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SmartAngle: an overview

Available February, 2020

SmartAngle will be released in February 2020. Please contact us if you would like to be informed when it is available.

The video below shows SmartAngle used to set the blade angle on a bench saw.

SmartAngle is an OEM product

SmartAngle is designed to be an OEM product - to be used or marketed by other companies under their own brand name or ours.

We will have a quantity of SmartAngles, as shown on this page, available for direct sales.

Please check the Store for more details.

What is it?

Smartangle is a Bluetooth digital level that talks to you via your smart phone!

Yes, it really talks - it reads out angles as well as displaying them. This makes it ideal when you are in one place moving something and your level is in another place where it is awkward to see.

Don't forget, to run the SmartAngle app you need Android 5.1 or later or Apple iOS 11 or later.

SmartAngle with its app running on an Apple iPod Touch.

The SmartAngle Bluetooth module

The SmartAngle module is at the heart of the system and may be used stand-alone or as part of a digital level.

The photo below shows SmartAngle used to set the angle of a bench saw blade. A stop was set at 45 degrees so SmartAngle could provide audible warning as the angle approached.

The photo below was taken by the SmartAngle app on an iPhone while measuring the fall of guttering using a prototype 150mm level. The app overlays the current reading onto the photo for reference.

The photo below shows how SmartAngle converts any magnetic spirit level into a highly accurate digital level. SmartAngle contains two rare earth magnets and will stick to any steel or magnetic surface.

More about SmartAngle

  • Measures angles in one place, displays the result in another - on phones or tablets via Bluetooth.
  • Operates with Apple (iOS 11 or later - including iPods) or Android (5.1 or later) phones and tablets to provide an intelligent level and inclinometer.
  • On Apple devices SmartAngle requires iOS 11. Please note this message from Apple.

    "The following devices are not supported on iOS 11: original iPhone, iPhone 3G/3GS/4/4S/5/5c, original iPod touch, iPod touch 2nd-gen/3rd-gen/4th-gen/5th-gen, original iPad. iPad 2/3/4.18."

  • Light weight (under 30g) and pocket-sized: triangular - about 52mm x 52mm x 67mm x 17mm.
  • Single membrane button: short press to wake up with rapid connection to free app running on phone or tablet.
  • Two LEDs to indicate when power is on (rapid flashing after pressing the button), when connected to a phone (slow flashing) and when approaching a desired angle.
  • Calibrated in under a minute using a simple seven step procedure.
  • The digital levels and SmartAngle itself are magnetic - so you can put them in places that are hard or dangerous to reach while watching the results on your phone/tablet. Ideal for setting up machinery.
  • Powered by readily available low-cost CR2032 battery.
  • Automatic standby mode to preserve battery life - with user-selectable time-out period. Up to 2 years battery life on standby.

SmartAngle is a leap forward

  • Bubble levels are tried and tested - fast and easy to use.
  • Digital levels provide an LCD display.
  • Apps can turn your phone into a level - as long as the phone edges are level, bases are flat and you are happy using your phone in places where you would take a level.
  • SmartAngle brings together the best of bubbles, digital levels and apps.

SmartAngle provides "measure there, read here" - you measure the level in one place and see the result in another - on your phone or tablet.

You need three hands if you are trying to hold a panel or door while screwing brackets in place while looking at the level - a one man job can rapidly become a two man job.

SmartAngle provides a third hand

  • Place it where you want to measure the level or angle,
  • Put your phone or tablet where you can see it - up to 10m (30 feet) away from SmartAngle.
  • Now you have both hands free to do the job.

Keep your eyes on the job, concentrate on the driver and the screw, don't bother to look at the level - SmartAngle provides audible feedback (tones and voice) to tell you if you are level (or at the correct angle) without having to look at the screen.

Create your own stops - angles you wish to use. If you want 33 degrees just enter it into the stop list. SmartAngle will tell you when you are approaching the required angle, leaving it or spot on it - it does this with a series of tones and beeps.

Technical features

  • Remote angle measurement for Apple iOS or Android phones/tablets.
  • Bluetooth (BLE 4.0) compatible.
  • Size: 52mm x 52mm x 67mm x 17mm.. Weight: 30g.
  • Power source: CR2032 battery - up to 2 year life on standby.
  • Single membrane switch to wake SmartAngle from deep sleep.
  • Power saving functions: user defined auto-timeout period - default 5 minutes. Auto turn off when app loses focus or is ended.
  • Two LEDs used to indicate power on (unconnected), Bluetooth connected and approaching required stop.
  • Unlimited digital stops: set the angles and the SmartAngle app tells you when you are there. An initial set of stops is provided: 0, 22.5, 30, 45, 60, 67.5, 90 - and 75.96 (4:1 ratio for safe ladder angle.)
  • Audible and visual warnings when the correct angle is reached - no need to look at the level - just wait for the "beep".
  • The tones used for warnings are adjustable - ideal for those who are losing their high frequency hearing.
  • Voice message to read out angles This feature may be turned on or off with one tap on the screen.
  • User-defined "voice stability time" - a reading must be stable for this time before the angle is read out. Default: 3 seconds.
  • Angles displayed in degrees, percentages (14.26%), ratios/falls/slopes (1:7), mm/m or in/ft. Tap the screen to change from one to another.
  • Selectable resolution. E.g. for degrees: 1, 1.5, 1.1.
  • Measures the difference between slopes - measure slope 1, measure slope 2, SmartAngle shows the angle between them.
  • Temporary zeroing function for measuring relative angles.
  • Step-by-step calibration instructions and diagrams shown on screen.
  • Two rare earth magnets (internal) hold the long side to metal surfaces.
  • Background colour selection - either as a solid colour or as a gradient (lighter in the centre of the screen).

The SmartAngle app

The Android version is suitable for Android 5.1 onwards.

The Apple version is suitable for iOS 11 onwards.

Please note this message from Apple.

"The following devices are not supported on iOS 11: original iPhone, iPhone 3G/3GS/4/4S/5/5c, original iPod touch, iPod touch 2nd-gen/3rd-gen/4th-gen/5th-gen, original iPad. iPad 2/3/4.18."

More about the SmartAngle app

The images below are screen grabs taken from the SmartAngle app running on an iPod.

The SmartAngle app runs under iOS (version 11 or later) and Android (version 5.1 or later).

Large characters make the display easy to see - no matter where you place your phone.

The "buttons" across the bottom (orange text on black background) provide immediate access to most SmartAngle functions.

The menu selector (three bars, top right) gives access to remaining settings.

The screen above shows the reading as a slope in millimetres per metre.

This shows the option selection screen.

The background can be selected from any of the colours here.

This screen allows configuration of voice messages and tone warnings.

The shows part of the calibration procedure.

Calibration takes under a minute and full details are provided in the User Guide.

Horizontal menu:

  • ZERO

    Temporarily zeros the angle display - for example, when measuring the difference between two slopes.

  • 0, 0.1, 0.05

    Selects display resolution: zero, one or two decimal places.

  • HOLD

    Holds the current reading - press again to continue.

    When hold is selected another button, "STORE" will store the current reading in th stops table.

  • STOPS

    Gives access to the stops table. Ideal for measuring an angle in one place and comparing it with a angle measured elsewhere. For example: aligning surfaces at the same angle.

Other options from the three-bar menu

  • CALIBRATION

    Gives access to the step-by-step calibration function.

  • COLOURS

    Selects the background colour for the screen.

  • OPTIONS

    Turns voice messages on or off.

    Sets the start/stop pitch for warning tones. Ideal for those of us who can't hear high frequencies as well as we used to.

  • USER GUIDE

    Goes online to display the User Guide.

SmartAngle retail packaging

SmartAngle is available in an attractive blister pack to fit standard Euro display panels.

The photograph below shows a small batch of SmartAngles ready for field testing.

Extra protection for SmartAngle

We have manufactured a batch of metal boxes to protect SmartAngle in your toolbox or workshop.

The boxes are embossed with the SmartAngle logo (paint would rub off in a toolbox) and SmartAngle is retained in place with a protective surround.

SmartAngle as a digital level

Obviously SmartAngle can be placed on top of any existing level to measure angles over longer distances.

Prototype level

Wordcraft has manufactured a set of prototype aluminium extrusions to show how SmartAngle can become a digital level

A range of lengths would enable SmartAngle to meet any needs - from the shortest workshop level to the longest level for measuring falls.

The image below shows SmartAngle in a prototype 150mm level.

Key features of the prototype:

  • An internal steel strip holds SmartAngle in place magnetically.
  • Pre-drilled and countersunk 3mm holes so SmartAnglemay be fixed semi-permanently in place.
  • Horizontal or vertical operation - or anywhere between.
  • Magnetic strip on one side to hold the level securely against metal surfaces.
  • "V" grove on other side to align the level on the edge of vertical surfaces or pipe work.
  • Notches at both ends for fixing the level to pipework using rubber bands.
  • Triangular hole for hanging on a peg/nail in the workshop.
  • Could be available in different lengths - 150mm (6") or longer.

Smartangle: at the heart of digital levelling

This section shows how SmartAngle could be used at the heart of a family of digital levels.

Wordcraft does not produce or sell such levels.

SmartAngle could fit levels of any length.

SmartAngle would offer:

  • twice the functionality of existing digital levels,
  • lower cost,
  • additional lengths at minimum cost,
  • more bang for your buck!

SmartAngle digital levels would work with the free SmartAngle app on your phone or tablet.

Comparing digital levels

The two digital levels shown below:

  • are 400mm long,
  • are accurate to 0.1 degrees,
  • buzz at 0, 45 and 90 degrees,
  • have solid aluminium frames,
  • display degrees in digital format,
  • operate over 360 degrees,
  • have a HOLD function,
  • display degrees, percentages and in/ft,
  • have memory recall.

However, the bottom one, the SmartAngle digital level:

  • would cost considerably less than the top one,
  • uses your Apple or Android smart phone or tablet as the display and for data entry,
  • has a very large digital readout,
  • provides voice readout of all measurements,
  • displays ratios and falls as mm/m as well as degrees, percentages and falls as in/ft,
  • has an unlimited number of stops at any angles you want,
  • has a ZERO function for measuring relative angles,
  • has a HOLD function which can also store any reading in the table of stops,
  • provides warning beeps when approaching a stop value,
  • provides a continuous tone when a stop value is reached,
  • can capture a photo of the level in place and superimpose the reading and date/time onto the photo,
  • can be used in "measure there, read here" mode because your phone/tablet can be up to 10m (30ft) away,
  • provides a third hand when levelling - your phone/tablet can be at any convenient location,
  • is fully magnetic along one edge to attach to steel surfaces,
  • has a "V" groove along one edge for holding against pipes or edges,
  • has notches at each end to use rubber bands to attach it to pipes,
  • has an optional clamp to hold it to edges,
  • has an optional Cross Line Laser attachment for producing horizontal lines at any level from a single location,
  • has a simple 7 step calibration procedure which takes under a minute,
  • has auto-power saving to maximise battery life,
  • can be detached from the level, kept in your pocket or toolbox and used independently of the level,
  • is available in a number of lengths from 150mm upwards,
  • has a free app for Apple and Android phones/tablets with free lifetime updates,
  • has an on-line User Guide and on-line support direct from your phone/tablet.

SmartAngle in action

The photograph below shows polygons cut using SmartAngle to set the saw blade angle.

The unglued polygons are laid out on a sheet of steel using magnets to hold the parts roughly in place. Obviously the joints tighten up fully when glued.

A simple jig was made to slide in the "T" slot to the left of the saw blade. A spring clamp holds a wooden block to set the length of each part and a toggle clamp secures a sacrificial piece of MDF which holds the timber in place and helps to prevent break out.

SmartAngle ideas and projects

In this section:

Very important note:

The ideas presented here are just that - ideas - their presence here does not imply they will be manufactured and sold by Wordcraft or any other company.

We are always interested in ways in which SmartAngle can be used so please contact us if you have found a new use for SmartAngle - photos of your application would be appreciated.

The drawings on this page were produced using the free SketchUp CAD software which may be downloaded as "SketchUp Make" from www.sketchup.com.

Our technology in other products

SmartAngle is an example of the way angle measurement may be integrated into a product.

We can develop prototypes for other types of implementation very quickly including:

  • Electronics design and development up to fully working PCBs.
  • Various sensors and communications methods including: angle measurement, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc.
  • Processor selection and firmware.
  • App development for Apple iOS and Android - as well as software for Windows and Apple PCs.

Please contact us with a brief outline of what you would like and we will respond by return.

Note: we are happy to work under non-disclosure terms if requested.

SmartAngle with power tools

SmartAngle's small size and light weigh make it ideal for temporary fitting to power tools to ensure accurate angles for drilling, sawing, cutting etc. In most cases a simple adapter, or a glued-on steel strip, is all that is necessary to enable SmartAngle to fit magnetically.

On a cordless drill

In this case an adapter containing a 45mm x 12mm x 1mm metal strip fits to the back of the battery pack. The adapter means that SmartAngle can be fitted and removed in a second while the drill will still stand upright on the battery as a base if required.

On this cordless drill the back of the battery pack is is not perpendicular to the drill axis but SmartAngle can be zeroed at the true vertical position.

From then on the SmartAngle app displays the angular offset of the drill - ideal for drilling vertical or horizontal holes - or any angle in between.

The adapter fits the space occupied by the label on the back of the battery. The steel strip allows SmartAngle to fit magnetically.

The side walls ensure that SmartAngle is aligned properly.

Free download

An alternative mounting system puts SmartAngle flat against the base of the battery pack.

For those with access to a 3d printer the two adapters shown here are available as STL (stereolithography) files for free download. You will need to fit (with glue or double-sided tape) a steel strip to the slot provided in the adapter.

Perfect vertical holes - every time!

On a table saw

SmartAngle has been fitted to the saw blade to adjust the angle of cut.

The photograph below was taken by the app while connected to SmartAngle. The current angle, along with a date and time stamp, are automatically superimposed on the image.

Adding SmartAngle to other projects or products

SmartAngle is very small (approx. 67mm wide x 41mm tall x 17mm deep) and very light (less than 30g) making it ideal for integrating into projects and products that require accurate angle measurement.

You can make a project "SmartAngle compatible" in at least three ways.

Magnetically

The SmartAngle enclosure includes two 12mm OD x 1mm circular rare earth magnets along with a 45mm x 12mm x 1mm steel strip to "amplify" their effect.

SmartAngle will "stick" to any steel surface.

For non steel surfaces it is recommended to glue a 45mm x 12mm x 1mm steel strip in a suitable place as is done with levels and the Incidence Meter.

With a pocket

A pocket may be machined to hold the SmartAngle enclosure which is 17mm deep.

The drawing procedure is:

  1. Draw an isoceles right angled triangle with 60mm short sides.
  2. Create parallel lines 8mm in from all three sides. They will cross at the locations of the 3mm screw holes.
  3. Draw a line 2mm below and parallel with the long side of the triangle - this allows for the space taken by the internal magnets.
  4. Use this line to create a slightly larger isoceles right angled triangle.
  5. Add 6mm fillets to the corners of this larger triangle.

Using screws

See the drawing above for the locations of the 3mm screw holes.

Use screws which reach into the nylon threads but ensure that they are not too long. Do not over tighten them or the nylon threads will be damaged.

Example: radio controlled model aircraft

A set of adapters contains all the elements for setting up a remote controlled model aircraft.

SmartAngle's small size and light weight (under 30g) makes it ideal for this job.

Important note

Wordcraft does not manufacture or sell these parts. We may consider injection moulding the parts if there is sufficient demand to justify the cost of tooling.

Please contact us if you fancy manufacturing these parts and selling them commercially as an aero modelling aid alongside SmartAngle.

The drawings below were produced using the free SketchUp CAD software.

An extension for .STL export is available from the SketchUp Extension Warehouse which may be reached from one of the menu lists in the software.

  • Click here to download the free "SketchUp Make" software for PC or Apple Mac.
  • Click here to download the SketchUp drawing for these adapters.
  • Click here to download the .STL 3d printing file for these adapters.

SmartAngle fits magnetically using a strip of 45mm x 12mm x 1mm sheet steel glued in place. This is the same size as the steel strip inside SmartAngle itself. See the photo above.

Measuring angle of incidence

The "angle of incidence" (sometimes incorrectly called the "angle of attack") is the angle at which a wing is mounted relative to the horizontal axis of an aircraft's fuselage. This angle is critical to give the maximum amount of lift with the minimum amount of drag.

The "arms" slide to accomodate wings of different widths and the jaws rotate to allow for wing taper. This version is 300mm long but uses standard 3/4" x 3/4" x 1/16" aluminium "T" profile so any length can be created.

Click here for the 3/4" x 3/4" x 1/16" aluminium T profile.

Click here for M5 knurled thumb screws.

Click here for M5 threaded inserts to take the thumb screw. These can be pressed in place using a soldering iron.

Click here for M4 x 20mm machine screws and nuts.

Other sources for T profile, thumb screws, threaded inserts, screws and nuts may be found on ebay or Aliexpress.

The photo below shows SmartAngle being used with a newly assembled Chris Foss WOT 4 radio controlled model aircraft.

This model has a symmetrical wing (the curved shape on top is the same as that underneath) so the angle of incidence should be zero. The wing is not yet bolted down which accounts for the one degree reading. An aircraft with a symmetrical wing is as happy flying upside down as the right way up - assuming the operator does not confuse "up" with "down"!

Measuring control surface throws

Just as with full size aircraft it is important that the control surfaces (ailerons, elevator, rudder etc.) move by the correct amount in each direction - and this is usually measured in degrees.

We designed a clip to hold SmartAngle to control surfaces - a strip of steel is embedded into the top surface of the clip - but it can also be held in place by putting a magnet under the surface. For this we recommend using a strong Neodymium rare earth magnetic such as those available from eMagnets.

The clip requires a thin metal rod through the centre and a suitable spring such the ones on these bulldog clips on ebay

The images below show the clip attached to the elevator of the same Chris Foss WOT 4 radio controlled model aircraft.

The procedure is simple:

  • Fit the clip to the control surface and place SmartAngle on top
  • Set the surface to the neutral position (no up or down.)
  • Connect SmartAngle to the app.
  • Click the "Zero" button in the app to set this as the zero angle for reference.
  • Use the transmitter to move the surface up or down - the SmartAngle app shows the movement in degrees.
  • Set the limits on the transmitter to the angles you want.

SmartAngle measures angles in degrees, ratios or slopes (millimetres per metre or inches per foot). Control surface throws are sometimes expressed as the amount of movement of the trailing edge (Xmm up, Ymm down etc.) This is not directly measured by SmartAngle because it doesn't know the width of the control surface.

The angle of movement, "A", can be calculated by taking the atangent of the up or down movement, "M", divided by the control surface width, "W". So, A = atan ( M / W ).

The free "RealCalc" calculator for Android and Apple iOS is excellent for this type of calculation. Calculate M/W then use "Shift" "Tan" to calculate the angle as an atangent.

The rudder is left/right rather than up/down so the model will need to be held at 90 degrees to set the rudder throws.

Measuring engine down thrust and side thrust

Engines for Radio Controlled aircraft are fitted with a small amount of down and side thrust - this is measured in degrees

.

Down thrust (pointing the engine slightly downwards when mounted in the model) ensures that the aircraft does not climb when power (thrust) is increased.

Side thrust (pointing the engine slightly in the opposite direction to the rotation of the propellor) compensates for the fact that the whole aircarft wants to rotate (turn) in the direction of rotation.

We have made an adapter that bolts to the propellor shaft of an engine. The main part contains a steel strip to hold SmartAngle in place magnetically. The smaller part is an insert that can be drilled out to the diameter of the propellor shaft - 1/4" UNC in the case of this Irvine 39 ABC two stroke engine.

The photos below show the principle of use - in this case the engine is in an engine mount rather that being installed in a model aircraft.

Obviously, to measure side thrust, the model, with the engine installed, would be held at 90 degrees.

Example: suspension setup

A simple adapter with an embedded steel strip makes SmartAngle ideal for setting up the different angles involved in suspension setup for cars, Go-karts etc.

The slot through the centre allows a strip of double-sided Velcro to be passed through to hold SmartAngle to non-magnetic tubing.