Every once in a while I dip into my supply of rally navigation equipment and post some information about the features of this equipment. This time I’d like to discuss the Alfa Pro unit from the early 1980s. I think that this unit was available around 1980 to 1982, therefore it is likely over 30 years old.
This unit is much different from the current Alfa Pro odometer that is available from Small Systems Specialists. The Alfa Pro units are in a category that is sometimes referred to as a “B Box”. The term “B Box” refers to an odometer that would qualify for use in Class B or the Unequipped Class under the rules of road rallying as issued by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). From the basic functionality of this older Alfa Pro odometer, I think that it was designed mainly for use in stage rallying. This conclusion is also supported by the name of the unit, “Alfa Pro”. Up until the mid-2000s, stage rallying in the USA was often referred to as “Pro” rallying and I believe that this early Alfa Pro unit was designed primarily for use in pro or stage rallying.
Alfa Pro Odometer From The Early 1980s
The unit has two displays with 5/16″ high LED numerals. The left display is the main odometer. The right display can be either a clock, an odometer, or display of the calibration factor as selected by the navigator. The clock can be set up to read in either minutes and seconds or in minutes and 1/100th of minutes. Stage rallying is timed in minute and seconds. In the USA, road rallies are timed in the more navigator friendly and mathematicaly simpler units of 1/100th minutes.
It should be noted that this unit will not provide any speed information – neither current speed nor average speed.
The calibration factor is a four digit number, which provides a little more precision than a three digit calibration factor that was used in some other units of this vintage.
The indicator of what is shown in the right display is the position of the decimal point in the number shown in the right display. If you look at the top photo in this post, the right display is 2.21. This means that the time is 2 minutes 21 seconds. Co-drivers are assumed to know what the hours value is. The decimal between the two number twos means that it is the time. If the display was to show 438.3, then this would mean that this is the calibration factor of 4383. If the right display value was 7.358, then this was an odometer reading of 73.58. The decimal placement in the display matches up with the indicator description below the display.
The decimal placement in the right odometer display is somewhat confusing, but the co-driver/navigator should soon get used to using this display.
Obviously from the switch titles on the front of the unit, it is possible to freeze the displays by using the “Hold” button and to have the odometer run forward, backward, or not change at all while the toggle switch is in the “Park” position.
Alfa Pro Keyboard
The keyboard controls the values in the displays. The left display, which is a four-digit odometer, is controlled by the buttons in the left-most column. These buttons can be used to make the value change up or down according to the direction of the arrows on either the top button or the lower button. The middle button can be used to zero the odometer.
The right display is controlled by the two central columns of buttons. The second column from the left has three buttons that say “Fact”, “Time”, and “Odo”. By pushing the appropriate button the right display will show the calibration factor, the time, or an odometer. The third column from the left allows the user to either increase, decrease, or zero the value in the right display.
The right-most column has two buttons that say “Fast”, which can be pushed simultaneously with the arrow buttons to increase or decrease the displays in larger values. The lower right button that says “Z” is used to help zero display values.
When I acquired this unit about 5 or 6 years ago, I contacted Mike Friedman of Small Systems Specialists, the manufacturer of this unit, to see if he still had some operating instructions for this unit. Mike did have some instructions for this unit which he forwarded to me. The following image outlining the functions of each part of the Alfa Pro came from those instructions.
Control Functions From The Alfa Pro Instructions
I doubt that there are too many of these units still out there, but if someone needs instructions for this type of Alfa Pro odometer, then please contact me as outlined in the “About” portion of this website and I will forward the instructions.
This older Alfa Pro is much smaller than the current Alfa Pro units. The older Alfa Pro is 6 1/4″ wide, 3 3/4″ high, and 2″ deep. This particular unit still functions quite well and would be suitable for rally use where a basic odometer and clock will provide the needed distance and time information to the co-driver/navigator.