User's Guide to Electronic Punching
Electronic punching (EP) 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 EP on an orienteering course.
Each individual or group going on a course needs to have an EP 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 $3.00.¹ After registering and paying your fees at Registration, you will be directed to go to the EP table (usually located in a blue tent close to registration). At the EP table, you will receive your rental finger stick. This 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.
At the EP 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 (please fill out legibly the colored card given to you at registration with your first and last names, or if a group of 3 or more, the name of the group, such as the Smith Family, ROTC team 3, etc.) and the course you are entering. Once you are entered in the computer, and are given your finger stick, you will be directed to the Start area.
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 takes about 6 seconds to clear the card, 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 usually takes about 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.
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 EP 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 several 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.
Tear off the stub with your name and time in a large font, and place it in the box to be posted on the results line.
Keep In Mind ...
Be sure to check in at the EP table whether or not you finish 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 P.M. unless otherwise specifically stated in the event notes. You must be back at the EP table by 2:00 P.M. whether or not you have finished your course. The controls will start being removed at 2:00 P.M.. Also, it is very discourteous to the organizers not to return by 2:00 P.M., because we start to worry whether you are lost or injured, and have to keep a group of orienteers around to do a search party if you do not return.
¹ This is the finger-stick rental rate as of Summer 2007.