Building a Better Interface for the Airdyne AD2 with a Raspberry Pi (Part 2)

In part 1 I wrote about the problem, but how would I make something better?

Part 2: The Plan

From the original assembly of the Airdyne, I remembered the cable going from the machine into the display was a simple audio cable. I figured it should be easy enough to read the data being sent over the wire. A quick check of the cable determined it was a 3.5 mm TS jack (TS?), which is very simple.

airdyne-ad2-ts-jack-wide2.jpg

I immediately thought a Raspberry Pi would be a great little computer for the project. I’d been wanting an excuse to play around with version 3 Model B. Some quick research determined microphone input had to be done via USB. I created a shopping list:

I already had a 3.5 mm male to male cable that would prove to be extremely useful. I wanted to splitter so that I’d be able to intercept the signal, while being able to continue using the actual Airdyne AD2 display as well.

While waiting for the Amazon Prime deliveries to show up, I did some Googling to see if anyone else had tried anything like this with an Airdyne. There was one hit. The author went a different route by installing a cycling cadence sensor on the crankshaft and someone in the comments went another route yet, with an optical sensor to measure the fan wheel rotations.

Finding that others had been able to take data in different ways and figure out to do with it gave me hope, but I really had no idea if I was going to waste a bunch of time on this project. At some point I plugged the cable into my iPhone and attempted to record some input using the Voice Memos app, but didn’t get anything. Not encouraging.

I was keeping a bunch of notes and ideas, but my initial scope was very small. Could I read the data from the cable, determine what it was saying, calculate all 5 pieces of information (time, calories, distance, speed, and rpms), and display everything on a single user interface? Now that I write that it doesn’t actually seem very small at all.

Stay tuned for part 3, where I got started.

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