RadioLynx failing to Register Start Signals

RadioLynx is a wireless start system manufactured by MicroGate that interfaces with Lynx System Software and cameras to trigger a Fully Automatic Time for an event such as a track and field race.

Occasionally something goes wrong with the system and starts are not being received. Lynx System Developers has world class tech support for it’s users and they recently published an updated guide to troubleshooting a RadioLynx problem.

As usual, I have a few additional thoughts:

1. Every timer using RadioLynx should always have the following on hand:
a. an extra antenna
b. an extra transmitter wire (the black and green bananas on one end to XLR on the other)
c. an extra WIRELESS (red covering) start sensor. Wired and wireless start sensors are not interchangeable.

You may need these parts depending on the diagnosis below.

2. if signal is not being received when completing step one of their guide (unplug banana plug for transmitter wire and push the signal button)

a. They say check the internal dip switches but do not give additional instruction on that. On the back of the transmitter there are little black circles. The one on the right will pop out — really it does, just get a fingernail under it. Inside there are four little white dip switches. Each switch is numbered and can be toggled on or off. The key is to be sure that the position of these switches is mirrored in the receiver. In the front of the receiver is a little black circle, it pops off. Confirm that the dip switches are in the same position. Sometimes there may be interference in an area and switching the dip switches can help resolve an issue if everything seems to be working during the testing but starts are still be missed more than once in a great while. Also if more than one set of transmitters and receivers are in use, they should have different dip switch settings. If the dip switches are set identically in each device, then move on, that is not the issue. One other hint here, as soon as a start is missed, go push the repeat button — if the signal comes across that means that the issue is not the transmitter at all, but more likely interference on frequency, or a bad antenna or antenna placement. While the signal is sent thirty two times on sixteen channels (or something along those lines) you will get a rare miss, but if is it happening over and over, try a different frequency.

b. It could be a bad antenna — is the antenna bent or look to be damaged? Obvious possible weak point. Try taking off both antennas and putting the two units so that the antenna threads on the transmitter and receiver are nearly touching and sent a signal. It that works you likely have a bad antenna. It can also be antenna placement. We now use a stand that keeps the antenna away from the official’s body. We miss way less 200 meter starts since making this change — and a lot fewer antennas are being broken.

2. Step three is test the transmitter wire. We find that many transmitter wires tend to flex in one spot and they will come and go in terms of conductivity depending on how they are being flexed at a given moment. So this may be an issue even if it initially tests as good. Try your spare wire for a meet and see if it solves it. Encourage starters to not “pull taught” on the wire. Leave it relaxed. Avoid putting knots or taping loops in the wire (common things we see, often so the sensor can hang from the loop on a starters hand — we use a zip tie formed into the shape of a letter P and taped to the side of the sensor — we don’t find that starters appreciate the velcro strap to affix the sensor to a gun since it prevents insertion into a holster). At all costs stop starters from shoving the receiver in a pocket. We see them do this all the time causing a sharp bend in the wire right at the banana plugs.

3. Step four is to blow into or tap the sensor — we prefer a sharp rap on the top of the sensor with a finger. It should trigger a start (the transmitter will beep). The top of the sensor should be covered with latex to protect it from dirt or moisture. Replace this covering (we just cut a finger off of a latex glove) promptly if it gets nicked and you will get longer life out of your sensors. We do not blow into the hole because it’s covered and also because that introduces moisture.

4. Consider other factors like bad shells. We have found that some dog training rounds seem to lack the necessary concussive effect to always trigger the sensor. Shells are getting hard to come by and likely we’ll soon be buying electronic start systems in greater numbers.

5. Recheck all settings for RadioLynx (camera back or C-Box), the red power on the receiver is plugged in, settings are proper for the sensor, etc. An issue we commonly see with the C-Box is depressed pins on the serial port on the C-Box. If you plug and unplug your RadioLynx receiver (we leave our permanently in) the pins can easily be depressed. Not for the faint of heart, you can carefully unscrew the ends of the C-Box, slide out the electronics and super carefully without bending them push the serial pins back up. They have no backer to prevent them from being pushed in. We use really soft wood and push gently down on the plate putting upward pressure to put the pins back in the up position where they belong.

6. If the problem is the start sensor and you lack a back up hard wire — while losing FAT timing, you can have someone with the starter plug a capture button into the wireless start XLR jack and start each race with a push of that button. This may be more accurate than using the standard keyboard start (icon looks like a hand over a keyboard with a grayed out stop light — left most stoplight icon). You can also do manual starts with your keyboard, they will appear in the start dialog preceded by an M for manual. However be sure to actually apply the FAT signal when it is present as it will sometimes take your manual start instead if you anticipated … and were the first start.

7. Go back to a hard wired start — use the gray start sensor as it is the correct one and quickly configure your wired start (always on/closed is our preference). Some of the biggest meets in the world use hard wired start signals as well as multiple start signal devices for redundancy, so don’t feel bad using a hard wired start.

I hope that offering additional suggestions is helpful to Lynx users. We have crazy respect for the Lynx Technical Support Team.

We also have an article on what to do when you miss a start signal. LLC is a FinishLynx Dealer. Our customers benefit from the world class tech support offered by Lynx System Developers and also gain our level of support as daily users in addition to the factory support. This gives our Lynx customers the best of both worlds. Need a Lynx product, just contact us and let us give you a quote and show you our level of support.

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