Loading... Please wait...

Selecting the Right Equipment

 

This is part 2 of 5 in our Mastering Race Timing Series.

Find more information on Race Timing in the following guides:

 

A Guide to Building Your Own Race Timing System (Part 1)

Choosing the Right RFID Tags (Part 3)

How to Properly Tag Racers (Part 4)

A Guide to Race Day (Part 5)

 

INTRODUCTION

This guide will help individuals interested in using RFID for race timing select the right RFID equipment. The type and amount of RFID equipment needed depends on the number of participants you are planning to time per race.

In order to decide which equipment is right for your race, you need to know the number of participants. A general breakdown of system complexity is based on the number of participants in the race. One additional antenna per 100 participants is a general rule of thumb when determining the correct system . As always, we recommend thorough testing to ensure your system is able to perform at the level that you require. Check out this eBook to decide what level best suits your needs.

BASIC EQUIPMENT

The basic RFID hardware for a race timing system includes readers, antennas, and cables.

READERS - The two types of readers typically used in race timing systems are fixed readers and USB readers.

FIXED READERS - A fixed reader is the brain of an RFID race timing system.The number of antennas used per race directly determines the number of antenna ports needed on the reader.When choosing a reader based on the number of antenna ports,there are three options: 2-port readers, 4-port readers, and 8-port readers.

EXAMPLES - Impinj Speedway R220, ThingMagic M6, Zebra FX9500 8-port Reader

USB READERS – Using a USB reader is very common in race timing, specifically for reading and writing tags in preparation for race day. Encoding tags with a USB reader is fast, easy, and efficient.

EXAMPLES - ThingMagic USB Plus Reader


ANTENNAS - The two types of antennas used in race timing systems are panel antennas and mat antennas. The difference between panel and mat antennas is in the mounting style, which will affect the angle at which tags are read.

When choosing an antenna,remember that there are two distinct types of polarization: circular polarization and linear polarization.To read more about how to distinguish which antenna fits your race, read our blog post Circular Polarization vs. Linear Polarization: Which is the Right RFID Antenna.

PANEL ANTENNAS - Panel antennas are mounted on either side of the course, at or around checkpoints and finish lines. Panel antennas will need mounting brackets, as well as tripods or truss systems in order to ensure proper read angles and placement.

EXAMPLES - MTI MT-262006, RFMax S9028PCR, RFMax S9025PR

MAT ANTENNAS - Mat antennas,a type of ground antenna, lay on the ground for the participant to run or walk over to capture the read. Mat antennas do not need any mounting equipment,however,foam mats or tape to cover the cables running to the readers is a useful safety precaution.

EXAMPLES - Times-7 RFID Race Timing Antennas, Times-7 A6590C Indoor Antenna, Impinj Threshold Indoor Antenna


CABLES - Choosing an antenna cable that works well with your race timing system is crucial for accurate read rates. There are four variables in selecting a cable: length, insulation rating, connector 1 type, and connector 2 type.

LENGTH - The length of the antenna cables will be determined by the race environment.Before choosing a length, have an estimated measurement of how far the cable must run between the antenna and the reader.A more accurate estimate will be advantageous because the longer the cable, the more power loss you will experience. To read more about cable loss,read our blog post RFID Antenna Cables: Achieving the Highest Performance Possible.

INSULATION RATING - The three main insulation ratings are 195 series, 240 series, and 400 series. A higher insulation rating translates to less power loss over the length of the cable, but it also means a thicker cable. For example, a 195 series insulated cable is thinner, more pliable, and easy to use versus a 400 series insulated cable.

CONNECTOR TYPE - Either side of the antenna cable will terminate in a connector. There are six different connector types typically used – SMA Male, SMA Female, RP-TNC Male, RP-TNC Female, N-Type Male, and N-Type Female. To determine which connectors you need, check what the reader and antenna(s) termination points and purchase the corresponding type.

EXAMPLE - If your system uses an Impinj Speedway R420 which terminates in an RP-TNC Female connector and your antenna is the MTI MT-262006 terminating in an RP-TNC Female connector, you will need an RP-TNC Male to RP-TNC Male cable.

LEVEL 1 SYSTEM - PER READ ZONE

  • 1 x Two-Port Reader
  • 2 x Mat or Panel Antennas
  • 2 x Cables
  • 2 x Mounting Brackets (Panel Antennas only)

This setup is typically recommended for new race timers. A two-port reader works well for races with a range of 50-200 participants. The main disadvantage of using a two-port reader is that only two antennas can be connected, which makes it difficult to expand your system in the future.

Depending on how you would like to tag the participants, either two mat antennas or two panel antennas are ideal in this setup. Mat antennas are more expensive, but keep in mind that the panel antennas will require mounting options and tripods or trusses. A 6-foot read zone is recommended with a level one system to ensure all tags are read. Also, typically with this system, you are able to read about 1 tag/runner per 2 seconds (general estimate). For a busier finish line, check out Levels 2-4. To learn more about tagging methods, read the fourth eBook in our Race Timing Series, How to Properly Tag Racers.

LEVEL 2 SYSTEM - PER READ ZONE

  • 1 x Four-Port Reader
  • 4 x Mat or Panel Antennas
  • 4 x Cables
  • 4 x Mounting Brackets (Panel Antennas only)

The level 2 system hinges on the use of four antennas, and therefore must have a reader with at least four antenna ports.If you currently have a two-port reader,it is recommended that you purchase a four-port reader to ensure you have room to expand.

For a race with 200-400 participants, a level 2 system will work with either panel antennas, mat antennas,or a combination of both depending on your tagging method.A 6-foot read zone is recommended with a level 2 system to ensure all tags are read. Also, typically with this system, you are able to read about 2 tags/runners per second (general estimate) . To learn more about tagging methods, read the 4th eBook in our Race Timing Series, How to Properly Tag Racers.

LEVEL 3 SYSTEM - PER READ ZONE

  • 2 x Four-Port Readers
  • 6-8 x Mat or Panel Antennas
  • 6-8 x Cables
  • 6-8 x Mounting Brackets (Panel Antennas only)

When your participant level rises above 400, it is time to purchase a second reader if you haven’t already. Whether you want to start with a level 3 system, or are just upgrading your current system, this system is meant for a 400-800 participant race.

Like the previous levels, mat antennas, panel antennas, or a combination of both can be used with this system depending on your tagging method. A 10-foot read zone is recommended with a level 3 system to ensure all tags are read. Also, typically with this system, you are able to read about 5 tags/runners per second (general estimate). For more information about tagging methods, read the 4th eBook in our Race Timing Series, How to Properly Tag Racers.

LEVEL 4 SYSTEM - PER READ ZONE

  • 3 x Four-Port Readers
  • 10-12 x Mat or Panel Antennas
  • 10-12 x Cables
  • 10-12 x Mounting Brackets (Panel Antennas only)

A level 4 system is for race timers that are very familiar with the industry and can handle a large, complex read zone requiring three or more four-port readers. If you are beginning with this level, you should complete all the necessary testing and planning to make this venture worth-while.

The average participant level for a level 4 race is 1,000+ participants.Like the previous systems, mat antennas, panel antennas, or a combination of both can be used for a level 4 system. A 12-foot read zone is recommended with a level 4 system to ensure all tags are read. Also, typically with this system, you are able to read about 20 tags/runners per second (general estimate)

For more information about tagging methods, read the 4th eBook in our Race Timing Series, How to Properly Tag Racers.


Want to learn more about race timing?

You just completed the second guide in our Mastering Race Timing series. Read the next whitepaper in our series, Choosing the Right RFID Tags.

   

Posted


comments powered by Disqus
Have a question about RFID? Contact us.
New to RFID? Start Here.

 

Newsletter

Copyright 2018 atlasRFIDstore. All Rights Reserved.

2014 Morris Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35203