SPORTident /E-Stick

J.Gordon Beattie, Jr., W2TTT wrote:

     Pardon my asking but what is a “e-sick”?

Illness brought on by excessive use of technology. But you knew that.

An “E-stick”, however, is a transponder produced by SportIdent. It is also called an “SI-card”, although it looks nothing like a card. The unit clips onto your finger with an elastic strap. The business end is about the diameter of a pencil and half an inch long. Inside is a coil and a microchip as well as a memory capacitor.

For use in orienteering events, one first “clears” the unit by placing the stick end into a receptacle on a “control”, which is the mating half.

Controls are about the size of a cigarette pack with a hole that accepts the business end of the E-Stick. The clear control induces a magnetic field into the coil in the stick, charging its capacitor. It then erases a portion of the unit’s flash memory containing any previous data (leaving intact the electronic serial number) and starts the internal clock.

A “check” control detects that the E-stick is running and initialized.

When a competitor starts the race, the E-Stick is inserted in the “Start” control. This creates a timestamp that is stored both in the stick and in the control.

As the competitor finds other controls on the course, the stick is inserted into each control which timestamps the control with the stick number and the stick with the control number.

Continue up to and including the “Finish” control. Then the stick is “downloaded” where its data is dumped to the race officials via a special control connected to a PC. This gives a record of the time at which each control was located. Software then tallies the score, shows the split times between controls, in which order, etc.

The data in the controls is available for backup and can also be used for search-and-rescue if a competitor turns up missing. By interrogating them it can be determined where the competitor last checked in and when.

Called “SI-cards” because they’re made by Sport-Ident and they take the place of a paper card carried by competitors and punched at each control with a paper punch having a unique hole pattern. Old-school terms like “punching in” are used to denote registering a control with the E-stick.