As a nonprofit we find ourselves utilizing technology in a way that is more common in the IT departments of large for-profit corporations that push the cutting edge of what is available. We just submitted a grant this morning that if awarded will allow us to purchase the last major pieces of technology we need and will allow for better programming, business management and company growth.
The technology is visible in all of our photos but with the holiday week upon us and no on-site programming it is a good time to highlight just what we use and what it does:
1. “Everything”- This is a pretty good shot of the overall picture. Technology, iPads, Laptop, iPhones, the bicycle trainers, wires and cables: This is what we setup and tear down at every site every single time. Each indoor simulator and bicycle is valued at almost $2,000–and is the almost priceless asset we have with us that allows us to do what we do.
2. “The Simulators”- The trainers themselves are what hold the bikes in place. What makes these special is that each one actually has a electronic load generator attached to it that controls resistance. When a rider is on a simulated course that has an up-hill the load generator increases resistance, and when they are going downhill decreases the resistance. This is professional grade equipment that is used by the top cyclists in the world and is as accurate as possible without being in a lab setting.
3. “The Display”- This is a great shot of what the kids actually see. The simulators get fed to our computer which in turn gives a video signal to the TV. On this course the kids are on you can see the slight uphill in the course at the top, where each of the 8 riders are on the course below that, and then each rider and their individual data in the vertical columns (rider data includes speed, distance, wattage, max and average, and cadence). We hope to be able to go to a projector based display in the future and get away from the LCD display.
4. “Internet on the Go”- A recent addition to our fleet of technology and a ton better than the cell phone hotspots we used previously. A 4g wireless JetPak from Verizon that allows us to have a consistent and fast connection when on site even when cell phones seem to be unreliable in old concrete buildings. This also serves as the central router while on site allowing all of the wireless devices that need to connect to one another to do so.
5. “iPad”- Seen everywhere in society, utilized by us all day long. The iPad Tom uses at programming sites is set up to connect to the laptop used to control the whole system. Tom can walk around the whole gym and wireless control the mouse and keyboard using his iPad. He can also stream the screen directly to his iPad if he happens to be in a spot that doesn’t allow him to see what the kids are doing. In between groups of kids the iPad is used to respond to emails, update Twitter and Facebook for near real-time updates, and take care of the business aspects that can’t wait until the guys get back to their offices.6. The “Brain Box”- As equally important as the simulators themselves, they are the other half. In this box we have the control module for each bicycle and the data in/data out systems. All of the cable whips that go from the bikes to the “brain box” have been custom-made by our Programs Director Ken to allow for safer wiring with less trip hazards and quicker setup and tear-down. If there is one thing we consider proprietary it is the system design within this box (and therefore no pictures!)
7. “The Control Tower”- This laptop is pushing 100 years old in the land of technology but it is one of the most reliable we’ve ever used for the programs required to run everything. While we hope to purchase three new laptops with the technology grant as this laptop is slowly winding down its reliable lifespan it does everything we ask of it.
That’s on top of the iPhones, office PC’s and printers we use daily. And if we are successful in our grant pursuit for technology funding look forward to adding a small business server to centralize operations, a better phone management system, and other much-needed pieces of technology to have a better platform of operations.