This review focuses on an innovative product from Aipower called wearbuds™. I was provided a pair for an independent review by Aipower.
Several features of the wearbuds™ create a niche market over the plethora of wireless earphones available to the consumer, including that the earbuds are transported and charged in an Apple-like watch (on steroids). Originally introduced through Kickstarter, they are also now available through Amazon.
The wearbuds™ come well packaged. Here is what comes in the box:
Included is the multi-function fitness watch, right and left Bluetooth earbuds, a USB charging cable and the Quick Start Guide. It is fairly easy to set up following the Quick Start Guide.
Here are the specifications as provided by Aipower:
Qualcomm QCC3026 Bluetooth chipset
Speaker 10Hz-40KHz, 100dB at 1KHz
Microphone 100Hz-10kHz; 38dB
Water resistance IPX6 (can survive strong water jets projected by a 12.5mm nozzle at any angle)
There is a free Aipower wearbuds™ app that you’ll want to download to your phone (Android or IOS). You need the app to initially set up the time for the watch, and the app will allow you limited customizing of the display in several color output options, as well as time in 12 or 24 hours format, along with the day, month and date format. Actually, you don’t set the time, once you pair it with your phone, it synchs with the phone time. You can also set the display to ‘wake’ on movement. Here are the primary watch screens:
You’ll find that the earbuds are very lightweight, approximately 3.6 grams, and comfortable in your ears.
In this image you can see the earbuds extending out (red arrows) of the watch body after you push in on each one to release
And the wearbuds™ now outside of the watch body.
When you press to release the earbud, it automatically goes into pairing mode with your phone (after the original pairing) or any other Bluetooth device (again, after the original pairing with the respective device) such as a laptop. You can use either or both wearbuds™ (operates in monaural if you only use one at a time).
While the watch with the wearbuds™ still in the watch body, is very light and reasonably comfortable to wear all day, it takes some getting use to its bulkiness. It sits up about ¾ of an inch off of your wrist.
I like the auto-awakening of the clock face with movement of your wrist/arm. I would prefer an option to have it auto-rotate between information screens, rather than your having to swipe the face to change to another screen.
It is extremely convenient to have the ear buds right there on your wrist for when you want to use them, as well as the fact that the watch serves as the charger for each of the ear buds when they are reinserted.
I found that the overall fit and finish was very good. Once in a while, the left earbud would not easily come out of the watch after you had pushed to release it. Tolerance on release mechanism not quite right. I also found the watch band (very similar to Apple’s) was a bit too long for my smaller wrist, however, it was extremely comfortable once you got it hooked on.
The Bluetooth link up was OK until linked separately with a laptop and the Android phone. Then it became buggy, in essence not connecting at times. The phone App would say the Wearbuds™ were disconnected when in fact they were playing music from the phone. Even though I had set Wearbuds™ to allow push notifications for messages or emails, that never seemed to work. However, incoming call notifications worked well along with answering incoming calls.
The call quality was very good and individuals on the other end of the call, said they could hear me clearly and with little to no background noise.
The audio quality of the Wearbuds™ for music listening was very good, with clean definition of highs and lows. They seem to have moderate passive ambient sound muting. They were quite comfortable for extended use. For example, listening/watching two movies in a row on my laptop. The Wearbuds™ battery life easily handled that, and then could be recharged by inserting back into the watch.
You control the Wearbuds™ by ‘swiping’ across the smooth ear bud surface to increase, decrease volume, pause, answer and hang-up calls. The action is not exacting and sometimes you get it wrong.
The very high gloss of the watch face quickly showed smudges from touching the face to change the display, take a heart rate reading, etc.
There were some problems in addition to the bugginess of the Bluetooth connection (when previously paired with multiple devices) and the failure of push notifications. The heart rate monitor and the sleep monitor (only in conjunction with the phone app), seemed very erratic and inaccurate.
A bigger software issue was the way the Wearbuds™ app interacted with two of my cars via Bluetooth. While driving, without the Wearbuds™ watch and also with out the ear buds in, if a call came through or I made a call, my car would connect the call but then it would immediately hang-up. After having this happen multiple times, in two different OEM (GM and BMW) cars, I found that it was the Wearbuds™ app on my phone that was causing the disconnect. After deleting the app from my phone, the calls could be made or came through properly (as they did prior to loading the app).
Aipower wearbuds™ are a clever way to transport, charge and have available very comfortable ear buds, which function well for both music and receiving/talking on phone calls.
However, software issues reduce the value of the watch as a fitness tool at this time.
I plan on doing a comparison between Bluetooth enabled ear buds in the near future- stay tuned.
One of the shoots I enjoy doing is finding things that are ‘right before our eyes’ but we don’t always take the time to notice. Wall art, murals, sculptures and street art seem to fall into that category.
I set out looking for wall art and murals in what is considered Old Las Vegas. Included in the following unique creative images, is the iconic American Sports Car, the Stingray for a juxtaposition- rolling art vs fixed art.
While at Barrett-Jackson’s 2016 Car Collector Auction in Las Vegas, Nevada, I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Mike Brewer, who car enthusiasts worldwide know from his and Edd China’s highly entertaining, Wheeler Dealers fame.
The following is a transcript of my recorded interview as Mike and I were walking across the vast Mandalay Bay convention center, filled with every imaginable type of transportation. Having just walked past an older Corvette, I took it as an opportunity to segue into Mike’s impressions of the new Corvette Stingray.
JD: You haven’t gone into any detail [on your show] on the C7, the new one. I know you prefer old cars.
Mike: Yeah, actually I like the C7. I like the new one. I had a little ride and drive in one of those C7s, when they first came out, and I think it’s the, well undoubtedly, it’s the best Corvette they’ve ever made.
JD: Certainly agree with you.
Mike: … And it’s the closest I think for the first time, American engineers got anywhere close to a European engineer in terms of mainly it’s styling, but in terms of the feel, because the car does feel very European on the road. You know like the Ferrari does feel, say a C6 Corvette feels very different from a Ferrari 355-
Mike: …Which feels much more connected, and that was half of the problem, you didn’t feel connected to the car, but with the C7, it feels like you’re putting on a leather glove. It really does feel like you are connected to the car.
JD: It is the total package.
JD: Thinking of all the cars that you’ve had a chance to acquire, I’m sure there’s still a list of ones that you haven’t yet…
Mike: There’s many.
JD: What are the couple that are next on your list, the one’s reflecting your highest desires?
Mike: That’s a good question. On my highest desirable list. Actually, I’ve actually almost achieved most of my dreams of in terms of inside the Corvette world. I’ve got a, I’ve just got a wonderful C3 Corvette, it’s a ’67 Mako Shark, it was the, it’s not the Stingray, it was the ’68 in red. Beautiful car, convertible. I bought that car in, I do believe in Texas, and we did a lovely restoration job on it and we took it to the lake bed and drove it. Phenomenal. That was a great car, but in terms of my dreams, and what I’d like to do, the list is endless honestly I’ve got so many. Yeah, the list is endless, I’ve got so many cars that I haven’t got to yet.
One of the cars that we still haven’t done and I can’t believe it for a Brit, is a Rolls Royce Corniche convertible.
JD: I was fortunate enough to own a 1975 RR Corniche drop head coupe Mediterranean Blue with Blue top and Magnolia hides.
Mike: You’ve had a better car collection than me!
JD: I was the second owner. It was probably the prettiest car line-wise, classic lines that I’ve ever owned. Incredible build, I loved the car. Drove it 11 years.
Mike: Wonderful. Yeah, I mean, you know there’s so many cars I haven’t gotten to yet, and walking around here at Barrett-Jackson, you know I get that feeling that I can see so many cars that sometimes cars pass me by, I don’t notice them, until I see them again, and you know, all of a sudden the world has gone mad for these pickup trucks, you know, C10 pickup trucks, and we haven’t done one of those yet on Wheeler Dealers and that’s a nice thing I’d like to venture into, but also older cars you know. If you was to ask me what is my most desirable dream car that I’d ever like to get my hands on is undoubtedly going to be a late ’20s Bentley blower. That would be it as my dream, but that in a realistic world, you know, one of those today is half a million dollars, and that’d be for just a shed.
Mike: … So it’s going to be difficult to ever achieve that dream. It’s out there, you know, one day. JD: When you source the parts.
JD: In the US versus the UK.
JD: Do you rely more on your networking here or you still use the Internet a lot like we see you doing on the show?
Mike: I spend my life on the internet. You will see that during the course of the day when I get a break here, we’re making 8 hours of live television here today at Barrett-Jackson and then when I get a break in between filming, from these people around, and when I get a break in between filming, I am sitting on the Internet, and you’ll be surprised what I’m looking for. You know I could be looking for hubcaps for a Messerschmitt or I could be looking at the, you know, the gear shifter for a Citroen Maserati. You know, I could be looking for all kinds of stuff that’s currently going on in my world out there.
Now I’m just immersed in what’s going on and in terms of car restoration, and where I need to find those parts, but the Internet is my most valuable resource, just like everybody else in the world, really. JD: Okay. You’re over here about 6 months out of the year.
Mike: It’s about 9 months now.
JD: 9 months now?
Mike: Yeah, 9 months of the year. Yeah, we’re based down in California.
JD: Right, that I knew. I guess it was 2 years ago when you were on the Velocity Live show over at SEMA, where you were talking that you just purchased that location. JD: From the whole process, from the acquisition to the restoring to the selling, which part excites you the most?
Mike: It’s most definitely the test drive at the end. It’s the achievement that you know, that sense of achievement that you’ve done what you set out to do, because you know, cars can be tricky. Some cars come into the workshop with me and they offer themselves up, they say, “Restore me, I want to be restored, here I am”, you know, and they undo easy, the nuts and bolts come off, the fenders, the hood, the bonnet, the engine pulls apart easy.
Yet other cars, they come into the workshop and they put boxing gloves on. They’re a little bit like Mike Tyson, and they want to go 10 rounds with you, and they’re not easy. They don’t want to be restored, they want to die. When we beat those cars into submission, and we give them a new coat of paint, some new lipstick, and we put them out there on the road and we test drive them. That sense of achievement brings a tear to my eye, and that’s why I do this show, I love it.
JD: That’s the enthusiasm that we see as viewers when you and Edd are out afterwards, before you actually sell it.
Mike: Yeah, I mean I just love, you know, we just love restoring cars and a lot of people don’t know this, but when the cameras are cut, not so much for Edd, but for me, when the cameras are cut, what do I do in my spare time? Restore cars. My own cars. JD: [We walk past a Mark 2 Jaguar]
Mike: Mark 2 Jaguar? Love to talk about that.
JD: Isn’t that a beauty?
Mike: It’s a beauty, but it’s not a good color. It’s not a good original color combination. Nobody ever done that, but it would work, it’d be a nice car, it’s a Jaguar.
JD: You had that in Rolls and Bentley, those color combinations.
Mike: Yeah, but not in Jaguar.
Mike: They never did that two-tone Jaguar. That’s somebody’s interpretation of what a British car should look like, and these chrome accents here that they put on the hood.
Mike: They’re not correct either, you know, they just put those on because it’s had it’s Hollywood face lift hasn’t it? It’s a British car that’s been to Hollywood. JD: Right. Do I have a couple more minutes?
Mike: Yeah, yeah you can go for it. JD: Thanks. You did a great job in Afghanistan.
Mike: Thank you, much appreciated. It’s my proudest achievement I think.
JD: It was very well recognized.
Mike: Thank you.
JD: Is there something similar you have planned down the line?
Mike: I’d really like to not go back into military programming. Having the two documentaries and nearly died several times. You know, I’ve got a wonderful wife, an amazing daughter and it was something that I wanted to do as a passion inside me and I wrote and produced that series, but I’ve done it, and I’m proud of what I’ve done. I have put a spotlight for a moment on what goes on in the real theater of war, and I felt it and you know, it’s my biggest achievement I’ve ever done in my life and long may it just stay there. You know, I can look back at it and show my grandkids and say “This is what I did”, but yeah, I don’t want to go back there again, it’s a scary place, and you know, the service men and women all across the world, British, American, whoever they are, you know, I salute them. I can’t tell you just what they go through because it’s horrible. JD: I appreciate that, thank you very much. Time for one more question?
Mike: Yeah, yeah. JD: Okay. Autonomous cars.
Mike: My thoughts on autonomous cars, okay. You know, I think, I’ve worked harder than anybody else I know, and the thought of getting in a car at the end of the day, pressing a button then it taking me home, fills me with joy. Fills me with joy, but the thought of actually doing it sends shivers down my spine. I’m never going to do that. I want to hold that steering wheel. I want to feel the pedals under my feet. I want to feel the road surface. I’m not going to trust a computer to get me home. You know, I can’t trust myself to get me home, let alone a computer, and I live in a world where you know, well we all do, you know, you’re in, if you’re on your cellphone, and we’ve got computers at home and cellphones. I’m forever rebooting mine and trying to get the thing to work, and so I don’t know if I want to be cruising down the freeways at 70 miles an hour with a computer that needs rebooting at some point.
Mike: No, I think I’ll be, I think I’ll let it go for a few years and see how people get on with it, and see what happens before I ever decide to go and do such a thing, but no. I think there is a future for it. I think there is a market for it, and I can understand why you’ve got the likes of Google and Amazon and other companies chasing after this Utopian world that we’re all going to be driving around in these wonderful self-driving cars, but I think it’s a long way off. I do believe there’s been accidents already with cars that have been automated. No for me, I want to hold the steering wheel. JD: Thank you Mike, I tremendously appreciate your time.
Mike: It’s an absolute pleasure sir, it’s always, I’m honored to talk to people.
JD: Nicky would you take one picture of us with my camera?
JD: Thank you so much.
Mike: Well, Jeff it’s been a real pleasure to meet you sir. You have a great day here today at Barrett-Jackson, I’m sure-
JD: I will.
Mike: … You’ll get lots of content. There’s tons of cars and it’s going to be exciting.
And off Mike went, continuing on his hectic pace surrounded by a Velocity camera crew to his next filming event. The impression of the man lingered in spite of the ‘energizer bunny’ style- so genuinely interested in and knowledgeable about all things automotive, so easy to interact with and personable. A real pleasure indeed!
This is an al dente tour (that is, hopefully not too short nor too long to adequately provide a ‘just-right’ taste) of the Italian regions of Tuscany (central Italy) and Lombardy (northern Italy). It begins at the Ligurian Sea west of Pisa, continues up to the magnificent mansion on Isola Bella, north of Milan. Then onto Milan and the Duomo. Next some countryside and wine tasting. Followed by Pisa. Back to the coast for Cinque Terre, some more wine tasting and the countryside around Peccioli.
I hope you enjoy! Looking forward to your comments. Ciao!
This is a step-by-step documentation of the BLACKVUE™ DR900S-2CH install on a 2019 BMW X3. It will be followed by a review of the image quality and a comparison to other dash cams. While this has some steps that are specific to the install in the BMW X3, in general, the process will be very similar for any vehicle application of the BLACKVUE™ DR900S-2CH system. It also includes the install of the BLACKVUE™ Power Magic Pro, to allow for 24/7 coverage.
The BLACKVUE™ system was supplied to me by Pittasoft (distributers of the BLACKVUE™) for independent long-term evaluation. Please note: This write-up is for information and explanation purposes; if you are going to install the BLACKVUE™ DR900S-2CH you are strongly encouraged to carefully review their installation guidelines and respective manuals. All information and opinions expressed are my own and not that of Pittasoft. I anticipate there are other ways to accomplish this install. If my steps aid you when you do your own, all the better.
The BLACKVUE™ DR900S-2CH is a high-end dash cam system that includes (all specs as provided by manufacturer):
Front 8-megapixel CMOS sensor camera and rear facing 2.1-megapixel Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor camera
Front viewing angle: diagonal 162º, horizontal 136º and vertical 77º
Rear viewing angle: diagonal 139º, horizontal 114º and vertical 59º
Resolution: max of 4k UHD (3840×2160) @30mfps front, Full HD (1920×1080) @ 30 fps rear
Video Codex H.265 (HEVC), H.264 (AVC)
Built in Wi-Fi and GPS
Built in microphone and speaker
3-Axis acceleration sensor
Built in super capacitor
Operating temperatures -20ºC +70ºC / -4ºF to 158ºF
Additionally, there are free apps for the phone and computer.
If you want to record while driving (engine running), then after the install all you need to do is plug in the provided cord to your accessory outlet. If you are also interested in recording any incidents while your vehicle is parked, you will need to add either the BLACKVUE™ Power Magic Battery Pack or the Power Magic Pro. I decided to go with the hardwire Power Magic Pro, allowing the option of recording both while driving and while parked.
Most vehicles shut off the cabin accessory outlets either when the engine is turned off or within a preset time frame of 5 to 10 minutes after the engine is shut off. Because of this, if you have your dash cam powered by plugging into the accessory outlet, it will stop recording shortly after the vehicle is shut down. Conversely, if your vehicle has an accessory outlet that stays on even with the engine off (more common on older vehicles), if you have your dash cam plugged into the accessory outlet, it will continue to record even with the engine turned off. The problem with doing it that way, while certainly simple, is that if you leave your vehicle parked for extended periods of time, the dash cam can eventually drain your battery and you won’t be able to start.
The BLACKVUE™ Power Magic Battery Pack or the Power Magic Pro gets around that problem by either relying on its on external battery (Power Magic Battery Pack) or using its micro-processor (Power Magic Pro) to shut off the camera at a predetermined voltage level of your vehicle battery or a predetermined amount of time.
What you need-
As can be seen from the accompanying images, the BLACKVUE™ DR900S-2CH and Power Magic Pro come with just about everything you need to do the install.
Basically, the only addition items you will need include a role of electrical tape, a microfiber towel and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol (to clean the windshield before affixing the cameras with the supplied 3M tape), and if you are doing the hardwire install: the fuse layout of your vehicle, a fuse puller (or long needle nose plyers), and a pair of fuse taps adaptors (aka add-a-circuit) and appropriate fuses.
Installing the Power Magic Pro [Note: you skip this section if you are going to plug the BLACKVUE™ DR900S-2CH directly into your vehicle’s 12-volt accessory outlet]
First step is to locate your nearest fuse block to the dash. [Some vehicles have multiple fuse blocks. If you don’t know where yours is located, first check your Owner Manual and/or search on the web for its location.] Depending on your vehicle, the fuses are either labeled on the fuse block cover, or in your Manual. In the case of the (US version) BMW X3, there are two fuse blocks inside the vehicle- one on the right (passenger side) interior rear behind a compartment door and behind sound insulation. As it turns out, BMW doesn’t include a fuse diagram in the Manual, but rather has one printed on a sheet of paper that is folded up and placed in clips in this rear fuse block. It also contains the fuse puller. The other fuse block is located in the front passenger seat foot well. To get to it you first need to turn two plastic ‘locks’ in the cover located up under the glove box. The cover actually contains the footwell light. Here is what the lock on the left of the cover looks like:
Here is what the cover looks like once you release and remove it.
In this picture you see 3 red arrows- you will need to uncouple the power to the cover light, and pop out the 2 cord holders so that you can get the cover out of the way as you access the fuse block.
Here is what the BMW X3 fuse block and labels looks like. Note, the diagram reflects what you are seeing if you were lying on your back, feet toward the engine, and looking up at the fuse block.
You are going to want to use fuse taps adaptors on slot F27, constant power, and slot F46, accessory power (only on when the engine is on). If you are installing on another vehicle, you similarly need to identify a fuse slot that has constant power and one that is powered only when the engine is running. If you haven’t used the add-a-circuit tap before, it is really easy to do. It is much better, in my opinion, than wrapping the wire you want to power around the existing fuse. You simply pull the fuse from the existing slot (using a fuse puller or needle nose plyers), insert the fuse you pull into the fuse tap ‘front’ slot (the one that does not have the new wire coming from it), and add a new fuse for your dash cam to the other slot (the one that does have a wire next to it. By using this add-a-circuit fuse tap, you maintain the exact same circuit integrity for the original slot and application, and your new circuit is protected by the new fuse you put in. Then you simply push the add-a-circuit fuse tap back firmly into the same slot you pulled the fuse from.
Most add-a-circuit fuse taps include a crimp or crush connector to wire your dash cam line to. I prefer to cut that off and solder the two lines together, finishing with heat shrink tube around the solder joint. This results in a permanent connect between the two lines; sometimes crimped connections do not fully capture the second wire, and ultimately fail due to vibration.
Here is what the add-a-circuit fuse taps look like added to the X3 fuse block.
In this case, I used slot F46 for the accessory tap (power only when the engine is running) and the empty slot F27 for the constant power tap. If you look closely at the picture, you will see that the one I have labelled ACC has two fuses in the tap- the original fuse from F46 and the new fuse for the dash cam. The tap in F27 only has one fuse inserted for the dash cam, since the slot F27 was empty. At this point you also will attach the ground line from the dash cam Power Magic Pro wiring harness, to a grounded nut. There is one just above the fuse block that I used. Back off the nut and slip the metal connector from the Power Magic Pro black line under the nut while retightening it.
At this point I suggest verifying that your connections work as intended. I use a volt meter and first checked the tap at F27 to confirm power with the engine off. Then I checked the F46 connection to ensure no power with the engine off, and power when the engine is on. It also makes sense to check that your ground connect in fact is grounded.
Next you set you desired low voltage cut and time setting on the Power Magic Pro by moving the respective switch ‘fingers’ on the unit. Initially I set the low voltage cut to 12.5 volts and the time setting to Infinity. As it turns out, the 12.5 volt was too high for the BMW, which apparently has a normal non-running voltage of slightly less than 12.5 volts. So, I changed it to 12 volts and it works perfectly.
Installing the front and rear dash cams
I started with the rear dash cam, since in the BMW X3, it required the removal of some trim pieces and a bit more finesse in routing the wiring, than does the front dash cam. To begin with, you need to remove the center trim piece that runs across the back inside of the rear trunk door.
This trim piece comes off using a plastic trim ‘pry’ tool (one is supplied with the BLACKVUE™ system), but I have several around. Carefully insert the plastic pry tool between the trim and body, and then use your fingers to gently pull the trim from the body as the plastic attachments release.
You will also need to remove the trim piece on the right side to give you easier access to the back side of the hinge, where you will be feeding the wire through.
Start to route the cable horizontally across the rear window, following the existing power cable, as shown by the two red arrows in the above picture.
I recommend using several small pieces of electrical tape to secure the dash cam cable to the existing cable. Next you will be sliding the cable down the back side of the hinge (where there are already cables running). To be on the safe side, I recommend using electrical tape and making a protective wrap for about a foot along the dash cam cable, where it will be going down the backside of the hinge. If possible, secure the dash cam cable to the plastic sleeve in the inside channel of the hinge. Next, fish the cable out between the liner and the hinge and begin to use the plastic pry tool to ease the cable to the right front of the vehicle. You’ll find that you can use the pry tool to spread the opening between any hard-plastic liners and ease the cable into that opening, and along the roof line where there is rubber weather stripping into which you can easily slip the cable. Use this technique to bring the cable up to the right edge of the front windshield.
Next, install the front camera. Again, you want to get reasonably close to the center top of the windshield. Since the BMW X3 already has the actual center taken up with its monitors and cameras, I choose a location slightly to the right. Remember, you need to leave room for the camera to slide out of its mounting bracket, and that can only be done to the left of the bracket (facing the windshield from the interior). Again, be sure to clean the windshield with the isopropyl alcohol and microfiber towel to ensure good adhesion of the 3M pad already attached to the front camera mount.
Once you have attached the mount for the front camera, you will need to run the cable from the rear camera to it from where you stopped at the right side of the windshield, and the power cable that attaches to the front camera. It is very easy to push these two cables up under the header at the top of the windshield. Remember to leave enough line of the cables exposed near the front camera, so that you can comfortably attach them to the camera when you are ready.
Next bring the power cable down from the windshield down along the weather stripping between the door frame and body, down towards the fuse block. Also, if you have excess cable from the rear camera, you can easily bring that down at the same time as the power cable.
Continue to bring the power cable down to the fuse block area. [If you are not going to use the Power Magic Battery Pack or the Power Magic Pro, continue to tuck the power cord up behind the area above the carpeting in the passenger foot well and bring it to your center compartment accessory outlet.] Now attach the wiring harness that you connected via the add-a-circuit fuse taps and grounded to a grounding nut, to the Power Magic Pro. Connect the accessory plug to the Power Magic Pro receptacle. I suggest you use some electric tape to wrap and secure the plugged accessory connection.
Next, tidy up your excess cable and place it in the area behind or above the footwell carpeting. Also, place your Power Magic Pro where you would like it. As you can see, I placed it in the same general area, since I don’t anticipate I will be needing to turn the unit off.
At this point, your Power Magic Pro should show power on (LED lit) and your front and back dash cams should be powered up. Be sure to remember to remove the plastic lens cover from both the front and rear camera lens. If everything is working, now go and replace the trim pieces on the back window. Reconnect the power cable to the passenger footwell cover and then slide that back on, engaging the catches on the frame with the back right and left of the cover. Relock the plastic locks.
Now you are ready to download the BLACKVUE™ app for your phone and app for your PC or iPad. Though these you can adjust the respective setting, ensure your software is up to date, etc.
Here is what the rear camera looks like from outside the vehicle
And what the front camera looks like looking into the windshield
Finally, here is a view from the driver seat showing the rear-view camera visible in the rearview mirror (red circle), and the front camera to the right of the mirror.
Note: Once I got the Power Magic Pro functioning properly, I ran into an unexpected issue. The CPU battery management software on the BMW is designed to detect unknown power draws once the vehicle is parked. As a result, while it (the BMW) allowed the Power Magic Pro to fully power the dash cams in ‘parking mode,’ it twice documented electrical problems and to preserve the battery, began to shut down non-essential functions in its control (like remote key FOB control) after about 24 hours of the BlackVue power draw. This means that even though the Power Magic Pro enables the BlackVue DR900S- 2 ch system to operate in parking mode correctly, it is incompatible with the BMW because of the continuous power draw for parked periods of several days or more. This unfortunately defeats the purpose/value of using the Power Magic Pro for anything other than shorter parked periods.
Update: As I discussed in my install write-up, the Magic Pro is basically incompatible with our BMWs because of the ‘unknown’ power drain. Until I find a viable independent power source solution that could power the BlackVue dual cameras in parking mode for periods of a week or more, I decided to hard wire the BlackVue system to one of the accessory circuits.
I chose to use an add-a-circuit fuse tap to F46 in the fuse block (accessory). I purchased a female cigarette lighter outlet (accessory outlet) which came with 16awg wires, one terminating in a grounding eyelet, and one in a fused power line. I cut off the end of the fused power line, and soldered it to the hot-line on the add-a-circuit fuse tap, and then heat shrink sealed the solder joint. I connected the ground eyelet to the existing stud and nut near the fuse block (removed the nut, put the eyelet on, reinstalled the nut).
Then I connected the accessory plug from the BlackVue cameras to the new accessory outlet and used electrical tape to ensure the plug remained properly connected. Finally I placed the excess wire up by the top of the passenger foot-well near the fuse block.
Now the BlackVue front and rear dash cams start recording as soon as the engine is turned on, and stops after the engine is turned off and the power to the accessory circuit is cut.
I hope this write-up makes your install go smoothly. I will add a link in the near future to my review of the image quality of the BLACKVUE™ along with comparison to other dash cams.
Day one of the 2019 Automobility LA show might be best summed
up in one word “Karma.” The first media
day is basically a series of thirty minutes (or more) technology update
panels. I find it interesting on a
number of levels, including what really is new and what is status of the field.
For the most part, especially if you have attended a number
of these over the years, you take what is said with a grain of salt and
consider it a lot of marketing hype designed to stimulate discussion, create
awareness, and in more cases than not, investor interest.
My ‘take-aways’ from today include:
new CEO of Faraday (he was the CEO of Byton last year) sees the real financial profitability
coming from the interconnected digital experience, rather than through the sales
of their FF91 (September 2021) at $150-200k, or of their FF81 after that at
“living space” experience of future semi-autonomous and ultimately, fully autonomous
(levels 4 and 5) vehicles is the ‘hot’ topic focus of many presenters here.
is figuring out how to integrate all of the vehicle voice assistants, such as
OEM versions and Alexa, along with the artificial intelligence (AI) dynamic
data base so that it is a seamless experience for the end user.
out how to gain the trust in the general public of autonomous vehicles (AVs)
One split in thinking and focus that I feel isn’t being given
enough effort is that there really are two very different AV ‘roads’ that need
to be integrated for this future disruption to succeed. That is, one faction sees AVs as ultimately
the replacement for the personal car as simple a means to primarily get from A
to B, while the other is attempting to create a whole new means of experience
that people will just want to do because of the experience. The later are focused on integrating lots of
monitors (screens), high end audio, augmented reality, etc. An overriding issue for both factions is what
the respective impact will be on reducing congestion in urban environments.
Continuing issues include lack of standardized intra and
inter vehicle communication (software), privacy of the ever-expanding data base
on each end user (incrementally increasing under the 5G capabilities), and lack
of interstate DMV regulation for AVs.
It still appears that the near future of AVs will be restricted
to proprietary lanes on highways and in urban environments, where human driven
vehicles are not allowed to drive. Under
this set-up, I believe we will see a significant reduction in accidents and
Oh, and why this first day is best summed up as Karma? The
simple answer is that Karma had their FF91 there, as well as functioning
protypes of their future vision cars the SC1 and SC2 (convertible and hardtop respectively,
each with ‘scissor’ doors), and their Revero GTS model. Alternatively, as a bit of tongue-in-cheek,
perhaps the future of AVs is just karma personified…
More to come. In the interim, what are your thoughts?
My travels have provided me the opportunity to experience more than 60 amazing countries and cultures. A friend challenged me to try and provide a visual summary of one of my trips in a five minute or less ‘tour.’ [I am not sure but think the motivation was so they did not have to sit through one of my Blu-ray shows, that often run about an hour or so production…]
Having been born in NYC, and lived there for a number of years before moving to warmer climes, I enjoy returning and experiencing the ever changing cityscape. The following is from my most recent visit. I hope you enjoy and look forward to your comments in the reply section below.
This unit was provided to me by Delk, distributer for the MYCHANIC
brand, for review.
-lift 3” to 20”
-capacity 3 tons (6000 pounds)
-all steel construction weighing 78 pounds
-rolls on polyurethane wheels
The MYCHANIC 3T Low Profile Floor Jack, (model 53034) arrives in a compact, but heavy (82 pounds) single box. Little assembly is needed. When you open it, you’ll see the Owner’s Manual & Safety Instructions, the handle as two components, and the 3T Jack itself.
The assembly instructions start by telling you to insert the lower part of the handle into the jack socket. However, before you can do this there is a step not mentioned in the instructions. You need to remove the transport aluminum spring catch (shown in the following picture with the red arrow pointing to it) which holds the socket assembly down.
Doing it is easy, just step on the socket to relieve the pressure on the spring catch and slip it off. Then gently ease up on your foot to allow the socket to raise up on its own.
Once you do that, you can insert the lower handle into the socket, finger tighten the retainer bolt and then use a wrench to tighten the bolt home.
Add in the second (top) section of the handle and you are just about ready to use the 3T Jack. The instructions tell you to pump the handle 10-15 times to force out any air that might be in the system. Then you are ready to use the jack.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this jack is how nice it looks! It is finished in black with bright green highlights (like the rest of their product line). The second thing you’ll like is the considerable heft of the well-constructed unit at nearly 80 pounds. However, because of the polyurethane wheels, it rolls effortlessly and quietly across all types of flooring, without scuff marks or damage.
Well thought through design elements include protective padding on the lift arm and the saddle plate.
It raises your vehicle very effortlessly, smoothly and quickly. The low profile (3 inches!) comes in very handy when working on sports cars and other vehicles with low clearance. It smoothly goes from the low of 3
inches, to a high lift of nearly 20 inches!
As can be seen in this image, it easily goes under the somewhat low clearance of the Corvette Stingray (even with the Stingray having jacking pucks installed on its frame at the recommended jack points).
With several pumps of the handle, the MYCHANIC 3T Jack easily lifts the entire side (both front and back wheels and tires) off the floor. [Of course, for safety, the opposite side wheels are securely chocked.]
Considering its lifting capacity and heft, the MYCHANIC 3T has a relatively small footprint of 26 ½ inches long, by 13 ½ inches wide (at its widest point of the rear wheels). It lists for $199 and comes with a two-year hassle-free warranty. Country of origin is China. If you order from the MYCHANIC web site, they offer a $3.99 flat rate ground shipping to the 48 Contiguous United States.
Please let me know if you have any questions! Thanks for visiting.
This review is of the three new products from MYCHANIC. Covered are their Detailing Rig, their Sidekick Stool-KK2 and their POD Light, all were provided to me by Delk, distributer for the MYCHANIC brand.
Looking first at the
Detailing Rig (Model #52810). It
comes with all the necessary components in a box:
I used a soft mallet, blade and Philips screwdrivers, 17mm
wrench and socket, to assemble following the easy to follow graphic (only)
instructions. It took under 30 minutes
The only thing I would recommend MYCHANIC add to their graphic instructions is in the third assembly step: to make sure the holes are lined up in the bottom tray with the frame holes, before tightening the four “A” 17 mm bolts that secure the two halves of the bottom tray. I found the holes were fine on one side, but slightly off on the opposite side. If they are off slightly, you will not be able to fit the studs on the wheel assembles through both the frame and the attached tray.
The Detailing Rig comes equipped with a number of useful
options including the nicely sized soft wheels, lots of storage under the seat,
spray bottle hanging racks, a wash bucket with removable grit trap tray, and of
course a bottle holder. I particularly
like that the seat can be lifted off of its studs and put on the floor to use
as a kneeling pad. Very useful for
working on the wheels, etc.
I found sitting on the unit a perfect height for detailing
cars, as you roll effortlessly around the car.
Moving to the Sidekick Stool- SK2 (Model #52875). It comes with all the necessary components in one box:
You need a Phillips head screen driver, 17mm wrench and
socket to assemble following narrative text instructions with one graphic. It is straight forward and easy to assemble,
taking about 20 minutes.
The assembled Sidekick Stool- SK2 is a heavy-duty well-designed unit. However, I would suggest two modifications in future iterations of the Sidekick: it has an adjustable height seat, but requires you to fully remove and reattach the four 17mm bolts, washers and locking nuts to accomplish this. It would be much more convenient if you could adjust the seat by an easier process. The other modification, would be to enable you to remove the seat (cushion) in a fashion similar to what MYCHANIC has done with the Detailing Rig. I found there were times when working with the Sidekick, I needed to kneel for the task as hand.
The Sidekick has surprisingly convenient storage areas
And a drill holder/holster along with side ‘cubbies’
It includes a removable tray (that stores under the seat
area), which includes a built-in slot in the handle to hold your iPad or tablet
so you can play how to video for the project you are working on.
The assembled Sidekick is rugged, well-constructed and a very practical means of bringing your tools to the project. It rolls on four soft large caster wheels. It lists a 350 pound/ 158 kg capacity, and country of origin being China. It comes with a two-year limited warranty. It lists at $109.99.
Let me now shed some light (sorry, couldn’t help myself) on theMYCHANICPOD Light (Model #52811).
This is a compact, very well made and relatively bright ultra-portable light. It is rated at 250 lumens, and comes with the 3 AA batteries. The batteries can power it, on the high output setting, for approximately 7 hours continuous use. The POD Light is imported, lists for $24.99 and comes with a one year warranty.
The POD Light includes a magnetic base that allows the light to be rotated 360 degrees, and the base itself adheres to anything metallic. The unit has a high and low output setting. In addition to using it with its magnetic base, it can easily be hand held or rested near the area you are wanting to illuminate (if there is no metal for the base).
I found the unit just right for shooting light down in the engine wheel or for example, checking how much life is left on a brake pad. The only thing that surprised me about using the POD Light, is that modern cars have very little steel often in the engine hood or around the engine bay, to enable the base to be magnetically stuck.
The only minor suggestion I have that would make it a bit more convenient, would be to eliminate the two small Philip screws that hold the battery case cover in place. It already has a sufficient built-in catch to secure the cover, and in turn, the entire case is inside of the two halves of the unit, when you screw them together after inserting the batteries.
In summary, MYCHANIC has three winning products that make detailing and wrenching even more enjoyable for ‘us gearheads.’