My quest to integrate Chip Timing into Good Times started last year when I realized I could time much larger races, as well as give timing companies a new software alternative (one that I’m confident is many orders of magnitude easier than the top alternatives available today.) This seemed to make lots of sense to me; timing a race with chips just had too many positives to ignore.
Of course, each RFID chip timing system manufacturer has their own complexities that software providers like Good Times Software have to deal with. And in some cases, the actual technology in the chip system hardware is, well, archaic. Thankfully some of the major providers are ahead of the pack and fairly easy to work with.
When considering how to time a race using chips, it’s really the various scenarios of running events that introduce the majority of complexities. For example, consider that most of the chip timing systems begin “registering a hit” or “logging a chip” any time that chip is within close proximity to the receiver pad which lies nicely over the starting line, finish line, split locations, etc. And it’s not just a single hit that is registered… hundreds, sometimes thousands of hits are made when the chip continues to stay in close proximity to the receiver pad, like at the start of the race when runners are just standing there waiting for the starting gun to fire. So at the start of the race when you have a hundred participants lined up, you have hundreds or thousands of hits being registered for each one of those participants. That’s a lot of data to sort through!
The difficulty, however, is that when the starting gun fires and the runners eventually run away from the starting line, the software really only needs the last hit, which signifies the runner actually leaving the receiver pad. Out of all that data, you need just the last one for the runner as he/she leaves the starting line (similarly, you only need the first hit when runners come to the finish line.) Fortunately, some of the chip systems flag that “last hit,” making it easier to find in the data. But what if a runner waiting patiently at the starting line, registering hits, notices their shoe is untied right before the start of the race and steps out of line to tie it? The runner then comes back to the starting line and takes off with the rest of the participants when the starting gun fires. Now, the chip system has logged two hits as the “last hit.”
Readers, that’s just one of many scenarios to deal with. Shared start/finish lines, event routes that have loops and shared split locations, and a host of other scenarios complicate things and present challenges.
At the time of this writing, none of the videos on our YouTube Channel cover RFID Chip Timing Systems. But if you haven’t seen our videos about how to time a race or race event registration, please check them out.