Race Timing, Timers, Clocks

Timing a race is highly dependent upon stable and accurate clocks.  If you’re timing a race using race timing software, stopwatches, big overhead athletic sports timers, or even your watch then your participants are depending upon these magical little devices to accurately do their duty without failure.

During the earliest phases of Good Times software development, I remember being introduced to the complexities of computer-based clocks.  You can probably see a clock on your screen this very moment.  What you’re actually seeing is the result of a very complex electrical process based upon the underlying technology of the particular processor chip in your device.  If you’re on a traditional computer or laptop, perhaps you’re using a processor chip from Intel.  If you’re on a tablet or smart phone, chip manufacturers vary.  But to get an accurate and usable clock (or timer) to work across these various types of processor chips requires a great deal of sophistication in electrical engineering, physics, and computer programming.

When developing the earliest version of Good Times, I realized how little control I actually had over the precision, accuracy, and resolution of the clock mechanism used by my race timing software’s stopwatch.  (See the video Timing Your Event on our YouTube Channel to see Good Times’ stopwatch in action.)  What I needed was a timer that worked with accuracy to the hundredth of a second, and worked consistently across multiple Windows operating systems on different kinds of computers.  It may sound easy to accomplish in theory, but in practice it’s very difficult.  So difficult, in fact, that the low-level programming required was beyond my domain of expertise.

Fortunately for myself and my customers, I was able to find the specialized skills and software components to accomplish my goal.  To date, Good Times software has been reliably tested across all the major Windows operating systems, and upon major hardware types.  And in the event someone tries to run Good Times on some obscure hardware with an unreliable or unpredictable clock, I’ve built a fail-safe mechanism into the software so the stopwatch can be manually set to any elapsed time.  I’ve never had to use it, but it’s a great tool to have in your back pocket.

For anyone interested in exercising your mind and learning more about precision, accuracy, and resolution, check out this article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *