Department - Author 1

Electrical Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Electrical Engineering



Primary Advisor

David Braun


Barrel racing is a rodeo event in which a horse and rider attempt to complete a clover-leaf pattern around preset barrels in the fastest time. This sport combines the horsemanship skills of a rider and the horse’s athletic ability to safely and successfully maneuver around the three barrels (three fifty-five gallon metal drums) placed in an arena.

In barrel racing, the purpose is to make the run as fast as possible. An electric eye and timing system keep track of the time. The time starts when the horse and rider cross in between the electric eyes and ends when the horse and rider complete the pattern and cross back through them. The rider’s time depends on how tightly the horse turns the barrels, how quickly the horse accelerates after turning the barrel, and how quickly the horse runs in between the barrels.

In this high speed event the time is recorded to an accuracy of milliseconds. One thousandths of a second can be the difference between first and second place. The horse and rider need to insure that they are running the quickest pattern possible. The quickest pattern requires the horse and rider cover the least amount of ground and accelerate the quickest after turning a barrel.

Presently the barrel racing industry has no technical device that allows the riders to accurately determine the inefficiencies in their run. Current analysis methods include: videotaping each run (from only one angle), placing a set of electric eyes in front of each barrel (the eyes are expensive), and running the pattern over and over again and comparing the times.

The Barrel Racer’s Calculator allows the rider to analyze their runs and determine how to improve upon them. It records the distance and the time covered during every run, thus improving upon the methods previously mentioned. The Barrel Racer’s Calculator consists of two apparatuses, an electric eye and a sensor mounted to the horse. The electric eye triggers the accelerometer on the horse to start and stop recording data through the use of an Arduino Uno, PIR motion sensor, and a wireless XBee transmitter. The XBee transmits a signal to the sensor box on the horse which contains an Arduino Uno, Accelerometer, SD Data Logger, and a wireless XBee receiver.