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Discussion: SI-Card

in: Orienteering; Gear & Toys

Jul 2, 2008 4:30 PM # 
I am considering buying an SI-Card. I notice there are 4 models 5,6,8 and 9. Which model do most orienteers use and why?
Jul 3, 2008 9:13 AM # 

5 - old, probably not worth getting one of these
6 - basically the top of the range
8 - aimed at schools and such like, wouldn't recommend
9 - the new alternative to a '6', slightly less capacity, slightly faster, slightly cheaper

go for a 6 or a 9.

Might be best to find out what type of SI stations are used in your area, if they are the older ones then I'd recommend against a 9 as they only work in version 7/8 of the stations.
Jul 3, 2008 12:04 PM # 
There's also the 6* (six-star), which is what I have. Fast response, biggest capacity, so many digits in the ID (eight) that registrars think that something must be wrong, and older download equipment can't read them correctly (the right data appears to be on the stick, and the elapsed time is right, but with older download stuff, the control numbers and splits come out as gibberish). Basically the same as a 6, except that it holds 192 records and doesn't work with the older equipment.
Jul 3, 2008 12:52 PM # 
JJ how much does the 6* model costs?
Jul 3, 2008 2:34 PM # 
I checked Scarborough Orienteering and didn't see a six-star. Where did you get yours?
Jul 3, 2008 3:13 PM # 
I got mine from some internet mail-order supply place (located in Seattle, I think) that was selling them pretty cheap (don't remember exactly how much), but I went to their website later and they had stopped selling them, but were still renting them for certain adventure races. I don't remember what the website was, nor how I found it. I have never seen a 6* other than the one I have.
Jul 3, 2008 3:33 PM # 
I think it is safe to say that J-J has the only SI-6* card used regularly at A-meets in the US.

And, andrewd is correct that you should consider that there are some clubs putting on local and A-meets in the US where only SI-5 and SI-6 cards will work.
Jul 3, 2008 4:29 PM # 
I've discuss this issue with my local SI guru and the unofficial USOF SI guru (Val) and they recommend SI 6, not 6* and not 9. There are still going to be a number of clubs using old boxes for the foreseeable future. You'll save yourself and some poor epunch volunteer a lot of hassle by paying the extra $20 for the SI 6 card.
Jul 3, 2008 5:10 PM # 
And, the SI-5 card is not a bad choice either. It has plenty of capacity and speed for the majority of orienteers, and it is less expensive.
Jul 3, 2008 5:21 PM # 
I understand there are some limitations of the SI-5, but I'm not really sure what they are.

I know from Val's recent post that SI-5s are limited to 30 punch splits.

Is there a 12-hour limit that might affect adventure racers?
Jul 3, 2008 5:58 PM # 
The SI-5 card does have the 12 hour limitation, as well as the 30 punch limit (with 6 more with no time). It is also slightly slower. But, for most people, I think the speed of the SI-5 is more than sufficient.

That being said, if you have the extra $20 per card, then I would buy the SI-6 card.
Jul 3, 2008 7:44 PM # 
Card 6* is discontinued as far as I know. Instead there is an option when programming the stations that can be turned on to allow any Card 6 to register 192 punches. Card 6 is still the card of choice, but the most expensive. You won't notice the extra 15ms that it takes over a Card 9 :-)
Jul 3, 2008 8:58 PM # 
a friend of mine which has the SI9 card mentioned that the SI9 has longer range. The punch boxes would register a punch with the new SI9 card even before he puts the stick in the hole.
From your experience, JJ Is this an urban legend kind of thing or does it seems to have larger detection range as well as the 15 ms advantage?
Jul 3, 2008 9:07 PM # 
I don't know, I've never seen an SI9.
Jul 4, 2008 2:28 AM # 
Is the SI9 what Greg Balter has? He was waving some new card around the clear and check boxes at West Point, testing to see if it would work with them.

Also, is it true that SI cards have a battery in them and have a limited lifetime measured in only a few years? A well-known vendor has lately been heard telling people this, yet other folks I've asked insist that couldn't possibly be true. Might as well get to the bottom of this. It could potentially affect US WOC runners.
Jul 4, 2008 4:09 AM # 
I *think* one of the differences between SI & Emit is that SI has battery in the Unit (not the finger stick) and with Emit it is the other way around.

But in either case, not to worry for the WOC runners - they don't get to use their own cards. At every WOC I've been team leader at, the organizers provided the punching device (Emit or SI) that is to be used in each race.
Jul 4, 2008 8:44 AM # 
AZ>> You´re correct in both cases. For SI the battery is in the control unit while the stick is 'dead' (or sleeping) while EMIT has it the other way around, i.e. battery in the 'brick' while the control unit is 'dead'.
And yes - at major championships it´s common to have the organizers provide whatever punching equipment they are using.
Jul 4, 2008 9:13 AM # 
Emit control unit has battery. Should last 8 - 10 years. Some seem to have changed batteries themselves:
Jul 4, 2008 9:18 AM # 
OK - my mistake - I didn´t know that... Do you know about batteries in 'brick' - there have been questions about how long they will last?
Jul 4, 2008 9:38 AM # 
Those should last about 10 years, 5 years warranty. But 10 years is a long time, who really knows... once a year I put our emit cards to freezer and test with a clear unit if they still work. If battery has enough power to work in -25C it will most likely work happily one more year.

I am on my second card, changed some years ago to new one with lcd screen - the first card from 90's is still in use, but not by me.

Some do the same freezer test regularly with control units too.
Jul 4, 2008 12:39 PM # 
Ok, so back to SI sticks, then we've established they have no batteries and the vendor who's telling his customers they do is misinformed? What is their expected lifetime?
Jul 4, 2008 2:44 PM # 
According to the SI website, for the models being discussed, "endless".
Jul 5, 2008 1:43 AM # 
Actually, less than endless. I snapped the tip off my SI card at West Point a couple years ago. I can also see a stress fracture in my new card at the same point. You might want to carefully look at your card before you head out blissfully on that race you've been peaking for all season. And of course, be careful how hard you drive it into the control box.
Jul 7, 2008 9:29 PM # 
Cards 6 and 9 have a stronger casing than a Card 5. Can't promise you won't break it though.

Nikolay asks if Card 9 can punch slightly outside the hole, actually this works for Card 6 as well but only in the newer stations. But the distance we're talking is quite small, maybe 1/8" above the hole maximum. One reason for this is the chip is closer to the end of the stick in the Card 6 and 9 than in a 5 (because of different casing).
Jul 7, 2008 11:38 PM # 
Thanks, Alan.
Dec 22, 2014 2:32 PM # 
Sorry to bring back an old thread, but I'm considering purchasing an E-Punch and am curious about the current standard.

From the research I've done, the options seem to be...

SI-5 card (30 controls)
SI-6 card (64 controls)
SI-8 card (30 controls)
SI-9 card (50 controls)
SI-10 card (128 controls)
SI-11 card (128 controls)

... with the note that SI-8, SI-9, SI-10, and SI-11 cards are only compatible with SPORTident control unit versions 7 and 8. BAOC and all the other U.S. clubs use those models, but clubs in other countries might not have them.
Dec 22, 2014 2:48 PM # 
Mickstar, SI-5s and 6s are both discontinued and you shouldn't need to worry about compatibility with old control units (BSFs). BSF 6s haven't really been around for years.

Note that in addition to the number of controls as you've mentioned above the key performance difference between the different SI-cards is their speed. SI-8s are a little bit slower than the SI9s while the SI-10s and 11s are quite a bit faster. The SI-11 also blinks to give you additional confirmation of a correct punch but comes with the downside that you can't punch two controls within 5 seconds (never an issue in a real race but sometimes annoying when clearing and checking).
Dec 22, 2014 3:40 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Dec 22, 2014 6:34 PM # 
Just get the fanciest one that you see for sale. It's not like you'll ever say, "Dang, I wish I had gotten a worse one".
Dec 22, 2014 10:50 PM # 
... unless he gets an Air+, in which case I'd guess that most results software wouldn't recognise it and would barf when he downloads.
Dec 22, 2014 10:59 PM # 
Air+ acts normal in OE2010 suite of software.
Dec 23, 2014 1:18 AM # 
doh, I didn't realise that Air+ was the same as SIAC, not as new and shiny as I thought
Dec 23, 2014 2:58 AM # 
Is Air+ like an air guitar?
Dec 23, 2014 3:34 AM # 
I was wondering that myself. Maybe it's a new social networking site.
Dec 23, 2014 5:28 AM # 
confirmation of a correct punch

@Canadian: I'm going to go out on a limb and presume you meant "correct" as in actually punched -- not as in in correct order...
Dec 23, 2014 1:10 PM # 
That's right GuyO.
Dec 23, 2014 2:39 PM # 
Hmmm, GuyO and Canadian bring up an interesting possibility: What about an SI card that could be preprogrammed with the competitor's course and would give confirmation that you were at the correct control? That would prevent a lot of those accidental mispunches and especially the skipped comtrols that we are seeing (even Thierry!), and you'd know at the first control if you had grabbed a wrong map. It would change the game a little - but perhaps not all that much.

I see some problems in practice though - everyone has to visit computer before they start (more work for organizers too), to get their course codes loaded, or if a replacement control is put out but does not have the same internal number, the competitor's card would see it as an incorrect code.

I guess I wouldn't see the tech going that direction ... Even if you find a way to make it painless for organizers, there are still problems if a control goes missing or a replacement is put out. And getting programmed with the wrong course or controls would probably happen at least as often as mispunches, and potentially could affect large numbers of people at once.
Dec 23, 2014 3:08 PM # 
Dec 23, 2014 3:34 PM # 
Remember that there are people out there who feel that any sort of feedback to the competitor (even the box acknowledging that the punch has been detected) is totally wrongheaded.
Dec 23, 2014 4:19 PM # 
Thanks for the feedback, guys.

What are people's thoughts on the SI-10 vs the SI-11? The price difference isn't much of an issue. But the only difference I see is the visual indication of the punch. While fancy, as a beginner, I'm having trouble coming up with a situation where that would be advantageous.?. And, it looks like it adds a battery to the stick. One more thing to go wrong...
Dec 23, 2014 5:07 PM # 
I don't know how advantageous the feedback is for a beginner but for an elite competitor it has definitely come in handy on sprint races where the speed is much higher and you really want to run through controls. Pre-SI-11 I've been caught 5 steps away from the control realising that I hadn't heard the control beep or see it flash so had to go back to the control to repunch it. Being able to check the stick on your finger and only have to go back if it's not actually flashing is nice.
Dec 23, 2014 6:38 PM # 
I doubt that are a whole lot of folks out there with SI 10's and 11's. If I were going to upgrade though, I would go with the SI-10 just because of the battery thing. Don't forget, the station itself provides feedback and that is sufficient for me anyway.
Dec 23, 2014 7:15 PM # 
I own the SI-11 unit and the visual feedback was helpful more than once. There were races, where one or two SI station wouldn't give any visual or audio feedback. And it also helps in sprints, when the background noise "swallows" the beep of the station. For those who like to keep it simple: There is now a SI-8 card integrated into a compass, so you only need to carry one thing apart from your map. It's called ComCard Up and is placed it on top of the SI station instead of traditional punching.
Dec 23, 2014 8:19 PM # 
Thanks, again.

For those that actually use/own the SI-11... Is having a battery in the stick anything that should keep my from considering it? What happens if the battery fails? (Is it just that the visual indication no longer works, or does the whole stick not work?) Is the battery user replaceable and/or a commonly-found size?
Dec 23, 2014 8:29 PM # 
Uncle JiM:
When the battery fails, it behaves the same as SI 10
Dec 23, 2014 10:35 PM # 
SPORTident product documents

Says the battery on the 11 works for 30,000 punches and as above still works like a regular card when the battery is dead.
Dec 23, 2014 10:37 PM # 
I doubt that are a whole lot of folks out there with SI 10's and 11's.

I have SI-11. It has saved me revisiting controls a few times, which is particularly handy at MTBO.

I see some problems in practice though - everyone has to visit computer before they start

This is no different to any one of our regular weekly events.
Dec 23, 2014 11:23 PM # 
Great. Seems like a no-brainer to pay the extra $10 and get the SI-11, then.
Dec 24, 2014 9:24 AM # 
I see some problems in practice though...

Only if the card refused to be punched at an out-of-order, or non-course, control. If it punched anyway, problems averted. It could also have a no-course-entered default condition (rather than there always having to be a course).
Apr 13, 2015 2:47 PM # 
Does SI ComCard have flasher or only ComCard Pro?
Apr 13, 2015 2:57 PM # 
mmace, neither the ComCard Up nor the CardCard Pro have a flashing light in them. The ComCard Pro is equivalent in functionality to the SI10.
Apr 13, 2015 3:20 PM # 
After I watched http:\\ Youtube show one of the ComCard model with flashing light. I assume it is ComCard with SI-11?
Apr 13, 2015 3:38 PM # 
I just went to to see the same video. There is a note under the video saying "Note: Production model of ComCard does not have an LED/flash".

That must be development model which will maybe be available in the future?
Apr 13, 2015 3:59 PM # 
and putting a battery in the compass is not going to affect its accuracy? That's sort of ... interesting.
Apr 13, 2015 4:06 PM # 
maybe that's why it's not in the production model?
Apr 13, 2015 5:16 PM # 
Putting a battery in a compass won't necessarily affect its accuracy.
May 16, 2015 1:39 AM # 
You don't have to visit computer before starting any race, unless the are Air+ controls. The SIAC works just like any of the SI fingersticks when used with BSF-7/8 controls, except that there's visual and sound feedback. Only when used with Air+ controls (BS-11) does the radio receiver in the SIAC need to be turned on before the race.

This discussion thread is closed.