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Testing Powerbanks

Battery charger

I test the gear I sell. The USB Powerbanks you, as a punter generally buy come with all sorts of different batteries with differing quality and inbuilt operation. You can’t really test a powerbank without first pulling it apart. You need to manually test the individual battery cells either “in “balance”which means in series with several cells tested concurrently or on an individual basis. This HOWTO tells you a little of one of the ways I test my batteries to ensure that they operate:

  • Without overheating unreasonably
  • Are rated properly
  • Don’t lose charge easily

So .. here’s a guide to simply testing the rated mAhs (capacity of a single cell LiPo battery) to ensure that when a powerbank is advertised at “10,000 mAhs” that it translates to a relatively real number.

Before we start , it’s good to mention that battery testing for LiPo is not an exact science and depends on the age and quality of the battery itself.

First up, I’m using a device called an an imax B6. It will test up to 6 cells in balance (giving you individual readouts for up to 6 batteries)

Step One:

Grab the battery you wish to test and find a holder for it/ them. Like this!

LiPo Battery Holder

Plus the B6 into power and scroll to the LiPo charge menu. Generally the Battery you pull out of the powerbank you have will have some ratings on it. You can see here that the battery I’m testing is rated at 3.7 Volts and 2.2 Amps so I’ve selected those options.

Step Two

Plug the positive crocodile clip into the positive connection on the battery holder and the negative clip into the negative side.

Step 3

Plug the crocodile clips that connect to the output jacks in and click the start button. You will see the battery charging and in the bottom right location – now it’s a waiting game. Keep a regular eye on the battery checking for howe warm the battery is getting. There is a temperature sensor on the B6 that will let you know if things get too hot but always a good idea to keep a manual check. Also keep watch on seeing those numbers tick up!

Safety Tip: In the name of preventing potentially burning batteries on fire in your work area (in my case my kitchen!) I do recommend placing your battery and battery holder into an electro magnetic bag.

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Using your Mi Band 3

Change your Watch Face

  • Easy! Go to the main screen “swipe down on the screen” until you get to the “more” screen.
  • Click the screen
  • Swipe to the left until you get to the screen with the t shirt that says “screen”. 
  • Click on the main button on the watch
  • Swipe up or down to find the screen you like 
  • Click on the screen to confirm the choice you’ve made
  • Donesville

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Mi Band 3 Review

I like to walk.

I love technology.

When I got crook, I knew I needed to do something about it and deal with this old mainframe of a body, making it a little leaner, battery charged and backup capable so that I could do things like…. You know. Walk to my letterbox and back to the front door. 12 Steps. Those 12 steps meant something and still do.

Now I walk 7,000 – 12,000 steps a day and feel a whole lot better.

Given my need for measurement and knowing technology meant I started looking around at fitness trackers and smart watches. I started with a Tom Tom Touch I picked up at a local JB hifi in March for about $134 on sale. It had cardio, it had a step counter and it told me what time it was. There was heart rate tracking and the battery lasted me about 2 days before needing to recharge. But I couldn’t go swimming in it and for me to start acting like Cliff Young in the pool I needed ATM waterproofing.

So, given this I started looking around and the apple iwatch pricing didn’t suit me at all so started looking at Google’s Wear OS smartwatches. You could do all sorts of crazy stuff with it like MP3 audio listening, swimming, heart rate and developers were making apps. I was in business! I found a hot looking, but massive Fossil Misfit and bought it for $279 shipped.

The whole user experience was a a total and utter fail.

The WearOS operating sytems is immature, a huge battery drain and on the misfit, the battery lasted about 4 – 6 hours. The google fit app on my Android and iPhone was inaccurate and the watch needed regular cleaning for the charger to even work. The Misfit Vapor even had a strange charger. After I optimised the watch function a number of times after a significant amount of reading and switching some functions (that I liked) off the watch would still only last for about 10 hours without a full charge. Nope… that wasn’t the beast I was after. I started to look at the tic watch E and other products but they were just too darned big. I was frankly burnt by the negative reviews and more reading on reddit about the vagaries of WearOS and the fact that you still had to pair with your smart phone to use most of the products out there. I don’t take my phone EVERYWHERE and frankly don’t want to so that was out. Sure .. I wanted it all but “all” but what I essentially just need is to log my steps, give me a way to communicate with my mates via notifications and tell me the weather in a waterproof way.

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch 4 had come out and looked amazing and the total solution. AMAZING. But still, buying a return airfare to Bali and a week off meant more to me than buying another watch. So, I started moving back into looking at fitness trackers as the way forward.

Then .. I found the mi band 3. At $55 shipped to my door with good reviews, the fact that I could swim in it, google fit synced and had support and it came with a damn good Mifit app of it’s own, I gave it a crack.

I’m 3 months in since purchase and I’ve found my “thing”. It tracks my steps accurately, battery with the heart rate constantly being checked lasts for about 10 –  14 days. The watch has a good notifications and the weather app syncs well in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and all over Bali and Shenzhen in China (All the joints I’ve taken it with me). $55 bucks AUD! The more I kept reading about my thing the more I liked it. So, here are the tech specs, the downsides and the lowdown on how to get one and make it look a little less like a run of the mill big rugged man smartwatch or something you would only wear with active wear.

Tech specs:

Processor::- Low Power Consumption processor from Dialog
Dialog DA14580

Operating System:: – Proprietary OS

Display:: – 0.78″ inch Color OLED 128×80 pixel

RAM:: – 1m flash memory

Battery:: – 110 mAh 20 Days of Battery Life in standby

Sensors:: – ADI ultra low-power acceleration sensor + photoelectric heart rate sensor

Bluetooth:: – LTE 4.2

Non geeky translation of above::  … (yes mum, aunties, and my other women of steel, I mean you) :

  • The OS is the operating system and it’s kinda like saying “Mac versus windows”. The OS being proprietary means that like the fitbit and the tom-tom, the little thing is driven and run by Xiaomi, a Chinese manufacturer of a lot of Chinese market based phones and “bits”. They are known for making A LOT of low cost very good hardware and selling to billions of Chinese people. In essence the display is simple. You just need to know how to read and swipe nd press buttons. The battery specs are officially 20 days but that’s kinda crap. Think 10 – 18 . Depends on how many notifications you’d like to enable and how often you check your heart rate. Still pretty good.
  • The sensors mean it will track steps accurately and how quickly you’re going and the heart rate is your ole ticker!
  • ATM5M rated waterproofing is important. Yes! You can swim with this one. No deeps sea diving I’m afraid but swimming is A OK.

Upsides:

  • I liked this tracker so much I went to China! Not really, but I did go to China and found some excellent style accessories that are ethically sourced and don’t cost a mint. Want to wear it as a pendant? Sure. Want a stack of watch bands to suit your look? Sure.
  • The battery – it just “goes” …. Again, I walk 12,000 steps a day, wear it to bed, track my sleep and want to know what and when I get an SMS in a meeting, Don’t care about the fact that I can’t respond… I’ll nip out and use the phone if I can’t.
  • Google fit support means that If I use another smart watch at different times for different reasons or use my phone for walking about then google fit mashes up and “understands” adding all the data up all the time for all your connected devices.
  • Wear and tear. I’m messy and big into things, drop them etc. I reckon I’ve dropped this thing about 50 times and still works like a dream. Remember those old Nokia 3310’s everyone had in the 90’s and the way they just oddly always kept going? .. Well .. .yeah This tracker reminds me of those.
  • Great alarms feature for taking your daily pills etc.

The Gotchas:

  • The band will only store data and sync to your phone once very 24 hours at midnight. Keep your phone synced once a day. To be safe. Some users report up to 3 days.

Downsides:

  • In bright sunlight you won’t see the screen and need to find some shade!
  • The excercise monitor switches off during your pool routine and can be quite sensitive.
  • The stopwatch will only run for up to 100 minutes and then tick over. .. nooo! I’m on china southern air and on a long haul flight.. tell me when I can get away from the man who just accidentally spat on me.
  • The heart rate function can be a little dodgy.
  • The step counter is 95% accurate. Good enough for me but not for those who are folks who “WANT EVERY SINGLE STEP COUNTED EVERY SECOND of the day” type humans.

3rd party apps:

The short answer is YES. There are a few available and I will endeavour to document and provide you info to find the best app for your needs. You’ll need to download the mi fit app for your iphone or your android smart phone (Mum, it’s like Evie’s phone versus your phone) as a start. then, the three apps I would recommend looking into are Notify, Gadgetbridge and Mi Band Tools. It really does depend on how you use the device as to how deep you’d like to get into the apps. Overall, Gadgetbridge is the only free one and has the added bonus of being a data storage app that allows you to store your activity outside the Xiaomi universe. If you worry about privacy and want your data stored in a different spot that you choose then I’d recommend this app. As for the others, both are under $5 each and each has their own costs and benefits. If you’re not a geek, don’t mind about the privacy bit and you don’t wish to spend time on customising your app just download the default mifit app. It’s free and will give you all the basics you need.

Overall rating:

4.5 stars. This “thing” just works. It gets stepping out, it gets a long battery time, it gets notifications and weather updates without overloading the device with a lot of crap it doesn’t need, I’ve found some hot accessories I can use to make it a part of my daily work wardrobe  and I can stick it in the water without an issue (I do so regularly).

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Beryl and her boxes. Me and my making

It was 4pm, a workday that’d started at 6am and a site wide power outage and it had left me in, well, I was in “a mood”. I’d handmade a lot of gifts, fixed a grumpy phone system and the making of christmas food gifts unfinished and lovingly prepared had not been ‘quite done’ or quite finished and I missed my grandmother Mary. She was a maker of things at Christmas. Rum balls and apricot balls were her favourite and I’d done a right angle twist on theme: A fig paste for my favourite waiters Marcio, a woman whose name I couldn’t recall and Mrcio’s mum in California. I’d made cherry, ginger chilli coconut balls for my mum and my aunties.

What does 100 kilos of fig paste look like I wonder?

The balls were too coconuty didn’t taste good and the first run at a fig paste was more like blackpool rock than the deep sticky ooze Id hoped. 
I drove to Watson st and Grandma’s tiny cream brick unit to say hello. Someone else lives there now. Having said my hail mary’s and my ole mary’s I stopped by The Arkaba shopping centre and the loneliness would not leave me. I stopped by a friendly local butcher to buy liver to keep on track with my seriously limited diet and I spoke to him for a bit. He had problems of his own. Wendy had called him that morning asking for 100 kilos of chicken fillets – He got it done! But that’s not the story.

Chicken fillets!

This is the story of Andrew, Grandma and his mum Beryl. 


 I asked this local, pork pie hatted butcher Andrew what christmas looked like for him . He told me it was like every other day, Every day is christmas for me love. “Why is that then there Andrew ?” Well, he said, let me tell you a story. 

His mum and dad never asked for much – just 4 things of the kids. Both when they were kids and after they’d grown the parents asked their kids to come home for 4 days a year. All together. Especially, Christmas day no matter where they were in Australia. So. The rules were set. His mum was a prolific maker and doer. She had a small locked room in the house that no one – Not even her husband was allowed to enter. Out of that room came her efforts. Hundreds and hundreds of cards and stuff to give. Things to give. Every christmas the kids would get little packages. Just like my feeble efforts. As life hurtled past the hundreds of christmas cards that came out became bereavements cards. As they do.

And as we all do, Beryl died one day and Beryl’s loves; her husband and her kids decided to unlock and enter the room. In it was a making room. Unwritten cards and the things of building and making lived here still. And 11 boxes. Each labelled. One for each of the kids and one for dad. They looked, closed the door, relocked the room and decided not to go back till dad died and they were all together again. To open those boxes. Together.

As husbands whose life belong with their wives often do, Andrew’s dad died soon after mum and the kids decided. They still wouldn’t enter the room until one day, in memory of their parents, when they were all together. Just the ten of them. They would go into the room and open their boxes. That day happened one random day in the year a couple of years later when they sold the house. All the 10 decided to stay in their rooms. No wives, no grandkids, no husbands. Just them on a day like christmas day and without their mum and dad and they would go into the room and look at their boxes. They’d stay the night – with unapproved booze and unfold an evening. Walking into the room, they found their boxes, all sat down and opened them, talking of the many things Beryl had collected over her life, for her husband and her kids. That day wasn’t christmas day you see – but every day was christmas for Andrew. It was his life with his mum and his dad in a big creaking stirling home and the making of things.

I took my livers, left Andrew to his chicken fillets and got back to thinking of christmas things, making electronic circuit board christmas cards, hooking up LED’s with my nephew jack to teach the basics of electric circuits and card making, thinking about my cherry ripe balls, my chutneys and fig paste and thought of Beryl.

Lighting up christmas cards!

The loneliness left and I continue to make and to give. Thank you Andrew. Thank you Beryl.

Now, have some second round spiced scotch fig paste and chutney kids (electronic circuits and other christmas making guides to come!. Or food. Perhaps you will too make something too? Perhaps you will buy something I’ve made to give to you? Perhaps not. but make something for christmas or a time – make it and build it for the people you love. Every day is christmas.

Cue corny Bing Crosby song and snowflakes gifs. Corny shit huh?
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Win a thing!

Elo Everybody (and lets face it, if you’re signing up for this shit I’m most likely related to you or have known you or conned you in face to face to do this), I’m about to put a shedload of money into this crazy adventure and I need your help to decide on a few things. I’d like to know what you need so that I can mod it, make it, build it and provide it to you.

Rather than “think I know” what looks good and works well. I want you to tell me. For a taste of the proposed range have a look at a little video I made:

A sample of the WoS range

So here are some questions. Winner drawn Dec 23 2018 and gets a simple but incredibly durable and good looking charge cable, an LED light, a USB torch kit and a maybe a Mi Band 3 Smart Watch (the heroine of the show) but only if you want to give it a test and tell me what you think. You’ll also be subscribed to our mailing list.  So lets get cracking!

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Mi Band 3 Watch + Accessories

Da Mi Band 3 watch

The band  comes  Boxed and certified with the watch itself, slilicon band  and charger is black. 

Making your watch swagger (accesssories) 

I have in stock in  silicon grey, red and yellow bands. And a couple of gorgeous blue and white willow pattern ones. And another gorgeous yellow pattern. Proceeds go to domestic violence. shelters and the homeless. rose gold and shiny gun metal dark grey and black shiny mesh are also available1 , and pendants in a black silicon case with either silver or rose gold chains (not real).