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I'm reading this forum for a few years now but now I decided to post as well. I'm working in a photofinish team in prefer not to say country. Our team is not fully privately owned, we are belonging to a national sport association, and we do electronic timing and other electronic measurements neccesary for our sport, also some scoreboards. I'm not a team leader, just a member.

I'm here for about three years now and I'm feeling a bit weird. Tbh I'm not satisfied with my team's knowledge and work mentality. And I'm really interested in what is the case elsewhere.

Most of the members of my team don't have much basic knowledge in IT or in electronics. They kinda read the user manual, or did some trial and error some years ago and figured out how our system works - when it works. They can put it together and take it appart and that's fine! But when some problems occure or when we recieve some new stuff, maybe from some other vendor, then they are just sitting there scratching their heads, thinking about what the hell to do.

Some of them don't even know how the start impulse is transmitted over the wire, or why do we need to use the RS232 plug on our displayboard instead of the others. They don't know the structure of the import and export files, and when I ask someone to check the IP address of one of our computers then they just look at me like "WTF?".

We recieved some new equipments from an another brand. When we put that system together, they had no idea on what a normally closed or a normally open start gate is and some of them don't even understands why we do the zero control at the begining of a competition, or what are timing channels on a timing device. They know what cable to plug in which plug on the other device but not much more. I don't feel that they have a full understanding on what's going on and why. And if something broke down they don't even try to do basic repairs like soldering a plug back to a cable.

It's really disappointing when I see that other teams, coming from abroad, have technicians with much more knowledge. I saw a tech person soldering a broken displayboard before a competition, I saw staff using remote desktop to check the status of their computers from the office, and many other high-tech ideas that I can only dream about.

How are photofinish teams organized elswhere? Do you have dedicated electricians and IT persons? Are you just operating a pre-bought system or also doing some custom fine-tuning ad development to make everything amazing and coherent? What skills do you require from new workers in your team? Do you require some level of technical knowledge? Or do you do some custom training for them?

Sorry for starting this conversation in this topic but I couldn't really think of any other place to ask this question.

Original Post

Great place to start. I have owned and operated several timing and scoring companies over the years. My biggest challenge was recruiting talent. I get your frustration!

The basic problem that I see worldwide is the lack of funding for operations. We try to hammer this home to the clients but it rarely gets across. The sport federations in particular want the equipment operated by people who are "love of the sport" type volunteers or close to it. Mention paying 100 euro a day for the most basic technical job and the organizers get sick to their stomach. We go in and do a lot of championships where it is easy to get volunteers for a backpack, t shirt and hat. But most of these folks are mainly interested in the clothing, not really working. So the hour after the races are over the equipment gets put in the store room and never touched again.

At least you guys are trying to work.

Better to continue this privately if you are concerned about blowback.

Write me fpatton (AT) phoenix-sports.com and we can chat

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