Stackmat and Other Speedcube Timers
For a long time, the speedcubing community haven’t had their own dedicated physical timers to measure how fast can competitors solve the Rubik’s Cube. There isn’t a brand or company that creates timers just for cubing competitions. This is because speedstacking, the sport of stacking cups in different patterns as fast as possible, uses a stopwatches which requires the fingertips of both hands on each sensor to start and stop it. This has been accepted as a suitable timer for the WCA and the speedcubing community, despite not being created for this purpose.
The only timer allowed in competitions is the Speedstacks Stackmat Pro Generation 3. This is the most recent cronograph and has been approved by the WCA. Many puzzle stores online sell this stopwatch and the accompanying mat, some of which can be found in my Puzzle Stores article. If you’re looking to recreate the exact timer experience, including how long you’ll need to hold your hands on the time before starting, and stopping the timer efficiently, this is definitely the one to buy.
There are other previous generations of the Speedstacks brand timer, but the one mentioned above is the only one allowed in official WCA cubing competitions. The previous generations are similar, except they don’t have the data ports (therefore a cable cannot be used to connect the chronometer to a tournament display), and the number of decimal places of the time that are shown. However, recently it was announced that a new generation of the Stackmat timer is to be released in March 2016. It is not known whether or not the WCA will switch to using these timekeepers instead of the much-loved Gen3 timers.
There are only two other brands of speedcube timer in existence, both of which were created for speedcubing and not used by speedstackers. All of these timers start and stop in the same way, and the only real differences are the brand, price and quality.
The first of these timers is the QJ Timer. It is slightly less pleasing to the eye than the sleek design of the stackmat timers, yet it functions just as well. It displays times to two decimal places, and most importantly has a data port to connect to a PC or tournament display. It can have some issues, however, as it is only a cheap version of the stackmat.
The second of these tickers is the new Yuxin timer, which has received quite a few negative reviews due to sensor unreliability and the sounds that play when the timer is turned on or off, and when a solve starts or ends. It does have a data port, but for a similar price you could buy the QJ timer which does the same as the Yuxin timer, except isn’t as annoying.
Online Rubik’s Cube Timers
There are, of course, online timers that are available. These function by simply by pressing the spacebar to start a solve, and any key for ending a solve. They record your times and can give you information on your current averages and the overall session mean. These kinds of timer have been criticised however, as they remove the necessity to pick up the cube after the solve has started and put it down before it is finished. Two examples of simple yet efficient online timers are QQTimer and CSTimer.