COUNTER DESIGNS NEEDED
We measurers are a group of people who are comfortable with numbers, and many are in technical occupations. Perhaps if we work together we can solve our problem – the lack of supply of a source of mechanical counters.
Thanks to Neville Wood, we have a reliable alternative, until such time as the manufacturers of cyclocomputers change their designs. This may help us in the interim.
The original counter was the result of the innovative thinking of one of us – Alan Jones. He saw the need, and recognized a way to fill it. Alan, with son Clain, produced the original counters for several years. They passed on the operation to the New York Road Runners Club, who continued the manufacture of counters. When NYRRC found they could no longer obtain the gear drive, production ceased. I saw a bike speedometer in K-Mart and contacted the supplier. Paul Oerth volunteered to get into the business and has been at it since 1991.
Now the source of gearing has dried up once again, and Paul hopes to be back in production soon.
Since Alan produced the first counter there have been no technical innovations in its design. I think it is time for us to do some thinking and see whether there may not be a better way to do it.
The counter itself is the most reliable and expensive part of the assembly. Present cost of the five-digit Veeder-Root counter is $45 for a single unit. It is likely to remain the counter of choice.
We all hope that Paul will be back in business soon. Meanwhile, why not do some creative thinking? I know of three alternative designs so far. One is my chain-driven model which has so far survived 200 km of riding and measurement with no noticeable wear. I do not see it as yet practical – it is something a tinkerer can make, but I don’t see it as a finished product. It does have an innovation that I didn’t at first realize – the counter can be read while riding. The numbers appear from left to right. I find this very useful, and expect to continue using the thing until I have a good reason to stop.
Another design, similar to the Jones/Oerth, is on the drawing board and inquiries to find a gear-drive manufacturer are beginning. The new design eliminates several parts used in the JO counter. It does not have a cable-driven option.
A third design also permits the counter to be read normally, and is quite different from the JO counter.
While I was willing to show my own design, I am going to leave it to those who are working on alternate designs to share what they are willing to share with all of us. The more we show each other our work, the closer we may get to something that may be better than the original.
To this end, I’ve instituted a new section in the Bulletin Board for discussion of this important issue. The entire art of course measurement should not be so dependent on a single design.