How to Synchronize FIS Timing Devices

At FIS races, it is required that all timing devices be precisely synchronized so they have the exact same running time of day. Historically, for Summit Timers, the synchronization was achieved wirelessly via the ServerBox sync function. But wireless synchronization (which can be a few 1/1000 apart due to radio messaging) is not accurate enough now that FIS requires the higher 1/10,000 second precision. FIS also requires synchronization of all other timing devices to the same time base and previously there was a slight difference between the GPS time on the GoChip activators compared to the Summit time that came via syncing the NTP time on the ServerBox.

Sync Activator & Sync Cable

To solve this synchronization challenge, Zone4 developed a special version of our GoChip Activator that utilizes the GPS signal to output 1 pulse per minute at exactly 00.0000 every minute. This standardizes all devices on-site to the GPS time of the GoChip activators and allows high precision resynchronization if necessary. Sync Activators are denoted with a Yellow rubber bumper and utilize a special Sync-Cable which is included with the Sync Activator purchase/upgrade price. The Sync Activators are functionally the same as standard activators so it can be used as a regular timing point activator after is has served it’s role as sync device before the race. Clubs wishing to upgrade one of their activators for this role can include one in their shipment of Summits for upgrade. Sync activators and cables can also be rented per weekend.

Pre-Setup

Before race day, it is critical that your Server Box have the correct time zone set in order for the server to correctly interpret the times coming from the summits. On your serverbox login home screen click “Manage Serverbox”

Then from the “Summit Time Zone” drop down choose the correct time zone. Note this only needs to be set once after a server is first provisioned but if it’s incorrect or blank, your summit times will not appear the same on your computer as on the device. Just as it’s critical set the time zone on the server, it’s also critical that your laptop used for viewing the race file is also set to the correct time zone4 in order to see the times correctly.

Once these are set, you are now ready to perform the syncronization procedure using the sync activator.

Synchronizing Summits

Here is the procedure for synchronizing Summit Timers. Note that the sync cable has only 4 triggers which are for the 4 primary SRT2000 A and B timers. You would repeat the following procedure to synchronize another set of 4 backup timers at a subsequent minute.

  1. Turn on the special Sync Activator and wait until is has a SOLID green SYNC LED.
  2. Plug the mono-audio jacks into the channel 1 port of the 4 SRT2000 Timers, but do NOT plug the Sync Cable into the Sync Activator yet.
  3. Open a Clock app on any cell phone so you can keep track of the current time AND seconds.
  4. Hit Ctrl+5 on each Summit. It will ask: “Are you sure you want to resync the timer?” Hit Yes.
  5. Enter the current time-of-day 1-2 minutes in the future into the Summit and make sure the time is at 00 seconds. So in the example above, if the current time on your cell phone is 11:12:30, input a time into the summit of 11:14:00 and hit Enter.
  6. The Summit display will then read: Sync: 11:14:00 Hit Impulse or any Switch
  7. Repeat this for the other 3 Summits. Because this takes abut 15 seconds per summit, pick a sync time in the future that gives you enough time to do all 4 without rushing.
  8. Once the time on the phone clock passes 11:13:00 you are into your sync window and you know that the next trigger from the Sync Activator will be the one you want at 11:14:00 so it’s now safe to plug in the Sync Cable to the Sync Activator. You only have a one-minute window to do this because if you plug the cable in before 11:13:00, you will get a trigger at 11:13 :00 but your Summit time is set to start at 11:14 so your time would be off by 1 minute which would be disastrous. This is why you cannot have the Sync Cable connected to the Sync Activator till AFTER all the Summits are set and you are within the specified 1-minute window before the sync time.
  9. Now that your time is set on all summits and your sync cable is connected, wait until the clock reaches 11:14:00. When the activator’s GPS reaches that next minute it triggers an impulse and starts the clock on the summits at the prescribed sync time. You will hear all 4 Summits Beep and the sync time is displayed on the bottom line with the new running time on the top line. In the example below 2 Summits were synced at 11:14:00.0000 and the photo was taken 23 seconds later.

Remember, the most critical thing to understand is that the sync activator sends just a single switch closure via the sync cable. On Sync Activators, that switch closure/trigger/impulse happens automatically every minute regardless of what is connected or if you are ready yet. So if you enter a sync time too far in future, be sure not to plug in the Sync Cable too soon or else it will trigger on an earlier minute.

Completing the FIS Timing Report Synchronization

Note, the FIS Timing Report application can be downloaded here: https://www.fis-ski.com/en/inside-fis/document-library/timing-data

After synchronization, leave the Sync Cable attached to the Sync Activator and Summits. At the next minute (and every minute after) it will trigger the same switch closure/impulse that can be used to fill in the Synchronization section of the FIS Timing Report app. In the example above, the Synchronization time was 11:14:00 and the Synchronization confirmation was 14:14:59.9999 on both A and B timers. It could be 14:15:0000 too, as some tolerance is allowed by FIS for jitter and lag. The key is that the A and B timers have times that differ from EACH OTHER of no more than 1/1000 second.

Synchronization of Alge Start Clock

The Alge start clock and other clocks can be synchronized at the same time as the summits, or at a later minute as the GPS inside the activator ensures that all devices are aligned with GPS time.

  1. Start by plugging in the green and black banana cables of the Sync Cable into the top 2 banana jacks on the Alge labelled Start Input. Ensure you have UNPLUGGING Sync Cable from the activator
  2. Turn on the Alge clock.
  3. The display initially says “Store: Yes/No.” Hit the BLACK button to continue.
  4. The sync time with the hours digit starts flashing.
  5. Use the BLACK button to advance the cursor between the digits and use the GREEN button to change the value of the digits. Just like the Summits, choose a time 1-2minutes in the future ending in 00 seconds.
  6. Don’t hit any buttons for 10 seconds and the display will lock in your sync time and start flashing SYNC.
  7. Plug in the Sync Cable to the activator after and wait till your phone reaches the next minute and just like the summits, the Alge’s time of day clock will start at exactly the specified time.
  8. Disconnect the Sync Cable immediately as the ALGE can get weird if you keep sending it pulses on the Start Input jacks.
  9. Once the clock has started, the Alge display will show: Progra: 05 This is the program you want, if it’s not 05, use the GREEN button to cycle through the programs. Hit the BLACK button to accept when on 05.

Changing Alge Start Clock start interval

  1. To change the mode between 15 and 30 seconds during the race, wait until the clock goes to the next 00 seconds and hit the BLACK button. It will display “Cd 5 – 0:30” ff you are currently doing 30 second starts. Use the GREEN button to advance the mode to the next level and it will cycle around to 0:15. Hit the BLACK button to accept the change. Note this change MUST be completed within 15 seconds (or the next starter time triggers) or else the Alge can get caught into a mode whereby the red numbers are counting down starting at the wrong time (it a started going every 30 seconds at 15 and 45 seconds instead of the intended 0 and 30 seconds.

Proving Alge Time syncronization

Although not necessary, if you want to prove that the Alge start clock is in sync with summits, you can plug a regular start wand/photocell cable between the Alge and a Summit timer.

  1. Connect the banana plugs on the cable to the white Relay Out banana jacks on the Alge.
  2. Connect the mono plug to the Summit.
  3. Wait till the next start counts down on the Alge and at the 0 it will trigger a time impulse on the Summit.
  4. If everything is synced properly, it should trigger very close to the scheduled start time.
Updated on 2022-12-16

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