Axti.me software discussion

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Axti.me software discussion

Post by SilverYota » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:30 am

So we got the new software going this event and this thread is to discuss questions, comments, or suggestions relating to it. I'll start:

1. Liked having run groups set before starting and we can upgrade the Crayon system (sorry it was the night before and that is what I came up with).
2. Wished the Timekeeper screen had a way to know who is on course, the Chrono functionality (timer scrolling on that person on during the run) works on several other screens or on the Cone Counter screen turns the background green under the cars that are on course.

I'm sure a couple other things will come to me but feel free to comment below.
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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by JimR » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:24 am

Good
Great system with tons of potential. Very easy learning curve once connected, and I'm excited to see where we can go with live timing.

The divorced car queuer and cone counter was a great idea, especially with the excellent pace of launching cars yesterday. We delivered on giving a lot of drivers six runs on a reasonable schedule. In the queue interface, all the cars are all color-coded by heat (red/blue). For example, if five people all had number 86 at the event, it was easy to punch "8" or "86" into the interface and be presented with a list that you could narrow down to the right driver at a glance.

Also, I could see where just about everyone in T&S could be in a closed vehicle isolated from noise and weather. The trailer is a circus of announcer noise, speaker feedback, exhaust and tire noise, paper being scattered by wind, radio chatter, conversation, and novice questions. This could fix that.

Bad
A common issue yesterday was entrants remembering work assignment (along with efficient corner working). Novices have a lot to ingest on a tight schedule, and remembering a run/work assignment is difficult. People are there to have fun, and if we don't make it easy and provide guidance, that's our problem, not theirs. AXTI.ME was part of the problem, since we didn't have a paper backup to reference run/work assignment on the fly.

Those of us running car queue also had some bad lag at times. Not always, but sometimes. When you pressed "add driver" to queue another car, sometimes it wouldn't do it. Press it again a few times, nothing. Then, the finger taps would register all at once and inadvertently queue an unintended car. Maybe this is a network infrastructure issue.

Ideas
AXTI.ME apparently assigns heats based on color (red v. blue)? We should integrate the red versus blue language into the driver's meeting and announcements. Eliminate the "heat one/heat two" language and just go by run group color and morning/afternoon. The only numbers novices need to hear are their car number and assigned corner number.

I would suggest the region buy some packs of light red and blue paper to print up. One side has blanks for name and run/work assignment. The reverse side has very basic corner worker instructions (cone rule, radio etiquette, spread out, etc.). We could probably fit 4-8 strips on each sheet of paper, and keep the strips in a wind-proof pouch. Every person leaves registration with a color-coded strip of paper saying their explicit car number, class letters, work assignment, and morning vs afternoon. No ambiguity. I can work up something in Microsoft Publisher if you guys want.

Also, I assume we're working towards the infrastructure to enable live timing? Maybe we could rig up a TV screen to show run/work assignment when course is cold, and live timing when the course is hot.

Once we get our hardware sorted, we could make some diagrams and instructions like SFRSCCA: http://www.sfrautox.com/?page_id=463

Connecting to the T&S network is the hardest part of helping run T&S. Making inputs into the software is the easy part.
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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by JimR » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:18 pm

According to Dave Whitworth, who sold us our FarmTek hardware, using the live.axti.me option is better when we make the leap to offering live timing for competitors. By offering competitors timing through a WiFi connection, he experienced additional lag.

Also, concerning the lags we had on Sunday:
Another thing that is problematic for us, and may be your problem, is the devices themselves trying to switch networks. On Android devices, I have to turn cell data completely off manually and also "forget" any other WiFi networks on site that it may connect to. Otherwise, the phone sees the internal AXTI/me WiFI network but knows it doesn't get to the internet, therefore it keeps trying to connect to other networks that have internet, which kills the Internal one, or slows access down as it switches back and forth. Windows laptops do the same thing, not sure about iOS devices.
I know the iPhone that I used to queue cars yesterday is a real slow bastard about connecting to the web when I'm also remotely controlling my car's Sony action cam via app on WiFi. There may be some crippling network switching with all the roles trying on various devices to find internet while connected to a non-internet timing setup.

Also, we were likely sitting in range of people's GoPros and other newer action cams as they pulled up to the line. Even if they weren't running a remote app, the cameras were probably broadcasting themselves as potential WiFi connections within range of the whole T&S crew sitting by the trailer. Tech minds: would that help explain why we would run smoothly for a while, then suddenly jam up?
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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by SilverYota » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:02 pm

JimR wrote:Once we get our hardware sorted, we could make some diagrams and instructions like SFRSCCA: http://www.sfrautox.com/?page_id=463
Natasha had found and printed these exact documents Saturday evening (so people could make notes on them), they were sitting in the trailer on the shelf opposite T/S computer, and I simply forgot to hand them out. We need to do this at the next event.

Red and blue aren't set in stone, especially blue as it clashes with other PC version of the software background colors and might lead to cofusion. The crayons were handy when I had the idea Saturday late, but never planned to continue with crayons. I'm liking the color coded paper but worry with wind, Crowder would find tons of our sheets laying around (don't want trash everywhere with our names on it). Maybe we could do it for the brand new entrants and have more of a "master sheet" posted for everyone else with classes according to color?

We are striving to get the live results going for the whole crowd, just wanted to test with core timing/scoring workers this first event. The BOD was thinking a TV wouldn't be nessecary once we "go live" because we all have screens in our pockets. I like your idea of people being able to see their info, we will see what part of Axti.me might do this.
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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by JimR » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:29 pm

The new printer should make it pretty easy to tape work assignments to the side of the trailer. I think that would help people a lot.

And no need to pass crayons between registration and work assignment stations. It could be fruit, adult novelties, car parts, etc. Team ATF filter could be on red paper, and team radiator cap could be on green paper.
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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by SilverYota » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:55 pm

JimR wrote:And no need to pass crayons between registration and work assignment stations. It could be fruit, adult novelties, car parts, etc. Team ATF filter could be on red paper, and team radiator cap could be on green paper.
Natasha thinks we should use Muppets, I feel they might be too rambunctious and wouldn't want to make Animal mad.

Since we have been assigning run groups and flipping morning and afternoon every event, in the software color seems like a good way to differentiate (disclaimer: your class' run group might need to be changed for an event with low turnout). It also give visual clues in the Timekeeper and the Car Queuer roles by putting a colored band on the left side of the entrant's row. This is how Jason H. caught the STR car was in the the wrong heat, and is kind of a last defense against this happening.

Here is an example of this in the Car Queuer role, the red band pops out and lets you know they shouldn't be there:

Image
JimR wrote:According to Dave Whitworth, who sold us our FarmTek hardware, using the live.axti.me option is better when we make the leap to offering live timing for competitors. By offering competitors timing through a WiFi connection, he experienced additional lag.
JimR wrote:Connecting to the T&S network is the hardest part of helping run T&S. Making inputs into the software is the easy part.
I am not a network expert but will try to explain how I understand this to work. Stan, Jay, Paul or Trent once you're done rolling eyes and sighing please feel free to clear this up.

During this initial test weekend were just using a single residental router and we plan to upgrade to a entry level small commercial units (better processor, memory, wireless range, etc.) before the next event. Also we plan on having dedicated tablets to hand to the Car Queuer, Cone Counter, Tech, and Announcer so everyone doesn't have to use their personal device. These OMR tablets will be the only devices allowed to connect via WiFi to the password protected router that connects via Ethernet cable directly to the T/S computer. OMR tablets will be set-up and passed to those T/S roles.

We will plug "no password needed" access point(s) into that router to extend the network so everyone can see the live timing. This supposedly isolates the OMR tablets and Timing/Scoring PC to their own little network and with the extra ummph of the more commercial duty WiFi device allegedly insures that network will be fast.
JimR wrote:I know the iPhone that I used to queue cars yesterday is a real slow bastard about connecting to the web when I'm also remotely controlling my car's Sony action cam via app on WiFi. There may be some crippling network switching with all the roles trying on various devices to find internet while connected to a non-internet timing setup.
Regarding the iOS devices, I find it peculiar that Chris Trailer only ever wrote an app for the Car Queuer role and only for iOS since it is such a web based utility:

From Chris Trailer: This is a companion application that requires the AXti.me RM system. This app will currently allow lightning fast interaction with the Car Queuer role of AXti.me RM. Features:- Swipe to delete a driver- Drag and drop car reorder- Chrono mode support - shows which drivers are on course- Add Driver - Search by car number or driver name - Filter by Run Group - Add a "dummy" driver in those cases a driver could not be found- New or changed registrations are automatically synched


I have no idea if there is something he was trying to work around by offering a native app or maybe he just ran out of time to build more apps. Notice how Chris makes a point to say how this makes for "lightning fast interaction" and since the Car Queuer is the most active remote "role" in Axti.me, maybe the app could have helped with some lagging issues with iOS or Safari? In both heats the Car Queuer used an iOS device, hindsight being 20/20 we probably should have logged in to Car Queuer with the Kindle to see if it was better.
from Dave W wrote:Also, concerning the lags we had on Sunday:
Another thing that is problematic for us, and may be your problem, is the devices themselves trying to switch networks. On Android devices, I have to turn cell data completely off manually and also "forget" any other WiFi networks on site that it may connect to. Otherwise, the phone sees the internal AXTI/me WiFI network but knows it doesn't get to the internet, therefore it keeps trying to connect to other networks that have internet, which kills the Internal one, or slows access down as it switches back and forth. Windows laptops do the same thing, not sure about iOS devices.
JimR wrote:Also, we were likely sitting in range of people's GoPros and other newer action cams as they pulled up to the line. Even if they weren't running a remote app, the cameras were probably broadcasting themselves as potential WiFi connections within range of the whole T&S crew sitting by the trailer. Tech minds: would that help explain why we would run smoothly for a while, then suddenly jam up?
I don't have iOS experience but to fix this on Androids go to the "Advanced" settings and put a check in the avoid bad WiFi connections box (pic below). It will allow you to connect to a WiFi access point that doesn't have internet, causes it to quit pestering you to reconnect to any that do, and you will still be able to use mobile data for looking at something on the web. It has worked great keeping the connection to the Axti.me WiFi during my testing when we had both our home's WiFi and the test router running.

This is a one time setting change, my personal phone is still using it with zero issues, and some devices might come with this box already checked.

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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by Thorox » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:32 am

Concerning Car Queueing, a Chromebook ( with a hard wired Ethernet port may be an option to insure updates are being processed in a timely manner.
Alternately, I have several Windows 10 Tablets that would support a $18 ethernet to USB adapter and could be plugged into the router as well. Having the "hard line" should eliminate those issues. The cable can be 10 foot, or 50 foot, so they would not have to be inside the trailer, just in proximity if wired.

Concerning devices, tablets are better than phones for data entry. Some of the screen have smallish buttons and accuracy problems depending on the device.

Concerning Network... I have a decent AC1200 home class router that supports a lot of wireless traffic, and includes a "Guest" wifi network that is segregated from the main password protected network. I'd look into the highest rated routers of this type before making the jump to a "commercial" higher priced router. Also, buy two, setup two, keep two in the trailer ready to go. If you lose the wifi, everything comes grinding to a halt.


8" android tablets are cheap. Walmart has the RCA Android tablets on sale routinely from $45-55. ($49.99 today when I looked)
Having a few spares means that the server/main computer could prop up a tablet with cone counter on it, and see who is on track, etc for minimal investment. Buy neoprene zip sleeves for the hardware. Decent ones are $7 at walmart and are big enough for a 8-10 inch tablet plus the charger. This will go a long way to making them last. Be sure to have enough surge protectors to charge/run all these wireless devices if they all have to be plugged in for some reason...

I am not sure a TV display would be needed, just about everyone has a smartphone, or knows someone with a smartphone. If it is considered down the line, then a tablet with HDMI output could easily run it. (My Windows 10 tablets that were about $105 each have this functionality, and could be hard wired with the adapter mentioned above)

If the "server" / software needs restarted (I believe it crashed at least once), make a sheet with every step to restart the system, laminate it, and keep it with the laptop.

There may be more if I think of anything else.
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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by NSFW » Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:49 pm

I agree with you Jay. Matt's idea of having two devices, one for race stewards and one public, is also a great idea. With that in mind I've ordered two identical highly rated small office/home office routers with good range and dual processors. This way if the primary router fails we will disable the public access, but we can continue using the software to run the event. And I only went $12 over budget. :D

Having a second hard wired device to queue cars is also a good idea. We could use a chrome book or similar device or we may choose to have a backup laptop that can also run the software. I'll bring it up for discussion at our next board meeting. It's just computer software and wireless networking. What could go wrong?

Thank you for the helpful suggestions and feedback.

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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by SilverYota » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:18 am

Jay and Paul, you both are right, a small business or advanced home router is a better term for what we were talking about. Nothing like a rack mounted enterprise level unit, but maybe we should talk about mounting it in the trailer to simplify wiring and setup?

Jay, good idea on the Chromebook, if we continue to have issues wirelessly, the wired Car Queuer would likely solve it. I'm hoping that dedicated tablet and better router will fix our connectivity issues. San Francisco does leave the Cone Counter and Announcer wired, but that might just be because how their trailer is setup. For those of you who do not know, San Francisco region is who Chris Trailer belongs to (Chris is the creator of Axti.me) and that is why we keep referencing them.

Topology Image from their website of how they set up the network for T/S equipment:

Image

I like the fact we are taking the event management to this level, it seems to get harder every year to make improvements, yet it's still happening. With brand new software we were still sending cars off the line every 20-25 seconds, with only a couple of hiccups, this is in line with what National SOLO events are doing. For such a small club the OMR has a great group of core volunteers, these improvements and achievements are something we can be proud of.
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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by flogger » Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:48 pm

I think Matt's speculation as to why Chris Trailer developed an iOS app for car queuer is a good one. He's probably right.

One of the things I did last Sunday was test range/signal strength of our current setup. What is it? an old G or B router? Anyhow, even with it not optimally mounted and kind of halfway inside the somewhat Faraday cage like structure that is our trailer, my Android mantained it's connection all the way out to the waiver station (by the tower on the NW corner). I was running the "Chrono" part of the software, so moving as many packets as I could think of. When I headed north from there and intentionally placed a few cars between me and the trailer I lost the connection. Moving back to the waiver station I couldn't reestablish the connection. From there I walked slowly towards the trailer and reestablished connection when I was ~40' closer. Just as Jim expected, there were a lot of devices showing up - many of them with GoPro in there names. I didn't count how many, but it scrolled off the screen, so 10+? An improvement in router (and especially if we can mount a remote antenna on top of the trailer) should work noticeably better. I don't see a reasonable way to get our LAN signal all the way out to the small lot for the MidDiv, though. I think it'd take multiple repeaters and power supplies and ugh.

I like Matt's point about the frequency with which we can release cars. In many ways we run like a much larger region's event. The software and talent in the trailer is huge, but keep in mind there are other nuanced things that affect our performance that we do well. Things like driver's meetings, new driver training, course designs, layout of worker station locations, and distribution of corner workers and how we mix in experienced workers with newbies. All that stuff pays off.
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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by Kent » Thu Mar 23, 2017 4:11 am

Going to a true live timing via internet would avoid all the router distance issues. I know there are a few drawbacks to a web based timing, but the gains are worthwhile in the world of smartphones.

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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by Thorox » Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:07 am

In response to extending the signal to the small lot from the big lot, if deemed necessary, it would take one more router and $200 (2 High Power point to point, outdoor certified wireless APs). You can get a high power point to point WLAN, made for outdoors, and it is good for about 3 miles with line of sight.
I installed this recently on my property and it works like a charm. You just have a normal WiFi router at the other end for clients to connect to.

As Kent indicated with distance issues, if the cost to run the live timing costs less than this option (MiDiv in mind I assume), then it is most likely the way to go...
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Re: Axti.me software discussion

Post by SilverYota » Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:57 am

Kent wrote:Going to a true live timing via internet would avoid all the router distance issues. I know there are a few drawbacks to a web based timing, but the gains are worthwhile in the world of smartphones.Going to a true live timing via internet would avoid all the router distance issues. I know there are a few drawbacks to a web based timing, but the gains are worthwhile in the world of smartphones.
If you read Scott's post there should be no real problems with router distance in the future on the pad we use to SOLO on. Scott's only real concern was we might not reach out to the small lot where we will likely paddock for the MiDiv. We were using a low power, small, and old router for this first test day AND it was located inside the trailer, it still reached out 500+ feet. We have already ordered a higher powered Router and WiFi Access Point to whick we are looking to install external antenna, so the trailer no longer causes interference. I feel it is a bit premature to say the new WiFi signal won't reach the other small lot, we can test at Event #2. It could reach all the way to downtown Neosho with the new equipment :lol:


The BOD really is committed to testing and giving our best effort to make this WiFi solution work. Paul and I will hopefully get the new router/WiFi AP set up shortly, a quick instruction sheet on how to connect will come after.
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