Head Start

Building an RFID Race Timing System

September 06, 2021 Race Directors HQ Episode 13
Head Start
Building an RFID Race Timing System
Show Notes

Have you ever thought about timing your races yourself? Building your own RFID timing system? Perhaps even building a small race timing business on the side as a way to diversify your income?

Well, doing your own race timing is certainly not for everyone. For most race directors, managing their own race timing is the last thing they need on race day. Nevertheless, DIY race timing is exactly the route many race directors choose to go down, either to save money, try their hands at building a race timing side-business or simply for the enjoyment of building their own RFID timing system.

Today I’ll be talking to Brian Agee of Agee Race Timing, a man very well-known among DIY race timing enthusiasts not only for his very popular race timing software, but also for his willingness to share with others everything he’s learned building and operating DIY race timing.

Over the next hour or so, we’ll be touching on a few things with Brian, from choosing the right components for your race timing system to bringing everything together, setting up your system correctly, and avoiding some common race day pitfalls. 

In this episode:

  • What is an open hardware timing system and who is it suitable for
  • Pros and cons of open timing systems vs branded/proprietary systems (MYLAPS, Chronotrack, IPICO etc)
  • How proprietary systems use password-protected tags and what that means for the ongoing operating cost of your branded system.
  • The main components of a DIY timing system: reader, antennas, cables, tags, software
  • Mat antennas vs panel antennas
  • Passive vs active RFID tags
  • 2-port vs 4-port RFID readers
  • The cost of building a DIY RFID timing system
  • Chip starts/chip times: when you need them and when you don’t
  • Recommended RFID tag placement: bib tags vs shoe tags vs wrist tags
  • Double tagging: pros and cons of using two tags per runner
  • The cost of buying RFID tags
  • Making disposable tags reusable 
  • Programming/encoding your RFID tags
  • Inexpensive backup systems for your main RFID timing system: camcorders, capturing backup times manually, using secondary RFID systems

Thanks to GiveSignup|RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 22,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use GiveSignup|RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about GiveSignup|RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com, where you’ll also find a 5% discount from Atlas RFID Store for all your RFID timing equipment needs and a 15% discount from Agee Race Timing on timing software you can use with both your DIY and proprietary timing system.

If you are building and operating your own system, Race Timing Hub is our Facebook group dedicated just to race timing and building race timing systems, so come join that and people, including Brian, will be glad to help out with any questions you may have.