This guide will explain the basics of networking as it applies to ChronoTrack services and equipment including:
- Offering a definition of an IP Address, a Subnet Mask, and a Gateway
- Defining the difference between a Server IP Address and a Controller IP Address
- Defining the IP Address ranges that are applied to MiniTrack Controllers and Pro and Pro2 Controllers and Adapters
- Providing an overview of the Network settings most often used with ChronoTrack equipment
A "Network" Defined
In computing, a Network is a group of two or more devices linked through a wired or wireless connection and configured to communicate with each other. Any time one device is connected to another and they are configured to interact, they are “networked”.
IPs and Netmasks and Gateways, Oh My!
To help you to better understand the networking processes and settings used by ChronoTrack equipment, it's useful to offer a brief definition of IPs, Netmasks, and Gateways.
An IP address consists of four sections called Octets. An IP address, put in its simplest terms, is an identification code given to every electronic device that can access the internet, a network, or a sub-network. Each device that can access a network of any kind has to have an IP address to interact with whatever network it is a part of and access external networks. Without an IP address, you can’t access the internet. Another way of looking at the IP Address is as the Home Address of your device.
Common IP Address Example: 192.168.0.1
A Netmask is not a type of IP address, and it does not identify any specific device. It just indicates which Sub-Network an IP belongs to. There are other functions that the Netmask is useful for, but those functions are not relevant to this guide. Another way of looking at the Netmask is as the Neighborhood your device lives in.
Common Netmask Example: 255.255.252.0
The term “Default Gateway” is just another way of saying “Router”. The Gateway IP is the IP address assigned to a router, switch, or another device through which network traffic passes. This both identifies the Router and acts as a further guide for directing incoming and outgoing information. Another way of looking at the Default Gateway is as the gated road you take to leave or enter the neighborhood where your Device lives.
Controller IP vs. Server IP
The difference between the Controller IP and the Server IP can be confusing if it's not fully understood.
As noted before, each device that can access the internet, a network, or a sub-network has to have an IP address to interact with whatever network it is a part of and access external networks. This is your Controller IP – your controller’s “home address".
Any device attempting to connect directly to a website must first know the IP address of that website. This is the Server IP Address – the home address of the device or website you are trying to connect to.
In the images above, you can see the server and adapter settings screens for ChronOS, BoxScore 3, and BoxScore 1.26. Note that the menus to alter adapter settings are separate from the screen where the server address is set. This is partially to prevent confusion as to which IP to set to connect to an external device or website. BoxScore will also warn you against changing adapter settings, and you must acknowledge the warning before proceeding to the adapter settings.
- The term Server is used very broadly in networking terminology, and can mean anything from the physical computers that store website data, to the IP addresses of individual websites.
In the case of ChronoTrack devices, the term “Server” applies to the address of the device or website you would like the Controller to connect to.
- In ChronOS, BoxScore, and the MiniTrack software, entering a Server IP is equivalent to entering a URL into the navigation bar of your computer’s browser. Attempting to connect your controller to the specified IP is equivalent to pressing ‘Enter’ on your keyboard once that information is entered.
- When attempting to connect to a Server Address, you should not change the Controller IP in any way. This would be like trying to get to Chicago by changing your name to “Chicago”.
The occasions where you would need to change any adapter’s settings are rare. We recommended that you consult with the ChronoTrack Support Team before attempting any changes to Adapter Settings.
Controller and Adapter Network Settings
In the event that your Controller IP becomes misconfigured, it will be useful to know the methods by which ChronoTrack staff determine Controller and Adapter network settings. This knowledge will help you to troubleshoot suspected Controller IP issues and return the settings to their correct values should the need arise.
Pro and Pro2 Controllers
- On a Pro or Pro2 Controller, the Controller IP is set through the LAN Adapter settings, and each Reader within the Controller has an IP address based on the Controller IP. You may hear the Controller IP referred to as the TCP IP or LAN IP interchangeably.
- The Controller IP always follows the 172.20.23.x format, with x being any multiple of 5 between 100 and 250. The Netmask used in conjunction with this IP scheme is 255.255.252.0
If two controllers have the same IP address, and they are networked together, it will create a conflict, and neither device will be able to communicate on any network until they are disconnected or the redundancy is resolved by switching the IP information of one controller or the other.
- In the case of a Pro or Pro2 controller, the Reader IPs are based on the Controller IP. For example, if your controller IP is 172.20.23.130, then Reader 1 will have the IP 172.20.23.131. If the controller is a Pro2 or Pro 800, the second Reader would have IP 172.20.23.132, as in this example from BoxScore 3.
If a Reader fails to report an IP address or the IP displayed is incorrect, make sure the reader is powered on. If it is powered on, reboot your controller. If they still don’t report an IP, check your Controller IP. If the Controller IP checks out, please contact the ChronoTrack Support Team.
Pro and Pro2 Controllers have several adapters that allow them to connect to networks in a variety of ways.
LAN adapter IP changes should not be attempted in BoxScore 1.26 without ChronoTrack Support assistance.
As noted above, Controller IP, TCP IP, and LAN IP are synonymous in a Pro Series Controller. Altering the Controller IP can be done through the LAN Adapter settings menu in BoxScore 3 and ChronOS. When setting the LAN IP address info, leave the Default Gateway field blank unless you intend to have the controller communicating through a Router or Switch.
The WiFi adapter in a Pro or Pro2 Controller is the only aspect of any controller that follows the common 192.168.0.x IP and 255.255.255.0 Netmask formats. The last Octet of the WiFi adapter is still based on the Controller IP and will always be 3 higher than the last Octet of the Controller IP. So if the Controller IP is 172.20.23.105, the WiFi Adapter IP would be 192.168.0.108. When setting the WiFi IP address, leave the Default Gateway field blank unless you intend to have the controller communicating through a pre-configured Router or Hotspot.
The Cellular Modem, also called the GPRS modem, is the only aspect of a Pro or Pro2 Controller that uses DHCP, so it is not necessary to assign an IP address, Netmask, or Default Gateway address. These will be automatically assigned when the GPRS modem connects to a cellular network.
Pro Series Controller IP: 172.20.23.100-250
Pro Series Controller Netmask: 255.255.252.0
Pro Series Controller Default Gateway: blank
Pro Series Controller WiFi IP: 192.168.0.x with x being the last octet of the Controller IP plus 3.
Pro Series Controller WiFi Netmask: 255.255.255.0
Pro Series Controller WiFi Default Gateway: blank
- On a MiniTrack controller, the interface software is stored directly on the Reader, and therefore the Reader IP and Controller IP are one and the same. Since there are no additional adapters or modems inside a MiniTrack, this means there is only one set of IP address information to keep track of.
- The MiniTrack Controller always follows the 172.20.23.x format, with x being any number between 50 and 99. The Netmask that corresponds to this IP format is 255.255.252.0
- The last Octet of a MiniTrack Controller IP address is based on the last two digits of a MiniTrack’s serial number. So if your MiniTrack serial number is 11267, then the Controller IP would be 172.20.23.67. If the last two digits of the serial number are less than 50, add 50 to the number. So if the serial number was 11227, the Controller IP would be 172.20.23.77
- Unlike the Pro and Pro2 Controllers, the MiniTrack requires that there be a value in the Default Gateway address. This value is ALWAYS 172.20.23.1. This corresponds to the settings for the Routers that we recommend to connect MiniTrack Controllers to the Internet.
MiniTrack Controller IP: 172.20.23.50-99
MiniTrack Controller Netmask: 255.255.252.0
MiniTrack Controller Default Gateway: 172.20.23.1
When the term 'Networked Controllers' is used, it means two Controllers of any type that are connected with a LAN cable. There is no special configuration needed for Controllers to be networked together. However, networked controllers must NOT have the same LAN IP.
When Controllers are networked, the time on one Controller can be passed to any networked Controllers. Timers will often 'daisy-chain' their controllers together on Race Day and sync them all at once to ensure the times are in complete agreement before distributing Controllers to their places on the course.
When Pro or Pro2 controllers are networked, any Gun Starts, Markers, or tag data collected by one controller will be passed to and stored on the other Pro.
MiniTracks can pass their data to a Pro or Pro2 or pass information through from one Controller to a computer or another Controller, but they do not store incoming data.
If Pro Series Controllers' WiFi adapters are powered on, they can also communicate via WiFi. Time syncs are passed via WiFi, but tag data, Gun Starts, and Markers are not.
Daisy-Chained controllers can all be seen in an instance of Fusion or CCS Lite, so you don't need to connect multiple controllers to a router or have multiple LAN ports on your PC in order to process data from multiple controllers at once.
ChronoTrack recommends networking no more than 4 readers together during race timing. This is equal to 2 Pro 800/Pro2 controllers or 2 Minis and a Pro/Pro2. This limit is necessary because of how Pro and Pro2 controllers aggregate data from other controllers. With more than 4 readers networked, the flow of data into and out of the readers can cause performance issues in the controllers. Networking multiple MiniTracks together isn't an issue because they do not store incoming data.