The old Fitbit and Fuelband which Aaron Parecki gave me a few years ago (thanks Aaron!) don’t hold a charge anymore. The Fitbit battery is near impossible to replace, and with the Fuelband I decided that as there’s no way of loading custom firmware (which would let me get at data without an internet connection and proprietary apps), it wasn’t worth trying to get replacement batteries. So before throwing the devices away, I took them apart.
I didn’t find out much which I hadn’t already seen in teardowns, but these devices have such strange form factors that it was fascinating to see the engineering up close.
The rubber coating comes off very cleanly. Here you can see some of the funny curved traces used on flexible circuit boards:
The LED array, with “Just Do It” written on the top of the PCB (invisible to the end user). On the sections of flex between the more solid boards you can see the unbelievably fine traces:
On the back of the LED matrix section, with a part number. To the right you can see the jaggedy bluetooth antenna trace:
The fitbit isn’t so interesting. Removing the cap with a heatgun reveals a tiny circuit board with a tiny battery and vibrating element.
I also opened up the dock, as I noticed that the USB cable was power only, with no possibility of wired data transfer. The third pogo pin must be for the reset switch, which is mounted in the dock. There’s a little IC in there too, but I was more interested in seeing how the pogo pins were attached to the board. Turns out they’re just soldered straight on:
I’d love to have been able to flash custom firmware to the Fuelband, it’s a lovely bit of hardware, and manufacturing something like that is completely out of the question for a hobbyist. There are so many fun things which could be done with a device equipped with an LED matrix, accelerometers and bluetooth — a wearable MIDI controller, for example.
That possibility would also have made replacing the batteries worth doing, and in doing so saved the device from the landfill. Free software and open hardware isn’t just political, it’s better for the environment.
Fifth and final day around #iceland: started at Stykkishólmur (again, nothing much was open due to it being Easter Sunday), so had a look round a little islet by the harbour.
A couple had left this decidedly antipermanent inscription on the lighthouse:
Whoever T and L were, either they had decided that commemorating their visit and togetherness in a transient, antipermanent medium was profound and romantic, or they had completely misunderstood the whole “carve your names into a tree” thing.
We headed a little way out to the miraculously open Shark Museum, an old barn filled with odds and ends related to Icelandic life, specifically fishing. The jovial old curator (who also plays organ at the local church) enthused to us and another tourist in Icelandic about how him, his father and his grandfather all hunted greenland shark, which grow up to 8 tonnes in weight and breathe through their skin (at this point he grabbed a piece of skin for us to feel). We were then adorned with old fishing gear and invited to eat some specially prepared hákarl — shark meat fermented for 6 weeks, then air-dried for 2-3 months. Most hákarl is disgusting (I have yet to meet an Icelander who actually enjoys eating it) but this variety was actually rather nice, if a little chewy.
The weather turned murky so we shot off along the north of Snæfellsness to the westernmost tip, a mossy volcanic landscape reminiscient of parts of the south but significantly more unstable:
Whilst the waves all the way along the the west coast of the peninsula were impressive, there was one tiny cove which seemed to focus them into huge, bizzare shapes. No photo did them justice, but here’s a taster of what it’s like:
Barely one minute after tearing ourselves away from this particular natural phenomena, another one literally crossed our path — an Artic fox, repleat in dark reddish-brown summer coat. It didn’t hang around long enough to get a photo (presumably there is lots of important fox business to do in Snæfellsness), but it was an unexpected sighting
which more than made up for the north’s disappointing lack of polar bears.
Volcanic beaches with black sand, pebbles and cliffs can be found all around Iceland, but Drítsvík is a wonderful example of all three. It’s also the clearest example of being able to see how the jagged cliffs are eroded into pebbles and sand — not as wonderfully smooth a gradient as in the south, but a greater variety.
Djúpalónssandur, next to Drítsvík, holds the remains of the British trawler Epine, which disintegrated off the Icelandic coast in 1948. Leaving the rusting remains on the beach is a surprisingly beautiful memorial:
With that, the tour was almost ended and we headed back to Reykjavík. It’s been an amazing five days, with a bizzare menagerie of weathers, roads, towns and landscapes.
This is the last of my daily photo posts, but expect a summary article (filled to the brim with Helpful Travel Tips like “dried cranberries are not sufficient hiking fuel”) when all the panoramas are stitched!
Day 4 around #iceland photo summary: Dalvík, Siglufjörður, Hvítserkur.
Today was the day everything we tried to look at was closed — Akureyri library, culture house, Siglufjörður Herring museum and Folk Music Centre, and the Glaumbær museum.
At Dalvík I came across some rather nice abandoned industrial machinery including these pipes which were playing music in the wind:
followed by some more snow-covered mountains before driving through the ≈20km of tunnels required to get to Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður itself was beautiful, a tiny fishing town only accessible by sea, air or tunnel. Suitably, here it is shown through a smaller tunnel created by some old machinery outside the (closed) Herring Museum:
Moving on across the fjords towards Stykkishólmur, we made a bumpy detour to Hvítserkur, a small but impressive arch just off the coast:
Just opposite it in the cliffs was a small waterfall which had bought some rather nicely coloured stones down to the beach:
Having finished off the north coast (for this trip at least), we headed south along road 1 before cutting up through a mountain pass towards Stykkishólmur. The despite the road showing up as green on road.is, it was some of the scariest driving in the trip so far — lots of snow on thin mountain roads. Thinking that André’s careful driving had got us through the worst, we pressed on, only to run into even worse weather! Eventually made it to Stykkishólmur and a trendy little hostel on the harbour.
Tomorrow: Snæfellsness and back home to Reykjavík!
Day 3 around #iceland: churches, horses, REINDEER, snow, mountains, caves, more snow, more snow, mountains, Akureyri.
Started out in Egilsstaðir, were going to head straight up north but the roads were closed so took a detour around a river+up a valley. Some more nice waterfalls, nothing so large as the previous days but just as much character:
First interesting animal sighting of the day: Reindeer from afar!
Followed quickly by a closer animal sighting, some beautiful Icelandic horses:
er, halló hrós! Make that much closer:
Then off to Mývatn and the Grjótagjá geothermal caves, with one of the most unstable looking entrances I’ve ever seen at a tourist destination:
The caves are impressive from the inside but can only really be appreciated once viewed from above:
Second day around #iceland not as good weather as the first but excellent nontheless — unlocked various achievements:
The moss plains were unreal, hundreds of square kilometres of landscape straight out of Nausicäa of the Valley Of Wind — compare:
No glacier-breaking sound recordings unfortunately as I didn’t get a chance to make a hydrophone — next time! Also, many panoramas to follow when I’m back home and in photo-stitching mode.
First day on trip round #iceland resounding success, many amazing things seen, photos taken, gravel walked in. Got back to Vík and all the food places were closed so ate a tortilla with peanut butter and crumbled choc chip cookie. Sufficient, minimum viable nourishment.