Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Questions

How reliable is the wireless technology? Has it been proven?
Thousands of sets of the wireless electric eyes are already in use. The units perform well even with nearby cell phones and walkie-talkies. To ensure reliable operation, the timer console in the announcer's booth should have a clear line-of-sight view of the electric eye in the arena (the one with the antenna). Since the announcer's booth generally has a view of the electric eyes in the arena, this is rarely a problem. Animals and people in the arena blocking the line of sight are generally not a problem. Secondly, keep major electronic equipment (e.g. computers, computer monitors, the PA system, etc.) a few feet away from the timer console in the announcer's booth. (Top)
What is the maximum distance between the electric eye and the announcer's booth (the "radio range")?
The radio link will work reliably to about 300 feet. This assumes a clear line-of-sight from the antenna on the electric eye in the arena to the antenna on the timer console in the announcer's booth. For maximum distance, make sure the timer console in the announcer's booth is not hidden behind a ledge that blocks the antenna's view of the electric eye in the arena. It is also recommended that other electronic appliances (computers, monitors, PA system, etc.) be at least three feet from the timer console.

If using the timer for drag racing or similar events, placing the timing console half way down the track gives a total start to finish range of about 600 feet (300 feet from the starting eye to the timing console and 300 feet from the finish line eye to the timer console). If greater range is needed, please contact us. (Top)
What is the maximum distance between the electric eyes (the "optical range")?
The wireless electric eyes have an optical range (the distance between the two eyes) of about 200 feet. The range may be reduced somewhat if the photo-receiver is facing into a rising or setting sun. Maximum range can be maintained by making sure the photo-receiver (the unit with the antenna) has its back to an early morning or late afternoon sun. (Top)
Does sun affect the electric eyes?
A late afternoon or early morning sun shining directly into the face of the receiving electric eye can affect the maximum range between the eyes. Imagine driving West into a setting sun without a visor – it is difficult to see. The receiving electric eye (the one with the antenna) is much like your own eye and has to fight the same problem. The easiest solution is to simply swap the electric eyes so that the receiving electric eye has its back to the sun. If this is not possible, then just as shading your eyes with a visor helps you see the road, any sort of sun-shield on the electric eye helps the electric eye "see." Keep in mind that even when facing into the setting sun, you may not experience any problems unless you have a large distance between the electric eyes (e.g., over 125 feet). (Top)
How long do the batteries last?
The timer console runs about 50 to 60 hours on a fresh set of four AA alkaline batteries. Typically, this is enough for a couple months of use before the batteries need to be replaced. The timer gives a 1 to 2 hour warning that the battery is getting low. You can also check the percent of battery remaining at any time from the keypad on the console.

The electric eyes operate from a 9 volt alkaline battery (the little rectangular battery). The eyes will run 70 to 80 hours from a new battery. Typically, this is enough for several months of use before the batteries need to be replaced. The electric eyes give a 2 to 3 hour warning that the battery is getting low. This gives you plenty of advance notice so that during the next arena drag, class change, etc., you can change the battery. To make the system even more fool-proof, low battery warnings from the electric eyes in the arena are displayed on the timer console in the announcer's booth. (Top)
How many times does the timer save in its memory?
The timer console saves the most recent 100 results (including penalty information) in memory. The memory is cleared whenever the timer is powered off or a new event is chosen. (Top)
Can multiple electric eyes be set up to measure split times around and between barrels for training?
Yes, the Polaris timer can be used with up to four sets of wireless electric eyes to measure split times throughout the barrel pattern. In order to display and print results, the Polaris timer must be connected to a computer. Click here to see a typical arena setup for measuring barrel split times. (Top)
What exactly is the "PA Horn"?
The Polaris timer can play a recording of our external horn directly through your PA system (sound sytem). This way, you'll hear the horn sound come out over the speakers in your arena without actually having a physical horn. The timer connects to the back of your PA system with an audio cable just like you'd connect a CD or tape player to your PA system for background music. (Top)
What if I don't know what kind of PA system is used where I must use my timer?
If you are not sure if the PA system will have any available inputs, or where it will be located, then you may want to purchase the external horn. The external horn is a stand-alone buzzer that does not have to connect to a PA system. (Top)
What do I need to connect my timer to a computer?
The computer interface cable connects your timer console to a serial or USB port on your computer. Once the physical connection is made, software is required on your computer in order to process the time information from the timer. (Top)
Are the timers and electric eyes weatherproof?
No. The timer and electric eyes should not be left out in the weather. It is best to store them in a temperature and humidity controlled environment such as your house when not in use. If it is raining during an event and you wish to continue running, you can slip a thin plastic sandwich bag over each electric eye. You may want to snap a rubber band around the eye to keep the sandwich bag taught and smooth over the face of the electric eye where the beam exits and enters the eyes. The announcer's booth is generally dry for the timekeeper, but if not, slip the console into a plastic bag and continue operation.

The light curtains sold with our dog agility system are water resistant, however, when used in the rain, wipe off excess water before laying them in the carrying case or removing the batteries. Once home, remove the light curtains from the carrying case and let them sit out a few days in an air conditioned or heated environment. (Top)
What are the timers' accuracy specifications?
Timer Console Timebase
Timebase Reference: 10 Mhz temperature stable quartz crystal
Initial Tolerance: ±2 ppm at 25° C
Aging: ±1 ppm / year (can be nulled with re-calibration)
Temperature Drift: ±3 ppm typical 0° - 50°C (32° - 122°F)
±3 ppm maximum 0° - 50°C (32° - 122°F) available

Electric Eyes
Beam Modulation: Infrared carrier AM modulated at 2.22 Khz
Repeatability of Beam Break Position (effective beam width): Better than 0.1 inches (measured in sunlight conditions with target moving at 10 feet/second).

Wireless Link
In order to maximize radio performance in a congested radio environment, the photo-sensor repeats the beam break transmission a total of 70 times and splits that transmission across two different frequencies. To maintain timing accuracy, each repeat of the message includes timing information that specifies the instant of the original beam break accurate to +/-0.062ms. Each message also includes a 16 bit station identifier (unique for every photo-receiver ever shipped), a sequence number and a CRC to ensure data integrity.

A full discussion of timing system accuracy is far more in depth than an evaluation of the specifications presented here. In fact, much larger sources of timing error — all external to the timing system itself — occur at timed sporting events every day. With 30 years of experience in the development of electronic timing systems, we are well versed in all aspects of timing accuracy and appreciate the opportunity to answer any questions you may have. Please contact us at any time. (Top)
What size scoreboard do I need?
As a general rule of thumb, the 7 inch digit looks good to about 150-200 feet away and is good for informal events. For example, friends and family sitting in the bleachers directly across from the scoreboard which is on the opposite side of the arena. For greater distances, or if your arena has seating in more than one location, the 10 inch digit is preferable. For very large arenas with seating on three or four sides, paid admissions, etc., you may want to consider multiple scoreboards to provide better viewing from multiple locations. To help visualize the size of the scoreboards, click here to see the scoreboards next to each other and next to a standard 7 foot door frame. (Top)
Can I display a score or the time to beat on a scoreboard?
A second Polaris timer console can be used in the "Keypad" mode to enter a time or score for display on a scoreboard. This timer and scoreboard are independent of any timer and scoreboard being used for timing. With our computer to scoreboard adapter, you can connect a computer directly to any of our scoreboards and display the time to beat, scores, contestant numbers, etc. Contact us for details. (Top)
What is the warranty on your timing equipment?
All of our timing products come with a one year warranty on parts and labor. All repairs are performed at our facility in Wylie, Texas. (Top)