Getting Pinewood Master to accept times from a PDT timer is very similar to the other timers. It just uses a different “filter” to remove unneeded characters from the serial data stream coming from the timer.
NOTE: Since the PDT Timer uses an Arduino Uno for its ‘brain’ there is one thing to get ironed out at the start. The Arduino Uno uses a USB connection to ‘talk’ to your computer. But hitch is that there are at least four different versions of the Uno from different manufacturers. And two of them will ‘talk’ to your computer with no effort on your part. The other two require you to install special USB driver software. The two that need drivers use the CH340 USB chip (visit HERE to get the driver) and the PL2303 serial to USB adapters ( visit HERE to get the driver). You will need to look at your Arduino and see if your Arduino uses one of those chips.
The easiest way to test if you need to worry about this is to install the Arduino IDE software ( goto https://www.arduino.cc to get the latest version ), then connect your Arduino to your computer and under the ‘Tools’ menu select ‘Port’ and see if anything other than ‘Bluetooth’ shows up in the list. If so, try opening the “Blink” sketch and modifying it (to make it blink faster or slower) and then under ‘Tools’ select the model of Arduino you are using (probably the Uno), and try to send the modified ‘Blink’ sketch to your Arduino. If it works .... GREAT! You have cleared the first hurdle. If it doesn’t work it’s time to looking to see if your Arduino uses ether of the two USB chips that need the drivers installed.
Let’s test to see if Pinewood Master can ‘see’ your Arduino. But you need to have the timer powered up and connected before you start up Pinewood Master (when Pinewood Master starts up it asks the system what connections are available). So setup your timer and get it working first. Once the timer is working connect the USB cable to your computer.
Now startup Pinewood Master and select Preferences.
In the Preferences window select the Serial tab.
You will see a window that looks like this:
Now select the port to which your timer is connected.
See if your Arduino’s port shows up in the list. Mine is showing up as “usbmodem14231”.
You will almost certainly have a different name.
If the only options are for “Bluetooth” then the computer is not recognizing that your timer is connected and you have some other hardware issue such as a bad cable or missing USB driver. The possibilities are too numerous to cover them all here.
But, hopefully your timer is showing up and you have it selected.
When you select your timer’s port you should see the port show as “open.” If it still shows “closed” either you have chosen the wrong port or some other program has the port already in use. The chances that another program has the port open are slim, but not impossible. It is more likely that you have the wrong port selected or the port for your timer is simply not being recognized by the computer. (check cable connections or maybe try a different cable and verify that the timer is powered up).
Once the port shows “open” we are ready to continue.
With other devices that are “automatically recognized” the settings for Baud Rate, Data Bits, Stop Bits, and Parity have no effect. So those do not matter.
So let’s see if the timer is ‘talking’ to Pinewood Master. Click the “Open Serial Monitor” button to open this window:
Now run some cars down the track (or fake it by tripping the start gate and waving your hand through the finish gate). If all is well you should see something that looks like this:
If you see something similar to what is shown above .... Great! On to the last step.
All that is left is to choose your timer. So click the Radio Button (the circle) to the left of “PDT Timer”
Now run some cars down the track again (or fake it again).
Now the Serial Monitor window should show the new times and in the bottom section it shows just the lane numbers and times with the extra characters removed. In this case Lane 1 had a time of 4.2972, while lane 2 had a time of 4.1098, etcetera.
If that’s what you see .... PERFECT! You are ready to close the Serial Monitor window and the Preferences window and proceed with the rest of the race.
One note ... Pinewood Master is built to use times down to three decimal places. So it strips off that fourth decimal place. This has never been a problem. In the 25+ years I have been running Pinewood Derby races (and I officiate races for about twelve packs every year) there has NEVER been a tie for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place with the timer accuracy at three decimal places. So that fourth decimal place is of no consequence. If you absolutely must have that four place accuracy contact me via email at email@example.com and I can email you a special, one time, version of Pinewood Master that I used during the PDT Timer testing process. Ask for version 1.41P2.
A second minor note ... At our races the racers are encouraged to test their cars on the track before they check them in so they can be sure they run properly. until you generate the race grid or save the race Pinewood Master will ignore times being sent from the timer. But once the grid is generated or the race is saved (the program generates a grid, if needed, before it saves) then times from the timer will automatically be entered in to the Enter Times window.
There are two solutions for this ... either make sure any test times have been erased before you run the official first set of racers ... or, with the Enter Times window selected , press the space bar to lock out times from the timer.