Electronic Timer in the Philippines
Electronic Timer Fully automatic time
(abbreviated FAT) is a form of race timing in which the clock is automatically activated by the starting device, and the finish time is either automatically recorded (fully automatic), or timed by analysis of a photo finish (automatic with a manual start).
The system is commonly used in track and field as well as horse racing, dog racing, bicycle racing, rowing, and auto racing. In these fields, a photo finish is used. It is also used in competitive swimming, for which the swimmers themselves record a finish time by touching a touchpad at the end of a race. In order to verify the equipment, or in case of failure, a backup system (typically manual) is usually used in addition to FAT.
- horse racing
- dog racing
- bicycle racing
- auto racing.
In these fields, a photo finish is used. It is also used in competitive swimming, for which the swimmers themselves record a finish time by touching a touch-pad at the end of a race. In order to verify the equipment, or in case of failure, a backup system (typically manual) is usually used in addition to FAT.
Technology in races is started by a starting gun, a sensor is typically attached to the gun which sends an electronic signal to the timing system when fired. Alternatively, a starting light or sound which is electronically triggered (such as a horn), the system is typically also wired to the timing system. In sports that involve a finish line that is crossed (rather than a touch finish, as in swimming), the current finishing system is a photo finish which is then analyzed by judges.
The current photo-finish system used in the Olympic competition, as well as other top-level events, uses a digital line-scan camera aimed straight along the finish line. Finish Lynx and Omega are examples of commercial timing systems commonly used in athletic competitions.
These cameras have an image field only a few pixels wide, with a single frame forming a narrow image only of the finish line, and anything which is crossing it. During a race, the camera takes images at an extremely high frame rate (the exact rate depends on the system, but can be in the thousands of frames per second). Computer software then arranges these frames horizontally to form a panoramic image that effectively displays a graph of the finish line (and anything crossing it) as time passes, with time denoted on the horizontal axis.
Before the advent of digital photography, (and still available as an alternative), a similar film-based system was used, consisting of a slit in which a strip of film is advanced past at a constant rate to produce a similar panoramic image to the digital system. Less-expensive video-based systems also exist; however, VHS and SVHS frame rates limit the timing precision that can be achieved by these media.
There are also similar timing systems that use the simple process of breaking a beam of light. While such systems are frequently used to provide instant results (for the media), the object they are timing is more difficult to define.
I was a High school and Elementary Coach in Track and Field of Sprinters. We couldn’t afford an electronic timekeeping system. So I was using an IPad and iPhone to do video analysis of my athletes. In training and time trials for distances below 250m, we would use Kinovea. Kinovea was particularly handy if athletes’ blanket finished closely in races.
I got a very good comparison when I used the software to compare against electronic times.
I started the timer from when the smoke came out of the gun. It’s a good video cause you can clearly see the smoke coming out of the gun and a good view of the finish line. Although the camera had a straight view, not on an angle.
Hand Times for this race were 11.9, 12.2
Kinovea Times was 12.20, 12.34, 13.06, 13.16, 13.26
Electronic Times were 12.26, 12.42, 13.06, 13.16,13.44
So not bad Kinovea guessed #1 and #2 within .10 seconds and #3 and #4 accurately. Compared to hand timing which was .36 and .22 off.
You can see some examples of the use of Kinnovea on our Youtube Channel
Kinnovea can be downloaded here
Kinovea offers solutions for measurable sports such as
- Track and Field
- Speed Skating
I recommend you to check out another great electronic timer software CrossMgr & its supplementary video version CrossMgrVideo! Designed for Cycling, but can be used for anything really. Also if you’d like to get more accurate electronic timer, I recommend a fast Basler industrial Camera, which can do hundreds, if not thousands of frames per second. I’m looking forward to programs that can function well with these framerates even if it is possible with a reduced AOI (say 1920×100). Then you can still do timing nicely, even though recognizing, say numbers can be more difficult.
For your purpose, a higher speed camera would increase accuracy.. Though it is difficult to get to below 0.5s reliably without an electronic start of some sort. I’ve been thinking of something like this attached to the Kinovea record / stop recording shortkeys:
One could directly attach a USB HID switch to an electronic start gun or even make a microphone based system where the sound of the start gun would trigger Kinovea to record. Then once you set up the delays correctly (100m sound travel, delay on the USB hub) you could reliably get timing below 0.1s
You can find CrossMgr here:
1. UPDATE (2017)
In light of the requirement of an Electronic Timer System PATAFA has now purchased its own as of 2016. Which has been used in the Weekly Relays, Time Trials of PATAFA, National Open, PNG, UAAP, and NCAA meets. This was due to the frequent unavailability of the PSC operators
The Need for Electronic Timer in the Philippines at every Track and Field meet
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As a result of poor hand timing the last few weeks all. Examples include
- Several 60m dashes at the Weekly Relays. We have seen instances of no blocks and timekeepers trying to time more than a runner. Without both electronics and starting blocks, a 60m is COMPLETELY USELESS. It takes .2-.3 seconds to start and restart a watch. What happens if the athlete being timed is only .05 seconds away which means the timekeeper will miss the time and the athlete ends up at a slower time?
- Several 100m runs over the past few years were the race distance in the video is not consistent with the timekeeping for the same reasons mentioned above. The 200m of Anfernee Lopena at the 2013 Uni Games where he was clearly nearly 10m ahead of 2nd place in the final and times of 21.94 and 21.98 ht were given. .04 is a blanket finish, not a 10m gap? What the hell were the timekeepers thinking?
- The 200m of Anfernee Lopena at the 2013 Uni Games where he was clearly nearly 10m ahead of 2nd place in the final and times of 21.94 and 21.98 ht were given. .04 is a blanket finish, not a 10m gap? What the hell were the timekeepers thinking?
- The controversial finish at the National Games between Nor and Lirazan in 2013 which is even now on Wikipedia.
2. Palaro Cockup
Athletics became intense when Region 12 or CRAA/SOCCKSARGEN made a protest in the Secondary Boys – 100m run. They wanted a photo finish cam of that event to see who the real winner was. But there was no photo-finish cam and only a recorded video was
Visayas and Romnick Nor of Region 12/CRAA are in dispute for the gold medal
3. Removed from the Rankings
Hand time performances in the 100,200m dash and 110 Hurdles will no longer be included in the official ranking lists for 2013. Times for the athletic community to enforce the use of electronic timer at all events. Ranking lists will have no ht for 100,200 and 110 Hurdles. But for 400m we will include better hand times in a separate list.
Lower meets regardless of timing are not sanctioned by the PATAFA.
If we look at the cost of hiring electronics it is about 1000 pesos per day for three operators = 3,000 pesos and transportation is around 1000 pesos = 4000 pesos. Versus hiring eight-time keepers which is 1000 pesos each x 8 = 8000 pesos.
Therefore why pay for a more expensive inefficient timing system when the more efficient system is cheaper?
The only set of electronics equipment is owned by the PSC and provided to the PATAFA at the cost of transporting the operators. Unfortunately, the electronics are not available on November 16 and 23 during weekly relays as the operators will be at the Batang Pinoy Finals in Bacolod. Electronics will be available Nov 30 at the weekly relays and then used during the UAAP Finals the following week.
The operators also informed us that the electronics will be available between January and the PNG.
Which bring us to the possibility should we have meets leading upto the PNG to help the athletes better prepare?
.Difference between fully automatic and hand timing
6. Use in athletics
According to the IAAF, any record in athletics (world, Olympic, or national) or qualifying time for Olympic Games or World Championships set in a sprint event must be timed by a FAT system to be valid.
Hand times, those with humans operating the stopping and/or starting mechanisms are highly prone to error. By rule, they are only accurate to a tenth (.1) of a second, all 100ths of a second beyond zero must be rounded to the next highest tenth.
.7. Hand Timing
Many track and field statisticians use a conversion factor estimate of 0.24 seconds added to any hand-timed mark in the 100 m or 200 m event, and 0.14 seconds to any hand-timed mark in the 400 m or longer event. These conversion factors are only applicable for comparing marks from a variety of sources but are not acceptable for Record purposes.
In the case of comparing an adjusted manual time to electronic timer, an original FAT time being equivalent, the FAT time will be considered more accurate, and thus the athlete will be given the higher seed or comparison ranking. This old method of converting times dates back to when FAT systems were much less common. They are increasingly less acceptable even at low-level meets and certainly not at the upper level of the sport.
Above from Wikipedia.
Times are always rounded up to the nearest 10th. E.g. 10.50s would be 10.5s but 10.51 would be 10.6s.
Depending on the number of stopwatches
- If 1 stopwatch is used e.g. 10.51, then the final time is 10.60.
- If 2 stopwatches are used, e.g. 10.51 and 10.69 then the slower time is the final time 10.70.
- If 3 stopwatches are used, e.g. 10.50, 10.54, and 10.69 then the middle time is the final time 10.60.
pinoyathletics wrote:Would the number of stop watches used effect the differential between a hand time and electronic timer?. Lets take for example in the 100m.One stop watch used 10.87 = 10.9ht.Two stop watches used 10.87 and 10.91 = 11.0ht (10.91 must round up)Three stop watches used 10.80, 10.87 and 10.91 = (10.9ht)The standard addition is +0.24.But i’m presuming this is only a guide if 3 stop watches are used? which is usually more accurate. So is it possible it could be +0.3 with two stop watches and +0.4 or more with just one stop watch??
9. Response from DJ from Track and Field News
What matters most is the number of GOOD timers. One bad timer can produce a faulty time. However, the timer might just throw it out and create a reasonable time. For instance, the times in a high school boy’s 100 might come to the head timer as 11.0, 11.1, 11.2, 10.9, and 11.4 for the first five placers. No head timer is going to say that the fourth-place time is faster than the winner; it’s going to be adjusted to either 11.2, 11.3 or 11.4 and no one will be the wiser.
Where there are multiple times, the longer times (almost always those closer to reality) will be taken. The longer of two watches, the agreement of two or the middle time where there are three watches. More watches make for better timing IF there are more good hand timers.
But the best use of a small number of hand timers where there aren’t enough to get three watches on each place is to pair a good timer with a bad timer, thereby overcoming the effect of the bad timers. This becomes critical in high school meets where two runners might be advancing on a place and another several are advancing on time.
It becomes critical to get those times right, so ahead timer might shift the best timers to taking 3rd and 4th places during the heats, then move them back to first, second and down the line for the final.
Mind you, none of this is prescribed in the rules, and some of it creates situations that are against the rules (two of fewer timers on a place, for instance), but it’s the reality of the situation.
.10. Note on national records
Even though hand timing is not used for record-keeping purposes for most countries.
PATAFA still keeps a list of hand-timed national senior and junior national records. The instances were this may be seen as acceptable is for events of 800m or more when the differentials in timing are not as great, and if a record was set in the days before electronic timer was available for sprint events e.g. pre-1980s.
- Best StopWatch for Olympics Games – calculating average speed and graphics charts (wmpoweruser.com)
- The StopWatch Test (ricksegal.typepad.com)
11. Electronic Timer: Team Culture and Training Accountability
By Ryan Banta
No matter the percentage of effort, it’s critical sprinters hit the expected times in practice. As proven by research, if an athlete throws off an entire workout by running the incorrect effort, far-reaching negative ramifications can occur. It can mess up the training day, the next day, and even the next meet.
Electronic data is very valuable when it’s easily acquired, consistently used, predictive, and cataloged. The beauty of new technology designed by such companies as Freelap is that they’re created with the sprint coach in mind. As the systems upgrade, coaches become more informed about their athletes’ progress.
A coach who commits to the process over several seasons will create an environment where everything that was done at the track is accounted for during training and life outside of practice. This culture of accountability will lessen the number of injuries, subpar performances, and the gap between potential and actual personal bests.
12. Improve Performance
Increased expectations improve performance. With electronic timer, a savvy coach can point to practice run times and show an athlete how specific race performances are tied directly to individual training paces. If the athlete cannot consistently hit the necessary intensities in practice, they will not be able to hit certain goals later in the competitive or championship phases of the season.
When all athletes on a team are measured, everyone is held accountable for what they are, or are not, doing. Accurate timing of every repetition combined with realistic expectations helps athletes stay on task. Accountability can prevent sprinters in a training group from hiding in a slower pack or sandbagging until the last few repetitions.
13. The Sprint Stopper Filling Electronic Timer App
Article by Jimson Lee.
This is a more accurate system than hand timing and can be set up easily and affordable. In fact, if you already have a high-quality mobile phone you are already halfway there. You just the software and some tripods. No need for an expensive electronic timing system.
The last article on an Electronic Timer app is available for iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads. This app is for Android phones. This guest blog was written by Quincy Neal, developer and founder of the Sprint Stopper app.
14. Fully Automatic Timing Now For Everyone?
Sprint Stopper is a new app in the Android market (and soon to be Apple market), that turns mobile devices such as cell phones into a fully automatic Timing System. That’s right, a fully automatic as it works just like professional timing equipment used in sporting events like track meets and has a timing accuracy of 0.009.
It works very simply, just place the mobile device at the finish line on the ground or mounted on a tripod, and after three (3) beeps simulating (on your marks, get set, and go) the athlete begins Sprinting. As the athlete crosses the finish line, the camera detects them in the center of a cross-hair and stops the timer.
It can take Time any distance from 0 to 800 meters and even automatically records split times when running distances like 600 and 800 meters that require multiple passes through the finish line. There is a repeat function that repeats the start process after a run is finished such a workout of 10 x 30-meter starts can be completed with the times of each sprint listed from newest to oldest.
While that all seems amazing, Sprint Stopper also can time up to 8 athletes at once over all distances just like a real track meet with a list of results from first to the last place. All of the above is done with no individual holding or operating the mobile device at all during the timing process. In fact, the only time the user touches the device is when setting it up before and pressing start.
Andrew is an ATFS Statiscian in Athletics with a wide range of knowledge in measurable sports. He has worked as a PSC Consultant and Research Assistant from 2013-2015, Consultant and Sprint Coach at Zamboanga Sports Academy from 2015-2017. And is current editor and chief of Pinoyathletics.info, and has recently done consultancy work for Ayala Corp evaluating the Track and Field Program. Currently, he is coaches Sprints, Middle and Jump events he is working towards his Level 3 Athletics Australia Coaching Certification in Sprints and Hurdles.
He can be contacted on [email protected]