A minute before we initiate the 5 minute rolling
sequence we have to lower a shape. The Regatta Horn doesn't seem to handle that
automatically. Can you update your software to include it?
We could but there is a better way to handle this situation which makes more sense.
Lets say the race begins promptly at 7:00 p.m. (the prep gun) with a 5 minute
rolling start. At 6:55 initiate the sequence with your hands over the horn, muffling
the output. At this point everything is setup to run automatically with a 6:59 shape
alert for shape down and 7:00 prep gun.
Sure, we could add code to start at 6:59, but that means you have to initiate the sequence
and lower a shape at the same time (no fun for a short handed RC). Programming a
unique start to the sequence also introduces confusion. We've tried to keep the
operating interface simple and consistent.
The cigarette lighter plug with the built-in
fuse and little light is nice but I'd prefer to cut it out and attach battery
clips or better yet wire it directly to my power panel.
If you do, put a 15 amp fuse in series with the positive wire (the ribbed wire is
positive, the smooth wire is negative or ground). The fuse is critical to the safety
of the horn as well as your boat's circuitry.
The horn itself is nothing more than an electric motor
powered air compressor. When it's working properly, the current draw from the
battery is 10 to 13 amps. If the battery voltage to the horn is too low to permit
proper operation, then the horn will just sit there and act as a dead short to your
electrical system. That's when the fuse blows to protect everything. (At this
point you should be more concerned with your alternator not charging your battery and how
you are going to start your engine.
The horn sounds anemic sometimes.
(This FAQ addresses a particular problem where the ship's wiring was
corroded and limited current draw.) The horn needs a good electrical connection to deliver a
clear tone every time. The shortest path to the battery is the best path. If
you're plugged into a cigarette lighter plug, the socket may be wired with small
gauge wire or a long length of wire. Either way, the battery can't deliver full
voltage and current to the horn. If this is the case either rewire the cigarette
lighter receptacle or connect the horn directly to the battery with the supplied
One question not clear from the animations is how to mount the horn.
The animations at the bottom of the home page show the clip attachment (or maybe
what I think is obvious really isn't, I'll work on that). You will see a plastic clip between the two horns. The clip opens to about two inches for
quick attachment. The Pro-Start is designed to quickly attach physically and electrically and then to be stowed for future use.
Is the horn sufficient to hear under most sailing conditions.
Pro-Start is an automatic air horn. It cannot be compared to a shotgun because the
acoustic signatures are so radically different. However, it is better
than the handheld signaling air horns found in your local
marine supply (The higher quality metal unit not the small dinky purse horn).
Also, you don't have to buy air canisters for it and it doesn't freeze up on
is used routinely in 15-25 knot winds with 15 boat PHRF fleets.
What is the decibel output level of the horns you use?
The horn outputs 118 dB SPL. The trumpets are arranged back to back so that one
points out over the start line and the other over the prep area so that everyone
hears it. The horn may be located up to eight feet from the controller so the
RC doesn't have to deal with the noise.
Do you need the horsepower of a car battery, as you seem to indicate, or
could a smaller, more portable 12v battery be used?
The original design philosophy was to use the ship's battery because it was
there and available, however the portable 'car starter packs' do a great job and
one out of three people seem to have one.
When we talk about horsepower the important considerations are that Pro-Start
requires 10-15 amperes to fire the horn, however it requires it for a short
period of time. Your worst case sequence is the three-minute
dinghy start which requires approximately 3 ampere-minutes of power. A ship's
battery is typically rated at 50 to 100 ampere-hours and the 'starter packs' are
around 19 ampere-hours. So either battery has capacity for
hundreds of starts and the lead acid chemistry easily provides the needed
current. You could conceivably use a 4 or even 2 ampere-hour NiCad pack to run
Can I buy just the controller?
I'm sorry, no. Pro-Start comes as a complete, tested unit that you can
have confidence in. Once you get it, you will do what you like with it.
bear in mind that the components have been selected and tested to work together.