Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Discussions on buying or building timers, solenoid start gates, light trees, weigh scales, and other race related electronics.
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gpraceman
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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by gpraceman » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:24 pm

Indy wrote:- New: Option added where timer can be reset by closing start gate
If in the middle of timing, does the timer send the results for any cars that had finished?
Indy wrote:- Fix: Timer now goes into finish state if powered-up with the start gate open
Can you elaborate?

What happens if there is a power fluctuation right in the middle of timing a heat? That can act as very fast power down and then back up. Seems unlikely, but myself and some others have actually experienced this problem.


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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by Indy » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:32 pm

Good questions.

The timer has 3 distinct states:

READY - the start gate is closed and the timer has been initialized for a new race
RACING - the start gate has opened
FINISHED - all unmasked lanes have had a car cross the finish or the race was forced to end, time/place data is displayed and sent to the attached PC

Transitions from one state to the next is one way: READY -> RACING -> FINISHED -> READY...
gpraceman wrote:
Indy wrote:- New: Option added where timer can be reset by closing start gate
If in the middle of timing, does the timer send the results for any cars that had finished?
No, the results are only sent once the race is completed. The (optional) 'reset timer by closing the start gate' feature only works from the FINISHED state. If the results are being manually recorded (with no attached PC) care needs to be taken that the person operating the start gate doesn't shut the gate too soon. The feature is disabled by default.

gpraceman wrote:
Indy wrote:- Fix: Timer now goes into finish state if powered-up with the start gate open
Can you elaborate?
Previously if you turned on the timer with the gate open it would drop into the RACING state. You would need to force end the "race" or manually wave your hand over the detectors to move the timer into the FINISHED state. Now on power up if the timer sees the start gate open it will drop through to the FINISHED state.
gpraceman wrote:What happens if there is a power fluctuation right in the middle of timing a heat? That can act as very fast power down and then back up. Seems unlikely, but myself and some others have actually experienced this problem.
If it fluctuates enough to turn-off (or reboot) the Arduino the timer will be forced to reset and that heat will be lost.



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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by gpraceman » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:56 pm

Indy wrote:No, the results are only sent once the race is completed.
You might want to consider going to the finished state and sending the results upon a gate reset when in the racing state. That can be quite convenient when you have a car not finishing and are using the computer to read results. Otherwise, you have to go to the computer to force the end the race. Many people like running their computer hands-free and control things at the start gate.
Indy wrote:If it fluctuates enough to turn-off (or reboot) the Arduino the timer will be forced to reset and that heat will be lost.
Does the timer send any data during a power up, like a copyright statement? There are a couple of timers that GPRM supports that do that. If GPRM sees that copyright statement when it was expecting results, it throws a warning message to the user. I can add that feature to custom timers as well. I've been working more and more for GPRM to intelligently process results and provide warnings to the user for any unusual condition. Otherwise, people think the software is screwing up. ;)


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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by Indy » Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:28 pm

gpraceman wrote:You might want to consider going to the finished state and sending the results upon a gate reset when in the racing state. That can be quite convenient when you have a car not finishing and are using the computer to read results. Otherwise, you have to go to the computer to force the end the race. Many people like running their computer hands-free and control things at the start gate.
I'll have to ponder this one - let me get back to you.
gpraceman wrote:Does the timer send any data during a power up, like a copyright statement? There are a couple of timers that GPRM supports that do that. If GPRM sees that copyright statement when it was expecting results, it throws a warning message to the user. I can add that feature to custom timers as well. I've been working more and more for GPRM to intelligently process results and provide warnings to the user for any unusual condition. Otherwise, people think the software is screwing up. ;)
It currently just sends a single 'P' to indicate the timer has powered up. Is GPRM specifically looking for the word 'copyright'?

Thanks,



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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by gpraceman » Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:38 pm

Indy wrote:
gpraceman wrote:Does the timer send any data during a power up, like a copyright statement? There are a couple of timers that GPRM supports that do that. If GPRM sees that copyright statement when it was expecting results, it throws a warning message to the user. I can add that feature to custom timers as well. I've been working more and more for GPRM to intelligently process results and provide warnings to the user for any unusual condition. Otherwise, people think the software is screwing up. ;)
It currently just sends a single 'P' to indicate the timer has powered up. Is GPRM specifically looking for the word 'copyright'?
For those particular timers, yes it does. That can easily be added to the custom timer interface as well.

Anyways, I think it is a good idea for any timer to send a copyright statement and firmware version number during power up.


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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by Indy » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:02 am

Wireless PDT

I'm testing with Xbee modules to see if the timer can have a wireless connection to the PC and not be tethered by a USB cable (with a 5m maximum length).

So far, so good. Setup is almost non-existent (using the Series 1 Xbees), wiring on the timer side is minimal using an adapter board and everything worked on the first attempt.

I need to do some more testing (including range) but assuming no problems pop up I'll add a short write up to the website in the next few days.



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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by gpraceman » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:59 am

I tried a wireless Bluetooth setup awhile back. Unfortunately, there were periodic drops in the communication, so it is not something that I moved forward with. During a heat, you don't want to lose your data and have to do a rerun.

Maybe the Xbee's will be more dependable. However, there should be a way to prompt the timer to resend the heat results, if there was a problem getting them the first time around.


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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by Indy » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:29 am

gpraceman wrote:Maybe the Xbee's will be more dependable. However, there should be a way to prompt the timer to resend the heat results, if there was a problem getting them the first time around.
Definitely. I've already added an option to resend the data. I see the "Retrieve Data" message in GPRM's serial timer configuration - is that something the software sends on it own or is their method for the user to initiate it?

Thanks for the feedback.



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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by gpraceman » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:44 am

Indy wrote:Definitely. I've already added an option to resend the data. I see the "Retrieve Data" message in GPRM's serial timer configuration - is that something the software sends on it own or is their method for the user to initiate it?
That is actually for timers that must be prompted before every heat before they will send the times. I could always change that for the custom timers, since I doubt there are any that work that way. This was modeled after two of the supported timers that need that prompting.

Having a way to retrieve the last heat's worth of data is something that would need to be added to GPRM in some way, since GPRM would have already stopped listening for results when communications were lost.


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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by ksungela » Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:07 am

Indy,
Is your setup with the Arduino able to count down a Christmas tree then trigger the gate solenoid? I"m using GPRM 13.
Thanks,
Ken



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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by Indy » Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:58 pm

ksungela wrote:Is your setup with the Arduino able to count down a Christmas tree then trigger the gate solenoid? I"m using GPRM 13.
Hi Ken - I thought I had replied to this shortly after it was posted but when I came by tonight I noticed I hadn't. Really sorry for the delay.

This may be too late to help you but in case it helps anyone else. The 'initiate start gate solenoid' and 'detect start gate open and start race' events are independent within the PDT code. What this means is a Christmas tree circuit (CTC) could easily be put in between the PDT and the start gate solenoid. The CTC would use the 'initiate start gate solenoid' signal from the PDT to initiate the count down (drive the lights) and once completed it would than send a signal on to the start gate solenoid. The start gate (and switch) would open and the PDT would detect the start of the race.

The Arduino (Uno in particular) used for the PDT does not have enough outputs to control the Christmas tree lights directly.

Hope that helps,
David



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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by notmeiquit » Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:15 pm

Hi all,

I'm building this project and the only thing I can not figure out is how to connect the Arduino to the pc. What output from the Arduino connects to the Serial port on the pc for data collection? any help would greatly be appreciated.

Thanks,
Sean



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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by gpraceman » Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:19 pm

Once the USB drivers are installed, that should create a COM port that you can use for PC communication.


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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by notmeiquit » Tue Dec 09, 2014 8:06 am

gpraceman wrote:Once the USB drivers are installed, that should create a COM port that you can use for PC communication.
gpraceman Ok good deal. My main question is how the Arduino sends the information to the computer. What output connects to the computer?

Thanks



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Re: Yet another Arduino based track timer...

Post by Vitamin K » Tue Dec 09, 2014 8:15 am

notmeiquit wrote:
gpraceman wrote:Once the USB drivers are installed, that should create a COM port that you can use for PC communication.
gpraceman Ok good deal. My main question is how the Arduino sends the information to the computer. What output connects to the computer?

Thanks
The Arduino connects to the computer via the USB port.



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