Elite Sterzio dropouts

Is zwift support down? I submitted a request by “email” (not email, a form…) and recieved an email saying that it had been answered, but there is nothing there when I click the link (and yes, I’ve followed the instructions to press the support button). This has happened twice. When I try to chat instead I am told that I am being connected, but nothing happens…

Now whenever I go to the support window I just get the chat (with no chat), which I can’t close!

Is there something we as a community can help you with?

Maybe…

I’ve just bought an Elite Sterzio Smart. It’s effectively non-functional on Zwift - it will connect OK initially with bluetooth (to Zwift running on a Windows 10 PC), but as soon as I start to ride it will continually disconnect and reconnect (blue light goes on and off and Zwift says connected / disconnected), while the steering doesn’t work at all.

The Sterzio has been updated to the latest firmware with the Elite phone app.

Other things are connected to Zwift with Ant+, but I understand that Zwift doesn’t support that yet for the Sterzio…

Can’t connect through the companion app. because I don’t have that option within Zwift (greyed out).

Other thtreads on this topic seem to relate to a problem that was solved by the update.

Zwift support did eventually get back to me, but only to send me to a page describing a different problem!

Most people find that the built in Bluetooth is too weak, you may want to try a dongle and extension cable that can be closer to the sterzo.

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Hmmm… are you sure about this? What’s “weak”?

“normal” Bluetooth has at least 10m range…

Built-in Bluetooth is usually on the MB in a very noisy environment especially in a laptop.

I never found on board Bluetooth to be very stable.

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As long as there are no numbers available, this is subjective. RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) on PC is (?) the relevant info in this case. Alas, such information is not immediately available in Windows (AFAIK…) - but is in Linux.

OK… (I tried to rename the thread to better reflect the issue but it hasn’t stuck…).

Tech support did get back to me eventually and suggested (from my description as well as my account logs) that I could be dealing with BLE dropouts.

Here are the results of some fairly time-consuming observations:

  • I don’t think it’s the bluetooth signal strength or the type of bluetooth, as I tried using a bluetooth dongle instead of internal bluetooth (which required a reboot to change the drivers), and the same problem remained. Besides, I have an aerial on my PC that improves both (internal) bluetooth and wifi signal strength and it’s less than a meter away from the Sterzio.

  • My impression is that it is some sort of conflict between the other equipment connected to Zwift and/or the way that Zwift reads the Sterzio in-game. Here’s why. Usually, when I connect everything up and start a ride, but before I start pedalling, the blue light on the Sterzio remains on (steady blue). It will happily remain connected as long as I don’t start pedalling. But a few seconds after I start riding in-game, the blue light on the Sterzio switches to blue/green flashing (disconnected), and a little while after that Zwift reports that the Sterzio is disconnected. I’m wondering if it could be a conflict between the trainer (Tacx Neo 2T) and the Sterzio. I’ve tried connecting the trainer with both ANT+ and bluetooth but this doesn’t seem to make a difference (I suppose it’s still broadcasting in both). I usually use P2M cranks for power in Zwift as the Neo 2T under-reads power, but I’ve tried getting the power from both the cranks and the Neo 2T and the problem is the same.

  • I have managed to get the Sterzio to work for a minute or two in-game, in both cases by following this protocol: i) Make sure the Sterzio is “off” (left for 5 minutes and no lights flashing), ii) Boot up Zwift and allow all other devices to connect, then start game. Before pedalling, go to settings and connect Sterzio, activating it by turning bars at this point (not before other devices are connected). However, although this seems to work for a bit, the Sterzio always disconnects at some point, and once it has done so it can’t seem to reconnect in a functional way again…

This is all very frustrating - I do feel that a device that’s now marketed by Zwift for use in-game should not be this problematic to use!

Wifi tend to run on the same frequency as ANT+ and Bluetooth (2.45Mhz) . Have you tried using a different Wifi channel. See the article below

I personally don’t have wifi close to my trainer aria. (it is the weakest wifi spot in the house)

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It’s not just a Bluetooth or Zwift problem. In my case it was once the battery compartment, which was not well made, and the power turned off and on when the handlebars pressed on the device. In this case, the Bluetooth connection also fails. So make sure that the power supply of the Sterzo is fluently ensured. LG

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OK - well, I used the AirPort ulitity on my iPhone to look at the WiFi channels being used. My router was auto-selecting channel 11 (channels 9-12 are best reserved for ANT+ and BLE according to that article above). I’ve now changed it to channel 1 and that does seem to have almost entirely solved the problem, for the time being at least!

I’m still getting very occasional brief disconnections (often when stopping and starting pedalling) but it usually seems to connect again automatically very quickly. Except once when it didn’t and I had to go into settings to disconnect and reconnect the Sterzio…

So it’s now useable at least! I hope it lasts…

it looks as if a couple of my neighbours wifis are on channel 11 - perhaps that could be causing the still occasional short disconnects? Not much I can do about that!

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that is good news.

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This evolution of this situation does suggest that the main problem is interference, which means that a solid connection should be achievable with the right measures. I’ve been using a Sterzo (not Sterzio) Smart for 13 months and never once had any issues. I know it would bug me greatly if I had the same experience when just trying to get on with riding.

To echo what @stephin_merrit wrote above, it’s worth checking that the Sterzo Smart’s internal battery connections are good. I’ve taken mine apart a couple of times (for mechanical reasons only) and was surprised by the poor design of that part of that device, with long wires from the tiny PCB to the battery compartment being held in channels by large pieces of duct tape (not even electrical tape).

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Yup, thanks for your help!

It does raise the question though of what you could do if you were getting strong interference from a neighbour, or another source you had no control over…

This is true.
I think one of the reasons I’ve avoided so many of the set-up issues that others post about in these Forums – not just with this particular device – is that I live in an old apartment building with mainly older neighbours, so I have very few competing RF connections from them. My zwifting set-up is about 7 meters (going through two walls as the crow flies) from my Wi-Fi router and I only use BLE for everything: my trainer (which also transmits cadence), my zwifting device (2018 iPad Pro), the Companion app connection, a heart-rate monitor, and the Sterzo Smart. It all just works, every time… so far.
I suspect that my Wi-Fi router uses a channel whose frequency doesn’t impinge on the BLE. Your post on that has motivated me to finally check that out.

I have no professional knowledge of this whole area, I admit, but I’ve heard of telecom engineers who have to diagnose problems of interference for customers and who employ strategically positioned, grounded copper or aluminium shielding to reduce the undesirable external signals (from cellular masts, for example), while boosting the desired signal(s) as necessary.
Wishing you less hassle with your riding from now on.

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I used to mess with my WiFi (channels), “progressing” to the point of shutting down the 2.4GHz band completely. Having abandoned that practice about 1 1/2 years ago, I noticed zero impact on connectivity: it seems no BLE or ANT+ information was lost (I alternate between the two; don’t ask…)

Then, somewhere around 1.8.0 (possibly, a version or so earlier), my Garmin HRM (BLE) started exhibiting random periods of discomfort (dropped readings). So I replaced it with one from POLAR (BLE) - and still.

Now, while it is completely possible my BLE dongle went south, the overall picture does not lead (in my opinion) to the issues being caused by interferences - rather, by a BLE-related ZWIFT bug.

There are also technical reasons why co-existance on the same band (given modulation and error control specifics of each protocol) should be mostly, if no entirely, error free (though an occasional packed drop is possible.)

(Just my $0.02)

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Must admit I’d had no real problems with other ANT+ and BLE devices up until now, despite by router previously being on Channel 11. I guess that interference is something that will not necessarily happen where frequencies and channels are shared, but if it does happen, it can potentially be solved by channel switching.

My intuitive impression is that it’s multifactorial - perhaps you need to get certain types of interactions between different signals on the same channel for it to be a problem.

I definitely had the impression that my problem with the Sterzo involved interaction between signals from it and from my other Zwift-connected ANT+ and BLE devices, with the WiFi router being on channel 11 being a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for interference to occur.

Based on a session last night my Sterzo is now working perfectly. I’m curious though - what does it mean when the blue light is on constantly compared to flashing every 3 seconds? The manual implies that both of these indicate a stable BLE connection.

Glad to hear it’s working better for you, now, Neil.
I think the steady blue light state is replaced by flashing every three seconds solely to reduce power usage.

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I’ve noticed that I’m now getting the flashing red LED as well, so need to replace my batteries soon. Considering that I’ve used my unit heavily for 13 months, I reckon I’ve had at least the estimated 500 hours from the supplied 3 x AAA batteries.