A small number of enlightened people have taken up my CanalOmeters in the past and been kind enough to say they were useful. Certainly I have enjoyed making and using them. For the uninitiated, they are a simple calculating device for working out long it might take to cruise between two points on a canal journey. They look like this
Follow my link on the right hand side of the blog page to find out more.
Now, having got a nice low tech cheap as chips solution that works, why on earth would I bother to spend time making a digital version? After all didn’t the data come from CanalPlan in a digital table format? Well, . . .
a) The cardboard ones are great and I will continue to use the ones I have and maybe make a few more, but the formatting of each one in Excel is something of a pain. When I am in practice I can do one in about half an hour, but next time I forget and it takes me ages. Then I get a new computer with a new version of excel and it all goes haywire. Grrrrr.
b) the cardboard ones are limited in how many place names I can squeeze in
c) If you have a tablet computer with a good internet connection you could use (the rather wonderful) CanalPlan on the move, but bandwidth along the canal is unreliable and using CanalPlan can be fiddly on a tablet.
I did make one for Smartphones a while back, but in truth the small screen size made it a bit too fiddly to use in anger. So when I got an iPad mini, I thought I’d have another go, and what I have come up with looks like this.
The spreadsheet contains a list of all the places en route (bar individual locks within flights). All the user has to do, is put a T (for To) in the left hand common next to the name of the place they are going to, and an F (for From) against the start place. The T and F can be in either order. The Green box at the top then automatically shows both place names and the Locks, Miles and Hours/Min cruising time. Simples. Of course if you get there quicker or slower, that would be because your speed is not the same as we use for calculation purposes, which is generally 3mph.
I’ve been using an Excel compatible iPad App called Sheet2HD, which was either free or dead cheap, I can’t remember which, but I think any half decent Excel compatible sheet would do it, either on iPad or Android.
To use one you need hardly any spreadsheet expertise, just how to open it and type the T and F in at the right spot. ( and to delete them ready for the next go). To make one you need a little bit of spreadsheet knowhow, but not a lot. The data can be cut from CanalPlan and pasted in quite easily once you get the hang of it. The calculations are of course dead simple, subtracting one number from another. The only bit that you have to learn is how to deal with the Hh:Mm time format.
So to recap the benefits over the analogue cardboard version
a) Contains all places en route
b) Quick and easy to develop your own for your own routes.
and over CanalPlan, just that you don’t need to be on line, and it’s quicker to use once built.
I suspect that like me, you might think the cardboard ones are still best if you can be bothered to make them. I will be using both.
Now, would anyone like to help me by downloading a copy and seeing if you can make it work on your device. This could either be a PC or an iPad or an Android device, just so long as you have an Excel compatible spreadsheet programme or App. I have been struggling all morning to work out how to link them in a downloadable form to this blog page and I’m interested to see if it downloads successfully.
All you have to do is click this link and it ought to download. You then need to start it up in your spreadsheet . If you do, please send in a comment with any feedback.
PS if this one works and anybody wants more, I have several other routes done already.