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Publication numberUS3502009 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 24, 1970
Filing dateDec 22, 1967
Priority dateDec 22, 1967
Publication numberUS 3502009 A, US 3502009A, US-A-3502009, US3502009 A, US3502009A
InventorsFred J Connors
Original AssigneeFred J Connors
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Race timer system
US 3502009 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)


To ZERO) FRED J. CONNORS F 3 BY ATTORNEYS United States Patent O US. Cl. 951.1 6 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A photo finish camera apparatus having precision timing means at least to hundredths of a second, using a tuning fork timing source vibrating at a frequency of one thousandths of a second reduced down to hundredths of a second on an infield display board to show the Winners time and reduced further for photographing on the race film. A starting gate switch energizes the infield board circuit, multiple light beams across the finish line freeze the winners time on the board when any beam is broken and a by-pass switch temporarily de-energizes the light beams to prevent actuation thereof by strays before the end of the race.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION It has heretofore been proposed to provide a photo finish camera at a race course, trained on a real or imaginary slit type finish line and arranged to not only film the race but also to film the time of the race. It has been customary to use mechanical or electrical 6O cycle clocks as the timing means, there being a secondary lens trained thereon to cause the time to be photographed on the film with the race contestants at the finish line. Such clocks, while usually accurate, are not sufiiciently accurate to satisfy trainers, handlers, judges and spectators who judge and compare the performance of contestants, such as dogs and horses, in hundredths of seconds, especially for handicapping purposes.

Typical of patents teaching a timing device in the path of a secondary lens, within the camera, and periodically illuminated, are US. Patents 2,641,523 to Beckman of 1953 and 2,819,942 to Goodling of 1958.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION However in this invention an extremely accurate, precision timer is employed, correct to the hundredth of a second, including a tuning fork source and 'a plurality of illuminable Nixie tubes in the path of the secondary lens so that the time of crossing the finish line is extremely accurate on the film. In addition, the precision timing means forms part of a secondary system which includes a large display board, usually infield of the track and clearly visible to the public, the exact time of the winner of each race being shown on the matrix of bulbs on the board in hundredths of seconds. Thus there is no wait for the developing of film and no dependence on relatively inaccurate stop watches or other timing means, for the viewer to know the exact time of the winner of the race to guide his future betting, handicapping or other interests in racing.

In the drawings:

FIGURE 1 is a schematic, perspective view of a portion of a typical race course, not to scale, with the race timer system of the invention therein;

FIGURE 2 is a block type circuit diagram showing the elements of the various circuits of the invention, and

FIGURE 3 is an enlarged View of a typical film developed with the time shown in hundredths of a second.

As shown in FIGURE 1, the photo finish camera ap paratus 30, of the invention is installed at a typical race course 31, having a track 32, a starting box 33 with a starting gate 34 and a finish line 35, all at ground level 36, there usually being a grandstand (not shown) extending well above ground level. A mechanical lure 37 is shown, such as is used in dog racing and it will be understood that the lure passes by the start box, the lure and dogs then pass over the finish line, the lure passes first again over the finish line and that the apparatus must time the contestant dogs without being adversely affected by the lure 37.

The photo finish camera 40, will be understood to be usually mounted in a locked room on the roof of the grandstand, opposite to the finish line 35 and with the first lens 41 thereof directed downwardly at the finish line to film the end of each race. Camera 40 includes the film 42, the film having an emulsion face 43 and an opposite non-emulsion face 44. The lens 41 is arranged to film the finish line on the major portion 45 of the emulsion face 43 and the second lens 46 is mounted back to back to lens 41 and arranged to film the timing means 47, within the camera, the lens 46 being directed at the non-emulsion face 44 of film 42 but the light passing therethrough to create an image of the time on the minor portion 48 of film 42. The camera 40 has conventional manual start and stop means shown diagrammatically as an electric motor 49, source 50, switch 51 and circuit 52.

The race timing mechanism 55, of the invention, departs from the conventional mechanical, or 60 cycle electrical, clocks of prior systems and, instead, makes use of a tuning fork 56 arranged to vibrate at a frequency of one thousand per second to establish a precise, accurate time source. The impulses from tuning fork 56 are delivered to a decimal counting unit 57 and reduced to one hundred per second, and thence through gate 58 to electronic processing unit 59 for conversion to tenths of a second, seconds, ten seconds, etc. Unit 59 energizes a matrix 60 of illuminable tubes 61 each carrying a different numeral thereon, mounted within camera 40, for example Nixie tubes, there being a suitable electronic tube blanking unit 62 and time delay 63 associated with the tubes. The matrix 60 constitutes the timing means 47 at which second lens 46 is directed and it will be understood that the successively illuminated tubes, are photographed on the film with the numerals thereon indicating the exact time elapsed in the race in hundredths of a second. The principal timing control circuit 64, described above, is energized by the closing of a start switch 65 which closes when the start gate 34 is about half way up. A reset switch 66 is also provided to return the electronic counting units to zero. As shown in FIGURE 2, the developed film 42, thus shows a leading contestant such as the greyhound 67, with its nose exactly at the finish line 35 and shows that the elapsed time of the Winner was 31.83 seconds. The camera continues to film and the time is continued to be filmed so that the exact time each contestant reaches the finish line will also show on successive frames of the developed film 42.

The winner timing and indicating means 70 of the invention operates in conjunction with the one hundredth of a second timing means to instantaneously reveal to the interested public at the race course, the precise time of the winner of each race. A display board 71 is mounted infield of the course, usually at the finish line, but separate from the pari-mutual board and includes a visible matrix 72 of illuminable bulbs or tubes 73 arranged to successively indicate in numerals the time of the winner from the opening of the starting gate to the crossing of the finish line. A secondary control circuit 74 includes the tubes 73, the start switch 65, the pair of photo heads 75 and 76, each on an opposite side of finish line 35, and the timing elements 56, 57 and 58, so that the board will display times in hundredths of a second elapsed between 3 the actuation of start switch 65 and the breaking of the light beams at the finish line. As shown schematically in FIGURE 2, the counting pulses from gate 58 are passed through gate 78 and thence through electronic processing unit 79 to the board matrix 71 thereby illuminating the time display numerals during each race.

Because the lure 37 and the contestants usually cross the finish line 35 at the beginning of a race, or animal contestants sometimes stray and run rearwardly, or human spectators may inadvertently trespass on the finish line, a manually actuated by-pass switch 80 is provided in circuit 74 to keep the photo heads 75 and 76 out of the circuit until the contestants approach the actual finish of the race.

When by-pass switch 80 is opened, the impulse from the photo heads 75 and 76, generated by the arrival of the winning contestant at finish line 35 to break the light beams, passes through gate 81 to freeze the time of the winner on the board 71. Manual switching apparatus 82 is provided to illuminate the board 71 with the time of the winner, in case of break-down of the system.

As shown in FIGURE 1, the photo heads 75 and 76 each contain a vertically arranged plurality of alternate photo cells such as 84, 85 and 86 and light beam sources 87, 88 and 89, to produce a staggered set of vertically spaced light beams extending across and above the finish line from proximate ground level 36 at least to the height of the typical contestant.

The electronic components of this invention are not described in detail since they are believed to be known and to be apparent to one skilled in the trade. The tuning fork 56 is a model T/F-O tuning fork oscillator, time and frequency type, operating at a frequency of 1 kc. to an accuracy of i0.005% at 26 C. with a stability of :*:0.07S% from -20 to +75 C. and with a drift of less than 0.01% during the first year.

The timer generates and counts 100 pulses per second on the Nixie tube display matrix 60 and on the separate infield display matrix 72. It gates both counters ON at the start of a race and gates the infield display counter off when the winning contestant crosses the finish line, The l kc. frequency is divided by ten by the decimal counting unit 57 thus generating the one hundred pulses per second used for counting. Gate 58 permits count pulses to enter gate 78 and to enter the decimal counting unit 59 for the Nixie display 60, whenever the start switch 65 has actuated the gate 58. I

A 6 microsecond delay 63 and the variable blanking unit 62 control the ON time of the Nixie tubes 61 to permit photography of the Nixie numerals by camera 40.

Count pulses to the infield display 71 are controlled by gate 81. When the count gate FF of gate 81 is reset,

' the AND permits count pulses to index the counter.

Actuation of the photoheads 75 and 76 causes the FF to change states, thereby blocking pulses, to the counter.

What is claimed is:

1. A photofinish camera apparatus for use on a race course having a start box and a finish line, said apparatus being of the type having a camera with a first lens directed at said finish line; a second lens directed at timing means, a film and camera start and stop mechanism, said apparatus comprising:

race timing mechanism, including timing means, within said camera in the path of said second lens, and a principal timing control circuit including said timing means and a start switch actuated by the start gate of said start box for indicating the time of each contestant in each race on said film from the closing of said start switch until after the end of each race and winner timing and indicating means including an infield time indicator board having a visible matrix of illuminable numerals adapted to progressively and publicly indicate the time of each winning contestant of each race;

light beam switching means, at said finish line, for sensing the arrival of said winner at said line, and

a secondary control circuit including said start switch, said timing means, said light beam switching means and said illuminable numerals on said board;

whereby said camera simultaneously films said race and timing means during the period from the closing of said start switch to after the end of said race and said indicator board visually indicates the time of said race from the closing of said start switch up to the actuation of said light beam switching means by the said winner reaching said finish line.

2. A photofinish camera apparatus as specified in claim 1 wherein:

said secondary circuit includes a manually operable by-pass switch in said secondary circuit, arranged to temporarily de-energize the light beams of said light beam switching means, to avoid falsetiming indication during a race caused by any lure, stray contestant or stray spectator crossing said finish line.

3. A photofinish camera apparatus as specified in claim 1 wherein:

said light beam switching means comprising a pair of substantially identical photo heads, each on an opposite side of said finish line, each head having a vertical stack of alternate photo cells and light sources, to

form a plurality of vertically spaced apart light beams across and above said finish line commencing near ground level and reaching up to above contestant height. 4. A photo finish camera apparatus as specified in claim 1 wherein:

said timing means includes a tuning fork vibrating at a predetermined frequency of one thousand vibrations per second, an electronic decimal counting unit for reducing said frequency to one hundred per second and an electronic processing unit for converting said frequency to one per second, and said secondary circuit is connected into said timing means to illuminate .said board numerals in one hundredths of a second.

5. A photo finish camera apparatus as specified in claim 1 wherein:

said timing means includes a tuning fork vibrating at a predetermined frequency of one thousand vibrations per second, an electronic decimal counting and processing unit for accurately converting said vibrations to one per second and a matrix of Nixie tubes in the path of said second lens, said tubes bearing numerals and being successively energized by said unit to register the time of said race on said film.

6. A photo finish camera apparatus as specified in claim 1, wherein:

said first lens is directed at one portion of the emulsion face of said film, said second lens is back to back to said first lens and directed at another portion of said film on the non-emulsified face thereof and said timing means comprises a matrix of illuminable tubes, each carrying a different numeral in sequence and each successively energized by a tuning-fork controlled circuit.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 621,314 3/1899 Barber 346-107 2,419,474 4/ 1947 Wilcox 346-107 2,987,976 6/1961 Martin 1.l 3,240,135 3/1966 Oswald.

NORTON ANSHER, Primary Examiner L. H. MCCORMICK, In, Assistant Examiner US. C X-R 346-107

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US621314 *Nov 23, 1896Mar 21, 1899 Apparatus for making racing-records
US2419474 *Aug 3, 1942Apr 22, 1947Wilcox Fred ByronApparatus for taking photographs
US2987976 *Mar 30, 1956Jun 13, 1961Paul S MartinCameras
US3240135 *Jan 21, 1963Mar 15, 1966Thorobred Photo Service IncMethod and apparatus for photographing races
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3882512 *Jun 25, 1973May 6, 1975Timelapse IncCamera system with on-frame digital recording means
US4253753 *Nov 19, 1979Mar 3, 1981Ricoh Company, Ltd.Data entering camera
US4523204 *Apr 9, 1984Jun 11, 1985Ssih Equipment S.A.Method and apparatus for timing races
US5103433 *May 16, 1988Apr 7, 1992Augustin ImhofMethod of ascertaining the times of participants in races and other contests
US5513103 *Nov 23, 1994Apr 30, 1996Charlson; CaryMethod of acquiring and disseminating handicapping information
US5831940 *Aug 27, 1997Nov 3, 1998Gillette; WarrenSolo electronic starter and timer system
US6433817 *Mar 2, 2000Aug 13, 2002Gavin GuerraApparatus and method for determining the winner of a race
US7934684Oct 29, 2007May 3, 2011Rocket Racing, Inc.Rocket-powered vehicle racing competition
DE10336447A1 *Aug 6, 2003Mar 10, 2005Gerd HansenRecording and classification of sport or race data, whereby each participant in an event triggers a time signal at a finishing line and is digitally photographed so that times and identities can be subsequently correlated
EP0055843A1 *Dec 21, 1981Jul 14, 1982Omega Electronics S.A.Process for timing races and device for carrying out the process
WO2013124180A2Feb 11, 2013Aug 29, 2013Swiss Timing LtdDevice for 3d display of a photofinish image
U.S. Classification396/315, 396/284, 968/852, 396/332, 346/107.2, 396/429
International ClassificationG04F13/02, G03B15/00
Cooperative ClassificationG04F13/02, G03B15/00
European ClassificationG03B15/00, G04F13/02