Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Discussions on race planning, preparations and how to run a "fair" and fun race.
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birddog
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Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Post by birddog » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:31 pm

I have to admit, agreeing to be PWD chairman 1 year in advance, gave me the time to properly prepare for this by reading all I could on this site and many hours of prep and planning. It really paid off. I can't imagine how those folks that get thrown the coordination job with just 2 weeks to race day handle it. Lesson there is when it comes time to find my successor, give them a full year as well. It really helps.

We had a great race on Saturday. It went without a hitch (almost).

The biggest thing I changed this year was we upgraded to Grand Prix Race Manager software. Nobody is asking me or paying me to say this, but it made all the difference in the world in terms of running a good race. We used something called "Race Tender" last year and it was buggy and didn't have anywhere near the features that GPRM has. The best $60 our pack ever spent on PWD materials.

I also got Race Replay setup and working. The kids and the crowd really loved seeing an instant replay of every race. It gave everyone something to look at while the next set of cars were being staged. That is a keeper. There are some things I want to improve in this area, mainly due to the fact that I'm running it on a laptop that doesn't meet the CPU specs the software requires.

For inspection night (we do inspections the night before the race), we speeded things up by having two new "go/no go" boxes that seem to be made by Randy L., but we bought them from Maximum Velocity. That really made the inspection process quick and easy. We also had 2 scales with 0.1 precision displayed and that worked well too. We checked in 72 cars in about 40 minutes and that included taking pictures of all the racers!

I used the "inspection data sheets" printed out from GPRM to ensure each of the inspection crew knew what to look for and consistently checked the same things on each car. This also gave me a written record of each check in, which was handy.

A HUGE improvement was that I printed out all the heat schedules from GPRM Friday night and handed them to the pit crew Saturday. They were able to stage the cars such that we were running heats very quickly and not much "down" time. Very efficient. Since we have our kids return the cars them selves to the stagers, we were only ever "waiting" when a car was in back to back heats, which sometimes happened, but even then, not too bad.

My only glitch was operator error when it came time to advance Scouts to the Grand Finals. Our algorithm is to advance the top 2 from each Den and the top 5 fastest overall. I ended up advancing the top 2 from each Rank, but because there were 2 ranks with 2 Dens, I ended up leaving the Scouts with the slower times in that rank out of the Grand Finals. That was my mistake. Luckily, it was pointed out before we announced winners and I quickly came up with a schedule to run the 4 "missing" kids cars and get their times and compare them to the others who had already run their grand finals heats. Turns out they were not in top 3 as expected, so all got fair treatment and got to see their cars run as part of Grand Finals. Now I know for next year!

All in all, a very good experience and the leaders have all told me it was the best PWD the pack has ever had, although they are not all that thrilled with how my family's cars managed to win all the top trophies. Hey, you can't spend a year reading DT and not learn something about how to build fast cars!

Thanks for all the great advice from the experts on this board, your time spent helping others really pays off in many ways.

thanks,

birddog



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Re: Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Post by Ickabod » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:30 pm

Congratulations in running a great derby! I wish our pack ran more races (no Grand finals, just 4 runs on each lane). I will definately suggest more next year, along with race replay. That sounds like a great addition.


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Re: Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Post by sondo007 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 1:33 am

Please if you have a moment tell me your video setup for Race Replay. I had terrible experience this weekend Jan 26,2013 trying to get to work properly. I had a (Sony video camera,+ video capture device+25 feet usb +laptop usb 2.0) the video worked fine, but there was something wrong, it kept playing the wrong race, it would keep playing the same race over and over again. like it was capture the next race. I had the GPRM controlling it and had the auto advance set to 30sec. What type camera and setup are you using to make this work? Thank you for your help.



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Re: Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Post by UFLGator » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:22 am

birddog wrote:All in all, a very good experience and the leaders have all told me it was the best PWD the pack has ever had, although they are not all that thrilled with how my family's cars managed to win all the top trophies. Hey, you can't spend a year reading DT and not learn something about how to build fast cars!
This is what concerns me most about being the event coordinator for my pack and district's PWD. My son has done pretty well the last two years, and we are looking to step up and make this years car even faster than his Tiger and Wolf cars. As a result, I am trying to make every step of the race process as transparent as possible.

Sounds like it was a great race. I like your idea of the instant replay, but dunno if we'll be able to work that into our setup. I also purchased the GPRM and donated it my pack. And... we also are ustilizing an underpowered laptop. Your success gives me confidence that we will also enjoy similar success as a pack.

UFLGator



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Re: Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Post by gpraceman » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:36 am

sondo007 wrote:Please if you have a moment tell me your video setup for Race Replay. I had terrible experience this weekend Jan 26,2013 trying to get to work properly. I had a (Sony video camera,+ video capture device+25 feet usb +laptop usb 2.0) the video worked fine, but there was something wrong, it kept playing the wrong race, it would keep playing the same race over and over again. like it was capture the next race. I had the GPRM controlling it and had the auto advance set to 30sec. What type camera and setup are you using to make this work? Thank you for your help.
What version of RaceReplay were you running? Please include the full version number (e.g. 2.0.2401.13).

I don't recommend long USB cables. If you are using a video capture device, it is better to use a longer cable between that an the video camera.


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Re: Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Post by sondo007 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:20 am

RaceReplay v2.0.2401.13 with GPRM v12

Please define what you mean about the cable. What type of cable are you suggesting.
Can you provide me the best setup for capturing the video and instant replay setup. I checkout the GrandPrix webiste and I thought I had a good setup from the requirements page, but if there is a better way to do this I am all ears :D

Here is my hardware
1. GigiWare video capture from radio shack
2. 25 ft usb
3. Sony analog video camera with a/v jacks --over 8 years old
4. IBM laptop with 2.0 usb and 2 dual processor over 1.83 Ghz and 3.0gb of ram. and 500 gb of space.

If the hardware needs upgrading I can do that.
Last edited by sondo007 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Post by gpraceman » Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:28 am

sondo007 wrote:RaceReplay v2.0.2401.13 with GPRM v12
I'll contact you via email to get more info on the problem that you experienced.
sondo007 wrote:Please define what you mean about the cable. What type of cable are you suggesting.
USB cables are limited to about 16ft in length, without being amplified. If you are using a composite or S-Video cable to connect the camera to the video capture device, it would be better to have those longer instead of a longer USB cable.


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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Re: Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Post by birddog » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:22 pm

I used the "Kworld Expert DVD Maker USB2.0 Video Capture Device" video capture device. It was recommended by Randy back when I initially purchased the software. It seemed to work well. My camera is an old samsung with analog RCA video and audio outputs. I didn't bother with audio.

The biggest issue I had was finding a video codec that would work well on my laptop and with the software. I ended up installing the "ffdshow" codec.

I setup the software to use 10 second video clips. That seemed to work fine.

Although I ran both programs on the same laptop and had them setup to talk to each other in "local mode", I sometimes had problems with RaceReplay hogging my 1.7G underpowered CPU and it would cause GPRM to pause on displaying new track records and such. Next year I'm going to run them on the same laptop together, but I will try running them in "remote mode" using a local 127.1.1.x IP address. I think this may help with some of the very minor interaction issues I saw. Note that the minimum specs for RaceReplay are a 2.0 GHz processor, so I'm not following the rules and would expect some performance issues. Note that nobody in the audience noticed any of this, that is how minor it was.

thanks,

birddog



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Re: Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Post by sondo007 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:54 pm

Thanks, I was talking with Randy too. My setup was
1. 8 yr old Sony video record with A/V jacks
2. GigiWare video converter (radio shack)
3. 25 ft usb cable 2.0
4 IBM laptop dual core processor 1.83 Ghz, 3 Gigs of ram and 500gb of storage

After talking with Randy I think the USB is a problem, and the software needs to save more than 3 files.I also need to change the time out value on the GPRM v12 software before it auto advances. So I'm going to try a few things and see I can get it to work properly.
Where did you purchase your extend A/V cables to get pass the 35ft issue?



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birddog
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Re: Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Post by birddog » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:00 pm

I don't need to run my cables 35 feet. I setup my video camera at the end of the track. I also have my laptop at the end of the track. connections from the timer and the video camera to the laptop are only about 10 feet or so. the cables that came with the video capture device were long enough.

birddog



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Re: Reflections after running my first ever PWD race

Post by sondo007 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:16 pm

Sadly, our setup in the Church is a little strange. I had to buy an extend serial cables to allow me to run the race from the start of the track so I could also help with car staging. It's not the best setup, but I do what I can. Plus it easier if I can have everything down at one end to make adjustments. Thanks again for you input. I document what you had along with Randy input too. Hopefully next year I will get it right this time:)



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