What's New Home Orphan List History Instructions Troubleshooting
This is our 24nd year in derby equipment. Click here to see our story.
In 2007, our favorite shipper wound up its 100th Anniversary after touring the country in two teams aboard large semis, stopping in scores of cities along the way. At each stop, they set up nifty displays of their history, and provided fun and entertainment to their employees and families, and their customers, a gesture of gratitude and good will. We were proud to be a part of that effort. One of the featured attractions of the UPS Centennial Tour was a huge 8 lane BestTrack equipped with our finish line, The Judge, and our Light Tree and Remote Controlled Start Gate. Instead of racing Pinewood style cars, they raced model delivery trucks. The kids were each assigned a truck, and if it was a winner, he or she got a prize. Click here for some cool photos of that tour.
The J Series Judge is a winner! As of October 2007, The Judge has a new microprocessor with improved performance, and new firmware, version 2.04. The new firmware addresses a problem which has caused some trouble in the past when using Derby software: accidentally starting the timing for the next race without meaning to, and without being aware of it. The green ready light will now tell you the timer status. When the timer starts (accidentally or not), the green light will turn on steady for one full second, and then go dark until the reset sequence is complete. If you don't see the winking green, don't release the cars.
As of June 2007, illuminator diodes were changed to a new type. The efficiency and focus are vastly superior, so you can raise your Judge up higher to allow taller cars. The old emitters were completely invisible to human eyesight, which made trouble shooting a bit tricky. But while the new emitters are predominately infrared, they have a small amount of energy in the visible spectrum. So you can check for operation by simply looking into them in a darkened room. There is a faint but distinct dull reddish glow.
We are going Green. We have taken a look at the cardboard we have been throwing away, the oil-based peanuts we have been using for packing, and have taken a leap of faith: We believe that you are more interested in our product than how it is packaged. So, when we get in suitable sized boxes from our suppliers, we recycle them as shipping containers. Plastic bags will be recycled Washington Post bags. For cushioning, we are now using balled up newpaper, rather than dropping trees for new products. We are convinced the throw-away mindset of the last century must stay there.
We are now offering a Judge designed for Cubmobile racing.
We are now offering a Judge for Space Derby racing.
Photo Finish Option is now available on all Judges.
The Transponder is now available. Options available include Sunlight Max, Photo Finish, Plan B, and other battery choices. The Transponder is simply the J Series Judge with firmware version 2.04 in a tiny package. There is no display, which saves a lot of money for cost-concious groups. It is only for groups that project race software on the wall or a big screen TV.
Orphans are trade-ins and overruns of previous models, looking for a bargain hunter. The Orphan Shelf is pretty bare at the moment, but it is subject to change daily. Often, we cannibalize existing orphans to rebuild according to your requirements. Savings are typically 50%, but remember that you are purchasing older technology. The Judge has improved steadily over the years. Warranties are adjusted, based upon our ability to service older circuitry, as some parts for older Judges are no longer available. If interested, email or phone your track description, and see what we can do.
We have some M, P, Q and F Series Judge parts that can be remanufactured to your specs, depending on lane widths. Our supply of the old style tubing is down to fumes at this point. We still have some drilled 3 Lane, 3.5" tubes. We can also sell working boards if you would like to build your own enclosure.
We can make a 6 lane, 4" on center M series, yours for $70. This sold for $259 15 years ago. The plastic end caps will not match exactly in color, and the supports may be gray plastic instead of aluminum, depending on availability.
A brand new G series 2 Lane, 3.5" on center is on the shelf. $100. Computer Option upgrade available. Snap this up if it fits your track.
A two lane J Series Derby Magic finish line with Computer Option is available at 30% off. You can see a photo here, except this one has a lower clearance height.
The History of The Judge:
Classic The first Judge design, 1992 to 1995. All metal construction. Circuitry is common high speed CMOS logic gates and flip-flops. Speed of response and ability to split hairs is measured in nanoseconds, actually superior to microprocessor based later versions. Computer Option or ET upgrades not available.
Troubleshooting your Judge or Transponder
The first step in troubleshooting is to determine whether the problem you are having is due to a defect in the equipment, or a flaw in the way it is being operated. There are many things that could go wrong with the equipment, such as failed components, dead batteries, defective cables, defective start gate switch, improper computer set up, etc.
But the place to start troubleshooting is to make sure you are following the Three Rules when operating your finish line. Failure to follow these rules accounts for 86% of problem reports.
Help! Sometimes things get out of sequence during a derby, and the computer is reporting impossibly long times!
It is likely you closed the start gate when the Judge was hot (green light flashing), and did not do it cleanly, accidentally starting a race you didn't mean to. Always close the gate right after the cars are away, certainly before the red display ends. During this period, The Judge ignores the start switch. But after the green light is flashing, The Judge is ready, and cannot distinguish between an oooops, a switch bounce, or the start of a real race. The Judge issues a text warning if it finds the start gate open, but derby software packages do not act on this warning. You are allowed to close the gate at that point if you do it cleanly, but on older Judges there is no way to be sure the timer didn't start.
If you have a J Series Judge, or a Transponder, the green light will tell you the status of the timer, so you will know if it is ready (winking) or busy (dark).
Help! My Computer does not seem to be picking up the start signal from the start gate switch.
If you are using a start gate that uses a hinged aluminum angle as the peg bar (BestTrack or New Directions solenoid gates), it is likely that your magnetic switch is not properly mounted. Keep in mind that the switch actually operates when the distance between the magnet and switch is about 1.0 inch. A hinged aluminum angle does not allow enough displacement when the gate opens to achieve this separation if you mount the magnetic switch so that the elements are close together when the gate is closed.
If you have an aluminum track, ground it. A large chunk of metal isolated on a wooden or linoleum floor can build up considerable electrostatic charge, especially in winter when the humidity is low. You know how a spark can jump from your finger to the doorknob after walking across the floor? Same thing, only the track is a lot bigger than a doorknob, and has a lot more electrical capacity. If you plug your computer into electronic finish lines or other items near the metal track, you could damage your computer with one of those sparks. Secure a wire under one of the track's assembly screws, and run it over to a metal electrical conduit or cold water pipe. Make a good solid connection, not a tentative one.
Help! I can't seem to make communication between the Judge and my computer. Is there a good way to tell whether the Judge or cables are defective, or if my computer just not set up properly? Yes! Do the Paper Clip Test.
Unpower the Judge. Select a small paper clip, not the big size. Straighten it out, and bend it back on itself with tips even and nearly touching. Unplug the serial cable at the computer (or USB converter), and insert the paper clip tips in holes 2 and 3. Note numbering system of top row of 5 begins at the upper right corner. Now power up the Judge, and if you get a DOUBLE light show (instead of a single light show), it means the Judge and computer cable connections are good.
Help! Everything appears to work correctly, but once in a while the race management software picks up some obviously erroneous results. If you are using 120 volts near your track, make sure you are not laying the power cord along the modular cable running from the Judge to the start gate. We have confirmed that there is enough electrical field surrounding a common extension cord to corrupt the data being transmitted to your computer.
Help! My illuminator board does not light up! Right. It is emitting infrared light. You cannot see the light, but that doesn't mean it is not there. I get at least 20 calls per season about this. See the note at the top of this page regarding the new illuminator diodes currently being used.
Help! My Judge won't work outside! See Sunlight Max.
Help! The Judge won't detect the cars. I can make it trigger only when I put my finger right against the sensors! Your room is aglow with natural light from windows, doors, or there are strong incandescent lights shining on The Judge. Reduce the amount of natural or incandescent lighing, and use florescent lighting instead.
Help! How do you suggest mounting the Junction Board and magnetic switch on the metal Freedom Track? Here is a location that works well, the top panel of the pylon. Make sure to install those black plastic spacers. Otherwise the wiring will short out on the track.
Help! The red lights initially flash, but then nothing works! The power must be applied LAST. You must have the illuminator assembly plugged in and the emitters aligned with the sensors directly above. The first thing the Judge does when it gets power is to count the number of lanes in your track. If you install the batteries before the illuminator assembly is connected and aligned under the Judge, The Judge will think that your track has zero lanes, and behave accordingly. Make sure your connections are all complete, align the illuminators under the Judge, and THEN apply power.
Help! I can't make the microswitch work reliably with my start gate! In 2001, I changed to a magnetic switch for the start gate, and this complaint has gone away. The magnetic switch adjustment is not critical: sort of like a hand grenade, close is good enough, and much more reliable. For Judge owners with the old micro switch, you can find a magnetic switch at Radio Shack. Or I could supply it, but with postage, it will be more.
Help! I removed the screws on the bottom, just trying to... (you name it), and now things rattle around inside and I can't make things tight again! Removing the screws will not help you open up The Judge, if that is what you were trying to do. Slip a butter knife under the end caps to cut the adhesive. Remove end caps, and shake out the flat spring nuts. If you have lost any, send $3 and a SASE. Using a tweezer or small needle nose pliers, put the nuts back on the screws. Glue the end caps in place with GE Silicone II. If you are curious as to what is inside The Judge, send $10 and a SASE, and I will send you the complete schematic diagram. The microprocessor code is proprietary. Attempting self repair or modifying your Judge will be expensive: it will void your warranty.
Help! The last cub master wrote lane numbers on the Judge with a permanent marker, and did a very sloppy job. Can it be cleaned? Probably. During manufacture, I scrub the plastic with Comet on a green Scotch Guard pad. If you lose the gold label in the process, give me a call, and I will send you a new one.
Help! I cannot make computer contact with The Judge, either in HyperTerminal or my derby software program. The most common reason for this is that your computer has been configured to boot up with the serial port already assigned to a Palm Pilot or similar device. This prevents other programs from accessing the port. Look for the device icon in the tray at the lower edge of your screen, right click, and close it.
Help! My computer has only USB ports, not serial. Stop by your Best Buy or other computer store and get a USB-Serial cable. We also offer this item at $19. This device makes your USB computer think it has a serial port. Most Judge owners want to be at the start line with their computer, and USB signals do not travel over long cables. Serial messages easily travel on long cables, so this is most practical format at this time.
Help! I lost my instructions, and need to know the Serial Port settings in Hyperterminal. 9600 bits per second, 8 Data Bits, 1 Stop Bit, and No Parity.
Help! The GrandPrix Help Menu has recently been altered to contain one or the other of the following statements regarding the Judge: Since it refers to the Judge's reset display "dancing lights" how can I know if there are any problems with the new Transponder, which has no display?
Neither statement is true. There are 5226 Judges out there as of the end of 2012, and used with Hyperterminal, RaceView, DerbyMaster and GPRM continually for 18 years. Any such problem would have been discovered and corrected long ago. No customer has ever reported such behavior. No changes have ever been made to the reset section of the firmware versions. No Judge will fail to transmit accurate race results by simply sending the reset command during the reset sequence (light dance). The operation of a Judge or Transponder is best understood by looking at it directly in Hyperterminal.
We are working with this software supplier, Lisano Enterprises to understand why these statements are appearing in their otherwise great software, and expect to have this matter resolved soon.
Transponders manufactured after March 30, 2013 will offer an additional red LED next to the green timer status LED, which will blink quickly six times just prior to reset as a final reminder to close your gate. It will also demonstrate what Judge owners already know: that reset commands are processed as follows: