Welcome to the SIAC contactless punching system! SIAC stands for SPORTident ActiveCard and is also known as AIR+. If you like to take a breather once you reach a control, check your map and maybe take a drink – well this system may not be for you. But if you enjoy dashing straight past a control without having to stop and insert your chip then you’ve chosen the right one. You’ll avoid those dreaded lineups at the Go and Finish controls, and it’s great for ski-o where you often have to get turned around, fiddle with your poles and go through other maneuvers to finally get your SI stick into the box!
HOW DOES IT WORK? In the traditional SI system, when you insert your SI stick manually into the control box, the box emits a beep and the control number and time are recorded on your stick and also in the control box as a backup.
The SIAC system is different in that the control box is in “beacon” mode and emits a continuous signal that is picked up and recorded by your AIR+ stick when it’s within about 2 feet of the box. Your stick will flash and emit a series of beeps to let you know it’s recorded the control. Unlike the traditional SI system, the control box does NOT record the punch so it cannot be checked afterwards to confirm that you’ve visited that control. So if you’re passing by at top speed, especially on skis or on a mountain bike, be sure you hear and/or see the flash and beep before proceeding on.
Your SIAC stick will notify you when you pass within range of any control, even those which are not on your course. These will show up on your printout when you download at the finish, but will be automatically deleted by the timing program.
HOW DO I CARRY MY SIAC STICK? You can wear your SIAC stick the same way as your traditional SI stick. However it can be disturbed by other equipment like GPS watches and LED light battery packs, so avoid wearing it close to these items.
IS THE MEET OFFERING THE SIAC SYSTEM? Although many clubs (like ours) are now using contactless punching, many others are not. In fact, of the 4 National meets held in the eastern U.S. during the spring of 2023, only 2 had SIAC enabled. So don’t take it for granted – be sure to check with meet organizers.
WHAT MUST MEET ORGANIZERS DO TO OFFER SIAC? The control boxes must be activated before use in order for the SIAC system to work. This is normally done shortly before the event begins by going around to each box and inserting an SI stick manually. This is a regular procedure at many big meets, but at our smaller club meets this is usually impractical for the meet organizer, who has many other things to attend to before registration opens. Therefore it may be left up to the first racer arriving at each box to turn it on by inserting their stick manually. Once the box is on, it will work in AIR+ mode for several hours. So at our local meets, it’s important to watch for a beep and flash emitting from your SIAC stick as you approach each control. If you don’t see this it probably means that particular control has not been activated and you must insert your stick manually for your punch to be recorded.
ACTIVATING YOUR SIAC STICK: Your SIAC stick must also be activated, or turned on, before use. This is done before you start by using the Clear and Check boxes. The Clear box, as with the traditional SI system, clears your stick of prior records, while the Check box turns on the battery so it’s ready for use. The stick will then remain active for approximately 20 hours, emitting a green flash every few seconds. Your stick will automatically be turned off when passing the Finish control. There may also be a SIAC Test Unit near the Clear and Check boxes which you should pass by to ensure your stick is working properly.
STARTING YOUR COURSE: Most events using the SAIC system require each participant to insert their stick manually into the Start box, whether they’re using an AIR+ stick or not. This is so the organizers have a record of each starter, along with their start time.
TURNING OFF YOUR SIAC STICK: In order to avoid unnecessary battery wear users should ensure their SIAC sticks are turned off after use. This will be done automatically when passing the Finish control. You should not have to manually insert it in the Finish box, but just pass by as with the other controls on your course.
If you happen to DNF and leave the course without completing all the controls, remember to turn off your battery by either passing by the Finish control or by inserting it into a special SI box programmed to turn it off in the Download area. Also remember not to pass close to the Finish box during your event as this will cause your stick to turn off before your finish your course!
If you arrive at a meet and find the SIAC system is not in use, clear your stick using the Clear box as usual, but avoid the Check box as this will turn on your battery. If the SIAC system is not enabled at the meet, it’s unlikely that the Finish box will turn off your stick and it could remain active for many more hours.