Blog: Software Utilities

29 Aug 2020

Truing stand progress

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A special thanks to everyone who participated in the survey in my previous blog. The feedback was really helpful. To anyone else: new survey submissions are still appreciated.

The survey indicates customers overwhelmingly prefer a bundle versus sourcing everything themselves. It’s not my preference but it’s understandable. In response I’ve been evaluating samples, looking at manufacturing processes, etc. The kit will include the brain box, digital indicators and cables — everything needed to upgrade your existing truing stand.

I decided the foot pedal will also be part of the package. The foot pedal means the interaction between the mechanic’s hands and the truing stand and the wheel are completely unchanged by the digital upgrade — everything can be managed using foot control. I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted so decided to manufacture my own pedal. I source five components from three vendors and assemble according to my own schematic. It has a 3m/9ft fully overmolded cable to facilitate long runs under and behind workbenches. The feel under the foot is the best I’ve found (and I tried quite a few).

One niche feature of my pedal is its two distinct buttons. This is exploited by a tension gathering application I call Live tensio. This app reads deflections from a connected tensiometer and converts to tension values in real time, automagically. The left pedal instructs the system to assign the current reading to the tally of readings for the left side of the wheel. Similarly with the right pedal for the right side of the wheel. Watch the video below for a demonstration.

The video is a teaser and doesn’t show everything. For example there’s a little graphic below each live readout that situates the current reading among previously recorded readings. The interface is a plus/minus bar chart that shows relative magnitude and direction at a glance. There are a few things left to implement and then I’ll film a more complete presentation.

Next steps

The system is in beta trials at the moment. This process is designed to sort out bugs and identify improvements needed to make the system more self-explanatory.

To facilitate my eventual IPO I’ve moved the product rights into a separate company, Islandix Systems Corporation. I named it Wheel Analytics to reflect the range of applications that go beyond truing. Available late 2020 — sign up at islandix.com to be notified.

07 Jun 2020

Truing stand beta

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I’ve been developing my truing stand for quite a while now. The software has been stable for more than a year but recent changes make it the tool I really wanted. After a few hardware revisions, that part is working well too. For a peek at both check out the video below.

I’m turning my mind to how a system like this should be packaged. Below the video is a survey to get a handle on the demand for a digital truing system. If you can, please contribute! All questions are optional and the survey can be submitted anonymously if you prefer. 

(For communication purposes the “wheels” in the screencast part of the video are simulations. I have a simulation driver for testing the user interface, which lets me try wheels far worse than I encounter in the workshop. No wheels were harmed in the design of this system.)

Survey

You would be most likely to add digital truing to your workshop as


If you imagine upgrading an existing truing stand with digital controls, what cost/configuration would be justified by the expected benefits? Check all that apply if any. Figures in USD.







Would the package be enhanced by including a display at an additional cost?

What platform would you be likely to use as a display? Check all that apply.





Do you have a truing stand equipped with test indicators already?


How often do you build or repair wheels?




Use this space for additional feedback on survey questions or on the system itself.

This box is for sharing your contact information. (optional)


25 Jul 2019

Tension graphing news

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A couple of changes to the spoke tension visualizer went live recently. The first is the Print setup button. It allows you to enable or disable parts of the screen for printing purposes. This includes the title, deflection readings, legend and the graph itself. Now would be a good time to remind users you can edit the title. Click or tap on the title and change the text to describe the job at hand. If you see other headers or footers, they’re added by your browser and can be suppressed with browser settings. Printing or saving to PDF is the most foolproof method of storing your work.

The second change is the Snapshot button. This clones your work into a new tab as a readonly copy. Users might find this useful for charting tension balance as work progresses. A subtle impact of this change is, for the first time, inputs can be saved as a URL — the address bar of the snapshot contains your data. Loading this address brings you back to the viewer with settings, readings and graph intact. As usual hovering the mouse over points on the graph shows exact tension values. There’s no need to make an account, no need to store anything in the cloud or anything like that.

Users are invited to share bug reports and browser compatibility issues. I also appreciate feature requests. They may not see the light of day right away but it helps shape my priorities when there’s time for development. If you’d like support for another tensiometer, please see here.

20 Aug 2018

Tensio support policy

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Did you ask about tensiometer support in the spoke tension utility? This post is for you.

In order to support a tensiometer in the software, it’s necessary to have one in the workshop. It gives me confidence the experience is good — regardless of being free I’m not interested in providing second-rate software. Sometimes changes arise from using a tool professionally. For example you can enter 25 and it autocorrects to 0.25 when using the Wheel Fanatyk (but doesn’t with the Park Tool). Little details like this tilt the balance between flow and tedium.

For digital tensiometers, it’s even more important to have one on hand. Direct digital download can involve quirks that must be accommodated in software. Some of the most interesting features on the roadmap are for digital tools but the testing is more intensive.

I purchased the Park and Wheel Fanatyk tools myself, the former to build my own wheels and the latter to boost my professionalism. And so I supported them in my software. Now with the workshop properly equipped, I’m less keen to purchase others. (For full disclosure Wheel Fanatyk donated three tensiometers after finding my software popular with their customers.)

So if you’d like to see another tensiometer supported in the software, it’s easy and not easy: ask your manufacturer to send one here. I make it easy by taking no fees, neither for initial support nor for ongoing maintenance. And promise new tools will be supported within 30 days of receipt. But in practice it’s not easy as users have reached out to DT Swiss, Sapim and Unior without success. If you plan to engage one of them, you may have better luck asking the rep for your geographical area or a connection on the inside. If your contact doesn’t build wheels, temper your expectations.

If you’re in the market for a new tensiometer — whether a basic tool or a premium one — this information may help you choose. Park Tool and Wheel Fanatyk are easy to recommend. Both are supported in my spoke tension utility, provided for free on this site since 2013.

30 Jan 2018

More things weighed

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Up in the utilities menu I have a little tool to compute spoke weight. Today I made a couple tweaks.

First I got a better scale in the shop, which helps because this tool is based on real world weights. At the same time I changed the sample weight from 300mm to 310mm spokes. The original idea was to depart from the norm of specifying weight based on short spokes. But since I sell spokes longer than 300mm, why not choose samples of the longest length? Job done.

Second I added all varieties of nipples sold here to the measurement tool. This update includes brass and aluminum nipples in all varieties. Still to come are spoke washers and nipple washers though they weigh next to nothing and are worth it when they’re needed.