Microwizard Laser versus Microswitch setup.

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Jetmugg
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Microwizard Laser versus Microswitch setup.

Post by Jetmugg » Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:46 pm

I've used the search function to try to get myself educated on this topic, but could still use some help...

I recently "inherited" the job of running a Girl Scout PowderPuff Derby, along with the track setup. I have a 6 lane aluminum Piantedesi (sp) track with Microwizard K2 timer. The setup came with the laser start gate, which I am finding nearly impossible to keep in alignment using the factory supplied mounting hardware.

The track also came with a microswitch setup, which I am seriously thinking of using, but I haven't been able to find a diagram or drawing showing how the microswitch should be attached to the start gate. If I can get this to work, does the microswitch automatically re-set every time the gate is set?

With the apparent simplicity of the microswitch, I'm wondering what the advantage is of a laser start gate?

Any help would be appreciated - I'm a bit of a newbie who has about 1-1/2 months to get the whole race organized and run.

There was no software provided from the previous "curator" of the equipment. I'm thinking of buying the Grand Prix package, are there any other suggestions?

Thanks a million,

Steve M.



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Re: Microwizard Laser versus Microswitch setup.

Post by *5 J's* » Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:15 pm

Jetmugg wrote:The track also came with a microswitch setup, which I am seriously thinking of using, but I haven't been able to find a diagram or drawing showing how the microswitch should be attached to the start gate.
Here is a link to the instructions.
Jetmugg wrote:If I can get this to work, does the microswitch automatically re-set every time the gate is set?
The microswitch will close when you reset the gate. The timer will reset when the switch is closed - so it is important that the gate remain open for the duration of the race.
Jetmugg wrote:With the apparent simplicity of the microswitch, I'm wondering what the advantage is of a laser start gate?
I have no experience with the Laser starting gate, however it is advertised as "provides the most accurate start time for your race by using a horizontal laser beam to detect when the cars start moving". I can see where this type of starting gate could actually induce inaccuracies.
Jetmugg wrote:There was no software provided from the previous "curator" of the equipment. I'm thinking of buying the Gran Prix package, are there any other suggestions?
I would recommend GrandPrix Race Manager. Here are some others. Also, check out this comparison chart.



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Re: Microwizard Laser versus Microswitch setup.

Post by gpraceman » Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:42 am

I am not a fan of the laser sensor, for several reasons.

1) As you saw, keeping it in alignment can be a hassle. If the beam will not stay on when you hit the reset button, then the beam is not aligned properly. I have seen one pack that mounted the sensor and laser to a piece of 1x2 and then would mount that to the bottom of the track. That seemed to fix that problem for them.

2) Beam can accidentally be triggered early. If there is a bump to the track or someone's hand breaks the beam as they are loading cars, timing will start right then. Times end up being unusually long or all at the max time. Counter measure is to always make sure that the beam is on before the gate is dropped. If not, hit the reset button on the sensor unit before dropping the gate.

3) Race start should be based on the opening of the gate, not the first car to break the beam. This throws in timing variation, since the start depends on who gets a good jump off the start and their nose profile. If scoring by points, then that timing variation won't matter, but could be a factor if you score by times. Counter measure would be mount the laser so that some part of the start gate breaks the beam (like the pegs), not the cars. Unfortunately, it is not easy to mount the laser sensor that way on many tracks, since the track legs get in the way.

4) Laser unit can lock up. When we moved to a new pack, they were using the laser sensor for our first race there. Getting down to the last few heats, the laser beam would not turn off at all. Maybe it was an over heat issue, as the unit was kept on during race setup, most of the race and the intermission halfway through the race. I'm not sure if that was the cause or not, but after that race the pack switched to the mechanical switch.

I think the laser sensor adds a "cool factor", but I have had far better experience with the mechanical switch for the many Cub Scout and Awana races that I have run over the years.

The mechanical switch has an added advantage. Once you raise the gate, the switch will close, resetting the Fast Track timer. Say you have a car that doesn't finish. Instead of pushing the car through the finish line, waving your hand through the lane sensor, or getting race software to prompt the timer to send results, just raise the gate. The timer will then send the results for the cars that did finish. Of course, you do not want to reset the gate while cars are still running down the track, so you do need to make sure your start gate operator knows not to do that.

As far as mounting the mechanical switch to a Freedom track, Micro Wizard supplies a mounting bracket. You can contact them to get one.


Randy Lisano
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Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

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Re: Microwizard Laser versus Microswitch setup.

Post by Jetmugg » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:43 am

OK, thanks. I saw the diagram showing how the microswitch is activated on the Freedom track's gate. I'm missing a bracket to attach the microswitch, but it looks like I might be able to figure something out. I'm going to call Microwizard this morning.

I plugged in the microswitch as a test, activating the switch by hand. Am I correct to assume that it's normal for the "period" lights after the zeros (on the microwizard finish line display) to remain lit until the microswitch is released?

I know that these "periods" only light up momentarily with the laser detector, but they stay lit with the microswitch.

SteveM.



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Re: Microwizard Laser versus Microswitch setup.

Post by gpraceman » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:50 am

Jetmugg wrote:Am I correct to assume that it's normal for the "period" lights after the zeros (on the microwizard finish line display) to remain lit until the microswitch is released?
Yes, that is the proper behavior. It is an easy way to determine if the switch is working properly.


Randy Lisano
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Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

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Re: Microwizard Laser versus Microswitch setup.

Post by Jetmugg » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:03 pm

All-righty then.

I ordered GrandPrix Race Manager and the microswitch bracket today. I can't wait to play with the software.

SteveM.



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Re: Microwizard Laser versus Microswitch setup.

Post by mytholibar » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:23 pm

Someplace I have scene someone with a diagram of how to make a loop catching micro switch gate for the micro wizard setup.

This loop catch acts like the laser in that once the gate is release for racing the loop is broken and the gate can be reset with out aborting the running race like the laser. Can someone explain this circuit involved with this. I tried to follow the instructions and was able to get this system to work for about two races until my transformer over heated and I feared for gate damage. All was well once I let is cool down but I quickly went back to using the laser which I'm trying to avoid.

The reason I want to use the loop catch is so I can stage the next race. I run about 20 races a year and have some very large venues in which we run. It is important to get track turn over done quickly in some of these venues. 80+ cars can really be taxing show to keep everyone's attention.



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Re: Microwizard Laser versus Microswitch setup.

Post by gpraceman » Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:53 pm

mytholibar wrote:The reason I want to use the loop catch is so I can stage the next race. I run about 20 races a year and have some very large venues in which we run. It is important to get track turn over done quickly in some of these venues. 80+ cars can really be taxing show to keep everyone's attention.
Personally, I don't think that you should be loading the next set of cars as the current set are running down the track. As cars are running, there should be no external influence on the track that could possibility throw variation into the timing.

Secondly, you miss out on the great advantage of being able to get the timer to send results when a car doesn't finish. Instead of pressing the Escape key on the keyboard, you simply close the start gate.


Randy Lisano
Romans 5:8

Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

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