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What Is E-punching, and How Do I Read the Splits?

Electronic punching (E-punching or EP) is a faster, better way to record your visit to each control on an orienteering course. Instead of carrying a paper card and manually punching it at each location, you wear a plastic E-card, E-stick, or "finger stick", which contains a microchip. At each control site, you insert the finger stick into a control unit, which records the control number and time onto the microchip.

When you finish the course, you download the data at a transfer station, and receive an instant printout of your time and splits. Even better, you can view printouts that show everyone's results for the course, so you can see where you placed in relation to others.

E-Punching at BAOC Events

BAOC policy on use of E-punching is roughly as follows:

Getting an E-Card

BAOC uses the SPORTident (http://www.sportident.com/index.php?lang=en) E-card system, which has also been adopted by Orienteering USA for national A-meets. If you do not own a SPORTident E-card, you must rent one ($5 per day¹) at events where E-punching is used.

You can also buy an E-card from various online sources (http://www.us.orienteering.org/orienteers/o-vendors)​—​prices vary depending on model (as of May 2019 they were about $40–70). This becomes your personal finger stick (it has a unique ID number), and can be used at all E-punching events that use SPORTident controls​—​locally, nationally, and internationally. (The "competing", incompatible EMIT (http://www.emit.no/en) E-punch system is used at some European events.)

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Different Models of SPORTident E-Cards

The oldest E-card is the SI-Card5 (often referred to as an SI-5), which can record up to 30 controls. You should be aware that some events require that you punch more than 30 controls, which limits the cards useable for those events.

How do you know what you have? Check the ID number on the card, and look below:

Information about the currently available SI cards is available on the SPORTident website (https://www.sportident.com/products.html). A discussion of SI cards on Attackpoint is available here (http://www.attackpoint.org/discussionthread.jsp/message_182250) (it started in 2008, and is active from time to time).

Using an E-Card on a Course

(Also see our User's Guide to Electronic Punching for more information.)

Note: Additional considerations when using a SPORTident SIAC³ (AIR+) E-card are described here (https://docs.sportident.com/user-guide/en/airplus_system.html) and here (PDF/365KB). That model of E-card does not need to be inserted in the control units on the course, including the FINISH unit​—​the units are registered when the E-card passes "close" to the units. However, the SIAC E-card must be inserted in the CLEAR and CHECK units, and usually the START unit.

Before doing a course, you must prepare your E-card by deleting old data and making sure it's working correctly. At the Start, first insert the card in the CLEAR unit, and keep it there until the unit beeps and flashes (this may take several seconds). Next, place your E-card in the CHECK unit, which verifies that the card is cleared and writes a check time on it (this happens very quickly if the card is cleared).

When the starter tells you to begin your course, stick your E-card in the START unit, which records the start time onto the E-card. Unlike with paper punches, the exact second you start is not crucial, as the actual start time is recorded on the E-card and is used to determine your course elapsed time.

Note: At National Events (and international events) with assigned start times, the procedure might be that you do not punch a START unit. In that case, it's important that you actually start your course at exactly your assigned time.

At each control, insert your E-card into the control unit until it beeps and flashes. This takes less than a second​—​much faster than punching a paper card! If you skip a control, or punch at a wrong control, or punch out of order, the download software will detect the error and disqualify you if you have not corrected the error. As soon as you realize that you have punched incorrectly, go punch at the correct control, and then punch all the subsequent controls in the correct order (including re-punching at any control you had visited out of order). The computer will ignore any "extra" punches, and accept the correct punches.

At the Finish, "punch" the FINISH control unit, which records your finish time. Then go to the download station to load your E-card's contents into the computer database. When the E-punch official tells you they're ready for you to do so, insert your E-card into the download unit and wait for the unit to beep and flash (one beep/flash is enough). The official will tell you if you punched all of the controls correctly, what your course time was, and give you a printout of your "splits" (i.e., the times for each leg of the course).

All the E-punch results for each course are printed and posted periodically during the event, so you can compare your time against everyone else's. The complete results are posted on the BAOC website within a few days after the event.

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Reading the E-Punch Splits

When the results are posted on the BAOC website, links to the online "splits" are also posted. Those links go to the WinSplits website, to which the event results will have been uploaded.

Here's how to decipher the color-coded information on the WinSplits website:

There are some checkboxes at the bottom of the window that can be used to select different formats of the display, and fields for modifying the criteria for determining lost time.

Want to Know More?

Visit our Electronic Punching Guide for Volunteers (http://baoc.org/volunteer/e_punch/) to learn about E-punch setup and operations, and to read the BAOC and OUSA E-punching reports. You can also contact the club's .

You can search the WinSplits online database (http://www.obasen.nu/winsplits/online/en/) (which lists worldwide events) for previous BAOC E-punch events​—​or follow a link to the WinSplits results from the results page for a BAOC event.


¹ Rate as of January 2019.

² Note that SI-Card8, SI-Card9, SI-Card10, SIAC, and SI-Card11 are compatible with only SPORTident control unit versions 7 and 8. BAOC and all the other U.S. clubs use those models, but clubs in other countries might not have them.

³ SIAC = SPORTident ActiveCard; also known as an “AIR+” E-card or finger stick. Extensive information about the "contactless" punching system is available here (https://docs.sportident.com/user-guide/en/airplus_system.html).