Connectivity problems - what's my best hope?

Hi there,

I’m one of the many with regular connection dropouts. I’ve been struggling with this before, but last season things worked mostly OK. This season I’m back to dropped connections every few minutes.

I’ve got a bunch of options for my setup, so I’m hoping for advice on which one will give me my best chance of success.

Trainer - Cycleops Magnus with BT & ANT+
Power meter - Stages left only, w/ BT & ANT+
Computing devices - Macbook 11" 2011, Google Pixel 2 XL, iPad Pro 2017 13"
Garmin ANT+ Dongle on a USB extension
Ubiquity Unifi wifi gear - One small AP in the room with the trainer, plus another on another floor. I can change power levels, and channels… I’ve already disabled 2.4GHz radios on the AP in the room with no joy.
Watch - fenix 5, broadcasting HR on ANT+

I’ve tried Rouvy, the app made by the Cycleops folks. It disconnects just as much.

I’ve been trying to capture the workout separately on the fenix 5 at the same time as I do the Zwift session so the watch can track my training load.

There are tons more details I can share on what I’ve tried so far, but for now I’m mostly looking for guidance.
I could run Zwift on the Macbook, the iPad, or the Pixel. I’ve tried a couple difference scenarios. So far it really seems like it’s the Magnus that keels over and needs a few seconds to get back on it’s feet. No idea if that’s correct though.

Even a link to the best connectivity troubleshooting page you know of.

Cycleops kindly sent me a new resistance unit in my first year of troubles. It seemed to help for a while, but this season I’m right back where I started. I don’t do workouts anymore, just fight with connectivity.

Thanks in advance for any hints.

Andrew

Andrew, its a bit unclear on what you refer to as “connectivity”. Do you mean WiFi dropouts, loss of connection with trainer, power drops off and freezes? What is happening?

Thanks for asking! I guess I’m not certain what I mean either…

If the Erg mode resistance is high I can feel resistance suddenly lower, then I can see Zwift reporting that I’m pushing 0W and that I should try harder. The game otherwise goes on. Zwift seems to be happy about everything else - other riders go by.

Sometimes I keep pedaling to see if/when things reconnect. Sometimes it does within a minute. Other times it’s longer.

If I can reach the laptop from the bike while it’s still reporting 0W I can enter the ‘Sensors’ page and see that it doesn’t think the trainer is connected. Usually it reconnects to the trainer within a few seconds of opening the sensors page. I can’t be certain whether it would have reconnected anyway.

Recently I’ve been connecting to the trainer via bluetooth from Zwift Companion on the Pixel. No idea if instability is in the BT connection between Magnus and Pixel, or (I assume) wifi connection between Pixel/Zwift Companion and laptop/Zwift app.

Past experiences tell me that ANT+ reliability is worse even with the USB extender and Garmin dongle. BT directly from the laptop is also slightly worse than via Companion app.

A couple of times I’ve tried putting the Companion app right next to the Magnus resistance unit (I tried that with Companion running on the Pixel and on the iPad). No joy.

Since I wrote my original post I realized that although I told the AP in the room to shut off 2.4GHz and ‘provisioned’ the changes, it may not have taken full effect while I rode tonight. I restarted the AP and the UI has changed. The 2.4GHz radio is more clearly ‘disabled’ now. Who knows, maybe next ride will be better.

ANT+:

  • When you say you disabled the 2.4GHz, I’ll assume the 5GHz radio is still on. If not, turn on the 5GHz WiFi and connect your Macbook and Pixel via 5GHz WiFi to the network. Personal experience is that when using ANT+ on my Macbook, I run into problems if I’m using Bluetooth simultaneously. So, if using my Macbook w/ANT+, I disable bluetooth.
  • Use the USB extension w/the ANT+ dongle. Set the dongle down on the ground next to or under the trainer.
  • Does your Fenix record dropouts the same as Zwift? or is the Fenix fine while Zwift is not? If both have dropouts, then it’s a signal issue. If only Zwift, then it’s the USB extension and/or ANT+ dongle.

Bluetooth:

  • Again, connect your Macbook, iPad Pro, and Pixel via 5GHz WiFi.
  • Turn off Bluetooth on your Fenix 5. I forget if it supports Bluetooth sensors or not, but to be safe, turn Bluetooth off. Your trainer will only pair to one device. You want that to be your Macbook or your iPad Pro. Whichever one you are NOT using, turn the Bluetooth off on it.

Which power source are you trying to use? The CycleOps or the Stages? I know nothing of the CycleOps. However, the Stages might need a new battery.

I rode a quick 30 minute session this morning with no noticeable dropped connection to the Magnus.

Main changes were that I disabled 2.4ghz on AP in the room, changed other AP to channel 1, and connected MacBook to Magnus over ANT+ dongle instead of Bluetooth.

It was very nice to spend 30 minutes suffering from exertion instead of frustration!

Setup:
In room AP 2.4ghz radio disabled, 5ghz radio on
Other house AP changed 2.4ghz radio to channel 1
MacBook and pixel (probably - didn’t confirm this) connected to wifi on 5ghz
Magnus connected to Zwift on MacBook using ANT+ dongle placed under resistance unit
Pixel running Zwift Companion, but not using the remote Bluetooth feature
Fenix 5 recording a separate session connected to Stages power meter over Bluetooth
BT headphones connected to Apple TV watching Narcos Mexico… ( :slight_smile: yes, I had tried turning these off when I was having problems before!)

It sounds like you’ve mostly got this worked out by now, but if you have more problems come up, I have some good references you can use. What Lin said is all good information, but there are some other things you can check out.

Since you’re using ANT+ now, this article would be the first thing I’d suggest looking at. It has the basic ANT+ troubleshooting steps, which should be useful.

If you decide to give BLE another try and have issues, this article is the same thing as the last article, but for BLE.

If you have more problems, and none of those help, I’d suggest writing into support@zwift.com. Connectivity issues that aren’t solved by those articles usually require more in depth troubleshooting, and email would be the best bet for that. When you write in, if you could include every file in your Documents/Zwift/Logs folder as an attachment, we would really appreciate it.

Ride On!