Friday, 1 January 2016

Step Counter Cheating Machine

I've blogged before about owning a Fitbit and using the API for geek pursuits.  These devices are becoming more popular, I've now got 7 whole friends who also use Fitbit and I've also seen people using standard pedometers and smartphone apps for Corporate challenge type activities.

Recently I've found myself having conversations, "banter" if you like, with colleagues over Fitbit; respective step counts, activity levels and the like.  After a particularly good week for me in steps terms there were jokes abound that I'd let my dog wear my Fitbit and made it run around (I don't own a dog) or that I'd done other hand movement related activities to amplify my step count (if you see what I mean).

So that got me thinking, what could you do to artificially hike up your steps score?  I give you what I like to call my Step Counter Cheating Machine:


Note, I pinky-promise I've not used this to cheat on Fitbit steps.  I'd only be cheating on myself and that would be a bad thing.

Like many of my projects it's made of Lego!  I actually re-used a model trebuchet I made last year. This could sling a small object the length of a room.  I wanted to automate the process of "cocking" and releasing the trebuchet but never quite mastered this.

On this side-on view you can see:
  • An A-frame connected to a base with a pivot point at the top for the arm.
  • The snazzy 1980s Lego wheels.  Useful for sieges and if you need to move your step count cheat machine around.
  • The long arm on the right hand side.  For the trebuchet the projectile was hung off the end of the arm.
  • The weight on the left hand side (the yellow bit).  This is comprised of an old Lego motor plus two Lego boxes full of small coins.  The base is also weighted with coins to stop the model wandering about too much.
  • The hanging arrangement for the device that does the counting (more on this later).
  • The movement mechanism (more on this later too).
For the trebuchet I tried to make a mechanism whereby a motor wound a string to pull the arm down against the weight then something else released the arm, thus pinging the arm up again..  However I couldn't stop the motor being involved when the arm moved back up which slowed down it's movement massively and resulted in a rubbish projectile launch and a safe castle...


Here's a view from looking behind the weight.


Side on view from the other side.


Front view showing the hanging mechanism for an Android device.  With the mechanism in this place on the arm it was all nicely balanced, thus meaning the motor didn't have to work too hard.  This was running a paid-for Pedometer app called Accupedo-Pro Pedometer.  I used to use this before I got my Fitbit.


Close up side view showing the motor and mechanism that steps down the speed of the motor and turns rotary motion into reciprocating motion, (GCSE Technology c1990 there!).


Improvement opportunities?  Maybe add a Raspberry Pi and a motor controller to randomise when step cheating occurs or allow it to be remote controlled.

Thanks for reading!