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User's Guide to Electronic Punching

Electronic punching (E-Punch) is an electronic means of calculating the time it takes one to complete an orienteering course, and also checks that one has visited all of the proper controls in the correct order on the course. It is used in place of standard pin punching and paper punch cards. The following describes how to use E-Punch on an orienteering course.

At Registration

Each individual or group going on a course needs to have an E-Punch finger stick (also called an SI card, e-card, chip, dibber, etc.). If you do not have your own finger stick, you will have to rent one at registration for $5.00.¹ The finger stick is a plastic device that contains a small chip, and is used to record your start and finish times, and all of the controls that you visit.

Note: If you rent a finger stick at an event, there is a $70 charge for a lost stick

After registering and paying your fees at Registration, you will be directed to go to the E-Punch table (usually located in a blue tent close to registration). You will need to do that even if you have your own stick.

At the E-Punch table, place your finger stick in the unit marked "Before" and wait until it beeps and flashes, and then remove your stick. You will be asked for your name and the course you are going to do. After you are entered in the computer, you can go to the Start area.

Note regarding identity information stored in your personal finger stick:

BAOC uses MeOS software (http://www.melin.nu/meos/en/) for local club events (as of Fall 2015). That software does not read the name from the chip in the SI-Card. Instead, MeOS uses a runner database that contains historical data on SI-Cards used at previous events. Thus, the first time you use a personalized finger stick at a local event, there is no previous history and your name must be manually entered in the database. At subsequent local events, your name will come up automatically.
At A-meets, SPORTident software (http://www.sportident.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=106&Itemid=2633&lang=en) is used, and it can read the name stored on the SI-Card.

At the Start Area

Request a start time from the Start official. Then, while you're waiting for your start time, be sure to clear and check your finger stick before going out on your course. The CLEAR unit deletes any old data on the card that may cause confusing results, and the CHECK unit confirms that the card has been cleared and is ready to be used. It can take a few seconds to clear the card (so be patient), and less than one second for a check.

When you are told to start, or when your start time has arrived, be sure to punch the START unit before heading out on your course. This writes your start time to your finger stick.

On the Course

Visit each control in the proper order. Be sure to check that the control number on the unit matches the control number on your course. Insert your finger stick at each control unit, and wait until you hear a beep and see a flash on the unit. It takes less than a second. If there is no beep or flash, the unit may be malfunctioning; if so, punch the edge of your map with the pin punch attached to the control flag to prove that you visited the control (and show the punch holes to E-Punch when you download your results).

If you punch a wrong control by mistake, or punch controls out of order, it does not matter as long as you eventually punch all of the controls in the proper order. Thus, for example, if you find and punch control #4 before control #3, it is okay as long as you then find #3 and punch it, and then revisit #4 and re-punch it before continuing on to #5. Also, it does not cause any problems if you happen to punch a control that is not on your course.

Do not forget to punch the final control on your course—that is, the last control before the Finish. It is sometimes very close to the Finish, and may be easy to overlook.

At the Finish

Punch the FINISH unit at the Finish line. This writes the finish time on your finger stick.

After the Finish

Then go directly to the E-Punch table (the same one you visited after Registration) and download your results. To do that, place your finger stick in the unit marked "After" until it beeps (which can take a few seconds). You will be told if you completed the course correctly and what your time was. You will receive a printout of your splits. You may keep your map and the splits printout.

Keep In Mind ...

Be sure to check in at the E-Punch table whether or not you complete your course, or if you decide not to go out on a course after you have entered your name in the database. If you do not check in, you will be listed as a missing runner, and we will have to initiate a search for you.

Also, please be aware that courses close at 2:00 PM unless otherwise specifically stated in the event notes. You must be back at the E-Punch table by soon after the course closing time whether or not you have completed your course. The controls will start being removed at the course closing time. Also, it is very discourteous to the organizers not to return by the course closing time, because we start to worry whether you are lost or injured, and have to keep a group of orienteers around to do a search if you do not return.


¹ This is the finger-stick rental rate as of September 2021 (unchanged since March 2015).

² This is the lost-stick charge as of September 2021.