~~~~~ PRO Race Controller ~~~~~
PRO Race Controller
The PRO Race Controller is an
automated starting device that simplifies the tasks of a Principle Race Officer
and signal boat volunteers in running sailboat races.
At the club level fleets are usually small, and often multiple fleets compete on the same course starting at five-minute intervals. Unlike large events, club races are run by rotating groups of volunteers where consistency and timing communications with sailors present challenges. The PRO Race Controller solves these issues.
Features That Make It Unique
Other automatic starters are self-contained, portable and have a simple timer to blow a horn. The PRO Race Controller have features that go far beyond them.
Itís designed for a designated signal boat but can be quickly moved to another properly wired boat because it uses a single waterproof connector.
Uses the boatís power and signaling device (horn)
Large displays readable in most light including bright sun
Multiple displays for reading times and wind conditions simultaneously
Simple to operate. Only one button to start a sequence, one button to cancel
Battery operated clock displays time of day
2 audio systems play back custom Mp3 files
Mp3 files can be recorded on any device that can transfer files to a micro-SD card
VHF radio output for automated timing communication with the entire fleet
Internal speaker for optional prompting of signal boat volunteers
Internal buzzer for timing assists for volunteers
Anemometer display in any of four selectable units.
Sequences are programmable with a custom spread sheet
Very customizable with ability to record sounds and design start sequences.
Many global parameters to customize or adapt to the local system
Waterproof IP65 (or better) external components
Manual-Description 5/6 minute sequence Programming Narrated Demo - Info Video
Sequences Audio Files
The PRO (Principal Race Officer) Race Controller combines many of my interests: sail boat racing, running sail boat races, and building things. Before retirement, I was a computer electronics engineer working in a research group of a large high-tech corporation. I grew up with minicomputers that eventually evolved into the microcomputer of today. Since retirement I have been fascinated at how the industry continues to evolve and all the good reasonably priced development tools and services available to the designer today.
Project Status / November 2018
A concept version has been completed with two fully functional copies. One has had a season's use at our club. The project is a little over as year old and much was learned as the concept evolved. The heart of the controller is a four-layer printed circuit board. As the project matured that board became obsolete and needs to be upgraded and future changes will make the controller easier to build.
This version features an anemometer. A more difficult but more useful reading would be the addition of wind direction. Wind direction on a boat swinging on an anchor relies on determining what direction the boat is pointing. To that end I am working with an electronic compass module. However it works out, it will be work with the controller with additional firmware.
The next version will increase the number of buttons from four to eight. (not including power and horn). If the current layering or mode concept currently used is maintained, the number of sequences could be increased to 16. In general, we use the KISS philosophy.
One of the strongest features of this device is its programmability. This is discussed in detail in other documents on this web. Programmability introduces the concept of libraries of both start sequences and audio on the web. A user could select from a library or originate their own and possibly share.
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