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  • Alternatives to Trackmate

    I installed Trackmate's race management system on my 1/32nd scale track last year, prior to hosting my first IHSR racing event. It performed well both at that event and my second race in November 2021. But during my most recent event, in March of this year, it glitched. We had to restart the first race three times due to lap counting issues.

    In prior years I have used a venerable TrikTrax lap counter for the races I have hosted. It proved utterly reliable, and frankly I was both appalled and somewhat amused by the hiccups of computer-based race management systems at other racing events I attended. It seemed like every other race I attended was marred by a race management issue. All of which, to be fair, got resolved after a period of frustrating troubleshooting. But I came away suspecting that computer-based race management systems in general were not ready for prime-time. And I was confounded by the fact that Trackmate, one of the worst offenders, continued to have issues after gawd-knows how many releases and 'upgrades'.

    So it was with considerable trepidation I decided to install Trackmate on my track. I did that knowing that it was the system most of my racing buddies used. It was my hope that, if should have an issue with it I could fall back on the experience of others to help resolve a problem on race day.

    To my relief, installing Trackmate was relatively straightforward, and it started up without issues. Better yet, on the first two race days it behaved itself.

    And, again to be fair, when it did glitch at that third race event, my fall-back plan worked out. One of my attendees who used Trackmate at their own track was able to jump in and wrangle it back into functionality.

    But that experience has left me feeling distrustful of Trackmate. Again.

    I have heard that there are other race management programs available that work with the Trackmate hardware. And I have heard that some folks have had better experiences with same. I am interested in learning what alternatives are available, and what folks experiences with them has been. I am ready to spend some time experimenting with one or more alternate systems, and more than ready to jump ship should I find a good one.
    Last edited by HO RacePro; April 4, 2022, 08:46 AM.
    Ed Bianchi
    York Pennsylvania USA

  • #2
    Race coordinator works well for my track
    bill ,framingham ma

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    • #3
      Some in our groups use SlotTrax and like it for it's ability to schedule pit stops.
      I use TrackMate with an infrared light bar. It has been rock solid for years.
      I know of one track, using dead strip, that crashes constantly. Might be a factor?

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      • #4
        I use LapMaster and have had no problems. To me it's the Cadillac of lap counters. If you want to talk to someone who knows the LapMaster inside out contact Mike McMasters at Tom Thumb in Columbus, Ohio (614) 274-5150. Mike is the guy who helped Carsten perfect LapMaster.

        http://www.lapmaster.dk/
        Butch Dunaway
        Oxford, Ohio

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        • #5
          I use TrackMate with the light bar, too. I have never had a problem.

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          • #6
            I'd say the most common issue with Trackmate is setting up the racers and lanes prior to a race. After going through all the setup the system, when it messes up, adds or deletes racers, lanes, or both. I have also seen it simply stop counting laps.

            Even folks who have owned and used Trackmate for many years can have difficulty getting the racers entered properly. Too often we get a WTF!?! moment when everything looked correctly entered and then goes sideways. Experienced users I know have developed a fatalistic attitude -- it's Trackmate being Trackmate and getting upset gains you nothing. Just try again.

            Two of the most experienced Trackmate users I know go through an extensive vetting of each new release of Trackmate, trying to determine if it is stable or not. To my knowledge they have never yet found a rock-solid version. And they have frequently downgraded to an earlier version just because the newest release was too buggy.

            It all reminds me of the many debacles associated with Windows OS and software. All the development effort seemed to go to adding features and none was devoted to fixing problems. It has taken decades to get Windows to the point where it rarely crashes. (I say this having spent a couple hours this week reviving Windows 11 on a recently-purchased HP laptop!)

            We need a race coordinator that runs round robin events reliably with minimal fuss. Even if that means a strictly-for-dummies release to live in parallel with the feature-rich version. A bare-bones version would probably suit 80% of all users. And should be simple enough to eventually be made bug-free.

            ******************

            I have looked at the Race Coordinator website. I like that it is freeware and is compatible with Trackmate hardware. 'Leastwise that's what it says there.

            It is anything but bare-bones, which worries me, although they claim to have a 'for dummies' mode.

            I'll be checking it out.
            Last edited by HO RacePro; April 4, 2022, 02:58 PM.
            Ed Bianchi
            York Pennsylvania USA

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            • #7
              I have not used Trakmate for some years, but several tracks still use their interface.
              We now all use Race Coordinator. It looks complicated at first glacé but does work well and the back up is fantastic from Dave.
              You do not say how you trigger lap counting, this could be your main problem with any software.

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              • #8
                I like PC Lapcounter. It works with the trackmate hardware.
                Last edited by 4380r; April 4, 2022, 06:03 PM.

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                • #9
                  I’m still on Laptimer 2000 with a light bar. Some don’t like it but I love it for it’s simple functions it’s all I need 😍
                  Dave
                  Peterborough Ont
                  CANADA

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                  • #10
                    I am involved with about 5 different groups here in Adelaide, and ALL the groups now use Race Coordinator.
                    There are some track owners who are computer novices, but they have been able to use RC as it is SO easy to setup races.
                    The screens are VERY flexible and there is so much information that can be displayed it can get overwhelming !

                    Here is a screen snap as an example.
                    Click image for larger version

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                    Dennis
                    Dennis M
                    Adelaide, SA, OZ

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Phil Kalbfell View Post
                      You do not say how you trigger lap counting, this could be your main problem with any software.
                      This could be your real issue. If using an infrared light bar, check for extraneous light sources.
                      Try isolating the timing bridge by covering it and manually triggering it.

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                      • #12
                        Race Coordinator runs very well on Trackmate hardware.

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                        • #13
                          I am using dead strips for lap counting. The glitch where Trackmate stopped counting laps was on all lanes and continuously. Once it occurred no laps were counted at all. It could not be a case where contact failed. Resetting Trackmate cured it.

                          I have always used dead strips for lap counting, and they have proved utterly reliable. I've never felt the need to investigate any other method. FYI, the dead strips I use are 4 inches (10 cm) long.

                          I have learned from a fellow IHSR member that he uses Slottrak, a freeware race management system that works with Trackmate hardware. Apparently used for the famous 'Fray In Ferndale' HO racing series. He says it has been running "without a hitch". From what I've seen it produces very comprehensive race reports/statistics. Definitely worth a look!

                          I'd be interested to hear from folks who have used more than one race management system, which one they have settled on, and why.
                          Ed Bianchi
                          York Pennsylvania USA

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                          • #14
                            I use Trackmate software with deadstrips without any issues except when I updated the software last year. I still had the software file from 2012 so reinstalled it and the problems went away.
                            I liked the features of the new Trackmate software but it was too unreliable.
                            I would like to find an alternative at some point.
                            Brad
                            Ayton, ON Canada

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                            • #15
                              Ed, are your dead strips staggered or even. I stagger mine so the power from the track can't go through the dead strip. Check out the first post (#241) on this page. https://www.hrwforum.com/forum/road-...k-build/page17

                              You can see the dead strips are staggered so both sides of the track power can't go through the dead strip at the same time and the guide flag can't fall in the space between the dead strip and the track braid. You might be getting an electrical glitch that is screwing up the lap counter.
                              Butch Dunaway
                              Oxford, Ohio

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