Wednesday, January 28, 2015 #

Interpreting the LCD screen info

When a unit is started with the SERVICE/OFF key, a lot of information is shown on the LCD screen.  Nine key units are shown for three seconds each, cyclically.

Here’s a description of each unit of information, in order:

cn 1. What the unit is programmed as.  If it’s a regular control, it will show like the sample on the right. Other possibilities are START, CLEAR, FINISH, etc.

time 2. Time of day


off 3. Next it shows how many minutes the unit will be idling awake before going to sleep.  In this example, the unit will go to sleep 4 hours after the last user punched the control. We consider 2 hours (120) a good number for day-to-day operation, and 4 hours when the control is used in an important A meet.

sw 4. The version # of the software.  It is a good idea to follow this web blog; I will advise when the software should be uploaded.  580 is the latest version in January 2015.

boot 5. The bootloader version.  This is always 5.  The bootloader is the piece of code that allows you to update the software (see #4, above)

hw 6. The hardware type.  8198 is a BSF-8, while a BSF-7 is 8197.


bat 7.The current battery voltage.  When it drops below 3.15V (315), time is nearing for a battery replacement.



cap 8. Consumption of the battery.  A brand-new battery will have a consumption of 0, while 100 is typically an exhausted battery.  But this value is a computed approximation, not the actual level. The example on the right shows that the battery has consumed approximately 24% of its power.


sn 9. Finally, the serial number of the device.  This number matches the sticker visible in the device.

While the unit is in this Service mode, current use is higher than normal.  It is advised to turn the unit off after inspecting these values; however the unit automatically turns itself off after 10 minutes in Service mode.

posted @ Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:48 AM | Feedback (0)

Sunday, December 14, 2014 #

Changing SI-Stick names with the Printer Control

Here’s a description what you need to do to use the Printer Control to change the names coded in SPORTident finger sticks.  Before you begin, you need to have the following items: a Windows computer, that either has a serial port, or you may need to get a serial to USB converter (see here for more info).


You will need the serial interconnect cable, which came with the printer kit.  It has female RS-232 ports at both ends. It is also known as a NULL-Modem cable (see photo, above).

And finally, you’ll need some software, which you can download from

  • the USB / RS-232 driver for stations
  • SPORTident Config
  • SPORTident Personal

Connect the printer control to the serial interconnect cable, and connect the other end of the interconnect to the computer’s serial port, or the USB-toSerial converter.  Know what the COM port number is.  A converter normally tells you when you first plug it in.  There are ways to find out, but that’s beyond this article.

Before you can change the SI-Stick name, you have to reprogram the Printer Control to be a download control instead. For this you use SI-Config.  In the below picture you can see that I read the Printer control directly – setting the big white bar below the menu buttons to “direct”, then pressing the green Read button.

(click image for full-size)

I can see that it is a BSM-P – a printer control.  Change the Operating Mode in the red section to “Read SI cards”, and do not have any of the check boxes enabled.  Press the red Write button.  Note that the code number has to be below 31, and it can be the same as what the printer control currently is, as shown in the green section.  Take a screen shot, because you will have to program the unit back to being a printer control at the end of the exercise.

Once you have reprogrammed the unit, you can bring up SI-Personal.  Make sure you leave the control plugged in until you have exited SI-Personal, as it further programs the control to be able to change the personal info in an SI stick.

When you first bring up SI-Personal, it shows all possible fields that might be settable on some types of finger sticks.  Briefly insert the stick you want to edit.  This will remove the fields you cannot program.

Before inserting an SI-8 After insertion and removal of an SI-8
sipersonal-1 sipersonal-2

Now fill the fields you want (there are no mandatory fields).  When you’re ready to copy the contents onto the stick, insert it again – and hold it there.  You will notice that the read and write buttons are enabled when the SI stick is in the control.  Now press the write button, or press CTRL-W.  The unit will now start to beep, once a second.  Remove the SI stick, and press the button showing the empty sheet of paper.  Re-insert the stick, and press the Read button (or press CTRL-R).  You should see the contents you have just programmed onto the stick.

When done with SI-Personal, fire up SI-Config again.  I suggest you read the control first, to insure all your settings to interact with the control are correct. Once you have read the control, change the Operating Mode back to “Printout”, then press the red Write button.

That’s it!

posted @ Sunday, December 14, 2014 4:32 PM | Feedback (0)

Saturday, November 15, 2014 #

Hooking the printer control to a computer

I’ve been asked by a number of people on how to connect the printer control to a computer, when the computer doesn’t have a serial port.  We sell a USB-to-serial cable, which is also available from many fine computer stores.  But the one we sell definitely works with the SI equipment (the link above also points to a driver download page for the latest drivers for Windows).

One thing that seems to help is to insure that the port settings are good.  The below picture (click on it to see it larger) shows settings that insure that SI-Print will work.


The left portion of the above picture shows the Device Manager.  Find the USB-to-serial cable port, and click Properties.  Within the Properties window, click on the Port Settings tab.  If your USB-to-serial cable ends up with a COM port number of 16 or hire, you might need to remove unused COM port numbers.  Disconnect the USB-to-serial cable, and follow the advice in the article on removing unused COM port numbers.  Make sure you remove the high number that the cable had (so that it assigns itself to a lower number the next time).

The right portion of the picture shows SI-Print and the Port settings window.  With the settings as shown, I had no problems using SI-Print.

I've now also tested the printer control with SI-Config and it worked both to use it as the station to reprogram other units, as well as programming it to become a download control. Versions used were SI-Config 2.7.2 and 580 in the printer control.

posted @ Saturday, November 15, 2014 3:31 PM | Feedback (0)

Wednesday, October 01, 2014 #

How many punches can a control hold?

I’ve been asked recently how many punches a control can hold, and what happens when that number is reached.  The information in the BSF-7 / BSF-8 product brochure is a bit unclear, so I asked SPORTident directly, and here’s the answer:

If it’s a regular control, not a download control or a printer control, it can hold a maximum of 21802 punches. If more are punched, then the oldest are overwritten as new ones are added to the control.

If it’s a download or a printer control, where the entire list of punches on an SI-Card are stored in the control, the maximum that control can hold is approximately 1000 SI-Cards.  This depends on which SI-Cards it holds, as the contents SI-10 and SI-11 takes up more memory than the contents of an SI-8 card.  The download control also overwrites the oldest downloaded SI-Card contents as the next SI-Card is downloaded.

posted @ Wednesday, October 01, 2014 9:56 PM | Feedback (0)

Saturday, August 30, 2014 #

Removing unused COM numbers

Every time a USB device that represents a COM port (such as the BSF-7-USB) is plugged into a different USB port of a computer, a new COM number will be assigned.  If you change USB hubs there’s a whole new set of USB ports!.

Eventually there are no numbers left below 16, but SI-Config needs the COM number to be below 16.

The following trick allows you to clean up the unused COM ports:

First start a Command Prompt session in Administrator mode (right-click on the Command Prompt link in Start Menu | All Programs | Accessories, and select Run As Administrator).

type in the following commands:

set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1

start devmgmt.msc

Once the device manager starts up, there’s an extra menu item in the View submenu.

Select it so that the checkmark is there.


Now expand the Ports (COM & LPT) section to see all COM ports.

Now you can select an extra COM port, and uninstall it.


I do not delete the drivers for the device:


Insure you don’t delete anything important!  You’re in charge, I’m not. 

After I deleted all the SPORTident USB to UART Bridges, I inserted my BSF-7-USB, and the computer now had to re-install the driver (but I didn’t have to download it again).  Once the installation was done (took about a minute), I now have it installed on COM4.  All is good!

[Thanks to for coming up with this trick]

posted @ Saturday, August 30, 2014 10:30 PM | Feedback (0)

Wednesday, August 06, 2014 #

Make sure your controls have up-to-date firmware

The SI-10 and SI-11 finger sticks have now been available for two years, and the firmware that is needed in the controls for these fingersticks has been available for just as long.

Pleas insure that your controls are up-to-date.  The current firmware is 5.80.  There are no known problems with this release.

posted @ Wednesday, August 06, 2014 4:42 PM | Feedback (0)

Friday, September 28, 2012 #

Important to upgrade firmware

With the arrival of SI-10 and SI-11 finger sticks amongst orienteers, it is important for the people maintaining club SI equipment to insure that the firmware is up to date with the latest firmware. Version 5.74 has been available for over a year now and should by now be installed on all controls. This page will be updated shortly with a link to a detailed explanation on how to upgrade the firmware in your controls. Check back within an hour.

posted @ Friday, September 28, 2012 3:50 PM | Feedback (0)

SI-10 and SI-11 now available

The latest (and greatest!) finger stick chips are now available from your SPORTident dealer. Both the SI-10 and SI-11 have a data transfer time of 60ms, which is double as fast as the SI-6 that they replace. Also, they can hold up to 128 controls, again double what an SI-6 could manage. Yet the price is essentially unchanged. In addition the SI-11 will confirm a successful control punch, by showing a blinking light in the tip of the control.