Signals Desktop App Released

Following the release of the Signals app for Android last week, the version for laptops and desktops (ie Windows and Macbooks etc) is now here!

Signals is a free app that provides countdown and start signal automation for sailing races. It can connect to a relay via a USB cable to switch a horn on and off or connect to a micro-controller (such as an Arduino). The Arduino can also control a horn via a relay, but because the Arduino is programmable you can make it do anything you like, such as controlling lights and displays.

So if you are making a race sound system for your sailing club, you can use Signals to automate some of the sounds.

Get the new Signals Desktop App here :

Signals in action…

Signals app controlling a portable race hooter
Signals Desktop main screen
Signals Desktop countdown in progress

More about the Signals app

  • It doesn’t need an internet connection to work
  • The standard sequences of 10-5-Go and 5-4-1-Go are available
  • A training sequence of 3-2-1-Go is also available

Only on the Signals Desktop App (not on Android):

  • The sequences can be changed
  • Courtesy signals are also available (shorter warning sounds before a main signal)

More information is on the main Signals page.

New version of Signals app released

The next version of Signals for Android devices is now available on Google Play.

This is an upgrade that adds support for some USB serial relays (HW-667s or many of those with a CH340 controller). So the app can now trigger start signals via a simple USB relay or via an Arduino.

Signals is a free and open source app that automates the sound signals for dinghy race starts. You can use it with your own race hooter using simple components such as 12 volt car horns and batteries combined with a cheap USB relay or Arduino to connect to the app.

Some of the stress is taken off the race team with the Signals app providing automatic timing of sound signals plus the ability to make those extra manual hoots for over-the-line, general recall and shorten course.

The source code can be found here (and includes the app, if you want to install it directly rather than via Google Play).

If you need some help building a race hooter, Ian will be posting a video on the blog in the next few weeks to demo what components to buy and how to put them together to make your own automated Signals box.

Boat Timer Results – Race Link

There was already a link at the bottom of an event table in Boat Timer Results (part of Cloud Services) that allowed you to link directly to the event, without having to select it in the menu. So this minor update also adds a direct link for individual races.

The link looks like this

with a race ID to take you straight to that page – useful if you are publishing news of a race on the club website.

Boat Timer – June minor update

When you press the “Lap” button in Boat Timer the Lap button disappears for that boat so you know you have recorded a lap. The button reappears when you press Update on the grid to sort the race into the order of the last lap for the sailors.

To make it more obvious which boats have lapped and which have not, the latest version of Boat Timer (version 21160) also turns the boat’s box grey. So only the white boxes have yet to have a lap recorded. Just like the lap button, the normal colour is restored when you press the Update button to re-sort the grid.

As always, the update to the Boat Timer app is automatic – if you close and open the app a couple of times you should see the new version.

Boat Timer Update – Average Lap Timing

Boat Timer users will be automatically upgraded to the new version 21122 this week. This version has some minor fixes for forms and race switching and introduces Average Lap Timing.

Average Lap Timing

Previously Boat Timer used elapsed time (the time taken to go from the start to finish line) for results. However a number of clubs use average lap times instead. In this type of race, the race team sound a warning signal (similar to a “shorten course” signal) to tell sailors that the race is about to finish. The next time each boat crosses the finish line they have completed the race.

The advantage of this method is that faster boats can sail for longer in a handicap race without slower boats having to sail more laps. So it is becoming a popular way to run club races as each sailor can have roughly the same amount of time racing whatever boat they sail.

Boat Timer now supports this. In each start you can change the Timing Method from Finish Time to Average Lap Time and results will then use the average lap times and for handicap races, corrected times will be based on average laps too.

The way times are calculated is to take each boat’s average lap time and multiply it by the most laps any boat completed. This gives an elapsed time for each boat as if they had done the same number of laps. Corrected times are then calculated from the elapsed time using the rating system selected.

Boat Timer April Update

You will automatically be upgraded to the new version of Boat Timer this week (version 21100). This update fixes a couple of issues and adds a search facility to the race grid that comes in very handy when managing a lot of boats in a race.


  • The country code for China has been corrected and two missing countries Bolivia and Chile have been added.
  • The “Move Up” function now works correctly. There will be a new blog post soon to introduce you to Move Up if you have not used it before.
  • Zero is now accepted as a sail number. Previously it could not be used and an incorrect error message was shown.

New Search Facility:

At the top of the race grid there is now a search box. If you are tracking a large fleet, search helps you identify boats quickly by class or sail number. When you enter part of a class name or sail number, the matching boats are highlighted in the grid. To unhighlight, simply delete the text in the search box and press search again.

Plymouth, Falmouth & Langstone marks added to JettyMap

JettyMap can use shared marks as well as club-specific race marks where clubs share their sailing area.

Chichester and Portsmouth Harbours, plus the Solent sea marks are already mapped. Now three new areas in the UK – Plymouth Sound, Falmouth and Langstone Harbour have also been added.

You can see the shared marks when you select any sailing club in that area.

If you would like your club to be next, let us know – it can be anywhere in the world.

New version of Boat Timer released

The latest version of Boat Timer is now available. This is a significant upgrade that introduces Cloud Services sync with online race entry and results, plus many other features such as a simpler screen for adding new entries and more obvious buttons on the race grid.

A guide (PDF) to the new version is on the main Boat Timer page.

If you open the app the upgrade will be applied and you should see the new version the second time you open it.

**However** often browsers will cache the old version and – depending on the browser settings – it may take several hours before you see the upgrade. You can wait and the upgrade will eventually appear or you can clear the part of the cache that affects this.

In Chrome, the relevant part is in Chrome Settings – Privacy & Security – Clear Browsing Data – Cached Images & Files.

The Chrome Settings option can be found from the three dots menu (top right)

The new version number is 21045 and you should see this near the top of the page if you press the Options button.

Boat Timer Upgrade 2021

The new Boat Timer update for 2021 will be released later this week.

Upgrades are automatic. When you open the app after the update it is downloaded in the background. The second time you open, the upgraded app will be available.

This release is a significant upgrade bringing a number of new features, including the new Cloud Services for online entries and results.

A detailed guide to this release is available on the main Boat Timer page. Here is a summary of some of the new features:

Cloud Services

  • App Sync – Boat Timer data is saved to the cloud
  • Online Entry – Sailors can enter races online
  • Online Results – Race and Series/Event results immediately available on the web

Cloud Services will be available to sailing clubs for £25 per month (or equivalent in local currency).

Boat Timer

  • Auto-Add Online Entry Requests – add online entries to the race
  • Average Points – average points can be assigned for series/event results
  • Auto-Sync – sync to the cloud can be manual or automatic
  • Event Options – scoring system and race discards controls for online results tables

JettyMap released

JettyMapThe sailing club mapping app JettyMap is now available. It is an app for phones, laptops and tablets that lets clubs add race marks, start/finish lines, race courses & notices to their map, plus labels and directions to help visitors find the car park, launching area and other facilities.

Boat Timer joins RestartSailing technology webinars

If you have not seen RestartSailing yet, it is an organisation to support sailing clubs during and after the Covid 19 restrictions. From the site they say:

“RestartSailing came together at the start of the Covid 19 pandemic to give a platform for the sailing community to work together and help restart sailing in these difficult times. It has been encouraging to see sailing activity re-establishing itself after lockdown measures were eased.”

I was invited to present Boat Timer at the RestartSailing (race entry, payment processing, track and trace) webinars on November 18th 2020, so if you missed any of it here’s the presentation and videos from the event:

Boat Timer slides from RestartSailing webinars

Boat Timer video 1 – Getting Started

Boat Timer video 2 – Recording Lap Times

Boat Timer video 3 – Finish Timing & Results

Boat Timer update – version 20237

Boat Timer has been updated to version 20237. This update adds Cloud Services – the ability to synchronise Boat Timer information with a internet-based database.

Using Cloud Services means that the race progress and results can be seen on the Boat Timer web site, bringing real-time race information to competitors and spectators. It also makes it easier for the race team to use a different device for Boat Timer as they can get all the latest race information on to the new device from the cloud.

In the future, Cloud Services will be expanded to allow competitors to sign on to a race from their laptop or mobile device so the race team will see race entries appear in Boat Timer as they are added.

This version also adds lap times to results. There is a new tick box in the Boat Timer results page called “Include Lap Times”. This shows the average lap time for each boat in the app’s results table. When exporting results to CSV or HTML files, all the lap times are added as extra columns to allow more in-depth analysis of lap times.

As always, the Boat Timer app is updated automatically to the new version when you next connect it to the internet.

Boat Timer: rating number updates for 2020

Each year the RYA publish the new Portsmouth Yardstick (PY) numbers around this time (March). The new table has arrived and you can see it here. Boat Timer keeps a table of these rating numbers and also has an easy way for you to change the numbers for your club (each club can adjust the ratings to suit their racing) and add boats not on the table. You can even add a new rating system.

The Portsmouth Yardstick is not the only system, other countries such as the USA have their own, though many are based on PY numbers. Another popular system in the UK is “Great Lakes” which is a variation of the PY based on the Great Lakes winter series racing and Boat Timer includes the Great Lakes numbers for many classes. You can see more details about it here.

Boat Timer: Backup option plus revised CSV columns

Boat Timer now has a backup option. This is a significant addition as it allows data to be saved and also moved to another computer. Under Options – Backup are “Export” which saves all Boat Timer information to a single file and “Import” to read an exported file back in.

“Import” should be used carefully: it deletes all Boat Timer databases and recreates them from the file, so anything done in the app after the export will be lost.

In the CSV file created from the Boat Timer results are two new columns: “Status” and “Actual”. Actual simply records the finish time as would be recorded on a clock. Mark at Rooster suggested this would help when using programs such as HAL Race Results. The Status column records codes such as DSQ, OCS, RTD for boats that do not finish. These codes previously appeared in the Elapsed column which made it difficult to import them to another program.

Finally Boat Timer now displays the version number of the app so it is clear what version you are using – it appears just under the black header when you open the Options page. The new version is 20071 – the number is based on the day of the year, in this case the 71st day of 2020.