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Jun 22, 2016, 08:25 PM
Tragic case
davidleitch's Avatar
We had an automated camera system for f5b at one stage. It worked well but not perfectly and the developer has left the hobby. Having to find some one to sit at base b is the biggest obstacle to practice in these disciplines. Maybe ok on contest day but when you just want to spend a few hours practicing say 2-3 times a week becomes difficult.
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Jun 26, 2016, 08:52 PM
Registered User
Geoff_S's Avatar
Originally Posted by davidleitch
We had an automated camera system for f5b at one stage. It worked well but not perfectly and the developer has left the hobby.
David, do you have any links to that system ? I recall reading some threads a few years ago, but can't find them now.
Jun 26, 2016, 11:14 PM
Registered User
SimonWatts's Avatar
Originally Posted by Geoff_S
David, do you have any links to that system ? I recall reading some threads a few years ago, but can't find them now.

Hi Geoff

Take a look at this thread:

Mike Rae here in Perth tested the camera system, discussed in the thread, a few years ago. He had mixed success. I was going to have a play, but never got around to it.

Jun 27, 2016, 09:13 PM
Registered User
I had my system, may still have it. During tests it worked well but in practice it was a pain. To setup base B I had to load a cart with a tripod, the camera, a laptop, an inverter, a battery for the inverter and the turnarounds.

Then on the first run it wouldn't beep, you had to stop on your way to get the line to find out the laptop crashed. Then something else would go wrong so it was too unreliable, cumbersome and time consuming for too little gain.

Simon's system just plain works and he gets things done at an amazing fast pace. I bet he is one of those insomniacs that work 24 hours a day.

Jun 28, 2016, 02:02 AM
Tragic case
davidleitch's Avatar
I agree with Glauco's comments. Quite a bit of equipment was needed at the field. The software (which was pretty sophisticated, the developer is a google engineer) still could be improved. That said the basics of an automated base b were in place and the software was pretty good at picking a fast moving- jet with just a Logitech standard camera.

I suspect if it was to be done commercially a dedicated piece of hardware, to run the software, would be developed including a camera. Still this is off the topic of this thread.
Jun 29, 2016, 02:09 PM
Detail Freak
target's Avatar
I also was impressed with the wireless base units at the SoCal F3F race.
There were a few minor hiccups, I hope that word made it back to you, Simon.
I assume either Tim figured it out after the fact or he may have relayed it back to you.

Base A "seemed like" a few times when the pilot went off course and back on in quick succession, that the "start" would delay until the pilot was about 1/2 way through the first leg towards Base B.
I was the first one on Base A, and it seemed like this possible glitch disappeared after a couple of planes. It seemed fine after that.
For all I know, I could have not been pressing the button positively or something...however, I think this could have happened later in the day to another guy there. Or, he could have also not been getting the button down positively, also. Hard to say.

I just wanted to make sure that this info got pushed forward, since earlier is always better if there are any changes to be made.

Thanks for this effort. No wires to deal with is awesome, as is seeing the flight time displayed at the bases.

Very Respectfully,
Jun 29, 2016, 03:26 PM
Team USA F3F Member
ttraver's Avatar

Yes, I outlined all of "our" issues we had after that first day of usage at our contest.

I have already got a new build of the software that takes care of a bunch of the issues.

I think our biggest issue was that the beep sound was actually getting overridden by the countdown voice, which made it seem like we didn't get the on course beep, when we actually did.

I did also bring up the delay in the off/on course when it was tight, and Simon says he had put that in there to make sure there wasn't a double press by accident, which would be just as bad...We are trying to figure out a happy medium.

We also got the font on the buttons to be larger and display the current status of the flight a lot better.

We also got the system to announce the time after the final beep.

Working on remote buttons that plug into the base units that are handheld and thumb only activated. Few glitches to work out with those.

So, development is coming along nicely for sure...

Simon is doing a great job, and its a pleasure working with him.


P.S. - If any of you that have them want to know, the teensy loader is also available for Macintosh, so you don't have to have a windows machine to push new code to the devices.
Jun 29, 2016, 06:35 PM
Detail Freak
target's Avatar
I figured you'd be all over it, Tim. Just making sure since I'm almost never on rcg anymore.
Jun 29, 2016, 08:56 PM
David Olson's Avatar
Thread OP
I thought I would post some items that I have bought to compliment Simon's system. I have spent considerable time researching these items so thought I would share.......

I mount the speaker up on a short tripod to get it up off the ground and pointed at the pilot. That really helps the pilot hear the announcements and beeps. The speaker is waterproof and rubber encased, pretty bulletproof, just what we need. Difficult to find a portable speaker with a tripod mount.

Simon does all the hard work, he is very receptive of ideas and incorporates them into the firmware very quickly. Glauco doesn't think Simon sleeps much:-)

Tim, I did use the Teensy Mac uploader version a few weeks ago, it does work great, I was glad to see that when I logged on.
Jun 30, 2016, 11:00 AM
Registered User
concreteman's Avatar
all cool stuff, and even cooler is that the system is evolving to suit our tastes, which is way beneficial for all. I appreciate the efforts.
Jul 03, 2016, 09:43 AM
Dave Freund's Avatar
Although we had some issues with the remote buttons at Grass, the updates were quite effective. The beeps are more confident now. The verbal stuff is better ordered and the run time announcement is great.
It is a pleasure to use this system.
I'm really looking forward to the day when the data goes straight into the vault, real time, including lap times.
Thanks Simon, and Tim for your well thought out efforts.
Jul 03, 2016, 12:37 PM
Registered User
concreteman's Avatar
Agreed with DF, love the system, keeps getting better. Well done guys, much appreciated!
Jul 04, 2016, 03:58 PM
F3B and F3K
RetoF3X's Avatar
Thomas and I practiced speed this weekend and used Simon's system for timing.

It proved to be very useful for practice too. In the past when we used walkie talkies we just went on and flew each runs in rapid succession. Now having the four minute and one minute countdown, we can practice also reading air and timing entry if there is a thermal.

Plus having the times for each individual lap is very helpful. It shows if you dived too much for entry, banged a turn too hard etc.

Very helpful device.

Latest blog entry: thoughts on contest flying
Jul 05, 2016, 02:46 PM
David Olson's Avatar
Thread OP
It took some time poking around on line but I have a couple new hand held buttons to test out. They are made for "game shows" and seem perfect for us. I ordered 2 of the 15 foot versions to test. I asked them if the buttons "click", they don't but our current buttons we use on our old system don't either and they have been just fine for years.

Also I will test out Glauco's idea about extending just the antennae instead of the entire hand held base box.
Jul 12, 2016, 11:53 AM
David Olson's Avatar
Thread OP
We used Simon's new system on the Sonoma Coast last Sunday for a USA F3F Team Practice Session.

I really like the small size of the new timing system.

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