to do this. The trick is to syncronize the count-down of the lights with the count-down of the timers internal to the computer.

Jack wants this for the Worlds in October

Done: Added to REV 4.6 (Requires additional hardware to connect to parallel port and drive relays for the lights. -- Hardware available at: http://electronickits.com/kit/complete/elec/ck1601.htm
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Release 4.0 Software

Post by Chris Barker » Sun Jun 20, 2004 5:10 am

Hi Pat,

Thanks for fixing some of those user interface issues. When will the new version be available for download?

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Version 4.0 available for download soon

Post by Pat Chewning » Sun Jun 20, 2004 4:27 pm

I'm adding in the speed-trap feature, doing a little testing, and updating the documentation, then I'll post it.

I'm shooting for Wed June 23 .....

When it is available, it will be at: www.home.comcast.net/~pchewn/

DONE: Added speed trap feature to REV4.5

-- Pat
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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REV 4.0 Software

Post by Chris Barker » Fri Jun 25, 2004 7:13 pm

A big thanks to Pat for the new 4.0 improvements. I am looking forward to using ChronoCone at this weekend's Colorado Cup races. Thanks Pat!

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Post by Glenn S » Sat Jun 26, 2004 2:26 am

Pat,
Do you expect this timer to be one that is affordable for the adverage joe slalomer?

It would be great to have a timer I could just use for practice as well as a grassroots race, but they are a bit pricey.

The Trakmate is now up to $250 or so without the tape-switches, wire, wire holder, connectors, etc, etc. Add tape switches for another $100 or more, 1000' wire for $50, connectors and a crimper $30 or so, wire holder $9, etc. and it is probably not something that the majority of people into slalom would want to fork out for.

Now that you've been working on this for a while, do you have an idea if this will be an affordable mass market timer or more specialized for major races that might not be affordable for many slalomers? Can you share your marketing goal with this timer?

Whatever you decide it is great that you are doing it. And it looks as if this could be the timer for slalom.

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"Marketing" intent for Chronocone system?

Post by Pat Chewning » Sat Jun 26, 2004 5:15 am

I have no desire at all to "market" the Chronocone system. Clearly I don't know what I am doing in that regard since I have built 6 systems -- one for myself and 5 for other race organizers -- and I've only received payment for two of those 5 systems. When I put out these systems to other race organizers I even said I would take skateboard equipment in trade for a timing system -- but still 3 people have not seen it through and given me the measley $50 that I asked. In fact, several systems are not even being used. Not a very rewarding experience.

So far only 1 of the other 5 systems are in use. I think it may be too complex initially to get set up, and then people get discouraged. Or perhaps people would like to wait until the day before the race to think about loading the SW and connecting the tape switches.

I wanted a system for myself and I had to order 3 circuit boards from the fab shop as a minimum. I designed the board so that 2 of my circuits would fit on the standard board -- hence 6 systems were built.

I would be willing to give the entire "intellectual property" (diagrams, schematics, board layout, bill of materials, software source code, etc) to anyone who can prove to me that they will actually finish this, bring it to market, and sell it at a reasonable cost.

I doubt that that will happen. So the future of Chronocone is probably one of the following:

-- A) These 6 systems will be all that are ever built. They will eventually end up in the hands of people who like the system and put on a number of races a year.

-- B) Chronocone could be offered as a "kit" where the user needs to solder some circuits, tear apart a game controller, box it up. And use the free software from me.

--C) Chronocone could be improved to use a more simple off-the-shelf hardware interface (serial or parallel port or ??) and the software updated to use those ports instead of the more custom game-pad connected to some pulse stretchers and filters.

--D) I find a partner who can build the HW from my plans and sell it for whatever he wants. I will continue to develop the software and offer it for free.

My main motivation was a good flexible timer for myself. I reluctantly built more and offered them up to race organizers. I will continue to make improvements in the software because its challenging and useful, not because I could ever make back what I have put into it.

Where are these 6 Chronocone systems?
1 - mine, used in Cascade Slalom races and Hood River race
1 - Colorado -- bench tested, some feedback on bugs, ready for racing
1- New Mexico -- soon to be given to Jack Smith
1 - New York -- not connected and tested yet
1 - California -- not connected and tested yet
1 - California -- not connected and tested yet

Now you know WAY more than you ever wanted about the joys of developing a new product.

-- Pat

Pat Chewning
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Do it yourself Chronocone -- not guaranteed to work.

Post by Pat Chewning » Sat Jun 26, 2004 5:28 am

If anyone wants to try this out and let me know how it works:

The "guts" of the hardware in Chronocone is a standard USB game pad that can be bought for about $10.

Tear it open and connect a tape switch to buttons 1,2,3, and 4 Connect it directly to the tape switches without any of the "special" electronics that I built.

Plug it into your computer after downloading and installing Chronocone from: http://home.comcast.net/~pchewn/

See if it works. See if it captures starts and finishes when run over the switches at full speed. If it does, then you have a working Chronocone system. I suspect that it might not, due to some earlier failures of my system to catch every event. But these could have been caused by inferior tape switches, or by the 1st way I connected to a keyboard rather than a game pad.

If you can do this and it works, then figure out a way to built this in a robust well-packaged manner and sell it -- I won't object.

The Chronocone software will continue to be a free download as improvements are made over time.

-- Pat

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Bug in 4.0 -- RESET before STOP

Post by Pat Chewning » Sat Jul 03, 2004 3:40 am

If you have a racer who doesn't run over the STOP switch, his timer contines to run. If you hit RESET before STOP, it goes into a mode that can only be escaped by hitting RACE again.

This can be fixed by issuing a STOP for any lane which is running, once the RESET button is pressed.

Done: Fixed in Rev 4.5
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Output directly into pre-prepared Excel files.

Post by Pat Chewning » Sat Jul 03, 2004 3:53 am

Excel files prepared for racing should be able to receive selected Chronocone outputs directly. This will speed up the race results process.

I've figured out how to do this. The user interface looks like this:

1) Chronocone will be run in a smaller window at the top of the screen.
2) The Excel spreadsheet will be run at the bottom and take up the rest of the screen.
3) Excel will hold all of the racer's names, order, and decisions for qualification runs, brackets, etc.
4) Operator will select racer's name from Excel and "select racer" from Chronocone.
5) Chronocone runs race as usual
6) When "Save Race" is hit in Chronocone, it will automatically fill the appropriate fields in the spreadsheet with the appropriate data. (Based on relative position compared to the selected name). The data can be any of: RAW TIME, CONES, CONE PENALTY, LANE, RESULTING TIME, REACTION TIME, START PENALTY, DQ

Pre-defined spreadsheets will be available for common race formats:
1) Simple Qual or Simple RACE -- 4 runs with option to base results on best 1,2,3 or 4 runs. Up to 120 racers
2) Single Elimination -- Up to 32 racers in a bracket with single-elimination based on a pair of head-to-head runs.
3) Ladder bracket -- 2,3,or 4 run ladder bracket based on a pair of runs, or a single run.

Done. REV 4.5 interfaces directly to Excel. ChronoBracket.xls Excel spreadsheet available.
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

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False Start Penalty: Yet another option

Post by Pat Chewning » Sat Jul 03, 2004 4:04 am

Chris Barker and others have come up with a penalty for false starts that they'd like to see:

A racer who false starts will have a fixed-amount of time penalty that will usually be set to the amount of a cone penalty. This amount will be added to his "normalized" time. The "normalized" time is the racer's raw time minus the (negative) reaction time. The normalized time is the raw time if the racer had waited for the tone to sound.

Easy enough to add to Chronocone

Done: Added to REV 4.5
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Add optional "alert" tone prior to tone count-down

Post by Pat Chewning » Sat Jul 03, 2004 4:10 am

Chris Barker would like to see a unique "Alert" tone optionally sounded before the tone count-down for the race. This is evidently what some people are used to.

Something like:
"BEEEEEEEEEEP" - meaning: Alert! Race count-down starting.
"BLIP" count-down pulse
"BLIP" count-down pulse
"BLIP" count-down pulse
"BOING" GO

I think this is overkill on the tone options, but Chris is pretty insistent.

Done. Added to REV 4.5.
Last edited by Pat Chewning on Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Rev 4.5

Post by Chris Barker » Sat Jul 03, 2004 6:24 am

Thanks for all your hard work Pat. This should keep everyone happy at the rest of the big races this year.

William Tway
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Post by William Tway » Tue Aug 03, 2004 8:53 pm

Yes Pat thanks for all your hard work. The system is awesome. I do have a few questions though, how can I get in touch with you during the day?

Thanks again,

Retired Timing Guru,

Tway

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Added Features in Chronocone REV 4.6 -- Spreadsheet!

Post by Pat Chewning » Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:31 am

I added the ability to save the configuration (penalties, start mode, etc) to a configuration file and then retreive those settings. So you could theoretically have your favorite Qualification setup and Head-to-Head setup saved and then just retreive them. Included in REV 4.6

I took an existing spreadsheet (UK knucklehead, paul keleher's) and modified the layout and formulas to be exactly friendly for direct input of data from Chronocone. I added a few macro's (command buttons) to quickly get from one state to another for displaying very detailed info or just a summary of the race. This Excel spreadsheet is ChronoBracket_Rev_1_4.xls

I built a small interface to the computer's parallel port that can drive AC-powered lights in syncronization with the tone count-down for start. This is a request from Jack Smith for a "Christmas Tree" drag-race style display at the start. Think of 4 lights (RED, YELLOW, YELLOW, GREEN). The RED light goes with the 1st tone, then YELLOW, YELLOW, and GREEN on the final "GO" tone. If selected, a racer who goes too early will light up the RED light and sound a siren.


If you do try Version 4.6, keep in mind that it will open Excel automatically. Make a test copy of Chronobracket.xls and try it out. You
should arrange Chronocone in a small window in the upper section of the computer screen, and Excel in a larger window at the bottom. Select a name in Excel, then press "Get Racer Name" in Chronocone (do this for each lane). Now when you SAVE the race, it will go directly into Excel.

Download both at: http://home.comcast.net/~pchewn/

Documentation will be coming later.

-- Pat

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Post by William Tway » Thu Aug 12, 2004 3:12 pm

Any race organizer who doesn't have Pat's system yet, should get it. Didn't have enough time to test it prior to the farm race but next year it will definatly be used. Thanks Pat for all your efforts to make a race organizers job much eaiser and allow us more time to conehead.

Tway
Retired Timing Guru

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Post by John Gilmour » Fri Aug 13, 2004 8:09 am

I see the timing sytems merging and mutating into something truly great...and hopefully inexpensiveenough to spurr pockets of slalom anywhere there is good pavement a hill and talent.

Between Tway, Pat and Marcus..I think we are well on our way to a timer that is under $79

At somepoint a smaller PDA version might be written, but for now a laptop is fine.

I might note that the trakmate timer is still the most energy efficient for battery life- as it does not rely on a laptop. But the tabulation possible by a laptop will be really cool.

Now all we need is a cheap display. I know computer monitors are found everywhere in dumps.
One good turn deserves another
john gilmour

Rick Stanziale
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Post by Rick Stanziale » Sun Sep 19, 2004 1:40 pm

Pat,

Who tested the Chronocone system this year. I know that Ricky Byrd and I had volunteered, but were turned down. Looking to get some independent feedback before I invest in timing for the 2005 season.

The inline race that Gilmour is familiar with uses a system where each racer wears a small anklet so that each racers time is automatically recorded when they cross the start and finish lines. Would love to see something like that added to Chronocone. The only weak link I see in Chronocone is the tapeswitch.

Thanks,
Rick

Pat Chewning
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Chronocone Beta Test Program

Post by Pat Chewning » Sun Sep 19, 2004 7:31 pm

Six Chronocone systems were built and delivered to users near the end of March.

Two of those six systems have been put to use in races.

The other 4 systems have not yet been tested.

People who are experienced using Chronocone for races:
Pat Chewning
Chris Barker
Dan Gessmer

People who own a Chronocone system but have not connected it up yet. (Might be willing to transfer to you???)
Dave Hackett
Palmer
Chris Chaput
Bill Tway

One other piece of friendly advice: Never let Gareth Roe anywhere near the computer during a race!!

-- Pat

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Post by Rick Stanziale » Thu Sep 23, 2004 7:17 pm

Thanks Pat. I've got it installed and running, if I can't get a controller from one of those guys, I'll go ahead and start assembling it on my own. Mind if I peek over your shoulder in Morro Bay?

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NEED TIMING SYSTEM

Post by Steve Collins » Sat Jul 23, 2005 8:43 pm

Pat, got any more of these?

Pat Chewning
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Any more Chronocone systems?

Post by Pat Chewning » Tue Jul 26, 2005 4:09 am

No, I don't have any more of these.

I think only 3 of the 6 systems are actually being used, so you might give a shout to the people on the list I posted earlier..... Maybe someone with an unused system can shoot it your way.

If you are at all handy with wiring or electronics, its a relatively simple matter to disect a USB "Game Pad" device and hook it up to tape switches. Download the Chronocone software -- and instant timing system.

-- Pat

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there's never enough time

Post by Steve Collins » Tue Jul 26, 2005 5:49 pm

Thanks Pat, I'm going to try your game pad suggestion as soon as my ribbon switches arrive.

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One bug found -- and a work-around for it.

Post by Pat Chewning » Sat Aug 05, 2006 5:52 am

At the Hood River race a bug was found when attempting to use Chronocone version 4.6 with multiple spreadsheets. Unfortunately, there is a right way to do this and wrong way:

WRONG WAY: Open up the multiple spreadsheets by opening multiple instances of Excel. (e.g. By double-clicking the Excel icon and then selecting which file to open and then repeating this for each file). Each instance of Excel will have a single window with a single spreadsheet in it.

RIGHT WAY: Open up a single instance of Excel, then open multiple file "windows" within that instance of Excel. (e.g. By double-clicking on Excel icon, then going to FILE/OPEN within Excel to open each additional spreadsheet.) Excel will display each spreadsheet under the "WINDOWS" menu selection (top bar of Excel).

The problem is that Chronocone only knows about the first instance of Excel that is opened, so it can only interact with that one Excel program that is running. Multiple spreadsheets can work, but not multiple Excel programs running.

I do not plan on fixing this bug.

-- Pat

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Better coordination with Seismic (Gesmer) spreadsheets

Post by Pat Chewning » Thu Sep 14, 2006 8:35 am

Using Chronocone with the Seismic (Dan Gesmer) spreadsheets would be easier if:

1) The spreadsheets are not "protected" which prohibit entry of data into the spreadsheet from an outside program.

2) If Chronocone could be made to output "DQ" into the raw-time field. (The spreadsheet uses "DQ" in the raw time field to designate a DQ.) Alternatively, the spreadsheet could be changed to accept a 1 (yes, did DQ) or a 0 (no, did not DQ) since that is how Chronocone is set up. Either method is acceptable and allows the user to just "click" on the "DQ" checkbox in Chronocone before saving the race into the spreadsheet. (Rather than typing "DQ" in the raw time field in the spreadsheet.)

3) If Chronocone had an option for "1X" false-start penalty. (And allow the multiplier to be applied in the spreadsheet.) Current work-around is to set Chronocone to output a penalty equal to the "early start" amount, plus 1 cone penalty -- set the cone penalty to 0 in Chronocone -- allow the spreadsheet to calculate the cone penalty.

I will work with Gesmer on the 1st item. For items 2 and 3, Chronocone should be improved in the future to do this.

-- Pat

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Post by Bernie Griffiths » Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:08 pm

Pat,

Your Chronocone2004 is really excellent software (Thanks for making it available).
I want to get one running down here in Melbourne.
( I built the wireless timer...http://www.slalomskateboarder.com/phpBB ... php?t=6432
which is OK for training runs and ditch racing, but no good for head to head competitions.)

Am trying to modify a Logitec gamepad.
I can get reliable tape switch operation on buttons 2 and 4, but buttons 1 and 3 issue pulsing signals without hitting the tape, and this causes false starts. It happens just on connecting the tape switch, and even happens with only wire soldered to that part of the circuit. I am sure that it is a design issue with the logitec, and it is like the tape switch acts like an antenna on switches 1 and 3, which look like they have slightly different circuits to switch 2 & 4.....witchcraft!

In the testing that I have completed, so far, with the finish gates (2 &4) I note that it does not seem to need the delay circuit that you built, because you have designed it with start and finish gates on separate circuits and logic, so the problem of having the rear wheels stop the timer at the start does not arise. (Have not yet tested it at high speed)

So the question is can Chronocone be configured to use other (more reliable) gamepad buttons, or do I need to hunt down a different USB gamepad to the logitec?
Let it go.

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