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Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project
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Some people are aware that I've been developing a powermeter that's documented on my blog http://keithhack.blogspot.ca/

The gap between HRM and powermeter is still too large for most people to stomach. I want to reduce that gap so that a powermeter could get purchased before race wheels and that they aren't competing products anymore. I've broken out the numbers on how much it could be to build these and I've been open in showing all testing results, schematics, code, etc.

However, people seem very divided on the powermeter topic. As I finish off this prototype and look towards finalizing it's testing and building up the beta test units, I am looking ahead toward the next step. I'm giving serious thought to crowdfunding in an attempt to raise the capital needed to do the FCC testing required in order to sell a final wireless product. I have serious doubts about crowd funding due to the failure of the laserspoke project which barely raised 3500 dollars http://www.indiegogo.com/...r-meter-for-cyclists. However crowd funding seems the perfect way to check to see if there is a market below current units -- a market including less "serious" riders.

So I'm soliciting advice, comments, etc in regards to crowdfunding.

What would give you confidence in a crowd funded powermeter? While kickstarter is officially a donation, would a full refund by a certain date help confidence? Personnel profiles? Keeping it opensource or pseudo opensource? (Can't include certain ANT+ things such as network key)

How about comments on why laser-spoke wasn't successful. My theories revolve around lack of explanation on how the automatic calibration would work, plus a complicated reward level and not ANT+ or BTLE support. Mine has been built from the ground up to be ANT+.

Would providing the circuit board (for electronic hacking community) or development units (lower cost functional units for people to test and develop with after the beta) detract from the professionalism expected?

Thanks in advance. Feel free to PM me or email me with other questions. And if you're in Ontario (or Canada potentially) and interested in being part of the beta test drop me a line. My list of interested people hasn't growing in the last few weeks, but always looking for more candidates.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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The gap between HRM and powermeter is still too large for most people to stomach. I want to reduce that gap so that a powermeter could get purchased before race wheels and that they aren't competing products anymore.

If this is one of the premises that is driving your project, then I think it may be faulty. I think lack of understanding/lack of sexiness is why people don't buy powermeters. Plenty of triathletes don't have a problem dropping a load of cash on new gear; new bikes and wheels are sexy. A power meter requires an investment in effort and in most cases, self-education. They intimidate people because most folks don't have a clue how to use them. If triathletes understood the power of the tool, then they would be lining up to buy them before most any other toy.
The plethora of used devices out there has also driven the price of entry quite low these days.
Chad
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [cdw] [ In reply to ]
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Chad,

I think that I used that more as a potential premise to be tested. I'm probably merging ideas in the why I'm motivated with this and why I've spend several thousand dollars on development to date.

You're right, it is a very intimidating tool. I've walked into countless bike shops and most will have multiple 2000 dollar wheel sets on the wall but never seen a powermeter. This aims back at my thought, maybe the lower level market isn't that real and that current price points reflect what people see as value?

Good point about used Quarq's and others which I routinely see going for sub $1000 dollars now. I know that's what I picked my Saturn Cinqo up for to test against my own prototypes.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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Because people don't see the performance benefit of having a power meter - you don't buy speed when you buy a power meter, and often, it comes at the compromise of something (e.g. extra weight, or being stuck with a set of wheels). It took me 5-6 years of racing before I finally got one (going though multiple race bike and wheels before that).

If you market power meters as an effective way of improving performance by proper dosing of efforts, aiding in training, and race/ride post-mortems, people might come to realize their benefits (although that can be said of any power meter). Then, it becomes how easy it is to use and realize the benefits of riding/training/racing with power.

___________________________
Chewie
Slowtwitch Aeroweenie since '06
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [chewgl] [ In reply to ]
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This makes a lot of sense. My first exposure to the ANT+ protocol was about 4 years ago when I started programming a piece of software to prompt me through workouts while on my trainer. That was the first of many steps. I had planned to continue the project by implementing some procedural programming to act like a virtual coach to give feedback throughout the workout with some code I developed in my masters for dealing with time series data in real time.

Software and apps are becoming more sophisticated. I'm relying on the evolution of apps such as Strava / Garmin Connect or more serious applications like Training Peaks to help with that. Without the knowledge and experience these tools become more difficult to get the most out of. Look fast or train smart to be fast.

Chewie, your point is excellent I think. Do you think your training would have been more effective if you had had your powermeter a few years earlier or would it have just swamped you in data you wouldn't understand?
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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My son is in week 3 of his Kickstarter. It's a video game.
He is at almost 2x of his goal.
The two things that helped him: he spoke to his target audience and he offered a heck of a deal on his rewards.
So you need a strong hook to grab attention and a decent reward to attract cash.
My son's lowest tier ended up being too much of a bargain. But this is his first effort and lesson learned.
I think crowd funding can also be like pre-purchasing.
Do you have a prototype? Can you make a good video describing what you are designing?
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [Bumble Bee] [ In reply to ]
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I'm actually building my 4th prototype. The major changes have it running for 100 - 200 hours on coin cell now and even more accurate response compared to the one shown in the video below.

My third prototype was featured on hackaday http://hackaday.com/...cycling-power-meter/

Video of my third prototype http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RHbAxKm9-4, there are lots more videos about how it was made on my site at http://keithhack.blogspot.ca/...complete-how-to.html This was built off the arduino platform, however the new one is not, so it's much less developer friendly

I'm still highly focused on building this new prototype which is the template for my beta test group, so I haven't had a lot of time to spend developing a good video yet. I suspect I'll enlist some professionals with experience in that field once I get nearer to the end of beta testing.
Last edited by: kwakeham: Jul 24, 13 19:35
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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I wish you the best of luck, but lots of people have tried to make a much cheaper powermeter and it tends not to work out. Why do you think you can undercut someone like Quarq so much? Are you using a new cheaper technology? A cheaper production method? Or simply cutting out distributers (like what Flo has done)? Or do you think that Quarq is making a huge profit?

I am not trying to say what you are trying is impossible, I mean Quarq was started to provide a cheaper alternative to the SRM and they succeeded. So it can be done, but you are trying to make another step down the price ladder. I believe that Quarq had a pretty big delay in reaching the customers. This is the reason it will be tough to do crowd funding, because it is basically guaranteed that your product will be late and will be more expensive than planned.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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Well, I think I'm a bad example - I race for fun, and ride for fun, never really trained hard for anything. So I did not see a power meter as necessary, as I did not think it would alter my racing strategy, especially when I generally raced and did well in crits.

However, getting a power meter helped me get to know myself better, quantitatively. I learnt exactly what kind of a sprint I was good for, or what kind of effort I could reasonably sustain. Knowing my power curve (I used golden cheetah for that) altered my racing strategies, and that can make a the difference between a podium place and just one of the field finishers.

More recently, having power allowed me to properly pace myself for long rides. I rode a century last year with a power meter, and pegged it at 200W on the short rollers towards the end to prevent myself from cramping. Helped me finish pretty strongly in the end, without the cramps that I'd usually get in long hot rides.

I do think that an experienced athlete is pretty good at optimizing racing strategies (I like this article for that: http://www.biketechreview.com/...human-supercomputers), but for new athletes, and unique situations, having power is useful. I think the killer power app would be one that integrates a course's profile, an athlete's power profile, (further entrained or updated with HRM information and inferred wind and aerodynamic data) to prescribe an optimized power output at any point in the course. Bundling such an app with your powermeter (partner with Garmin?) could help...

___________________________
Chewie
Slowtwitch Aeroweenie since '06
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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I don't have a lot of advice for you - but depending on the price points of your contribution levels - I'd definitely be in for something.


Team RACC | scottbowe.com

"no matt...your FTP is never high enough, there is always room for improvement." - jonnyo
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [chaparral] [ In reply to ]
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I've actually spent a good deal of time analysing this for low volume. It's covered in an old post I made over a month ago here http://keithhack.blogspot.ca/...ap-fastpick-two.html

The big "undercut" comes from how I'm instrumenting. Both Quarq and SRM have to machine custom spiders. Due to the low volume nature of this business these end up being relatively expensive. SRM touts that they hand finish these by a skilled trades person further increasing the costs. By instrumenting the crank as is at reliable predictable points without major modification, this expensive machining becomes unnecessary. This sensitivity testing is documented here http://keithhack.blogspot.ca/...testing-results.html Which goes well into detail on force sensitivity. Don't underestimate things, I'm 99% certain stages is using one of the two configurations shown in this picture http://lh3.ggpht.com/...%25255B19%25255D.jpg If you look this configuration up on my post it shows the greatest sensitivity to pedal offset.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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kwakeham wrote:
What would give you confidence in a crowd funded powermeter?

get together 10 cyclists of varying ability, size, etc., and have them ride your powermeter at varying intensity for a half hour (5 s hard, 1 min hard, 10 min hard). simultaneously measure power w/quarq, powertap, or srm. show the results/consistency. estimate cost depending on production volume. if possible replicate with at least three units. provide estimated weight and ease of installation. then i might be interest (well if i didn't have two quarqs already ;).

__________________________

Oh yeah!
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [duffman] [ In reply to ]
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That's quite the point. Proving the reliability and viability. Before Kickstarter changed their rules there were way too many people getting funding based wholly on a concept and people got angry when they couldn't deliver.

My primary background is in a much more stringent engineering industry. It's from this experience that I planned and find it totally necessary to have 2+ months of beta testing with multiple power meters I've built with restriction free testing. Because I own all the equipment I take all the liability. If they are damaged, fail to work, etc I'd never consider moving towards crowd funding. That means making promises on a crowd funding platform without having a solution tot he problem. I'd only pursue this if I was at the final stage in development. I'm close but I'm not there yet.

I have a specific S950 crank that I'm going to setup that allows me to have both my meter and a Quarq running simultaneously. This one is yet to be setup. It'll likely be the next one built in a 2 - 3 weeks. This is likely the one I plan to send to Ray at DCrainmaker. We've talked about this project before and he's linked to it several times and expressed interest in testing it out -- though he has a huge backlog from the looks of his site, he will eventually have a one of my beta test units.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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I have invested in a a few things on kickstarter. This is my view on what people look for before investing.

1. Does the concept work - I don't think you will have any problem here becasue you are doing a variation on what ahs been done before.
2. Easily digested evidence on what work has already been done and the product is already well developed. Your blog already goes a long way to tick off this one.
3. Endorsements from real people. I think running beta tests with a few people who can then verify your product works will really boost investors confidence.

I think if you can make something for the right price then you will have no problems selling.

One criticism I have of your videos is that you spend too long talking about the general purpose of power meters. I think your potential customers will already know what a power meter is so you should concentrate on getting straight into how your power meter works and selling your product rather than selling the concept of power meters.

BTW, did you ever consider using piezo sensors, a while ago I was contemplating if it was practical to put piezo sensors into special crank bolts that could measure power.

Well done on what you have done so far, I am very impressed. Consider me in for beta testing if you are prepared to work with non local people (I am in UK), I could compare your unit side by side with the powertap I already use.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [Twisty] [ In reply to ]
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Twisty,


Easily digested -- I need to work on this. I to hire some experienced videographers / editors / etc to help produce the crowdfunding video. As you mention I'm long winded and potentially giving background that isn't needed for the market. The previous videos were more meant for the hacker community / show the unit working, and to help understanding general force sensing, strain gauges and whats involved. I appreciate this feedback.

I haven't used the piezo-resistive like the ones used in Garmin Vector. These are much more sensitive than strain gauges, but I've read also more thermally sensitive, so they need an active thermal compensation via local temperature measurement. I think it would be very difficult on the chain ring bolts but not impossible. In order to mitigate damage to wires you'd almost have to include a spider like structure so that the connections aren't damaged if a user wants to remove the chainring.

I have a few people who have been interested from around the world. I'll be doing is doing the local beta first, then once I get the meters back I'll evaluate how things went. If the problems are minor I'll start looking at setting up a crowdfunding project. As the crowdfunding is going on I'll be mailing meters to non-local people who have expressed interest. If the local testing reveals more extensive issues, I'll likely head back to the drawing board and test locally again and will not proceed with the crowdfunding. At this point I've turned down several requests to instrument other peoples cranks and offers of money. So the short of it is, drop me a line if you're still interested but likely wouldn't get access to a meter until the October timeframe at the earliest. I just don't want to get ahead of myself and start promising things I can't deliver on time. Deadlines have been one of my professional weaknesses and for the last several years I've honed my estimating in the engineering world -- these estimates still aren't perfect.

Again, thanks all for the feedback so far. Most people have been very supportive of my work here and elsewhere and I appreciate that a lot.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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How about comments on why laser-spoke wasn't successful.

I haven't looked at your concept, but I did look at theirs. My biggest criticism was that there were too many conditions where it wouldn't be accurate enough to be useful, and wouldn't work in some environments. You really would need a dedicated complete wheel, specially designed around the concept. IMO they didn't display that they knew what they were doing.

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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the response, that makes plenty of sense. I guess that means you can only use aluminum crank arms, which is probably not a huge downside except for the bling aspect.

If I were you I would include an explanation of why you can do this cheaper even when you doing twice as many measurements. It does not need to be a huge aspect, but would help address the fear in crowdsourcing that the product will be more expensive and latter than planned.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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kwakeham wrote:
I just don't want to get ahead of myself and start promising things I can't deliver on time. Deadlines have been one of my professional weaknesses and for the last several years I've honed my estimating in the engineering world -- these estimates still aren't perfect.

I think if I met someone in the engineering world that had perfect estimates, I would accuse them of being a witch. You are dealing with complicated products and the more you actually know about the problems you may encounter, the more difficulty you have coming up with dates of completion.

I think the smart idea behind the garmin vector is that piezo gauges and all of the processing of them is within one little self contained unit. Instrumenting chainring bolts would not be able to take advantage of that.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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kwakeham wrote:
You're right, it is a very intimidating tool. I've walked into countless bike shops and most will have multiple 2000 dollar wheel sets on the wall but never seen a powermeter. This aims back at my thought, maybe the lower level market isn't that real and that current price points reflect what people see as value? .

I believe this is ripe for change for two reasons:

1) As more people use Strava and other hosted social system they are exposed to power data. This trips the necessary curiosity for some to go beyond a guestimate of their w/kg to actually knowing their numbers. In the past two years I've seen a surge in the amount of power-based talk in club rides. People are interested.

2) I bet bike shops would stock and sell power meters if they didn't have to pay up front for them. A lot of high value inventory allows them to pay a small amount, but I believe power meters have largely been in the category of products that must be bought out right up front. Incidentally, you do see the PowerTap sold at bike shops but crank based models are more problematic given the variety of lengths and chain ring options.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [cdw] [ In reply to ]
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cdw wrote:
The gap between HRM and powermeter is still too large for most people to stomach. I want to reduce that gap so that a powermeter could get purchased before race wheels and that they aren't competing products anymore.

If this is one of the premises that is driving your project, then I think it may be faulty. I think lack of understanding/lack of sexiness is why people don't buy powermeters.
Chad


I have to disagree. I feel like I understand power meters and why/how to use use them as much as anyone who can't afford one can. When I look at triathlon expenses it is just too much for me right now. I don't know what pricepoint you're looking at, but I suspect that if you can get it into the Garmin range you will get a lot of folks like me (fast but not elite racers without a ton of disposable income) to buy in.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [rruff] [ In reply to ]
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rruff -- mine is more traditional compared to Laserspoke. Proven tech, protected from enviroment (prototypes haven't shown it, it's still a work in progress though). My views are quite similar. They got some press but no money materialized. Didn't look ready.

Chapral -- I'm not as experienced with Carbon Fiber as I'd like, however I've talked to several engineers who do CF layup and design in the cycle industry. This might get technical, but CF is linear like metals, the problem is when it gets old. Delamination of fibers happen on a small scale. The easiest way to relate this is back to fatigue, so how many times you load and then unload the material. The point at which it fails from repeated loading is called fatigue life. Letting this equal 100% of life, most publications indicate that non-linearity starts occuring at 20% life. This is correctable via a non-linear calibration curve - sucks but it's a small processing hit. By 30 - 40% life this becomes hysteresis, meaning the deflection curve for loading is different from unloading. This cannot be calibrated out.

The engineer have indicated that in their frame design they don't test to failure as it's too expensive as it could take many times longer than 100000 cycles. So they are well above the CEN Fatigue requirements. In fact they regularly use impacted frames on their fatigue tests. So this all culminates in his experience indicating that even within a few years that the curves will likely remain linear enough to instrument. This is all anecdotal, so I bought a S950 crank (compact S900) which will be instrumented and tested. So the plan is aluminum initially and see what I could offer with CF once I test it and see first hand.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [dgran] [ In reply to ]
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dgran wrote:
kwakeham wrote:
You're right, it is a very intimidating tool. I've walked into countless bike shops and most will have multiple 2000 dollar wheel sets on the wall but never seen a powermeter. This aims back at my thought, maybe the lower level market isn't that real and that current price points reflect what people see as value? .


I believe this is ripe for change for two reasons:

1) As more people use Strava and other hosted social system they are exposed to power data. This trips the necessary curiosity for some to go beyond a guestimate of their w/kg to actually knowing their numbers. In the past two years I've seen a surge in the amount of power-based talk in club rides. People are interested.

2) I bet bike shops would stock and sell power meters if they didn't have to pay up front for them. A lot of high value inventory allows them to pay a small amount, but I believe power meters have largely been in the category of products that must be bought out right up front. Incidentally, you do see the PowerTap sold at bike shops but crank based models are more problematic given the variety of lengths and chain ring options.

I think that all these pieces of software is really pushing the knowledge front. The ability to have something process these automatically is quite useful. I haven't used it, but the new Garmins I believe can do a life TSS and IF (which some people indicate aren't really accurate for short durations), so they provide some new metrics for people to train / ride too.

I hadn't given any thought to a more commission based structure. It would lighten the burden for having a product in the shop. This is something I should ask some shops about.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [smorris793] [ In reply to ]
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smorris793 wrote:
cdw wrote:
The gap between HRM and powermeter is still too large for most people to stomach. I want to reduce that gap so that a powermeter could get purchased before race wheels and that they aren't competing products anymore.

If this is one of the premises that is driving your project, then I think it may be faulty. I think lack of understanding/lack of sexiness is why people don't buy powermeters.
Chad



I have to disagree. I feel like I understand power meters and why/how to use use them as much as anyone who can't afford one can. When I look at triathlon expenses it is just too much for me right now. I don't know what pricepoint you're looking at, but I suspect that if you can get it into the Garmin range you will get a lot of folks like me (fast but not elite racers without a ton of disposable income) to buy in.

+1. Its' just easier to justify finally haveing a good race wheel, but not on a training tool, that while I don't doubt is very beneficial, I can get much of the same results using speed, HR and percieved effort. Chasing a number on the screen is nice and adds more objective data and repeatability.

Honestly, I rarely bother downloading and analyzing my HRM data now. So I doubt I'll do that same with a power meter.


One more simple reason.... there's no power meter for run or swim training, so why is it "needed" for cycling. Can you see how it's easily seen as a extra luxury.

Now, when I'm ready for new chainring due ot wear next year, I might make a set of powermeter cranks a birthday & fathers day gift.

I also don't want anything on my wheel, since I have to rebuild the wheel, can't swap wheels


One other thought... for a cheap and simple pwoermeter, while not nearly as accurate, why not measure chain tension above the chainstay? You'd have to correct for gear selection, but that can be done by comparing RPM and speed.


TrainingBible Coaching
http://www.trainingbible.com
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [motoguy128] [ In reply to ]
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motoguy128 wrote:
One other thought... for a cheap and simple pwoermeter, while not nearly as accurate, why not measure chain tension above the chainstay? You'd have to correct for gear selection, but that can be done by comparing RPM and speed.

Polar tried this and it never worked out for them. I've read that it ended up being overly sensitive to position of the sensors -- small movements would lose signals.

The main reason I'm not looking at it is that I have professional experience and training with strain gauges and I've already built several crank based prototypes with good success. I'm well past the conceptual stage. At this point in the startup I'm more likely to "pivot" in retooling the same forcing technology for other sports than to look at another type of tech. Thanks though.
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Re: Soliciting crowdfunding advice on powermeter project [kwakeham] [ In reply to ]
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I've been casually following along with your development, and found it quite interesting so far. I'm sure you've got a long line of people who would be interested in beta testing (probably primarily at the concept of getting a "free" powermeter), but feel free to add me to the list (I'm located near Philadelphia). I'm a scientist and a technerd at heart, so I'd be very interested in evaluating and helping with the data analysis.

Regarding with the laser product failed, to me, it seems like too twitchy a product, it required too many specific conditions to work properly, and utilized a technology that none of the established products included, lacked interchangeability between wheels, and simply did not seem to be a refined, logical concept. Also, consider the timing. That product sought funding nearly a year ago, and in that time the idea of training by power has gathered significant steam, especially as [slightly] lower cost products have entered the market. As others here have mentioned, people have no problem spending booku bucks on wheels, components, frames which all offer small improvements in speed, but its a more difficult proposition to spend four digits on something that will just help you train better, especially for newer athletes. Unlike race components, the value in acquiring a powermeter isn't instant, it's in the potential which I feel many people overlook.

Regarding credibility, I think your Type-A documentation of your entire development process to date lets prospective funders know just what you've done, your qualifications, and the fact that you aren't likely to just take the money and give up if things aren't panning out. I wish you the best, please get in touch if you think I could help you out.

Best,
Sean
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