Timing Gates & RFID Tags

Our new electronic timing system

In 2013-14, Eastern Suburbs LAC, in partnership with The Scots College, bought a $13,000 wireless timing gate system to electronically time track events. In 2014-15, ESLAC extended its electronic timing capabilities by purchasing a second set electronic gates to be used on Straight B, on the eastern side of the track (furthest from the grandstand).

How does it work?

A wireless starting device is attached to the starter’s gun. When the starters gun is fired it triggers a sensor in the starting device which then sends a very accurate race start time signal to the timing computers.  The competitors run their race and reach the finish line by passing through the timing gates. Each gate consists of 1.5m tall tubes that are stable in winds of up to 70km/h, and house batteries, electronics and light sensors.

Between each gate, there are four invisible beams of light. Three beams need to be broken to register a competitor’s finish. As the competitor crosses the line, they break the light beams, at which point the gate wirelessly transmits an accurate race finish time back to the timing computer. It’s best if the competitor is completely upright when crossing the line to make sure they break all three beams in as short a time as possible i.e. lunging forward or thrusting out an arm as you cross the line, isn’t going to help!

Competitors are asked to stay in their lane order as they approach the finish line marshalling desk to have their RFID tags scanned. Scanning the athlete’s RFID tag automatically enters their name, registration number, lane number and race time into the computer system. Once the competitors and finish line marshal have checked results displayed on the finish line computer monitor, race results are instantly uploaded over a 4G mobile data connection to ResultsHQ, operated by the Melbourne Company, Timing Solutions, which offers hosted websites to Little Athletics clubs across the country.

With the rapid uploading of results, parents or athletes with a smartphone or tablet, can quickly see their child’s or their own results on the ESLAC website.

Overall, the electronic timing system is an exciting addition to the centre’s Friday night competition and offers athletes the ability to track their performance throughout the season.