Race Report - The Dark Dart Dash

 Saturday evening was the biggest test of the equipment so far. Two hundred plus entries, many waves, and four distances. It's probably fair to say I had a fair few nerves going into this. Not on the hardware side, I'd done enough tests on that to be confident, but how easy was the software going to be to use in the field (spoiler - not very).

Here's the summary.

Good things
  • 100% reliability on hardware
  • All chips read without mis-scans
  • All data transferred correctly
Problems (and solutions)-
  • 4 chips were out of sequential order on the master reference sheet causing mixups - going to rescan everything
  • Web-side software was too complex meaning too long to implement changes - modifying this (easy job)
  • Used numerical, rather than plain text waves - will use plain text next time
  • The UID strings do not look correct - this a technical issue. Whilst the UIDs are reported in byte strings and are correct (and unique). - going to recode to carry out bytearray to hex conversions in the device, and relay the hex
  • Cannot check UID via phone as it reads it in hex - will be solved by the above
  • Runners couldn't see the scanners - 3x battery powered fairy lights and plastic signs
  • Wave start time takes time to enter - add press button start option

Or in other words, lots to do! I'm also keen for other organisers to give the system a go (other than the excellent Wild Running). If you want to use it, get in touch! However, on a more serious note, I'm wondering how much more (and indeed how much anyway) I can give to this and to timing alongside my normal job and family.


  1. Hi Tim, as a competitor in this event it seemed to go smoothly and highly successful. Totally appreciate how much time this must be taking up but it feels like the last mile (no pun intended) now. I can imagine the backend might be a different perspective. I keep meaning to spend some time looking at this project in more detail in a hope to help but fear my coding needs more work.

    1. Thanks Dave! I'm entirely self taught, probably took me ten times as long as a "proper" developer to do some of it. Next big piece of work will be porting to the new M2 form factor pycom devices. Should be more stable / more features in the long run. I'll keep you posted

  2. Hey Tim, i'm intrigued by this project and will take a look at github when i get a chance. I'm a web and software dev but in Javascript, SQL and C#, not Python (yet). Keep up the good work, if i can offer any assistance i'd be happy to help.

    1. Hi Marc, I'm entirely self taught (teacher in day job) so you will probably see bits that aren't quite right! Really appreciate the encouragement. At some point I would be keen to get your advice on the JSON structure of the HTTP post from the device gateway to Google sheets. It's an area I don't have much experience and have a "less than ideal" solution for at present


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