Although the cord is designed to reel-out and reel-in as the fencers advance and retreat down the strip, it does present some restriction to a fencer's movement. For the fencer who competes with an electric scoring system for the first time, the tug of the reel can present a distraction. To make the fencer totally unencumbered, a reel-less, electrical system has been developed and was tested in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The electrical circuit set-ups for foil, epee and sabre are the same. The body cord of the fencer attaches to a lightweight, transmitter-receiver pack, which is worn on the back at the waist. This pack is about the size of a cigarette pack and is much like those packs worn for portable microphones. This pack transmits radio signals to the electric scoring box with the lights. In addition to the wire system, a lightweight, clear, plastic (Lexan) mask with lights inside is also being tested for foil and epee. When a fencer is touched, lights light up inside his helmet as well as on the scoring box.
Thanks to Justin Meehan of Blade Fencing Equipment of New York, who contributed to this article with his advice and comments.
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