With the launch of Zwift iOS at the weekend any user with a stable of ANT+ only sensors is going to be faced with a decision. Buy new dual channel BLE/ANT+ devices, or use a bridge device. The CABLE, literally standing for Connect ANT Bluetooth Low Energy is a dedicated bridge device that wants a place in your pain cave. But with only a single function, have North Pole Engineering made a compelling product compared to rival ANT+ bridges?
Hands on with WASP Cable ANT+ Bridge on Zwift iOS – Zwift Gear Test
Guest post by KISS Grand Race Master Glen Knight – Don’t forget to check out the KISS Racing FaceBook page for all the updates on Zwift KISS Racing
Zwift iOS shipped with an Easter Egg that is the Zwift running feature, which is very cool, but as Zwift iOS is Bluetooth only, that gave me a slight issue only having access to ANT+ sensors, so I was keen to find a solution, thankfully I had recently been sent a WASP CABLE ANT+
So I was ready to crack things open and put the device to good use. Opening the WASP CABLE ANT+, the first thing that took me by surprise was the packaging, in an age of over packaging this was surprisingly simple. And I didn’t need a hacksaw to get into it – bonus!
The unit looks small and neat and has a little green flashing light beckoning me to get started. So let’s move on to the design of the WASP CABLE ANT+ bridge.
The design is small and concise. Nothing there that doesn’t need to be and even has a friendly little loop for what I can only assume is tethering or a keyring. There also appears indents to the sides of the unit possibly suggesting a potential clamp/holder in the future.
It’s smaller than a heart rate monitor and almost feels like something you could lose in your pocket.
The size of the WASP CABLE ANT+ and the lack of anything to attach it to initially might give you pause for where you are going to put it in your Zwift cave so that it doesn’t get mislaid
This is a beta product and the finished product may look different, and may be part of a larger product system, hence the indents. One thing of note, there are no ANT or Smart BLE logos on the casing, just the logo. Inside we’ve the coin cell, circuitry, and a small seal – as we know, Zwifting produces only a small amount of sweat!
- Battery life: “numerous months” if used for 1 hour per day
- Communications:ANT+, BlueTooth Smart
- Weight:12.1 g (0.43 oz)
- Dimensions:5.7cm x 2.8 cm (2.24 in. x 1.10 in.)
- Other: Theft Protection
Manual is very basic but surprisingly specific. But then there is not really anything overly complicated about what you need to do and the onscreen prompts are fairly helpful and run you through the process.
Using Device/Zwift Gear Test
Having read briefly the quick start guide and downloaded the iOS app (there is only an iOS App currently to configure the CABLE) I was ready to go…or so I thought. I followed the onscreen instructions. The first thing I had to do was the firmware update which appeared to go successfully. I got the green screen. Selected to search on each sensor I was using (foot pod and HRM). I also tried to connect 2 different HRM and also 3 different power meters but alas, it was not working out for me.
After a few wasted hours and a lost workout, in a last ditch attempt to test this I tried again on my older, iPhone 5. Success!
I don’t know if it’s something wrong with my new iPhone 6 but the older iPhone 5 seemed to connect a lot quicker and was able to see the data from the pod a lot easier than my iPhone 6 – note the “No Sim” in the pictures where things are working
Whilst we are here “Reopen Channels” option appears to rescan for sensors using the specified device profiles. “Disconnect” closes the connection between your phone and the device (once you have written the settings the phone is no longer required). “Power down”, does exactly what is says on the tin, turns off the CABLE pod. The final option is “Enable Motion Detect”. If you have sensors attached to your bike and they move then the CABLE app will notify your phone. For this, to work the CABLE app needs to be active and you need to be within bluetooth range.
With my Garmin Footpod and TICKR bridged from ANT to BLE and my settings saved. On Zwift iOS, as we’re dealing with just Bluetooth sensors, connection was a very easy process as long as you are in range, with the CABLE appearing straight off
With that, it was time to go for a short run.
My avatar seemed to respond at an acceptable pace to my varying speed whilst running and stopped still less than a second after I stopped running on the treadmill.
I also switched back to normal cycle mode and tested with a few other sensors worth with WASP CABLE ANT+, namely a Garmin HR, Garmin Speed Sensor and a Quarq power meter all of which picked up without issues and I was able to successfully go for a spin without issue.
This is probably a good point to note that this device will not provide you with controllable trainer functionality. It does not rebroadcast ANT+FE-C, the protocol used to adjust the resistance on ANT+ smart trainers.
The CABLE is currently only available in the US direct from North Pole Engineering: At a price of $59.95 when available for international shipping early 2017.
When you consider the only function of the WASP CABLE ANT+ is as a bridge, it is possibly a little on the high side. That said, if you have invested heavily in ANT+ only sensors or more specifically have an ANT+ only power meter and don’t need the HR function of the 4iiii Viiiiva, the WASP CABLE ANT+ could be a worthwhile investment.
The CABLE iOS app seems fairly stable (once I found a working iPhone) and once you’ve programmed the device it will operate on its own. It has to be recognised the device does just seem to work.
There is a limit to 5 devices the CABLE can bridge, if you view those as HRM, Power, Stride, Cadence and Speed Sensor I would have thought would be sufficient for all needs. It might be worthwhile considering more sensors you bridge the less the battery will last.
I think at its current price point I would probably opt to spend a little more, on something like the 4iiii, which remains strapped to my chest, rather than a unit I could lose under the treadmill, but it will be interesting to see what the final production price comes out at, or whether a holder/clamp is included in the production packaging.