The creation of ERG control (ARGHH Mode in Sufferlandria) has changed the way we train indoors. Relative Perceived Exertion (RPE) has been a long standing method for training for many years. However, ERG control has a way of grinding up your Sufferlandrian legs like a coffee grinder at the Cafe O' Pain. If you are reading this article, you may be experience some problems with ERG control, and are suffering in all the wrong ways. This article will discuss smart trainer control in depth and help you fix your problems quicker than a Sufferlandrian Sprint!
Trainer Control Protocols
The first thing we need to understand is Trainer Control Protocols and what we can and cannot do with The Sufferfest Training Centre. We currently only support bluetooth smart trainer control for the Wahoo KICKR and hope to have bluetooth control for all smart trainers developed later in 2017.
What Signals Do Smart Trainers Transmit
Smart Trainers transmit multiple signals to training apps. The type of trainer you have, will dictate how many signals are sent. Smart Trainers transmit a Smart Control Signal (FE-C/Bluetooth), Power Meter signal, Cadence Signal, and Speed Signal. Some signals will be embedded within multiple transmission. Since we are only talking about ERG control, we will focus on the power section of the training app.
Below is what you will see with a bluetooth connection. If you have a Wahoo KICKR, then The Sufferfest Training Centre can control that trainer over Bluetooth. All other smart trainers will only work as power meters when connected to bluetooth. We will not have smart trainer control over bluetooth until later in 2017.
For smart trainer control to work correctly, we need to select the sensor and then ensure it says ERG below the power report. If you don't want ERG control and want standard control, select the ERG box. That will pull up this menu below.
When using standard levels, we recommend level 2 or 3. Also, on the above picture we can see that the trainer is connected as an FE-C trainer. This is mandatory for smart trainer control over ANT+. If you want smart trainer control using ANT+, then you need to connect to the FE-C trainer in the power section.
Verify Trainer and Cadence Connections
One of the things you will notice, is some of the power and trainer connections show up in your cadence section. We are still working on parsing those connections out of the cadence area. Looking at the picture below, it can be a bit confusing. The connection you want in the cadence section should always say "cadence" or "cadence/speed."
Checking Bluetooth and ANT+
Now that you know what your connections should look like, what happens when nothing show up? We need to validate that our ANT+ and BLE says "ON" in the workout setup screen.
If ANT+ does not say on, then unplug and plug the ANT+ dongle back into your computer. For Bluetooth, make sure that bluetooth is turned on within your device.
These are the most common problems we see helping Sufferlandrians fix ERG mode.
FE-C Trainer Selected As Cadence Sensor
Selecting the FE-C trainer in the cadence section shouldn't even be an option, but it is for now. We should have this fixed in 2017. If you do select the FE-C trainer in the cadence section, it can mess with ERG control and power reporting. Hit the (x) to close out that connection within the cadence menu, and then find the sensor that says Cadence or Cadence/Speed.
Two Masters, One Trainer
Smart trainers can only handle one master controller. That means, those of you who are using (Gasp!) other Apps or devices at the same time, need to be very selective in your connections. Here are some examples:
1. User has a Garmin 520/820/1000 connected to the Smart Trainer and The Sufferfest Training Centre. The Garmin is connected to your unit as a Smart Trainer. That means we have two devices trying to control your smart trainer. Reconnect the Garmin to the Trainer as a power meter (remember when we talked about sensor connections in the beginning).
2. User is connected to (Gasp!) another training app while also connected to The Sufferfest Training Centre. Listen, we understand there are lots of cool stuff you can do with these training Apps. We want to help you do that cool stuff. Here are the things you must understand. One, connect that other App to your trainer as a Power Meter. Two, you need two dongles or two computers, because only one App can own one ANT+ dongle. There is no sharing. Same goes with bluetooth and we will talk about bluetooth next.
3. Bluetooth connections are monogamous. That means they will not share themselves. When you connect your trainer to The Sufferfest Training Centre, it cannot connect to another training App over Bluetooth. This is the same if we are running the Trainer's Parent App (WahooFitness, CVT, Elite, etc) over bluetooth. Or, if the Companies App is running in the background of your device. The Sufferfest Training Centre won't be able to pick up the trainer.
4. Apps running on other devices or running in the background of your iOS devices will hijack your trainer. Double check that you don't have another App running somewhere that won't let go of your trainer (kind of like a couchlandrian with a donut). iOS users will need to double tap their home buttons to pull up the Apps running in the background. Find the violating App, and swipe it up to fully close it out.
5. The last thing we need to check is Firmware on your smart trainer. We only work with the most recent firmware versions. I'm looking at you KICKR Gen 1 users! If you haven't updated your KICKR's firmware in the last year, you need to do that in order for us to connect.
Those are all the common issues we have with ERG control. The Sufferfest is dedicated on improving the user connection interface over this next year. Also, if you still are having issues with smart trainer control, please email firstname.lastname@example.org . We will get you fixed up right away.