Wifi enabled timer?

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Vitamin K
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Wifi enabled timer?

Post by Vitamin K » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:14 am

So, this one's a question for the gadgeteers.

It seems, to me, like a fine thing to have, would be a Derby timer that, instead of being tied to a computer serial interface, would connect to a wireless network and accept commands over a simple web API. My home printer, for example, connects to our house wifi, and this makes it a lot easier for multiple computers to use it.

So, supposing you started with an Arduino-based timer (such as this one: http://www.miscjunk.org/mj/pg_pdt.html), how difficult would it be to add wifi and a simple REST API to that?

Would it be better, perhaps, to pair something like a Raspberry Pi to a timer for an integrated solution?

It seems like 'cutting the cord' on timer operation would open up a lot of interesting possibilities.



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Re: Wifi enabled timer?

Post by gpraceman » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:49 am

Well, I've tried a wireless solution to a timer (bluetooth) some time back and was rather disappointed. Too many drops in communications to make it dependable for a race. Maybe some of the WiFi solutions available now would provide for better communications, but I'd still be leery about a drop in communications in the middle of a race. A wired solution will always be faster and more dependable.

Anyways, it would not truly be a wireless solution as you still must provide power to the timer and have a cable to the start switch/sensor. ;)


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Vitamin K
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Re: Wifi enabled timer?

Post by Vitamin K » Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:18 am

Yeah, I can see the need for reliability during a race to be an important point.

While it would not be truly wireless in the sense that you wouldn't need any cables, it would effectively decouple the controlling computer from the track. It would also allow you to query the timer from a different source, perhaps, say, some kind of stats display.
gpraceman wrote:Well, I've tried a wireless solution to a timer (bluetooth) some time back and was rather disappointed. Too many drops in communications to make it dependable for a race. Maybe some of the WiFi solutions available now would provide for better communications, but I'd still be leery about a drop in communications in the middle of a race. A wired solution will always be faster and more dependable.

Anyways, it would not truly be a wireless solution as you still must provide power to the timer and have a cable to the start switch/sensor. ;)



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Re: Wifi enabled timer?

Post by Jeff Piazza » Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:39 pm

For my Web Race Manager system (see http://www.derbytalk.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=7771), the timer connects to a host that runs a simple Java program to translate between the timer and HTTP requests back to the server. I've successfully used a Raspberry Pi as the host, but over ethernet rather than wifi.

The fun part of a web server-based system, as you mention, is the opportunity to have satellite clients that perform different roles: displaying information, checking in racers, controlling the actual racing, etc. iPads/tablets and smart TVs really make things interesting!



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Re: Wifi enabled timer?

Post by Vitamin K » Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:57 pm

Yeah, actually, the more I think about it, it isn't the timer that you'd want to be IP enabled...it's the race manager itself. So you load the race manager onto a CPU (say, a Raspberry Pi or a Beaglebone) and the system allows for communication via a web interface. You'd have one interface for administrative stuff (e.g. actually running the race, loading up racers) and you could access another one for standings, results, etc. People could pull, on demand, what particular screen they wanted to see. So spectators could look at results on their phones, one race official could see who is on deck, another could see an overview of the entire race chart, etc...

This seems in line with the Derbyrunner suite this dude in Ohio put together to manage his Pack's race:


Jeff Piazza wrote:For my Web Race Manager system (see http://www.derbytalk.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=7771), the timer connects to a host that runs a simple Java program to translate between the timer and HTTP requests back to the server. I've successfully used a Raspberry Pi as the host, but over ethernet rather than wifi.

The fun part of a web server-based system, as you mention, is the opportunity to have satellite clients that perform different roles: displaying information, checking in racers, controlling the actual racing, etc. iPads/tablets and smart TVs really make things interesting!



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