Sports Timing Passes Toughest Test in Finnish Winter

Harsh vibrations, freezing temperatures, plenty of moisture and impacts: it’s hard to think of more demanding conditions for sports timing than those found at the Päijänne Enduro motorcycle race in Finland’s winter forests. Yet SMARTRAC’s DOGBONE RAIN RFID tags still came out on top.

 

Every year in March – which is more like winter than spring in Finland – over 100 avid off-road motorcycle racers gather for the Päijänne Enduro (March 19-20, 2016). The event is an 800 km endurance race through endless forests close to Finland’s second largest lake of the same name. Some bumpy paved roads, lots of gravel paths and several off-road special stages present a real challenge for the mostly non-professional racers.

 

The riders have to pass no less than 16 timekeeping stations on their way to the finish line. Producing reliable results and guaranteeing a fair result under these extremely demanding conditions poses an extraordinary challenge for the event’s chosen sports timing solution.

 

While the timekeeping is performed by staff trained by the association Kalkku Ry, the technical solution is provided by Enymind Oy, a long-time SMARTRAC customer and RFID consulting and event services company from Jyväskylä, Finland. As an experienced developer of sports timekeeping software, Enymind Oy opted for a solution based on passive RFID tags working in the UHF frequency range to meet the requirements of the Päijänne Enduro.

 

Their solution of choice is the DOGBONE RAIN RFID tag from SMARTRAC. Every participating motorbike is equipped with two redundant tags, although the rider is not tagged. The bike number plus the respective event number – there are roughly 100 annual Enduro races in Finland that use a similar setup and software – are programmed into the tags’ EPC memory area. In the timekeeping stations, the tags are read with ThingMagic M5e readers and Finnish-made Aerial AV-series antennas.

 

Attractive Price and Superior Reliability


This setup has proven its worth since 2010. Prior to that, bar-shaped HF RFID transponders (the size and shape of a marker pen) were used, but their inferior read distance (maximum 1 meter) caused many missed readings.

 

“SMARTRAC’s DOGBONE tag combines an attractive price with superior reliability, and the ability to track objects that move as fast as off-road motorbikes”, says Juho Tykkälä, CEO of Enymind Oy. "Those tags are certainly accurate and reliable under circumstances that are extremely challenging – such as -30 degrees Celsius and dry snow, or +5 degrees Celsius with rain and mud. Aside from that, I can’t imagine any other use case with more vibrations and shaking.” To back up Juho Tykkälä’s claim, up to one third of participants do not finish the race due to unpredictable weather and track conditions – while a comparable failure rate for the timekeeping solution would be completely unacceptable.

 

SMARTRAC’s DOGBONE: A True Champion

Our DOGBONE inlays and tags are designed for global supply chain, industrial, RTI and sports timing applications, and offer excellent performance in demanding environments and on different materials.

 

Available with several ICs, DOGBONE tags and inlays have good tolerance of the detuning effect of high-electric materials, providing effective global performance even on difficult-to-tag materials. Operating in the UHF band (860 – 960 MHz), DOGBONE offers an effective read range of up to 10 meters and fast data transfer. In sports timing applications, Enymind Oy recommends DOGBONE for events like Triathlon, Enduros and rallies with speeds of up to 120 km/h. The Finland-based company offers its software solution “J2Chrono for route based sports”, which provides multiple start and finish timelines, plus multiple time-check timelines.