We've stepped up our game with timing Nordic ski races this year. Part of it required adding wireless connections to start gates, starter pistols and finish lines. Since we already have a significant investment in ALGE equipment, both in dollars and custom software, it didn't make sense to dump it all and start with another solution. So we picked up a new Timy 3WP and 5 WTN yellow boxes to replace an ancient COMET and spools of wire. Fred asked me to take a moment and tell of my experience with the WTN equipment since it appears we are pushing the envelope of its use... at least from what he is aware of.
In late October, we received our Timy 3WP and one WTN yellow box, along with a pair of TEDs. The first weekend in November, I did a preliminary distance test at a cross country running race. I was able to receive a start signal from 450 yards, well outside the published 350 meter range. However, because it was well outside the published range of the device and I knew we would have tons of people in between the start line and timing tent on race day, I elected to use the TEDs for that race. But that range test was impressive.
The end of November, we started using the WTN in various cross country ski stadiums. The WTN performed well. Distances from the timing hut have ranged up to 300 yards. Timing hut construction has varied from log cabins to windowless trailers. One race I had issues getting the WTN yellow box to connect to the Timy 3WP. The distance was 250 yards or so. I discovered if I turned on the WTN yellow box near the Timy and then walked it out to its final location, it would hold the connection.
A couple of days ago, we received the remaining 4 WTN yellow boxes. So I've configured them to work in two separate teams. Two are paired with our new Timy 3WP and the other three are connected to a first generation Timy. One of the three that are paired with the first generation Timy is configured as C0, another as C1 and the third just with factory defaults. Fred built a cord that goes from the WTN yellow box ALGI-multiport to the photocell socket on the Timy. Initially I had trouble getting the time signal to transmit to the Timy. After spending the better part of 5 hours trying various combinations of settings, swapping out boxes, checking wire continuity, etc, I discovered the Edge setting on the receiving WTN box was set to 2 when it should be 1. Once I made that change, all three work like champs!
Fred had reported issues with the WTN in a heavily saturated WIFI environment. So far that has not been an issue for us. I frequently set up a local WIFI using a Cradlepoint router with a USB cell card attached and connect to our MyLaps ChipX decoders using Ubiquity Nano Stations. At one race, we had a Ubiquity Rocket with a directional antenna blasting right through the timing trailer that shut down one WIFI router, but it did not effect the WTN at all. BTW, our Cradlepoint and all our Ubiquity equipment run in the same 2.4 GHz range as the WTN does.
In summary, lessons learned:
1) If you are in the US, boost your Power Output to 100mW.
2) If you cannot make a connection from a remote location, walk the WTN yellow box back to the "base" station, make the connection, then go back to the remote location.
3) If you are running multiple teams in close physical proximity, choose a team number that is 5 away. For example, I have mine set to 1S and 9S. ALGE is serious when they say "... using teams 1S and 2S should be avoided as frequencies next to each other could influence one another in a negative way."
4) If you cannot send a time impulse out to your timer, check the Edge setting. It should be 1 to work with ALGE products.
Finally, I am not leaving my spools of wire at home. After 30 years of working with information technology, I still consider networking voodoo. Add the vagaries of wireless and it further gives me the willies. But if things keep going the way they are, the spools of wire will remain in the truck the rest if the ski season. I give the WTN "two thumbs up."
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