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Wireless scoring machines at Cardinal Fencing Academy

Dear fencing friends and Families,

CFA uses wireless EnPointe scoring machines and as with any new(ish) technology, it takes a little time to become comfortable with it. Allow me to address some questions we have had over the years. 

1: Hits on the guard: The club has been using these machines for over three years with five to 12 strips going at once as much as 30 hours a week across all ages. I have been working with EnPointe to test and improve the system since 2019, and our machines use the most up-to-date firmware possible, including updates not yet generally available to the public to use repeater lights at the end of the strips.    

The error rate with known good equipment has been zero. The most common confusion is created when a guard grounding connection on either side is intermittent. On a wired machine there is no indicator that is the case, the fencers just suffer a potential hit on the guard that goes off for their opponent.

The EnPointe system has a vertical orange light that lights up when a fencer has hit the guard. If that light blinks intermittently either during a touch on the guard, or when the fencers are not hitting anything, that means a grounding connection is intermittent. The fault is most likely with the body cord or the weapon being hit, far less likely with the weapon doing the hit having a dirty tip.

When working correctly that vertical orange light should only blink briefly when fencers hit the guard. If it blinks mid air, or when a point is continuously held to an opponent’s guard, there is a problem with one side, or both     

If there is an initial problem with a ground wire on either side, the pocket boxes plugged into a weapon will not sync to the scoring machine. The pocket boxes not plugged into a weapon can still be synced up to a machine and with some exceptions relevant to engineers function exactly like a wire.   

Generally speaking, it is always best to go through a consistent troubleshooting process that eliminates potential faults step by step. Most problems are the result of fencers taking poor care of their equipment or related armoring difficulties. This can happen to fencers that kept their weapons and cords inside bags with wet gear overnight (yuck!) or when they yank body cords by the wire, not by the plug. Body cord prongs can thin out or get dirty; weapon sockets get rusty inside the holes or at the guard connection. In some cases, fencers mistakenly place the pad between the socket and the guard. All of these issues can create an intermittent connection but our system immediately indicates so.    

We have spelled out a troubleshooting process for referees to test the kit on the strip and also have an ohm meter to test whether any of the wires involved are intermittent. Cardinal fencers are very used to the system and are always happy to help.

2: Connection issues. The connection is always on. Pocket boxes display a red or green light inside the cord holes constantly blinking if they are currently touched on to a scoring box. The update cycle on the signal is far beyond human perception and FIE timings. If there is any loss of connection the scoring box immediately starts beeping with a blue X! symbol. It is impossible to suffer a situation where a fencer hits and the signal is delayed due to latency in the wireless system. 

During a fast paced, emotionally charged bout (we love those!) it is possible that a clearly visible touch seems delayed. Aside from simply hitting later than one’s opponent, this situation can arise from a fault in the point of an epee. It will not light up unless depressed deeply causing a bend in the weapon, and that does not necessarily mean you have to hit harder. This happens because the contact spring is too short, the inside of the barrel is dirty and/or the wires have become frayed therefore require wiggling to pass enough current to set off the light.  

Prior to becoming a full-time coach, I was an IT professional with extensive experience in the industry (MCSE, AWS, LAMP, Intel D1D, NIH). Working to make sure Cardinal has reliable, effective wireless equipment is a point of pride for myself and for our club. I’m confident our technology is beyond the state-of-the-art, and I’m happy to talk with anyone at length about the details of our system if they have any further questions.

Ilya Lobanenkov

Head Coach and Founder

Cardinal Fencing Academy

240 424 0749


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