Discussion: Any software to turn a laptop into a timing clock?
in: Orienteering; Gear & Toys;
By chance can anyone recommend a software that will turn your laptop into a timing clock for use at starts? It would be nice if it gave a large LED like 6 digit display and could have warning beeps and start beeps set at the desired interval (30 sec, 1 min etc).
Perhaps this has been discussed before however I did not notice it in the archives.
That sounds like something that could be coded pretty easily. On windows I would guess Java would be easiest to implement.
I think I remember someone doing exactly this some years ago. I don't remember the name but I think it was a guy from SMOC. If memory serves, it was designed for the "one man wonder" type of meet where a single person does everything.
Using a laptop as a timing device has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are ease of use, and if anyone wants to take on the challenge of developing the software, inclusion of optional start instructions (e.g. "Follow tapes for 100 metres to the start triangle blah blah blah"), which guarantees consistent instructions to all competitors, and relieves start officials the tedium of repeating the same instructions every X minutes for 2-3 hours.
The disadvantage is drift in the PC's clock. Unless the PC that is used has been calibrated against a reliable chronometer, the possibility is that times may be unreliable (probably OK if SI start boxes are used for the actual start and the PC is only used for the approximate start time).
Our club uses an Alge Startbeep, but an addition to the range also looks quite useful (have a look at "startbeep" and "start clock" in the product list at http://www.alge-timing.com/alge-e.htm
Many US clubs are now using the K4BRI audible start timer. Made by an orienteer and ham radio enthusiast, it is small (about the size of a tv remote), battery powered, adjustable in volume, with a plug for an external speaker, (loud enough that a volunteer at a water control over a kilometer from the start could hear it at one recent event), inexpensive (about $35), reliable (less than 1 second drift in 24 hours), and adjustable for start intervals other than 1 minute, and adjustable in number of pre-beeps before the start tone.
Contact Brian DeYoung, firstname.lastname@example.org
or through Brian's website
One guy here in NSW, Australia wrote a program to produce an mp3 file that could contain spoken times, messages, beeps and warnings etc.
It was then played thru little speakers on a tiny MP3 player saving organisers the need to repeat the same thing all through the start window. It had no visual display and there is some minor time slippage but it is always used with SI "dipping" at the start.
Seemed to work well at the MTBO event I saw it operating at.
If somebody was coding something else with a display I along with Hawkeye would recommend that the option to add messages would be highly beneficial (possibly even reducing the number of start official)
Anyone still looking for something that does this sort of thing, here are a couple of alternatives:
(run two instances for a simultaneous clock and countdown timer)
or for someone who wants to experiment, this could save some effort:
dont other countries have radio signals with the national standard time.
Here in Japan you can buy clocks that syncronise with that radio signal and one guy has made a start beeper that also does that. No need to worry about clock drift then.
robplow Australia's radio time signal (VNG) was shut down in 1987, reinstated, then shut down again (permanently it seems) in 2002 - all this according to wikipedia.
Hawkeye where did you get your Alge start clock, and how much was it? Is it the ASC1 or ASC2? I saw the ASC2 in operation in Austria and was very impressed. Will recommend OAWA purchase if it is affordable. (Our analog Silva beeping clocks are still servicable, except that the minute hand wanders and the time is not accurate for a punchless SI start. But for Easter next year we won't be able to use a punch start.
Simmo - we use a startbeep (STB1) - follow the product links at http://www.alge-timing.com/alge-e.htm
for the STB1 and the ASC2. The Startbeep doesn't have a display, so we use a cheap wall clock synchronised with it. We got it from Split Second Timing (http://www.splitsecond.com.au/index.htm
), around $500 a few years ago.
Emit makes something similar to the ASC2 - I think the Emit is the clock that was used at the 3day in Canberra this year: http://www.emit.no/produkt/brosjyre/ESD1eng.htm
- not sure of the cost, but their analog equivalent was around $1300 when I enquired around the time we bought the Startbeep.
I sent an enquiry to Brian De Young (mentioned in Mike Minium's post), but had no response - that looked like a real bargain.
How about this app!
The cheapest andriod tablet with this apps turns in to a exelent O-Clock!
O-Clock works well on an Android phone, too.
I'm going to be replacing my htc, so I'm wondering if the old phone would still be able to run O-Clock after the wireless capability is discontinued.
Loaded it on my Tablet, cool...
Combining it with the announcement functionality of countdown
, (as Leepback said) would be great. Now I've got a ($49!) Android phone, I'll put that on the project list.
@GuyO - yep, it works fine without wireless
Norton Internet Security doesn't like to download Countdown, deletes the exe file
I think Norton does that with pretty much all exe files, must be a PITA.
OK, I zipped it and put it in Dropbox here
Can't test that at the moment as I'm away from a Windows PC.
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