Everything You Need to Know About SPORTident AIR+

Everything You Need to Know About SPORTident AIR+

Sportident AIR+ is the latest punching technology available from SPORTident. It allows users of Sportident ActiveCard sticks (‘SIACs’) to use contactless punching at events where AIR+ has been enabled.

AIR+ is available at all MTBO, Sprint, Metro, Twilight, and Classic Series events.

Answers to some frequently asked questions regarding both AIR+ and direct punching can be found at the end of this article.

SIAC Sticks & Contactless Punching

The SPORTident ActiveCard, or SIAC stick for short, is an advanced Sportident stick with a beacon mode that can be used for contactless punching at events where AIR+ is enabled.

SIAC Sticks have the following advantages:

  • At events where AIR+ is enabled you don’t have to physically punch the control (‘direct punching’), instead you can punch the control by passing the stick near to the control unit at speeds of up to 40km/h (‘contactless punching’). The normal range for contactless punching is 30-50cm from the control unit, but other ranges are possible.
  • At events where AIR+ is enabled, multiple SIAC runners can punch a control concurrently.
  • The stick itself will flash and beep to confirm a successful punch. Many runners hold their SIAC stick up to their ear to confirm that their stick has recorded a successful punch.
  • Punching response time is approximately twice as fast as most regular SI sticks, including in regular direct punch mode.
  • The stick can record up to 128 punches.

A SIAC stick’s active beacon mode is turned on when a user punches the check unit at any event, and is deactivated when a finish punch is recorded, or when a SIAC Off unit is punched. It will also turn off after 20 hours without any activity.
Competitors using SIAC sticks at AIR+ events should avoid going near the finish before starting, as going too close to the finish may deactivate their SIAC’s beacon mode.

SIAC sticks can experience interference from other electronic equipment, for this reason it is advised that the stick be worn on the opposite side from any GPS watch or similar device.

SIAC Battery

SIAC sticks contain their own battery. The battery powers the stick’s beacon mode, as well as the built-in beep and flash feedback that confirms a successful punch.

Power consumption is dependent upon several factors, including:

  • Total activation time between punching check and finish/SIAC-off units.
  • The time the SIAC is within the range of a working beacon unit while in beacon mode. i.e. Passing AIR+ controls quickly decreases power consumption.

Sportident estimates that when used in active mode to punch 50 controls per event at 50 events per year the SIAC’s battery will last nearly four years. However, Sportident also recommend that SIAC stick batteries should be exchanged every three years. Battery service information can be found here.

At many events where AIR+ mode is activated a SIAC battery test unit will be available before the start, it will beep normally and display a voltage of >2.8 volts if the SIAC stick’s battery is in good condition.

The SIAC stick will always work in direct punching mode, in the same way as a regular SI stick, even if the battery is depleted. If the SIAC does not flash/beep when punching a control you should use direct punching. As with any SI stick, if the control unit does not then flash/beep then you should use the backup manual clip to punch on the map.

SIAC batteries can be replaced by the manufacturer at relatively low cost, but must be shipped back to Sportident in Germany.

Using SIAC Sticks at AIR+ Events

  1. Punch the ‘SIAC Battery Test’ unit.
    • The SIAC Battery Test unit checks the SIAC stick’s battery and displays the battery voltage:
      • If the battery is ok (>2.8 volts), the unit will beep normally.
      • If the battery is low (<2.72 volts) there is a warning signal – several beeps at higher frequency, this indicates that the battery is low but should last for this event. The SIAC stick battery should be replaced soon.
      • If the battery is critically low (<2.44 volts), there will be no feedback signal. This indicates that the SIAC stick cannot be used for contactless punching (direct punching will still work). Battery replacement is needed.
  2. Punch the ‘Clear’ unit and wait until the unit beeps.
    • As with all SI sticks, this will clear data saved from your last run.
  3. Punch the ‘Check’ unit.
    • A normal beep confirms that the stick has been cleared.
    • This also activates the SIAC stick beacon mode.
    • If the check unit doesn’t beep, try punching the clear unit again and wait longer before punching the check unit.
    • The check unit is also used as a safety measure by event organisers to confirm who is out on course, do not skip the check unit, even when at a non-AIR+ event.
  4. Avoid going near the finish after you have punched the Check unit.
    • If the finish is in AIR+ mode, going within 3m of the finish may accidentally register a finish punch. This will deactivate your SIAC stick’s beacon mode and you will be unable to use AIR+ punching during your course.
    • If you accidentally deactivate your SIAC stick, punch the Check unit again to reactivate, and check your SIAC stick’s status using the SIAC Air Test unit (below).
  5. Wave your SIAC stick near the ‘SIAC Air Test’ unit.
    • The SIAC stick should beep and flash, this confirms that the SIAC is in beacon mode.
    • If the SIAC stick doesn’t respond to being waved near the SIAC Test unit, try punching the Check unit again and confirm the SIAC stick voltage using the SIAC Battery Test unit.
  6. Directly punch the ‘Start’ unit.
    • Whenever a start unit is used it must be directly punched, this is to ensure that your time does not accidentally start early by getting within range of the control.
  7. Punch each control on your course by waving your SIAC stick near the control unit.
    • You can punch at the same time as other competitors.
    • Confirm that the punch has been registered by holding the SIAC stick up to your ear and listening for the beep or looking for the flashing tip on the SIAC stick, the control unit will not beep or flash.
    • If the SIAC stick does not beep, try directly punching the control, the control unit should beep and flash. If the unit does not beep or flash, then you should use the backup manual clip to punch on the map.
  8. Punch the ‘Finish’ unit, even if you did not complete your course.
    • The finish unit records your finish time and deactivates your SIAC stick’s beacon mode.
    • At most OACT events (Metro, Twilight, and Classic Series), the finish unit must be punched directly, this is a safety measure to ensure that all finishers are recorded on the finish unit.
    • At some events (MTBO, Sprint Series, and most championship events), the finish unit or gate will also be in contactless mode. In this case, just wave the SIAC stick near the finish unit to record your finish and deactivate your SIAC stick.
  9. Download at the computer, even if you did not complete your course.

Using Normal SI Sticks (non-SIAC) at AIR+ Events

Regular non-SIAC sticks can still be used at events where AIR+ mode is being used, but will not be able to take advantage of contactless punching; they must instead punch control units directly, as at any normal event.

SIAC users can still punch an AIR+ control while it is being punched directly by a non-SIAC user.

  1. Ignore the ‘SIAC Battery Test’ and ‘SIAC Test’ units.
    • These units will not respond to punches from a normal SI stick, and do not need to be punched.
  2. Punch the ‘Clear’ unit and wait until the unit beeps.
    • This clears the data saved from your last run.
    • This can take a little while, especially for older SI sticks (such as the SI5). You may need to leave the stick in the unit for ten seconds or more.
  3. Punch the ‘Check’ unit.
    • A normal beep confirms that the stick has been cleared.
    • If the check unit doesn’t beep, try punching the clear unit again.
    • The check unit is also used as a safety measure by event organisers to confirm who is out on course, do not skip the check unit.
  4. Directly punch the ‘Start’ unit.
  5. Directly punch each control on your course.
    • The control unit will beep and flash to confirm that the punch has been registered
    • If the control unit does not beep or flash, then you should use the backup manual clip to punch on the map.
  6. Directly punch the ‘Finish’ unit, even if you did not complete your course.
  7. Download at the computer, even if you did not complete your course.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need an SI stick?
Yes, every individual or group entering an event must have an SI stick. They can be rented for $5 per event, or purchased for $65 for non-members, or $50 for members who do not already own one.

Can I share my SI stick with someone else, or lend it to someone for an event?
No, your SI stick is yours alone and is associated with your name and entry details in our database. Unless it is a permanent change, changing the name associated with an SI stick complicates the work of our volunteers and delays the processing of entries and results.

If you do not have your own SI stick please rent one, or preferably, consider buying your own.

Can I swap between my regular and SIAC sticks at different events?
Yes, but you must take particular care when entering pre-entry events in Eventor (inc. season passes) to ensure you are entering using the SI stick number that you wish to use at each event.

Can I use my SIAC stick at events that are not using AIR+?
Yes, but only with regular direct punching.

Can I use my regular SI stick at events that are using AIR+?
Yes, but only with regular direct punching.

At what events is AIR+ used?
AIR+ is available at all events in the Sprint, Metro, Twilight, Classic, and MTBO Series. It is also used at many national and international championship events.

Will SIAC sticks be available to rent?
No, except for MTBO Series and some major championship events, SIAC sticks are not available to rent at regular OACT events.

Do I need to punch the clear and check units?
Yes, users of all types of SI sticks must clear and check before starting at all events.

When should I punch the SIAC off unit?
If using a SIAC stick at a non AIR+ event, you may want to punch at the SIAC off unit after punching the check unit in order to turn off the SIAC’s beacon mode and preserve the SIAC battery. There is no need to punch the SIAC off unit if you are using a regular SI stick.

When should I punch the SIAC battery test unit?
When available at AIR+ events SIAC stick users should punch the SIAC battery test unit to confirm that their stick has enough battery power. A normal beep and a voltage display of >2.8v indicates ok battery voltage.

What if the SIAC stick does not flash/beep at a control?
First try using traditional direct punch, if the control unit does not flash/beep, then you should use the backup manual pin punch.
A failed punch could be due to any of the following:

  • Insufficient battery power in the SIAC stick.
  • Insufficient battery power or incorrect programming of the control unit.
  • Beacon mode not activated by punching the check unit before starting.
  • Beacon mode turned off by straying near to the finish before starting.
  • Compromised sensitivity caused by a GPS watch or similar (wear GPS on opposite arm).

I have returned home from an event, but my SIAC stick is still intermittently flashing, how do I turn it off?
A green LED in the SIAC stick tip will blink about every 4 seconds while the SIAC stick is activated in beacon mode. Your SIAC stick’s beacon mode will automatically deactivate after 20 hours of inactivity. Beacon mode is normally deactivated by punching the Finish, or a SIAC-Off unit. Next time, remember to punch the finish, even if you did not complete your course.

Please contact the OACT Office () if you have any further questions.