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Hacking the Sonos Ikea Symfonisk Into a High Quality Speaker Amp

As soon as I saw IKEA’s announcement for a $99 Sonos-powered Airplay speaker, I was excited for the possibilities its internals could bring. And oh boy, was I right to be. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to whittle away the woefully inefficient compact speaker unit, and bring it to life on a pair of quality vintage bookshelf speakers.

Just a quick note about speaker selection. Be sure to select a pair of speakers that are (A) set up for bi-amping (eg. four input terminals instead of the standard two), or (B) a set of two-way speakers that you aren’t opposed to dissecting.

Tools required:

#2 Phillips Screwdriver (Possibly #1 as well, if you’re picky)

Needle Nose Pliers

Spudger or pick (if you don’t have fingernails long enough)

While there isn’t much information out there on disassembly of the speaker, a little bit of hunting around the sealed plastic enclosure revealed that the fabric tab with the Sonos and IKEA logos on it functioned as a pull tab to get the grille off.

This reveals the three acoustic elements, a 1 inch rubber done tweeter, a 3 inch woofer, and a curved tuned port. The rubber inserts that suspend the grille in place are firmly seated in their holes, requiring the needle-nose pliers to remove.

Underneath each insert is a Loctite sealed #2 phillips screw, which will each give out a small pop when unscrewed, due to the threadlocker releasing.

Next is the tricky part. The front panel, with all the speakers, is sealed to the case by a friction fit foam strip. The easiest way to remove it is to wedge as many fingers as you can into the bass port, and hook them around the bend (towards the tweeter) and pull firmly and consistently. Be careful not to yank the whole assembly too hard, as there are a few connections to the motherboard inside that can be quite fragile.

Once it’s free from the foam seal, it’s easiest to open it up like a book, in order to get to the four spade connectors, two per driver, and the small flex cable for the buttons and status lights.

There are two different size spade connectors per speaker, a smaller one for ground, and a large one for the positive terminal. Be careful removing these, they are locking spade connectors, meaning that if you pull directly on them, something important will give instead of the connector. Pull back the clear heat shrink, and locate the small locking tab. Squeeze this down with the needle-nose pliers as you pull, and they come off with little to no effort.

Next is the tiny, fragile 8-pin flex cable, and corresponding connector, which the motherboard uses to connect to the front panel controls and indicator light. After peeling back the small oval-shaped foam tape covering the connector, use a spudger, or a fingernail, to open the latch, and gently lift out the end of the cable.

Now that the front panel is completely free, we get our first real look at the internals of the speaker, and WOW, is it impressive for the price. We’ll take a closer look at the motherboard later, but just as a precursor, we can see three large, name brand capacitors, a socketed wifi card (meaning a feasible wifi upgrade years on), and properly isolated high and low voltage sections of the PCB.

We’re next going to remove the brace that holds the foam-wrapped speaker cables in place. One short #2 phillips screws on each side of the plastic part come off, and with minimal effort, you can remove the cables and ferrite core from the clips.

The speaker cables have their own socket and connector, but watch out, as it is yet another locking connector. Use the end of your screwdriver to push the small rectangular latch towards the body of the connector, while simultaneously giving the cable a gentle tug.

On the opposite corner of the motherboard, the AC power input has a similar connector, which is removed in the same way. Next to that are the two wifi antenna cables, one red and one yellow. It is easiest to remove these by removing the blob of hot glue they are seated in at the same time. If it all comes out in one unit, reassembly outside of the case will be easier. If not, peel away the excess hot glue, and prepare for the microscopic job of reconnecting the two coaxial connectors.

Next, remove the six screws holding the motherboard in place. Be careful with the four screws closest to the bottom of the unit, as they are threaded into a cast aluminum heatsink, and require just a bit more torque. Remove the board from the enclosure, turning it diagonally to avoid the internal ribbing of the enclosure.

This surprisingly large heatsink is held in by three more phillips screws, but be careful not to damage the two thermal pads when removing the screws. Remove the heatsink, and use four of the six motherboard screws to affix it back to its spot on the board.

Now that the motherboard and heatsink are one again, we can look closer at the board, and marvel at the quality of it. A good mixture of cheaper and more compact SMD components, as well as appropriately beefy through-hole components. Each side of the board has its own EMI shielded enclosure, with the computer on the front, and the amplifier on the back. Plated mounting holes, heavy doses of solastic, and name brand components all jump out as features of much more expensive circuitry.

Back to the front panel, we can remove the four small phillips screws holding the button assembly to the panel. Remove these, and the buttons, rubber membrane, and small daughterboard are freed.

Now, slowly peel the flex cable from the bottom of the enclosure, as it’s needed to connect the two circuit boards. It’s worth noting that the 8 contact pads of the flex cable face towards the circuit board upon reinsertion. Remove the two phillips screws around the AC socket, and reconnect it to the motherboard for testing.

Next up are the two oddly angled antennas in the top of the enclosure. Engineering-wise, these feel like an afterthought, as they each have their own plastic bracket connecting them to the enclosure, instead of having their mounts molded into the plastic, like all the other components. Speculation aside, they’re easy enough to remove, using a bit of force on the bottom of each bracket breaks the strong double-sided tape holding them in, and the hot glue holding the antenna cables into the enclosure is easy enough to break.

Now we have all the electronics free, it’s time to connect them to the speaker and give it a quick test. This is what you should have in front of you.

Along with a speaker, of course. This is where things start to differ. As mentioned in the beginning of this tutorial, you will need either a bi-amp-able speaker (i.e., separate terminals for woofer and tweeter) or a two-way speaker for which you can bypass the internal crossover. These are two discrete digital amplifiers, one for the tweeter, and one for the woofer. Bridging them not only causes the amplifier to shut down, but it may damage your $99 pile of circuit boards and wires.

The connections are as follows, for the tweeter, red for positive, black for negative, just like the textbook says. For the woofer, blue for positive, and white for negative. A polarity swap isn’t the end of the world, it’ll just cause your two-way speaker to be out of phase with itself. I have my board connected to a vintage JMLabs bi-amped two-way bookshelf speaker, as shown below.

Plug in the AC cord, launch the Sonos app, and launch the real star of the show, the TruePlay tuning feature baked into the app, and your board. Follow the directions, disregarding that your speaker isn’t in its final resting place, as you can simply retune it later. The TruePlay software quickly adapts the digital crossover within the board, allocating the correct frequency ranges to the woofer and the tweeter of your speaker, making it sound near perfect.

And there you have it! One half of the perfect budget Sonos system. Repeat the procedure for your second speaker, maybe build yourself a nice enclosure for the electronics, and relish in the glory of a beautiful pair of Airplay-2, Sonos-enabled, TruePlay-tuned speakers for a few hundred bucks.

Cats movie: Everything we know, from the weird trailer and beyond – CNET

The musical Cats is about to become a big-screen movie, and its first trailer sparked some fur-ocious opinions. There’s just something about the half-human, half-cat stars, with their CGI fur, ears and tails, that’s both unnerving and upsetting, and social media users reacted like a kitten who’d just fallen into a full bathtub.

The movie’s cast list is nothing short of A-list, featuring big names such as Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Judi Dench and James Corden. The songs are catchy and memorable. But … that trailer. Did they have to make the cast look quite so naked? Quite so sexy? Quite so much like the hybrid mutants from The Island of Doctor Moreau? 

Someone even blended the trailer with scenes from films such as Pet Sematary, Bird Box and A Quiet Place to turn it into a horror movie. (Stephen King himself even shared it!)

Here’s what we know about the film so far. We’ll update this story as more news is released.

Now playing: Watch this: Trailer for Cats movie featuring Taylor Swift arrives


The basics

Cats has a rich history. It’s based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a 1939 book of poems by T.S. Eliot, and was set to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber around 1980. The musical was a huge hit on Broadway, where it ran for 18 years, and in London, where it ran for 21 years. Like a sly alley cat, it’s wound its way into American pop culture, where its songs are sung by glee clubs and other school music groups. It was even cited in an iconic 1986 SNL skit where theater-goers are hypnotized to think another stage show was “much better than Cats.”

Eliot’s book gave numerous cats their own poems, but also helped sketch out a complicated cat culture in which a tribe of cats called the Jellicles attend the Jellicle Ball to decide which cat will ascend to heaven (called the Heaviside Layer) and be reborn. No, fur real, you just kinda got to go with it. It’s mostly about the music anyway. Memory, sung by Grizabella the Glamour Cat, was a hit for Barry Manilow in 1982 and 1983. (But if you ask me, Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat is the real crowd-pleaser.)

Release date and production info

The film’s been lazing around Hollywood for a while. Back in 2013, Webber said that the big-screen success of Les Misérables helped bring Cats to the forefront. Tom Hooper, who directed Les Mis, is directing Cats as well.

Filming began in late 2018 and wrapped in April. The film is coming out on Dec. 20, 2019, on the exact same day as the final Star Wars movie (as if there’s such a thing as “final” when it comes to Star Wars). Seems like the kitties might get buried under all the inevitable hype for Rise of Skywalker, but then again, the films probably appeal to very different audiences.

Cast: Who’s who?

There’s a giant litter of cats in this movie. Here are some of the main ones. Some of the roles, including that of Victoria and Skimbleshanks, are played by professional ballet dancers instead of actors.

More news, tidbits and rumors

Midnight, not a sound from the pavement

Grammy- and Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson, as Grizabella the Glamour Cat, gets to sing Cats’ showstopper, the memorable Memory. 

Dress you up

Part of the unnerving feel of the trailer comes from the fact that some cats (Swift’s Bombalurina, for one) look naked, whereas others (Skimbleshanks, Bustopher Jones, Macavity) wear clothes. Dench’s Old Deuteronomy even wears a fur coat which … is it cat fur? Made from another cat? This just seems wrong. However, the Broadway musical used a similar mix of costumes, so it’s at least faithful.

Size matters

Another element of the trailer that stood: Did the designers of the sets and props have any idea how large or small a cat really is? The scale of furniture to cat seems to swing wildly in the preview, with cats looking as small as mice while they dance on beds, yet looking near human-size when sitting at a dining table.

Hamming it up

Tony Award-winner Andy Blankenbuehler, who choreographed Hamilton and In the Heights, among other musicals, is choreographing the film. 

Nine lives

Dench revealed in a short video feature that she was cast (as Grizabella) in the musical Cats in 1981 but snapped her Achilles tendon before shooting and “thought that was my history with Cats.” (The legendary Elaine Paige famously took over the role.) Now Dench is getting her chance at the cat box, though playing Old Deuteronomy instead.

Seeing double

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Identical twin brothers Laurent and Larry Nicolas Bourgeois, the French hip-hop dance duo known as Les Twins, play cats Socrates and Plato in the film. 

This post was originally published on Aug. 11 and will be updated as new information becomes available.

Cool Crowdfunding: Six Axis Robot Arms, Particle Accelerators, AI Cameras, and Hackable Fitness Tracking

We receive so many pitches for crowdfunding projects. They pour into our inbox daily. Since crowdfunding is a bit of a gamble, it is always kind of hard to determine just how to write about these projects, considering that many of them may not ever deliver. Cool Crowdfunding is our way of sharing some of the ones that catch our eye. 

Remember, some of the crowdfunding projects from our previous Cool Crowdfunding collections may still be active! Go back and check them out to see if there’s anything you shouldn’t miss.

Jo’s Personal Particle Accelerator

When faced with having to build a functional model for a school project, Josephine found herself thinking of particle accelerators. Her final project was so cool that the teacher actually wanted to buy it. Now Jo is hoping to bring this model to anyone who wants one. It uses a steel ball bearing to simulate what happens inside a particle accelerator by blasting it with perfectly timed electromagnets to keep it moving.

find it on Kickstarter

Miro Bot – 6-axis mini industrial arm

Compared to most industrial robots, the Mirobot is tiny, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. It has many of the features the larger bots would have, such as a pendant for control, phone interface, and computer software for control, but fits on your desktop. There are a selection of tools for the head to allow you to tackle a multitude of tasks.

find it on Kickstarter

Huskylens Ai Camera

This is a “vision sensor” that allows for easily recognizing specific things like objects, colors, faces, paterns, and even finger gestures. It looks like a pretty powerful tool to put into the hands of non-coders.

find it on Kickstarter

OpenHak: Open Source Fitness Tracker

the open source health activity kit is a fitness tracker that you can hack and modify all you want. They are proudly secure, meaning that your data just goes directly to your phone and nowhere else.

find it on Kickstarter

Setting up your new iPhone has never been easier than this – CNET


Setting up your new iPhone has never been this easy. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Getting a new iPhone is exciting. New camera! Faster performance! Longer battery life! That is, until it’s time to transfer all of your information from your old iPhone, and you realize you are out of iCloud storage or your phone hasn’t been backed up in weeks. Ugh. 

Starting with iOS 12.4, you can forget all that iCloud nonsense and use the new, dead simple, transfer tool that moves your data directly from one iPhone to another. Keep in mind that using an iCloud backup to restore your phone is faster, but if you refuse to pay for storage or your phone hasn’t been backed up recently, this is the easiest way to get your new iPhone set up. 

Using the new data migration tool is simple, just make sure to set aside some time for all of your photos, messages, and other important info to transfer. 

Now playing: Watch this: Apple foldable is coming, but maybe not an iPhone


What you need

You’ll need two iPhones — your old one and the new one you’re setting up — both running iOS 12.4, and access to a Wi-Fi network. 

Go to Settings > General > Software Update to make sure you’re running the latest version of iOS 12. If your new iPhone isn’t running iOS 12.4 yet, go through the setup process on the phone, but don’t select the option to restore from any backup source. Instead, select “Don’t transfer apps & data” and skip through the rest of the setup steps. Once you get to the home screen, update it to iOS 12.4 and then factory reset it. I know, it’s a hassle, but doing so will ensure you can transfer all of your data from your old iPhone. 

What’s transferred

By the time you’ve eventually finished setting up your new phone (step-by-step instructions below), it will essentially be a direct copy of your current phone. Apps will be in the same place on your home screens, settings will be the same, email accounts… everything. 


iOS 12.4’s new data transfer tool eliminates the need to worry about iCloud backups. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Using the new transfer feature

With your old and new iPhones next to each other, you’re about to start the setup process on the new phone. Your old phone should display a prompt asking if you want to set up a new phone. Tap Continue and then point the old iPhone’s camera at your new phone’s screen. 

Follow the prompts on your new phone, completing tasks like entering a passcode, setting up Face ID or Touch ID, and agreeing to Apple’s terms and conditions. Eventually, you’ll end up on a screen asking if you want to transfer data directly from one phone to the other, or if you want to restore from iCloud. 

Select Transfer from iPhone and follow the prompts, after which your iPhones will take care of the rest. Make sure you leave the two phones near each other, otherwise the transfer can slow down or stall. 


Pour yourself a cup of tea and let the transfer process do its thing. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

It will take some time for the transfer to complete, depending on the speed of your Wi-Fi network and the amount of data you’re transferring. Naturally, 2,000 photos will take longer to transfer than 500. If you have a lot of apps and photos, be prepared to be patient — it’s going to take a while. It took me about 25 minutes to transfer data, which is exactly what the amount of time the tool estimated it would take. 

The default method is to use a wireless connection for the transfer. Alternatively, if you have a Lightning-to-USB 3 camera adapter and a spare Lightning USB cable, a wired transfer is possible and should be faster. But it’s not worth going out and buying the adapter just to save yourself a few minutes. 

After the transfer is complete, your new phone will reboot and your apps will finish downloading. All of your photos, emails, contacts, appointments, and messages will be there. 

The timing of this new feature is perfect, with September around the corner. That’s when Apple is expected to announce several new iPhones (we think Apple will announce the iPhone 11 on Sept. 10), and this will definitely eliminate one of the biggest potential headaches when upgrading devices.


CNET may get a commission from retail offers.

Apple iPhone XS

Google Maps puts a huge arrow over the real world so you can’t get lost – CNET


Just follow the huge blue arrows.

Rich Nieva/CNET

Following Google Maps navigation on foot isn’t always the easiest, especially if you’re on a busy street or a shaky connection means that navigation lags ever so slightly. Trying to follow the small blue dots guiding you to your destination can be a challenge — they’re just not easy to see and don’t always pinpoint exactly where you are. But a new feature in the Google Maps app for iPhone and Android makes it 100% crystal clear where you’re supposed to turn. How? By superimposing a massive arrow on the screen to tell you so. It’s called Live View and it’s here to help you get to your destination.

The Live View feature presents the area around you as viewed through your phone’s camera, using AR to place huge arrows that tell you exactly when to turn left or right. If you get lost, you can swivel your phone or body until you see the arrows pointing you in the right direction. 

As of right now, Live View is only available for walking navigation, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Google eventually opened it up to driving directions, too. (Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.) This week, Google will slowly roll out the function to Android phones and iPhones, so keep checking back. 

Here’s how to use Live View on your phone.

Now playing: Watch this: Google updates Maps with AR, Facebook tests new video…


Google Maps shows you where you are using AR.


1. Open the Google Maps app on your phone. (This isn’t available on desktop navigation, of course.)

2. In the search bar, type the address or business name you’re going to and select the location.

3. Tap Directions.

4. Select the Walking icon.

5. Tap the blue Live View button (it’s right next to the Start button). Now when you start walking toward your destination, large arrows and the street name will appear on your screen to guide you.

For even more Google tips, see how you can use Google Maps to check your driving speed and how to stop drowning in Google Chrome browser tabs — here’s how to reclaim sanity.

Google Maps for Android

Quick Look: $250 Resin Printer

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I had a chance to check out one of the latest incredibly cheap printers to be circulating out there. This is the Sparkmaker Original, an SLA printer that retails for $250! Having come from years of 3d printer prices dropping consistently, we shouldn’t be too surprised at this, but even within the world of 3D printing, SLA printers have been typically more expensive than their filament based counterparts.  Masked SLA, the ones that use an LCD screen to block UV light, are incredibly cheap to produce though, so it makes sense that they would end up cheaper than a normal cartesian printer.

With this recent glut of cheap resin printers, people do need to keep in mind all the additional things that come with resin. You have this toxic material that gets everywhere, your parts need to be cleaned thoroughly and cured before handling, you have to dispose of your waste properly, and you need to seek out the right resin for the job (does it need to be tough? heat resistant? etc, there’s a resin for that).

This isn’t a full review of this printer. When it comes to something like this, that cuts so many corners in the interest of keeping costs down, the real judge of quality will end up being how long it lasts. Yes, it prints right now, and the few tests I did printed just fine with good results. Will the parts last over time? When I have issues how will the support be? Only time will tell on those fronts.

It really is hard to deny, however, that $250 is an incredibly cheap price to pay to get parts that look this great.

How to talk to a doctor online for free (and for a fee) – CNET


Making a trip to the doctor isn’t always an option, but thanks to tech, you can contact yours online. 

Forward Health

It’s Saturday night and you’re coming down with something: itchy throat, watery eyes, pounding head, aching stomach. Do you push through the pain until Monday, when you can see your primary care physician? Or do you pick up your phone and, in a matter of a few taps, explain your symptoms to an online doc who can immediately advise you on the best course of treatment? 

Thanks to the rise of telemedicine — an umbrella term that covers all the ways you can receive medical care via text, online chat, phone and video — you can choose the second option. Online doctors can diagnose and treat a range of medical conditions, including allergies, cold and flu, fevers, asthma, bronchitis, ear infections and so much more.

You shouldn’t use these services as a replacement for your primary care doctor (with the exception of the hybrid models mentioned at the end of this article), but telemedicine can definitely prove helpful when you’re on your third box of tissues and your medicine cabinet isn’t helping. 

You also shouldn’t use telehealth services when you experience a true emergency or sustain an injury that needs immediate attention, like a broken bone. All that said, here are 10 ways to talk to a doctor online. 

Now playing: Watch this: Future of 5G: Better Healthcare Outcomes


Apps and websites

Online-only healthcare systems put doctors and nurses within arm’s reach at all times. While you can’t rely on these services for things like x-rays and surgery, you can lean on them when you need a quick diagnosis for the flu or other common conditions. 


Available 24/7, doctors on Amwell can diagnose and treat an impressive number of health conditions, and that includes prescribing medication and sending it to your preferred pharmacy. Amwell also offers urgent care online. Without insurance, the baseline cost for a visit is $69. 


Teladoc can diagnose and treat just about any general medical condition you can think of, and offers specialist services for mental health, dermatology, sexual health and tobacco cessation. Teladoc can also prescribe medications if necessary. Unlike some other services, Teladoc doesn’t put a time cap on your visit — you can talk to your doc as long as you like, a refreshing feeling in an industry that typically tries to cycle patients in and out as fast as possible. The cost of a Teladoc visit varies, depending on your plan and insurance. Learn more on its FAQ page.


Most telemedicine apps and websites allow you to choose from video, phone or text to chat with a doctor.


Doctor On Demand

Doctor On Demand breaks its services down into four main categories: urgent care, behavioral health, preventative health and chronic care, with the preventative health category being relatively unique. For instance, most online-only health services don’t offer preventative lab screening services like Doctor On Demand. The baseline cost for a visit at Doctor On Demand without insurance is $75.


A bit different than the rest of the services on this list, Tyto is an at-home medical exam kit that allows you to check for common conditions by sending high-quality video and audio to a doctor on the other end of the app. Your doctor hears your heart and lungs and sees your ears, throat and skin to diagnose conditions like ear infections, cold, flu, allergies and rashes.


MDLive can help with common medical conditions, as well as mental health and dermatological conditions. If you receive a diagnosis, MDLive can prescribe medication and send it to your preferred pharmacy. Via the MDLive app, you can access care at any time. 

Without insurance, the baseline cost for a visit is $75. Depending on your insurance plan, MDLive may not cost anything for you. 


SteadyMD takes a different approach than most telehealth companies by breaking its services down by lifestyle, such as SteadyMD for Paleo, SteadyMD for Runners and SteadyMD for Weightlifters. Like other telemedicine apps, you can talk to your SteadyMD doctor at any time through text, phone or video chat. 

K Health

If you want to find out more about your symptoms, but not necessarily talk to a doctor (although you have the option to), try K Health. This app aggregates data from millions of users — don’t worry, it’s secure — and shows you how doctors have previously treated patients with symptoms similar to yours. This can help in situations when you’re not quite sure what to do, for instance, if you don’t know whether you have a cold or are experiencing allergies

If you do want to speak to a doctor, K Health’s affiliated physicians can diagnose, prescribe medications, order lab tests and refer you to a specialist or urgent care near you. The app itself is free, but you’ll need to pay a small fee to chat with a doctor. K Health is currently testing out multiple pricing models, and the cost ranges from free to $100 for a yearly subscription. 

Now playing: Watch this: 5G and your health



All of the above telehealth services offer their own 24/7 care numbers, as do most insurance companies. You can find your insurance company’s hotline by searching “[insurance company] nurse hotline” on the web. Usually, all you need to do is input your geographic location and plan type, and then you can call. 

But if you’re uninsured, you may be wondering where to turn if you just need a quick question answered over the phone. Free helpline options for the uninsured population are limited, but you do have a few. 

Many states offer free nurses on-call hotlines, as do individual hospitals. To find them, it’s usually a matter of a quick Google search for “free nurse hotline [state or hospital].”

You can also visit the National Institutes of Health hotline page to find phone numbers for specific health conditions, including allergies, heart health, mental health and more. 

Hybrid models

Hybrid telehealth businesses combine in-person medical care and online services for a seamless system. These models can replace traditional primary care with an option that gives you easier access to your doctor, longer visits and deeper insights about your health.


Hybrid models like Forward Health combine in-person primary care with tech to create a seamless, convenient way to get the care you need.

Forward Health

One Medical 

With One Medical, you can book appointments, renew prescriptions, access medical records and get health reminders all within the One Medical app. If you’re not feeling an in-person visit, you can simply message your doctor or have a FaceTime-esque appointment through their video chat software. One Medical has a yearly membership cost of $199, but it also offers options for people who can’t afford that fee.

Forward Health

At this “doctor’s office of the future,” Forward Health a very thorough baseline visit followed by unlimited in-person visits and online chats with your provider. A membership at Forward costs $149 per month, and you don’t need insurance to be a member, but it’s highly recommended just in case you have an emergency or you need to see a specialist.

Parsley Health

For $150 or $250 per month depending on your plan, Parsley Health offers an impressive array of holistic health services. The in-person visits are limited, but you do get unlimited access to your provider via messaging. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives. 

Maker Business Profile: Robin Coon and Paul Stoffregen of PJRC

What is your business?

PJRC: Electronic Projects

where are you located?

Portland, Oregon, USA

Do you attend a makerspace? Which one?
Yes, DorkbotPDX and PDX Hackerspace.  I must admit I don’t manage to make the trek across town as often as I’d like.  Teensy keeps me pretty busy.

How did you get started making stuff?
For Robin, this Creep Crawlers insect making kit.

Robin also made fairy wands out of garden stakes, masking tape, and cotton balls.  She made do with the limited resources available at the time!

For Paul: this “65 in 1” kit (Radio Shack part 28-250).  Yes, it really came in that wooden box and featured a whopping 3 transistors.

Later when public schools received Apple 2 computers, Paul spent quite a lot of time learning Basic and Assembly language programming.

Tell us about what you make.
Teensy is a high performance microcontroller board.  Teensy is usually programmed using the Arduino software, but Teensy’s emphasis is providing powerful hardware and highly optimized libraries for makers & hobbyists to create more ambitious projects.  Controlling thousands of LEDs at video refresh speeds, processing CD quality audio, and support for many native USB communication protocols are some of Teensy’s popular features.

About the maker business side, Robin definitely deserves most of the credit.  She actually runs the business, pretty much all the daily behind-the-scenes work that keeps Teensy continuously available and most orders shipping out quickly.  Paul does all the tech stuff.

Have you been surprised by any responses to your work?
Occasionally when we’re out in public, it’s always so surprising when someone recognizes us.  Paul often wears a black T-shirts with the Teensy logo, so maybe this shouldn’t be a big surprise, but it almost always is.  It’s easy to feel anonymous behind a computer screen.

What difficulties in running a maker business have you found to be the most challenging?
Managing supply chains is tough, even when everything goes well.

What do you have on your horizon?
Teensy 4.0 is being released last week, bringing a pretty incredible increase in performance, both CPU and peripherals.

what is your biggest struggle as a maker business?
Work / life balance.

How has your business evolved?
Microcontroller technology (and complexity) has advanced dramatically since we started in the 1990s.  Here’s a photo our early and most recent products.

This 8051 had a single serial port (muxed to two DB9 ports) and 3 timers.  That board sold for $79, which at the time was considered quite a bargain.  Teensy 4.0 runs over a thousand times faster and is loaded with high performance peripherals.  Teensy 4.0 sells for about $20, which today is about the middle of the price range for dev boards.

Community has also grown tremendously , perhaps even moreso than tech.  Today we connect so easily via social networking, forums, code sharing (github), and most major cities have makerspaces.  Many of these now feel like they’ve been around forever, but most didn’t even exist 15 years ago.  In just the ~25 years we’ve been making dev boards, community has grown as much or more then the tech side.

What project are you excited about?
Robin & I are always inspired and amazed by artists and community of Burning Man.  The passion and dedication and sheer amount of hard work needed to bring these incredible projects to life is truly inspiring.

One of our personal favorites is “Lostmachine” Andy’s pirate ship, CS Tere.  When asked “Why build a pirate ship?” Andy’s response was “Pirate ships don’t build themselves.”  We believe that really captures the maker spirit.

What makers or maker businesses do you admire or have you learned from?
Arduino, and also Processing and Wiring, which were much of the basis for the early versions of Arduino.  While there are many highly successful businesses selling such a wide variety of products, and these days so many people seem to take Arduino for granted, they are really the people who changed everything by focusing on the human factors of getting started with electronics and microcontrollers.

What is most rewarding about being a maker business?
Seeing incredible projects people create, being a small part of that, is a pretty awesome feeling.

Sometimes even small projects are inspiring.  One of our personal favorites, from the very early days of Teensy 1.0, is this motion sensor by Joshua Neal.

It senses when you’ve walked into the room and sends a slight USB mouse movement, to wake up your PC by the time you’ve sat down.

Apple Card vs. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa: Which credit card is best for you in 2019? – CNET

Apple is starting to send out invites for people to sign up for its new Apple credit card. The new Apple Card is rolling out this month, and if you’re on the notify list, you can sign up once you get your invite. The new card can be used in places that accept Apple Pay via iPhones ($1,000 at Amazon) and is designed to live inside the Apple Wallet app. But there’s also a physical card you can swipe anywhere, just like a normal credit card.

Another popular card for tech-savvy shoppers and consumers, already on the market in the US, is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card, a partnership with Chase bank.

Apple and Amazon are two of the biggest names in tech, and now each has its name on a credit card. So which one is the best? Let’s take a look.

Apple Card

  • Cash-back credit card rewards: The Apple Card offers cash back that can be used anywhere, at any time. Use the cash back to pay for groceries, pay a friend or pay down your credit card. The cash back is automatically delivered to your Apple Cash balance or to the card as a credit balance.
  • Where to earn: Earn 3% cash back on anything from Apple stores (namely an Apple Store, apple.com, the App Store or iTunes), including games, in‑app purchases and services such as your Apple Music subscription and iCloud storage plan. Earn 2% cash back at other stores by using Apple Pay (using the virtual card on your phone) and 1% cash back in stores that don’t accept Apple Pay (using the physical card). There are no earning caps, but your credit limit can max out the amount of cash you earn.
  • No fees: There are no fees for a missed payment or annual fee with Apple Card, and there are no transaction fees You will, however, still be charged interest in addition to what you already owe.
  • Annual Percentage Rates: Speaking of interest, Apple’s APR rates range from 13.24 to 24.24% interest on purchases, based on credit score.
  • Security: The Apple Card has no credit card number on the physical card. There is a virtual card number in the Wallet App for when you use the card with Apple Pay. You can also see the pinpointed location and business of where a purchase was made.
  • Other features: The Apple Card is paired with the Wallet app, which has the appearance of a budgeting app. Spending summaries are available to show how much you’ve spent in each category. Purchases are color coded based on the type of things you purchase, such as food or clothes.
  • Payment: See how to save on interest before you make a payment. Apple Card will estimate the amount of interest you’ll pay, based on your payment amount.
  • Wallet app (and iPhone) required for sign-up: The Wallet app is exclusive to Apple’s own iOS devices, so if you don’t have an iPhone (or iPad) you can’t sign up to use it. Sorry, Android fans.

Now playing: Watch this: Apple Card FAQ: What you need to know



The Apple Card will have no card number.

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card

  • Rewards: The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card rewards you with points you can redeem toward a future Amazon.com purchase (or through Chase). 100 points is equivalent to $1 earned. You also earn a percentage of cash back on your purchases. There’s no cap on what you can earn. Plus, when you’re approved for the card, you’ll get a $70 Amazon gift card. You can see your rewards balance on the checkout screen when you make a purchase.
  • Where to earn: Earn 5% back on purchases at Amazon and Whole Foods, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases. Many retailers now have an Amazon store to sell their items, so always check Amazon before making a purchase so you can get 5% back.
  • Fees: There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, but there are late fees for late payments of up to $38 plus interest.
  • Annual Percentage Rate: Amazon’s APR ranges from 16.49 to 24.49%, based on credit score.
  • Card options: Amazon offers two Visa cards. One is the Prime version, which requires you to have an Amazon Prime account. The other is the Amazon Rewards Visa Card and offers 3% back at Amazon and Whole Foods, rather than 5%. A Prime membership account is not needed for this card.
  • Premium perks: Use the card for room upgrades and VIP guest status at luxury hotels. The Amazon Visa also offers complimentary concierge service for finding tickets to top events or arranging dinner reservations.

Amazon Rewards Visa cards offer excellent, um, rewards.

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

Which one’s better for you?

Aside from the perks like financial tracking, the privacy of no physical number on the card and deep integration with Apple Wallet, the main differences between the two boil down to rewards (like cash back) and usage.

If you purchase a lot of stuff from Amazon, that card is probably a better bet. The fact that its rewards are Amazon points and cash back is great if you purchase enough from the online retailer.

On the other hand, if you shop primarily at other online and physical retailers that accept Apple Pay, the Apple Card’s 2% cash back is great. It’s also a solid choice if you’re likely to occasionally make a late payment.

It’s worth noting that since the Apple Card’s 3% cash back is restricted to Apple’s own stores, you might get a better deal if you purchase something on sale at another store (such as Amazon or Walmart). Hardware prices at Apple’s own stores are often higher than other retailers.

The Apple Card looks to have some advantages over what’s available now and could be a valuable addition to the (virtual) wallets of savvy shoppers. We’ll know more when those who were invited to sign up give us feedback.


CNET may get a commission from retail offers.

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Best places to sell your used electronics in 2019 – CNET

How do you make a brand-new phone cheaper? Sell your old one.

With nearly every wireless carrier now using device payment plans, you may not have as many old phones sitting in a drawer. But most trade-in programs now also accept tablets, smartwatches, fitness trackers and other gadgets. 

To help with the cost of upgrading to the latest and greatest tech, take advantage of websites that will offer you cold hard cash in exchange for selling your electronics. 

Read more: Best mobile apps to easily sell your stuff locally

The prices offered with trade-in programs are usually a little lower than what you could sell electronics directly for by listing them on Craigslist or Swappa. But you don’t have to deal with the hassle of negotiating a price, paying for shipping or the fees some services charge. And you don’t have to cope with with the even bigger hassle of going to a pawn shop or hosting a yard sale. Read on to see the best places to sell your used electronics and gadgets.

Disclaimer: CNET may get a share of revenue from sites featured on this page.

Now playing: Watch this: Sell your old iPhone for the most money


Amazon Trade-In

Payment method: Amazon gift card

Turnaround time: Two business days after Amazon receives the item 

Amazon’s trade-in program works a lot like its retail section. You search for an item, enter any necessary details (storage, screen size and so on) and then select the device’s condition. Amazon will then make an offer, and if you accept it, provide a shipping label for the item. 

Once you ship the item, Amazon will inspect it to ensure the item matches your original description. If it all checks out, your Amazon account is credited with an Amazon Gift card for the offer amount. If the item is in better condition than you described, Amazon promises to pay you more. 

Your gift card is usually available within two business days after Amazon receives the shipment.

The drawback? Your money is locked to your Amazon account.

Apple Trade In

Payment method: Apple Store gift card

Turnaround time: Instant if done in an Apple Store. Two to three weeks if done online

Apple will take trade-ins of devices from a wide range of companies, not just its own. You can either walk into an Apple Store or use Apple’s online service. Currently, Apple will accept smartphones, tablets, computers, watches and “other” devices. If the company doesn’t have a trade-in offer for your device, it will ask if you’d like to recycle it free of charge. Visit the site or an Apple retail store to begin the trade-in process. 

Using Apple to trade in old devices and get some extra cash makes sense if you want to stay within the Apple ecosystem, or if you’re making the jump from Android. You can’t, however, use the Apple Store gift card to buy a Samsung device, for example.

Best Buy Trade-In Program

Payment method: Best Buy gift card

Turnaround time: 10 business days

Getting a quote from Best Buy is as simple as picking a product category, manufacturer, model and condition. Once you’ve filled out the questionnaire, the tool will estimate the value of the electronic items and give you an instant quote. The offer amount, if you choose to accept it, will only be awarded as a Best Buy gift card.

You can either ship the item to Best Buy using a prepaid label, or find a local store that accepts in-store trade-ins.

Best Buy’s mailing turnaround time is slower than other services, but the company accepts a wide variety of gadgets — nearly every type of electronic device it sells, including wearables, cameras and game consoles. You can trade-in video games and an iPhone ($1,000 at Amazon) or iPod at the same time, for example. And if you do it in-store, you get a Best Buy gift card without the wait.


Payment method: PayPal or check

Turnaround time: A week after receiving the device 

Unlike the previous services, Nextworth will pay you through your choice of PayPal or a check. 

The process entails answering some questions about the phone, tablet or smartwatch you’re selling. Nextworth will make you an offer and, if you accept it, send you a prepaid shipping label. 

When Nextworth receives your device, it will verify the indicated condition is accurate, and if there’s a discrepancy, you will have a chance to ask for the device back or accept the revised offer.

eBay Instant Selling

Payment method: eBay Instant Voucher 

Turnaround time: Same day

eBay’s Instant Selling platform monitors eBay phone listings, and if a device is in good working condition, will offer to instantly purchase the phone and give person selling it an eBay Instant Voucher. That’s marketing speak for an eBay gift card. 

The seller (you) will then send in the device to a company that’s partnered with eBay, where it will be inspected and verified that the device is as described. 

If there’s a discrepancy, your eBay payment method will be charged the difference. 

Of course, the downside here is that with eBay Instant Selling, you will have to spend the gift card on eBay, instead of another service.


It’s a good idea to shop around and check which service will offer you the most money for your device. That’s where Flipsy comes in. 

Flipsy doesn’t accept trade-ins itself, but instead, it curates other services that do and provides you with a list of services and the amount each one is currently offering for your device. 

You can then quickly glance over the list and select the service or website that offers the most for your device.

CNET’s Holiday Gift Guide: The place to find the best tech gifts for 2018.

Best Black Friday 2018 deals: The best discounts we’ve found so far.


CNET may get a commission from retail offers.

Apple iPhone XS

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