This is my first design challenge of any sort on element14, although I have carried out eleven RoadTests. I studied Electronics and Physics at University but I don't really use either subject directly in my job. I am a self-employed IT Consultant, specialising in providing consultancy help to not-for-profit organisations.


I am a STEM Ambassador and have delivered electronics and computing sessions both in primary and secondary schools. I am also a CREST Project Assessor for the British Science Association. This involves assessing and marking CREST science projects (usually involving physics, electronics, computer science or maths - so I get to use my degree knowledge quite a bit). In my spare time, I love tinkering with electronics, microcontrollers and learning about new stuff. I also play the piano and do quite a bit of running - which is the subject of my Design Challenge Project.


My project

I have been an amateur athlete all my life and have a lifetime marathon best time of 2 hours 37 minutes (when aged 29) and a most recent marathon time of 2 hours 56 minutes (7 years ago, aged 56), which placed me fourth in my age-group category at the London Marathon. Things have gone downhill since then, but hey ho! I also do a bit of cycling and indoor rowing.


I was an early adopter of Polar heart rate monitoring ("HRM") watches and have more recently used several different Garmin combined HRM and Global Positioning System ("GPS") watches. My current watch is a Garmin Forerunner 220. This allows me to track my runs/cycle rides and plot the route on a map together with measurements including heart rate and speed. The watch also contains an accelerometer that measures cadence (i.e. number of steps per minute). You can leave the data on the watch but, after it runs out of storage, it overwrites the oldest data. I therefore download my data to my PC every few days. For years, I have used a program called Sporttracks to store and analyze the data but this program has moved to a cloud subscription model and the software authors are about to deprecate the desktop PC version. I prefer to retain control of my own personal data and have started to think about a replacement.




My Garmin watch does not measure the environmental conditions experienced on the runs/cycle rides (e.g. temperature, humidity, ambient light) which have a bearing on performance as well as being interesting variables in their own right. This is where the RSL10-SENSE-GEVK comes in. Its small size and low weight means that I think it would be suitable for athlete telemetry and could augment the data provided by the Garmin HRM/GPS watch.


As advertised, this Design Challenge did not offer the debug version of the RSL10, so I designed the project around what could be achieved with the pre-loaded firmware and the Sense and Control app. I haven't received my kit yet but I understand that it is actually the RSL10-SENSE-DB-GEVK version (which includes the debugger) that is being sent out, so I might have more options than I thought


Design objectives

My Design Challenge idea is to:

  • Find a replacement for the Sporttracks program as a way to store and analyse my training data on my desktop PC
  • Gather the data from my Garmin HRM/GPS watch and telemetry data from the RSL10-SENSE-GEVK via MQTT and cloud services using the Sense and Control app provided
  • Synchronise and store the data from both devices into the desktop PC application


Garmin and RSL10


The plan


The first part of the project will involve discovering what can and can't be achieved with the device provided. In particular, I will be investigating the different options for exporting telemetry data from the device. This will involve a combination of reading (e.g. datasheets, websites etc.) and experimentation (e.g. trying out different MQTT brokers and cloud services). I have already made some progress with this as I RoadTested this product. I applied for the RoadTest and the Design Challenge before knowing whether I was selected for either and I ended up with both!


Next, I will investigate alternative software (to Sporttracks) that is capable of storing and analyzing training data from both telemetry (RSL10-SENSE-GEVK) and the Garmin Forerunner 220. Another requirement would be to be able to import historical data from Sporttracks (I have daily data going back to 2006). There are various candidate programs that I am aware of, including Golden Cheetah, MyTourbook or Traininglab Pro. I'll take a closer look at those.



It is possible that I will need to procure materials for this Design Challenge. This could include materials for mounting the device, or possibly other components. I will try and add a debug header on to the board, so I can use the RSL10 provided for the Design Challenge, rather than the RoadTest one.


Software development

Next, I will attempt to develop the necessary integrations to feed into the chosen software package. I do not know exactly what this will involve yet, as it depends on which software package is chosen. I suspect that synchronising the data from the Garmin with the data from the RSL10-SENSE-GEVK will prove tricky. We'll see. The project might fail completely at this point.


Mounting the device

Finally, I would experiment with different methods and locations for collecting telemetry data whilst running and cycling. This would require a wearable method (running) and a mountable method (cycling). One idea would be to mount the device on a wrist strap like the Garmin watch, but worn on the other wrist. For running, the phone would have to be held in my hand or perhaps on an arm strap. On a bike, there are more possibilities.





If all goes to plan, I will end up with a device and software with which I can collect and analyse telemetry data from my running and cycling activities. A key part of the testing will be whether the RSL10-SENSE-GEVK and my Android phone will be able to stream telemetry data to cloud storage whilst "out on the road". It does not look like the OnSemi app has the capacity for local storage but, of course, I will investigate that. The mountings will need to be tested so that the device and phone are able to communicate with each other and are not lost in transit


Coming next

The next blog will report back on the research part of the project.

Think ON Design Challenge - Athlete telemetry - Blog #2

Think ON Design Challenge - Athlete telemetry - Blog #3

Think ON Design Challenge - Athlete telemetry - Blog #4

Think ON Design Challenge - Athlete telemetry - Wrap up blog

Wish me luck!