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Usage Manual

Version 1.01 (January 7, 2014)

Copyright © 2013, 2014, Excellent Systems, Inc.



Our Goal 2

Overview.. 2

Features. 3

Monitoring. 3

Sessions History. 4

Data Capture and Reporting. 5

Upload data to the cloud. 5

Settings. 5

The Windows Phone. 6

Attaching and Caring For Your Phone. 6

Accuracy and Precision. 6

Energy. 7

Privacy Policy. 7

Application Operations. 7

Main Menu. 7

Monitoring. 8

Displays. 8

Stopping. 8

Settings. 9

Name. 9

Catch. 10

Display. 10

Screens. 11

Screen. 12

Fields. 14

Speak (Windows Phone 8). 15

Logs. 16

Sessions. 17

Map. 20

Map Drilldown (Windows Phone 8). 20

Statistics. 21

Histogram.. 22

Replay. 23

Logs. 23

Help. 24

Version History. 24



Our Goal

Our goal in supporting this application is to help you improve your rowing.  We appreciate your interest and usage of the application and hope that you will help us improve the application.  We always like to hear good things and would appreciate your taking a few seconds to provide your review of the application.  Even more importantly, we want to hear how the application can be improved.  If you see errors or features that should be improved PLEASE send us a mail message to our support email as shown in the About screen of the application.


The RowExcel application uses the sensors of the Windows Phone to gather the data about the movement of a rowing shell.  This includes the stroke rate, boat location, distances travelled and speed.  The various metrics, 19 in this version, can be displayed on a dashboard of up to 4 screens which cycle as you specify.

The various screens and displays in the application work, with a few exceptions, in both portrait and landscape orientation.  This allows you to mount the Windows Phone to the boat in the way easiest for you.

No additional hardware is required for the application to gather the metrics.  The sensors of the Windows Phone are used to gather the pertinent data.  Since the phone does not use sensors embedded in the shell, the application uses indirect indications for boat movement.  The most obvious effect of this is that the reported boat speed is relative to the planet and not the water.  This means that current speed and direction will affect the speed reported.

The strokes are detected by observing the acceleration detected by the phone.  This detection depends on the phone being securely attached to the shell.  If the phone is not securely attached, it can shift on each stroke which will significantly reduce the accuracy of the stroke detection.  Each phone has different sensor sensitivity so the application provides settings to adjust how sensitive the application needs to be to get accurate stroke detection.

Any Windows Phone capable of running Windows Phone 7.1 or higher is adequate for this application.  The phone does not require a SIM card or connection to a cellular network to provide the monitoring features.  The mapping and uploading features do require connection to the Internet but this can be accomplished via Wi-Fi.


The basic RowExcel application provides a range of useful features which are intended to provide information that can improve and enhance your rowing.


The core of the application is the gathering of key metrics of the boat movements and calculating performance metrics.  These can be displayed on the Windows Phone display in a series of up to four screens that can contain up to 6 metrics.  The screens can be displayed for a specific number of strokes or seconds.


There are currently 19 metrics that can be displayed.  Several of the metrics can be displayed for 3 different stroke intervals.  One interval is always the current stroke and the two others can be specified.

1.       Strokes per minute last stroke

2.       Strokes per minute last <M> strokes

3.       Strokes per minute last <N> strokes

4.       Run (meters) last stroke

5.       Run last <M> strokes

6.       Run last <N> strokes

7.       Meters per second last stroke

8.       Meters per second last <M> strokes

9.       Meters per second last <N> strokes

10.   mm:ss split (500M) last stroke

11.   mm:ss split (500M) last <M> strokes

12.   mm:ss split (500M) last <N> strokes

13.   Number of meters traveled this session

14.   Elapsed time in mm:ss this session

15.   Stroke Number

16.   Check ratio last stroke (maximum deceleration/max acceleration)

17.   Check ratio last <M> strokes

18.   Check ratio  last <N> strokes

19.   Time of day

Sessions History

You can specify which data, if any, is maintained for your rowing sessions.  By default, a summary of every session of rowing is maintained.  This provides you with a very useful log of your rowing sessions.

Session Map

If you have the stroke data maintained, the Session Map feature will be available.  This shows a map of the rowing session with pins at a stroke interval specified.  Each pin displays the 500-meter split time, stroke rate, meters travelled in the selected interval and last stroke number for that map pin.

Session Statistics

If you have the strokes data maintained, you can also view statistics of each saved session.  The statistics show various values for a variety of metrics.  These values include average, minimum, maximum and standard deviation.  These are displayed for the three sets of stroke groups.

There is also a histogram for the single-stroke group showing the number of values in a range of values.  This shows the count, percentage and a crude histogram.  The values for each histogram range are on the left column for each row.  The highest cell contains all values over the highest value which is indicated with a > character to its right.  Every other value has a < character to the left indicating that the values in this row are less than this value and greater than the row above, if any.


This displays the stroke-rate statistics for the session for each stroke grouping.


This displays the distance, in meters, for each stroke grouping.


This displays the boat speed, in meters per second, for each stroke grouping.


This displays the split, in minutes and seconds to move 500 meters, for each stroke grouping.

Check Ratio

This displays the check ratio, which is highest deceleration divided by highest acceleration, for each stroke grouping.

Session Replay

The application provides the ability to replay the display of the data from a previously recorded session.  This allows you to review the session out of the boat and use different settings to alter the display screens or data monitoring values.

Data Capture and Reporting

One of the most powerful features of the application is the various logs it can generate. There are three types of logs the application maintains:

1.       Session – contains a summary of times, distance and strokes in each session.  This is a great way to track your rowing.  Each row in this file contains the content of the Note entered at the start of a session.

2.       Strokes – contains information about each stroke in a given session.  This is used for additions analysis and display within the application, including the Map and Statistics as described below.

3.       Metric – contains extensive sensor information gathered during the session.  This data is used during the operation of the monitoring of the rowing session and for the Replay option.  Recording this information can be useful if you wish to perform additional analysis using additional software.  For example, you may wish to upload the metrics file and load it into Excel for analysis.

Upload data to the cloud

Every data file used by the application can be uploaded to the Microsoft cloud.  This allows the data to be accessed by other analysis programs, such as Microsoft Excel.  


The application provides a large number of settings to adjust its operation and features.  You have different sets of settings to accommodate rowing in different boats or situations.

The Windows Phone

Attaching and Caring For Your Phone

While we're sure that you are good enough to not drop your device in the water or roll your boat, we do strongly recommend placing your very handy and useful Windows Phone in a protective, waterproof case.  We find the Dry Pak™ cases with lanyards to be very good but there are several other high quality products available.  

In order to obtain the highest accuracy the phone should be firmly attached to the boat with the display face facing up at all times.  We use Velcro on the back of the waterproof case and the wing rigger.  This gives a good view of the screen along with a solid and safe placement of the phone.  

The display can be either in the portrait (longest screen dimension vertical) or landscape (longest screen dimension horizontal) with the phone as flat and aligned squarely with the boat as possible.  The app assumes that the display faces either the stern or the bow.  The orientation of the phone determines the axis direction of the boat.

Accuracy and Precision

The application depends on the accelerometer sensor for the stroke rate and the GPS radio for position.  As mentioned above, the phone must be secured to the boat as firmly and securely as possible to obtain the best results.  If the phone slides, wobbles or jiggles as you row, the sensor results will be adversely affected.  The primary effect will be unreliable and inaccurate stroke rates.

The accuracy and precision of the data received is affected by the position and location of the phone, as well.  The phone screen should be facing straight up and the text on the screen should be facing directly toward the bow or stern of the boat.  The phone works best when it has a clear line of sight to the sky so mounting on a rigger works well but good results have been seen with the phone securely on the floor of the boat.

The strokes are determined by detecting the acceleration detected by the phone.  The acceleration of the phone should match the acceleration of the boat, of course.  The acceleration of the boat is driven by the forces on the boat, obviously.  The most desirable force is the one from the leverage of the oars and the force of the leverage will result in a forward, hopefully significant, forward acceleration.  There is a lag between the point of pulling on the oar handle and the resulting acceleration.  Different rowing styles will affect the actual force and, therefore, acceleration curves.  In crewed boats lack of ideal timing amongst the rowers can result in a 'confused' set of force and acceleration curves.  In addition to the propulsion forces of the oars there are other forces that affect the boat.  These include the movement of the bodies in the shell and wind or wave actions.  Any variations of these various forces can cause the accuracy of the stroke detection to be reduced.  You can adjust the Catch settings to best match the accelerations.  The settings for best results will vary based on the boat, crew and phone unit.

So, the accuracy of the actual stroke detection depends on many factors.

The distance and, therefore, speed metrics are determined by the phone location which uses the GPS radio for the most precise location information.  The most precise GPS position is within a couple of meters.  Given that the typical rowing shell moves approximately 10 meters on each stroke one doesn't have to be a mathematical genius to realize that the positional accuracy is 80% at best on a single stroke.  That means the distance and speed metrics for the most recent stroke are quite probably off by 20% or more.  The good news is that these positional inaccuracies tend to cancel themselves over time.  The positional accuracy in ten (10) strokes becomes very close to 99%.

We discourage using any of the metrics based on a single stroke for any other purpose than to calibrate the Catch settings.  Generally, the speed- and distance-based metrics for a single-stroke are only useful for entertainment and calibration purposes.  The default settings for the application is to collect the metrics for the most recent 3- and 10-stroke intervals in order to have more accurate metrics.


Energy and pain management are keys to success in rowing but that's not what this section is all about.  This section discusses the fact that the RowExcel application uses a significant amount of energy from your phone.  This is caused by having the display on continuously and the use of the GPS radio.  It is important to be aware that the battery drain is very high while using the application.  The typical Windows Phone has enough battery capacity to run the application for 3 to 4 hours.  If your rowing is longer than that you might want to reconsider your overtraining regimen.

Privacy Policy

The application uses the GPS-sensor to determine the data about your physical location on the planet.  This data consists of the longitude and latitude coordinates.  This data is stored locally in the, optional, log files.  If you choose to upload these files to the cloud, the location data could be seen by others.  This application never collects your personal or device information and never shares the data collected with anyone.

Application Operations

Main Menu

The main menu allows you to access the other options with the start of monitoring being the most notable.  You can enter any text you wish to be logged for a session in the Note field and start monitoring by tapping the Start button.  The Note is useful for remembering the nature of the session, such as the boat type and planned operations.

You can click on any of the icons on the bottom or side of the screen to access the other options.


You start the rowing monitor by tapping the Start button on the main screen.  You can enter any text you wish into the Note field prior to tapping the button.  This text will be recorded in the event log and the session history, if one is desired.  The application first determines the orientation of the boat so there is a slight delay before information is displayed in the display screens.

The display will show the screens as specified by you in the settings.  The Catch indicator, the red C, appears to indicate the start of a catch.  It may appear slightly after the oars actually start the catch as the phone only detects the acceleration forces on the boat itself.  


The screens will display the metrics defined in the settings and rotate through the screens as you have specified in the settings.


Tap the   menu button on the screen.  This will return the display to Main Menu.


Tap the   menu button on the screen to access the Settings screens.

If you make any changes in one of the settings screens you must click on the   button on the bottom the screen.


You can have any number of named settings so that you can have settings for multiple situations.  The initial setting is named Default.  

The currently selected setting name is listed in the Setting Name.  You can see all the available settings by tapping on the name.  Tap on one of the listed names to select it.

You can copy the current settings to a new setting by entering the new name in the New Name box.  You are creating a file so you should avoid using strange special characters.

The check box to indicate to Disable Location Service is provided as a privacy requirement from our friends at Microsoft.  Checking this will disable determining the phone location.  This means that the Monitor feature of the application cannot operate but the other options will still operate.  Clear this checkbox if you wish to monitor your rowing.

You must click on the   button on the bottom the screen to select a new setting name.


You can change how the stroke catches are detected by changing the options on the Catch screen.  The two settings are on a percentage of a predefined range so you can adjust from 0 to 100% of that range.  Tap on the setting to see a list of the percentages in 5% increments.

The Catch Accel sets the amount of acceleration change required before a catch is detected.  If it appears that catches are being lost then you should lower this setting.

The Catch Latch sets the amount of lag allowed to indicate a catch.  The initial setting is normally sufficient but, if a significant number of suspect strokes appear on the high side, it can be adjusted downward.


The Display settings screen allows you to indicate several values that control various aspects of information display.   The top line allows you to specify how many strokes will be included in each of the stroke-group.  The stroke-groups used for stroke rate, distance, split, speed and check ratio.  Click on the number shown and select the desired value from the list shown.  

The second line indicates the number of strokes to be included for each pin shown on the Map display screen.

The third line allows you to specify the orientation of the phone in the boat.  The orientation is used to determine boat orientation, as well.  The app assumes that the display faces either the stern or the bow.  The default setting is Auto which means the display and travel orientation is determined by the actual orientation of the phone itself.  This setting is adequate for most phones but some phones are very sensitive to phone orientation.  If your phone seems to change orientation very easily you may wish to click the Port (for Portrait) or Land (for Landscape) button.

The fourth line provides a way to indicate the direction the display is facing.  The default is Auto which causes the application to use the acceleration forces to calculate the direction of travel.  You can indicate that the display is facing the Coxswain or Rower to indicate the direction of travel.  Changing the Facing setting to Coxswain or Rower usually provides a more reliable stroke detection, sooner.


You can control and specify the way each of the four possible screens behaves.  Click the button corresponding to the screen you wish to modify.


If you make any changes in one of the screens settings, you must click on the   button on the bottom the screen before leaving the screen.




The screen allows you to provide a Title for the screen being modified.  The Title will appear at the top of the screen when it is actively displayed.  You can select the value for the Interval for the screen duration.  If you select 0 the screen is not displayed.  You must indicate whether the interval is measured in seconds or strokes.  Even if the interval is in seconds the screen does not change until the next stroke is encountered.


Each screen can contain up to 6 fields to be displayed.  The fields are displayed differently based on whether the phone is in portrait or landscape as shown below:
















The screens are formatted to show either 1, 2 or 6 fields.  If you wish to display less than 6 metrics use the fields at the top of the fields settings screen.  Click on each field and select the desired metric from the list shown.

Speak (Windows Phone 8)

Speak Settings

You can specify a metric to be spoken at the interval desired.  The phone will speak the metric value and the description, if you wish, in the default voice.  The metric selected does not need to be displayed to be spoken.  Any of the metrics can be selected to be spoken.  You can select the interval from the list of interval values and specify whether the interval is in seconds or strokes.  You can specify if you wish the description of the metric to be spoken and whether you wish the value of the metric to be repeated.  These two options are sometimes useful to help in hearing and understanding the metric.


You can indicate whether each type of log is recorded and whether they are purged as well as the length of time they are kept on your phone.  

Click next to each of the three log types to indicate whether it should be recorded.



Tap the   button to display the Sessions screen.  This shows you all the rowing sessions with the most recent on top of the list.  Unless you delete the sample files the last session listed will be the Samples session.  This allows you to see how the sessions screen operates and experiment with the various settings and options.

Tap on the session of interest to see a summary of that session.  This includes the note, if any, added to the session before the Start button was pressed.  The date, start and end times are shown.  The distance in meters, the minutes rowed and number of strokes is also shown.  The number of 'suspect strokes' are listed after the number of strokes.  A 'suspect stroke' is one that is detected at a rate significantly different than the current rate.  If the current stroke is more than 50% higher than the current rating it is a high suspect and if lower than 50% it is a low suspect stroke.  The suspect strokes are shown as a fraction format of HIGH/LOW.

Strokes and a Metrics log files can be created for each session as described in the section above.  If the Strokes data file for the selected Session exists, you can then view a Map of the row as well as some Statistics of the various metrics captured.  These options are described below.

You can Delete or Upload either the Strokes or Metrics file, if they exist, by tapping on the appropriate button.


Tapping on the Map button displays a map of the row taken in the session.  There are pins placed on the map at the interval of strokes specified for the map in the Display panel of the Settings screen as described above.  Each pin includes the split (minutes and seconds to row 500 meters), stroke rate, distance, in meters, rowed in the stroke interval and the last stroke number associated with the map pin.

Map Drilldown (Windows Phone 8)

Starting with Windows Phone 8 versions of the application you can tap on the pins on the map to drilldown to the stroke metrics for that point in the session.  The metrics available include:

1.       Rates – Strokes per minute

2.       Distances – Meters per stroke range

3.       Speed – Meters per second

4.       Split – minutes and seconds for 500 meters

5.       Check Ratio – Maximum deceleration divided by maximum acceleration

Select the metric of choice by tapping or swiping on the heading of the screen.

Each of these is shown for the three stroke intervals being measured in the session.    The first and second intervals are those set in the Display Settings as described above.  The third interval is the count of strokes up to the point shown or selected.   The intervals begin at the stroke number shown at the bottom of the screen and include the stroke intervals preceding it as show in the left column.  You can move forward and backward in the session by tapping on the Next or Prev icons on the screen.  This will move the stroke forward or backward by the top interval.  The stroke number and the time it was recorded is displayed at the bottom of the screen.

The statistics are displayed in a table with the 3 rows for the stroke groups and 5 columns:

1.       Str – The stroke interval size

2.       Avg – The average for the metric

3.       Min – The minimum value measured

4.       Max – The maximum value measured

5.       Dev – The standard deviation of the metric


Tapping the Statistics button displays a screen containing the statistical summary of the metrics in the Session.   These are the same metrics displayed in the map drilldown described just above.  The statistics are for the entire session.  The stroke intervals shown are data gather for each of the stroke intervals monitored. 


In addition of the statistics described above there is also a crude histogram for each metric.  You can switch between the statistics and histogram display by tapping on the   button.  The histogram has 7 rows of counts per metric value range and 4 columns:

1.       Val – The value range.  The first 6 lines show the metrics that are below the value shown.  The last line shows metrics that are above the value shown.

2.       Cnt – The count of metrics found in this range

3.       % - The percentage of the total found in this range

The histogram shows the metrics for 1-stroke-goup metrics.  This group is used since the values are the ones that vary the most.


If the Metrics file for a session was saved then the display screens for the session can be replayed.  The replay will use the current settings of the application so the screens may not be the same as those displayed during the actual rowing session.  The replay screens start displaying at twice the actual rate making it easier to observe the data collected.  You can change the replay speed by tapping on the   button.  Each tap causes the replay speed to double until it exceeds 8 at which point the replay speed returns to 1 which is actual time.  The replay speed is shown in the screen title.


Clicking on the   button displays a list of the various log and other data files on the phone.  You can view, upload and delete each file listed.  You can also purge the log files using the purge option by tapping the   button.

You can click on the filename to view the file.  If the file is a comma separated values (.CSV) file the first 1,000 rows will be displayed in a table.  Other files are shown completely as text.  You can use normal gestures on the screen to move around in the display and change the text size.

You can upload a file to your Microsoft cloud area by tapping the   button.  You need to provide your login credentials and allow access to your area to complete the upload.

You can delete the file by tapping the   button.  A confirmation screen will appear to verify the operation.


You can view the Usage Guide, which is this document, by tapping the   button.  You can navigate within the document using normal Windows Phone gestures. You can also tap on the topics in the table of contents at the top to

Tapping on the   at the bottom of the Usage Guide brings up the About screen which shows information about the installed application including an easy way to access support information as well as making a review of it.  We appreciate any and all feedback.  Our goal is making your rowing better.

Thanks for using our work!

Version History





January 7, 2014

Version for Windows Phone 8; Support for spoken metric output; Use Nokia Here Maps


November 4, 2013

Add YYYMMDD_SettingsChanges.htm for logging settings changes; Add altitude data collection and logging; Limit display of CSV files to 200 lines


September 17, 2013

Correct incorrect behavior of changing setting name and tighten catch detection ranges

(Note that the percentages on the Catch Setting screen will change from the previous version but the underlying values will remain the same)


August 30, 2013

Initial public release