Transponders

Discussion in 'Racing at Mission' started by Georgie G, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. ryno11

    ryno11 New Member

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    Soooooo. When will a decision be made? by the sounds of it on here, you may be going to the tag system like we use in the EMRA... Ive been holding out on leasing a AMB transponder as your track is really the only place I will need one.. UtahSBA rents them out cheap so I wouldn't lease one for just going down there.
     
  2. jcathie

    jcathie Member

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    The only decision left to be made is which software and back-end system to use for scoring/registration/processing. We already have an AMB decoder, so an AMB transponder will be required.
     
  3. ryno11

    ryno11 New Member

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    Sorry I must have mis understood when Dean was talking about using the same tag system as we do in Edmonton
     
  4. bsa_414

    bsa_414 WMRC Formula Classic Rep

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    That is some task indeed. We are all grateful to you for doing this for so long. I ,like some other people on here, have an IT/Programming background and I certainly sympathize with what was involved here.

    No one knew or had any idea. Well, me anyways. I'm sure there are others. But I'll speak only for myself from now on...

    Where was the communication? It seems it was done in a vacuum. You never asked for help. You never mentioned what you were doing. You never hinted at any meeting any hardships or that we will have a problem down the road. Can I ask why?

    No offense, but as an IT guy, you anticipate that the hardware gets old, that maintenance and upgrades are required and that the amount of time it takes to keep all this going increases exponentially. Again, it's the first I hear of this. And there's some/many of us that can help. But we can only help if we know there is a problem.

    I'm done with this now, so let's just move ahead...

    From what I can see that's been posted so far, we have the basic core of the AMB system. A decoder and a bunch of transponders. What software (if any) came from Edmonton, and what exactly does that software do?

    The next question we need to ask is what we would need our new system to do. The level of automation and user convenience will be directly proportional to costs, that's why I said 'need' and not 'like' or 'want'. No elaborate details just high level shit like:

    the racer needs to be able to pre-register on line
    the racer needs to be able to register at the track
    the racer needs to be able to add/delete classes to race in
    the racer needs to be able to confirm what classes he is registered for.
    the racer needs to know where on the grid he will be positioned
    the racer needs to know what position he finished a race in at the end of the day
    the racer needs to know his lap times

    Can a bunch of us sit down and review how we did these task under dBCom, and have a look at the software package (if any) that came with the AMB system? If we could re-use some pieces and just graft them on top of the AMB core that would be ideal.

    And in case you haven't figured it out by now, I am volunteering some of my time, to program. administer, repair/build hardware or whatever is required to make our own basic timing/scoring/pre-reg system using stuff we already have. You will not be able to use your smartphone to have live timing , but you might get the basic functionallity listed above for little or no cost this year.

    Tall order for two months notice, esp. for just one person. I figure we need five people to pull this off and even then it will be tight.

    1. WEB guy. Can set up/administer a LAMP server blindfolded.
    2. SQL guy. Knows how to construct a DB, and get data in/out of anything SQL based via a programming interface.
    3. HW guy. You're the netadmin, sysadmin and hardware guru. Mac/UNIX/Windows knowledge, you install/upgd OS's and hardware.
    4. PM/DOC guy. He, who documents everything. Needs to know what RFP, Requirement Doc, Detail Design Doc, Change Control are.
    5. PGM guy. Writes any/all code that is required to pull the pieces together. Must know how to roll out custom UI's, talk to devices etc.

    If you can fill any of the above positions, speak up now - the club needs you!

    Ultimately someone has to decide if we want to spend money, or put some effort in rolling out our own solution.
    Even if you decide to spend money, make it basic with no upfront investment and no locked in leasing/renting terms. That way we can work on our own software in parallel, and cut over when we're ready, with no penalties to the club.

    To reiterate - I am grateful for what Dean has/is doing for the club and I want to help. But you have to let me know what the problems are....
     
  5. bsa_414

    bsa_414 WMRC Formula Classic Rep

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    I started doing a bit of research on this, and I would like to know the following:

    What is the model # of our decoder and do we know what level of firmware we are running on it? Is the data coming out of the decoder, serial, TCP/IP or USB?

    It would seem that the comms protocol between the decoder and software is proprietary. You kind of have to have it that way if you want to milk lots of $$$'s from your users....

    There's some info here (do not click on this link unless you want to read through lots of boring tech details about bits and bytes) http://www.hobbytalk.com/bbs1/archive/index.php/t-73738.html

    Not impossible to reverse engineer, but not a cake-walk either... Two months, eh?

    P.S we were supposed to have run a test in parallel with our dBCom system on that last race weekend. did we do that? how did it work, and what exactly was our setup?
     
  6. bsa_414

    bsa_414 WMRC Formula Classic Rep

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    Also came across a software package from myLaps called DataCollector v3.0. From the 'System Overview' section of the manual:

    The manual also list in the appendices a well documented file format. It looks like it has connectors for MySQL as well. If you're a tech head check out:
    http://support.mylaps.com/kb/en/b2b/Manuals/DataCollector_ENG.pdf

    These are all options we need to explore... Just saying.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
  7. cookie

    cookie Two Smokin'

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    What software were we using with the DBcom system? Any chance it's compatible, at least to run parallel to test?

    Edit: A search found my answer, Kronos software. Looks to me like AMB is supported by K2, unless I'm missing something

    http://blindapex.com/software.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
  8. Dean

    Dean Just a beer league racer

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    Alex, most knew about this in the background, but in reality, I didn't need help. You have to remember this is all on my equipment. HP Proliant DL380 server class machines, running in my rack, in my home, on my power bill ($350+ every 2 months).

    The operating systems were also donated and fully licensed by me too. If this was all in the cloud, multiple people could run it. As it sits, it's in my home and I'm not allowing access to it, because it's my home.

    What I don't understand is why we'd even want to reinvent the wheel. There is TrackIntel, the Tag Heuer system that I'm recommending that does all this stuff. It does it so well that all other clubs dropped their software and chose this system. It's in the cloud, so no server hardware other than the laptop that they provide is required. No programming knowledge is required. No backups, maintenance, etc is required.

    To do this on our own, we'd have to take all the steps you've outlined as well as:

    Procure hardware, Procure software (operating systems, antivirus, security for intrusion prevention, application middleware (mysql, SQL server, Oracle, etc), network routers, switches, firewalls, etc. Then you'd build this, and also have to maintain and keep it up to date. Systems development life cycle. This makes *zero* sense to me. It exists in a complete system with Tag Heuer. Check it out at trackintel.com

    This system can use *any* decoder that is modern. It cannot use dbcom, but it can use AMB, Zoomius (RFID that Edmonton and Calgary use), and their own Tag Heuer decoders and transponders. It's complete event management and reporting.

    What the club currently does:

    Event registration (old windows based Cold Fusion server and code) (not tied to racer information)
    Manual licensing
    Manual racer information
    3rd party mailing system (not tied to racer information)
    manual event reporting, financials, etc
    manual results ratification and posting
    re-writing results to post on website
    manual credit card processing
    manual grid sheets and calculations
    manual pre-registration checking
    manual hand written tech sheets

    We can do *all* the above with the new system. I hear all the time "Wow wmrra knows how to do this" "Have you seen the EMRA's site? Why can't ours be like that?" "OMMRA sure is easy for this stuff", etc. I don't know why we'd even attempt to build something knowing the long term costs of maintaining it, etc.

    I'm not recommending this without doing a large amount of research first. As a systems guy, this is my professional opinion first, and then my opinion as a dedicated racer 2nd, and finally as a dedicated club member 3rd, that wants to see this club succeed and be set well to move into the future.
     
  9. Ryan Whittle

    Ryan Whittle Rider of Orange V-Twins

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    Didn't realize all that went into it Dean.

    It's my understanding that Gail won't be around this year to do grid sheets, and she did a cubic ton of work over the last number of years.

    From being involved in race day organization, having the ability to accurate register for classes and produce grid sheets is a must. Also, with limited volunteers, we need something reliable which the previous system was not.
     
  10. cookie

    cookie Two Smokin'

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    Wow, Dean, I didn't realize it was that much stuff either, and holy crap over $2,000 a year for power for the club? You should ask promotions to find a sponsor to help out with that.
     
  11. bsa_414

    bsa_414 WMRC Formula Classic Rep

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    To do this:

    You certainly don't need this...

    Let's take it back to a way simpler discussion, and let's get down to some yes/no answers without having to weed out what's important or not in a post.

    -----

    Our dBCom hardware specifically *some* transponders, not software, were unreliable. Correct? (yes/no)
    Purchasing an AMB decoder coupled with everyone running AMB transponders will fix this. Correct (yes/no)

    Our old 'system' relied heavily on manual labour. Did it work? (yes/no)

    Did we get an AMB TRanX-2 decoder from Edmonton? (yes/no)

    Do we have BlindApex's Kronos2 software? (yes/no)

    Depending on the answer to the last two question, we now have all the components to keep going, using the same procedures as last year, but with increased reliability.

    Let's ask some more question...

    Do we need more bells and whistles (automation)? (yes/no)
    Do we want to spend money on these bells and whistles (automation)? (yes/no)
    Is there a middle ground as opposed to the 'full monty'? (yes/no)

    No lengthy explanations needed. I'm feeling rather 'binary' today....
     
  12. Dean

    Dean Just a beer league racer

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    No, not only was the hardware failing, the software was too. It's old and is not developed for modern Operating systems. There will be compatibility issues with a newer laptop and operating system.

    Yes, it brings us to a well used platform.

    No, there were *many* race day complaints and we've lost staff over it. Racers too have left, but they claim political differences, many of which would not be there if the entire system worked.

    Yes, and at a screaming deal too. Less than 20% of what it would cost new!

    Yes. John Cathie can provide more information on this, as I don't know which version we have. The latest version can support Windows Vista, which is 3 windows revisions behind. I'm not sure if K2 can support our new decoder. We know that K2 could not grid sheets, pre-reg, or anything else like that.

    Yes. We've lost staff to do all the manual tasks we had to do before.

    How else are you going to get it done? Automation is not free.

    The system I'm proposing is a full event control system. You cannot pick and choose parts. I'm unsure of how effective multiple unconnected systems can be.

    I have a question now. If you feel you do not need the hardware I've provided to run these systems, how do you propose to run them? Where do you propose to rent them from the cloud and still make it cost effective? These are not as simple as yes/no, but still require some answers.
     
  13. bsa_414

    bsa_414 WMRC Formula Classic Rep

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    This is where I'm confused... What systems are we running? Are we talking about the web site and the forum? What's that got to do with timing software? Why would you need 'cloud' services, when we don't even have a net connection at the track?

    I'll also address the unreliability of the software:

    For a laptop that all it does is run some scoring software, you do not need the latest and greatest operating system. There is nothing wrong with running 'old' software on 'old' operating systems.

    If all that's needed is a Pentium, running win2K with 512mb of ram (that's not a typo), then that's what we should be running the SW on. You make 'old' software unreliable because you want to run it on an i5 laptop with win8.1? And then you go and blame the 'old' software?

    You've answered everything I needed to know.

    thanks
     
  14. Ryan Whittle

    Ryan Whittle Rider of Orange V-Twins

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    Sounds like you are volunteering to take this task over Alex, is that correct?
     
  15. bsa_414

    bsa_414 WMRC Formula Classic Rep

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    I would like to take this task over... However, I will not willingly walk out in front of a firing squad. That is why I am asking all these questions. I need to have full and complete disclosure from all parties, before I commit to anything.

    Does it get any plainer than this?
     
  16. Dean

    Dean Just a beer league racer

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    The website is run on my hardware, with my internet connection.

    The forum is run on my hardware, with my internet connection.

    The pre-registration site, which currently requires Windows and Cold Fusion is run on my hardware, with my internet connection.

    The email server runs on my hardware, with my internet connection to send out reminders, digests, and tie all the software together.

    The cluster to keep this all fault resilient and backed up, runs on my hardware, and my internet connection. So to start, you need to find an appropriate part to replace those.

    The clubs laptop is currently failing. The video chip on the motherboard is failing. Good luck finding a replacement that is reliable.

    This isn't about just finding something to run the decoder. This is about finding something to keep the decoder software populated with racer information, transponder numbers, etc, that can do it in a fast and efficient manner (pre-registration). This is about taking the results from that system, formatting them and posting them in a quick and reliable fashion to a website/forum/etc that people can find their stuff quickly. This is about keeping all racer information central, so communication can happen efficiently.

    I'm more than happy to take a backup/sql dump/zip/tarball, etc of the sites and hand it over to you. Let me know when.
     
  17. Dean

    Dean Just a beer league racer

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    Sorry, that's my total household power per year. It's doubled when I started running the club stuff, so I'd say it's drawing around $1000 give or take about $100 over the course of the year.
     
  18. bsa_414

    bsa_414 WMRC Formula Classic Rep

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    The perfect system... You could have said that this is what you are trying to achieve many posts ago, and I wouldn't have had to ask any questions.

    You are obviously on top of this, and do not require any additional help, certainly not mine.
    Thanks, and I look forward to using the new quick and reliable system...
     
  19. tt600

    tt600 New Member

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  20. jcathie

    jcathie Member

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