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BoatCoach
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BoatCoach

Performance software for rowing and erging

BoatCoach is a free Android phone application for athletes who row or Concept2 erg.

The main features include:

BoatCoach saves you from spending hundreds of dollars on a dedicated stroke meter and provides features not found elsewhere.  BoatCoach uses your phone’s built-in sensors so no wires required!

Download BoatCoach Free

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Index

INSTRUCTIONS

Basic Setup

Dashboard

Programs

Logbook

Graphs

Maps

Analytics

Data Capture

Stroke Analysis

Heart Rate Monitor

Concept2 Erg Calculator

Connecting to a Concept2 Ergometer

CRADLE

PRIVACY

INSTRUCTIONS

Basic Setup

Rowing on the Water

Attaching your Phone to the Boat

BoatCoach uses your phone’s motion sensor to measure your stroke rate, so no cumbersome wires are required.  However, it is important is that the phone be solidly attached to the boat.  If the phone is vibrating or moving about you may not get accurate stroke rate readings

Mounting in a boat

Mounting in a boat

For an easy way to mount your phone to a boat, consider purchasing the BoatCoach  Cradle.

If you don’t have the cradle you can Velcro, clip, or tape the case to your foot stretchers or anywhere else where the phone is visible.  The direction you point the phone in is not important.  The screen orientation can be either horizontal or vertical.

You should buy an inexpensive waterproof case for your phone. This $5 case from Amazon 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.

Settings

If you are a rower or dragon boater, in most cases you should not need to adjust the stroke settings. Simply set the “Direction of Phone” and “Stroke Measurement Sensitivity” set to the default “automatic” setting.

If you are in a kayak, you need to manually set the direction in which the phone is pointed.

Rowing on the Ergometer

Concept2 Compatibility

rowing on erg

rowing on erg

BoatCoach works with Concept2 PM3 and PM4 and PM5 performance monitors.

For directions on how to use Bluetooth to connect to a PM5, see instructions below.

 

Dashboard

The main screen of BoatCoach is the Dashboard.  It is where your live workout data is displayed.

Dashboard Data

dashboard while rowing

dashboard while rowing

The dashboard can display the following data:

dashboard while erging

dashboard while erging

In addition to the above, the ergometer dashboard can display:

Layouts and Customization

There are several dashboard layouts to choose from, each with varying amounts of data and font sizes.  Click on “->“ in the menu bar to move between layouts.

select data to show

select data to show

In some layouts the data cells have a “>“ next to them.  If you *long click* on these cells a menu pops up that allows you to customize the data being displayed.  For example you can replace calories with watts or heart rate.  Or in rowing mode you could choose to display distance as meters, miles, kilometers, etc.

Using Programs

On an Ergometer

To use a preprogrammed workout, go to the programs page, select a program, and then flip back to the Dashboard.  Once you start erging the program will automatically start.

In a Boat

To use a preprogammed workout, go to the programs page, select a program, and flip back to the Dashboard.  You can either manually start the program by pushing the start program, or if in AutoStart mode the program will start when you hit your target stroke rate

dashboard with program running

dashboard with program running

Program On-Screen Information

While your program is running you will see a colored bar at the bottom of the Dashboard.  The highlighted black interval within the bar indicates how far into the workout you’ve progressed.

For each interval the time or distance data will be highlighted with green, orange or red background to indicate how hard you should be rowing.

Start Button

In rowing mode you can start/pause/stop/clear a piece using the buttons at the bottom of the screen.  BoatCoach can also automatically start and stop a piece based on your stroke rating using the AutoStart feature.

AutoStart mode

When rowing on the water, you have the option to AutoStart pieces and programs at a target stroke rate.  This feature is very useful to rowers who don’t have their hands free and want to “row into” a piece.

For example, if 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.

Once you’ve autostarted a program, the program will continue running until it’s completed, regardless of your stroke rate.

Quick Settings Menu

quick settings menu

quick settings menu

Click on the wrench icon to bring up the quick settings menu.  From quick settings you can tell BoatCoach to speak vital data like stroke rate and speed or when a program interval begins or ends.  This feature may be particularly useful for blind or visually impaired rowers.

If you are rowing on the water you can also set the AutoStart stroke rate and lock the dashboard screen orientation.

Raindrops hitting the phone can sometimes fool the touchscreen into thinking that buttons are being pressed.  Click on “Splash Guard” to disable button presses.  To turn off splash guard hit the back button once.

Ergometer Status Bar

In ergometer mode the status bar at the bottom of the page tells you whether or not you are connected via USB to the performance monitor.  If you are connected it will tell you your workout status.

Rowing indicators

While rowing-on-the water, when the display is vertical and all eight data boxes are visible, there are two indicator lights

Other features include

 

Programs

Programs vs. Pieces

If you’re doing a simple workout, just hop on the erg or into the boat and BoatCoach will record your pieces in the logbook.

If you’re doing a complex workout such as pyramids, 10x500m, Tabata, multiple consecutive pieces, varying stroke rates, or just about anything that is longer than one piece at a time, then you probably want to create a program.

Using Programs

a list of programs

a list of programs

To use a program, select it on the Programs page (it will turn blue when selected) and then flip to the Dashboard.  If you are using an ergometer, make sure you are connected to the PM before selecting the program.

If you’re on an erg, simply start rowing and the program will start.

If you are in a boat, you need to either push the “start program” button or if in autostart mode the program will automatically start when you hit your target stroke rate.

The same program can be used in either a boat or on an erg (subject to the limitations below).

Program Actions

You can take the following actions from the program menu:

Creating and Editing Programs

Rowing Programs

editing a program

editing a program

If you’re creating a new program, first give your program a name and description.

You can add and delete intervals using the “+” and “-” buttons.

There are no limits to how you can combine time/distance and easy/medium/hard intervals to create a program for rowing on the water.

You can set a target stroke rate for each interval.  For example, for a pyramid you could set target stroke rates of 18, 22, 26, 22, 18.

You can repeat an entire program a set number of times.

Concept2 Programs

Concept2 ergometer programs have a few limitations:

To meet these requirements, BoatCoach may modify a “rowing” program if you use it on an ergometer.

 

Logbook

Overview

logbook

logbook

The logbook is a summary of all your workouts.

Rowing workouts are shaded gray.  Concept2 ergometer workouts are white.

You’ll need to stop your workout by exiting the app or starting a new program for the data to show up in the logbook.

In order to exit the app, hit the “back” button.  The app will ask you if you really want to exit BoatCoach,  Say “ok”. At that point the app will shut down and the next time you enter the app you should see your workout in the logbook.

Display Modes

There are two modes of display

In addition you can email yourself your entire workout history in CSV format and sync with the Concept2 Online Logbook.

Logbook Actions

First click on one or more workouts (the rows will turn yellow), and then perform one of the following actions…

You can also search for workouts.  For example to find all workouts with  “5000m ” in their name, type 5000m into the filter box.

Details

details

Workout Details

For each piece or each program the details page contains elapsed time, distance traveled, speed, stroke rate, calories and heart rate.

You can click the  “pencil” icon to change the workout name. Don’t forget to click the  “save” icon after editing.

Graphs

Overview

BoatCoach allows you to graph your rowing or ergometer workout on your phone..  All graph data is stored and can be accessed from the logbook so you can review details of your past workouts.

Display

On the graph’s x-axis choose between distance and time. On the y-axis choose between speed, stroke rate, and heart rate by selecting “->” in the menu (the other two y-axis variables will also be shown, but they will be scaled).

Analytics - comparing workouts.  Frequency vs. Speed

Analytics – comparing workouts. Frequency vs. Speed

Variables include time, distance, speed, stroke rate, and heart rate.

Do a regression analysis and plot speed vs. stroke rate to see how effectively you increase your speed for each extra increase in stroke rate.

Pinch and zoom within the graph to see details.  Set minimums and maximums.

analytics - comparing workouts

Analytics – comparing workout speed

With graphs you can

Settings

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 rowing.  You can turn it off when erging.

You can optionally shade the graph green/yellow/red to show easy/medium/hard activity.

Maps

You can map one or multiple workouts simultaneously using satellite or street view.  Workouts are color coded by speed, piece, or date.

speed plotted on the map

speed plotted on the map

When you map multiple workouts simultaneously you can compare steering and see where improvements can be made for the next workout.  Anybody who rows on a river with a lot of turns, or who rows in open water like a harbor will find this particularly useful.

speed plotted on the map

speed plotted on the map

Within a workout view your speed at different locations on the course.  Green is for paddling (60% peak speed), shades of yellow mean you were working hard but not going your fastest (80%), orange for near fastest boat speed, and deep red locates the peak (100%) speed for your workout.

Screenshot_2014-11-15-21-29-45

When you map multiple workouts simultaneously you can compare steering and see where improvements can be made for the next workout.  Anybody who rows on a river with a lot of turns, or who rows in open water like a harbor will find this particularly useful.

 

map of where pieces started and stopped

map of where pieces started and stopped

If you used programmable workouts, or hit “start/stop piece” during your workout, you’ll be able track exactly where the piece began and ended.

Analytics

Graph multiple workouts *simultaneously*.  For example select all workouts named ’2000m’ and measure your speed progress over the season.

Analytics - compare frequency vs. speed between workouts

Analytics – compare frequency vs. speed between workouts

Analytics - graph multiple workouts

Analytics – graph multiple workouts

Additional graph formats available with Analytics include distance vs. time and frequency vs. speed.

Summarize your workout history (time and distance) by day, week, month, and year in tabular and graph format.

View your Concept2 Power Curve.  Take a look at your average power curve for the workout as well as the curve for the four quarters of the workout.  Look at your power distribution for the entire workout.  You can also export your Concept2 power curve to a CSV file.

Power Curve Distribution

Analytics – Power Curve Distribution

Power Curve Averages

Analytics – Power Curve Averages

Summarize workout time and distance

Summarize workout time and distance by date

Summation Actions

You can group workouts to track your efforts over long periods of time.  Actions include…

summation

Summary of workout distance by week

Concept2 Online Logbook

You can sync both your rowing and ergometer workouts online at the Concept2 website

New user? Register now. After registering, make sure you enter your Concept2 name and password on the Settings page. Or View your existing Online Logbook.

Email Workouts

You can email yourself your entire workout history in CSV format.

Strava

You can upload your workouts to Strava.  Select the workouts you want to sync and then click on the “strava upload” button.  Be sure you’ve first logged into your Strava account from the settings page.

Data Capture

Overview

The Data Capture feature allows the rower to collect and analyze detailed information about their speed, stroke rate, stroke count, heart rate, distance, GPS location, and other data.  This information is then emailed to the rower in a .CSV and/or .GPX file for post-workout analysis.

data capture graph in MS Excel

data capture graph in MS Excel

Data capture works for both rowing-on-the-water and ergometer workouts.

CSV format is great if you want to analyze the data in Excel or other spreadsheet programs. It’s more human readable that GPX.

GPX format is great if you want to import the data into other workout programs like Garmin, Endomondo, or Strava. This format is also easiest for viewing your workout on a map.

The frequency of data capture can be varied from once/second to once/30 seconds.

Instructions

To use the raw data capture feature…

  1. On the settings page enter your email address.
  2. under “collect raw workout data” enter the desired frequency of data capture. I typically use 5 second intervals.
  3. Choose whether you want to capture data in .CSV and/or .GPX formats.
  1. .CSV is great if you want to analyze the data in Excel or other spreadsheet programs. It’s more human readable that .GPX.
  2. .GPX is great if you want to import the data into other workout programs like Garmin, Endomondo, or Strava. This format is also easiest for viewing your workout on a map.
  1. Do your workout.
  2. When you exit BoatCoach the app will email (or DropBox) you a file containing the data.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

RowsAndAll

One of the best places on the web to analyze your CSV files is RowsAndAll, which is specifically designed for rowers.  RowsAndAll can import BoatCoach CSV files directly.

Boat Acceleration Capture

When rowing on the water there is 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.

Concept2 Power Curve

Your power curve data will also be exported to the .CSV file.

Further Reading

To learn more about how to evaluate boat acceleration plots, take a look at these studies…

 

Stroke Analysis

stroke analysis

stroke analysis

The stroke analysis page graphs acceleration vs. time for your last few strokes. when rowing on the water. 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.

From the menu you can choose to show 4, 10, or 25 strokes at the same time.  You can also email yourself a screen capture.

 

Heart Rate Monitor

This feature has been fully tested with the Polar H7 heart rate monitor but should work with all Bluetooth Smart HRMs.  Your phone needs to run at least Android 4.3 and have a Bluetooth 4.0 chip.

heart rate monitor

heart rate monitor

To use the HRM feature

  1. Wear your HRM (usually it helps to moisten the HRM strap first to get better conductivity)
  2. Turn on BoatCoach and go to the settings page
  3. Under “Heart Rate Monitor” select “Bluetooth Smart”.
  4. Click the “Connect to BT Smart HRM” button that will appear
  5. The app will give you a list of BT Smart Devices that it finds.  Select your HRM.
  6. The app will automatically connect to this HRM in the future

Connecting to an ergometer

There are two ways to connect an HRM when erging

  1. Use a modern Bluetooth Smart HRM and connect it to the phone or to a PM5
  2. Use a legacy HRM from Concept2 and connect it to a PM4

 

Concept2 Erg Calculator

Ever wondered how far you would have to row to finally hit a 1:55 pace for 30 minutes? [7826m]  Ever wonder what pace you could maintain for 2000m based off that great 10,000m piece you just rowed? [1:45.1]  Ever wonder how your 2000m erg piece compares to your teammate (who happens to weigh 20 pounds more than you) if you got into a real boat? [use the calculator and find out]

The answer to all of these questions is available from the BoatCoach Erg Calculator.

Concept2 Erg Calculator

Concept2 Erg Calculator

The simple to use calculator is accessible from the BoatCoach erg dashboard.

The calculator does the following…

 

Settings

settings page

settings page

The settings page allows you to change the following parameters…

Enter Your Information

Enter your login information for the Concept2 Online Logbook

Change your data capture settings

Modify basic rowing settings

Enable Sensors

Stroke Settings

Connecting to a Concept2 Ergometer

Using Bluetooth to connect to a PM5

With the latest version of BoatCoach and a Bluetooth Low Energy (aka Bluetooth Smart) equipped Android phone, you can throw away that USB cable and connect wirelessly to your PM5.

Push button to get list of PM5

Push button to get list of PM5

Here’s what you’ll need to do

  1. Make sure your PM5 is running at least firmware version 18 (Concept2 has instructions for updating your firmware here.)
  2. Turn on Bluetooth on your phone, if it isn’t already
  3. Go to the BoatCoach Settings page.
  1. Under “Concept2 Performance Monitor” select “Connect to PM5 with Bluetooth”
  2. Press the button that appears that says “Connect to Bluetooth PM5″
  1. On your PM5 turn on wireless (‘Menu’ / ‘More Options / ‘Wireless on’).  You’ll need to do this each time you turn on the PM5.
  2. Your phone will show a list of PM5s nearby.  Select one.

Select from List of PM5

Select from List of PM5

BoatCoach will automatically try to connect to this PM in the future.  You can always choose a different PM5 at a later date.

For proper operation make sure that your PM3 firmware is updated to version 315 or 108 or later or your PM4 firmware is updated to version 318 or 29 or later.  Concept2 has update directions on their website.

Using USB Cables

concept2 kit

concept2 kit

A USB cable and a cradle to hold your phone can be purchased from Concept2 for $10.

Logcard

It’s very important that you *not* have a logcard inserted in the PM when using BoatCoach.   If the logcard is inserted then BoatCoach won’t function properly.

CRADLE

cradle mounted to NK base

cradle on NK base.  phone mounted to cradle using Velcro

Introduction

The BoatCoach Cradle is the ideal way to mount your phone to a sweep or sculling rowing boat. You get get great heads-up visibility of data as you row and an easy way to get your phone in and out of the boat.

The Cradle snaps securely into a boat’s Nielsen Kellerman StrokeCoach(tm) or SpeedCoach(tm) mount.

cradle front

cradle front

cradle back

cradle back

Buy

Each Cradle is custom 3D printed in your choice of colors and shipped to you by Shapeways.  Buy here.

Mounting

There are two convenient ways to mount your phone on the cradle (I use method #1)…

  1. Loop a 2″ (50mm) long rubber band through the two holes in the cradle and over the hook and slide your phone underneath. The friction of the rubber band will keep your phone snugly in place. You can place your phone in a Ziploc snack bag to make it waterproof… there’s no need to invest in an expensive waterproof case. Twist the rubber band like a piece of string and it will obscure very little of the screen.
  1. phone mounted to cradle using rubber band
  2. phone mounted to cradle using rubber band
  1. Apply industrial strength Velcro to the back of your phone or case and to the front of cradle for a very secure fit.

Notes

cradle 3d rendering

cradle 3d rendering

  1. Lanyard and rubber band or Velcro are not included.
  2. An NK mount is required. If your boat doesn’t have one you can purchase a “T-bracket mount” or “angle-mount” here.

PRIVACY

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.

Boatcoach will record your rowing workout history for you to review at a later time.  We may use your rowing data to help improve the rowing experience but we don’t share it with others without your permission.

Only you can share your rowing data with other companies like Concept2, Strava, and Facebook… BoatCoach won’t do it without your explicit instruction.

Download BoatCoach Free

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Need to contact us? boatcoachapp@gmail.com