T-link 3 RF signal degrading

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T-link 3 RF signal degrading

Postby grunkles » Fri Jun 21, 2019 7:36 am

I keep getting a warning that the signal from bith transmitters (T-link 3) are degrading every few minutes. I've tried swapping the battery and using a higher gain antenna but it keeps happening. Any suggestions on how to troubleshoot this?
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Re: T-link 3 RF signal degrading

Postby raceamerica » Sat Jun 22, 2019 12:19 pm

grunkles wrote:I keep getting a warning that the signal from bith transmitters (T-link 3) are degrading every few minutes. I've tried swapping the battery and using a higher gain antenna but it keeps happening. Any suggestions on how to troubleshoot this?

What do you mean by a warning? Is this the PC software showing a warning of some kind? How do you know the transmitters are degrading? Please describe the warning in detail so we can analyze. Also, please describe your equipment setup - how high antennas off the ground - distance between T-Link 3 and timer/PC. T-Link 3 is designed for consistent RF output.
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Re: T-link 3 RF signal degrading

Postby grunkles » Sat Jun 22, 2019 3:38 pm

Oh, right. I keep forgetting that the equipment is separate from the software. It's AXware TS. There is a status window for the wireless communications that pops up when there is an issue (duplicate start signals, finish tripped without a matching start, low radio signal, etc.) The signal strength was dropping from 100% to less than 30% every few minutes from the B/finish transmitter. The finish lights also occasionally will trip constantly (but the transmitter light doesn't turn red).

The antennas were about 200' apart, the Z station at table height, the B station about a foot off the ground.
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Re: T-link 3 RF signal degrading

Postby raceamerica » Sat Jun 22, 2019 3:44 pm

The continuous finish trips would not be an RF issue. In order for the software to receive a trip, the RF signal must be present. If there is no RF signal, the trip would not get transmitted. A continuous trip sounds like a cable or emitter sensor alignment.

The AXware software window popping up sounds like a loose antenna connection. Does this occur with the start line also or just the finish line? If it occurs only at the finish, I would raise the antenna since 1 foot high is a bit low for 200 feet especially if the pavement have a high content of metallic or rebar is present.
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Re: T-link 3 RF signal degrading

Postby grunkles » Tue Jun 25, 2019 3:07 am

If it's a beam alignment issue, would the status light on the T-link transmitter be solid red? It looked like it was pulsing orange (both LEDs) every second or so and would turn solid red if I blocked the sensor with my hand. The receiver also rattles if shaken gently. It was just upgraded to the latest internals so I wouldn't expect any issues with it.

I did see the start signal degrade once or twice as well but it was also showing "interference cleared" in the status window. I'll see if I can get some insight into that error from AXware.

Changing from T-link 3 to 2 didn't help. Changing antennas didn't help. I was able to resolve it by going back to an ancient receiver unit (plastic case) and swapping the location of the emitter and receiver/transmitter.

It's possible that the surface had something to do with it--it was a concrete skid pad at a test facility, so there was probably lots of rebar. We haven't had an event there before and probably won't have a chance to try it again until next year. If I was being more diligent I would have only changed one of those variables at a time but in the heat of battle sometimes you have to just get it working again.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Re: T-link 3 RF signal degrading

Postby raceamerica » Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:30 am

If the alignment is off by a lot, the LED would be solid red. If it is an intermittent alignment issue, the momentary solid red would get lost in the red/green LED blinking. You can turn the IDZ unit off so the red/green flashing stops, this way you can monitor if the LED goes red due to intermittent alignment which would give a trip every approx. 3 seconds from the T-Link.

grunkles wrote:Changing from T-link 3 to 2 didn't help. Changing antennas didn't help. I was able to resolve it by going back to an ancient receiver unit (plastic case) and swapping the location of the emitter and receiver/transmitter.

It does sound like an emitter/sensor error. I would suggest swapping the emitter/sensor pair from finish to start and see if the issue follows the pair. If so, swap either the emitter or sensor between start and finish and see where the problem goes. If it moves to the finish, the unit just moved to the finish is the issue,
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Re: T-link 3 RF signal degrading

Postby grunkles » Tue Jul 23, 2019 4:49 am

We still had some issues at the next event but I wasn't running the timing that day so I'm not sure exactly what it was. It's definitely related to false trips on the finish line. We've been using small plastic storage containers to improve the weatherproofing of the older sensors and they've worked just fine for years. The containers are clear but there is also a hole slightly bigger than the lens opening at one end to allow the IR beam through. The new sensors are slightly taller than the old ones and have to be laid on their side in order to fit. Would that affect the spread of the emitted beam or change the sensitivity to alignment of the receiver?

One of the new receivers also rattles--looks like the lens/window is loose. Is it possible that the lens being misaligned is messing with the beam?
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Re: T-link 3 RF signal degrading

Postby raceamerica » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:56 am

grunkles wrote:Would that affect the spread of the emitted beam or change the sensitivity to alignment of the receiver?

When you say sensor being taller, do you mean the emitter with the USB Battery? If yes, laying them on their side does has a small effect on beam angle but something you would not notice in normal use. If you did mean the sensor, there is no effect on its side.

grunkles wrote:One of the new receivers also rattles--looks like the lens/window is loose. Is it possible that the lens being misaligned is messing with the beam?

Once again, the receiver is the unit connected to the wire while the emitter is the unit with the battery. The emitter has a clear lens inside loosely fit to allow for expansion so it will have a small amount of play and could rattle like it is loose. The lens is 90 degrees to the beam and can not move in a way to have any effect on the beam.

The issue still sounds like emitter/sensor used at the finish line. Did you try what I suggested last reply of swapping start for finish beams? Also, the emitters and sensors are constructed in a way not requiring any weather protection like other company's beams. These are weather resistant units, not submersible, but can be in direct contact with rain and sun. Many times we find the clear containers some customers use to 'protect' these units actually creates a greenhouse effect and raises the ambient temperature quite a bit, which would be bad for the electronics.

You might want to send the emitters and sensors in to RaceAmerica for testing and possible repair.
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