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2 x 2 Standard 2" x 2" wooden stake used for mounting photocells for (primarily) ski racing, from the most basic citizens race all the way up to the Olympic Games. These are used because of their rigidity as well as their ability to shear at ground level if hit hard enough by a falling athlete (posts should be scored at ground level using a hand saw to ensure a safe shear factor). NEVER use 2 x 4's for photocell posts as they will cause major injury to an athlete that hits them. PST makes sliding photocell mounts designed specifically for attaching photocells to a 2 x 2.  
4 x 4 Standard 4" x 4" wooden post used for start gates in ski racing. Most electronic startgate devices are designed to easily fasten to this form factor.  
AC Alternating Current. Form of electrical current normally associated with 110 volt house current. Opposite of DC (direct current), commonly associated with battery power.  
ALPHANUMERIC A type of scoreboard character that allows for the display of both numbers and letters, as opposed to 7-segment characters that can only display numbers.  
AMP An electrical expression defined by Current X Voltage, better known as the "flow" of the circuit. In common terms, Amps are what kill people in accidents, not voltage. See also Volt, Watt.  
AMPHENOL (AMP) Type of electrical connector manufactured by Amphenol Corp. In Alge & PST products this is the large screw-down connector for GAz displays & PST scoreboards.
BANANA (plug) Standard connector used in sports timing applications because of its robustness and positive connection. ALGE & Phoenix Sports employ banana plugs and sockets made in Germany by Hirschmann. Phoenix also recommends banana plugs manufactured by Pomona.
BEAM Synonym for Photocell.
BUFFER Non-volatile memory contained in some timers & printers. Allows storage of received information until requested by the user at a later time (to conserve paper, etc). NOTE: buffer memory is normally erased when the timer or printer is turned off, and cannot be retrieved.  
BUTTON Type of actuator normally used for hand timing operations.  
CABLE Wire that interconnects timing hardware; often employs banana plugs.  
CELL Synonym for Photocell.
CHANNEL Dedicated pathway for a timing impulse from a sensor such as a photocell, button, gate, etc. One dedicated channel is required for each separate piece of data collected. The more channels your timer supports, the more flexible and powerful it is.  
CONDUCTOR A single strand of wire. Useless on its own; all connections require at least two conductors.  
CONNECTOR The "interface" between cable and timing hardware. See also banana plug.
CRYSTAL The heart of modern timekeeping devices, this is the quartz oscillator that controls the accuracy of a timer. High-quality timing devices contain Temperature-Compensated Quartz Crystals (TCXO) that provide highly accurate timing in great temperature extremes.
DC Direct Current. Opposite of AC. Normally associated with battery power, but dangerous nonetheless.  
DIGIT A single character in a scoreboard or display. May be alphanumeric or seven-segment.
DIN (connector) Specialized multi-pin data connector used in many Alge & PST products. DIN connectors allow many different wiring configurations using the various pins within the connector. ALGE and Phoenix Sports use metal DIN connectors made by Deltron in the UK, though Radio Shack stocks most styles in less durable plastic shells.
EET Equivalent Electronic Time. A hand timing formula/technique employed at high-level competitions as a means of ensuring the highest possible hand timing accuracy in the event of total system failure.  
ELECTROMAGNETIC Very efficient means of controlling electromechanical display characters. Each moving part of the character contains a magnet, that upon command receives an electrical charge that either attracts or repels the magnet to or from its base, causing it to move.  
ELECTROMECHANICAL Moving display characters, normally controlled by electromagnetic pulses.  
EYES Synonym for Photocell, Beam, Cell.
FEMALE (connector) Associated with male connector.
FIREWIRE A high speed communications protocol officially known as IEEE-1394; also known as iLink in Sony products. Firewire is the protocol used in the Alge digital photofinish system.  
FIS Federation International de Ski. World governing body for ski & snowboard competition.
FULL MATRIX A term referring to a scoreboard's capability to employ & display full-size bitmaps such as logos and other graphics in addition to letters and numbers.  
GATE (start gate) Used to trigger impulses in ski racing and other sports. Not to be confused with wand, which is the actuator that screws into the gate and is contacted by the athlete.
GLOWCUBE Proprietary electromagnetic scoreboard display character manufactured by Daktronics Inc.  
GUAGE Used to differentiate between various thicknesses of wire used in sports timing. The higher the number, the thinner the wire. Common phone wire used for sports timing is usually 18 or 22 guage.  
HAND TIMING Most major timed sports events still require that hand timing be present as a safety precaution against equipment failure or incompetence. Usually performed using simple stopwatches, but increasingly with more advanced handheld devices such as Alge Comets.
HOMOLOGATION A term used to officially recognize a facility or piece of equipment as "approved for use", ranging from a ski trail to a timing device.  
HOMOLOGATED TIMER To ensure accuracy under all conditions, most sport governing bodies require the use of homologated timers within their events. Despite this, many timing contractors still use illegal equipment that can render a result null and void if protested. All Alge timers are officially homologated.
IEEE-1394 High speed communications protocol employed by Alge OPTIc Photofinish for transfer of high-bandwidth data such as digital video. See also Firewire, iLink.
iLINK Sony proprietary branding for IEEE-1394 & Firewire, but the same thing nonetheless, regardless of what Sony says.
IMPULSE A signal as received or sent by a timing device. See also Split.  
INPUT A receptacle on a timer or other device that allows for the connection of peripheral devices. See also Output.  
INTERFACE A broad term representing anything from the onscreen layout of a software application, to a type of cable used to drive a scoreboard from a timer or computer (Interface Cable).  
INTERMEDIATE A timing location other than the Start or Finish, normally used in ski racing, motorsports, and other sports where sectional information is useful. Requires a separate dedicated timing channel.  
INTERVAL See Intermediate.  
JACK Normally a "banana jack" when applied to timing; a single plug that connects multiple devices.
LCD Liquid Crystal Display.  
LED Light Emitting Diode.  
LIGHTS (timing) Annoying synonym for Photocell, Beam, Cell.
LIon Lithium Ion batteries are primarily used for notebook computers and high end cellphones. Great performance but most expensive of all rechargeables. Must be recycled. See also NiCAD, NiMH.  
MALE (connector) Universal reference to insertion-type connectors; the receiving end is known as the Female end.
MEMORY Also known as RAM (Random Access Memory). Not to be confused with hard disk space. Memory is used to buffer data temporarily. Hard disk space is used to store data permanently.  
NET TIME The result of subtracting a Time Of Day start split from a Time Of Day finish split, effectively yielding the competitor's actual time on course.  
NiCAD Nickel-Cadmium battery. Low-cost Rechargeable battery that must be fully cycled to obtain best
performance. Timers should be allowed to drain completely every month and then be charged back up again to prevent "memory effect". Must be recycled. See also LIon, NiMH.
NiMH Nickel Metal Hydride battery. Newer style of rechargeable battery that has less "memory effect" problems. These tend to discharge faster in cold conditions and are not used as much for timing devices as they are for cellphones. Must be recycled. See also NiCAD, LIon.  
OHM See also Resistance. An electrical term that effectively measures the distance to a short in a wire pair, also known as Resistance. As an example, the resistance between the start & finish of the 2002 Olympic Men's Downhill at Snowbasin UT was 220 Ohms, over a distance of approx. 2 miles of 22-guage solid-core wire. Any measurement over 500 Ohms or so should be considered worrisome as it may indicate a bad splice in the timing cable.  
OPTOCOUPLER A type of connector that removes any risk of ground fault or other disruption. Normally installed just upstream of the timers, these devices optically isolate (filter) everything but actual timing impulses. A type of firewall for your timing system.  
OSCILLATOR The heart of modern quartz timers. The quartz crystal oscillates at a specific frequency, yielding a highly accurate timebase. The best timers employ Temperature-Compensated Crystals (TCXO), which function accurately in extreme weather conditions.  
OUTPUT A receptacle on a timer or other device that allows for the outbound connection of peripheral devices. See also Input.  
PHOTOCELL See also Beam, Cell. Infrared devices that collect data from the course or track, sending instantaneous impulses to the timers.
PHOTOFINISH (digital) Alge OPTIc optical timing system that employs a networked PC system and digital image capture technology to create near realtime images of finish line activity including times to the 1/1000. See also FinishLynx
PHOTOFINISH (analog) The earliest form of photofinish equipment, employing a slit camera with an embedded timing scale on the film. These systems employ special film and require on-the-spot processing using a nasty chemical soup. Scary.  
PLUG Type of connector, commonly known as "banana plug" in the timing industry.
POLARITY An electrical term expressed as negative or positive. Certain components of modern timing systems are polarity-sensitive while others such as communication subsystems are not.  
RESISTANCE See also Ohms. An electrical term used to describe the distance to a dead short on a wire pair.  
RS232 A generic serial communications protocol commonly used to exchange data over short distances between different devices. Very robust but only to about 50 feet in distance without amplification or line loss. See also RS422, RS485.  
RS422 A generic serial communications protocol commonly used to exchange data over long distances between different devices. Less robust than RS232, but employing balanced pairs rather than single conductors as in RS232, meaning they are far more tolerant of a "dirty connection". See also RS232, RS485  
RS485 A generic serial communications protocol commonly used to exchange data over long distances between different devices. Less robust than RS232, but employing balanced pairs rather than single conductors as in RS232, meaning they are far more tolerant of a "dirty connection". See also RS232, RS422.  
SENSOR See also Photocell, Beam, Cell.
SEVEN-SEGMENT A type of display digit composed of 7 individual vanes that only allows for the display of numbers.
SOLID-CORE A type of wire typically used for Telco applications such as telephone systems. Commonly used for timing cable because of its low cost and ease of use.  
SPLIT See also Impulse. A split is the time that is recorded (and hopefully printed) when an impulse is received.  
START GATE Most commonly used in ski racing, the Start Gate is hardwired to the timing system and generates an impulse when it is opened by a competitor. See also Wand.
STRANDED See also Solid-core. Stranded wire is more expensive to deploy but is more robust that solid-core copper.  
TELCO Common abbreviation for Telephone Company; usually refers to Telco-type wire or the guy who installs it (a.k.a. "The Wire Guy"). Usually refers to solid-core 22- or 24-guage copper wire.  
See also Oscillator, Crystal. The beating heart of modern high-quality timers.  
THERMAL PRINTER Type of printer that employs thermal paper, eliminating the need for ink cartridges or other consumables. Effective in extreme weather conditions and therefore suitable for sports timing applications. Both Alge & Seiko make high-quality thermal printers, both of which are sold by PST.
TIME OF DAY (TOD) The most commonly employed method of sports timing, whereby a start and finish impulse each generates a time-of-day split. The timer does the math and generates an actual time on course. Time of day splits, duly recorded on a printing device, means that times can never be lost due to timer or other failure.  
TONER Handy Telco tool for wire diagnosis. The toner is a small battery powered audio tone-generating device that clips onto a pair of wires. Using a separate induction tester the technician then listens for the tone as he moves along the cabling. The induction tester picks up the tone from outside the wire bundle and then allows you to home in on the exact pair you're looking for. A optional telco headset lets you hear the actual tone on each side of the pair (tip and ring). Toners & induction testers are normally sold together at places like Home Depot for around $75. A must-have for advanced wire diagnosis or facilities where you know the wire pairs exist but you can't seem to find them!  
TWISTED PAIR See also Stranded, solid-core. A type of electrical wire.  
USB Universal Serial Bus, a modern alternative to the ubiquitous RS-232 port. Some new timers such as Alge's Timy support USB as a simplified method of connectivity.
VOLT An expression that represents the electrical "pressure" in a circuit, quite different from the "flow" as represented by Amps. See also Amp, Watt.  
WAND Often confused with Start Gate, the wand is the actual stick that screws into the start gate.
WATT An electrical expression that represents Amps X Voltage. Normally used in AC circuits to denote the total power required in a system. See also Amps, Voltage.  
WIRELESS A means of timing using radio frequency transmitters/receivers, whereby the start gate and/or finish line are hard wired into radio transmitters that transmit timing impulses. The FIS currently allows the use of wireless systems as a backup only. An example of high-quality wireless systems is Alge's TED system, sold by PST.