Timing Device

A specialised timing device is accurate and reliable, and capable of producing live results. These devices are used for competition in skiing, equestrianism, swimming, cycling, athletics. They can take as an input different types of impulse, including: a gun; a start gate; a photocell; or a push button. For Head races we use the push button.

Most types of competition use a single device for start and finish. They use cable or wifi to get the impulse from Start and Finish to the one device. In a Head race we can't do that. So we need to adapt the approach to have one device at the Start, one at the Finish, and for them to transmit results over a network to a single Results computer.

The System

This is a manual timing system consisting of:ALGE-Timing MT1

  • an accurate timing device
  • a process for identifying when a competitor crosses the line
  • a network to transmit times from Start and Finish to a results computer
  • software to calculate results.

Timing device

This system uses a timing device like the ALGE-Timing MT1, or similar. These devices contain an accurate timer, software for different kinds of timing, a GPS receiver for accurate time, a mobile network connection, and inputs for two timing channels. Inputs can be a gun, a start gate, a photocell or a push button.

For Head races we use the push button to trigger times. Each timing impulse creates a timestamp with the time, the device, the channel and a number. The number is edited by hand on the keypad to assign the correct boat number to the timestamp.

The device stores each time in memory. It also outputs the times in real time to a remote results system.


The process is similar to the Stopwatch process.

At each timing point, a team work together to take times and assign them to the right boat. A Spotter identifies the boats as they approach the line. A Button Presser presses the button when a boat crosses the line. A Clerk or Scribe writes down the boat number corresponding to each button press. An Operator enters the boat number corresponding to the timestamp into the MT1 using the keypad.

When there is a pack of boats (either several close finishers or a constant stream of finishers), the only way to get times is to press the button and write down boats numbers independently; and as often as possible compare the number of presses with the number of boats. At the end of the pack, the times can be assigned to the boats (provided there is the same number).

At the Finish only, a separate Sequencer writes down the sequence of boats finishing, independent of the timers. This enables the timers' sequence to be checked.

A separate team at Start and Finish operates a backup stopwatch. Times from the backup can be compared to the primary timer to check that the times apply to the correct boat.

To provide a verification of the boat identity a video or web camera can be used. The camera can be stationed at a different angle if necessary, or on the opposite bank. The camera is not used for times.


The system uses the mobile network to transmit times from Start and Finish, and any intermediate timing points, to a results system.

The networking devices buffer the data so if there is a break in communications the times are re-transmitted. The times are always retained in the timing device, and can be requested from it remotely if the network has not transmitted them.


The timing devices can output times over USB to a text file, to Excel or to a software application. The MT1 uses race timing software ALGE-Timing Time.NET by [db]netsoft.

The software imports competitor and category information from the Draw. It reads Start and Finish times (and any intermediate times) from the timing devices in real time and outputs elapsed times as each competitor finishes.

The timing data can be also used in displays (like a scoreboard), a web page or other instant results services.

Penalties and handicaps need to be applied after the raw results have been produced.