Sometimes the software will not read times from my timer.
When using timers, it is important to follow the sequence of operation from your owner's manual. This can be from doing something out of the prescribed order. You may end up with times that are extremely small or ones that are the maximum allowed.
Some timers will not send the results to the computer until all lanes have finished. If supported by your timer, you can press the Escape key on the keyboard for the software to prompt the timer to stop timing and send the heat results.
We do have tutorial videos that can help. Refer to the videos for Step 4 - Hardware Settings and the two serial port troubleshooting videos. The software's Help file also has a wealth of troubleshooting information, under the Troubleshooting section.
Can the Derby Timer brand timer interface with your software?
You can download the instructions on how to setup our software to interface with a Derby Timer brand timer.
Can the Timestopper timer interface with your software?
You can download the instructions on how to setup our software to interface with a Timestopper brand timer.
Can the Derby Magic timer interface with your software?
You can download the instructions on how to setup our software to interface with a Derby Magic timer.
Can the SuperTimer II interface with your software?
You can download the instructions on how to setup our software to interface with a SuperTimer II.
Where can I find Serial to USB Adapter Drivers?
The USB to Serial Adapters that we carry have the Prolific communications chipset in them. You can download the latest drivers from the Prolific website.
If you didn't purchase your adapter from our website, then the Prolific drivers may not for you. You can try these things:
- If you can determine who manufactured the adapter, check their website for the appropriate drivers.
- If you purchased the adapter from a timer manufacturer, check their website for the appropriate drivers.
- Besides Prolific, the other common maker of the communications chipset within these adapters is FTDI. You can try the drivers from the FTDI website, https://ftdichip.com/drivers/vcp-drivers/
The 'Ready Timer' button is disabled, so I cannot use our timer.
Make sure that you have setup and tested your timer in the Hardware Settings screen.
Can I use the software without a timer?
Yes, you can manually enter the results for each heat. On the Racing screen, click on the Manual Results button. Enter the results for the heat and click on the Save button.
I can't get the software to communicate with my timer.
The software's Help file has a wealth of troubleshooting information and tests, so check there if you are having problems with your timer communications. Go to Troubleshooting -> Serial Port Troubleshooting.
If it pertains to a USB to Serial Adapter, please also refer to http://www.derbytalk.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2454.
See also our instructional videos on Serial Port Communications Troubleshooting.
How do I stop the timing if a car doesn't finish?
If your timing system supports it, you can press the Escape key on your keyboard. If not, you may have to reset the start gate or wait for the timer to stop timing on its own.
How can I make a custom timer work with your software?
The software's Custom Serial Timer interface (Pro Version) does allow the software to work with several non-supported commercial timers or even DIY timers. If your timer is a commercial timer, but is not on the supported list, check our Downloads page to see if there are interface instructions for it. If you want your commercial timer to be added to the supported list, let the manufacturer of that timer know.
Below are the specifications for the custom timer interface.
• Baud/Data Bits/Parity/Stop Bits - Common communication parameters are 9600-8-N-1, but this can be configured if the protocol is different.
Below are the commands that are currently supported. The Reset Timer command is the minimum expected, the others are optional.
Start Gate Status:
• Start Gate Check - Command that the timer will accept to have it check if the start gate is open.
• Start Gate Open Response - The response back from the timer if the start gate is open. In some cases this is a simple '1' for open and '0' for closed or can be a letter or word.
• Timer Start Message - This is the message that the timer will send to the computer to indicate that the heat has started. Many timers do not have any message when the start gate drops.
• Reset Timer - Command intended to reset the timer's display and ready it for the next heat.
• Ready Response - Some timers may provide a response back to the computer, when they receive the Reset Timer command, acknowledging that command.
• Response Read Delay - This setting is only needed if a Ready Response is set; otherwise, it will be zero. This delay is usually the same as the Read Delay in the Miscellaneous section, but will depend on the amount of time needed by the timer to reset itself and then indicate that it is ready.
• Mask Command - This is the command for masking a particular lane, so the timer will ignore that lane for a heat. This command will be combined with the lane number (or letter), so the timer knows which particular lane(s) to mask.
• Remove all Masks - This command will tell the timer to clear all lane masks, so no lanes will be ignored.
Other Software Commands:
• Retrieve Data - This command is only used for timers that do not automatically send the results (the preferred method), but need to be "prompted" to send the results data. This is not needed for timers that automatically send the results once cars have finished.
• Force Data Send - This command is used if you want to halt the timing (e.g. a car doesn't finish or there is an empty lane). Pressing the Escape key will prompt the timer to return whatever data that it does have. In this case, any cars that had not finished will be given the maximum time possible. This command is not necessary if the timer sends the data for a lane as soon as the lane has finished timing. If the timer doesn't support this command, then you must wait until the timer times out before the results will be displayed on the Racing screen.
• Trigger Solenoid - This command is if the timer has the ability to trigger a solenoid start gate and will accept a software command to do so. Some timers may trigger a solenoid gate, but may not accept a software command to do so.
Note 1: For any of the commands above, if your timer requires a carriage return and/or line feed to be sent immediately after the command, then do the following. For a carriage return, add a "\r" (without the quotes) to the end of the command. For a line feed, add a "\n" (without the quotes) to the end of the command. For a carriage return + line feed, add a "\r\n" (without the quotes) to the end of the command.
Note 2: It is preferable that every command that the timer supports returns some type of acknowledgement. This is typically a carriage return + line feed, but can really be anything. It can also be helpful for the timer to provide some type of response for a command that it doesn't recognize, like a question mark.
• Read Delay - It may take your timer a little time to respond to a command or for your computer to notice that the timer has sent data to the serial port. While testing the timer, if you are not getting a response from the timer or an incomplete response, you can try increasing this delay a bit.
• Precision - This is the timer precision (the number of decimal places that the timer reports the times out to). It is preferable to have a timer with the timing precision between 0.001 and 0.0001 seconds. At lower precisions, you stand a greater chance of having ties. Higher precisions are more likely to show "noise" in the times.
• Max Time - The maximum time that the timer supports.
• Lane Labels - If the timer data displays the lane labels as either numbers or letters. This needs to be set correctly for lane masking to work properly.
• ASCII characters
• The lane number should precede the time for the lane.
• There should be either an equal sign or at least one space between the lane number and its time value.
• There should be at least one space (or a carriage return + line feed) to separate a lane number/time value pair.
• There should not be any alphabetic or special characters adjacent to the lane numbers or times.
• A time must be reported for each lane. For lanes that do not finish, a time of 9.9999 seconds (or whatever the timer's time out value is) can be reported. A time of 0.0000 seconds may also be used.
• Avoid including any other numbers besides lane numbers and times.
The data format can be as simple as:
3 2.8820 1 3.5109 4 3.5134 2 3.6202
or for better clarity:
3=2.8820 1=3.5109 4=3.5134 2=3.6202
or it can be as verbose as:
Ready to Start Race
Lane 3 3.2437 Win
Lane 5 3.6782 Place
Lane 1 3.6917 Show
Lane 2 3.8361
Lane 6 3.9216
Lane 4 3.9525
All communication is written to the HardwareDebug.log file, located in the "Documents\Lisano Enterprises\GrandPrix Race Manager" folder. This will show you the raw data received from the timer, the filtered data and then finally the times that were extracted.
For a Light Tree or Solenoid, what are the serial port pin assignments?
You can use either pin 4 or 7, with pin 5 being the ground connection. When the selected pin is activated, it goes to a positive voltage.
For a light tree, GrandPrix Race Manager will only provide a kick-off signal, and (optionally) an end of race signal. The light tree must be able to control the light sequence on its own.
For a solenoid, GrandPrix Race Manager will provide a trigger signal.
- You cannot use both a light tree and solenoid with the software, as the software has no idea when the lights hit green. However, your light tree may be able to trigger your solenoid.
- Not all light trees or solenoid gates can be triggered from a serial port. You would need to trigger those manually.
Can I use a USB port for my timer if my computer has no serial ports?
Yes. USB to Serial Adapters can be used when you do not have a regular 9 pin serial port on your computer to connect your serial timer to. These may be available from a local electronics store.
If you have a USB timer, the information below still applies since the timer essentially has a built-in adapter.
Note: We do have two serial port troubleshooting videos that can help you with a communications problem, if needed. The software's Help file also has a wealth of troubleshooting information. Make sure to refer to the Support section of the Help file if you need to do further troubleshooting.
- You MUST install the USB software driver that came with the adapter/timer. This will create a new COM port number that the software can then use. If it did not come with a software driver, check the manufacturer's website to see if you can download one.
- With some computers, you may need to always plug the adapter into the same USB port on the computer; otherwise, you may need to reinstall the USB driver to be able to use the adapter/timer on another port.
- Installing to another USB port may actually result in a different COM port number, so you may have to reconfigure the port in the Hardware Settings screen.
- Make sure that the USB adapter/timer is plugged in before you try to use GrandPrix Race Manager. If it is not plugged in, then you will not see the COM port number listed on the drop-down list of COM Ports in the Hardware Settings screen.
- If you are not sure of the COM port number that was created, then follow these steps:
- Disconnect the USB adapter/timer from the computer.
- Open the Hardware Settings screen.
- Check the drop-down list of COM Ports to see which are currently listed.
- Connect the USB adapter/timer to the computer.
- If the USB adapter/timer driver was successfully installed, you should notice a new COM Port number listed in the drop-down list. This is the port you should use.
- If you see no change in the listed COM ports, then the driver for the adapter/timer is not installed correctly.
Can I use a timer that is not listed in the Hardware Settings screen?
If your timer can communicate over a serial port, but is not one of the supported timers, you can try to use the custom timer interface (Pro Version). This, however, requires that you know the communication parameters of the timer and any software commands that the timer can receive. If this information is not in your timer owner's manual, you may need to contact the manufacturer or in the case of a DIY system, the person who built it.