Information for Tracks - What is Live Timing?
Simply stated; we take the run data coming from your Compulink Timing System and make it available to racers and fans on the Internet.
Simple in concept, Elegant in solution.
Sounds simple enough, but data alone is worthless, information is what is needed. The system consists of several programs and web pages all aimed at providing timely and accurate information for the targeted user.
It all starts in the tower with the Live Timing computer. It is connected directly to the Compulink Timing System, the Davis Weather Station, the local area network and the Internet.
- Collects all data as it is generated. This includes the race information, name, run type and round number; vehicle information, driver name, number, class and dial in; run data, reaction time, all measured times and speeds; results, winner and margin time; local weather information from the local weather station as well as from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the current track time.
- It stores a copy of all of this "raw" data along with a time/date stamp. This way if there were to be any type of problem with the Internet connection to the servers, all the data can be recreated and resent later when the connection has been re-established.
- As soon as the data is safe, the computer validates it, processes it and assembles it into run data.
- After each piece of data has been processed it is formatted and displayed on the Live Timing screen.
- If it is result type data, signifying that the run is done, additional information is calculated; incremental times and margin in feet and/or inches. All this run data is then save to a local data base for later usage.
- Finally, after each piece of data has suffered through all that, it is sent on to our server farm in Colorado.
- Total time involved? Less than a millisecond, (0.001 sec).
More than just a data display device, the Live Timing computer also provides a Windows interface that allows the track personnel to examine, flag and select run information by name, number, reaction time, et, speed and a lot more. We will talk about that in the Announcer Screen section below.
Off to the Farm.
Now that the data has been sent from the Track to the Server Farm, what happens to it?
Each piece of data that arrives at the Server Farm is identified as to its source, verified as valid, given a time stamp and immediately "logged" into the tracks "received" data files.
Now that it's "safe" the fun begins.
- First the server determines if the data is complete or just part of something larger. If it is complete on to the next step. If it is just part of something larger, such as Instant Qualifying data, it is held until the parts can be assembled.
- If the data is part of a run, it is added to the current run data being assembled for each lane. If it is weather data it is saved to the server's weather database etc.
- If the data signifies the end of a run, additional processing is done, as with the Live Timing computer in the tower and the run data is saved to the run history database.
- Then the server passes it off to the web server. Here it is packaged up as displayable data and a copy is sent across the Internet to everyone connected to the Live Timing web site for the track.
- Finally the data arrives will arrive at it's final destination, the end users Live Timing browser screen and get displayed.
- Total time involved? With good internet connections, well under a second.
Along with the Web page generation and the "serving" of current data the server farm provides numerous other services.
- Run history information.
- Run data for PRD subscribers.
- Race results and current points, formatting and presentation.
- Distribution of software to support the Tracks and Subscribers alike.
Back at the Tower.
So far, so good, but what's going on in the tower that will make our life better?
Actually a lot is going on. The Live Timing computer has a number of windows that display the status of the system, the current weather information, track messages and the Announcer Screen.
- The Main Screen is used to display the status, current data and state of the Entire Live Timing System. The display includes:
- A series of colored boxes indicating the current state of the different "parts" of the system.
- The current weather information, updated every 20 seconds, or so, from the Davis System, or every 10 minutes, or so, from NOAA.
- Current information and counters for messages that are being sent to or received from the Server Farm.
- The vehicle, driver, class, series and run information. These are all updated as soon as the data is available from the timing system.
- The Weather Window displays the current weather conditions:
- Where the weather information came from.
- The last time it was updated.
- The basic temperature, humidity, barometer and wind data.
- Calculated information, effective altitude, relative air density, absolute air density and a tail wind speed.
- The Messages Window is used for sending messages to the Live Timing viewers:
- Display of the current message being sent.
- A list of 5 temporary messages that can be sent.
- 2 informational messages that can be sent.
- All messages can be rewritten, edited etc.
- All messages can be saved and retrieved next time Live Timing is used.
- The Announcer Screen displays and makes available a vast amount of information for the announcer and/or the race staff. For now let's look at it's main display. It shows:
- The standard racer information.
- A list of their previous runs with their best reaction time, 60 foot time, ET and miles per hour all highlighted.
- Their lowest dial in, best reaction time, 60 foot time, ET, miles per hour, margin of victory and package.
- When the race is done, it indicates the first to finish in seconds, the distance at the finish line in feet or inches, margin in seconds and their package. Each of these is highlighted if they are the best for the race.
The Announcer Screen has a tremendous amount of functionality not discussed here. For a more detailed description of the its uses and functionality click here.
This should have given you a brief overview of the Live Timing System and how it operates. More detail on several of the components, in particular the Announcer Screen, can be found by clicking on their titles above.
For question and/or for additional information, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org