IST’s COVID-19 Response

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We would like to address IST’s response to the current COVID-19 outbreak. IST is located in Michigan, where social distancing has been implemented. We typically have less than 10 people at a time in the physical office. We are taking extra precautions with hand washing and cleaning of commonly touched items like coffee pots and door handles. Our employees all have paid time off available to them, and have been encouraged to stay home if they are not feeling well, and we asked them to err on the side of caution. Many of our employees can work from home, and have also been encouraged to do so. IST is in good shape financially and does not have any debt currently, so we foresee being able to rebound quickly once the emergency has passed.

We know that many of you are out of your pools and not allowed to train. If you have equipment that needs to be repaired, we would encourage you to do that now while you don’t need it for a while. We can repair all kinds of our products from pace clocks ($150-$250 depending on the clock), SWIMSTART ($200), CTI ($250) and deck cables ($75 for the 25-pin connector or $85 per lane box). The fees include the repair of anything that is wrong with the item (replacement batteries are an additional $60), plus inspection, cleaning and testing.

To get an item repaired, call (800-835-2611) or email (support@istime.com) with your team name and the item that needs repair. Please also include the shipping address where you would like the repaired item returned. We will email you an RMA number and instructions for packaging and shipping the item. Once it has been repaired we will reach out to you for payment information. We can accept credit cards over the phone, checks or PO numbers (if you can get one).

From our family to yours, we hope that you stay well. We will be here and ready to go once the crisis has passed. Be safe and wash your hands!

A Trip Back in Time!

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We have recently stumbled upon the first commercial that IST produced! It is a parody of “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney”, and was released in 1992. If you look closely, you may be able to recognize a few familiar faces from the office!

When plugging in your touchpads, polarity matters!

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Ground Tabs

If you have ever looked closely at the banana plugs on your touchpads and backup buttons, you will see that there is a ground tab on each of them.

This ground tab indicates that the ground wire (black wire) is attached to that terminal. On the deck cable, you will notice that there is a red and black collar on the plug.

Proper Connection

For the touchpads and backup buttons to work properly, the black wire needs to plug into the black collar and the red wire needs to plug into the red collar on the deck cable. In other words, the ground tab needs to go on the black collar.

Check that you have everything plugged in correctly.  Make sure that the ground tab points to the middle of the lane box, like this:

Plugging the connectors in properly means the ground tabs line up with the center of the box. Just make sure that you have the touchpad plugged into the PAD side and the backup button plugged into the BACKUP side!

What happens if the polarity isn’t correct? If it is just on one touchpad, you might see it work intermittently. Plugging in multiple touchpads incorrectly can cause interference. This can cause several to work intermittently or not at all. You may notice that your pads just don’t seem to register hits all the time. The first thing to check in that case is the plug polarity.

Repairing the Connections

If the collars on the deck cable are broken and the connections are rusted, you might want to consider replacing the boxes on the deck cable ($85/box) or replacing the entire deck cable. Especially if making sure the pads and buttons are plugged in correctly doesn’t correct the problems you are having.

Have more questions about diagnosing and fixing deck cable and touchpad issues? Look at the Tips and Technical Support page on our website for information on diagnosing and troubleshooting issues with Touchpads, Deck Cables and Backup buttons. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page:

As always, if you need something repaired, give us a call at 800-835-2611 or email support@istime.com to get an RMA number. Deck cables, backup buttons and touchpads all have a 2-year warranty.

 

IST Cables – Info you need to know!

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Many of our products come with cables that connect them to other items – the cable from the CTI to the computer, the CTI to the scoreboard, Deck cable to the CTI, etc. Often if there is hardware issue, the likely culprit is a cable or connector on a cable. Cables have a 2-year warranty, so if it is less than 2 years old let us know and we’ll get it fixed or replaced.

If its more than 2 years old, you have a couple options. You can purchase a replacement cable from us, or you can clean or replace the cable yourself. Here is what you need to know about the various cables.

 

SCOREBOARD CABLES

Our scoreboard cables look like phone cables. A word of warning – THEY ARE NOT! If you look closely at the connectors on both ends of the scoreboard cable, you will see that the wires are in the same color order from left to right on both ends of the cable.

For example, blue, orange, orange striped, green. If you look at the ends of a phone cable, the wires from left to right are blue, orange, orange striped, green on one end and  green, orange striped, orange, blue from left to right on the other end. This cable switches the polarity, which isn’t a problem for the phone company, but is a big problem for your scoreboard! A normal phone cable will not allow your scoreboard to get communication from the CTI.

If you need to replace the cable to your scoreboard, you can use a phone cable, but you must make some adjustments. Get an RJ11 connector and an RJ11 crimper tool. Cut off one end of the phone cable and strip back a little of the jacket. Insert the cable into the new RJ11 connector, making sure that the colors in the new connector match the order of the colors in the other end from left to right. Press them in and use the crimping tool to keep them in place.

You may find it easier to just purchase a new one. Those are available on our website in many different sizes: https://www.istime.com/product/scoreboard-cables/

CLEANING SCOREBOARD CABLES

Sometimes the issue isn’t in the cable itself, but in the connector. If you look at the RJ11 connector you should see strips of shiny gold on the end.

If you see dull gold or green, your cable needs to be cleaned. You can use a product called CRC Contact Cleaner (available at Lowes, Home Depot and WalMart or on our website). Spray the contact cleaner onto the connector and scrub with a pipe cleaner until it is shiny again. You can also clean the connector in the CTI and end of the scoreboard the same way.

If cleaning the connectors doesn’t work, and a new cable doesn’t work, you may need to replace the RJ11 connector on the scoreboard. That is easy to do and the instructions are on our website: https://www.istime.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Replacing-the-RJ11-Jack-in-your-IST-Scoreboard.pdf

 

CTI CABLES

Our older CTI’s have a 25-pin to 9-pin serial cable.

Most computers no longer have serial ports. These cables require a USB to Serial adapter. If you have a failure of the cable from the computer to the CTI, the adapter cable is the first thing to check. These are available on our website or at your local computer store. Make sure when purchasing the USB to Serial adapter cable that it is compatible with the version of Windows on your timing computer. If that doesn’t work, then you will need to replace the serial cable. You need a 25pin male to 9 pin female serial cable. These are available on our website, at a local computer store or on Cables To Go.

Our newer CTI’s have a USB cable from the CTI to the computer.

This is called a USB-A cable. It has a square connector on one end and a regular USB connector on the other end. They are commonly used for printers. You can purchase them from our website, at a local computer retailer or online.

 

DECK CABLES

If you are having issues with your deck cable, there are several things that you can do to diagnose the issue. You can find a white paper on diagnosing deck cables on our website: https://www.istime.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Diagnosing-IST-Deck-Cable-Problems.pdf

One common problem found on the CTI is that one of the pins in the 25-pin connector has been bent or pushed in.

If you see a pin that is not completely straight and even with the others, you can gently pull it out or straighten it using a pair of needle nose pliers. If the pin is broken or missing, you will need to send the CTI back to IST for repair.

Our deck cables can’t be replaced by anyone but us. However, you can replace the 25-pin connector if you know how to do that.

It is important when replacing the 25-pin connector that you get all the wires back into their correct places. If you are going to replace the connector yourself, please contact IST for a wiring diagram. You can also send the deck cable to us for repair. Replacing a 25 pin connector costs $75. Call 800-835-2611 or email support@istime.com for an RMA number before you send it to us.

TOUCHPADS, START CABLE, BACKUP BUTTONS

Look at the plugs at the end of your touchpads, start cable and backup buttons. Those 2-prong plugs are called “banana plugs”.

They can get corroded, the prongs can become compressed, the plating can wear off and the wires can come loose. Corrosion can be cleaned off with electrical contact cleaner (see the paragraph about scoreboard cables). Anything else requires banana plug replacement. This is easy to do on your own. You can purchase the banana plugs from us. The instructions for replacing the plugs are on our website: https://www.istime.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Banana-Plug-Replacement-1.pdf.

Keeping your cables clean, dry and free of kinks will help extend their life. If you have cables that need repaired or replaced give us a call at 800-835-2611 or email support@istime.com. We’re happy to help!

Come visit IST at the Eastern States Clinic!

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IST will once again be at the Eastern States Swim Clinic in Cherry Hill, PA October 4-6. Join us on Friday the 4th at 6:30pm for the “Technology Corner”. Make sure to stop by our booth while you are there to sign up to win a 4-digit SWIMCOUNT Pace clock.

SWIMCOUNT-HX

There is a GROUP DISCOUNT available for the Eastern States clinic. Register 5 coaches and get 1 free or register 5 swimmers and get 1 free. The more coaches you have attend, the better your chances of winning a pace clock!  See you at the Clinic!

Eastern States Swim Clinic infographic

Fall Season Starts Soon – Make Sure You Are Ready!

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The fall swim season begins this month. Now is the time to make sure that you are prepared for the  swim season and the beginning of competition.

Update your computer(s)        Computer with Windows

If your computers haven’t been connected to a network since the end of last swim season, now is the time to do an update. Get them out, power them on and connect them to your network. Go to the Windows Start Menu (or Cortana search bar in Windows 10) and search for Windows Update. Check for and install the updates. You may have to check after each update to make sure that there isn’t a subsequent one that needs to go in. There were a couple major Windows updates released this spring, so it could take a while to get fully up to date. Make sure you do this now! Don’t wait until the day of your first meet to do it.

Update your IST Software         TIMEWARE 3 Timing Screen

Go to https://www.istime.com/support/ and click on Software Updates on the left side. Click on the version number of the software that you want to update and SAVE THE FILE to your computer or a flash drive. Do not extract or unzip the file, just save it. Make sure that it saves as MWUPDATE.zip or TWUPDATE.zip and does not have any extra characters in the name – like a (1). If it does, it will not install properly. If it saves a MWUPDATE(1).zip, go to the folder, delete any copies of MWUPDATE.zip that you find, then try downloading it again.

Now open your IST software and go to Utilities / Update. Select the file that you downloaded and follow the instructions on the screen. You can check to see if you have the latest version by looking at the version number and date on the top of the MEETWARE, TIMEWARE or POLOWARE screen. The version and date should match what is listed on the website.

Check your Hardware            Computer Timing Interface box

Early in the season, get your hardware out and look it over. Do you see any corrosion? Did any wires get bent, broken, frayed or kinked? Do you see any slices or tears in the touchpads? Do you have all the chargers and power cords that you need?

If anything is missing, or you need to clean up corrosion on the metal pieces, go to www.istime.com and click on PRODUCTS. Under each product category you can purchase replacement parts for those items. Under Timing Equipment, we sell Contact Cleaning spray and DiElectric grease for cleaning and protecting metal components.

Test your equipment              Timing equipment setup

IT’s a good idea to run an early season intersquad meet to test your hardware. That way you know that everything is working, and the kids get a feel for what a real meet is going to look like. It is also a great opportunity to train a new computer operator! Set it up just like a real meet, including the touchpads. Make sure everything is running properly.

If you find an issue, look at our Tips and Technical Support page (https://www.istime.com/support/tips-technical-support/) . We have lots of great white papers that tell you how to diagnose and sometimes fix the most common problems that you run into. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to give us a call at 800-835-2611. We can help you diagnose, and sometimes fix, the issue right over the phone.

Get your Equipment Repaired

There are some things that you won’t be able to fix yourself. Fortunately, IST has a 5 year warranty, as well as the ability to repair just about any issue. To have an item repaired, call us at 800-835-2611 and ask for an RMA (Return Material Authorization) number. Once you have that, box up the item and ship it to us. We’ll fix the issue, clean it up, make sure everything is running right and then ship it back to you. Turnaround time is usually a week from when we receive it, but keep in mind that this time of year things get busy. Don’t wait to send in your item for repair or we might not be able to get it back to you before your first meet!

Train your Computer Operator     IST TIMEWARE Video

If you purchased a new MEETWARE or TIMEWARE disk in the last few years, it came with our training videos. If you don’t have them you can find the same videos on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/IntlSportsTime).

We can also set up a training session remotely. All you need is a computer with TIMEWARE or MEETWARE installed, a copy of TeamViewer (free at www.teamviewer.com), an internet connection and  a phone. Give us a call to set up an appointment. At the appointed time, turn on your computer, open TeamViewer and then give us a call. We’ll walk you through how to set up and run a meet and answer any questions that you have

Join NISCA         NISCA Logo

If you are high school coach, you need to join the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA). The membership year runs from August 1st through July 31st (school year), regardless of when you join. Join today so that you get the full benefit of your $75 NISCA membership. They offer a $1M liability insurance policy, 6 journals a year, free and reduced All America application fees, as well as a trove of great information on their website – some of which is only available to members. IST is a proud NISCA partner and sponsor of the National Dual Meet program. You can use MEETWARE to automatically create and submit a National Dual Meet Application.

 

Let us know if you need anything

Image of phone

800-835-2611

We want your meets to run smoothly and we are here to help. Please reach out to me (eve@istime.com, 800-835-2611) if you have any questions at all or need some help. We are always happy to talk to our customers!

 

Have a great season!

 

 

 

Our scoreboards are so easy to repair, even I can do it!

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I want to tell you a story, a true story, that happened to me this winter. First, a little background information.

Background

My name is Eve Julian. I am the Sales and Support specialist for IST. I also coach the Boys Swim and Dive team at Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, MI. That is where I swam in high school, and it is also the home of the very first ever IST alphanumeric scoreboard. That board was designed by my father, Dick Farnsworth. It was assembled by my high school girls swim team in 1991 and has been in continuous use at Ottawa since then. While I do work for IST, I am in no way an engineer. My specialty is the software. I don’t know a whole lot about the hardware side of things – I typically leave that to the techs and engineers.

At the beginning of the 18-19 boys season we had some issues with the scoreboard either not coming up or randomly putting nonsense up on the board.  I had Dick come to the pool and change out the master controller. This scoreboard is his favorite, since it was his first, and he’s really the only one who knows how the old tech works. It worked great for about 2 months, until the morning of our OHHS Invitational.

The Story

On Saturday morning at 7am I arrived at the pool and fired up the scoreboard, but nothing happened. I tried powering it off and on again (yep, that really does work sometimes), and this time I got some junk to show up. A little desperate, I climbed up on top of the motor for our pool cover, unplugged the master controller on the scoreboard, plugged it in again and ran the test again. The board worked great. Then 15 minutes later I looked up and realize that it was putting up nonsense again.

Knowing that Dick was out of town and diving was going to start in less than an hour, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I climbed back up to the bottom of the scoreboard and started fiddling with the master controller. I discovered that if I gently wiggled the connector, the board would light up, but after a moment it would go back to showing junk data again. As I looked closer, I realized that one of the wires leading into the connector had broken off.

I climbed back down and went in search of my building maintenance supervisor. Fortunately, he wasn’t far away and he was able to find me a small screwdriver and a too-big pair of wire strippers. Armed with these tools I climbed back up to the scoreboard. I removed each of the wires from the connector, carefully stripped them back a little farther, reinserted them into the connector and plugged it in.

Eve Julian repairing the scoreboard while Hasting Dive Coach Todd Bates shows his support.

My assistant coach powered the board back up and it came right on with all the correct data. Still sitting on top of the pool cover motor I raised my arms in triumph and shouted, “I am awesome!”. Only then did I look up and realize that the bleachers were filling with diving parents and fans. Oops! I’m sure they thought I was pretty odd. The scoreboard ran perfectly for the rest of the season, so that was awesome indeed.

The Moral of the Story

Our scoreboards are designed to be user maintainable. If *I* can figure out how to re-wire a connector to the Master Controller, anyone can. If you can’t fix it, we can. It’s designed so that the important parts (LED Panels and controllers) can be removed and shipped to us. We’ll repair it and send it back. We can fix any age of scoreboard, including the 28-year-old original one. You should consider IST Scoreboards. They are low maintenance, have all the information that you need, are easy to read and last FOREVER!

How are NISCA All America Divers Chosen?

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Every June, the top 100 male and female high school divers are selected to be NISCA All Americans. It’s a fascinating process, and IST is proud to be a part of it.

What is All America Diving?

The National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) selects All Americans in Swimming, Diving, Water Polo and Academics, as well as supporting the Scholar Team program and National Dual Meet Program.

In order to qualify for All America Diving consideration, a diver must be in 9-12th grade, competing for an interscholastic team, academically eligible based on their state’s requirements and diving in an 11-dive Championship format meet. Boys must score a minimum of 375 points with a D.D. of 13.3 or higher for their optional dives. Girls must score a minimum of 375 points with a D.D. of 13.0 or higher for their optional dives.

At each 11-dive meet through the season, coaches or parents record the diver performing the dives. They also collect a copy of the final, signed dive sheet.

All America Diving Applications

The application process begins on November 1st, when the on-line All America application portals open. Coaches can enter up to 2 applications per diver. Each application is for a single 11 dive meet, no compilations are allowed.  A video, copies of the signed dive sheet and a signature sheet accompany the application. Videos are uploaded to YouTube or Drop Box and a link supplied in the application. A DVD can also be mailed with the accompanying paperwork.

Once the application has been submitted and accepted, the videos are compiled into a list onto “master” DVDs. There is one set for boys and one set for girls. They organize the paperwork to match the order of the divers on the DVDs. This is an ongoing process through the year.

AA Diving Weekend

On the first weekend in June, 16 diving judges from around the country convene in Bloomfield Hills at the home of Don Mason, the NISCA All America Diving Chairperson. They arrive on Wednesday for training and socializing, and on Thursday morning they begin the process of judging.

The judges are dived into 2 groups, a boys room and a girls room. Each room has a computer operator, a video operator, an announcer and 5 judges. The computer operator uses a specially modified version of the IST MEETWARE Diving software which has the list of divers and their individual dives that were uploaded from the applications earlier in the week. Instead of doing everyone’s 1st dive, the software walks through each diver’s list of 11 dives from top to bottom.

Judging the Divers

First, the announcer reads the name of the diver off the sheet. The computer operator confirms the name. The video operator cues up the first dive in the video. Then the announcer reads the first dive number, the computer operator confirms the dive and the video operator plays the first dive. The video is paused at the end of the dive and the judges key in their scores on their IST Judge-Touch consoles. Finally the computer operator reads all the scores out loud, then they move to the next dive.

It takes about 5 minutes to judge each diver’s video. The sheet is set aside to be researched if there are issues. Issues can include dives out of order, not matching the dive sheet or missing dives.  If the discrepancies can be resolved, the video is judged later. The judges try very hard to judge every video and give the kids a fair shot. Occasionally videos come in that are incomplete or scrambled and can’t be judged. Notes are made on those applications as to why they weren’t judged.

This weekend the judges will be watching 11 dives for 230 boys and 290 girls. They have a rotation, so that periodically they can take a 5-minute break from judging. They don’t judge any diver that they know or is from their state. There is a “spare” judge in the room that will judge those videos instead. The panels rotate through both rooms. Periodically both rooms take a full 15-minute break to move around, stretch, grab a drink of water or check their phones.  They will judge for about 8 hours on Thursday and Friday, and another 4 or 5 hours on Saturday.

The Volunteers are Incredible!

Don Mason and the judges volunteer their time to put together and judge the All Americans each year. They are a dedicated group of individuals that are absolutely devoted to advancing their sport. IST is proud to provide the hardware and software that helps make their job a little easier. At least they don’t have to do the score calculations by hand anymore!

For more information about the All America Diving program or other All America programs supported by NISCA, visit the NISCA Website.

For more information about IST’s diving software and touchscreen diving modules, visit our website at https://www.istime.com/products/diving-scoring-systems/.

Congratulations to our latest Clock Winner!

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Coach Garcia from Wisconsin won the 4-digit SWIMCOUNT at the Central States Coaches Clinic in Oakbrook IL. Congratulations coach!

Next time you see us at a clinic, make sure you sign up to win!