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Crest Industries

  • WinWedge makes it trivially easy to input the real-time data from the Auto-Timer into Lotus Approach
  • The data fields appear where needed in Lotus Approach

Crest Industries ( http://www.crestindustriesinc.com ) builds auto-timing equipment for Autocross racing (as well as other automotive and industrial equipment). The Solo 1 or Solo 2 racing performed by the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) is autocross racing and uses the Crest Industries Auto-Timers.

The Crest Industries Auto Timer is a microprocessor based system that uses a start and stop sensor to measure the length of time from when the start sensor is tripped to when the stop sensor is tripped. The Auto Timer is unique because of how it handles these times along with the driver's identification through bar code entry, automatic printing, displaying and database entry. The live data from this unit can be easily transferred to Lotus Approach Databases in real-time using WinWedge data acquisition software.

The basic Auto Timer Consists of: a start and stop sensor, timing controller, micro controller, keypad, LCD screen , and a thermal printer. Additional add-on's include: a bar code scanner, electronic display sign (4" characters), WinWedge communications software, and Lotus Approach '97.

The Auto Timer works on the principle of the first car to start is the first car to finish. The Timer monitors the start and stop sensors and keeps track of when the beams were broken. When the stop sensor is triggered, the Auto Timer will take the appropriate race results along with the respective drivers information (from the bar code) and automatically prints out a timing slip. If the electronic sign is connected, the car number and race result is also displayed. Finally, if the computer is connected, the WinWedge communications software enters the appropriate data real-time into a database (Lotus Approach), where it is automatically sorted, and saved.

Up to four cars can be scanned in at any one time, waiting or racing. Each car has a bar code containing the following data; car number, driver's name, class, and index number. The data is delimited with forward slashes (/). The bar codes are read using a Hand Held Products IMAGETEAM 3800 (IT3800) bar code scanner as this works well in all lighting conditions.

During the race, penalties and DNFs (Did Not Finish) can be added quickly with the keyboard and viewed on the LCD screen. The micro-controller does all the necessary calculations of the adjusted and final times from the penalties. If the car happens to finish before the penalty or DNF was applied, the value can be easily be edited in the database program.

To make the Auto-timers easier to use all connectors and cables are color coded for easy hookup. After the unit is setup, all the operator(s) must do is enter the car number in either manually or with the bar code scanner, add penalties and DNFs when needed, and tear off the timing slip.

The software side is very simple to set up with WinWedge communications software and Lotus Approach. The database computer program has pre-defined, easy to use templates that automatically sort and save the race results. While it is not necessary to have Lotus Approach 97 experience, it is recommended to have basic Windows experience. WinWedge automatically takes the data from the bar code scanner parses it into the 4 fields (car number, driver's name, class & index) and fields these fields into the correct fields in Lotus Approach. WinWedge is set up in the simple "Keystroke Mode".

The only other requirement is a bar code label. These can be easily printed with the portable handheld Brother P-Touch label makers. The Brother label makers produce a 3/4" (or 1") by approximately 3 1/2" long plastic label that is weather resistant and can be left on for the season or is easily removed after each session. The bar code label placed on the windshield of each car provides a fast, simple method of scanning in this information to the micro-controller right before they race.

Conclusion:

The combination of the Crest Industries Auto-Timer with a bar code label on the cars, WinWedge and Lotus Approach allows for real-time, completely accurate timing data collection in autocross racing.

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