Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

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Carl Watts
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Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by Carl Watts » April 29th, 2019, 3:45 pm

There was a rowbike suggestion made here a while ago but I just though of something easier to implement.

I couldn't really be bothered creating a login and putting up on the Zwift site so I e-mailed them directly.

Just keep the standard bike graphic and go with a special "Concept 2 Team" jersey that only Concept 2 rowers can use.

Change the cadence on the standard bike graphic to match the rower spm so the the rower cyclists are really easy to identify.

Make a decent cross reference calculation to translate the rower Erg speed to the road speed and the job is done. I would suggest a simple calculation so the numbers cannot be "Fiddled" by the rowers. The pure brilliance of the Erg is that there is NO FIDDLE FACTOR when it comes to power when using RowPro. Plenty of online calculators available, 200W on the Erg gives you about 30km/hr on the bike. Yes you can make the calculation massively complex by entering things like your weight and even frontal area for drag coefficients, however I would suggest rather than make it "Fairer" it would just lead to the proverbial cheating to get better road speed.

Something really sophisticated would have the heartrate curve on the bike match that of the rower for a given speed because at the end of the day that is what your interested in, what speed on the bike (flat road) gives you a matching heartrate to the speed on the Erg.

You can never get a perfect calculation because the way power is delivered on the Erg is totally different to that of a bike. Bike power is almost continuous and on the Erg its very intermittent and only on the drive. You also have NO GEARS on the Erg so its essentially a fixed wheel bike so its simply impossible to get a direct comparison. Zwift would need a Velodrome option to even start to come close.

Concept 2 would probably need to be approached as their Logo on the Jersey would need approval no doubt.

Job done and I would definitely give Zwift a go.
Carl Watts.
Age:53 Weight: 104kg Height:183cm
Concept 2 Monitor Service Technician & indoor rower.
http://log.concept2.com/profile/863525/log

Tenshuu
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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by Tenshuu » April 30th, 2019, 2:32 pm

If I remember correctly, part of the problem witch matching Rowers with Bikes in Zwift, is the way the power is calculated, as you mentioned cycling is continuous, whereas rowing is intermittent.

I believe when Zwift reads a stroke on the erg, the power output is kept constant from the pull, rather than the 'coasting' slow down effect over time between strokes. So when you make a 180w stroke, for the remaining recovery period before your next stroke is constantly recorded as 180w of power output to the rowedbiker, when in reality that power is dropping at a constant rate until your next stroke.

I'm sure they could work on an algorithm for all of the things mentioned, but their focus and already large community base for cycling definitely puts the erg stuff on the "get around to it" list.

I'm all for them supporting rowers though. I think this app could fit my preferences a little bit better than RowPro does.

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Carl Watts
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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by Carl Watts » April 30th, 2019, 4:21 pm

I have got on the Zwift site and spoken to a mate who uses it yesterday.

There is a few problems. I don't think Zwift understands the power calculation in the PM5 monitor. Most people here don't understand power on the Erg and talk in silly low figures of Watts per stroke by simply dividing what they see on the PM5 by the rating.

At 20spm and a 1 second drive at 2:00 pace your putting in an average of about 600W during the drive. if the drive is even shorter, say 0.7sec the power is even higher. The peak power because the drive power is not a perfect square wave is even worse.

The human body hates delivering short nasty power spikes, it prefers a near flat continuous power output like you see on the bike with one leg assisting the other. Some sort of calculation is required to translate the perceived effort pace on the Erg to speed on the bike. Heartrate is the only way to do it and it needs either a calculation or a lookup table derived from actual testing. That requires quite a bit of work and that is before you try and compensate for no gears and going up or down hills..

Also sounds like there is no true "Erg" option in Zwift. The other problem is the array of Devices needed to form the "Bridge" between the monitor and the iPad, thats hopeless you just want a USB cable that plugs into your PC or Mac like RowPro. I have enough issues maintaining the ANT+ HR strap and the VDSL Wi-Fi as it is, no way I want BLE and more Wi-Fi devices in the chain, that is plain messy. I now have what Zwift specifies as a "High End" Intel i7 PC setup so I'm not purchasing even more devices, especially from Apple, I hate their products.

Zwift obviously don't have the code to implement a direct connection to the PM5 that Digital Rowing obtained from Concept 2 many, many years ago. Digital rowing had it worked out for the serial port on your PC from the PM2+ monitor (the guys that developed E-Row had it even earlier) before even the USB connection on the PM3. and that is a must because even USER selected ErgBike/SkiErg/Rower is going to cause big problems. People are going to falsify their connection, its already happening with the bikes and apparently your threatened with getting kicked off Zwift for cheating. When an actual tour de France rider is being passed by a Joe Bloggs, you know you have a problem.

Unfortunately it looks like Zwift needs quite a bit more work before its worth using on the rower and from past experience with RowPro, those wanting to get online is a very small percentage so really not sure if it will ever be done. Great shame really, I would switch over if they fixed a few things.

You don't need a "Rower" graphic, I changed my mind. Just stick with the "cyclist" graphic and change the Jersey to one with "Team Concept 2" on it and match the cadence with the spm so you really stand out to other riders. Erg users can then simply form their own bunch in the Peloton and "Ride" together.There will be plenty of cyclists that also have Ergs that will be around the 2:00min pace on the rower.

Shame there is no collaboration between Zwift and Digital Rowing. Imagine the same Zwift graphics but a river running through it as well, rowing under bridges with all the cyclists and runners going over the top and watching cyclists go by on the river banks with buildings and tree lined streets and aerial "Drone" shots from above, how cool would that be.

Ride On!
Carl Watts.
Age:53 Weight: 104kg Height:183cm
Concept 2 Monitor Service Technician & indoor rower.
http://log.concept2.com/profile/863525/log

RoidbotPR
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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by RoidbotPR » May 24th, 2019, 1:34 pm

"...a river running through it as well, rowing under bridges with all the cyclists and runners going over the top and watching cyclists go by on the river banks with buildings and tree lined streets and aerial "Drone" shots from above, how cool would that be."

Carl,

You can get it for free on deltarower.com. Drone shots, rowing under bridges. You can do that today. It doesn't have multiplayer. You already have the necessary hardware. All you need to do is download it and go. There is no hidden fees because there are no fees. Does Zwift offer that to you? How much have you spent on RowPro again?

At one point I started working on analytics of rowing data...but there was no interest in it, and besides that, ErgData gives you all the analytics you need.

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Carl Watts
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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by Carl Watts » May 24th, 2019, 7:33 pm

RoidbotPR wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 1:34 pm
"...a river running through it as well, rowing under bridges with all the cyclists and runners going over the top and watching cyclists go by on the river banks with buildings and tree lined streets and aerial "Drone" shots from above, how cool would that be."

Carl,

You can get it for free on deltarower.com. Drone shots, rowing under bridges. You can do that today. It doesn't have multiplayer. You already have the necessary hardware. All you need to do is download it and go. There is no hidden fees because there are no fees. Does Zwift offer that to you? How much have you spent on RowPro again?

At one point I started working on analytics of rowing data...but there was no interest in it, and besides that, ErgData gives you all the analytics you need.
How many people do you have online ?

Doesn't matter how good the graphics are, its irrelevant without other rowers. I have spent USD$99 in over 10 years for RowPro. They started giving it to me for free with the amount of suggestions for improvements and feedback I was giving.

The advantage with Zwift is the number of users online at any one time, however needs a direct USB cable connection from the PM5 to the PC or I'm not interested.
Carl Watts.
Age:53 Weight: 104kg Height:183cm
Concept 2 Monitor Service Technician & indoor rower.
http://log.concept2.com/profile/863525/log

RoidbotPR
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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by RoidbotPR » May 29th, 2019, 11:20 am

Carl,

I appreciate the banter, but this is proof to me that the customer doesn't know what they want. You have your ability to row under bridges and have drone shots. Now you want online too?

Can you get me the $$$ needed to run my server again? It was several hundred bucks. Rubber, meet road.

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Carl Watts
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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by Carl Watts » May 29th, 2019, 7:44 pm

Waste of time without online rowing for me and it would appear to be the same for the other 1400 people online with Zwift at any time of the day or night.

The graphics on RowPro are fine, you just need the 16 lanes full, its the only downfall with it, there simply is no online presence. Such a shame that 90% of its users don't row online.

As I have stated before rowers are different to cyclists, rowing together or in a peleton is just normal for them.

Rowers know what they want, its that its not out there as yet and what is out there just spreads the low number of users across mulitple platforms so none of them are successful.

Zwift already has the numbers. The users already have the software for their bike and it would also appear many of them also have an Erg. Its just logical to incorporate the rower into Zwift. The only big issue they have is not having the required code for a direct connection of the PM5 to a PC. No doubt this will happen sooner or later, in the meantime there is still a core of dedicated RowPro users..
Carl Watts.
Age:53 Weight: 104kg Height:183cm
Concept 2 Monitor Service Technician & indoor rower.
http://log.concept2.com/profile/863525/log

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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by mitchel674 » June 1st, 2019, 11:58 am

Just did my first Zwift row. A bit of a pain requiring two IOS devices, but was able to successfully connect my PM5 with painsled to my ipad running Zwift and then mirror my iPad to the TV screen in front of my rower. 30 minutes of erging through NYC central park with other bikers was fun. Zwift obviously had no idea how to handle my 180W strokes every 3 seconds, but it seemed to average my power out to a decently paced bike ride.

It was very entertaining but a bit of a novelty for me right now. I may give it a few more attempts before I decide to sign up or just continue with Rowpro.
55yo male, 6ft, 154lbs

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Carl Watts
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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by Carl Watts » June 1st, 2019, 7:55 pm

Yes it looks good but will stay with RowPro until they sort out the interface and get a halfway decent cross power conversion.

It will have to be pretty good as I notice its not cheap with a monthly payment. RowPro for the PC costs next to nothing.
Carl Watts.
Age:53 Weight: 104kg Height:183cm
Concept 2 Monitor Service Technician & indoor rower.
http://log.concept2.com/profile/863525/log

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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by mitchel674 » June 2nd, 2019, 4:52 pm

Carl Watts wrote:
June 1st, 2019, 7:55 pm
Yes it looks good but will stay with RowPro until they sort out the interface and get a halfway decent cross power conversion.

It will have to be pretty good as I notice its not cheap with a monthly payment. RowPro for the PC costs next to nothing.
True. I paid my $99 a few years ago for Rowpro and have enjoyed it ever since. I'm not really sure Zwift offers me enough to justify $15/month.
55yo male, 6ft, 154lbs

Livio Livius
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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by Livio Livius » June 2nd, 2019, 4:56 pm

Unless you have a Bike erg and treadmill which you also use with Zwift

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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by Carl Watts » June 2nd, 2019, 9:31 pm

Livio Livius wrote:
June 2nd, 2019, 4:56 pm
Unless you have a Bike erg and treadmill which you also use with Zwift
Doesn't make that much difference if all you have is the rower. fact is it is expensive so unless they get the rower integration into it correct in terms of the hardware and the cross power conversion, its not really a go.

Will be keeping an eye on it from time to time but if someone here suddenly notices Zwift has changed for the Concept 2 rower, please post it here and I will definitely trial it.

They clearly have a much larger software development team so if they decided to get serious using the PM5 monitor only, they could make it happen very, very quickly.
Carl Watts.
Age:53 Weight: 104kg Height:183cm
Concept 2 Monitor Service Technician & indoor rower.
http://log.concept2.com/profile/863525/log

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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by exerscreen » August 7th, 2019, 7:40 am

Tenshuu wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 2:32 pm
I believe when Zwift reads a stroke on the erg, the power output is kept constant from the pull, rather than the 'coasting' slow down effect over time between strokes. So when you make a 180w stroke, for the remaining recovery period before your next stroke is constantly recorded as 180w of power output to the rowedbiker, when in reality that power is dropping at a constant rate until your next stroke.
The wattage and artificial split time reported by the monitor are already converted into continuous values, not peak values. The erg measures the energy you put into the wheel, then averages that out over time, which I think is the entire stroke time. That's why the wattage only gets updated after each stroke cycle. This article goes into excruciating detail, but is kind of fun if you are interested in erg physics: http://eodg.atm.ox.ac.uk/user/dudhia/ro ... meter.html

Cheers, James.

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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by exerscreen » May 12th, 2020, 10:58 pm

Hey folks, haven't been around for a while. Just wanted to let you know that RowedBiker Android is in the Play Store. This time around I also added smart treadmill emulation in case you want to try out Zwift in the free running mode. I WILL say that (in my ever-so-humble-and-free opinion) the running is not as interesting as the fitness gaming dynamics as a cyclist but it's kind of a fun way to check out the scene. Next up is the long-awaited PainSled Android. Wish me luck. Or free time. But not free time related to unemployment!

Stay safe and row on!

James Terrell

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Re: Rowing in Zwift - suggestion to make it happen

Post by mrverrall » June 25th, 2020, 2:39 pm

Evening everyone.

I thought some of you might be interested in a small -lockdown- project of mine. I've not got the spare mobile devices to use James's RowedBiker app so I've written a small program that runs on a $9 Raspberry Pi Zero (or indeed any Linux device with Bluetooth 4.1+).
It's the same principle, bridging the rowers client connection into a Bluetooth cycle power server. It needs some, but minimal, technical ability to get running but has been working smoothly for me for a few weeks now without problem.

Hope it's useful to someone else too :)

All open source at https://github.com/mrverrall/go-row-cycle/

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