StickNFind FCC report and output power

If a product is FCC certified, there are some reports available for all to see on the internet.

Look at the output power section for StickNFind:

sticknfind

 

We have -0.3 – 0.84dBm (0.93mW – 1.21mW).

The NRF 51822 inside the StickNFind is a 4dBm (2.5mW) device. FCC maximum power output tests  ignore the antenna, so that’s nowhere near the maximum. I realise these tags need to be low power, but is this why the range is nowhere near as high as expected?

As an aside, they appear to use the piezo buzzer as the antenna, so if yours come apart like one of mine did, expect it to not work. It might also explain the squeezing causing them to work better – it might not be the battery but the spring contacts to the buzzer.

StickNFind update

I have seen a lot of traffic today for StickNFind posts.

They’ve banned me from their Facebook page, blocked me on Twitter (which, is totally pointless) and stopped responding to email. I am sorry if I wasted your time with the survey as I have no way of communicating hundreds of people’s views to them now.

I suggest that if you have an issue with StickNFind you:

Essentially, the more noise you make, the better.

StickNFind are a dishonest company – do not buy from them

The StickNFind stickers are available on a normal sales website. This is not crowd funding – this is normal sales. They are completely willing to take several hundred dollars off your hands for their tags today. There is no mention on the site of the tags being pre-release, beta, or in-development.

Yet they post this on facebook earlier today:

We have been reading the comments and wanted to address them. The StickNFind product is compatible with devices that support Bluetooth 4.0, Bluetooth Low Energy, and operate on Android 4.1. The SNF app is, currently, supports the Samsung S3, S3 Mini and Note 2. We are working hard to gain compatibility with the other manufacturers’ devices across the Android ecosystem.

We, in no way, are misrepresenting, conning nor scamming our supporters. The StickNFind product is still in the pre-release stages.

This is not acceptable behaviour at all.

The second a company needs to make a statement to clarify that they are not conning anyone, you know something is badly, badly wrong.

Please do not tell me that this is crowd funding – and I should expect this. They could have delayed the product so it worked (many, many tags are DoA or fail quickly) and they could have communicated the serious Android limitation

Further communication with StickNFind about issues

Michael Manna, Social Media Strategist, recently recruited to StickNFind, contacted me to arrange a phone call to discuss the issues that myself and others were having. I didn’t think a phone call was a good way of furthering this matter, especially if there is one of me and many of them. This is my response:

 

I’d really like to keep this to email – it allows both parties to consider their communication better.

I want this product to work – which was why I started the survey to see how many others were having issues. I currently have 87 responses. I realise the sampling method is biased towards those with problems. To summarise the concerns of respondents, in approximate order of priority:

1. By far the biggest concern is not receiving the orders as expected. There are a lot of people who have not received any communication from you at all, and it seems some customers of sticknfind.com have received the product ahead of indiegogo backers. People are worried – the near silence on facebook and via email is rightly concerning – the words “con” have been used by several people. I have the product, I trust that you are shipping, just that it has overwhelmed the company somewhat. Your customers need to be kept informed.

2. The next biggest concern centres around the Android app. Many are frustrated that there is no app (or only a beta app). Again, poor communication means that many are not even aware there is a beta app, or that it will only work with a subset of phones. There are worries that it will only work with Android 4.1 or later, and not all phones/carriers will upgrade to this. People need reassurance. An email or slip of paper in the packaging explaining the situation would go a long way.

3. Many are reporting a range of <9m, or that the distance estimate is less accurate than expected. I am experiencing these issues. My gut feeling is this is a limitation of BLE, and there is no real way to avoid this. The promotional material very strongly suggests that much greater range is possible – I know my expectations were to be able to use them within my small terraced house.

4. There are some people reporting reliability issues. Certainly one of my tags doesn’t work any more, a few didn’t respond on arrival. I think this might just be the reality of hardware.

The common theme across all four of the above issues is that communication has been incredibly poor. I really hope your new role at the company corrects this, and I think it is really positive that you have already been engaging with people on twitter.

I’d be keen to know your thoughts on the above issues, but I think a response should be directed to the community rather than myself.

Unfortunately I have not had a response yet, outside of confirming receipt.

StickNFind update

So currently, the major complaints from users are:
1. No working Android app.
2. Shipping issues (no notification, delay, people receiving orders out of order)
3. Poor communication from company – enough time to come onto facebook to like positive posts, but not enough time to deal with support.
4. Tags arriving dead-on-arrival. Some of these then work after removing and replacing the batteries.
5. Tag range poor (<20ft)
6. Tags work intermittently – possibly related to battery connection.
7. Distance reading is very variable, making leash unusable.
8. Tags seem to have problems working in electrically noisy environments (i.e. a normal home).I’ve got over 100 people experiencing issues 4 though 8, yet none of us have received any response apart from “tap four times to wake them”. The hits on the blog continue to climb – I hate naming and shaming a new company, but your communication is so bad that there doesn’t seem to be any other way to get your attention.

SticknFind update

So StickNFind, despite saying they’ll deal with the issues on Facebook, aren’t responding to email. I’ve now found over 30 people who are finding the tags don’t work or are very unreliable, and it seems none of us are getting a response.

I have played with them some more, and have found the following.

  • Battery contacts seem unreliable – squeezing one of the tags gently causes it to work.
  • Range is at most 20ft line of sight in a room. This only seems to work if I start next to the tag and move further away. If I start the app 20ft from the tag though, it rarely works, and when it does, the dot on the radar doesn’t turn blue, so I can’t make it beep or flash.
  • If I run a single tag, the radar distance can be fairly constant. With 2 other tags, they dance around.
  • If I start downloading a large file on my laptop near the tags, the distance increases rapidly or they stop working entirely. There is some form of interference.
  • They seem much more reliable outside of buildings.

User comments from StickNFind – some posts are being deleted

Received 2 tags yesterday. Initially both worked fine, now one stopped. The broken one beeps/lights up when you insert the battery but I cannot pair it anymore. Also using other bluetooth low energy apps like “SensorTag” I can only pair to one of the two.
How do I get a refund? 1st sticker just stopped working and cannot be re-paired, second sticker seemed to be working solidly but is now lost and no amount of scanning and walking around can find it (was attached to cats collar, cat is back minus collar) I suggest you fix your technology before you sell any more.
Got my stickers and use it with iPhone App… Have to say that it needs some improvement as sometimes it works sometimes it don’t so in this stage its very unreliable. Sometimes it alerts if its just side by side sometimes it does not even fare away… Might be an issue of ios… My pepple watch does much better stick to the Bluetooth as sNf does… It often completely
looses connection to the phone… Still some work to do
Sad to say these are not very good 🙁 really want them to be but they just don’t work very well, for example they keep loosing pairing so when you try to find item, even if on my lap, it can’t find it. The app doesn’t work well and is quite confusing for example what is zooming and why does it show direction if its only distance? Every time you open it you have to agree to the terms. I appreciate its an early product but I think should have kept it for a bit longer to make it fully work prior to release. Like I said I love the concept just wish it worked!

Thomas Krømke

Ordered 2. None of them can be find with the app or bluethooth on my iphone or ipod  hope the company will fix this somehow.

Ian Anderson

Works fine here so far on note 2. Only played a little bit though. Had to reseat the battery to wake up and pair the first tag which had been on my keys for a couple of weeks.

Tom Grant

Has anyone had any luck getting these things to work iOS or Android? Been waiting on this android app to find out if mine did. And now I find that I cant even pair them. One beeps sometimes when tapped, other does nothing. Swapped batteries to rule that out. One beeped and held the tone till I pulled the battery out.

Greetings,

Received the 10 pieces I ordered a few days ago. Have been playing around with one for the past few days. Works rather erratically. Anyone else out there have issues? Would love to read real user comments. Thank you & have a great day.

My stickers didn’t ship on time. After several emails and comments, I demanded my money back, and about 6 hours later I received a message that they had shipped from Hong Kong. They shipped via registered mail, so I had to drive to the post office to get them. I tried every method I could find to pair them, but only one sticker beeps and will not pair, and the other does nothing. So, I have to go buy new batteries? I’ve never seen a brand new product ship with dead batteries!

My stickers are going haywire, they all interfere with each other and 2.4ghz sources in the house (wifi, other Bluetooth devices). Basically if I pair my iPhone 5 to a sticker in my wallet and set the leash to “out of range”, it will beep constantly as I walk past RF noise sources. 2 stickers push the range of both back dozens of feet and they take turn being connected. Useless.

@StickNFind Why does one of my stickers have a logo on it and not work, and the other has no logo and does beep and light up?

Finally got my #SticknFind bluetooth item fining stickers. Very underwhelming. They still don’t have the promised App.

@cybergibbons @hansolo_ distance reading is really flaky! Pic was shot while ALL stickers were <1cm away #sticknfind pic.twitter.com/uz9JWgRbzP

@StickNFind some of my SnFs were DoA. solder bubble touching batt too small, wouldn’t make contact. added paper to fill the gap, works now

@cybergibbons @StickNFind Me too. Range about 20 feet. HOW much did I pay for these things?

@cybergibbons @StickNFind Managed to get one to work with a pen. The other one doesn’t seem to react even after reseating the battery

I received 2 of the 12 stickers I expect. They can be a little temperamental, but they work when paired to an iPad 3 at home. In my crowded tech work environment, it barely works at all.

Luckily though we have an iPad, idk which model but it’s one of the newer ones. I managed to connect a sticker without disconnect problems like others had, instead I have an accuracy problem. 0-3 feet it works fine, but after that the distance fluctuates even when both the iPad and sticker (and everything else in the room) are completely still and have line of sight. 6ft shows 4-12ft, 15ft shows 32-64ft, etc. Temp actually showed 72F down to 68F in a 78F room

Sigh :/

@StickNFind help! I leashed my keys and once out of range the iOS app keeps triggering alarm. No way to get out of it without force quitting

First impressions of my StickNFind Bluetooth location stickers

Ever since reading Cory Doctorow’sMakers“, I was excited about the idea of being able to tag my belongings with small electronic devices that would flash and beep to enable me to locate them.

There were some devices already available, like the Loc8tor range of products. However, battery life was poor (2-5 months typical), feature set was limited, and they were still quite large.

So when I saw the StickNFind project on IndieGoGo (a crowd funding site, similar to KickStarter), I was really excited. Ultra-small (probably the size of some arbitrary US denominated coin I am wholly unfamiliar with), long battery life (1 year typical), 100 ft range, and uses an iPhone or Android phone to locate them. Perfect! I signed up for 4 of them.

They turned up yesterday, and it appears I am one of the first people to get hold of them. Unfortunately, it appears that not all is well in StickNFind land.

They came well packaged in a cardboard box, with the four tags stuck onto a piece of cardboard. The instructions noted that I may need to “tap it 4 times with your finger or with a pen” to wake it up. I tried gently tapping the first one I peeled off, and nothing happened. Then I tried harder. Still nothing. I checked for one of those small plastic tabs that you need to pull out to activate a battery. Nothing.

An open and closed StickNFind

An open and closed StickNFind

I peeled a second one off. This one responded after a few taps with a flash and a beep. So did the third, and fourth. Looks like the first one is dead.

I then downloaded the app onto my iPhone 5. This is the latest v1.1 app.

The three tags paired fairly quickly with my phone with the default text tags of “sNf – 0”, “sNf – 1”, “sNf – 3”. They kind of showed up on the radar view, but the range was showing big numbers in the range of 100 (feet? inches? cm? m? the axis is not labelled).

When they are showing on the radar screen, you can make them beep, flash or do both. For some reason, only tag 0 and 1 would do this. 3 was showing on the screen, and the beep/flash buttons were present, but it wouldn’t respond.

I found out the app makes you accept the EULA each time you start it, and crashes very frequently.

I then tried the “Find It” feature. I turned this on for tag 0. It immediately said that the tag had been found. I turned it on for tag 1. The tag beeped and flashed a few times, and told me it had been found. Operation seemed intermittent with all three tags.

Back to the radar, and I found that the three tags, despite being adjacent to each other, were showing at ranges varying from a couple of units to a hundred or more. They kept on moving around, despite the tags and phone being stationary.

Not working so well - none show up despite being next to the phone

Not working so well – none show up despite being next to the phone

I opened the fourth tag and reseated the battery. This time it showed up on the iPhone, but as a “StickNFind – 0” – why is this name different to the others?

Why is the name different for one tag?

Why is the name different for one tag?

All the while, on the radar page, the tags were dancing back and forth like a loon on speed. I couldn’t see how the leash functionality (where you are warned that the tag has moved away from you) would work.

I looked at the temperature screen. One was showing 11degC, another 22degC. It does say you may need to wait. So I waited until morning.

Next morning, tag “sNf – 3” had completely stopped responding. The others were intermittent – I couldn’t seem to wake them. The temperatures were still wildly different, despite being in a centrally heated space next to each other.

I thought I would test the range. Even across our small open downstairs space, they would all drop out now and then. I went upstairs and none of them would work, and it is only a wooden floor.

I attached one tag to my keys. I took them to work and back again, and found that it didn’t work for most of the day. It briefly worked in my office, but the range was less than 30ft.

Once home, I found that I couldn’t get any of the tags working at all. One of them beeped and flashed a significant time after it was asked to. I reseated several of the batteries and checked they were dead, but still no luck.

I thought maybe my phone was at fault (although it works with other Bluetooth devices), so I tried my “new iPad”. I managed to pair it with one of the tags, but could get the tag to do nothing useful.

I checked the batteries using a multimeter, and all are showing 3V as expected.

Detail of inside the tag

Detail of inside the tag

So – my first impressions:

  • Tags don’t seem to work most of the time
  • Range isn’t reliable
  • Leash functionality is unusable as a result
  • Temperature readings are way off and vary from device to device
  • App crashes frequently and has many quirks

Really not good. I approached @StickNFind on twitter and found they suggested I call them in the US. I requested email, as a call would cost me a fair amount. No response. Website just has a contact form, no email address.

Since then, a few others have posted comments on IndieGoGo suggesting similar problems:

So far, I am really not impressed. Unfortunately, I also backed the BluTracker project by the same guys. I don’t know if this is a problem with my specific devices, or the product as a whole. I hope they respond.

Note – please don’t bitch about crowd funding being a risk etc. They have delivered a product that doesn’t seem to work and it is being sold to people not on IndieGoGo now.