Timing system in hand and working

About a month ago, we announced that Sweepstakes and the Buggy Alumni Association had teamed up to select and fund a new and improved timing system for buggy.  We are renting the system for an extended period this year so that we have time to thoroughly test it in the buggy context and make sure that it is better than the old system.

The system arrived over spring break, and yesterday evening, we learned how to assemble the hardware and operate the software.  The results were an excellent start. Both the hardware and software have a definite learning curve, but in a couple of hours we had the whole system unpacked, set up, and recording timed photo-finishes. The picture at right shows my dog Ruby edging BAA president Carsen Kline at the finish by 0.28 seconds after a 43 second race around the back yard. The quality of the images will improve in our real implementation as we learn which lens is most appropriate, and do things when it’s not getting dark out.

We are planning on doing our next test (this time with real buggy finishes) at freerolls on the weekend of March 27th and 28th. Thanks so much to everyone who has contributed financially to the Buggy Alumni Association in our first 18 months. Being able to materially improve the buggy experience for both current students and alumni is really exciting.

7 thoughts on “Timing system in hand and working”

  • This looks very cool. Will the system will be able to integrate with cmuTV? It would be great to see those “photo finish” images on the jumbo screen.

  • I really hope we can get fancy stuff like that set up with cmuTV, but it’s not trivial to do all of that stuff on the fly. We have a meeting scheduled with them already to coordinate broadcast things, so we’ll see what we can work out.

  • Whoa. Geek out!

    By the way, I don’t think that photo is actually Carsen, I think it’s final proof that aliens live among us.

  • Christian Jungers says:

    Let me not be the last to concur. That really is some hot shit. Oh, and Carsen totally got schooled by Ruby. I’m super curious about what this system is actually like. How does it blur the background like that … or is that not intentional?

  • It isn’t blurring the background exactly, it’s just that the same exact thing is always in the background. The camera records one column of pixels in the plane of the finish line every .001 seconds. The software then creates an image in which all of those columns are combined left to right. The y-axis is time which is why marking each finisher’s left-most point corresponds to their finish time. Check out the animations on this page for a visualization

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