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[SuperTimer II]
SuperTimer II
Pinewood Timer

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SuperTimer II Frequently Asked Questions

What is SuperTimer II?
SuperTimer II is a very smart self-contained timer that is accurate to .0001 seconds. It calculates the winning car and time, and the times and time differences for all the other cars. SuperTimer II "speaks" the results so everyone knows immediately what lane won and how fast. It also includes a complete solenoid operated remote starter so that each racer can be the starter. SuperTimer II can run alone without a computer as long as you do the scheduling and scoring. SuperTimer II can even run off of a car battery if you need to use it in a remote location. SuperTimer II will time from 1 to 6 lanes and is the only commercial timer that does not use optical sensors. See why we don't use optical sensors here.

Will SuperTimer II fit my track? I don't own SuperTrack.
Yes, since SuperTimer II does not put a 'bridge' over the finish line nor use optical sensors (which must be aligned) it doesn't care how wide or narrow your track or lanes are. All you need to decide is how many lanes and if you want the RaceManager option. What could be simpler?

Actually, let us answer that. The complete SuperTrack/SuperTimer/RaceManager package would be simpler.

When (or how fast) can I get SuperTimer II?
Now. We are currently shipping from stock for both SuperTimer and SuperTrack. While we typically have a one day turnaround, we can respond faster if you need it.

Why do you time to .0001 seconds? Do the cars really go that fast?
The average time on a "standard" track is roughly 2.5 seconds to cover about 30 feet. The cars don't go the whole track at the same speed, but at the finish line a good estimate is that they cover about 10 feet per second. That means they go about 1.2 inches in one hundredth of a second and one eighth of an inch in one thousandth of a second. So .001 (one thousandth) second is absolutely required, and for the truly fast cars .0001 is needed. No wonder human judges have so much trouble.

Can I build one of the do-it-yourself timers I see on the web?
The unspoken and mostly unknown problem with many of the 'low cost' do-it-yourself Pinewood Timers shown on various web sites is that they don't really meet the requirements of the Pinewood Derby. Even though some of them are in DOS, they don't implement software code to turn off the operating system interrupts and take full control of the computer. The result is that the time they give which may be quite precise (1.23456) will be quite inaccurate, +/- 0.02 or worse! Without going into a lot of the why, that inaccuracy means that two cars that are tied could be called to be winner and loser AND, two cars that are clearly winner and loser could be called tied. Not exactly a fair result.

Our original computer based systems, which required DOS, used clever code to take complete control of the computer with the result that we were able to achieve accuracy of +/0.00004 Unfortunately, in the many products that Bill calls 'Windows', the methods of achieving that control are varied (meaning we'd have to know your specific operating system or at the very least, detect it) and increasingly difficult. For good reasons Bill doesn't want us screwing around inside his system. (Not that Bill knows we exist.)

So we built our own small computer inside SuperTimer II and use the Windows computer, unmodified, to do what the computer does best, manipulate data.

What is the latest version of SuperTimer II?
The latest version of the SuperTimer II firmware (the code in the self-contained microcontroller in the timer only) is 4.01 for systems manufactured in 2009 and later. For earlier systems it is Rev 1.14, 2.14 or 3.14 depending on the SuperTimer II circuit board revision number (ie. 1.xx, 2.xx or 3.xx).

Can my current DOS system (not manufactured since 1999) be upgraded to SuperTimer II?
No. SuperTimer II is, of necessity, a completely new mechanical/electronic system. Think of it as the difference between a diesel and gasoline engine. They do the same thing using some similar parts but are quite different in how they do it. In SuperTimer II, only the start sensor is the same and it is wired differently. An "upgrade" for SuperTimer(DOS) to SuperTimer II requires the purchase of a completely new system. Please note that while the software is now Windows driven and completely re-written it implements virtually all of the previous features and some new ones. As of October, 2014 we still have at least one user of the original SuperTimer in DOS!

Will SuperTimer II timer work with other software?
SuperTimer II COULD work with other management software in a limited way. While all the features are not possible, SuperTimer II does send the results of each race out the serial port at 9600,N,8,1,no handshaking of any kind in an obvious format. Knowledgeable persons can use this information to retrieve the individual heat data for use by an alternative software management package. We do not provide further support of this feature.

When (or how fast) can I get SuperTimer II?
Now. We are currently shipping from stock for both SuperTimer and SuperTrack. While we typically have a one day turnaround, we can respond faster if you need it.

I looked at your prices and it seems like a lot of money for just a finish line!
One of our competitors tries to make the same point. They compare SuperTimer II to their system and show us as about $100 more expensive. Why is that?

Well, if you read carefully, their comparison is for a "4 lane timer, with minimum options." Their (minimum) system gives just order of finish with small flashing lights.

SuperTimer II gives order of finish, announces the results, gives the time of each finish and announces that if you wish. When you specify their limited visibility order of finish numbers OR their limited visibility option to show the times, their price is more than ours. Even more when you try to hook it to a computer, more for software, more for a start gate sensor......then you have to specify what track you're using.

SuperTimer II works on ANY track. PLUS, SuperTimer II includes a solenoid operated start gate so that the racer can start the race. AND, SuperTimer II uses solid state self-resetting finish sensors, not the optical systems of our competitors. Yes, I know they say they have no problem with their optical systems. And it may not appear that they do. But careful testing will show the problems are real. Click here to see why we don't use photo sensors.

It's still a lot of money for my pack. What can I do?
Here are three ideas:

Hold the Pinewood Derby on Saturday starting at 11AM and serve lunch, easiest fundraising you'll ever do.

Approach your local service clubs (Kiwanis, Rotary, etc.). They are often happy to buy capital equipment, especially for kids. Or talk to a car dealer, a local race track, the sponsor of a car at your local race track, etc. Racing and kids are a natural fit. Don't forget, SuperTimer II is going to last for many, many years. The cost per year is quite small. You may as well buy the best. Did I mention all the benefits of the RaceManager?

Make the parents "an offer they can't refuse." Ask them to judge the race or to contribute to a timer/manager fund!

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