Using an OBD-II Splitter to Connect Two Devices (Fuel Economy Guage & Zubie)

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I’ve added a couple of posts about the fuel economy guage recently but in those posts I left out the fact that I already had one device on the ODB-II port of my 2008 Chevrolet Impala – a Zubie vehicle monitoring device that is cloud-connected via its own celluar connection (the one at this link is slightly different from the ones that we have; they are both white and were also purchased as a two-pack – I don’t know if there is any technical difference between the models).

In order to solve this issue I decided to purchase a iKKEGOL 30cm/12″ ODB2 ODB II Splitter Extension Y J1962 16 Pin Cable Male to Dual Female Cord Adapter. I’m not sure why the item name is written as ODB2 ODB II as it should instead be OBD2 OBD II but it does work properly. I read several reviews before deciding to purchase this devices as I was uncertain whether or not having two devices connected in this way would cause issues. I decided that it was not very likely to be a problem because the fuel economy guage only reads from the system and the Zubie device probably rarely ever sends data, if at all.

I haven’t had a single problem with either device since I connected them to the splitter.

OBD-II-Splitter

The white fabric is actually an elastic material helping to ensure that the connection to the OBD-II port doesn’t slip loose. Normally, the cables are tucked away better but I had just shifted them before taking this cable to reposition the fuel economy guage.

Update 04/18/2018: Using the splitter with these devices worked great and didn’t seem to cause any problems with my vehicle. 

5-Port USB Wall Charger (EasyAcc)

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USB-Charger-EasyAcc

Having accumulated several devices that charge via USB, sometimes I don’t have enough USB block plugs on hand (and other times I’m just tired of digging around to find the adapters) to charge everything up at once. Last week I purchased a couple of 5-port USB wall chargers (EasyAcc) from Amazon for less than $20 each, which have helped make this minor inconvenience less of an issue.

This particular model isn’t something I plan to move around frequently. Instead I have located them in key spots where they’ll remain most of the time. One is at my office and the other is in our guest room.

So far they seem to work well and they’re about as simple as expected (and needed). There is one thing of note that interested purchasers may need to be aware of. The USB ports do not all provide the same level of output, though it’s clearly marked on the device how much power each port provides and it’s unlikely to be an issue for most people.

  • USB1 5V/2.1A (iPad)
  • USB2 5V/1.3A (Samsung Tab)
  • USB3 5V/2.1A (iPad)
  • USB4 5V/1A (iPhone)
  • USB5 5V/1A (Android)

Plugable USB 2.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

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USB-Ethernet-USB2-E1000

Several months ago I lost some network ports on different devices due to a power surge from a nearby lightning strike. Unfortunately, one of the devices that took a hit was the ASUS system I’m using for managing home automation. After the surge I configured the system to use wifi but it was struggling to keep up with network traffic (the system does more than just manage my home automation setup).

After I while I decided to purchase a Plugable USB 2.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. It’s worked great ever since and as far as I can tell I haven’t had any new problems with the system (and bandwidth has clearly improved over the wifi connection). The device retails from Amazon for about $25.

Powermat PBV01-001-US Travel Mat (Combo Pack)

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Powermat-Travel-01

Earlier this week I decided to add another component to my Powermat system. This piece will probably stay at my office and travel with me when I go out of town.

I ordered a Powermat Travel Mat Combo Pack. It includes a folding Powermat charging station that can charge three devices at once. It also includes a Powercube kit with additional adapter tips and a Powermat portable battery pack (this is a smaller, cheaper battery that is different from the other device I recently purchased).

Pricing seems to vary. I paid about $30 for the entire kit. Overall, I really like this kit. It has some pros and cons that are worth mentioning.

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RetroBit Retro Adapter NES Controller to USB Port Adapter

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Using an original game console controller makes a big difference when playing emulated games. The experience can end up being as good as playing an original system. There’s just a certain feel to the buttons that usually can’t be replicated with a newer controller. It’s a combination of several factors (how the buttons feel, the size of the controller, etc).

A couple of months ago I bought some original NES controllers at a pawn shop for about $5 each. They sat in a drawer unused until I purchased two RetroBit Retro Adapter NES Controller to USB Port Adapters (under $12 each) from Amazon.

The adapters seem to work perfectly. I was able to use one adapter and one controller in OS X Lion with Nestopia without any problems. Some time soon I’ll hook up two controllers at the same time to find out if they can be used at the same time for two-player games.

I’ve very satisfied with these adapters. Playing older games with them is a lot more fun that using a modern USB controller. I’m looking forward to receiving a set of SNES controllers I’ve ordered, which I’ll use with an SNES to USB controller adapter that I already own.

May Flash N64 Controller Adapter for PC USB

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The Short Version: On a Mac it seems that only the port on the right can be used but Windows users didn’t report the same problem. I had a calibration issue the first time I used the adapter with an original N64 controller but the next time I fired up Sixtyforce I set the axis deadzone to zero and it worked perfectly.

For Valentine’s Day my wife bought a couple of items from my Amazon Wish List along with some other cool gifts. One of the items was a May Flash N64 Controller Adapter for USB. While I haven’t had a chance to really put it to a good test I did get some time to hook it up to an N64 controller that I bought yesterday from a pawn shop for $5.

The USB adapter includes two N64 controller ports and it works with Windows and Mac OS X. There aren’t any drivers available. It seems to work via the standard HID interfaces.

Note that there is one important caveat for use with a Mac. So far it only appears to work with one controller. Specifically, only the N64 port on the right. I don’t know if this is specific to the OS X drivers or if it’s a software compatibility issue. Amazon review comments hint that it may just be a general problem when using the adapter with OS X. I’ve used it with Sixtyforce and that’s the only N64 emulator I’ve used on a Mac.

In Sixtyforce the button mappings worked well. I did have problems with the calibration of the stick on the controller. Its resting position caused the character to constantly move forward. At this point I don’t know if it’s just a sign of an old controller or if there’s something I can do on the OS side to fix the alignment. I’ll keep toying with it, but I don’t think it’s a problem with the adapter itself.

Overall, this is a cool little device. I also have their SNES adapter but I haven’t acquired SNES controllers yet.

Updated 02/18/2012: I tried the controller again and set the axis deadzone to zero in Sixtyforce. This time it worked perfectly.

Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter Won’t Connect to Xbox Live

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The Short Version: I can make it work by selecting “Connect to Xbox Live”, letting it fail the test, and then choosing the option to test the connection to Xbox Live. After it completes successfully I can then connect to Xbox Live. I never found a solution to this problem.

Rather than deal with this problem indefinitely I removed the Microsoft adapter and now I’m using an ethernet to wifi bridge device, which works perfectly.

Several months ago I moved the Xbox 360 into a different room. Rather than run another network device for the only console that doesn’t have built-in wireless (I have an older model) I decided to purchase an Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter.

It works, but not perfectly. I haven’t identified the cause yet. It could be a compatibility issue with my Apple Airport Extreme Base Station though it may be something very obscure. It doesn’t receive a very strong WiFi signal but I wouldn’t rate as being weak.

Whenever I start the Xbox 360 up it no longer automatically logs into Xbox Live (despite being configured to do so). In addition, it won’t connect to Xbox Live just by clicking the appropriate tile.

The only way I can make it connect using the WiFi adapter is to select the option to test the connection to Xbox Live, after it fails to connect.

After the test successfully completes I can then back up to the main menu and sign into Xbox Live without problems.

Updated 06/25/2012: I still haven’t found a permanent fix for this issue. It’s as though the USB wifi adapter simply doesn’t wake up when I turn on the Xbox 360. I have to run a connection test every time to get it working. The issue isn’t caused by the Airport Extreme Base Station. It took a hit to some ethernet ports recently and is no longer in line. I’m still experiencing the same problem with my ASUS wireless router.

Updated 12/10/2012: I sold it to a friend recently and he reports that he doesn’t have this same issue. I suspect that the wifi signal where my Xbox system is located is rather weak, which creates problems for the Xbox adapter. I’m currently using an IOGear device with the Xbox and it seems to be able to connect to Xbox Live automatically at start-up.

Using a 4th Generation iPod touch with a 2006 Scion

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The Short Version: The Scosche passPORT Charging Adapter for iPod & iPhone can restore full iPod/iPhone integration with a 2006 Scion but the connections may not hold up over time.

This information may be useful for more than just 2006 Scion owners. It might work for anyone using newer iPods or iPhones with older accessories that were once fully compatible with previous editions of those devices.

In this case, I bought my wife a 4th gen iPod touch for Christmas. On a short road-trip we were happy to learn that her car’s iPod integration worked with the new 4th gen… mostly. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t charge the newer iPod touch (everything worked great with her older 1st gen iPod Touch).

I wasn’t sure there was a solution available, short of buying a new cable or head unit, but I surfed over to Google and started browsing forums. It didn’t take more than a minute before I found several references from other Scion owners to the Scosche passPORT Charging Adapter for iPod & iPhone.

The adapter arrived today so we took it along with us for a short drive we already had planned. Sure enough, it worked great. Note that it does make it so the iPod/iPhone won’t fit as elegantly into the center console as it did, but integration for the new iPod touch is working as it did with the older iPod touch.

Updated 04/16/2012: While the adapter does function properly we’ve found that it doesn’t fit tightly on the iPod touch any more. As a result, it often comes slightly loose – just enough to lose connection. I think this product would work better if it was a cable rather than a short adapter. The added flexibility would reduce stress on the connectors and make it easier to set the iPod touch down in a better position.

IOGear Universal WiFi N Adapter (GWU627W6)

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Last spring my brothers and I purchased a 32″ LCD Panasonic TV for our mother that includes several Internet streaming apps built-in (Netflix, Pandora, etc). At the time it would have cost an additional $90 for the wireless adapter so I decided to setup a Linksys AP in bridge-mode (to a Linksys wireless router) and connect it to the TV’s ethernet port.

Unfortunately, the AP to wireless router bridge required that I use WEP for her network. This wasn’t ideal considering the weak security that WEP provides but it worked well enough to get the television connected.

About a month ago I purchased an IOGear Universal WiFi N Adapter (GWU627W6) for about $40, which is a much more reasonable price than the other adapter and can easily be used with any ethernet-compatible device. A week ago I went over to my mother’s house and swapped out the AP with the IOGear device.

So far it seems to be working well and I’ve also changed her network to use WPA. I think this is a good device at a fair price.

Updated 11/18/2012: I also bought one for myself that I used to replace a Microsoft USB wifi adapter for my Xbox. Both IOGear adapters are still working great.

Updated 07/18/2013: The adapter connected to my Xbox still works great.