Champ vs Fast Track K2, K3

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Rukkian
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Champ vs Fast Track K2, K3

Post by Rukkian » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:06 pm

My pack seems to finally be ready for purchasing a new track, and we have a meeting next week to discuss. I am planning on suggesting a 4 lane Best Track, but we will discuss 6 lane as well. We currently have a 3 lane wooden track that was built in the early 80's and is in pretty rough shape.

In looking at the timers, I am comtemplating either that champ timer, or the microwizard K2, or K3. There seems to be a huge difference in price. I would like opinions from those pineheads that have used any of these, and can tell me which would be the best.

While budget is not set yet, I want to make sure we get the best bang for our buck. My son only has one more year after this one, and I want to make sure the pack does not have problems after I leave.



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Re: Champ vs Fast Track K2, K3

Post by BallBoy » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:52 pm

I would base your decision on both budget and what you need displayed at the finish line. If you plan to connec the timer to a computer and display results to the audience, then what is displayed at the finish line and what is displayed on the screen can be different. Based on what I have observed, Cub Scouts are generally more intererested in what place they came in, regardless of scoring by points or times. Parents are generally more interested in times.

For what you get with the Champ, it is reasonably priced. The Champ simultaneously displays place (large) and time (small) at both the front and back of the timer. MicroWizard offers the option of a front and back display and the cost of doing so approaches the cost of a Champ, though you wouldn't get the large place and small time displays.

My opinion is that in a Cub Scout race setting, the times are relatively unimportant to display at the finish line. If projecting race results for the audience, then displaying anything at the finish line becomes redundant to what is on the screen. New Directions (makers of the Judge) recently began offering a display-less timer, in an effort to eliminate this redundancy (I have not seen the new timer in person nor have read a bona fide review of it).

I you are going to be doing testing on the track then the K2 requires that you have a computer connected to get the times. The Champ and K3 both display elapsed times without the need for a computer.

If displaying only place at the finish line then I would elminate the K3 from contention, since the display is fairly small. You cannot see what happened from across the room or if your eyes are no longer young. The Champ and K2 both have the large displays which is easy to see from several yards away. A few years ago I went through the same comparison you are going through now. I ended up with a K2 kit and have no regrets with the decision (the kit saves you a bunch of money and is easy to assemble).



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FatSebastian
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Re: Champ vs Fast Track K2, K3

Post by FatSebastian » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:46 pm

BallBoy wrote:I would base your decision on both budget and what you need displayed at the finish line. [...] (the kit saves you a bunch of money and is easy to assemble).
I agree with BallBoy that the purchase decision should be commensurate with your unit's priorities. We went with the Microwizard / Derbywizard K3 kit because it seemed most flexible to us (displayed both times and order info) and we already had a projection system available for the race software.

We also went with the kit version to save money. However, I've assembled two so far and I don't know if I would describe these kits as "easy" to assemble -- perhaps "straightforward"? Careful drilling is required and according to the web site "kit assembly takes about 2-3 hours to complete."



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Re: Champ vs Fast Track K2, K3

Post by Rukkian » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:03 am

Since we typically run for points and have a projection screen, the K2 seems the way to go. Do you recommend the kit? Does it come out looking as good? I am not afraid to do a little labor, but want it to look professional when I am done.

One more question - can the finish line be put on backwards so the display will display back at the crowd (which is normally on the sides of the track). I assume it can, but if not, would make a case for the champ timer.

Thanks for the help.



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Re: Champ vs Fast Track K2, K3

Post by BallBoy » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:36 am

I think that FS's word "straightforward" is a better description "easy". I believe it took me about 90 minutes to assemble and involved mostly drilling holes. There is no soldering or electronics work. The instructions can be found here on Microwizard's website if you want to read through them to see if it's something you can handle. In my opinion it is well worth the ~$70 savings to get the kit rather than an assembled timer.
Rukkian wrote:One more question - can the finish line be put on backwards so the display will display back at the crowd (which is normally on the sides of the track). I assume it can, but if not, would make a case for the champ timer.
Thanks for the help.

There is nothing that would physically prohibit you from putting the timer backwards on the track. The K2 or K3, with the PS option that enables the timer to communicate with a computer, does allow you to reverse the lanes. Reversing the lanes allows you to put the timer on backwards.



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Re: Champ vs Fast Track K2, K3

Post by FatSebastian » Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:06 pm

Rukkian wrote:Does it come out looking as good? I am not afraid to do a little labor, but want it to look professional when I am done.
Yes, it will look professional if you are careful and have an adequate working space. Some assembly requires drilling countersunk holes in plastic according to a paper template. The plastic screws to metal supports using self-tapping screws. A hammer and punch is used to mark the metal in order to drill pilot holes. Of course it is possible to misalign the punch marks, the template, etc., if one is careless.

You definitely want to countersink the screw holes for a professional look. (There is a risk in overdoing this with plastic.) The kit comes with checker-board decals which can hide some finishing issues, but as with any decal there is also risk in trimming the decal improperly or not affixing it squarely. There is a reason why assembly cost $75; it takes time. But if you are patient IMO you should end up with a professional looking timer.



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Re: Champ vs Fast Track K2, K3

Post by Rukkian » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:13 pm

Thanks for the quick responses. I will bring it up at our committee meeting next week.



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Re: Champ vs Fast Track K2, K3

Post by birddog » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:20 pm

Our pack purchased a brand new best track an Champ timer the year my cub was a Tiger, so this was all done without any input from me. I think the ability to buy from one source and have a "package deal" that looks nice and requires very little time or effort has its benefits.

If I were purchasing myself today, I'd likely have tried to save more money.

I think the bigger issue is your track size. I'd seriously consider a 4 lane track instead of a 6 lane. You can search for threads on that topic in this forum and the concesus seems to be that 4 lane is much preferable.

Birddog



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Re: Champ vs Fast Track K2, K3

Post by Rukkian » Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:25 pm

I think for our pack, that 4 lane is correct, the only reason there is consideration for a 6 lane is that since there is no district races (or council) near me, that we are throwing around the idea of running either a district or some sort of invitational in our area, which a 6 lane may be better to use with.



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Re: Champ vs Fast Track K2, K3

Post by birddog » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:02 pm

Our district race is run on a 4 lane track as well. 6 lanes just means you have to run more heats to ensure each car gets to run down each lane once. It can actually cause your race to be longer, not shorter!

birddog



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