With SprintTimer as the starter

The self-start mode is obviously useful when you want to time yourself, but it might have other purposes as well. For example, can it be used for a group of runners when there is no coach available, or when he wants to be at the finish line. As always is the communication between the start and the finish a challenge, and I will, therefore, go through some options.

Apple Watch
The easiest (and coolest) setup is to start with an Apple Watch. Since SprintTimer v. 14 the watch can act as an independent self-start and it will play the commands, even if it is not in contact with the iPhone. In practice, this means that you should place the iPhone at the finish line. Then open SprintTimer on the watch and on the same time configure the start and the finish. Then walk or jog to the start (even if it is 100 m away), tap ”Play commands” on the watch and start at the shot. When you approach the finish the watch will automatically reconnect, send the start time and the iPhone will start the recording. The watch is loud enough to be heard by others so that it can also be used for a small group.

Some notes for this to work: The watch can NOT communicate while asleep (the screen is black). So the watch app must be running when you do the set up on the iPhone. Also, increasing the wake-time is strongly recommended. This is done in the settings app on the watch or in the watch app on the iPhone. When you tap ”Play commands” the ”turn wrist to sleep” is disabled, so the watch should be awake during the run. All the configurations of the commands are done in the start set up on the iPhone and are transferred to the watch (check that the watch display changes when you close the set up). Also, set the ”Time to start recording” in the finish set up to an appropriate number. Finally, don’t place the iPhone more than a couple of meters from the finish line to give it a chance to connect before the finish. A short video clip of the set-up can be viewed here.

Sending the sound from the iPhone
Relying on the internal loudspeaker when playing the start commands and the start signal of an iPhone/iPad is unfortunately not very useful. It will be heard 10 m at most (a little more on the iPad), so it must be amplified or transferred. Some options are:

  • Loudspeaker
  • Bluetooth speaker or headset
  • Long sound cable
  • Walkie Talkie

A loudspeaker can usually work up to 30-40 m, and you will need a really powerful one to be heard at 100 m (and that won’t be very discreet :). A Bluetooth speaker/headset will also work up to 30-40 m with luck. I have tested the Apple AirPods and they work fine for a start at 30 m. There are some long range Bluetooth adapters that might get you up to 100 m, but unless you have a use for them on other occasions, they are probably not worth the cost.

A long loudspeaker cable is simple and reliable, and doesn’t have to cost much. It can also double as a microphone cable for sound triggered start. But you have to make it yourself, and it is, of course, a hassle with all that cable. See this post for some tips.

A Walkie Talkie is pretty convenient; it has a long range and a negligible delay. Place it close to the iPhone and take the other unit with you to the start. Many walkie talkies will only send a sound when the send button is pressed and you, therefore, have to come up with some mechanism that keeps the button pressed. I used a small clamp as shown in the picture. It is a bit primitive, but it works, and it is only for practice after all.

It is usually better to turn the Walkie Talkie with microphone towards the iPhone, but this gave a more desciptive picture.

Start Sender
If you have two iPhones/iPads you can, of course, use Start Sender with a self-start. It will require a network so these tips might come in handy