Home of Wasabi Air Racing

Elliot Seguin and Jenn Whaley's Formula One class air race team based out of Mojave, California. Pylon racing at the National Championship Air Races in Reno Nevada. Eight airplanes racing head to head around telephone poles in the desert. Mojave is the best place on the planet to build and modify a race plane, and Wasabi is lucky to have the best support in the business.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

HOTAS Stop Watch

Hey Guys,

Justin and I have been doing a lot of testing recently that involves timing a vehicle.  We typically rely on radio to transmit data like this but lately we have been having terrible luck with radios and other people on mission frequencies.

Using a wristwatch to time something in a cockpit is silly.  Whether you do it using no hands and memorizing the time when you started and then doing the math at the end or you use your non-watch hand to start and stop the timer you end up using a lot of valuable cockpit resources.  Also for me it always seems like my glove or sleeve are blocking the view of the watch.  So I started looking around for a panel mounted timer with a remote trigger switch so that I could be fully HOTAS during the high workload low level test points that were the primary concern.

I found three HOTAS solutions before we settled on the Sport Count.

First the Cadillac solution.  There are a lot of really awesome vehicle based timing systems for the motorsport industry.  One that impressed me was the GET series of products (Athena GET).  These are GPS based timers so after some setup work the timer will work on it's own calculating the times based on position hacks from GPS and user defined track points.  Unfortunately the price reflects the awesome, th MD-60 is $360 on Amazon (link).

The second solution is a personal favorite and is not GPS based, the DRC SP-1.  It's a split capable timer with a remote trigger switch for handlebar mounting (link), $68 on Amazon.  This was what we were going to use until we found the Sport Count.  
DRC SP-1 Handlebar Mounted Timer with remote trigger

Lastly the DIY solution.  Based on this Instructables (Laser Sensor Timer) one could mount a timer on the panel and wire a remote trigger switch that could be mounted on the stick.  Since the only cost would be the timer, the wire, and the switch, you could build this solution for less than $30.  At the time we couldn't afford the schedule or the risk associated with this solution.

DIY Solution from Instructables 
The Sport Count finger mounted stopwatch, we use the yellow which is selling on Amazon for $29 (link).  This product was designed to be used for athletes, specifically swimmers, to time themselves while working out.  As a result it is compact and simple, with a very clean interface.  The strap is adjustable and I have used it with and without gloves.

Sport Count Finger Mounted Timer
We used the Sport Count for all the time to climb testing for the Aerochia record runs at the Mojave Experimental Flyin.  Though I consistently checked to make sure the timer had started or stopped when commanded I never had a switch miss fire with a gloved or bare hand.

Go work on your airplane!!