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oipigface

Rotating buzzer operators

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oipigface

One of the few things guaranteed to cause unpleasantness at a British F3F competition is the allocation of buzzing duties. There is an element of coercion in the selection of a buzzer supremo, whose job it is to coerce pilots into spending time on a base. The job is not popular, and friction easily arises when things go wrong, which they easily can. 

I’ve been thinking about a possible solution for this for a while. It seems to me that about the only thing the buzzer supremo actually does is make decisions as to who should go where and when. In issuing these orders, allowance has to be made for pilots to have time to adequately prepare for each flight, and for spells not to be too long. Being left too long on a base (which can happen when someone who has been asked to take over forgets to actually do so) is the most frequent cause of discontent. Part of the solution which I have adopted recently when I’ve been buzzer supremo, has turned out to set a ‘standard spell’. That is, a number of flights that pilots usually will spend on each visit to the base. It is impossible to ensure that all spells are exactly this length for at least two reasons: firstly, the people who run the centre usually fly as well, so some disruption to the smooth turnover of pilots is caused. Second, unexpected things happen. A pilot may need time to do field repairs, for instance. It seems right and proper that such things should take precedence over a spell on a base.

The method I wound up adopting was to ask pilots as they were landing to go to one base or the other, while trying to maintain a fixed and short spell length. It occurred me after having used this method for some time that it should be relatively easy to decentralise the information flow, and along with it a lot of the decision making. Instead of me keeping track of how long some one had been on a base, why not find some way of allowing them to declare when they had done their stint? If this could be done, there would be an added advantage: people who don’t find buzzing unpleasant could stay for longer than the minimum if they prefer.

I tried out the system I came up with at the Champion of Champions this weekend. It requires special equipment in the form of two 300mm square bits of Correx, each with one side painted yellow and the other red. When the pilot has been on the base for the ‘standard spell’ (I chose 3 flights  last weekend), the yellow square is displayed so that it can be seen at the pits. Pilots are instructed to look at the bases when they have finished landing. If a yellow square is displayed, the they are expected to take over on the base, unless they have a very good reason not to. If the base doesn’t turn over when the yellow square is displayed, the red square can be displayed. This is a signal to the buzzer supremo to intervene, and get some one to take over.

What should be the ‘standard spell’? It depends on the size of the entry. Last weekend we had 20 entrants, and three flights turned out to be about right. At the Eurotour events, there can be 50 entrants and a spell of 25 or 30 could probably be sustained if it weren’t for the fact that that’s a long time to concentrate on the task at hand. I think at a big comp, I would probably choose a standard spell of 6 or 8 flights. When the numbers get down below 10, the only possible choice is probably one. 

Joel West has actually been using a version of this scheme during the Welsh winter league, where entries have been quite small. The rule he announces is that pilots should take over on a base every time they land. This is equivalent to setting the standard spell to one, and requires no red or yellow squares, or buzzer supremo.

Experience of the scheme this last weekend was very encouraging. I didn’t hear any grumbles, and had to intervene only four times during 8 rounds. It was also the most relaxing spell as buzzer supremo that I have ever had. In fact, I forgot I was buzzer supremo most of the time, and was able to concentrate on flying instead.

The equipment needs a bit of rethinking, and I haven’t come up with a good way of monitoring who goes where and when, but despite these remaining issues, I think I would be happy to repeat the experiment in future comps. 

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wookman

The apparently ad hoc arrangements for buzzing at the last WWL event seemed to work very well to me.

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Scram

Sounds good to me John.

The only query I can think of with going to buzz as soon as one has landed is:  which base to go to??

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oipigface

)

11 hours ago, wookman said:

The apparently ad hoc arrangements for buzzing at the last WWL event seemed to work very well to me.

I agree, but I think that if you were to try remanning the bases every round at a larger comp, there would be too much scurrying back and forth. At a comp like the Welsh Open, longer spells can (and in my view should) be accommodated. With small numbers, my system is essentially the same as Joel’s, and I would recommend not bringing out the cards. There actually is another problem with Joel’s scheme, which cannot be avoided with small numbers, which is that pilots who fly immediately before a CD, wind up doing twice as much buzzing as others. Extending the standard spell to two or more flights mitigates this, but doesn’t necessarily remove it altogether.

1 hour ago, Scram said:

The only query I can think of with going to buzz as soon as one has landed is:  which base to go to??

Possible scenarios:

1. No card showing: go to no base.

2. One base yellow, one no card: go to yellow card base.

3. One base red, one no card: RUN to red card base.

4. Both bases yellow: toss a coin (or if you have a preference, indulge it).

5. Both bases red: ....................... ditto....................... 

6. One base yellow, one base red: go to red card base.

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Redbird

Your card system seemed to work well at the weekend John although twice I was on base showing no card but was approached for relief after one round. If there was a green side to your cards also, that could mean 'just arrived' or 'happy to stay'. So perhaps a set of traffic lights on top of the base with buttons down low? 

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Redbird

On second thoughts, I doubt a visible solar powered system is practical and no need to show a continuous green when no card can mean the same thing. The card routine is nice and simple, just needs a good mounting/flipping method at the base.

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oipigface
58 minutes ago, Redbird said:

Your card system seemed to work well at the weekend John although twice I was on base showing no card but was approached for relief after one round. If there was a green side to your cards also, that could mean 'just arrived' or 'happy to stay'. So perhaps a set of traffic lights on top of the base with buttons down low? 

Thanks for letting me know, Bruce. Perhaps I didn’t explain the rules clearly enough! I also think the equipment could do with a more careful design. I’ve been thinking of a kind of flip card system - green, amber, red. I don’t think anything electric is worth the bother. (I’ve just noticed that you say much the same in your second post.)

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Andy_B

what is Scott going to do with red/orange/green  boards on the poles .........safe to hit    not safe to hit ..............😲

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abbof3f

Think Scot is also colour blind ! so the safest place for him and us is on a base ...thats one half of the problem sorted straight away!!!!lol

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