Software Review - Event Control System

The Event Control System is a program that has been available since last summer. You may remember the review in Z88 EPROM of the 'Stopwatches' program from Racing Car Computers (Vol.3 No.3). That program enabled you to keep track of competitors with many lap times, for example in a field event. The Event Control Systen (ECS) has to some extent grown from that program - the timing core of the program is very similar - but rather than allowing many times for relatively few competitors, this program allows you to record a single time for many competitors.

The original idea came from Stan Sutherland, a long-standing Club member, who for some time had acted as a commentator on various road rally events - the Lombard RAC Rally among them. As a rally commentator you need a system which can handle many competitors (the ECS can handle 180!), split over several groups or classes, and the facility to keep track of positions within the field.

The ECS grew from Stan's requirements for rallying, but the program is equally applicable to any event where many competitors need to be recorded - swimming, cycling, horse and sailing events to name but a few.

The ECS comes supplied on the normal 32k ROM card, together with a 15 page A4 manual which is clearly written and even sports an index! Installation in the Z88 (which must have at least 128k expansion) gives an addition to the applications list called 'Events', which can be selected with []W. The manual makes the point that the Z88 system clock should read the correct time, as competitors' times can be entered as actual start and stop times. Once started, ECS asks you for the name of the event, and the distance of the event in either miles or kilometres.

There are two distinct operating modes within ECS - ENTER mode and VIEW mode. Enter mode allows for the insertion and editing of competitor information, including entries for Number, Group and Class, two Name fields, and Type and Model details. There is also a two-line area called Note Pad. This is very useful if you are commentating on an event, as in this area can jot down all the extra information which makes for an interesting commentary. The Note Pad area is always displayed along with the competitor's details.

View mode is the main working mode of the program. It allows for the viewing of all competitors' information, (but not editing), and displays the current ranking of all the competitors. Start/Finish times are entered in this mode, and the current clock is also controlled.

In enter mode you are given a new template screen for each competitor, up to a maximum of 180. Entered details can be saved to a file, and the option to load a previously saved set of competitors is given when starting the program.

Similarly, if the same competitors are competing in several events, it is possible to load them into new instantiations of ECS and just change the Event Name and Distance. The program will even cope with several competitors with the same number, as might happen in some events.

It is simply a matter of pressing ESC to toggle between View and Enter modes, so it is simple to edit any entries or add further notes during an event. To view the information on any particular competitor is easy - you either use <>FC (Find competitor) and enter the competitor's number, or use the cursor keys to scroll through the pages of details.

Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate the level of control this package offers is to list the available commands. Where the use of a command is obvious, there will be no explanation.

View Rankings. This produces a sorted table of competitors, ordered depending on any group or class restrictions set. (See <>RG & <>RC below.) The table shows the competitor's number, name, group/class, time, speed, place, time from leader, and time from overall leader (in the case where the ranking just shows a particular class or group).
Load competitors.
Save competitors. Also saves times. File is compacted to minimise memory usage.
Start current clock
Stop current clock
Enter start/finish times. There are three methods of entering a time - the Z88 will time a competitor using its own clock if you use <>GO and <>ST. The second option is to enter the competitors time directly while in edit mode. The third option is to use <>ET, and enter the actual starting time. When <>ET is used again to enter the finish time, the program works out the elapsed time automatically.
Toggle modes.
Blank record entry. The TAB key moves you from View mode to Enter mode, but also gives a blank record sheet ready for a new competitor.
Restrict by group. This causes the Rankings table to show only the rankings within the selected group.
Restrict by class. As <>RG, but shows rankings within selected class. By using both <>RG and <>RC you can display rankings of a class within a group.
No restrictions. Removes any group/class restrictions.
Print out competitors.
Print out rankings. Selection affected by <>RG & <>RC.
Change event title.
Change distance. (Used to calculate average speeds of competitors.)
Restart application.
Find competitor.
Delete competitor.
Reset all times. This sets times for all competitors to zero. Use with caution!
Abandon application. The equivalent of <>KILL from the Z88 Index.

That completes the summary of commands, and should give you an idea of the comprehensive control the package offers over times and information.

In conclusion, if you are an event commentator or organiser, a coach or competitor, this package is sure to be of great value. Combining a database of competitors and timing details works well, and the quick and easy generation of ranking tables would I'm sure be a godsend to many users. The Event Control System, together with the Stopwatches package from Racing Car Computers, must make the Z88 the logical first choice for any timing applications.

The Event Control System is available from Front Line Computers Limited, 30 Blackthorn Grove, Nuneaton, Warwickshire. CV11 6UX. Price £59.95.

Front Line have generously offered a £10 discount to Club members. Order from them quoting Club Special Offer and your membership number at £49.95. Send current envelope as proof of membership.)

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