T1D Toys

Lets start this with a clear statement – This is not a ham radio post 😉


My youngest was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a little over 12 months ago. Type 1 is a bit different from Type 2 diabetes in that it is auto immune and there is no insulin available. This means a regular tightrope of carbohydrate intake and insulin being administered. In our case this is through a pump.

In the good old days that meant taking a bit of blood from your finger. measuring it for blood glucose and then acting on the information. This could mean correcting to meet a magic number (6 mmol) or just before a meal.

In the modern connected world there are a few toys that can help you. Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring, Nightscout, XDrip+, Miao Miao, Smart watches…….This is my experience of setting a few of these things up. Hopefully in a non techie way.

Setup prior to new toys

  • Omnipod Insulin delivery with the Insulet PDM
  • Old android phone
  • Freestyle Libre Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)

The game goes like this. Offer up your phone to your patch, it reads the sensor and you get a BG reading on your phone. Make any adjustments using the PDM Nothing too exciting there.

The problem

The problem with this is that at night there is still a regime of checking. The CGM is collecting data and it needs a human to wave a phone near an arm (invariably the wrong one, in fact sometimes it takes three goes to get the correct arm!)

There are no alarms or warnings

After a few poor nights of sleep it is easy to miss a check and hence mistakes will happen

A solution

Here’s the basic wish list. Use the CGM to it’s potential without waiting for a commercial integrated solution. This means connecting a few things together and for the information to be displayed on a smartwatch in such way that it provides an adequate indication of the state of BG play. So here are the ingredients

  1. Freestyle Libre – The CGM
  2. Miao Miao – A bluetooth device that sits on the Libre patch
  3. Android Phone – The hardware glue
  4. Fitbit Verso – A reasonably priced smart watch
  5. xDrip+ – Software glue
  6. Glance – A watch face to display the info

The system works by the Libre monitors the BG, The Miao Miao collects the data every 5 minutes, xDrip+ receives the data and manipulates it and lastly the Verso shows you whats going on. All this because there isn’t a straightforward off the shelf solution (yet).

What I want is this….


First thing to remind yourself is that this is not a medical device or set of devices. This is the equivalent of bleeding edge homebrew, short only of a step that makes the adjustments for you.

You’ll need a bit of time – A good hour or two depending on your skills

Set up the FitBit

This bit should be relatively straightforward. Download the App, sign your life away to megacorp and do the updates it prompts for. This took about 30 minutes and to be honest wasn’t smooth. The software could be a bit better but eventually it works. At the end of all this you should have a working FitBit with the default screen.

Set up the Miao Miao and xDrip+

Luckily for me there is a good guide on the Miao Miao website so as long as you can follow that you should be ok. As this stuff is a bit techie it assumes you understand what repositories are and installing apks from sources other than Google Play for example. It’s not as hard as you might think and if you struggle here’s one of few thousand tutorials.

At the end of this you should have a phone that is collecting data every 5 minutes from the Libre patch and giving you a pretty picture. An optional step would be to add a follower to xDrip+. This might be handy if like me you are a parent and you’ll effectively mirror the data on your phone as well as the kids phone. The developers have done a nice video that will show you what to do.

Next up – displaying the information on your FitBit

Again, all the hard work is done for you. Using the phone you used to install xDrip+ and connect to the FitBit and navigate to this page on a browser. There is a good wiki but there are basically two steps to this.

Change some settings in xDrip+

Changing the settings allows the xDrip+ software to send the information to the watch but it is easy. Go to settings, then InterApp settings, then xDrip Web Service. Change this to on

Add a ‘Watch Face’ to the FitBit

The wiki gives you a warning about making sure you’ve done the first step. Make sure you do this. Follow the link to ‘Latest version of Glance’. This will open up the FitBit app and after some time will install the watch face.

Some problems I found

  1. You need to make sure the Miao Miao is well and truly stuck to the Libre patch. Even a mm is enough for it to not connect.
  2. The xDrip+ software is really very capable. A slip with the fingers and a wrong setting will stop it working. For example a FitBit verso is not an Android watch. Take care when setting things up.
  3. This is a do it yourself system and there are a whole bunch of people that can help, but it moves from plain English to TechSpeak pretty quickly and can look daunting. It need not be like this.

Alex Hill, G7KSE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, UK. Contact him at [email protected].

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