CrossMgr: Minimum Hardware for Chip Timing
Post date: Apr 24, 2016 1:22:22 PM
I have had a number of recent requests about what it takes to get into chip timing with CrossMgr.
It is possible to put a chip timing system together, with chips (excluding the computer) for about $1,000 USD.
The absolution minimum requirements for North America are as follows:
$300. One Impinj R1000 reader (used, often available on ebay). Make sure you have a power supply. Impinj 420 or 220 can also be used. With these readers, consider power over internet to save cables.
$200. Two Circularly Polarized RFID Antennas, 902-928 MHz. Get ones with a N-Type Female connector.
$80. Two Antenna Cables, 25ft (8m) in length, Connector 1: RP-TNC Male, Connector 2: N-Type Male
$60. One wireless router (used to connect the computer to the RFID reader).
$40. Two Cat5e network cables to connect the Reader and Computer to the wireless router.
One Laptop (64-bit Windows) running CrossMgr and/or RaceDB and/or TagReadWrite
With the above setup, you just need to plug everything together to make it work. Of course, there are much nicer ways to organize everything into a box for quick deployment.
You can build fancy antenna stands, or you can pound in a couple of stakes in the ground.
With tax and shipping, the hardware comes in at about $750 USD. That leaves about $250 USD for tags.
For the tags, we are using seat post mounts with cable ties and shipping labels (mostly because it is cheap). A description of the system we are using is in this document. No need to get the tags pre-coded - it is easy (and cheaper) to do this yourself.
We recognize that some riders don't like putting a cheap pull-tie on their $8,000 bike. There are nicer-looking mounting options (more about this at the end of this post).
To write and manage the tags, you can use RaceDB (highly recommended!), or you can create tags ahead of time with the TagReadWrite utility and manage them in an Excel sheet.
RaceDB is a multi-user web-based application that streamlines race check-in. It supports mass-start races and time trials (including seeding) and can be initialized with pre-reg data. With its own RFID reader, RaceDB support rider self check-in, which is great for drop-in races and club race series. Running a race with RFID required managing bibs and chips, and managing all the things that can go wrong (lost chips, chips that don't work, etc.). RaceDB makes this easy.
Dozens of organizers around the world are now using CrossMgr with chips.
Most people start with two antennas on either side of the finish line with seat post tags as described in the document.
But, you are free to customize the system to meet your needs.
Some folks have deployed overhead gantries and/or have mounted the chips in bib numbers, helmets and in number plates. If you are willing to do some experimentation, you can get the exact system you want. As it is built with 100% off-the-shelf components, you can always find replacement parts *when* something gets broken.
If you are interested in chip timing with CrossMgr, but want nice tags mounts and/or a pre-built "system in a box" I have been working closely with Andrew Paradowski who is the organizer for the Midweek Cycling Club.
Andrew can make beautiful tags and tag mounts (no pull-ties) that the most discriminating masters rider is proud to put on his bike. These can be with your logo. He also can provide tags in smaller quantities than on-line.
He can make timing boxes based on the Impinj platform (for a fee, of course!) and can make sure that all the technical requirements for your are met for your application (antenna placement, tag choice, etc.).
If you are interested in any of the above, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.