GPRM & RR: Hardware & Setup Questions

Discussions on race preparation, race management, sound effects, and other race related software. This is only for software provided by our sponsor, GrandPrix Software Central.
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ITNerd
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GPRM & RR: Hardware & Setup Questions

Post by ITNerd » Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:16 pm

Hey Grand Prix team, first let me say thank you for your fantastic product and support. We have been using your software for several years, and its been a lot of fun. Except for the kids, they are terrible.

Last year we attempted to add Race Replay to the mix, with varied results. With the long USB cables for the camera, I was able to get solid video, but I don't think the PC was up to the task and it stuttered, and occasionally missed a playback.

This year I have a newer laptop to assist, and i have a few questions.
  • If I can get a second projector, what is the simplest, most trouble-free way to connect one running GPRM pc to one running RR? Can I use a simple switch or do I need a router that can serve up an IP/DHCP?
    If I can't get a second projector, is my newer PC the best option to run both solutions? It's a newer gen chip, but not much better in single threaded passmark score. It also requires me to move both applications over to the newer PC, and with the race coming up this weekend, that has me slightly nervous.
    Is my camera pushing too much to my laptop PC? The camera is borrowed from a much beefier desktop PC I use for work. Is there a popular list, or a decent 1080p one thats a rock solid performer?
Thanks for any input folks - I hope to have the best race yet this weekend!

ITNerd
---------------
Details & Specs:
GPRM - v19 newest version
RR - v5 newest version

Laptop 1 Specs (newer)
Processor: i5-8250U CPU @ 1.60GHz (8 CPUs), ~1.8GHz
Passmark: 7642 (1925 Single Thread)RAM: 8GigVideo: Intel UHD Graphics 620
VRAM(dedicated): 128Meg OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit

Laptop 2 Specs (older)
Processor: i7-3667U CPU @ 2.00GHz (4 CPUs), ~2.5GHz
Passmark: 3981 (1556 Single Thread)  
RAM: 8GigVideo: Intel HD Graphics 4000VRAM: 32Meg

Camera
Model: Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro WebCam
Resolutions Supported: 4K (Ultra HD)@ 30 fps, 1080p (Full HD) @ 30 or 60 fps and 720p(HD) @ 30, 60, or 90 fps



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gpraceman
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Re: GPRM & RR: Hardware & Setup Questions

Post by gpraceman » Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:34 pm

GPRM uses UDP communications to send messages to RaceReplay. You may be able to use a crossover cable, a switch or a router to connect the two computers together.

If using one computer, it would need enough horsepower to manage timer communications, video output to a projection system, UDP communications, and processing video from the camera and saving it to disk.


Randy Lisano
Romans 5:8

Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

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Re: GPRM & RR: Hardware & Setup Questions

Post by leerbennett » Mon Feb 03, 2020 4:21 pm

I have used RaceReplay v5.0 for the last three years on a Windows laptop and had some similar issues and some advise.
I am using a i5-6200U @2.3GHz with 8GB of RAM. My camera is a MS LifeCam Cinema.
My setup seems to work well enough when the race moves along, running a race every minute or quicker.
In the most automated setup, RaceReplay is recording until the end of the race when it runs the replay. So if there is some delay in staging one of the races, the video file being recorded can get quite large. A Video Codex compresses the data to keep file sizes manageable, this process of compressing the data and writing the file to disk is what slows down the systems. To date, I have been using the default Codex setting for my camera which is Microsoft MPEG-4 V2. Picking the optimal Codex is complicated. More processing is needed to reduce file size; but writing larger files also slows down the computer.
Seems that our laptops are relatively similar, but your camera has higher resolution. Getting your camera into a lower resolution capture mode might be necessary.
Here are things I have tried with some success to make the Race Replay more reliable:
1. Keep the event moving to minimize time of video recording. May need to stop and restart recording if there is a pause in the racing.
2. Choose appropriate resolution and Codex. (I am still searching for my best Codex option.)
3. Deselect Audio device is an option reduce the amount of data captured and processed.
4. Test H.264 Hardware Compression setting. My system seemed more reliable when I turned this setting OFF.
Note the relevant Race Replay options are on the Options Menu | Settings dialog
You mention "long USB cables" which may also be a cause for slower processing. In my case the race computer is located near the finish line to keep the cabling short and someone else handles staging and starting the race.

For our setup, I wouldn't be interested in a second screen (and computer). We have a huge stage screen where it make sense to direct both GPRM and RR output. With the single screen setup, I would recommend a Replay Start delay of about 3 seconds to allow to see the GPRM results prior to the replay. This setting also helps gives the system time process the recording.



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Re: GPRM & RR: Hardware & Setup Questions

Post by marklstern » Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:28 pm

Hello, we have our Pinewood Derby coming up this weekend. After close to a month of practice and tinkering with both GPRM and RR, I am still stuck on one thing.

Bottom line: are RR and GPRM designed to operate on the same Audience display, automatically? That is, can RR automatically come to the front of the GPRM Audience screen (after an appropriate delay to allow viewing of the heat result) to "instant replay" the heat finish that just ended, and then disappear, revealing the GPRM Audience screen once again so that we can proceed to the next heat?

If so, then I'd appreciate tips on how to get my system to do this. If not, then I want to know that so I can pursue a second display / projector option just for RR. I saw some other DerbyTalk posts that gave me pause and consider that I may have to go down the latter road.

Here's my setup:

GPRM 19.0.903.7 and RR 5.0.901.6 running on a midrange business-level Windows 10 laptop, with a LCD screen (Display 1) and connected to a projector (Display 2). The two displays are in "Extend Displays" mode in Windows. We have a FastTrack finish timer and an independent system for activating a solenoid gate. FastTrack works perfectly with GPRM every time.

In GPRM, I have the following settings:
- Settings > Software Settings > Advanced > External Apps: Enable External App Communications = ON.
Test Messages between GPRM and RR work as expected.
- Settings > Software Settings > Advanced > General: Open in Full Screen Mode: OFF
In Racing > Audience Display > Racing... > Options -> Settings -> General: Enable External App Control = ON

In RR, I have the following settings:
- Options > Settings > Replay Settings: Enable Auto Replay = ON
- Options > Settings > Miscellaneous > After Recording/Replay: Minimize Screen
- Options > Settings > Remote Video Control: Enable remote control: Multicast
- Options menu -> Always on Top = ON
- Delays/Playback times adjusted to taste

Finally, minimize the Live Preview window, which causes it to minimize to Display 1 (the laptop screen).

When I run my practice heats, I can see RR recording as expected. I can also see RR's screen "behind" the GPRM audience screen playback because I set it to a large window size that happens to be visible in the Windows task bar area. It's just NOT popping up to the front OVER the GPRM audience display to playback.

There should be some external app communication that causes GPRM to momentarily minimize its Audience screen so that the RR replay screen can be seen by the audience. Our setup consists of one large projector that displays an image approximately 15' in diagonal. So it would be ideal for us to use that single audience display for everything, but I just can't seem to find the magic combination of settings to do this automatically.

Would a presentation remote control help with things? If so, I can run out and get one. If I need to pursue the second display option, then I'll need to set up a Wi-Fi router or crossover Ethernet cable, move RR to another computer and have it drive the replays on its own display / projector. I'm just not sure we have the wall space in our community center to display it.

Thanks,
-- Mark



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Re: GPRM & RR: Hardware & Setup Questions

Post by marklstern » Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:31 pm

I should have added that the "operator controls" for RR are on the laptop display (Display 1), just like the Racing Controls for GPRM.



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Re: GPRM & RR: Hardware & Setup Questions

Post by gpraceman » Tue Feb 18, 2020 1:21 pm

Are you using the Auto Heat Advance feature? If so, is the delay set long enough for RaceReplay to do its job before GPRM tries to advance to the next heat? It is important that GPRM is not doing anything (and you are not doing anything in GPRM) that might cause Windows to shift the focused app off of RR and back onto GPRM.


Randy Lisano
Romans 5:8

Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

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Re: GPRM & RR: Hardware & Setup Questions

Post by marklstern » Tue Feb 18, 2020 1:40 pm

Yes, I am using the Auto Heat Advance feature. I set it to 20 seconds, which seemed long enough for RR to stop recording after the heat finished, replaying the video, and be done in time before the heat advanced. It was previously a lower value, and I did increase it because I noticed that.

Maybe I need to increase it to 30 seconds or even 45 seconds and try again. We try to run our 40-50 car race as efficiently as possible to keep the Scouts engaged and not leave early.

Come to think of it, I may still have had this problem with Auto Heat Advance turned off. Turning on Auto Heat Advance was the last thing I did in preparing our setup on the race computer.

Thanks, Randy, for pointing out an area to look at in hopes of resolving this.



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