North West Orienteering Club organised to use the O-Lynx system at the 3 day Regal Orienteering event being held over the Queens Birthday weekend. They were co-hosting it with the Auckland Orienteering Club.

As the event was being held in Woodhill it would be a good opportunity for them to test it with the 2012 NZ Nationals being held there next year. I was also keen to see how other people would use the system without hopefully too much input from me. Even confirming that the O-Lynx radios mounted easily to another clubs control stands was a worthwhile result.

While the middle course at the Nationals in Hawkes Bay  involved using some O-Lynx radios in a forest area, Woodhill would be a good opportunity to build up a lot more knowledge for this type of terrain.

Stephen Reynolds from North West organised the club to run the O-Lynx system with both commentary and large 43″ Plasma TV screens for results. It was good to be able to turn up on the first day and have most things setup even if there were some last minute computer issues getting the big screens running. A big question mark for me is always how the entry importing will go as there are so many ways to save the same information and dealing with a new club would probably introduce new ways of doing things. However the entries all imported after a few changes to the file. By day 3 the system had evolved a bit more and one of the files ( OE /MT ? ) went straight in.

The first event had a couple of radio controls plus the finish, while the last event had about 4 radios on different courses, with the course setter/vetters doing a good job of working with and passing on their knowledge to the next people. The trees in the forest were mainly unpruned which cut down range a lot more. Probably the main things to take away from the event as far as setting out the controls is that getting into re-entrants is often best done with a radio/repeater looking up or opposite the re-entrant rather than having one on top looking down. The other tip is when trying to go for distance through the forest, is to make as much use as possible of the line-of-sight properties of forest tracks to get the signal close and then go through the forest, rather than trying to go straight through the forest to a distant control.

The feedback from the setters was positive and even enthusiastic. An O-Lynx type system with commentary and results can make a big difference to the atmosphere at an event centre so its pleasing to see setters embrace it and want to make the most of it. It was also good to get some encouraging comments from some of the Australian team over for the NZ/Aus challenge.

The results displays evolved a little for this event as well, with elasped times now shown. This makes the results a lot more interesting as you can now watch runners move down past other finished runners while they are out on the course rather than just see their finish time/placing pop up when they complete the course.

Problems at the events were few and mainly to do with the computer systems, so a couple more tips in case you are looking at running an event ….

– Even if the WIFI router says its extended range or long distance, still mount it high. A lot of people gathered around can still affect their range a lot and losing the network crashes the results software as it tries to update the punch data. The new save / load window layout option was really handy to get things back up and running quickly as this happened about 3 times during the long weekend.

– Turn off any power saving options on the PC’s before the event. Suddenly having the results screens go blank as the PC goes into sleep mode or it turns on its screen saver is not a good look.

Overall it was a good weekend and I managed to run all 3 days. Weather wasn’t great with some rain on the Saturday and Monday but all the technology survived. Thanks to North West and Auckland for using the O-Lynx system.

See the awesome video on the weekends events