logo
windmill
This is the ARCHIVE website for Mountnessing Bridge Club
2006 - 2015

For current news, results, etc please visit
http://www.bridgewebs.com/mountnessingbc/
Affiliated to the Essex Contract Bridge Association and to the English Bridge Union

NEWS ITEMS: 2015

If you reached this page from the 'News Index' then simply close this window to return.

POSTED ON 13/02/2015: REPORT ON A TRIAL OF A WIRELESS SCORING SYSTEM

What was being tested?

The Jannersten BOS wireless scoring system is an alternative to a Bridgemates System, and is very new, but it is rapidly gaining admirers around the Country. It is promoted by the EBU. The software can be downloaded and tried for free, but for an ongoing live implementation there is a licence fee of 4 per table-top unit per year. That is purely for use of the software and is independent of the hardware used. There are three BIG differences compared with a Bridgemates System:
  • SET-UP COST - about 25 - 30% of the set up cost compared with a Bridgemates system
  • 'LOOK and FEEL' - very different, and in my opinion, BridgeTabs (as the table-top units are termed) are FAR superior
  • The way the desk-top units are powered: Bridgemates win hands-down on this point: they are powered by AA batteries that last for ages; BridgeTabs need to be re-charged from the mains regularly.
The main reason for the big cost difference is that this system is purely a software product - the user provides his / her own desktop units and wireless control unit. That means that you are not tied to expensive single-purpose hardware. The desktop units can be ANY basic (Android-based) 'Tablet' or 'Smartphone'; the 'control unit' can be ANY wireless router.

The hardware

  • The laptop is an ancient Windows XP job, kindly donated to the club by Paul Mollison specially for this purpose. After some TLC and stripping the software on it down to the barest of essentials, it appeared to be able to cope with running the system. Cost - zero [OK: swallow hard - it is a Microsoft-based machine! Up to now I have been unable to get the BOS software to run reliably under a LINUX system, even though it will install. Personally, I think that, especially if the club is going to need to use ancient / recycled laptops to drive the wireless scoring, then a faster / more secure / more reliable / fully supported UBUNTU basis would be better - if it worked!!!]
  • The router was one I had in my spares stock cupboard - cost zero [The list price for the equivalent box for Bridgemates is 240]
  • The solitary desktop unit used in the pilot was purchased over the Internet. It cost 33 at source, but that grew to 39 by the time I had it in my hands, courtesy of an import surcharge and admin fee. There are alternative options, including some from within the EU and exempt from the add-on costs. [The list price for an individual Bridgemate 2 is 132]
  • Though I have been 'playing' with this system at home on old Windows XP desktops for some months, it was newly installed on the laptop and not properly set-up. That rush caused the issues below.

What happened - Problems

  • There are a number of parameters to set up that govern the huge variety of services available to the end user - just tick box choices. In my rush, it transpired that the 'ticking' was sub-optimal.
  • The worst problem concerned the player identification method; it was intended to be by EBU Number, but that wasn't set properly, so the four player names entered at my table were completely scrambled.
  • Another problem was that we used a non-standard 10-table movement, and I hadn't made that easily available for selection from the Movements menu, so, in haste and so as not to hold up the evening any longer, I chose a similar, but wrong, movement for this one-table trial. At least it had the right board numbers!!!!
  • Bill tried to connect his smartphone to the system, but the process failed when it transpired that I didn't have the router's wireless password available at the hall! Whoops!
  • A slightly alarming point was that the laptop crashed at the end of the session - but I believe that was due to 'operator error'

What happened - Successes!!!!

  • The wireless signal held up all evening, diagonally across Mountnessing Village Hall. [Well, OK, that is a bit basic, but until it was tried we didn't know for sure!]
  • The BridgeTab remained alive all evening [ditto]
  • There were no operational problems at all, apart from the effects of the scrambled names and wrong movement. I made a few data entry errors, which tested the arrangements for end users doing a correction - all worked fine
  • Though the laptop crashed at the end of the evening, it transpired that all the results entered through the BridgeTabs had been 'picked up' and passed to the scoring program on the laptop [Well, OK, that is a bit basic, but ......!] Additionally, the scrambled names also got transferred successfully, and, indeed, my own id, which I had entered as my EBU number, was correctly translated into my name in the scoring engine on the laptop!
  • The BridgeTab was 100% fully charged at the start of the evening; at the end of the evening it was 63% charged. That particular device should, therefore, reliably stay alive for two weekly sessions between recharges [I had wondered whether it would even last the 3 and bit hours for a single session, but that worry was dispelled. The fact is that the device spends most of the session 'hibernating' so power consumption is low.]

Comments

Most of the comments made by passing East / West players were positive. Those that were not:
  • There are those who are so used to Bridgemates at other clubs that any change would take some getting used to
  • One comment was that the BridgeTab unit was physically very large. I agree with that point. The one used has a 7" screen. Bizarrely, those with 5" screens seem to cost more! The Chiselhurst club has been passing on its experiences with a similar system (see below), and said they used 20 pay-as-you-go smart-phones (which unfortunately also attracted a compulsory initial, but never used, 10 'top-up' fee - total therefore 30 each. A key point of interest is that these phones do not need to have the Sim card installed in order to be used as 'BridgeTabs')

Other Developments

  • Ted Cockle (wearing a Chelmsford Club 'hat') alerted me to a similar system developed for Chiselhurst Bridge Club, that appears to work in an identical way. It is completely free not only to download but also to use. See here
  • I have been talking to two local Clubs about the possibilities of hiring / sharing their BridgeMates systems. A small scale trial involving the loan of two of the rarely used Bridgemates from one of these clubs is planned. The worry is that connecting another club's devices to our scoring system might mess up the settings on the device, thus creating problems when passed between clubs. There is also a need to check licensing issues. Those points can be tested reasonably safely.

What next?

  • Another limited trial of the Jannersten system, hopefully this time immune from all problems!
  • Experiment with the two loaned Bridgemates
  • Experiment with the Chiselhurst system - at least 'desk-check it', and maybe a real pilot trial too
  • Research options for table-top units further
  • Research further possible solutions to the need to recharge multiple units very regularly - building on a lead identified by Bill West. I do still have some concerns in this area.
  • The aim is to come up with two costed, appraised options to put to the Club's General Meeting on April 9th.

POSTED ON 25/01/2015: MARY ROGERS TROPHY

Congratulations to Lorraine Butler & David Warren who won ththe Mary Rogers Trophy - the Club's Winter pairs Championship - on January 8th. The runners-up - who also qualified for a wine prize - were Angela & Bill West. The winners were presented with the Trophy on 22/01/2015. The full results for the Mary Rogers Trophy 2015 can be viewed here. Lorraine & David with the Mary Rogers Trophy

If you reached this page from the 'News Index' then simply close this window to return.

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional