Electronics, Lighting, & Gadgets - Any Experience with VDO Z3 PC?
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10-27-08, 10:06 AM
Anyone have any first-hand experience with the VDO Z3 bike computer?
I'm in the middle of evaluating several options for conveniently gather information about rides. To complicate matters, I'm also considering GPS. Before everyone jumps in to say, get the Edge 705, I am testing one of those now and discovering that while it is ideal for gathering information about a ride (and VERY convenient), it is less ideal as a navigational tool, especially compared to some of the other Garmin offerings like the GPSMAP or the eTrex. So I'm looking at ways to conveniently gather cycling data (speed, elevation, HR, etc) in a form that could be imported into a PC based program like Sport Tracks. I'd then look for a separate navigational GPS to use when necessary (brevets, scouting rides for new brevet routes, tours of the unknown, etc.).
Along the same lines, if you do have a Z3, are you using the VDO tracking software or something else. Any problems migrating data to other apps? How difficult is it to synchronize the cycle performance data from the VDO with GPS data (a gpx file)?
10-27-08, 01:00 PM
Not personally, but see: http://www.cyclingforums.com/t466409.html
10-30-08, 07:38 AM
I've seen that link, but for whatever reason, I'm unable to post on that form or PM "weeks52806" (the poster with the Z3).
For me, it comes down to the choice between:
A) Edge 705. Best for gathering ALL data (including the route traveled). Requires supplemental power for longer brevets. Navigation is NOT its strong suit. I'm still not certain how to create RELIABLE courses that the GPS will navigate without constant "off course, make a U-turn" warnings.
B) Combination of the Z3 PC to record cycling performance data and a better navigating Garmin like the eTrex or the GPSMAP. The Z3 has enough battery & data storage capacity for any brevet I plan to ride. These Garmins run substantially longer than the Edge and rely on AAs which can be easily swapped out. I wouldn't record track information on my routine training rides (hard to get lost on such familiar roads, anyway)
The big unknown is the VDO software and its capability for data migration. I keep tabs on my cycling in SportTracks. I've been unsuccessful (so far) in determining whether the VDO software will export data in a format that can be imported into SportTracks.
Any further news from anyone on this?
Trying to choose between the VDO Z3 and the Sigma Rox 9.0 :)
01-07-09, 10:15 AM
I bought the Z3PC back in Nov/Dec and have been using it on the trainer. I have not taken it on the road yet.
So far it seems to be working pretty well. I mounted the speed sensor on the back wheel for trainer duty and it picks up no problem. Note that you need the cadence sensor to use the power function.
Clunky on the wrist. The unit is somewhat large and is mounted on the wrist strap or can be mounted on the handlebar mount.
HR picks up right away. Much faster and more consistent than my Polar CS300.
Cyclo functions track pretty well with my Astrale. The speed reading is 1/4 mph high but is probably a function of the wheel size input.
Lots of buttons/functions.
I have not setup the Altitude function yet.
Just installing the software does not load all the necessary drivers or facilitate and automatic PC connection. At least for me, in XP, the drivers need to be setup through the XP setup wizard.
I have not gone through all the software but data is one way: from the watch to the pc. Being able to setup the watch on the PC and dumping into the watch would be a nice feature.
Dislikes (Note that I may not have figured out some of these yet):
Display is not user configurable except for the lower panel. Or I have not figured it out yet.
The HR zone setups are not friendly and limited. The 5-zone setup of Polar/etc. is not available.
Manual translation needs to be done by a native English speaker.
Not sure if I can delete the data on the watch. Every time data is downloaded, all the exercises are available for importing including data that had previously been imported.
I wish the data recording was automatic. I have missed some rides because of this.
I like this units functionality much better than the Polar. Connection to the PC works much better. I do wish it recorded data more frequently (options are 10s or 20s).
Attached is an Excel file that shows the power difference between the VDO and my KK fluid trainer. Power for the KK is calculated per the formula in the manual. PLEASE: No comments on my (lack of) power:innocent:
10-06-09, 06:53 AM
I just got one.
The unit is very good looking and well finished - so well that I'm having my doubts using it in xc or places where it might get muddy. It looks like something to be used on the road, not on a MTB.
So far, I'm having some problems.
Firstly, the docking station that comes with, doesn't work. Non of the 3 PC's I tested it on could detect it. (After uninstalling, re-installing USB drivers, the VDO software etc etc. multimeter detects no continuety between 2 of the 3 contacts at the docking cradle, and the USB plug...) When I shake the USB plug itself, I head something loose inside...
The speed is lagging behind about 4 seconds... when I start riding, the speed is not updated until about 4 to 5 seconds later... when spinning the wheel by hand and suddenly stopping it, the last speed is displayed for about 5 seconds.... even with the wheel stopped dead... This is frustrating, because in xc, a lot happens in 5 seconds and while riding even, it takes a few moments after accellerating before the new speed is displayed. I'm baffled... Seems accurate, but I want to see my actual speed to pace myself, not the speed I did 5 seconds ago.
I also got the cadence sensor to show power output. The power measurement, it seems, is calculated using a few of the variables and this also lags behind. At 20km/h up a steep climb, the power displayed is about what I've done 50m back. So if I start an all out effort up a 200m climb, my max watts only shows about 50m further, even if I immediately accellerate to the climbing speed. When I back off to a relaxed pace over the summit... a high Watt reading is still displayed for a while... I don't know why it takes so long to make the calculations...
Like up a 16% at 12km/h from standstill, I reach 12km/h in a few metres, but only after a while (+- 50m) the watt output starts increasing in stages, like 35, 66, 120, 180, 250, 320... etc... then once at the actual... it stays there... but it makes you wonder if it's the real power output, or what you've done 50m back.... beacuse once over the summit, I can spin easlily to recover and it will still show 300+ watts for a while before coming down slowly... The power measurement is displayed last in the menu, (maybe showing that it's not that important or accurate?)
To see the Watt measurement, the right top button needs to be pressed 7 times.
The timer goes to zero after 24 hours... annoying for someone who want's to do a 24hr solo, who normally rides just longer than 24hrs...
The Altimeter works well. You can set the home altitude and can easily calibrate back to the preset home altitude before a ride... one some days, the altitude changes up to 130m at my base location (on the Z3) with weather changes.
The Cadence sensor responds fast and is good. No lagging like the speed sensor.
The HRM is also good and accurate.
The gradient seems accurate.
Temperature is accurate, but you can't log it. It only shows current temp. - no min, max avg.
The buttons requires some force to be pressed. And here comes more problems...
I'm finding it very hard to understand the logic behind the settings menu. The items I need to frequently access, are far down the menu list, which means lots of scrolling = lots of button pressing to pass lesser important settings... see below...
There's a few things a cyclist want easy access to... like to set the actual altitude, to select the HR training zone for the ride, to set the alarm, and to select the type of timer you want for the ride, or to change wheels to another wheel set.
But when entering the menu, you have to browse through things like Language, rider setup, power measurement setup, clock setup, wheel size set, service interval set, PC connect set, etc etc. things you only set once and forget about it...
So to set the actual altitude, I have to click the left button 11 times or the right button 9 times to scroll through the other settings to get there... which is hard with the buttons that need so much force to be pressed. And I race a lot so I want to set the altitude actaul for every race start.
I want to see the program menu re-organised, so that the frequently used items are 'nearer' to where the menu is entered as default. (def not language... everybody can read English, so it won't be hard to initially read English until you reach the language setting item to change to you language) It's just plain annoying when you want to change your target HR zone and arrive at the Language setting and others...
I now have to send everything back for a replacement - they suspect that my computer is faulty because of the lagging behind. I've even tried pairing the sensors in a different order. The speed stays behind...
The mountings are good (watch, stem or bar). All batteries are user replacable. I like this computer, but it will be perfect if the speed is updated instantly, and if the menu is re-organised, and if I can connect to the PC.
I'll update this once I receive my new one. I feel I had to share this, as I spent a whole day uninstalling and re-installing drivers on my PC, WIN XP Service packs etc. just to get the PC to detect the docking station, which now turns out to be a poor connection.
10-06-09, 10:07 AM
An update. VDO Germany came back to me in 3 days, and offered to send me a new docking station. Good news and service to me.
This is what their representitive had to say about my findings of the delayed speed, cadence and Watt display:
Regarding speed display and delay:
The z is using digital wireless transmission. That means a complete Data package with the digital coding data plus the speed information is send every few seconds.
The receiver is receiving this data package and needs some time to show first speed.
When you stop, the receiver at least has to wait for the next package plus a certain waiting time, before the receiver finally can detect: No more package coming in. Speed is zero.
We have a similar situation with WATT.
WATT is updated only every 10 seconds, because the WATT calculation needs speed, distance, gradient, change in altitude.
These data is measured by the main unit in different time slots. So for the WATT calculation a complete set of data has to be collected first, before the first WATT-calculation can be brought into display. WATT calculation is using a gliding average algorithm.
So when you start it is collecting data and builds up the WATT-display.
When you slow down, it takes a while before the WATT-display shows a reaction.
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