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BillChunn

AMG Labs Timer - Bluetooth Interfaced to Tablets

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After a two month wait, the AMG Labs Challenger timer arrived.  For Steel Challenge, this thing is really great.  Well worth the money and the wait.  The Bluetooth interface transfers each string time directly to the data entry screen in PractiScore.  No more fat-finger errors or flipping the numbers around when dyslexia kicks in (lol).

 

Headed out to the December SC match at Brooklyn Sportsmen's Club in Michigan with the timer and an Amazon Fire tablet running the latest version of PractiScore.  After selecting "Enter Scores", a stage and a squad, there will be a little icon at the top of the screen that looks like an alarm clock.  Press that and it will prompt to connect to a timer.  If you are running multiple timers, you will have to determine the last 4 characters of the device (MAC) address which can be displayed on the timer.  Select that four character code on the tablet's display and you are on your way.

 

Things to be aware of:

1. The same alarm clock icon is now in the bottom right corner of the time entry screen.  Before each shooter starts his string, make sure there is no "slash" mark through the icon as that indicates it is no longer connected to the timer.  Just tap the icon and the Bluetooth connection is re-established.  If you don't do this, you can still manually enter the time, just be aware of #2.

 

2. If you are entering a miss penalty and accidentally fat-finger bump the time (or have to manually enter it) the next time sent from the timer will not go into the correct string.  It could overlay that already entered time or "jump" down to the incorrect string entry.  Solution:  Press next to the time, just to the right of the last number and it will be framed in gray.  Leave it that way.  Now you are ready for the next string.  When the competitor starts firing, the tablet will move to the next data entry slot and start recording the time.

 

3.  Sensitivity setting - If you turn it ALL the way up to 10, it will record the Range Officer TALKING.  Remember, it functions on pressure changes, not sound.  Running it at 8 picked up all the shots, even from the rim fire guns.

 

Since it was in the high 20's to low 30's everyone on the squad really enjoyed keeping their gloves on and just visually checking the timer display (which is HUGE) to the tablet.  Tremendous technology improvement, you just have to be aware of the above mentioned items.  

 

Thank you AMG Labs and EUXX for the PractiScore programming to make it all happen.

 

BC

 

 

Edited by BillChunn

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I've found that sensitivity 5 or 6 is enough to pick up an uncompensated PCC from 20' away.  At 5 it has zero problems picking up anything in SCSA, with zero echos and false readings.  I love it.  Unfortunately every range I RO at uses one of the following:  Pocket Pro, Pocet Pro 2, or the CED 7000 (most popular).  I'll use what the range provides, except when I'm running a PCC shooter in USPSA.  Using my AMG I don't have to crawl up the shooters butt to record the last shot.

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Thank you AMG Labs and EUXX for the PractiScore programming to make it all happen.


So, I shall see it used at the club matches next year! And you're welcome.

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I saw it in use on one stage at the Kentucky State Steel Challenge match this year. This is a great setup. 

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These are fantastic timers, well worth the wait . One of the matches I shoot has a full compliment of these and makes use of the Bluetooth transfer. It works very well except on one bay that is very close to a cell phone tower - we just manually input on that stage.

The sensitivity is truly amazing. In dry firing my open gun it will pick up the hammer fall if I place it within 3' of the action. Also picks up .22 carbines easily set on #7 sensitivity.

Edited by HalRex

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On 12/18/2019 at 10:39 PM, euxx said:

So, I shall see it used at the club matches next year! And you're welcome.

 

 

Raccoon Hunters has a full set of them (and tablets) for the Steel Challenge matches and was using them for the USPSA matches.  They were the first club in this area with them.  Detroit Sportsmen's Congress has some on order now and they should be in when we go back outside.

 

BC

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5 hours ago, BillChunn said:

 

Raccoon Hunters has a full set of them (and tablets) for the Steel Challenge matches and was using them for the USPSA matches.  They were the first club in this area with them.  Detroit Sportsmen's Congress has some on order now and they should be in when we go back outside.

 

I might have something to do with that too... :)

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Is the bluetooth interface flexible enough to support recording strings in excess of 5 per stage as would be the case during a practice session.  Looks extremely valuable for matches, but I'm really interesting in recording/analyzing practice data.

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Is the bluetooth interface flexible enough to support recording strings in excess of 5 per stage as would be the case during a practice session.  Looks extremely valuable for matches, but I'm really interesting in recording/analyzing practice data.

Check out the new Practice_log app.

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If you have a stage (whether steel or uspsa) setup for practice in Practiscore, you can bump number of strings per stage to 9 and enable push mode and your times will automatically advance to next string recording in the app each time you push GO on the timer. So you can do few runs on same stage then review in app.

The new app from Eugene will also allow you unlimited number of string memory to capture any number of strings automatically, just work with timer and app will do the rest.

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36 minutes ago, candiru said:


Check out the new Practice_log app.

 

31 minutes ago, alexmg said:

If you have a stage (whether steel or uspsa) setup for practice in Practiscore, you can bump number of strings per stage to 9 and enable push mode and your times will automatically advance to next string recording in the app each time you push GO on the timer. So you can do few runs on same stage then review in app.

The new app from Eugene will also allow you unlimited number of string memory to capture any number of strings automatically, just work with timer and app will do the rest.

Just as I would have expected.  Thanks.

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Received my AMG timer a few days ago.  Downloaded the Practiscore Log app and spent 45 minutes at the range this am understanding the interface.  The timer is the perfect size with great ergonomics and the GUI is the best example of "less is more".  I had absolutely no problem interfacing with my Samsung S8.  The BT interace with a 10" Kindle didn't work but I don't consider that much of an issue.  I used the timer yesterday when my wife was practicing with her 22lr pistol and rifle; absolutely no effort required to pick up the shots.

 

Tablet Update: When I first interfaced the Log app with my phone I believe the timer ID simply popped up in the upper l/h corner, but without reinstalling the app I can't verify.  In the case of the tablet I had to select the timer menu and then hit the synchronize symbol in the upper r/h corner of that menu;  the timer ID popped up and I simply had to select.

 

The log app is, of course, great for practice even if you're too old to improve.  Even if your club isn't using the new timer you can have a friend/spouse run a parallel tablet in the background and just have the RO use "your" timer, at least at Tier 1 matches.

 

FWIW I use a Gen 7 8" Kindle.  There is a simple process for adding Google Play Store functionality which is required for installing PS Competitor, PS Log and other Android-only apps.

Edited by RickT
fixed typos

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To interface to a Kindle you have to turn BT push off.

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3 minutes ago, zzt said:

To interface to a Kindle you have to turn BT push off.

I didn't have BT push on; see my note, above.  Working now.

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15 minutes ago, zzt said:

To interface to a Kindle you have to turn BT push off.

 

Hmm. Why do you think you need to turn BT push off on the timer?

 

There are some issues with BT link in the current app release. I'm finishing an update for PractiScore Log app that has improved BT link

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1 hour ago, euxx said:

Hmm. Why do you think you need to turn BT push off on the timer?

 

I have no clue why.  Two IT guys worked on it after I couldn't get it to pair.  No joy.  I suggested turning the push off since that was the only thing left untried and bingo.  It paired and we used it for the entire SCSA match.  The MD liked it so much he wanted to try it at the next USPSA match.  If it worked for that he wants to buy enough for every squad and spares.

 

I'll also say there are some issues using it for SCSA.  You have to wait for it to clear before starting the shooter for the next string.  That sometimes delays things by 20-30 seconds.  No a really big deal, just a problem we encountered.

Edited by zzt

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1 minute ago, zzt said:

 

I have no clue why.  Two IT guys worked on it after I couldn't get it to pair.  No joy.  I suggested turning the push off since that was the only thing left untried and bingo.  It paired and we used it for the entire SCSA match.  The MD liked it so much he wanted to try it at the next USPSA match.  If it worked for that he wants to buy enough for every squad and spares.

 

Entire match? Are you referring to PractiScore app (and which one, ios or android?) or PractiScore Log app?

 

RickT was working with the latter, but for the match usage you need the former app and it is not recommended to use BT push while scoring stages. Not because of the technical reasons, but to give RO better control on when time is taken, he still have to verify loaded time with time on the screen

Edited by euxx

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1 minute ago, euxx said:

Entire match? Are you referring to PractiScore app (and which one, ios or android?) or PractiScore Log app?

 

Yes, the entire match.  The timer and Kindle stayed with the squad.  We used the Android Practiscore Scoring app.  I don't know what version he had loaded, but the interface looked like this.  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.niftybytes.practiscore&hl=en_US 

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When you select the shooters page in Practiscore there is a stopwatch icon in the upper r/h corner next to the sync icon.  Select that and the timer should appear and be selected.  Unlike a conventional BT device it doesn't appear that the timer is literally paired to the tablet; the timer just needs to be visible to the tablet.

Edited by RickT

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19 minutes ago, zzt said:

Yes, the entire match.  The timer and Kindle stayed with the squad.  We used the Android Practiscore Scoring app.  I don't know what version he had loaded, but the interface looked like this.  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.niftybytes.practiscore&hl=en_US 

 

I say that effect of enabling/disabling BT push is coincidental. You probably just restarted the timer.

 

Also, you can follow instructions for linking timer (not the same as pairing) with PractiSCore app at https://blog.practiscore.com/android-app-bluetooth-timers/

 

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15 hours ago, euxx said:

I say that effect of enabling/disabling BT push is coincidental. You probably just restarted the timer.

 

Yes, the timer was rebooted just before BT push was turned off.  It connected instantly after turning push off.  Rebooting the timer with push turned on did nothing for the 3 or 4 times that was tried.

 

You are correct in that the timer is linked, not paired.  The timer seems to turn the link off between shooters, so you have to be careful to wait for it to relink before starting the new shooter.  I don't remember if it delinks between strings.

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1 hour ago, zzt said:

Yes, the timer was rebooted just before BT push was turned off.  It connected instantly after turning push off.  Rebooting the timer with push turned on did nothing for the 3 or 4 times that was tried.

 

Was there more than one Android device involved or tried at that time?

 

The BT devices can be connected only to one tablet at a time and it is possible that some other phone or tablet linked to the same timer was "stealing" that single connection and tablet you've been trying to connect was getting a "busy" signal. When you rebooted timer for a little longer that other device lost connection.

 

1 hour ago, zzt said:

You are correct in that the timer is linked, not paired.  The timer seems to turn the link off between shooters, so you have to be careful to wait for it to relink before starting the new shooter.  I don't remember if it delinks between strings.

 

You are using linked and connected words interchangeably...

 

The linking of timer happens on the squad shooter list screen - at the top menu you select "Timer" option to scan and select BT device to link with (as in "remember name of the timer to connect with"). The timer is not being connected at that point. And if it is connected to some other tablet, you may not be able to see it in the list of devices either.

 

Once timer is linked and you go to the scoring screen, that is when PractiScore app connects to the timer. It shows connection status on the "timer" button at the bottom of the screen. If connection didn't go trough for some reason you can tap on the timer icon (striken trough at that time) to reconnect.

 

Once you go away from the scoring screen or even turn device screen off - timer is disconnected. This is mainly to allow to use single timer when several competitors are run side-by-side and scored on multiple tablets. Though that require some basic coordination between score keepers, as in "keep the damn screen turned off" until you go for scoring targets. That also helps to save the tablet battery.

 

Normally you don't need to keep the scoring screen open and tablet on until shooter is done (or when scoring is started). The timer is reconnected when you turn screen on, and if automatic connection failed, you can tap on the timer icon to connect and once connected - tap on it again to pull data from the timer (regardless of BR push turned on or off). In some cases you need to have some patience and don't tap on that icon too many times.

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You are correct.  I should have said 'turns the connection off'....  Also, we did not put 2 and 2 together and realize it was leaving the scoring screen that caused the disconnect.  Everything else you said is how the setup works.  That still doesn't explain why we had so much trouble connecting to a Kindle, when connecting to my S9 Android phone was a snap.

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52 minutes ago, zzt said:

That still doesn't explain why we had so much trouble connecting to a Kindle, when connecting to my S9 Android phone was a snap.

 

So, you had no issue with linking timer to that Kindle device?

It is just connecting to the timer on the scoring screen wasn't going trough?

Also note that location services need to be turned on on device (that is Android requirement for working with BLE).

 

Generally android devices from different vendors can have different hardware and some devices are just faster or slower comparing to other. You may need to wait a few seconds more on some devices. Add to that different versions of Android itself and customizations done to it by vendors. Even Kindles have several different versions of Android and several generations of hardware. Usually it helps to turn the timer off, while PractiScore app doesn't have the scoring screen open, wait 15..30 seconds (to let connections die, e.g. when on the scoring screen and timer is connected, turn timer off and see how long does it take for timer icon to change state). Then turn timer on and go to the scoring screen again. Also watch for little popups at the bottom - they tell you of any errors. If connection failed - tap on the timer icon to try to reconnect. On some device it may take 5..8..10 seconds to connect, it is not always instantaneous.

 

As for BT push... Alex, will correct me if I'm wrong but the only difference it makes is that timer pushes data over the connected link when new shot is detected and when timer is started (GO button is pushed) and when timer is stopped (M or arrow buttons are pushed while timer was listening). Other than that, the push mode doesn't change how timer is connected.

 

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