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LapTracker - Auto Timer Review

Practice is the most important thing you can do if you want to improve your racing. Unfortunately we don't all have a local track on ...


Practice is the most important thing you can do if you want to improve your racing. Unfortunately we don't all have a local track on our doorstep that is open 24/7. This leads to us finding other places to practice or just using a track with it being unmanned with no timing equipment available.

For this there are now a few personal lap timers that are available such as the excellent one sold via Zen providing an infra-red transponder and decoder box. By far the cheapest however is LapTracker. It's an app that only costs £1.49 pence and I have been using it for a while now and providing feedback to the author Sten Kaiser to make it work better for RC car practice.

Booting it up

When you boot up the software you get a Timer screen, a Display screen and a Set-up screen.

The Timing screen is the main race screen. Here the laps are counted and you can see the information such as Lap-Time, best-Lap and Race time.
This is the race display. All race results can be emailed to you to analyse later
The Timing screen is easy to read. However you will be likely to be standing as this is on the floor so you will actually rely on the audio when practising. You can change the audio settings in the Display screen

The Display screen allows you to configure what Audio and Visual feedback you will get once the practice has started.
Set up your feedback settings for the app.

As you can see from the above, there are quite a lot of settings. I have the voice as it tells me the actual lap time. You can also set it to only say the time if you have beaten your best in the practice time. I actually like this as it gives me feedback. If I pass the line and it's quiet, I know I haven't improved, so I can try to go quicker until I hear a new fast lap time announced.

The app will also make a sound when the practice is over so you can pull the car over and take a look at the results.

Importantly, you can then email the results to yourself so you can analyse them in detail later. Then you can start the next practice.

The Set-up Screen is the most important part.  Here you have to set your Track zones. This is the part that defines the virtual finish line. There are several settings, however for RC cars you will probably use 1:2. Once you set it you can look at the virtual line by tapping the camera button.  Here you can also change the sensitivity of the virtual finishing line. I find the std settings are fine, but if your shell is grey etc you might want to make it more sensitive.
These are the settings I use for TC practice in the local carpark.
Detection reset is similar to most lap systems. Basically once a lap has been added the system will wait for a minimum period before it will count up another lap. This can help reduce errors.

The other settings are also quite obvious. I have it set so the timer doesn't start until I pass the line. It counts for 5mins (You can change this to 8 mins etc) and then importantly the practice will not finish until you cross the line after the time has expired. Just the same as when you do qualifying at the track.

How does it work?

Unlike other systems on the market this software does not require any additional transponders or other hardware to capture your lap time.  The software uses the camera in the iPhone to monitor if anything has passed by.
I ensured the marker fit between the track markers. Above you can see I positioned the camera to cover the two white lines.
As you can see above the system works by having a defined hot-zone which acts as a virtual finishing line. There are several settings in the app, but I use the 1:2 setting. Here you just align it between 2 track markers (2 cans of coke if you are making an improvised track). You have to ensure that the hot zone covers the extents of the finishing line, because if you pass out of this zone it will not count your lap.

Everytime you pass through this marker, Laptracker will register your lap time.

Track test.

When I use the software I use a Smartphone Tri-pod that I purchased from poundland. This allows me to set up the finish line. I then also bind the phone to a bluetooth speaker I have. Basically this gives me much more volume than the std phone speaker. Also I can pop it in my pocket and hear my lap-times, even if standing on a podium (Or a makeshift one).
You do not want to hit the tri-pod that is holding your precious phone!
The app work great for me. It does have some limitations. You need to be the only car on the track, as the app just looks for things that cross the line, if there is another car it will not be able to tell what is happening other than something has broken the beam. In a similar vein you also have to ensure that you set-up your finish line somewhere where only the car will pass. This is fine in practice, but depending on the sensitivity, even a leaf blowing in the wind will be considered a racer if it passes the line, so consider this when setting your start finish line.

Overall

I have been using it for a while now and it works really well. I would suggest you put something around the tripod to avoid any expensive collisions with your precious iPhone. We are all top class racers though right? How could that happen ;)

Practice makes perfect, as my driving is not quite at that level yet, I find this cheap little app has given me another way to improve, and for that I think it is an essential piece of software.

You can download it here  So why not check it out, make a makeshift track and see how you can improve your laptimes :) An excellent tool to help you practice to get the perfect lap


review 1608437082319041585

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