fixed : budget friendly OBD2 dongle for my car

Question :

My car’s on-board computer system sometimes gives unexplained, rather random, error messages. Up until now, I went to the dealer garage to have my car’s on-board computer system be analyzed and reset. Recently I heard that I could buy an OBD2-dongle myself and read and erase error messages myself. That would be a real time (and money) saver.

Is there any budget-friendly OBD2-dongle that I can use with my iPhone ?

 

Answer :

Yes there are several OBD2-dongles available that can do the job for you. Just make sure that you keep these things in mind when choosing one :

  • make sure the OBD2-dongle is compatible with iOS (as some are only compatible with PCs or Android-devices)
  • make sure the OBD2-dongle’s connection is over Bluetooth LowEnergy a.k.a. BLE (since that’s the only way to be able to connect your iPhone to your regular WiFi-network (internet) and to the OBD2-dongle at the same time)
  • make sure the OBD2-dongle is based on the original ELM327 chip (most cheap Chinese knock-offs are based on problematic, unreliable clone chips)
  • make sure the OBD2-dongle is compatible with the software you are planning to use with it (not every OBD2-app connects equally good to every OBD2-dongle & if you need to erase the error messages, most FREE versions won’t do so you will usually need the Pro version)

One of the cheapest reliable OBD2-dongles I’ve found is the TONWON OBDII Pro Bluetooth BLE4.0 for about €26,- ;

buy it on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de

And do not forget to get an accompanying iOS-app :

most interesting for the budget-wary is Car Scanner ELM OBD2 Pro for about €5,50

(or the more expensive OBD Fusion at about €11,- or even the €20,- OBD AutoDoctor that even has an additional Mac-version)

…so buying into this DIY-solution is cheaper than having your car’s on-board computer system reset only once !

enjoy !

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fixed : where’s the Bluetooth on my JVC KW-XR816 car stereo

Question :

I want to connect my iPhone to my JVC KW-XR816 car stereo using Bluetooth, but I can’t find the Bluetooth option in the settings menu…

What is wrong ?

 

Answer :

The problem you are encountering is probably caused by the fact that the JVC KW-XR816 car stereo doesn’t have the Bluetooth-receiver built-in… it is different from other car stereos in the respect that the Bluetooth-receiver comes as a separate USB-dongle in the product packaging…

So, find the USB-dongle in the product packaging and stick it into the USB-port on the front of the JVC KW-XR816 car stereo (or, if you slide out the entire JVC KW-XR816, you will see there’s an extra USB-port on the back of the car stereo that’s even more suited for the Bluetooth-dongle). And if the Bluetooth-dongle is plugged-in, the Bluetooth option will ‘magically’ appear in the settings menu…

If the Bluetooth-dongle is plugged-in, but the Bluetooth -option still isn’t showing in the setting menu, plug it out and then plug it back in and make sure it’s connected properly.

That’s it 😉

If you want to consult the full manual of the JVC KW-XR816, you can find it here :

JVC KW-XR816 – User Manual

enjoy !

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fixed : Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse seems bricked or broken

Question :

As I was fiddling with connecting to a bluetooth speaker, the connection to my Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse suddenly vanished. Even though my iPhone can still see the Mi Band, but it says “Can’t connect to band” and on manual retry connection cannot be established due to a time-out error. In Bluetooth Preferences the Mi Band is visible, but not connected, and on manual retry I also get no connection due to a time-out error.

Is my Mi Band bricked or broken ? If not, what is the right way to reconnect my Mi Band to my iPhone ?

 

Answer :

You are probably in luck as even when your Mi Band seems bricked or broken, is most of the time just hangs and can be fixed doing a reset.

The reset & reconnect procedure in short :

  • switch-off Bluetooth
  • reset the Mi Band
  • reboot your iPhone
  • switch-on Bluetooth
  • reconnect via Bluetooth

That probably isn’t enough info, so here’s a step-by-step walk-through :

  • on your iPhone, swipe-up from the bottom of the screen to get the ‘underwater’ Settings pull-up panel
  • click on the Bluetooth-icon in a white circle, which will then turn grey, indicating Bluetooth is OFF
  • now take the sensor-pod of the Mi Band Pulse out of the bracelet and put it in the refrigerator (yes, the one in your kitchen, but not in the freezer)
  • leave it there for at least one hour (officially that should be at least 4 hours, but experience shows that only one hour will also do most of the time…)
  • first, do a reboot of your iPhone by pressing the MENU- and ON/OFF-buttons at the same time until the screen goes black and a white Apple-logo is displayed [ NOTE : for some iPhones the reboot procedure (a.k.a. “hard reset”) is slightly different ; more info can be found here ]
  • when the iPhone comes back up, type your access code to unlock your iPhone
  • then swipe-up from the bottom of the screen, and in the pull-up Settings panel, click on the Bluetooth-icon in a grey circle, which will then turen white, indicating Bluetooth is ON
  • and open the MiFit-app on your iPhone
  • then, take the Mi Band sensor-pod out of the fridge and plug it in the Mi Band-charger cable and put the USB-end into a USB power adapter (a powered USB-port will also do most of the time)
  • now be quick : only during the blinking of a LED on the Mi Band sensor-pod you have the opportunity to reconnect !
  • while the LED blinks, in the Mi Fit-app, in the Status view, click on reconnect to re-establish the Bluetooth-connection between Mi Band and iPhone
  • if all orange-collored texts are gone from the Mi Fit-app, you have successfully reconnected, if not : just unplug & replug the Mi Band sensor-pod, try again and make sure you act quickly
  • everything should now work properly ; enjoy !

If you can’t get it to work using the above procedure, just try again. And if that still doesn’t help after several tries, try these versions of the procedure, in this order :

  1. try again, without putting the Mi Band sensor-pod in the refrigerator
  2. try again, exactly as described (so including the refrigerator procedure)
  3. try again, now keeping the Mi Band sensor-pod in the fridge for at least 4 hours
  4. try again, now keeping the Mi Band sensor-pod in the fridge overnight
  5. try again, but start with deleting the MiFit-app from your iPhone, and reinstall it after reboot
  6. try again, exactly as described

You probably have things up and running by then, but if you’ve done all this and it still doesn’t work, your Mi Band sensor-pod is probably broken and you should contact your reseller for a replacement…

Good Luck & enjoy !

 

Note/update : there seems to be a German language unofficial manual for the similar Mi Band (so not the Mi Band S1 Pulse), that you can get here :

Xiaomi Mi Band – Anleitung, Tipps & Tricks – das inoffizielle Handbuch

A preview excerpt of this book (which might give you some answers also) can be found here :

Google Books preview – Xiaomi Mi Band – Anleitung, Tipps & Tricks – das inoffizielle Handbuch

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fixed : Scanmarker app icon is very pixelated

Question :

I have recently bought an Scanmarker Air scanner-pen. Seems like a great device. I’ve also installed the OSX-app. Strange thing is that the app’s icon is very pixelated.

How can I change that ?

 

Answer :

The official icon of the current Scanmarker app for OSX is still a 32x32pixels icon, which is a very old that shouldn’t be used in OSX (where 152x152pixels icons are standard).

Simplest way to fix this is to download an appropriate icon of higher resolution and paste that onto the app. Here’s how to :

  • either download the original icon here (still fuzzy since it is a 300x300pixels icon enlarged to OSX-native 152x152pixels) :  Scanmarker Android app icon
  • or download the icon of the iOS app here : ScanmarkerAir iOS icon
  • or download the diap desktop icon here :ScanmarkerAir OSX icon
  • after downloading your preferred icon, do this :
  • select the Scanmarker app in your Applications folder
  • press [CMD]+[I] to open the “Info” popup menu
  • then click on the icon (top left) and a blue outline will open around it
  • then open the file (with the icon as a picture) you’ve just downloaded in Preview
  • in Preview press [CMD]+[A] to select the entire image
  • then return to the Info-popup window, and press [CMD]+[V] to paste the new icon
  • now your Scanmarker app has a better looking icon
  • to make sure it also shows on the Desktop, delete the old Scanmarker alias from the Dock, then open the Scanmarker app again and right-click on it’s icon in the Dock and select “Keep in Dock” from the popup menu

That’s it !

enjoy 😉

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fixed : can’t pair iPhone to Bluetooth JVC car stereo

Question :

I have paired my iPhones to my JVC KD-X250BT car stereo in the past, and this has worked great ever since. But when I recently switched to a new iPhone I had to upgrade the Bluetooth iPhone-pairing I couldn’t get it to work any longer… even with the manual at hand I couldn’t figure out how to do it… the manual doesn’t reflect the actual situation, and I can’t remember how I did the pairing previously…

What is the right procedure ?

 

Answer :

As you mentioned, the JVC KD-X250BT manual isn’t exact, so it isn’t very helpful…

So here are the right procedures for pairing and unpairing your iPhone(s) to and from the JVC KD-X250BT car stereo [ these directions might also work for other JVC car stereo sets ] :

paring your iPhone :

  • on your iPhone [ only if it has been paired before ] – in Settings under Bluetooth : delete JVC UNIT (*)
  • switch Bluetooth OFF
  • switch Bluetooth ON
  • in Bluetooth, at Devices : select JVC UNIT
  • on your car stereo – the text BT PAIRING is displayed
  • check if the code displayed on your iPhone is exactly the same as the code on your car stereo display
  • if so, – on your car stereo – press once on the MENU-button (the main big round tuning button) to accept
  • and – on your iPhone – click OK
  • now pairing is in progress : – on your car stereo – PAIRING is blinking on your display
  • when pairing is successful : – on your car stereo – your display says COMPLETED
  • now – on your iPhone – check in Settings under Bluetooth if JVC UNIT is registered as Connected ; if not, initiate the connection by selecting JVC UNIT from the list

…that’s it : you’re done 😉

 

unparing an iPhone that’s not around :

  • switch OFF Bluetooth on all iPhones (and other Bluetooth-devices around) in your car
  • on your car stereo –  press and hold the MENU-button (the main big round tuning button) until DEMO is displayed on screen
  • turn/dial the MENU-button until BLUETOOTH is displayed on screen, then click
  • then turn/dial to DELETE PAIR, then click
  • then turn/dial until the iPhone’s name is displayed, then click
  • then turn/dial to DELETE YES, then click
  • when DELETED is displayed, the unpairing is complete
  • to finish, switch Bluetooth back on in all devices that previously had it

…that’s it !

(*) unpairing an iPhone that you have nearby :

  • on your iPhone – go to Settings, then choose Bluetooth
  • in the list of paired Bluetooth-devices (MY DEVICES), click on the ‘info-icon’ at the right of JVC UNIT
  • in the screen that opens, click on ‘Forget This Device’ and wait…
  • when you’re automatically put back into the previous screen and the JVC UNIT is no longer in the ‘MY DEVICES’-list, you’re done…

…that’s it 😉

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test : Albert Heijn (a.k.a. iClever) Apple-imitation bluetooth keyboard

The official Apple Bluetooth keyboard looks really cool and works smoothly, but it’s expensive… a little too expensive for most purposes people say…

Of course there have been lots of alternative wireless keyboards available, but none really got the looks of a genuine Apple one (for some that is a must). That’s probably the reason why some unknown asian company has made an un-branded ‘white label’ all-plastic knock-off imitation which – at first glance – looks nearly identical to the aluminum Apple bluetooth keyboard. This imitation keyboard is available under a wide variety of brands, like the iClever-brand in most of the world, but for instance also under the dutch supermarket Albert Heijn’s own private label.

The iClever wireless keyboard can be purchased from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk when you want a regular QWERTY-layout, and from Amazon.de if you want a german QWERTZ-layout.

Anyway, the main question is : is it any good ?

Simple answer : Yes, but…

Let me clarify : Yes, it’s a really nice keyboard to have and to use, with an interesting price tag below € 25 (sometimes even in the € 15 region). But it comes with a few flaws, so to quickly round up the verdict :

It’s an ideal low-budget wireless secondary keyboard for use with any Apple device that has a primary keyboard built-in.

To be more specific :

it’s a great low-budget wireless keyboard for use with an AppleTV

it’s a very nice low-budget wireless keyboard for use with an iPad or iPhone (but there might be quite a few handier options, like a iPad-cover with built-in keyboard)

it’s a good low-budget secondary keyboard for use with a MacBook (Air/Pro), for instance when your MacBook is closed and connected to a bigger screen

it’s a handy, but slightly tricky keyboard for use with a Mac mini, iMac or Mac Pro (for these Macs I would advice to keep an regular USB-keyboard at hand for emergencies)

Why ?

NOTE (*) : the top-left key (the one with the open square) on this keyboard is the [HOME] key

– it doesn’t have an Escape (ESC) key, so when any program on your Mac hangs, you will not be able to Force Quit the application with this keyboard…

UPDATE (*) : to [ESC], use this key-combo : [FN] + [HOME]

so, to Force Quit, use this key-combo : [CMD] + [ALT] + [FN] + [HOME]

– it doesn’t have an Eject key for the DVD/CD-drive, so when this is your only keyboard, you will not be able to get any CD or DVD out of your Mac easily… you will need to do the annoying drag-to-the-trash move using your mouse each and every time…

UPDATE (*) : to Eject, use this key (not a key-combo) : [F5]

– it doesn’t have any option to set the (energy saving) auto-disconnect function to a longer interval… which means that when your Mac also goes into (energy saving) sleep mode, the  keyboard has a lot of problems waking your Mac… (e.g. you will need to press any button for a prolonged time, but doing so also makes your Mac see that as input for any application that was still open… you might mess up your open Word-document with an enormous line of spaces in doing so…)

UPDATE (*) : to Wake From Sleep, use this key (not a key combo) : [HOME]

– the keyboard is often recognized too late when starting up your Mac, so you can’t use it to type your password during login, so you can’t start using your Mac… this is possibly only a problem for older Macs and/or older versions of MacOSX, but still…

I have tested this keyboard with Apple devices only, so I can’t tell about the compatibility with other devices, but I would think it will be similar : good to great for use with smartphones and tablets running Android and Windows Mobile, but rather troublesome for use with a Windows-PC…

😉

(*) special thanks to Arjan de Boer for these not-so-obvious, but very useful key-combos

tip : most basic car stereo with good iPhone & iPod compatibility

Question :

The car stereo in my (rather old) car has broken down, so now I need a new one…

What is the (most) basic one that has good compatibility with a recent iPhone for playing music ?

Answer :

Considering that the relevance of any suggestion regarding buying electronics is always a temporary advise, as technology keeps progressing rather quickly and always depends on the way and intensity of your use…

…the best value-for-money deal you can get is :

Pioneer MVH-160UI car stereo (2014 model)                     find it in the UK or Germany

or it’s predecessor which is technically similar, for which you might get a better discount deal :

Pioneer MVH-150UI car stereo (2013 model)                     find it in the UK or Germany

The main advantages of these are :

  • certified iPod & iPhone compatibility, including “Direct Control” of your iOS7-device from the car stereo’s interface
  • front-accessible USB (for use with iOS-device, Android-device or USB-stick) that will also charge your iPhone or iPod during driving
  • AUX-in (for any other music player)
  • no CD (or cassette) player
  • quality radio tuner (with RDS, Traffic Announcement & Radiostation-presets)
  • quality sound output (with 5-band graphic equalizer and 4x 50W RCA pre-amp output)

Of note is that there is also a Sony car stereo with similar pricing and similar capabilities, but unconfirmed rumors say it’s not compatible with the latest iOS7-devices…

Sony DSX A30 car stereo (model 2013)                         find it in the US, UK or Germany

If you are in need of a telephone carkit also, your will be even more happy with a car stereo  that adds Bluetooth connectivity to your iPhone also :

JVC KD-X250BT car stereo                                          find it in the US, UK or Germany

or the Bluetooth car-kit versions of the Pioneer car stereos mentioned above :

Pioneer MVH-X360BT car stereo (model 2014)             find it in the US, UK or Germany

or it’s predecessor :

Pioneer MVH-350BT car stereo (model 2013)               find it in the UK or Germany

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