John Galea's Blog

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Bluetooth Heart rate monitor

I’ve been reading about bluetooth heart rate monitors but anytime I’ve looked into them they have been prohibitively expensive. Recently I saw a link from Sportstrack live for a heart rate monitor from Zephyr and it even included a $5 coupon so I thought what the heck. For $100 I can play. Sports track even have a free heart rate monitor program for Android.

The holy grail for me would be an ap I can use when mountain biking that would do GPS, heart rate everything all in one. RunGPS can do all this an is available on Windows Mobile as well as Android. Forget the iPhone for now, the bluetooth stack is only partially implemented. So I go ahead and pony up only AS USUAL to get bit by the phrase “the devil is in the details”. No where is this more true than in tech. I quickly (once it arrived) discovered that to use the device would require Android 2.x. I am only at 1.6. So I am pooched. I borrowed a budies Nexus one which is on 2.x and it works quite simply. Just bluetooth pair it, start the Sporttrack live free program and then your off to the races logging your heart rate.

I pulled out my trusty Windows Mobile device that has been feeling neglected for a while. paired the device and low and behold RunGPS saw it. Seems Microsoft have learned something. The missing link for Android is the Serial Port Profile support in the bluetooth stack. This assigns a virtual serial port to the device for the program to talk to it.

Physically the device is somewhere between quirky and clever. There are two pickup patches on the underside of the strap that allow the device to easily pickup the heart rate. Unlike my Garmin where you have to wet it to make contact with the skin, this one picks up right off the bat. The strap took more futzing about than my Garmin to find a comfortable spot that did not slide off. They could have made the material in the strap a little more grippy. The electronics themselves attach to the strap with two odd clips. These same clips are used to connect it to a USB dock for charging of the internal battery. There are no lights on the device and I think that is a bit of an oversight. Nothing to indicate it’s getting a pulse, nothing to show it’s got a bluetooth link and nothing to show battery status. Nada. It’s a little disconcerting and debugging problems is all but impossible.

All in all I think Zephyr have done a good job and if it hadn’t been for the SNAFU of Android I would be thrilled with the device. As it is I find myself yet again looking for a solution …

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May 18, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. I have a myTouch TMobile Android 1.6 device (well, it used to be). Completely at your own risk, you can unlock it and upgrade to any other OS ROM. I’m currently running 2.1.

    It’s really not very hard or technical. If you’d like to learn more, this might be a good starting point:
    http://www.taranfx.com/how-to-hack-jailbreak-root-android-for-custom-os-upgrades-tethering-backups

    Comment by arnox | August 15, 2010 | Reply


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