Blog: Software Utilities

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 any problem reports by email or Twitter. 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.

18 Mar 2013

Pretty neat new utilities


This post is to announce two new tools I’ve built in tandem with launching These are my runout tabulator and spoke tension visualizer found in the utilities section at top right. I offer them 100% free for enthusiasts, industry professionals and shop customers alike.

The runout tabulator is more a thought experiment than a problem solver. The idea is uncomplicated — simply measure the runout at different points on a wheel and note the measurements of smallest and largest magnitude. The difference is a measure of alignment. But should every point on the wheel be examined or should we sample deviation at each spoke? Should any special consideration be given to the join area? How much do decals and paint finishes distort readings? And so on.

The more important tool, my spoke tension visualizer, is pretty neat. It does two jobs: it converts tensiometer deflection readings to tension values and shows a graphical view of the same. For now it only supports the Park Tool TM-1 but I can add support for other tensiometers in the future. I’ve coded an option to insert dummy values in the data collection screen so you can see how it works without faking anything (this will likely go away in the future).

I hope these tools stimulate the wheelbuilding part of your brain. I enjoyed creating them.

18 Feb 2013

Spoke length calculator online


I developed my own spoke length calculator, online in the utilities section. During validation I determined its output is identical to the popular DT Swiss calculator — to 0.1mm resolution. The intent was build a calculator with a simple interface suitable for rendering on mobile devices.