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CONTEST Pre-registration 2002

An Excel Spreadsheet for Contest Pre-Registration, Version 1

George Norris

Phoenix Aerobatic Club, IAC 69


Overview       The Excel spreadsheet, PreRegistration.XLS automates aerobatic contest pre-registration.  Before registration starts, it accepts emails generated by pilots and volunteers using a preregistration web page. Once registration begins, it provides an interface for pilots and volunteers to retrieve or enter their pre-registrations and print their Entry and Tech Inspection forms (pilots).  It is designed to operate in conjunction with Contest Ledger  2002,  the companion tool for Contest Registrar.  The registrar can directly import this data into the ledger, greatly speeding up the process of registering pilots and volunteers. 


An illustrated guide to the Complete Suite, with input/output of data and printouts is illustrated here.  


Where Are You?

What Do You Need to Do?

Before the Contest

  • Download the spreadsheet 

  • Set up pre-registration web page on your server

  • Save pre-registration emails as text files and import into spreadsheet

Registration Day

  • Set up pre-registration station(s)

  • Pre-Register contestants and volunteers 

  • Periodically import data to Contest Ledger

After Registration Closes

  • close down pre-registration workstations

Before the Contest    

    A copy of the pre-registration spreadsheet is included with the compressed Contest Ledger download (736KB) (will it run on my computer?).  Alternatively, a complete Windows installation package with all of the software and documentation is found here (2.9MB).  Right-click to download.  When the sheet "PreRegistration.XLS" is loaded into Excel, it will automatically start and ask a series of start-up questions:

  1. a password to use in administering the program,

  2. a workstation number 0-5 (used to differentiate data saved from copies of the program running on different computers),

  3. the contest name,

  4. the contest location,

  5. where the data from the program is to be saved (floppy, hard disk, or LAN disk share connection),

  6. what printer to use for printing the entry forms, and

  7. whether to clear any existing data saved in the spreadsheet. 

Once these questions are answered (previous responses are saved, which speeds up subsequent start-ups), the program loads the main data entry window (see below) and is ready for pilot/volunteer input. 



As registrar, you can access additional functions by pressing the "Admin" button and supplying the password given at start-up.  This allows you to

  1. read previously saved data (including that provided from a public pre-registration web site),

  2. get saved email attachments from a private pre-registration web page,

  3. exit the application entirely, or

  4. exit back to the data entry window (Cancel). 


The application otherwise limits the user to the data entry functions on the main entry window (the spreadsheet or other Excel functions are not accessible until the application is closed by the password-protected "Admin" button) and should be robust to any stray user inputs.


pre-registration web page is also on the same site ( at http://contest.gndloop.org/prereg.htm ) and can have your contest added for pre-registering (contact us for details).  When contestants (and volunteers) complete the form in the web page and press the "Submit" button, the page will update the entry into a global contest database maintained by the Groundloop Society.  As the contest date approaches, we generate a pre-registration file for your contest and send it to you via email:

  1. Save the email attachment as a text file 

  2. Using the "Admin" and "Read Data" buttons, read the data into the spreadsheet and press the "Close Window" button.  

  3. Save the data to disk using the "Export Data" button

  4. After closing the program with the "Admin" and "Exit Application" buttons, save the spreadsheet as well.  

As long as you do not clear the data on start-up, all data loaded into the sheet will remain.  If you do, by mistake, erase the data on start-up, use the "Admin" and "Read Data" buttons to retrieve the data you saved using the "Export Data" button earlier.  You may also read in data saved from your previous contests (via the "Contest Ledger" -> "Data" -> "Export Pre-registrations" menu in the Contest Ledger application).  In this way, a rolling database of previous registrations are available to future contests and even pilots who don't pre-register can access their information using the PreRegistration program..


Registration Day      


Registrar   Set-up and connect the pre-registration computers to a printer (local or networked), and if available, a LAN hub/switch/router. Load the spreadsheet on each computer you will be using for pilot/volunteer pre-registration.  Load it into Excel, providing a distinct workstation number for each copy running and configure the location for data storage so that the registrar will have easy access to the data as it is saved by the users.  If a LAN connection is available, browse to the directory on the registrar's computer containing the Contest Ledger 2002 program.  If a LAN is not available, using the Floppy Disk option will provide a simple "sneaker-net" connection.  In this case, have a supply of floppy disks handy to cycle through the workstations.  For more details on LAN set-up, see this linked web page.


Pilots  As pilots come in to register, direct them to one of the pre-registration workstations running the program.  Have them retrieve their pre-registrations sent via the internet or enter the data directly into the form, if not pre-registered by pressing the "Start Here" button.  Dialog boxes will direct them through the process of retrieving or entering their information.  Once the data is entered, they should press the "Finish Here" button.  The program will then Thank them for pre-registering and:

  1. save their data in the spreadsheet,

  2. save it to a disk file,  if the selected file system is available (e.g., floppy disk in the drive if floppy disk was selected),

  3. ask if they wish to print their entry and tech inspection forms (default is "Yes"), and

  4. remind them to have their Tech Inspection completed, Forms A filled out, and waiver signed before proceeding to the Registrar for the completion of registration.

When the pilot shows up to finish registering, you can pull up their data, if the data files have been transferred to the Contest Ledger.  Regularly use the "Contest Ledger" "Data" "Import Preregistrations" menu in the Ledger to load these files (or automatically schedule uploads using the  "Contest Ledger" "Data" "Automatic Import/Export" menu).  Each file has a unique name PRD_#_YYYY-MM-DD_HH-MM-SS.TXT (such as "PRD_1_2002-09-20_11-10-22.TXT") identifying the workstation (#) and time/date of when the data was saved.  Once you locate the directory where the data is being saved, the Contest Ledger will automatically pick the latest files (sort by name or modification time) for each workstation and load the data into the Ledger.  This procedure is generally failsafe, as each pilot entry is time-stamped and will only load into the Ledger if more recent than any previous data loaded.  Once this is done, you can access the "Contest Ledger" "Finish Registration" menu to load the pilot's data into a blank or pre-existing entry (the program will figure this out) and position the cursor for the remaining entries needed (check list items and fees/merchandise).  If the name is not found in the Ledger pre-registration database, you'll have to exit the window and load the most recent pre-registrations (as above) before continuing.  This clearly easier if the data is transferred via a LAN directly to the Contest Ledger computer, but only requires inserting the most recent floppy disk from each workstation otherwise (use the "Export Data" button before ejecting the disk from the workstation to get the most up to date data).  The fact that the pilots must sign their forms and get Tech Inspections gives some time to get the data transferred over to the Ledger before needed.


Volunteers  Volunteers can also use the system to enter their data.  If the category selected is "Volunteer", only Name, IAC number, and volunteer data is required.  Pressing the "Finish Here" button will save data in the database, but skip the forms printing and reminders to get Tech Inspected before returning to the registrar.


For More Information        

    Contact George Norris (480)759-5795, (480)413-3958, or gbnv35b@yahoo.com.


Will it run on my computer? 

The best answer is perhaps ... it requires Microsoft Windows and Office (Excel).  It runs on Office 2000 under Windows 2000.  It is undemanding enough to work in Office 97 under Windows 98 on a relatively low-powered 486 PC with 28MB.  There will almost certainly be problems with Excel 5.0 or earlier.  I have not tried it with Windows XP and the matching Office suite, but would hope that there is enough backward compatibility to let it function in that environment.  If you have problems contact me at the address above.  It does make the least demands on the computer and operating system of any of the contest automation software suite and can use the lower powered computers you have available. 

Rev 1.3 (GBN 6/16/2004)