SPORTident – User Guide for the IOA equipment

1. SPORTident – advantages and disadvantages

Advantages

  • Split times printouts for runners when they download
  • Automatic code checking, no pin punches to check
  • Preliminary results can be displayed at the event immediately
  • Missing runners can be easily identified
  • Final results can be easily posted on the internet

Disadvantages

  • Familiarity with the software is needed
  • Heavier equipment to carry to each control site
  • A tent or suitable large vehicle, table, chairs, laptop, printer and power supply are needed
  • Entry on the day details have to be input before the runner finishes and downloads. This can be made easier by using the IOA Archive.

 

2. Software

To produce results, you have two main options:

  • Ór is a free program, designed to be used by Irish orienteers. It is reasonably easy to use. More details are on the Ór page.
  • OE2003 v 10.3 is for one day individual event management (there are other packages for multi day events and relays) and can be downloaded from www.sportsoftware.de (click on ‘Support + Downloads’). The download is a free trial version which can be upgraded to the full version by purchasing a licence for your club by credit card (click on ‘Online shop’). The cheapest option is to order an upgrade for an earlier version of OE200x if you already have a licence. If not, the full cost of a new licence must be paid.

At the same time download Check PC v 2.1 from the ‘Support + Downloads’ screen and run. This adjusts some settings in the registry of the laptop to ensure smooth operation. These programs are normally installed in C:/Program Files/SportSoftware. To upgrade OE2003 V 10.3 from the trial version to the full version open the main screen and click on settings/license and type in the club name and license PIN.

  • E-Results. Oriento Solutions Oy is a Finish company that has a suite of programs that handle SPORTident and Emit. E-Results Lite is free for small events and E-Results Pro is the full package. Details are on their web page.

For Superusers Only To manage the control boxes you should use SIConfig (SIManager is a program for older boxes). Both are available for free fromwww.sportident.com.

 

3. Hardware

3.1 Logistics

You need to book the IOA SPORTident equipment in advance of your event. There is no charge for the use of this equipment if your event is registered with the IOA. National or Regional events take priority. Contact details are shown at the top of this page for both the Leinster kit and the Munster kit. For Connacht or Ulster events, use whichever is most convenient.

3.2 Stakes

Each club has to provide their own stakes to mount the control boxes (and control flags). Most clubs use plastic electric fence posts with are fitted with base plates into which the stations clip.

3.3 SI Stations

The stations are supplied prelabelled top and front for control codes. Munster stations are labelled 100 to 144 and Leinster stations 145 to 191. For major events these two kits are combined. It is essential that the Planner knows in good time what codes he is getting so he can tag sites accordingly. In addition to the control stations prelabelled stations are supplied for each of Clear, Check, Start and Finish.

The new black SI stations are supplied labelled with the control codes, programed and with their internal real time clocks set to an internet clock and synchronised ie ready for deployment at the control sites by the Planner. No further programing is required.

The stations will flash and beep when punched with an SI card. They will be slightly slower to respond to the first punch of the event, probably by the Controller (c 1 sec), than to subsequent ones (c 1/2 sec). After the event simply pack the stations away. No need to switch off.

In an important event the Planner may wish to hang pin punches at each control as a back up. (For more detail on the operation of the stations see 5 below).

3.4 SI Cards

SI cards complete with distinguishing red safety cords are available for hire to competitors and the revenue from this remains with the organising club. The normal rental fee is € 2 each and experience suggests that it is not worthwhile to collect a deposit against loss. These SI cards are for hire only and must not be sold. SI cards can be purchased on line from SPORTident UK at www.sportident.co.uk/. Note that the equipment and software can now handle 4 to 7 digit SI cards.

3.5 Split Times Printer

Note, all IOA thermal printers are non-operational at the moment, so this section is for general information only.

A small stand alone split times thermal printer is available which is powered by 220v ac via an transformer or by its own rechargeable battery (charge if necessary). Follow the supplied instructions regarding the order in which the various connections are made. Note that the switch in the coms cable should be in the direction of the arrow. Before the event switch on the printer SI station using a magnet and clear the memory using the appropriate purple stick. After the event don’t forget to switch off the printer SI station using the purple SI card supplied. Be careful disconnecting the SI station lead from the printer as there is a latch on the connector.

Split times can also be printed on a desk top printer from the ‘Read SI cards’ screen in OE2003, either at 3 per A4 page or using A4 paper cut into two or three strips. In the latter option paper feed can be an issue with some printers. The use of a full size printer for splits uses more power and is slower than the thermal printer but avoids the need for a second SI card download. Note that the thermal printer being standalone simply prints out the split times without checking that the correct controls have been punched. In this respect a desk top printer driven by the laptop is better.

3.6. Power

Apart from very short events, you will need an electricity supply to power a laptop and printer. Both normally require 220v ac which can be provided by a generator or by an inverter plus leisure battery or car cigarette lighter.

Inverters can be purchased from Maplin or, occasionally, Lidl/Aldi. Prices vary from approximately € 30 to € 80, depending on rating and quality. Popular ratings are 150W and 300W. When choosing an inverter, you should estimate your equipment's power requirements and make sure to buy an inverter that can provide enough power. Also, bear in mind that a laptop/printer draws more current when charging. Always have your equipment fully charges before an event.

A car battery is not ideal for powering electrical equipment - it is designed for short, high-powered discharges, not long, low-powered discharges. However, many people have plugged their inverters into their car's cigarette lighter without problems. You should make sure that your car's battery and electrics are in good condition. Note that the power output from your cigarette lighter may be limited.

A proper “leisure” battery will cost a bit over €100 and is larger & heavier than a car battery. 3ROC have a leisure battery available for hire for € 25 per event.

Always follow the instructions that come with the battery & inverter. In particular, you should provide an earth connection where required. This should involve a wire from the inverter to a piece of metal, hammered into the ground.

 

4. IOA SPORTident equipment inventory

Note that this equipment is now divided between Leinster and Munster.

  • 108 black labelled BSF7 stations (4 clear, 4 check, 4 start, 4 finish, plus control codes 100 to 191)
  • 200 approx yellow/white plastic stakes, with baseplates attached, to carry stations
  • 2 BSM6 (Munster) and 2 BSM7 (Leinster) master stations all with USB cables (2 older serial master stations are still available)
  • 2 TimeMaster stations
  • 4 coupling rods
  • 1 split times thermal printer with instructions, SI station with printer cable, rechargeable battery, power cable and off/print/clear purple SI cards and magnet. A second similar non operable printer.
  • Spare rolls of split times printer paper
  • 7 metal carrying cases
  • 4 waist coat type jackets with pockets to carry stations (recommended).
  • 400 approx SI cards with distinguishing red saftey cords for hire

 

5. Technical appendix on SI stations

The new black BSF7 stations are always ‘on’, therefore they don’t respond to a magnet like the old ones. They have a real time clock and three modes – standby, active and maintenance. They switch from standby to active mode when punched with an SI card, and remain in active mode for a time set in SI Manager (currently one hour), before switching back to standby. This time is reset with each punch so the station finally switches to standby mode one hour after the last punch of the event. The reaction time to registering a punch from an SI card takes about 1 second in standby mode and ½ sec in active mode, ie only a small difference. In active mode the control code number and time are displayed on the LCD on the underside of the station. When the station is punched the SI card number is briefly displayed as well.

The stations are switched to maintenance mode by punching with a purple ‘off ‘ stick. Various station parameters such as control code number, clock time, battery voltage and software version are displayed on the LCD on the underside. The station switches back to standby after 10 mins or earlier if punched again with the purple ‘off’ stick.

The new black BSF7 stations can be reprogramed if required using SI Manager. The black stations are supplied programed in Training mode with a 1 hour active time and the real time clock activated and any reprogramming should retain these settings. Programing in Competition mode (ie to switch on and off the station at preprogrammed times) is possible but is not recommended. To reprogram a station first synchronize your computer clock with an internet clock and then synchronize the USB master station clock with the computer clock using SI Manager/SI stations/set SI station clock time/direct. Using a purple ‘off’ stick switch the station into maintenance mode (not strictly necessary as the act of coupling does the same thing), couple face to face with the master station using a coupling rod and then reprogram in Training mode, ensuring that the master as opposed to the direct mode is selected and the real time clock box is ticked. This process is sensitive to the exact coupling geometry so it may be necessary to realign the stations slightly if the station fails to program.

A station can be relabelled if absolutely necessary by sticking white plastic insulating tape over the permanent labels and marking the control code with a permanent ink pen. Never use paper labels or brown plastic parcel tape on the SI stations as they are very difficult to remove.

As all the stations store the information they collect this can be downloaded after the event to assist in resolving any issues. The memory is wiped clean when the station is next programmed.

The real time clocks in the stations are very accurate and drift by less than 1 second per week between themselves and also versus an internet clock. The stations are supplied with the clocks already synchronized just before dispatch for your event so repeating the synchronisation is only necessary if extreme accuracy is required (eg a sprint event or a very short run in) or if there is a delay of more than one week between the delivery of the stations and a Championship event. The clocks can be easily resynchronized using a Time Master station or by reprogramming. The former is more accurate.

Leinster and Munster have different designs of Master station and Time Master station.

The Leinster BSM7 Master station operates at 38400 baud and the Munster BSM6 Master station at 4800 baud. These settings should be checked when aligning the COM ports.

To use the Munster Time Master station first synchronize the computer with the internet clock, then synchronize the USB master station with the computer (see above). Then switch on the Time Master with a magnet, couple using a coupling rod face to face with the USB master station and synchronise the clocks. You have 40 secs to do this after which the Time Master bleeps and switches to active mode for 59 minutes. Then couple the Time Master face to face with each of the stations in turn using a coupling rod. The act of coupling switches the station into maintenance mode and the completion of the clock synchronisation of each station (10 to 15 secs) is indicated by three bleeps. It is recommended after synchronisation to punch the stations quickly in turn with an SI card (remember that each SI card only holds 30 controls plus clear,check, start and finish). Then download the SI card and check that the control codes and times of punching are correct.

To use the Leinster Time Master station first synchronise the computer with the internet clock, then synchronise the USB master station with the computer (see above). Then couple the Time Master station face to face with the master station using a short coupling rod and synchronise the clocks. Then swith the Time Master station from maintainance mode to time master mode using a purple off stick. Then couple the Time Master station to each station in turn using a short coupling stick. The synchronisation takes about 2 seconds and completion is signalled by a double bleep. It is recommended after synchronisation to punch the stations quickly in turn with an SI card (remember that each SI card only holds 30 controls plus clear,check, start and finish). Then download the SI card and check that the control codes and times of punching are correct. This Time Master station clears the memory of each station on which it is used.

SPORTident publish updated firmware for the SI stations periodically on their website. In order to install this in the stations first download a program called SIBoot and then the new firmware data folder. The new firmware is downloaded to the BSF7 stations using SIBoot and a BSM7 master station. The download is sensitive to the exact position of the coupling rod (a short coupling rod is recommended)and takes just over two minutes per station. The current firmware installed in the stations is version 556.