The main screen (the BoatCoach dashboard) can be customized to use black text on a white background or white text on a black background. If the dashboard is in "normal layout" mode (see the settings page to adjust) it displays the following data using the phone's built-in sensors (no old-fashioned wires required):
- Stroke rate
- Stroke count
- Distance (typically 99%+ accuracy with good GPS signal)
- Average speed for the workout
- Speed over the last 10 strokes
- Elapsed time
- Heart rate
Three indicators tell you how well your sensors are performing...
- The stroke indicator (located between "stroke rate" and "stroke count") flashes green when detecting a stroke or solid red after 5 seconds of no strokes
- The GPS strength indicator (located between "distance" and "speed") shows GPS signal strength in increasing order of red, orange, yellow, blue, and green
- The heart rate indicator (next to "heart rate") shows if you're getting good reception from the heart rate monitor. This indicator can optionally blink at the same rate as your heart.
Start Piece Button
BoatCoach has two modes for starting pieces: manual mode and automatic mode.
- In manual mode, you manually select between "Start", "Stop", and "Clear".
- Manual mode is great for coxswains who have their hands free.
- Manual mode also has an optional "pause" and "resume" feature after a piece has started. This feature is helpful for people who row on small rivers and lakes and who need to turn their boats in the middle of a piece.
- In automatic mode, BoatCoach automatically starts and stops pieces at a threshold that you choose.
- Say you are paddling at a 20 but want to do your pieces at a 30. Set autostart to 24spm and BoatCoach will automatically start the piece when you exceed 24spm and stop the piece when you fall below 24spm or stop rowing for 5 seconds.
- In addition, in autostart mode, when paddling between pieces, "rest time" will replace the "clock".
- BoatCoach will not store any piece that is shorter than 5 strokes in length.
Autostart dialog box
- PRESS AND HOLD the start button to bring up the "Autostart Stroke Rate" dialog box
- This dialog box allows you to configure the following features
- Autostart stroke rate from 16 to 50spm
- Autostop a piece after a fixed length (from 250m to 5000m). The piece will also terminate if you stop rowing for 5 seconds.
- Wait from 3 to 10 seconds after autostart is triggered to begin a piece (to allow the boat to come up to speed)
- Play your phone's "notification" sound at the beginning or end of a piece
- This menu also allows you to quickly turn on/off autostart when on the water.
Other features include
- When not doing a piece, the screen shows cumulative time, distance, etc. for the entire workout (both pieces and paddling).
- Once a piece is started, all the timers reset to zero and the dashboard shows details just for that piece.
- After finishing a piece, all the workout details are logged in "history" and once again the screen shows the cumulative time, distance, etc. for the entire workout.
The dashboard supports three screen layout modes. The layout mode can be changed on the settings page.
- "Normal layout" shows all measurements (stroke rate, stroke count, Clock, time, distance, average speed, last 10 stroke speed, and heart rate)
- "Race layout" shows only the essential information needed for racing (stroke rate, time, distance, and speed) in larger fonts
- "Stroke rate only layout" shows only the stroke rate in an enormous font size
The menu button allows you to select other pages to visit...
- Map (show the nickname & location of all other rowers using this app)
- Graph Workout
- Post workout (e.g. email, Tweet, or Facebook your workout (requires UberSocial app to be installed)).
- History (a list of all workouts stored on the phone)
- Stroke analysis
- Instructions (redirects to this website)
- About Boatcoach (Boatcoach revision number and my email address.)
BoatCoach's unique map feature shows your location and that of all rowers currently using the BoatCoach app. Here are some things you can do with the map...
- Track the location of boats during 2000 meter or head races, such as the Head of the Charles. [One of the tough things about races for rowing fans is that during a 10 or 20 minute race you may see your team for only a minute. If you use BoatCoach your fans can track your team's boat location and that of the competitors, to make the race more interesting. Your fans don't even have to be at the race!
- Look at the map to see which other rowers are on the water and meet up with them for workouts.
- Coaches don't have to use a stroke meter (or even get out of bed) to determine the location, stroke rate and speed of their boats.
Each boat on the map shows basic information about the nickname and club of the rower. If you click on the boat then you get additional information about speed, distance, stroke rate, and elapsed time.
Boats are color coded by type (e.g. 8+ vs. 1x) to make it easier to find what you're looking for.
There are three on-screen buttons allow you to...
- Toggle between street view and satellite view.
- Zoom over to your current location
- Toggle on/off details about all the boats on the map
Encourage your club mates to all get on BoatCoach for the races!
3. Graph Workout
After you've done your workout, but *before* you leave the BoatCoach app, you can graph your workout on your phone.
On the graph's x-axis choose between distance and time. On the y-axis choose between speed, stroke rate, and heart rate (the other two y-axis variables will also be shown, but they will be scaled).
You can pinch and zoom within the graph to see details (requires Android 2.2 or later).
You can also do a regression analysis and plot speed vs. stroke rate. This plot gives you an idea of how effectively you increase your speed for each extra increase in stroke rate.
On the Graph Settings page you can change maximum and minimum limits for the y-axis variables so as to optimize the screen space. For example, you could choose not to show stroke rates less than 15 (on the paddle) or more than 40 (half stroke warmups).
"Speed smoothing" allows you to reduce error due to GPS noise. A medium setting is suggested.
When you're happy with what you have on the screen, you can email yourself screen shots.
If you're playing around with BoatCoach for the first time, there's a menu option to display a "demo graph".
4. Workout History
The history page gives a summary of the date, time, elapsed time, and distance traveled for each workout. Workouts are automatically stored if they exceed 10 strokes.
If you click on a workout you will have the option of either viewing the details or deleting it.
The details page shows details of each individual piece of a workout, including elapsed time, distance traveled, speed, stroke rate, and heart rate. There is also a total for the workout that adds up both pieces & paddling.
The data is stored in whatever format you were using that day. If you were viewing distanced in km and speed in minutes/500m, that is how the data will be stored.
The menu at the bottom has the option of emailing all the workouts to you or someone else in .CSV format, which is readable by most spreadsheet applications.
All your workout data is stored on your phone until you delete it.
If you use your PC to view your workout history, but your row in a place with no cell phone reception then you may have to click on the "manually upload history to Internet" button in the menu after each row, once you get to a place with good reception.
The settings page allows you to change the following parameters...
Enter Your Information
- Your nickname, club, and boat (e.g. 1x, 8+...)
- Your nickname can be anything you choose, but remember this is a family app...
- Your weight, which will be used to calculate calories
- Your email, which is optional but recommended so that we can send you information about new product updates and to allow you to quickly email yourself your workout data
Your BoatCoach User ID
- Your user ID is a unique 16-digit number
- Use this ID to view your workout history on your PC's big screen at www.boatcoachapp.com
- At the bottom of the settings page is an option to change your user ID. If you get a new phone you can give your new phone the same 16-digit ID as the old phone so that you can access all your workout history from boatcoachapp.com with one ID. Otherwise, don't change!!!
- Turn on or off the GPS (on by default)
- Turn on or off the heart rate monitor (off by default). If you turn on the heart rate monitor then the app will ask you to replace either stroke count or calories, since there isn't enough space on the screen for all three measurements.
- Display distance in meters, kilometers, feet, miles
- Display speed in meters/sec, kilometers/hr, feet/sec , miles/hr, minutes/500m, minutes/1000m, minutes/mile, meters/stroke
- Display calories in calories consumed, calories/hr, or donuts (Bostone Kreme). The calorie function is only available for rowers and does not work for kayaks, dragon boats, etc. It's important that your weight and boat type (e.g. 1x or 8+) be correct for accurate calorie calculations
- Set the clock to 12 or 24 hour format
- Choose between manual or automatic mode for starting pieces. In automatic mode, BoatCoach starts and stops pieces without you having to lift your finger. Note that there are a number of autostart features that are only available in the autostart dialog box.
- Set the direction of the phone relative to the motion of the boat. The automatic setting is recommended, but if you do adjust the direction, please take note of how the X, Y, and Z axis are positioned on the phone by taking a look at the diagram to the right. Kayakers - please note that the automatic sense feature is disabled and you must manually choose between X, Y, and Z.
- Adjust the sensitivity of stroke measurement (the automatic setting is recommended)
- Choose background colors for the dashboard
- Choose normal layout, race layout, or stroke rate layout for the dashboard
- Choose frequency of workout data capture from once/second to once
every 30 seconds. In addition, there's an option to capture
boat acceleration data 30 times/sec (see raw data capture
below) in order to do detailed studies of boat acceleration
during the drive and recovery.
- Those folks in Kayaks, Canoes, and Dragon Boats... take note that there's a setting under boat type for you. BoatCoach has been well tested for Dragon boats and has also had some testing for Kayaks, but has not been tested for canoes. If you run into problems please let me know.
6. Heart Rate Sensor
The BoatCoach heart rate sensor is
designed to work with the Zephyr HxM Bluetooth heart rate monitor for
Android. You can save $5 if purchase your Zephyr sensor
and use promotion code BoatCoach1.
Sorry, no support for Polar heart rate monitors since they refuse to make their programming interface available.
7. Stroke Analysis
The stroke analysis page graphs acceleration vs. time for your last few strokes. The strokes are overlaid on top of each other so as to allow you to compare them easily against each other.
If you want to pause and examine the graphs more closely, click on the pause/resume button at the bottom. You can also email (or DropBox) the graph data in .CSV format to yourself.
The "inefficiency" display gives some idea of the efficiency of your recovery. Lower numbers are better. This measurement is in beta, so physics majors, math majors, and boat engineers... your feedback on how to best calculate efficiency/inefficiency in a boat is welcome.
8. Raw Data Capture
The Raw Data Capture feature allows the rower to collect and analyze detailed information about their speed, stroke rate, stroke count, heart rate, distance, and GPS location. This information is then emailed (or DropBoxed) to the rower in a .CSV and/or .GPX file to allow them to do post-workout analysis
The frequency of data capture can be varied from once/second to once/30 seconds.
To use the raw data capture feature...
- On the settings page enter your email address.
- under "collect raw workout data" enter the desired frequency of data capture. I typically use 5 second intervals.
- Choose whether you want to capture data in .CSV and/or .GPX formats.
- .CSV is great if you want to analyze the data in Excel or other spreadsheet programs. It's more human readable that .GPX.
- .GPX is great if you want to import the data into other workout programs like Garmin or Endomondo. This format is also easiest for viewing your workout on a map.
- Do your workout.
- When you exit BoatCoach the app will email (or DropBox) you a file containing the data.
- If you created a .CSV file then import it into Excel or another spreadsheet program and analyze or graph the data. I typically like to graph distance vs. speed, stroke rate, and heart rate using a scatter plot. If you created a .GPX file then import it into your favorite GPX viewer or other workout program like Endomondo.
- If the email of your workout fails for some reason you can still find your workout data on the phone's sdcard in the /sdcard/boatcoach folder.
Boat Acceleration Capture
There's an option to capture boat acceleration data
at a frequency of 30 times/second to do detailed plots of boat
acceleration during drive and recovery. Up to 15 minutes of .CSV
data can be stored and will be emailed to you when you exit the
BoatCoach app. You must be in ".CSV" and not ".CSV and .GPX" mode for this feature to work.
Note that it can take 1-2 minutes *after* you exit BoatCoach for the email dialog to come up, given the size of the file that BoatCoach needs to create to email you.
To learn more about how to evaluate boat acceleration plots, take a look at these studies...
9. Attaching to the Boat
Your phone can easily be attached to the foot stretchers of most boats.
You should buy an inexpensive waterproof case for your phone. This $10 case from Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/Waterproof-Incredible-Inspire-Thunderbolt-Sensation/dp/B0058O10MK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334855692&sr=8-1) is a great example. It's waterproof to 100 feet, the phone's touch screen works fine in the case, and the lanyard string ties the case to the boat so that it can't fall overboard.
Another option is to buy a "waterproof" phone like the inexpensive Motorola Defy.
You can Velcro, clip, or tape the case to your foot stretchers.
In the photo on this page the case is attached to the foot stretchers with a big paper binder clip. In other boats, sticking the case to the foot stretchers with a piece of Velcro tape or a strong rubber band is a fast, simple, and easy to remove solution.
Boatcoach doesn't steal your email or contact lists, plant cookies on your phone, or do
anything else that you wouldn't expect a rowing app to do.
If you are using BoatCoach and have the GPS setting turned on, BoatCoach will share your nickname, club, boat, last position, stroke rate, time, distance, and speed with other rowers or rowing fans who are viewing the BoatCoach map.
Boatcoach will also record your rowing workout history for you to review at a later time.