Short Intervals & The Rowsberry Pi project

First, a cool photograph that I came across today. It is totally unrelated to the post, but I like it, and I find my “feature image” featuring charts and graphs a bit boring:

Czechoslovakia, 1956

There are five people on the photograph.

Today’s row was the short interval session that I had planned for this week. It is not part of my club’s training program, but I have decided to go hybrid. I have planned out my training periodization and the type of workouts I will do in each period. On Monday, when I receive the coach’s training plan, I will plan out the rest of the week, adhering as much as possible to his sessions, but making sure I remain close to my planned periodization, and thus adding, replacing or adapting sessions where needed. It allows me to join the group erg sessions on the club but still understand what the purpose is of each session.

After lunch, I played a bit with the Raspberry Pi, for the “Rowsberry Pi” project. The idea is to create open source software that can be loaded on a Raspberry Pi, turning it into a low-cost data logger for erg sessions. I started with PyRow and I adapted it slightly to capture some extra stroke stats, like drive length, work per stroke, etc. It took a few iterations to get that to work, so my family saw me running back and forth between the rowing basement and the living room.

The basic idea is as follows:

  1. One or more ergs connect to a Raspberry Pi through the USB cable
  2. The Pi just listens to the ergs. When a workout is programmed and started, it starts recording automatically.
  3. At the end of each workout, the Pi saves the stroke data to a CSV file. If configured with an email address, the workout is uploaded automatically to Otherwise, the data are available on a shared drive on the network

It should really be a plug-and-row solution. Here’s a picture of my “test lab”:

The Pi is connected to the network through Wifi, and has a network address rowsberrypi1.local. It is connected to the erg through USB. I still have to manually start the program before each workout, and get the results from the Pi by FTP. So there is still some work to do. Also, the recording of the interval session failed. I manually started the session, then programmed it on the PM. I believe that the Pi thought that the session ended at that point.

So, lots of fun details to get right. But imagine being able to install a few Pis in the rowing club ergroom and just silently log all the data … or have your own Pi for recording sessions while traveling. With the network access, even more can be done. A coach can set up all ergs to the same workout remotely through the network.

So here is  my traditional warming up with a few hard strokes, as recorded with Painsled and processed on

And here are a few quick graphs from excel, from the CSV file produced by the Pi. Same warming up as above:

And here is the main session. I did 15 intervals of 40″ on, 1 minute off:

Finally, I did a 3km cooling down.

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