Blog: Wheel Fanatyk

25 Jun 2016

Zeroing the tensio

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In a previous blog I demonstrated the spoke tension utility available on this site. It works with the Wheel Fanatyk digital tensiometer and data cable.

When you place the tensiometer on a spoke, it’s ideal if the tool reads zero but sometimes that doesn’t happen because of the spoke itself — they’re not perfectly round. If you don’t zero the tensiometer, you introduce error into your readings. Zeroing the tensiometer is easy but you experience a delay while it resets and it requires the use of both hands. In short it takes a bit more time.

With the introduction of the data cable I had the idea of skipping that step by doing the zeroing in post-processing instead. How does it work? Suppose you place the tensiometer on a spoke and it reads 0.01. Instead of zeroing the tensiometer, send that reading to the software by pressing the foot pedal or send button on the data cable. The software understands this to be a baseline reading so it pops up a dialog box with the initial value and prompts for the final reading, which you send in the same manner. Then the net value is calculated, the spoke tension graph is updated and you carry on with the next spoke. At no time do you touch the keyboard or mouse on your computer so the workflow is very smooth. I’ve built several wheels this way and it becomes second nature.

To me this is the coolest thing in wheel tooling in a long time and it’s remarkably inexpensive. In part that’s because I offer the software for free — not even ad supported — which I’m happy to do to support the wheelbuilding community. If you need spokes, support me by shopping here.

07 Jun 2016

Autograph tension

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This is a video of the new Wheel Fanatyk tensiometer, equipped with a deluxe Mitutoyo gauge. The terrific thing about a top end digital gauge is the ability to connect to a computer (an optional connection kit is available from Wheel Fanatyk). So what do you do on the computer side? I improved my spoke tension utility to accept input directly from the tool without keyboard interaction. After each reading the software advances to the next cell automatically.

I also added a new software feature to eliminate the need for zeroing the tensiometer but it’s not shown in this video. Stay tuned for a future blog post explaining how it works.

20 Apr 2016

Two Wheel Fanatyks

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I’ve gotten a handful of reports that my spoke tension visualizer isn’t working with Wheel Fanatyk tensiometers. In all cases the problem has been incorrect tool selection on the setup page. Take note there are two choices for Wheel Fanatyk users: original and current Mitutoyo models. These tools have different tension conversion charts so it’s important to pick the right one.

If you need a tensiometer — and everyone does — you can’t do better than Wheel Fanatyk.

17 Jun 2013

Spoke tension utility update

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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 are 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 me a message. I know there are users as far away as America, Brazil, Britain and Japan. Your feedback influences future enhancements!

05 Apr 2013

Wheelbuilding gone digital

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It’s true that you don’t need a lot of equipment to work on wheels — you can eyeball alignment and feel tension with your hands or hear it with your ears. I don’t come from this school of thought. I like sophisticated tools that reveal the world with precision my senses can’t match.

In particular I use three digital tools in my process. First, I use a Park Tool truing stand with Mitutoyo digital gauges. The roller tip on the lateral truing gauge is made of teflon so your wheels won’t be scratched. Second, I use a Park dishing tool with a digital gauge attached so dish is known exactly. The next best alternative is using feeler gauges but digital is much faster. Last, and just recently, I’ve been using the Wheel Fanatyk tensiometer. The Wheel Fanatyk people have been a pleasure to deal with and I have updated my spoke tension utility to support their tool. Check it out!