Review of the Rowan Engineering Digital Sidewheel

I like technology.  I tend to be an early adopter.  Sometimes that’s good and sometimes not so good.

Some months ago, when Rowan Engineering released its digital side wheel, I contacted Dave Rose, the owner. At the time hdsw-1ae was not ready to ship any to the US, wanting to continue to make certain that the side wheel is reliable.

I kept checking the Rowan site and with Dave and, eventually, he let me order one.   It was and may still be the only one in the US.  The Rowan web site, as of 9/22/16, says: “DSW is presently only available to UK customers. Will we be accepting overseas orders shortly.”

In any event, he accepted my order a few months ago but I had to wait a bit for the order to ship so he could make mounting brackets for my 34mm scope tube and they were also working out an issue with a bad batch of microchips.

This is a review after a couple of months of ownership.  By no means is this the end of the review, as I will be using it and waiting with interest for future software upgrades.

After having a chance to work with this device some I made a requst to the Board of Governors to ensure it is legal.  The concern I received back is that it had a wind indicator on it.  As discussed in the audio, it has no way to measure wind or wind direction, all you can do is tell it from which way you believe the wind is blowing.  The feature can be turned off in the parameters.  I discussed the issue with Dave Rose and he made a software update that removes the compass functionality entirely and requires that you put a country code in so that it must boot in a certain way and you get this from v1.06 of the software.



So the visual boot up process should make it very easy for anyone to confirm the device is within the rules   The fact that this device  is run by software that the manufacturer is willing to update to ensure rules compliance will hopefully be reassuring to AAFTA as it considers this device and devices like it in the future

I need to get this out of the way: this is in no way a sponsored review. I paid full price for this piece of kit (as the English say). Rowan is not paying me.  (Which I might say is very unfortunate…. it would be great to defray the costs of doing the podcasts, but that’s okay, the lack of money from sponsors takes away concerns over biased reviews.)

Dave did throw in cool baseball cap (maybe they are called cricket caps in the UK?) with “Rowan Engineering” on it in white letters.  I figure that was meant to take some of the sting out of the delay.  Uber nice hat but it’s way too small for me, but the thought was most generous.  Maybe Chris Berry can use it.

Listen to the audio for details on installation, setup and use, and my impressions.

I hope you enjoy the audio review.


The photos here are courtesy of the Rowan website.   Here’s the link to the DSW page at Rowan.  The PDF manual is here and if you are seriously thinking about getting one of these, your should read it.

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