Review: TickoPrint Android App

I have waited a long time for the release of TickoPrint, and yesterday, the software was released to the public. I downloaded the basic version, which doesn’t show beat error or amplitude, but just the trace.

Wanting to support the project, I forked out the £ 8.50 for the full version, only to find out that it doesn’t show the amplitude, nor lets you modify the lift angle. Quite a lot of money for an app, and quite restricted for that sort of dosh. They apparently want to release a more expensive version, that will then show the amplitude as well. For £ 8.50, I want to see the amplitude, please!

Now how does it perform?IMG_4438

I am using an ETA 2824-2, as I want something with a stable beat error and beat rate. And stable it is – the movement on my Witschi Watch Expert 2. Constant beat rate, constant beat error (of 0 ms).

IMG_4440Same movement, a good minute settle down time before taking the screenshot, using the headphone microphone my Samsung Galaxy S3 came with in my very quiet workshop on a Saturday.

As you can see, the software picks up the watch signal quite well, as there are only a few missing dots. But we now see a beat error of 1.0ms, and a very variable beat rate – -1s/day when the photo was taken, but you can see that at that point the graph was quite level. Before, I had a beat error of close to -30s/day.

My problem here is that my customers will of course buy this software and use it on their phone – who doesn’t want a timegrapher to check on their watches?

Now if I were a customer of mine, and I’d get back this ETA from a service, and see the above graph, I’d be well miffed with the service I got for my money. But in reality, the movement is in perfect condition, and doing exactly what it should do. But according to TickoPrint, the performance is terrible, and as a customer, I will be very dissatisfied with the service my watchmaker gave me.

I exchanged a few emails with Thomas Krim from Tickoprint, but he basically told me that I have to live with having paid £ 8.50 and having pretty incomplete software, and that the performance was due to me not using a dedicated microphone.

Their web site gives instructions on how to build one, but considering that the software picked up the watch signal, I don’t think I want to go through with the hassle of buying the components and soldering cables.


19 thoughts on “Review: TickoPrint Android App

  1. I’ve finally got Tickoprint to work quite well on a Moto G phone.
    I am using a Cherub WCP-60G Clip On Acoustic Guitar Pickup (Amazon) which has a piezzo microphone and a grip arrangement just perfect for Wristwatches.

    It has a 1/4 mono jack output and I use a CablesOnline 3.5mm TRRS 4-Pole Plug to 1/4″ (6.3mm) Jack Hi End/Powered Microphone to iPhone Adapter, (IP-MIC6) which buffers the impedances and acts as a pre-amp. The results are similar to my Microset timer.

    Sensitivity is good enough to get consistent results from a JLC Reverso in its case without flipping it sideways. Total cost is about $25 and no soldering required.

    No luck with my Nexus 9 tablet – I am not sure the jack plug is wired up to the mic input.

    It is handy when going to look at pre-owned watches to get some idea of condition/faults.

  2. Please allow me to start by thanking all the feedback on the subject. I too like many was interested in the premium version of this app, and dished out the $30 to get it, and installed it on my Samsung Note 3. Initially I was using the phone’s mic, and worked my way through a dozen different mic set ups, but not satisfied with the results until I spent $4 to purchase a piezo disc or aka buzzers which incident could be found in many household items such as old gaming toys, or smoke alarms. It took me about 5 min to build the desired contact mic by soldering the wire, and the jack to the disc. I used an old earphone set’s wire which is light & thin. Results have been well worth the effort to have this set up. Accuracy of readings improved drastically, and consistent. In order to get an accurate reading the ambient noise has to be taken out if the equation. Also please note this is a written software which will never be as accurate as a dedicated time grapher that costs thousands of dollars. Best wishes to you all, and enjoy your life, because it’s too short & precious, plus you only get one. Spend it wisely.
    Your humble watch enthusiast

  3. The latest advice is to remove the charge lead from your phone when using the app, to reduce spurious signals from the charger/phone.

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  5. Dear Christian. I have downloaded the free version of Tickoprint but despite statements in their web pages, I am unable to save any results on either my Android Tablet of Smartphone. Can you advise an E mail address at Tickpprint for help. Many Thanks, Paul

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  7. Works great. I am using a cheap piezo microphone with this app and the results are the same as on my Witschi with different watches and beat counts. I think that most of you guys have difficulties with this app due to ambient noise when using an acoustic mic like the headset mic or similar. A piezo does not catch any ambient noise. They have published a DIY on their website I have used.

    Great job and great app. I am looking forward for the version with the amplitude value.

  8. I purchased an Edutige EIM-001 i-Microphone Voice Recorder and an Smartline (ESL-001) Extension Cable from Amazon for use with kello. Then I took a 1 1/4 inch suction cup and cut a hole in the bottom to fit the mic into and then to set the watch in it.the suction cup is only to stabilize the watch and may cut down on background noise.

  9. Just my thoughts. The terrible performance you’re seeing probably won’t be helped by a better microphone. What the app is showing you looks clean (i.e. it’s picking up the signal just fine), but wrong (probably due to the OS and sloppy programming). I don’t know about Android or iOS, but it _is_ possible to write decent timegraphing software on the PC, because the sound card can capture audio accurately since it is separate from the CPU. I time my watches using a dedicated mic and pre-amp, and Audacity, an audio editing program. I take measurements manually off the audio signal and compute the timing info from that. That also has the advantage of letting you “see” the ticks, which helps in diagnosing mechanical problems. My understanding is that the Wischi has this feature, but the cheap timegrapher does not.

  10. I tried Kello for iPhone, and Biburo with the computer and figured out: Compared to Wischi or the cheap Timegrapher 1000, the app is crap. Instead of fiddling with microphones and having a bad compromise it’s more usefull to use a real timing machine. It looks pretty convenient on the phone and maybe also impresses friends – but no serious watchmaker would ever use it….

    • The main problem is the operating system. Phones don’t have a real time OS, so each process has to wait to get time slices allocated on the processor. So any event that is timestamped will only get timestamped when it has allocated processor time that it can use.
      So my guess is that the graph I see is 50% my watch and 50% the changing load average of my phone’s processor.

      • Hi Christian, my QNX-Neutrino powered BlackBerry 10 phone begs to differ on the RTOS part 😉 but your explanation is most probably right, and the reason why I wouldn’t trust my phone as a timegrapher. I wonder though about Biburo…

  11. I have tried clock tuner on my sony android and it does the job decently, is free.

    Thanks for sparing me time and money with this review

  12. I downloaded and installed this app (free version) on my Sony Xperia Z1 after your review.
    I had to use the headset microphone that Sony provides.
    The app had some difficulty initially detecting the 28800 speed of my ETA 2824-2.
    After a couple of false starts, it does appear to give results not dissimilar to my Chinese Model 1000 Timegrapher.
    It is sensitive to background noise and microphone placement and has to be turned off/on when changing watches, but it is a good first effort.
    Amplitude would be useful for sure.

  13. Hello
    Maplin used to sell a flat plate microphone, for use in the middle of the table at meetings. Its performance was superb ….. even better when I isolated it from the table top with a little square of carpet.
    For use as a time grapher sensor it would be ideal, the watch would rest on the plate.
    I will see if I can get a picture of it and find its specification for you ……

    • These are called PZM- pressure zone mics and can be used anywhere-on a window,a soundboard of a musical instrument or just suspended on string (great for solo violin back in the day).
      Gauss made the same thing for about £300- Maplin or Radio Shack used to do them for around £20

  14. I built an amplified contact microphone for use with the Watchmaster PC program… can’t say it helped an awful lot – at least not on my laptop.

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