Blog: Software Utilities

16 Sep 2015

Spoke weight


If you have a target weight for your next wheel project or want to compare the weights of different options, spoke weight is one variable to consider. Unfortunately published spoke weights often contradict one another because they’re based on different model spoke lengths. And more often than not these lengths are on the short side, which makes the numbers optimistic.

To get answers I can use, I personally weighed some of the spokes available here. My method was to weigh bundles of 25 spokes in order to reduce the influence of error in my scale. In all cases I used spokes 300mm in length, which is on the long side but helps establish a realistic ceiling.

If you’re like me, the first thing you do after looking up the weight of a spoke is multiply it by the number of spokes needed. As a simplification I’ve captured this information and process in a little spoke weight utility. Just enter the number of spokes of each type and press the calculate button. You can ask for the combined weight of different spoke types, which can be useful for estimating weight when using different spokes left and right or front and rear.

In the near future I’ll factor in nipples and washers for completeness.

11 Aug 2015

Visualizer updates


I posted a small update to my spoke tension visualizer based on user feedback.

This update supports the numeric keypad for data entry, which was an oversight in previous versions. I have a few computers but none with a numeric keypad so please let me know if I missed the mark. For tablet and phone users the onscreen numeric input mode is now presented by default, which saves a mode-switch for every spoke (thanks to David M. for the suggestion). Last but not least, input validation is less restrictive so you can use hotkeys for cut, paste, print, etc. while editing.

I also re-tooled the setup screen to allow two kinds of bladed spokes: 0.90×2.2mm and 0.95×2.2mm. These are for Sapim CX-Ray or DT Aerolite spokes and the correct choice depends on the exact measurement of your batch of spokes. Sapim says nominal CX-Ray thickness is 0.90mm, which is a fine way to go by default, but some people find theirs closer to 0.95mm. This isn’t a huge deal because the point of visualization is to show relative differences, which are independent of scale.

Since you’ve read this far I’ll point out a couple features that may not be obvious. First, you can hover your mouse over any point on the graph to see the conversion from deflection to tension. Second, you can save your work by using the File > Print function of your browser to make a hardcopy or save as PDF on some systems. Mac users have a PDF option in the lower left of the print dialog. I’ve done a fair amount work to strip my site headers and footers so the resulting document looks nice and can be shared with customers if that’s your thing. Note: your browser may add unwanted headers and footers but these can usually be suppressed in browser settings (try Print or Page Setup menus).

Suggestions welcome. I don’t work on this tool often but keep track of requests so they can added when time permits. What would you like? More spoke choices? New ways to save graphs? A way to link to completed graphs? A publish to Facebook or Instagram feature? Other tensiometers?

19 Feb 2014

What tension is it


I’ve been tinkering with my spoke tension utility (again). Periodically I want to know the tension of a specific spoke rather than the average. Not too important but interesting all the same.

I experimented with different ways of presenting the data but couldn’t find a perfect solution. The version released today will display tension when you hover the mouse over a given spoke, which is good enough though it doesn’t work on touch devices yet. Even so it was more difficult than it sounds. I verified it works with recent versions of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera and Internet Explorer.

Other miscellaneous changes were bundled with this update. It now works better on a range of displays including tablets and phones, and updates itself when you resize your browser or rotate your device. The visualize button is gone too. Now the graph updates automagically.

I welcome problem reports by email. Include screenshots if applicable.

13 Aug 2013

Mixed spokes visualization


One thing needed since the beginning was the ability to visualize wheels with different spokes left and right. A rear wheel built with DT Revolutions on one side and DT Competitions on the other can be very balanced — a nice mix of lightness and strength. Until now you had to run the tool twice.

This requires more configuration to specify a wheel, which is always a concern. To help my spoke tension utility now remembers your last usage and uses that information for defaults. It accomplishes this by storing information in a cookie on your computer. If you disable cookies, the software will forget your configuration choices but otherwise works the same. Let me know if you encounter problems with this update or have ideas for future refinements.

17 Jun 2013

Spoke tension utility update


This week I made a small change to my spoke tension utility just for Wheel Fanatyk users.

The scoop is you can enter deflection values in different units and the software will figure out what you mean. For example, you can enter the value 0.31 as zero-point-three-one or point-three-one or as three-one. Whether the units are millimetres or tenths or hundredths is now inferred and normalized for you. This is a time saver if your decimal key is far from the number row and, like me, you’re without a numeric keypad. It’s especially helpful if you’re entering data with one hand while holding the tensiometer in the other. Existing functionality is not affected so the change can’t hurt.

This is small update but saving a keystroke or two on every entry adds up to a cumulative savings. I hope wheelbuilders (who understand a lot of tiny operations add up to something remarkable) will appreciate the change. Making things better and continuous improvement are always on my mind. If you have any comments to share, please send a message. I know there are users as far away as America, Brazil, Britain and Japan. Your feedback influences future enhancements.