SPORTS POWER METERS

A post from the Brim Blog

News: Steady as she goes

[Photo of BR in a suit]

In light hearted mood at a recent local business event.

We’ve been getting a growing number of enquiries asking for an update on how we’re doing. Apologies for the lack of anything for the last 3 or 4 months, but the only thing we can report is steady progress – very boring. So in the absence of any big announcement, we decided to give you a quick glimpse of some of the things we’re working on. We took a few photos of things around us in the Brim Bros labs, and you can see them below.

The further along you get on a development project like the Zone the smaller are the steps you make. At this stage we’re doing refinements in the design, slowly improving many aspects of it, but there are no breakthroughs and unfortunately no big news that we can report to you.

What’s taking all this time?

A lot of our technical work is focused on not just making the Zone accurate and consistent, but on making it manufacturable. We do constant cycles of refinements and tests to the electronics, the firmware, the plastics. We do very boring very repetitive sequences of tests on the force sensors, the motion sensors, the analysis algorithm, the behaviour of the system under various conditions.

We’re essentially trying to squeeze a high quality laboratory instrumentation system into a tiny package and at a cost that is way below usual lab instrumentation costs, so it all takes a lot of careful work. Remember that this is technically more challenging than any existing power meter. The space available in your cleat is a lot smaller than on a crankset or wheel hub. Calculating a power value needs not just force but motion measurement too, but your cleat moves around in many more ways than a wheel hub, a crankset, or even a pedal axle. That all adds to the complexity. We’re really pleased with our technical achievements so far, but now it’s just test test test.

When, how much, and which computer?

The steady stream of encouraging emails and messages we get really means a lot to us. We reply personally to every email we get, but a number of questions come up over and over so it’s worth giving their answers here again. First the big two questions – when and how much. We are still planning a launch at the end of 2012, and we have not yet announced a price. One other question that is coming up more often recently is which bike computers the Zone will work with. The answer is that for displaying total power it will work with any ANT+ compatible bike computer that shows power. That includes devices from Garmin, Bontrager, Timex, Motoactv plus displays from any of the other power meter companies that use ANT+ (actually, at the moment there’s only one power meter on the market that doesn’t use ANT+). The Zone is also compatible with other ANT+ receivers such as the iPhone dongle and apps from Wahoo Fitness, a growing range of phones that include ANT+ built in, and the new heads up display from 4iiii. The Zone transmits left/right balance too, but right now only the Garmin Edge 800 displays it. The Edge 500 is due to get that facility via a firmware update “soon”, and we expect many more display devices to support left/right balance.

Pre-orders

We opened the online pre-order system in late January, and the response has been well beyond our expectations. This helps us as we start planning manufacture, and it gets you a place in the line. Thanks to everyone who has placed a pre-order.

A peek behind the door

[Photo of various plastic parts]

We recently got new versions of the plastic parts, including the charger unit. The charger connects to a PC via a USB cable. A pair of pods is inserted into the charger to charge their batteries or update their firmware, or to make certain configuration changes.

[Photo of two electronic boards]

The two electronic boards, one for the base and one for the pod, have amplifiers, motion sensors, ANT+ radio, battery management, inter-board communications, and test connections. They also have a microprocessor each.

[photo of test jig]

This is one of the test jigs we use to hold the electronic boards and connect to them on the bench. This is how we programme and test our prototype boards and generally bring them to life.

[Photo of shoe on a static bike]

This is a prototype Zone pod being used in a test to collect very detailed data. The pod has an extra development module attached to it so that it can transmit a stream of high speed data to our analysis system.

[Photo of computer screen]

The detailed high speed data is fed to this PC and provides us with a range of real time displays, as well as recording all the data so that we can replay it and re-examine it later.

[Photo of pneumatic test jig]

The pneumatic test jig used for testing and calibrating our force sensors. When we took this photo it was being used to do some tests with forces at different angles on a pedal and cleat.

[Photo of force gauge]

The pneumatic test jig incorporates a calibrated force gauge that lets us accurately measure the extremely high forces that the jig can produce.

13 Responses to “Steady as she goes”

  1. Peter says:

    Great update….can’t wait to purchase one.

  2. Don says:

    Thanks for the update! I really like the talk about doing it “at a cost that is way below usual lab instrumentation costs.” What will make this a killer product will definitely be a lower price point (say $600?).

  3. Wayne Sulak says:

    Thanks for letting us know things are moving forward. Looking forward to SPD model too.

  4. Mitch says:

    Thanks for the update. Keep working hard. Can’t wait for these to come out.

  5. Jim says:

    @Don above

    I think you may be counting your chickens.
    My cousin sells lab instruments and they are incredibly expensive.
    $1000 would still be cheap – compared to “lab instruments”.

    If (like me) you have multiple bikes, then the flexibility is worth it.

  6. Anto says:

    Well done Brim’s. looking forward to see you deliver this baby!

    Just think when its done how bored you will be !!!!

    Keep going the end is in sight

  7. Rowly says:

    The Garmin Edge 500 software update is now out and has power balance and 2 more screens. Bring it on Brim Bros……

  8. Steve says:

    This is an idea that I had shortly after learning about pedal based power meters. I am glad to see someone is already developing this! I am also a mechanical engineer, so I understand how tough the development process can be. Keep up the good work!

  9. KMD says:

    Updates! How’s it looking guys! Totally looking forward to dumping by Powertap!

  10. Jordan says:

    Keep up the hard work. I can’t wait till you guys finish this. And updates being as boring as they may seem to you are exciting to me.

  11. Jan says:

    As a bikefitter i am very interrested in becomeing dealer of your amazing product.

  12. Olla says:

    Looks very intriguing.How does a telathirte slip shoes on and off if the device is attached to the shoe strap? In other words, if you do flying mounts and dismounts, is it going to be realistically easy to slip your feet in and out of the shoes if there is a pod attached to the strap? Typically I leave my shoes on the pedals with the straps UNfastened and then fasten them on the fly same with dismounting ..unstrap on the way into T2 and slip feet out.Thanks,FR

  13. Martin says:

    UPDATE PLEASE!! :-)

    Would love to get my hands on one these to train with this winter. Any chance of that happening?

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