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A few stories and history of my early years as a Mechanic, on the old ATL Melbourne Tote (Australia Circa 1976+)
By Don McKenzie My Early Tote Years - 1976-1988 | Industry Links | Acknowledgements | Julius History | A Few Stories | Betting Terminals in search of a good home | Doubles Betting Comes to Melbourne |
People Profiles | The Staff transfer from ATL to the TAB 1988 | TABLOID ATL Staff Photos 1989-1990 | Recent Photos | Email Correspondence | Win Place & Sting |
Introduction | Prologue | My Years Of Service | History in the Making, A.T.L. | The TIMs 1931-1980 | TIM Operation and Maintenance | The Tracks | Mornington and Pakenham | Mechanic! | Daily Maintenance and General Duties | Loading the TIMs | Unloading the TIMs | Machine Room Flemington | Flemington Machine Room, and New Years Eve | My Small Contributions | Industry Links | Acknowledgements |
Doubles Betting Comes to Melbourne
By Peter Collier 7-February-2011
In 1954 a decision was made by the racing industry to introduce Doubles betting onto Melbourne racecourses. While doubles betting was available elsewhere, the systems used were based on the Julius tote using escapement adders or systems using multiple electric counters which were impractical for use on fields of 24 runners as this would involve more than 500 counters and systems that were based on the reinvestment of first leg winning tickets exchanged for a ticket on a selection in the second leg.This was to be the first system to use paper tape to record the bets and a paper tape reader to then read what had been recorded on the paper tape and enable bets to be aggregated to determine the number of winning units on the winning combination of runners in consecutive races.Double: The Double Pool is conducted on two races, the investor having to select the winner of both. In the Melbourne implementation it is necessary to nominate the two runners when investing as opposed to a re-investment pool where a ticket is purchased on the first leg and, if successful the ticket is exchanged for a ticket on any runner in the second leg.
The recording equipment was a set of electromagnets that moved a system of rods and bars that were moved under the main solenoid that when energised would then drive the selected punches through the paper tape recording the combination as a set of 4 holes (or 3 holes if the selection in 1 leg was a field bet) across the paper, 2 holes represented a runner in the first leg and 2 holes represented the runner in the second leg. When the solenoid released the paper was advanced so that it was in position for the next bet to be recorded. After the first leg of the double was run the paper tape that recorded the bets was wound through to provide a leader and then cut off, a length was then wound through and fed on to the bobbin on the recorder in readiness for recording the next race. The paper tape was then mounted on the reader and the switches set for the winner of that race and all runners in the second leg in sequence and the tape was passed over the reading head and the number of selections counted and displayed on an electronic readout. After all reading was completed it was then possible to declare odds for the second leg and the figures were available for the calculation of the dividend when the second leg winner was known.
At the front end of the van is a 3 phase 50 Volt rectifier and along each side were a set of batteries each of 50 volts that were kept charged by the rectifier. The 50 volts from the batteries provide power via a power distribution panel to the punch tape recorders and readers and the ticket issuing machines located in the selling houses. Each punch tape recorder was capable of supporting 32 ticket issuing machines using an access set that allowed only one ticket machine to record a bet at a time. One (1) recorder was set up to support ₤1 ($2) ticket machines and the remaining 3 supported 5/- (50c) ticket machines. All power and data lines for the ticket machines were provided via an interconnecting panel mounted on the side of the trailer close to the front. A new multi-leg ticket machine was installed at Melbourne racetracks. This new machine had the Julius number of “J10 Mk1” and was physically the same size as the J8 win/place ticket issuing machine which enabled it to be installed without any alterations to the existing bench works at the racetracks. New cabling was installed at the racetracks to interconnect the selling terminals to the recording equipment that that was mounted in the van.
This new terminal used less cabling than the previous single leg J8 terminals as the runners were coded into a 2 of 8 code plus one additional wire in each leg for representing field bets. “Field bets enable the punter to select 1 selection in either leg and the field in the other leg.”
The original paper tape readers used thermionic valves to electronically count the combinations as they were passed over the reading head which was made up of 18 photo electronic sensors with an incandescent light above the paper tape. As the paper with the holes punched in it passed over the read heads the sensors would detect the row of holes and the rest of the electronics would count the combinations that had been selected by the switches. Each reader consisted of two read heads over which the paper tape was passed and each head was independent of the other which meant each read was checked against the other head. This was what ATL called “the check on the check”. Each horse was represented by 2 holes in each leg of the race (unless it was a field bet).
The count was displayed on 2 electronic display valves for the tens and units and a counter for the higher digits (see picture below left). Each head had a separate display.
The count display is shown at the very top in the photograph and at right ( and left as a separated display) with the paper transport below, the runner selection and power status next with the main electronics at the bottom. In the Melbourne installation the top counter display was separated and mounted above a bench where the dividend calculators would sit to calculate the dividends. When the second last race was run it was no longer possible to conduct a “Double” so the terminals were altered and the equipment was then used to conduct a “Quinella “ pool.
Quinella: The Quinella pool normally operates on any number of starters and bets are lodged on combinations on any two runners in one race. The winning tickets are those that show the numbers of the first two horses past thewinning post in any order.
Circa 1959 additional capacity for doubles betting was required and a new punch tape recorder was installed in the van. It was set up in such a way that it had to be set up each time the van arrived at a racetrack and packed up before the van moved to the next racetrack. At the same time as this recorder was installed along with additional Julius “J10 Mk2” ticket issuing machines, new punch tape readers were introduced that although the paper transport was basically the same the electronics was miniaturised with use of the “new” transistors. This changed the way things were done and control rooms were added at racetracks to accommodate the five new paper tape readers and their associated aggregator modules.
These aggregator modules (see left) displayed the count of the number of units on the winning combination. Although these were an improvement on the original displays for reliability there could sometimes be disagreements as to what number the needle was indicating when it was between numbers.
A newer display module was produced a couple of years later that used seven segment displays to display the count of the winning units. With these new displays there was never a disagreement as to what was displayed.
This setup remained like this until circa 1969 when the old readers were removed from the van and an additional punch tape recorder was added, the new recorder and the one previously added were mounted in racks which saved the set up each time the van was moved. The new readers still had to be packed up and readied for transport to the next racetrack by a cartage contractor who also transported the selling terminals.
The main reason for the new recorder was added to the mobile van was to enable Quinella betting to be conducted on every race as well as Doubles. This van remained in service up until the introduction of the new computer system that was introduced in 1972. The punched tape system was still used at Victorian country racecourses for a number of years until it was finally replaced by the computer system at the country racetracks serviced by ATL.