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Looking for a high quality stopwatch

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Looking for a high quality stopwatch

Old 02-06-12, 10:31 AM
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carleton
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Looking for a high quality stopwatch

I'm volunteering at the velodrome this summer. I'm also taking the USAC Officials course this weekend. There are (obviously) lots of very short timed events on the velodrome. People are bustin' their butts for weeks/months/years tenths of seconds. If an athlete is doing 2 or 3 all-out efforts per session or 1 per event and I have to be precise to 0.1", the damned thing better work.

As strange as this may sound, it's really hard to find a high quality stopwatch. The stuff in local sporting goods stores is the same crap. The buttons are unreliable at best. It's the most disappointing thing to have an athlete come over and ask "So...how did I do?" and I have to tell him/her that the stopwatch malfunctioned.

Any suggestions?

Also, are "Stroke Rate" functions from rowing stopwatches capable of counting pedal strokes which occur at much faster rates than rowing strokes? To the uninitiated, the stroke rate timer is clicked for 3-4 strokes and it calculates the Strokes/Min.

I'd like to be able to look at an athlete and click at every pedal stroke and determine their cadence from a distance.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-06-12, 10:39 AM
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Maybe a track & field specific site or store ?
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Old 02-06-12, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
I'm volunteering at the velodrome this summer. I'm also taking the USAC Officials course this weekend. There are (obviously) lots of very short timed events on the velodrome. People are bustin' their butts for weeks/months/years tenths of seconds. If an athlete is doing 2 or 3 all-out efforts per session or 1 per event and I have to be precise to 0.1", the damned thing better work.

As strange as this may sound, it's really hard to find a high quality stopwatch. The stuff in local sporting goods stores is the same crap. The buttons are unreliable at best. It's the most disappointing thing to have an athlete come over and ask "So...how did I do?" and I have to tell him/her that the stopwatch malfunctioned.

Any suggestions?

Also, are "Stroke Rate" functions from rowing stopwatches capable of counting pedal strokes which occur at much faster rates than rowing strokes? To the uninitiated, the stroke rate timer is clicked for 3-4 strokes and it calculates the Strokes/Min.

I'd like to be able to look at an athlete and click at every pedal stroke and determine their cadence from a distance.

Thanks in advance.
http://www.vsathletics.com/section.p...e63b20a029d34a

Any of these should be pretty good. I like Seiko timers, personally.

Raced T&F in HS and college...most of the time, I just used a Timex Ironman wristwatch for personal splits (workouts etc), they are quite reliable. But handheld stopwatches are the way to go for timing the splits of others.
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Old 02-06-12, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Maybe a track & field specific site or store ?
I'd rather not buy without at least 2nd-hand information on a particular product.

I bought a Robic from a local running store. It was OK. But, the buttons are not reliable nor do they have a good feel to them.

Originally Posted by allawayr View Post
http://www.vsathletics.com/section.p...e63b20a029d34a

Any of these should be pretty good.
"Any of these should be pretty good." is not good enough. For example, the ACCUSPLIT Survivor is on that site...and it's also on Amazon where one reviewer writes:

Do yourself a favor and do NOT buy this product! it constantly double-taps. By that, I mean that when you stop the timer, it will very often immediately re-start itself.

What good is a timer that stops for a split second and then starts running again?

This happens to me about 30%- 40% of the time. Spend a few buck more, and get a more reliable product.

If you are a coach or a ref, this little piece of junk will seriously embarrass you! BEWARE!!!
I know this guy's frustration. I'm trying to avoid this.

Originally Posted by allawayr View Post
I like Seiko timers, personally.
Any model in particular?
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Old 02-06-12, 11:30 AM
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Shooters use a type of timer that's activated by gunshots - so, the first shot starts, the last shot (or button press) stops it.
You might look into those.
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Old 02-06-12, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Creakyknees View Post
Shooters use a type of timer that's activated by gunshots - so, the first shot starts, the last shot (or button press) stops it.
You might look into those.
Explain to me how this might help me?
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Old 02-06-12, 11:55 AM
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My rule of thumb is: cheap stuff is built cheaply. Buy something in the $75-200 range (price range obtained by "google shopping" and listing prices high-low) and it'll probably work pretty well.
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Old 02-06-12, 12:01 PM
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If you need absolute reliability you should think about adding in some redundancy. Run two at the same time, and you exponentially reduce your chance of having no time whatsoever.
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Old 02-06-12, 12:03 PM
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Ultrak or Seiko. Anything over $50 should get you in the top quality range. If you want to go retro super cool find an Omega Olympic Stopwatch. Bring your checkbook though.

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Old 02-06-12, 12:14 PM
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wait, they don't use FAT for track racing?
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Old 02-06-12, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
My rule of thumb is: cheap stuff is built cheaply. Buy something in the $75-200 range (price range obtained by "google shopping" and listing prices high-low) and it'll probably work pretty well.
I highlighted the important words in your post

I really want to eliminate as many variables as possible and feasible. And as we all know, price does not always equate to performance.


Originally Posted by crapweasel View Post
If you need absolute reliability you should think about adding in some redundancy. Run two at the same time, and you exponentially reduce your chance of having no time whatsoever.
This addresses the process and not the equipment.

Originally Posted by jwible View Post
Ultrak or Seiko. Anything over $50 should get you in the top quality range. If you want to go retro super cool find an Omega Olympic Stopwatch. Bring your checkbook though.

That looks pretty sweet. Do people still use these at high levels of sport?
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Old 02-06-12, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by echappist View Post
wait, they don't use FAT for track racing?
For the uninitiated: FAT = Fully Automated Timing, AKA electronic timing.

Generally only at National-level events. Even then, there are 3 officials with stopwatches timing as well. Sometimes an event may have electronic timing so that the venue can practice using the system.

There are a few tracks that have timing systems (Frisco Superdrome, for example) but it's sort of a pain to setup and administer. Plus the hardware is expensive. Also, I've seen electronic systems fail on several occasions.

Outside of the rare events that use electronic timing, 99.9% of everything else is hand-timed.
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Old 02-06-12, 12:59 PM
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damn, didn't know that. in my (somewhat hazy) memory, most high school track & field races were electronically timed
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Old 02-06-12, 04:09 PM
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Any model in particular?
http://www.amazon.com/Seiko-S141-Sto.../dp/B0002FFBPM
This is the model my coach lent to us to use. Very solid product, but quite expensive for a stopwatch. You get what you pay for, though.

An important thing to note - and not to criticize you in any way - is that a stopwatch is only as good as its operator. In order to not get accurate starts, buttons can be quite sensitive - I.E. the threshold of activation of a button should be low.

So...practice makes perfect. But the stopwatch itself is important as well.
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Old 02-06-12, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by allawayr View Post
http://www.amazon.com/Seiko-S141-Sto.../dp/B0002FFBPM
This is the model my coach lent to us to use. Very solid product, but quite expensive for a stopwatch. You get what you pay for, though.

An important thing to note - and not to criticize you in any way - is that a stopwatch is only as good as its operator. In order to not get accurate starts, buttons can be quite sensitive - I.E. the threshold of activation of a button should be low.

So...practice makes perfect. But the stopwatch itself is important as well.
Thanks for the suggestion!

Originally Posted by allawayr View Post
An important thing to note - and not to criticize you in any way - is that a stopwatch is only as good as its operator. In order to not get accurate starts, buttons can be quite sensitive - I.E. the threshold of activation of a button should be low.

So...practice makes perfect. But the stopwatch itself is important as well.
I know this and I agree. I'm pretty good on the stopwatch (when I get one that works, haha). Sometimes at National events, I sit in the stands and play a game where I see how close I can get to the electric timer with my handheld stopwatch. I learned a lot doing this. 1/10" is no problem. 1/100 is about 50% of the time. I've nailed it down to the 1/1000th of a second on more than one occasion.
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Old 02-06-12, 05:16 PM
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I like this one. It doesn't have a 'stroke' feature, but it's good. http://www.aimsports.com/products/multichron/index.html

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Old 02-06-12, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by echappist View Post
damn, didn't know that. in my (somewhat hazy) memory, most high school track & field races were electronically timed
Pretty much every hs level or higher swim meet has electronic timing...but then again any time you swim a sprint event w/ more than 1 decent level guy, the officials are likely to be wrong if they have to call the finish. Splashing tends to make it difficult to figure out who actually got there first.
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Old 02-06-12, 06:33 PM
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Ask the people teaching the officials class what they use.
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Old 02-06-12, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Explain to me how this might help me?
Well, first, you get a gun. A starter's pistol will do. Then, when you want to start the race (timed event), you fire the pistol. At the end of the event, you press the button.
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Old 02-06-12, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Creakyknees View Post
Well, first, you get a gun. A starter's pistol will do. Then, when you want to start the race (timed event), you fire the pistol. At the end of the event, you press the button.
No offense, but have you ever been to a velodrome? Witnessed a time trial? Even at the national level, time trials are not started by guns.

They happen like this at local and regional events:


National events sometimes use an electronic starting gate which is designed to release on the electronic clock...but still no gun.

Last edited by carleton; 02-06-12 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 02-06-12, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Thanks for the suggestion!



I know this and I agree. I'm pretty good on the stopwatch (when I get one that works, haha). Sometimes at National events, I sit in the stands and play a game where I see how close I can get to the electric timer with my handheld stopwatch. I learned a lot doing this. 1/10" is no problem. 1/100 is about 50% of the time. I've nailed it down to the 1/1000th of a second on more than one occasion.
No problem - good luck finding one that works well for you!

And that's pretty impressive. I know that in T&F, hand timed events are frequently rounded up to 1/10th - but being able to hit 1/100 that frequently must mean you're pretty well practiced!


Also, and I'm sure you realized this, when I said
In order to not get accurate starts, buttons can be quite sensitive
, I really meant " In order to get accurate starts, buttons can be quite sensitive..."

Last edited by allawayr; 02-06-12 at 08:37 PM. Reason: i'm dumb
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Old 02-07-12, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by jwible View Post
Ultrak or Seiko. Anything over $50 should get you in the top quality range.
UPDATE:

In my search I found that an Ebay seller was actually local to Atlanta. I called the guy and talked with him about what he had. He stocks Ultrak and Seiko. He says that he sells hundreds of the Ultrak 495 a year and hasn't had a single one returned. He also mentioned that Ultrak and Finis are made in the same factory in China.

I ordered an Ultrak 495 and it arrived the next day (today).

Ultrak 495:


Finis 3X100M:



It seems to work fine. The fit and finish is sort of plastic-y. But, I think it will last a couple of years. I'd actually like to have something that feels (and is) more substantial, if that makes sense.

The features work as expected. Buttons are OK. They are soft till you feel a solid threshold that requires a firm click to surpass. Basically, I preload the soft part of the click, then click through the firm to activate/deactivate. But, I'll have to try them several times to say if it's reliable.

The Lap Counter feature works for counting cadence. Basically, you click at a certain point in a rider's pedal stroke (say the bottom), then count till the THIRD time around and it will calculate the RPMs. Of course, this is based on how accurate I am when clicking at the right time.

So far, so good. Well worth $30 for sure.

Last edited by carleton; 02-07-12 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 02-07-12, 09:08 PM
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I didn't realize you were in Atlanta. Weren't you on the left coast recently? You doing the Airport Ride?
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Old 02-07-12, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jwible View Post
I didn't realize you were in Atlanta. Weren't you on the left coast recently? You doing the Airport Ride?
I was in Northern Virgina for almost a year. Now I'm back in Atlanta.

I've never done the Airport Ride. I hear that it's a hammer-fest. I spend all of my time at the track or on the silver comet working on specific drills.
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Old 02-07-12, 10:21 PM
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One day I'll get to DLV. I wish there was a one day course to get certified to race though. I know one guy who raced up there last year until his frame broke during a move. I don't think he's been back since though.
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