AFA – Timing Light Sets – recent Queensland light problem and solution plus update re non availability of replacement light sets.
On the weekend, at the Queensland Flyball on the Field Competition, there was a problem with the Queensland Light set. One side of the light tree refused to communicate with the console. After unsuccessful attempts to get the lights to work the decision was made to run the competition using manual timing. (How to use manual timing is set out in the Judges Manual which is available on the AFA WEB). After the Competition Farmtek was contacted to discuss the efforts that had been made to get light to work on the day and to see if they could make any further suggestions re possible solutions to the fault. The opportunity was also taken to discuss general issue of repairs or availability of replacement parts for the light tree. Farmtek was able to suggest one programming option that had not been tried. The fix was to go to “program light tree” in the advanced menu then hold in the bright button on light tree until the red foul light starts flashing, release the button and the red light will still be flashing, then press enter on the console, it will say done, then exit and start a heat. This reprogramming removed the problem and the Queensland lights are now back to full operation. The news on repairs or replacement parts is not so good – Farmtek indicating that repairs for some parts of the light tree are still possible but that if the problem was the radio receiver then it is not repairable. The instructions re the problem and the fix will now be added to the Guideline 10 - Guideline on the Farmtek Lights Operation.
As previously advised to Members the AFA is currently unable to procure new or replacement Timing Light Sets. The original manufacturers, Farmtek in the USA, advised NAFA in 2012 that they were unable to reasonably procure certain parts for the Flyball Light Trees and that they were no longer planning to manufacture the flyball timing system given it had a very limited market for sales. Other components, such as the timing poles and the console are still available from Farmtek as they are used in many other sports timing systems. When notified of this situation NAFA purchased all remaining stocks of Farmtek Timing Lights.
Via negotiations the AFA, in 2014, was able to acquire two new full light systems from NAFA. The AFA now has 8 Farmtek systems – 1 in each of the 6 States playing flyball and a second set in NSW and Victoria, for use when two rings are required and/or as a back-up system if one of the State systems fails and needs replacement.
Given the above situation the AFA, several years ago, enquired about the new Flyball Timing System starting to be used in the UK and Europe. Unfortunately, the manufacturer was a small, home based operator, who advised us that he only wanted to make two or three systems a year, basically as a hobby, and that he had advance orders for about 10 years and was not interested in supplying Australia. The AFA then explored the option of finding a local electronics firm interested in manufacturing timing sets, with the features of the Farmtek system. The problem encountered was that manufacturers were not interested in development of a specialised flyball system that had a very small market and was unlikely to generate significant annual sales volume. One possible manufacturer was identified but they would only start design work if the AFA was funded all design R and D– at a very significant cost.
The AFA has, from time to time, contacted NAFA to see what they are doing re a replacement system. With the purchase of all Farmtek available systems in 2012 NAFA had obtained a secure supply of systems for an extended number of years. NAFA have more recently been exploring a new design - but details to date have basically been commercial in confidence. We are in the process of again contacting NAFA to see what current situation is.
The current situation remains that the AFA is unable to source new Flyball Timing Systems and must rely on its existing systems until a new system become available.
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