Software Scoring Machine

Discussion in 'Armory - Q&A' started by reawl, Aug 29, 2006.

  1. griffindm

    griffindm DE Bracket

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    Hi Tom,

    I'm glad to hear you are still working with the project. If we can get linux and mac support for faster USB polling it would definitely boost the acceptance for that market. Without it, I'm not as sure it will catch on.

    I had the chance to demo Shawn Hart's adapter (he generously loaned me one) and software at the USACFC and BWCFC (Balt/Wash Collegiate Fencing Club) conference championships during the past month and the interest was high amongst fencer, coaches, and even referees. The one constant I heard from fencers is that the screen is hard to see at wide angles. If we could add extension light capability to the hardware, either through photoreceptors or through the gamepad rumble option, it would do a lot to assuage that concern.

    I'm working with a techie friend to redo the PCB design to support a ribbon cable header on the board that should make construction easier. I have an eye toward getting a quote from a Chinese friend on mass production of at least the completed PCB, if not the assembly as a whole. This in response to input from a number of fencers and teachers at schools, that while they love the concept, they do not have the expertise to construct the adapters.

    Keep us posted on your progress.

    Dave G.
     
  2. Pescados666

    Pescados666 Rookie

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    If I can get this to work, summer will be alot more fun since I don't have school and can't fence. I could be able to invite a few of the varsity members or so over and practice a bit :cool:

    I might take a look at that GLBasic also...
     
  3. Joe biebel

    Joe biebel Podium

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    Put two monitors in a "V" formation if your monitor has poor horizontal viewing characteristics. I've noticed a big difference from monitor to monitor. We have four systems from Shawn being installed. The monitors we have are quite good at an angle. One of my laptops was terrible. I tested the two monitor system and with a little tweaking you get a great view no matter where you stand.

    I think new lcd monitors from newegg.com are about $160 each. Probably less expensive than an extension light system. In the permanently installed systems we have, I have subtly altered Shawn's program to display the lights 60% larger. I have also recommended to Shawn that he display only one light on a side, at a time, to increase the area reserved on the screen for hit indication. Even with my small laptop screen the viewability was improved greatly.

    Also, anyone looking for inexpensive computers with Windows XP operating systems to go along with Shawn's system can find really good deals here. http://www.hcditrading.com/Shop/Control/fp/SFV/29664

    I've purchased 4 units so far without a hiccup at less than $170.00 per system with shipping. Two of the units were integrtaed systems with 15" lcd monitors built in. I'll post piscture in a couple of weeks when evrything is running.
     
  4. Kimmuriel

    Kimmuriel Rookie

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    Hmm, I am very interested in the source code of Hart's VSM program! :rolleyes:
     
  5. Timberwolf_CY

    Timberwolf_CY Rookie

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    Didn't have time to read everything, will do tomorrow because this is very interesting, but before someone steals the core ideas, I have two words (with parenthetical phrases)

    Copyright (for the software)
    Patent (for the hardware)

    I would suggest doing this as soon as feasible, because there are vendors on this site who may take your stuff (not saying you guys are bad, just that they should be watching their asses).
     
  6. Pescados666

    Pescados666 Rookie

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    But he's releasing the software for free and you make the hardware. Yes, there is the problem of someone reselling, but that can be fixed by an authkey and a authkey generator on his site. I doubt that most of the people who crack programs will take intrest in something like this. He can't really copywrite the hardware since he'd need permission from saitek (I think that's who he said to use) for the gamepad.

    EDIT: I'm also sure this will make a nice sticky in here or either Club Corner. It is the most active armory thread.
     
  7. Joe biebel

    Joe biebel Podium

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    I have been a big fan of the virtual scoring machine concept and now have the first of four installations complete. Here is a link http://picasaweb.google.com/joefencer/VSMPhotos to an online photoalbum showing our setup at Milwaukee Sport Fencing Academy.

    Shaw Hart gave me a beta version with some of the modifcations I suggested and it all works perfectly. The two most recent suggestions were: Allow the monitor to display a single light on either side that is double the square area of the two light per side original version. This does not make a huge difference on a large monitor like we use, but if you have a smaller screen or are using a laptop system it would add a great deal of visibility. I like it a lot. The other addition is a .wav file that makes the sound of light sabers igniting when the program is launched and a lightsaber shutting down when the program closes. The reaction from the three people I showed this to first was a simultaneous "Coool".

    As others have noted a sharp angle, especially for the fencers can make seeing the monitor difficult. The ref really has no problem even near the end of the strip. Tomorrow, I will be be trying a dual monitor setup arranged in a slight "V". I think this will solve the fencer angle situation. I also think that 2 monitors is cheaper than trying to come up with some sort of "extension light system and certainly easier.
     
  8. JS Hart

    JS Hart DE Bracket

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    Very nice pix, and well done!

    The next mod will have the beta stuff you mentioned, plus it will include a configuration editor feature that will allow sound effects and all the timing parameters to be edited by the user... and a few other things, too.

    --JS Hart
     
  9. griffindm

    griffindm DE Bracket

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    Joe,

    I wasn't sure how the single light option would work. Seeing your images explains it well. I think it's a great idea.

    Be sure and post some pictures and feedback on the double angled screen option. I've been toying with the idea of using a monitor splitter and showing the screen on different screens toward the ends of the strip, but your approach would certainly be simpler to do.

    Can you post any comments on your side on the how difficult or easy you found the assembly of the adapter? I've been working with a friend to come up with an ExpressPCB file that makes a version of the board that takes an IDE header connection (ribbon cable connector type, as in a hard drive or floppy drive) instead of hard soldering each of the wires to the board itself. I'd be interested in whether you think that would make the assembly easier.

    Thanks,

    Dave G.
     
  10. Joe biebel

    Joe biebel Podium

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    First, I will get this off my chest. I failed to make a VSM adapter and threw myslf on Shawn's mercy. He made the adaptor for me. It was not that I could not understand what to do, I simply did not have knowhow or a "light enough touch" with the tools. Getting rid of the soldering would make it possible for a Neadthal like myself to produce adapters.

    I will have pictures to post of the two monitor display tomorrow. Today I set up another computer with a video card that has 2 DVI outputs and tested the two monitor system with with some kids. I also had a volunteer helping me with construction that is a good referee, used at the national level, for his input.

    The advantage with the 2 monitor system setup is that the fencers can always see the lights even at extreme angles to the strip. With a single monitor, the "ref" can always see the lights as they are a little further away from the strip and have a better angle to the lights. the ref does not need the double monitor system, nor does the audience. Fencers "should" not as they are supposed to rely on the "halt" as opposed to the looking at the lights. We all know how well that works. My volunteer ref thought the same thing I did, that the two monitors repeating the information side by side was initially confusing. I have thought that arraying them in a "V" but one above the other would take care of this left/right "disorientation effect."

    My intention for tournaments is to use the single monitor solution. When money permits, I will probably add a second monitor to each strip, more for training than for meets. As far as an audience seeing the lights, score, and time, only a very expensive tournament scoring system possibly could compare.

    I will be trying one of my large LCD TVs at our fist tournament. Also, I am going to make a youtube video of the finished system and add a link to this thread shortly.
     
  11. Joe biebel

    Joe biebel Podium

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    Does this mean that the left side and right side can produce different sounds from each other?
     
  12. JS Hart

    JS Hart DE Bracket

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    I have not yet added that capability as it is strictly prohibited by rule. How ever, if there is demand for it, it would be very easy to do... to allow the user to choose either the same .wav file for each side or to use different ones, knowing that it is not "by the book". In actuality, by allowing non-standard timings to be tried, I've tacitly already put that ball in each user's court.

    Do I take it that this would be a positive capability addition? I've always thought that it made no sense at all to have different colored lights, yet mandate the same sounds....
     
  13. SJCFU#2

    SJCFU#2 Podium

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    While it's probably dangerous to speculate about what anyone at the FIE is thinking, and all of people who made the original decision long since deceased so we can't ask them, however the fact that the requirement for identical audio signals on both sides appears in the requirements for foil but not in the for épée requirements suggests that the intent may have been to prevent directors (as referees were known back then) from being subconsciously influenced by whichever side's audio signal they happened to hear first.

    As to the requirement for different colored light - I wouldn't be surprised if some of the earliest scoring machines had identical lights on both sides ("There are only were two lights - how could they possibly get them mixed up?"). Anyone have a 1930's vintage épée-only scoring machine lying about that they could check this on?
     
  14. Jvanhousen

    Jvanhousen DE Bracket

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    Pimp my scoring machine

    I was speaking w/ a computer expert friend of mine about the software machine and the feasibility of an added feature. He assured me that it would be strait forward:
    As long as you have the AD adapter set up, why not add a diagnostic mode that would perform all of the functions that the best test boxes have?
    You could program it to perform a test on both fencers equipment upon hook up, and on demand when problems arise.
    While you're at it, program it to shock me every time I duck and cover target area.
     
  15. griffindm

    griffindm DE Bracket

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    VSM Adapter Pricing

    Well, my experience with the VSM software and hardware thus far has been very positive. I have demonstrated it at a couple of collegiate (club) level championships, with good feedback from coaches, fencers, and referees. I have also demoed it for middle school teachers that currently teach fencing, with an eye toward getting electric fencing into those schools. These suggestions provided have been forwarded along to Shawn, who is working to make the software as stable and flexible as it can be. Most notable improvements either done or in the works include:

    Single light option foe each side (pushed by Joe Biebel). Adds visibility.

    Ability to turn off the epee auto-scoring mode.

    Configuration file for timings, sound, etc. This is a biggie, as it essentially makes the program flexible enough to allow future timing changes without requiring software maintenance by the programmer. It also allows for experimental timings to easily be tested. Bottom line is it insures the worth of the system regardless of whether Shawn continues support indefinitely.

    What I have heard from a lot of users is that they lack the technical background or interest to make the adapters themselves.

    This is a request for the users that have followed this thread (or others that come to it now) to give some guidance as to what they would be willing to pay for such an adapter. I may setup a production run myself. I encourage anyone else with similar interest to consider doing it as well.

    The parts list comes to around $50. It maybe a little more or less depending on the particulars used, and the current price for some of the more expensive components. The question is, what is the labor and testing worth to the end user.

    I personally think it would be in the neighborhood of $100 to $125 for the finished adapter.

    This is not an invitation to digress into the merits of alternative current hardware scoring boxes, but the price points of those boxes at the lower end certainly provide an upper boundary.

    The point of this post is not only to discuss the appropriate pricing, but to generate interest among those users than can make the adapters, to consider making them for others to speed the adoption of the system.

    Tell me what you think.

    Dave G.

    __________________
    "The landslide has begun. It is too late for the pebbles to vote" [Kosh].
    Unlike the pebbles, you CAN vote in the USFA election this month. Make your voice heard regardless of which slate you support!
     
  16. fencerX

    fencerX Rookie

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    That's how the Software Scoring Machine can make money. Price the software inexpensively or give it away to clubs and make big bucks selling custom ring/touch tones to fencers.
     
  17. Mr Epee

    Mr Epee Rookie

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    I'm calling dibs on Barbie Girl by Aqua.

    I own.
     
  18. Joe biebel

    Joe biebel Podium

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  19. Joe biebel

    Joe biebel Podium

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  20. Joe biebel

    Joe biebel Podium

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