Sunday 8 October 2023

Computers and Home computer archive

Created; 08/10/2023, Changed; 24/10/2023 - 23/10/2023

My first computer was a home computer, one of the best of its time the Acorn Atom, which I purchased second-hand in about 1979.  This ran BASIC and had an assembler plus access to system features.  All the computers I have run at home have been second-hand privately purchased but for one second-hand that I purchased from a computer shop.  The first computer I ran with an operating system ran CP/M and was an Epson QX-10, after that, I have been running PCs with DOS, Linux and also Android.  My related pages; Windows to Linux - operating systems

My electronics projects at home were unplanned do a bit of design or copy a bit then do a bit more.  With veroboard design, this is a good strategy in laying out a design you do the most important first, the power supply decoupling, and sensitive signals.  My first projects at work were electronics but later it was necessary to select and design with microcontrollers.  I started to use worst-case design methods and other things I was learning at technical college in my design work. 

Physicists and worst-case design methods - sometimes people don't understand the imprecise nature of real-world, materials and people.  They understand the words but have no feel for the imprecise way materials, technicians and engineers need to understand to work.

Spock, pictured, does not appear to understand tolerances and the imprecise nature of the universe, so he compensates by calculating to a greater accuracy than is required.  A company I worked for made optical parts to a greater accuracy than was required adding cost although the final trimming of optical assemblies could be left centred without adjustment.  Things have changed electronic components and most things, are made to a high accuracy in order to assemble devices that need little or no further adjustment, the parts have been trimmed before they were mounted in their package or discarded if they did not meet all specification points or does not work.  Temperament types figure in misunderstanding.

Embedded microcontroller;

At work, I developed software and electronics for an Intel i8748 microcontroller, which had 1K x 8 EPROM, 64 bytes of RAM and about 240 instructions.  The development system was Prompt 48 which required the programmer to write down your instructions on a pad of blank paper tables and translate the instructions to hexadecimal code instruction and operator.  The program was typed in and programmed using a hexadecimal keypad with seven-segment displays.  The manufacturers provided a lot of training books and crib cards, showing programmes to carry out many things such as multiply or divide for example.  The machine cycle was 2.5 uS with a 3.6 MHz crystal and consumed about 0.5 W.

At this time it was a big cost in time and money to switch microprocessors.  i8048/8748 (1976) was not compatible with i8051 although Intel said it was.  On the other hand, the Motorola MC6800 code was compatible with newer of there 8-bit microcontrollers and microprocessors MC6801 (1978), and MC6811 until about 1988 with the introduction of the MC68HC12.  By about 1985 people had in any case moved their code to a computer such as a PC and were using cross-assemblers running on CP/M or DOS, so older software could be changed with less effort and run on another microcontroller from the same manufacturer but requiring less, but still a lot of effort.  Towards the end of this part's life, a version i8749 with 2K EPROM became available, it had been superseded by i8051/i8751 and many other manufacturers' products.  i8749 was not supported by the Prompt 48 but in any case, debugging and an emulator were not required only an adaptor for the programmer was required.  Switching to another manufacturer meant learning new embedded peripherals which is also a lot of work.  By the end of the 1980s people were beginning to use C-cross-compilers and the microprocessor instruction set was not an issue Switching to another manufacturer was not such an issue any more but for the differences in the peripherals were and are a big issue.  PC-lint was being used to check the programming which operates like a grammar checker for C source program code. 

The program to carry out one of four or five scale conversions could have used a look-up table with straight-line approximation between points.  But it used integer arithmetic; = A + B.x + C.x2 + D.x3 + F.x4 + G.x5 polynomial calculation though complicated was simplified by making the multiplier (B, C etc) a divisor;  = A + A.x/b + A.x.x/(b.c) + A.x.x.x/(b.c.d) + …..  It also did temperature compensation by calculation of B and C terms from temperature and the measurement reading using another two 5-term polynomials.  It was possible that the shortcuts would have made some scale conversions not possible but no such problem arose during the instrument's 25-year production run, because the number range necessary to maintain precision using single precision integer arithmetic had been worked through in the design stage. 

I struggled with reading when I was 20 so despite the very good programming tutorials and examples provided by the manufacturers I only got the gist of them and then re-invented but with shortcuts to save the microcontroller's memory.  I only started learning programming at college after I had started the project.  In this way, the polarimeter project which my manager started off in a good direction for me ended up as a very fast rough answer that improved and gave a pleasant and usually quicker more accurate response probably than any other polarimeter of its time. 

Programming; The MC6801 could be purchased with LILbug debug monitor.  Which I used to start developing the next project.  The construction was on veroboard including SRAM and an EPROM.  The completed range of new instruments used HD6301 microcontrollers until these became obsolete in the 2000s.  Development used an EPROM programmer, cross assembler and an Embedded BASIC, it was made and sold by a university tutor, who supported it well fixing many things.  This method of developing projects did not change much with the switch to HC12 or PowerPC other than to use the debugging interface built into these microcontrollers to program the flash ROM.  Cosmic C compiler for MC6812 was the best quality, robust tool I ever used and the French company who made that range of compiler and user interfaces were and are proud of their products.

Avoiding the transition to microcontroller (now called embedded microcontroller)

There were a lot of ICs and LSI (large-scale integration) that allowed you to continue developing electronics solutions without using a microcontroller and the big hurdle of a lot more software development for a lower cost and often better solution.  Analogue electronics were improved and were very good by 1980.  For example the Ferranti digital panel meter ZN450? did not require the expensive and large capacitors that other makers required because it used delete-sigma A/D conversion, but the development of this part was not completed.  FMMT459, high voltage, low power, the transistor used in CRT type oscilloscopes and other high voltage electrostatic driven beam devices.   The Raytheon RC4200 multiplier/divider IC was particularly good and resulted in a less compromised solution than some more expensive parts.  

Analog to Digital converters with display drivers.  Decimal counters with display drivers made by Intersil.  Better operational amplifiers and multipliers for analogue calculation rather than using software.  I used these in my earlier development work to apply some approximate scale conversion in what turned out to be a turning point instrument completion for the company's future.  The RFM80, a refractometer of 1980, was very well regarded in its time.  The drawback with parts this age was that their accuracy was usually only specified at room temperature although they also had an operating temperature range but often it was not that wide.  Now parts are specified for minimum production life, a much better temperature range with quoted performance and a vastly lower defect rate. 

Mainframe computer

Traditionally mainframe computers run micro-instructions.  An emulator or simulator is loaded to provide a nicer computer instruction set to program with each instruction being carried out using several micro-instructions. 

Ferranti made one of the first electronic computers and also made mainframe computers.  They also made 16-bit radiation-hardened and wide operating temperature range microprocessors for space and the military, the F100-L in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mainframe computers used to use ECL logic (Emitter Coupled Logic) specifically called Bit-Slice parts, which was and still is fast. 

PCs, Mini and Mainframe computers require a small ROM containing the bootstrap loader to load program from a floppy disk, tape or disk.  But the ROM also included a Monitor program, that gave some debugging such as to set break-points, load, save, edit and examine memory features.  I've used SWTbug at college. 

Mainframe computer design influenced microprocessor design by varying degrees;

Many of the earlier microprocessors evidently ran micro-instructions internally but were programmed in comprehensive instruction sets similar to how a mainframe computer would be used.  By comparison, MC6800 ran a comprehensive instruction set implemented in hardware, this is how all microprocessors operate now.  The PIC is probably the only microcontroller that runs micro-instructions and is programmed in micro-instruction by the end user these microcontrollers are only used to do very little such as set up timers,  Analog-to-Digital converters and Digital-to-Analog converters and simple input and output port pins on-chip, they are cheap parts. 

The most influential mini-computer was made by Digital the PDP-11 of 1970

The significant change point that brought about mass home computer ownership was probably when EPROM became available cheaply; 

EPROM HN482764G is generically known as 2708 to 27512 it only requires a 5V power supply.  1K x 8 bits to 64K x 8 bits with a higher voltage (12V to 21V depending on the part) is required for Vpp when programming the device.  NM2708 was new in about 1977 and cost £70-£100 each, but the price quickly dropped.

EPROM type i1702 Intel, MM5203 to MM5204 National Semiconductors required -12V +5V power supplies plus Vpp -47V or -50V.  MM5204, which had an increased capacity of 512 x 8 bits, was new in about 1976 and did not have 4-bit bus support. 

Alternatively, mask ROM could be custom-made - I believe these became viable if the batch quantity was at least 2,000 in the 1970s.  Manufactures of fusible link Programmable Read Only Memory (PROM) gave users circuit and constructional details on how to make a programmer using LEDs, thumb-wheel switches, TTL logic, etc to build on veroboard.  Be careful though, one mistake, and you have to discard an expensive part.  At this time fusible-link PROM was small, probably 32 bytes to 1K bytes and expensive in the later 1970s?


2764 8K byte EPROMs (pictured) were used in a considerable number of computers from the late 1970s. 

Once this size EPROM became available cheaply the home computer quickly became very popular.

By comparison, The Zilog and Intel microprocessors in the 1970s-80s may have also run micro-instructions internally to provide the comprehensive instruction set a chip user programmer would use.  Some alternatives to these microprocessors such as i8751/i8051 were made by other companies that ran comprehensive instructions directly without requiring many cycles but using hardware functions in the same way that the MC6800 Motorola and R6502 Rockwell did then and probably all microprocessors do now.  

The MC6800 may have started as a hybrid IC containing several chips before it was released commercially.  The two-phase clock input had to be correct and the MC6801 was much easier to use the embedded version.  The HD6301 Hitachi was a much lower power and faster CMOS version used in battery-operated computers and dot-matrix printers and sold in very high volumes for 1 to 2 decades.


Hitachi's HD6301 was faster than MC6801 generally, instruction took one clock cycle less to perform.  These microcontrollers and other Hitachi microcontrollers in printers and consumer products during the 1980s and 90s.  Whereas Motorola was used in the automotive industry mostly very prominently in the 1990s.  The CMOS HD63701?? with EPROM integrated pictured was withdrawn because the product did not comply with a cross-license agreement between Motorola and Hitachi so Hitachi developed the H4, H8 and H16 products instead and the HD63000 also never became available.  Motorola subsequently introduced pipe-lining architecture to improve the speed of their microcontrollers.

It was much superior to the late1970s i8748, which had 1K byte EPROM, 64 bytes of RAM and 256 address range but could access up to 4K bytes of memory using paging.  These embedded microcontrollers had mask ROM variants i8048. The MC6801 and HD6301 could alternatively run from an external ROM.  They all had ports and timers and were suitable for high-volume production.  The EPROM variants were suitable for low-volume manufacturers and prototype software development.  Compared to modern embedded microcontrollers these older parts made the bus available for programming and development.  Rare piggyback EPROM type microcontroller with the EPROM plugged into the top of the microcontroller Integrated Circuit. 

Page 18, 6 and 8 pin embedded microcontroller SC9RS08KA2.  
Note; BKGD (Debug and programming pin) can be a port or 
function output and ! RESET can be a port or function input.

The Motorola one-wire background debug interface has not been used by any other manufacturer.  Other manufacturers use interfaces that use more wires such as TI's JTAG which has 4 wires plus a reset wire and is used by other manufacturers such as IBM/Motorola's PowerPC.  The debug interface used by ST in its ARM 32 embedded microcontroller is 2 wires plus reset. 

The MC6811 and the MC68HC12 could be programmed through any one of the ports which defaulted to boot-loader or debugging.  This feature is commonly available on most embedded microcontrollers for fast production programming.  The debug interface like the one pictured is slower when programming parts with a large amount of data but would also do the job easily.  HC12 was a step back in features from the MC68HC16 which like many of Motorola's parts were more complicated, very impressive, but not so popular, that I evaluated but did not use because it was not a popular range of embedded microcontrollers.

The I2C bus developed by Philips (NXP) is widely used but there are almost equivalent copies, by comparison, the CAN bus is specified and controlled by the automotive industry and I do not think that there are near equivalent copies of it.  These are not used for programming and development but for communication between ICs on the same circuit board or within a car respectively.

By the 1990s embedded microcontrollers such as MC68HC12 included on-chip Flash one-wire  programming and debug interface.  These microcontrollers require compact therefore fast operating programs.  Now, 9HCS12 is made by NXP in Europe instead of Motorola in the USA and is very well optimised for 8 and 16-bit operations, these are flexible powerful microcontrollers.   This has a one-wire wire background debug plus a simple fast bootloader that monitors all serial communications and ports and then programs the flash if it has not already been programmed. 

The low-cost 8-bit variant HC908 (HC08) has 8 pins or more and can be found in very cheap products such as a computer mouse.  Software development Cosmic HC08 and HCS08 Products (  The cheapest most cut-down variant that remains available RS08 datasheet page above is a subset the of MC6800 core approximately but with the background debug interface and is available with as few as 6 pins note that even the control and debug/programming pins!RESET (or alternative input function) and BDGM (or alternative output function) can be used as ports in a limited way.

In traditional programming with few or no libraries and tools to help there is very little need for debugging, (setting breakpoints and monitoring variables) but just programming.  The only time where these things are more important is initially before you have developed much code and therefore you can arrange hardware implementation to not use the two pins until late in development and for the simplest things so that you keep the option to debug for as long as practical.  In any case, I have and would always avoid sharing debugging pins with other functions.  There was a bug in one compiler I was using and the debug feature was useful for identifying it, Cosmic then rapidly fixed their compiler and the problem was resolved.

STM ARM based; STM32F072, Nucleo-64 
TI; MPS430, EXP430FR2433 
NXP ARM based; MKV11Z128VLF7, FRDM-KV11Z. 

In each case, these evaluation boards include the debug and programming circuits at the top of the PCBs.  They are connected and powered via a USB cable.  The microcontroller is a 32-bit bit with FLASH ROM and RAM on-chip, ports, and programming/debug interface but no bus I/O.  Rarely does an application require a 32-bit microcontroller but these parts also have more sophisticated ports, timers etc. 8 or 16-bit microcontroller would be adequate and more efficient but there is a considerable range of variants without adding more. 

Manufacturers of the microcontroller provide software tools, debugging interface and software libraries.  In the case of ARM core processors, there is one CAD tool used for writing programs which uses the code provided by the parts manufacturer.  This does not mean you can swap between manufacturers or swap between parts easily but you can now do it.  Lauterbach makes these tools for ARM.  The Texas Instruments evaluation board pictured is not an ARM core microcontroller so you need a completely different set of CAD tools for it.

Sinclair had very exciting products that always turned out to be a  disappointment.  Scientific calculator that gave the wrong answer if it had taken too long to compute a log or a trig function the manual warned of and did occur often.  A watch made with special black plastic called Black Watch.  Kits included; a matchbox-size radio,  radio and an amplifier, using pulse width modulation speaker drive (I think).  An advanced computer with an MC68008 processor and solid-state Micro-drives turned out to be a tape loop.  A portable flat-screen TV may have been okay, but I do not know about the flat-screen oscilloscope?  Still, the audacity of this company deserved an award which the Queen duly gave the owner. 

The best home computer

Reduced Instruction Set Microprocessors (RISC) are very common and a lot is claimed but they may be, in some cases, just old intellectual property dressed up.  The ARM 7 instruction set runs at half the speed of a Motorola M-core for the same clock speed but can be switched to run as fast but with more memory use than the M-core.  ARM is sold as a very cheap commodity piece of intellectual property whereas Motorola developed the most leading edge parts.  The last version of the BBC micro had an impressively fast ARM microprocessor.  The ARM microprocessor is now used very widely even Motorola (now NXP) make microprocessors using the ARM core under license.  But like Motorola make PowerPC under licence from IBM (R6000 core) I would say it is better to use one of the company's own propriety processors Motorola understated what they do and they have very satisfied users consequently.

The MOSTEC or Rockwell R6502 processor-based BBC micro was faster than the i8086-based first IBM PC's despite on paper seeming to be slow.  Both were Comprehensive Instruction Set microprocessors (CISC).  Many electronic designers got caught out by spec. points v reality.  The problem is that you never really know until you have invested heavily in a chosen microprocessor development then you are stuck with it.

The speed and size of the program being run if it is in assembler (machine code) or optimized compiled high-level language can be very small and fast this is how the Acorn Atom with its built-in assembler and highly efficient BBC Basic programming language got its justly deserved excellent reputation for.  But Basic is an interpreted language meaning it is written in text interpreted character by character at the time of running that program.  The trick with the Acorn Atom and BBC was to convert the textual words to short tokens two bytes in size that are therefore much quicker to interpret than longer full English language spelt-out words.  The BBC micro was faster still and this was achieved by placing line length code at the beginning of each program line so that the interpreter can calculate line lengths and skip along quickly to the required line.  There are a lot of scripting languages that work by interpreting text such as; Submit, Batch, Perl, Java, and HTML.  The program running may not be aware of the precise details of the computer it is running on but instead, it could be running on a standard virtual machine environment created for it such as; Pascal and p-code, Java to run JavaScript or basic interpreter.  The implication of this is that the program does not need to be rewritten for every possibility but on the other hand the machine is running a program that is, in turn, running on another program and perhaps runs a third program that interprets text list-based tasks this of cause slows the computer and makes the code very large.  It is therefore possible to create a vastly powerful and wide range of applications with a vast number of software writers each adhering to a set of rules, way beyond the capability of one person but the coding is necessarily not so efficient.  

National Semiconductors used to make a microprocessor that appeared to run very primitive micro-instructions in the 1970s and early 1980s.  One variant included a BASIC interpreter and was very slow but quite flexible DMA.  INS8060 and INS8070 SC/MP,  I do not know but this may still continue to be modified made but now known as PIC?  SC/MP (scamp) was one of the first microcontrollers to come into the country from the USA in 1976 and the evaluation kit was built into a good-sized suitcase.  Intel also made a version of i8051 but with a BASIC interpreter programmed into the ROM.

An anecdote is that Motorola's MC6800, and some of the UK's makers like Plessy, were making microprocessors for the military before 1970. 

Now, Computers are considerably faster, but the software is much slowed by being written in scripting languages, run time systems and elaborate graphics plus some of the operating systems such as Windows grow in an untidy way with patches added.


Wednesday 25 January 2023

NHS hearing aids with a phone smartphone or laptop PC

 Created; January 2023, Changed; 12-03-2024, 07-03-2024

Maker; Phonak, provided by NHS free with a free supply of replacement batteries, tubes and soft ends.  The Hearing Aids and tubes are handed Blue-Left and Red - Right.  The consumables and support can be found at the local library or other places once a month at certain times, provided that you bring your NHS hearing aid logbook with you.  I do not know how widely Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Health Authority provide this support if it is just within my health authority region or across England?  Alternatively, spares and repairs can be provided by post. 

NHS, Phonak hearing aids with the battery compartment partly 
open to switch them off or fully open for battery replacement.

The symptoms are that you can hear people but not understand what they are saying.  This is because we have lost hearing over part of the audible frequency range and our brain tries to compensate which causes tinnitus and poor mental health due to avoiding conversation.  This blog discusses electronic hearing aids including using tone controls but also discusses fitness apps. cycling, walking, smart-phone navigation and other technicalities.

Normal use;

  • The buttons on the hearing aids are top to increase the volume and bottom to reduce the volume.  There is a double note warning for when the maximum or minimum volume setting is reached and another sound when a Bluetooth device is connected. 
    • Setting the volume lower is helpful in a noisy environment or setting them higher to hear more clearly can also make them uncomfortable though necessary to hear.
    • The hearing aids can not be set to too quiet or too loud they are calibrated for you.  A note or two notes are played when the minimum or maximum setting is reached.
    • The buttons are ganged by a Blue-tooth connection so you only need to touch a button on one side to change the volume on both sides for example. 
    • The hearing aids are switched off and on by clicking, closing, or part opening the battery compartment.
  • When Bluetooth is connected; - These instructions are the same as the NHS leaflet. 
    • Press the top button for a medium length of time on the hearing aid to answer your ringing phone. 
    • Press the top button for a longer time on the hearing aid to disconnect the call.  The hearing aid will play a tune to confirm the disconnected phone call. 
    • Dialling a number connects the hearing aids. 
    • Answering the phone directly may connect or may not connect the hearing aid.  You need to experiment to discover how your smartphone or cell phone behaves then decide whether to keep or use "forget" to remove the hearing aid's Blue-tooth connection on that device. 
    • If you are using your hearing aid your voice will be picked up by the hearing aid but if your phone is nearby then its microphone will also pick up your voice making what you say unclear to the other person.  Therefore moving your phone away from your face and putting it away, may not be very helpful?
    • If one of the batteries fails or a hearing aid is turned off then the Blue-tooth sound connection will break and stop in the other hearing aid. 
    • If the hearing aid's Bluetooth feature is not used for some time then the hearing aid will forget that connection.  So although the hearing aid is listed in the device devices you need to pair the hearing aids again and then the Blue-tooth icon will include a tick when the hearing aids are switched on.
    • There is a Phonak app. for Android 6 or higher but it is not required.
  • You don't necessarily need to use hearing aids, you can use tone controls on Hi-Fi, sound equaliser programs or apps for PCs, and smart-phones which may do the job well. 
    • If you have the tone set to work without your hearing aids on your non-Bluetooth Hi-Fi or smart-phone but then use your hearing aids the sound will sound unusual (in my case high-pitched) but what is said should still be clearer.  
  • The hearing aids usually play a few notes when anything notifiable occurs in your connected device including turning on that device.  Selectively turning off some notifications is useful but may be difficult to configure in some smart devices.
  • Phonak Support - Tells you how to use the hearing aids and set them up with a device but does not answer support questions you need to ask the (HiKent in my area) volunteers when they visit your area about cleaning and battery care.  Or the NHS hospital auditory department if it is a more technically detailed question.


Your health;

The NHS is concerned about your mental health and I have noticed that I can include myself in conversations once again and that my comprehension of what people say is much better,  even without the hearing aids it is still better after just a few weeks of using the hearing aids.  The benefit was immediate although the excellent hearing aids did cause minimal irritation, which will diminish in time.  I do not wear the hearing aids at home but have turned up the Treble and turned down the Base on my Hi-Fi which at first sounds strange but just makes everything clear, this does a similar thing to how the hearing aids have been calibrated which the NHS will explain to you when you are tested and when the hearing aids are fitted.  

The hearing aids also reduce the hissing noise from Tinnitus - Tinnitus is not an infection if you hear it in the centre of your head, I believe, but the brain trying to compensate for my poor hearing.  Hearing aids do a better job than avoiding drinking coffee, which coffee also exasperates Tinnitus.  The difference in hearing is that I can hear people speaking but now I can understand what they say, without needing to strain to understand them.  

I now also do not bother about choosing decaffeinated coffee but do not drink more than one mild, preferred, coffee a day or else it becomes addictive but it now does not affect my tinnitus which is much less severe after 6 months anyway.  And after nearly a year I still notice more benefits such as being able to correct something said to me because I am more sure of what was said.  Or more I am more willing to ask for a statement to be repeated because I am much more likely to understand the reply, it is not a waste of time asking.

NHS provides hearing aids with instructions, spare batteries, tubes and tube ends at no charge.  The hearing aids if lost or broken are subject to charges for their replacement but not their full cost.  Blue-tooth is connected easily too with basic Doro mobile phones.  It was not easy to connect to an old tablet or smartphone and it seems impossible to get sound from a laptop.  Phonak referred me to the NHS who in turn told me some basic things, spent some time on the other question and was unable to answer my questions on connection to a laptop, They could have just answered the question I asked directly and via the NHS that the NHS one is not supported on Windows. 

Using Blue-tooth - advantages and disadvantages of connection to devices;

  • Listening to a video on a laptop would be of great advantage where the sound quality in the laptop is poor and low volume. (is not available with Ubuntu, Mageia and Windows 10 operating systems at the present time)
  • Hi-Fi There is no advantage to using hearing aids because the tone controls do the job well except if the tone settings and the volume level inconvenience other people. 
  • Laptop, Smartphone or Tablet - A sound equaliser app may do the job well enough for you.
  • Cell Phone - Your hearing will be improved but the other person will find the sound poor because the microphones in the hearing aids, which pick up more surrounding sound, are being used.  It is impolite to seem to talk to yourself but more importantly, you are giving out misleading discussion cues to others although you do not want to talk to them. 
  • Note that only two devices can be connected to the hearing aid.  It is apparent that the limit is just on the number of devices connected at any one time but not the total number of devices you have made a Bluetooth connection to?  When setting up a Bluetooth connection ensure that there are no other Bluetooth devices connected to the hearing aids.  Advice given that you should disconnect all devices except for up to two is therefore not necessary, but when setting up a connection you must just have the one device you are making a connection to the hearing aids with any other connected devices switched off. 

Bluetooth connection to a device;

Phone, Smartphone and Tablet all connected the sound to the hearing aids but the laptop did not connect any sound although the Blue-tooth interface did connect. 

Laptop; The picture shows Windows 10 Blue-tooth paired to the 
hearing aids with a headphone icon but there is no sound output.

Windows or a Linux Distribution should not be linked to two devices; "LE-L Left hearing aid" and "LE-R Left hearing aid" These are used by the Phonak app not available for PCs.  The correct connection probably should be;  "R-NHS hearing aid" which works with a phone, smartphone and tablet.  But none of these work with Windows 10, Mageia, Ubuntu and Lubuntu.  

The Blue-tooth connection completes but if you look further into Windows, the system does not have a sound driver for the hearing aids this is no doubt a driver provided by Phonack.  There is a way of resolving the issue in Linux but I have not spent the time on doing and it does not seem straightforward. 

You may find that Sony Blue-tooth Headphone advice helpful though it also did not help in this case?  See;  How to connect your Bluetooth headphones to a laptop/desktop computer | Sony UK

The Laptop is a Toshiba running either Windows 10, Mageia, or Lubuntu and Ubuntu;

  • Ubuntu 20 connects by Blue-tooth but there is no sound.  There are many suggestions on the internet but they did not work. 
    • -- might be useful but did not help. Despite the title of the website, it is not an NHS-recommended website.  
    • The website given in the NHS leaflet is a shopping page, not a hearing aid support page.
    • I installed A2DP -- this did not work on Linux or Windows - it seems to be a sound switch for receiving sound rather than the missing driver.  This did not help.
      • NHS support requests were unable to help with these issues with my laptop.  They did spend time and asked the maker of the phones but finally, said they could not support all laptops.  They also said additionally forget (unpair) all other Blue-tooth connections to the hearing aids in all but one other device as a first step, but I am certain as long as other devices are turned off this step will make no difference. 
    • NOTE; Blue Tooth does not operate or not properly to multiple operating systems on one device - you have to choose which operating system is going to have the device connection.

    Doro 6620 phone;  The Settings, Sound, Audio set-up, and HAC option is not relevant or required.  The Blue-tooth connection menu and search for devices, turn the hearing aids off and then on again and connect to the hearing aid.  Its name is; "R-NHS hearing aid" (this connects to both hearing aids).

    The phone is two or three years old and there is a firmware update available for it dated August 2022.  This update is not available generally Doro tells me that their agents will carry out the update if necessary.  The battery's capacity deteriorated over the past year or two unexpectedly.  I found that the charger and the phone's state of charge indicator were at fault and the capacity of the battery increased greatly after the charger was replaced.  So the state of charge indicator within the phone also seems to be at fault.  The camera within the phone is not particularly good or required when the phone was purchased. 

    USB power output is 4.5 - 5.5V, but for a device with a 4.2V lithium cell to be charged the supply voltage needs to be nearer 5.5V than 5V at a high current for a smartphone.  Hence phones may or may not charge when connected to different USB devices and chargers.

    Basic cell phones have a good battery life of about 300 hours or 10 hours of talk time and connect to hearing aids easily.

    Doro 8030 smartphone;  There is a setting HAC does not help for hearing aids. 

    This is an Android 5.1.1 smartphone (you may need to go to Google Play and install the Sony Blue-tooth Headphones app).  Then go to Blue-tooth settings You should delete the hearing aid connections if you made them earlier and make a new connection to; the "R-NHS hearing aid" which is now available.  The hearing aids now connect when you press the top button on the left hearing aid but may or may not connect if you use the phone to answer a call. 

    There is a Phonak hearing aid app for Android 6.x.  You do not need it if you have another similar app installed and on most other devices you do not need it anyway.  It turned out subsequently that a hearing aid app or headphone app was not required, my guess is that the app reconfigured the phone a little.  The NHS advice leaflet similarly advises that you do not need the hearing aid app installed after it has been run once - I have found this is true even after a factory reset the hearing aids work with the phone without any hearing aid or headphone app. 

    This smartphone's camera is good and works in low available light, produces sharp but not saturated pictures but gives natural light photos a greenish tinge.  Evidently, it is set compromised for natural and artificial light, rather than compensating for the lighting.  The phone is slow.  But like any battery-operated device is best connected to a device that will charge it or charger when possible because its battery does not last long.  There needs to be more space to add many apps. but you can add an SD card and move some of the apps. to it but this does not save much space.  The phone does not have a light or flash.  The Doro has very limited tethering and Hotspot function so it will only cell data to tether USB, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi hotspot but none of the other combinations.

    This smartphone started to connect to the hearing aids regardless of whether you pressed a button on the hearing aid.  That is it operates differently after a little usage, to how other phones work and what the instructions say.  A workaround would be to turn the Blue-tooth off in the phone if you do not want this function, do not use Blue-tooth with this smart-phone.

    This Doro smartphone does not feel finished properly but is like an abandoned development.

    Storage and free space are reduced with the use of this Doro smartphone - Do return to the advanced settings periodically and look at the storage used, once again turn off and delete data, move to SIM or move to SIM again, or remove apps and features you have to manage without those.  The Telephone function did not work well as changed and saved contacts could be lost so I removed the SIM and use the smartphone as just a camera and to navigate mostly.  This smart device will periodically find more memory, that is it must have cleaned up and therefore deleted unused data, if there is enough you can consider adding other apps.

    I use some of these but there is no space for all of them; Google Drive, Mega Sync, Dropbox (an old version can be installed with installation security turned off) and OpenDocument Reader.  Mega - Choosing SD for data storage does not work your data has to be in the phone in this case.  I was able to disable; Chrome,  Google, Gmail, Hangouts, Photos, Swift Keyboard factory settings, Swift Keyboard, and YouTube (useful full screen but not enough space).  Instead used supported apps; Firefox or another, and K9-mail.  After the smartphone had run low on memory in addition to removing and moving to the SD card it was also necessary to remove and reinstall some other apps to restore their proper function.
    You can enable Google perhaps to use Listen.  Then disable it again before it updates and runs for too long which results in a lot of memory to be used.

    The Doro smartphone pictured above is typical of many has 10 hours of mixed-use time and may last two days unused when it was new in 2016-2018.  The phone's memory capacity is small 8GB (4GB reported) but adding at least 2GB SD card helps with some apps. and pictures storage can be moved to it.  I added an 8GB SD card. 

    It is important to always have at least 500 MB of free space in the internal storage 400 MB is too little causing many things to malfunction, and the smart-phone may take more power than the charger can provide.  The amount of space reported will vary continually but if it drops below 500 MB you need to move some apps to SD or remove some apps. from time to time the phone will often work fairly well, less sluggish with not-so-poor battery life.  So I have disabled some pre-loaded apps. and cleared their data.  Look for power-saving settings such as in the pedometer, but I found the speed and odometer app is good but only turn it on when you need it, I use them when walking or bicycling.  Apps moved to the SD card also use internal memory.  It is necessary to look at the apps often and repeat moving them to the SD card again or removing more of them (they no doubt update but are placed back into internal memory).  The Sony Blue-tooth Headphone app like many apps could not be moved to the SD card, it turned out that it was only needed briefly if at all and it could be removed.  Apparently, the successor Doro 8035 has much more memory but a shorter battery life.  The phone may still run hot and apps stop running properly, so it will be beneficial to conserve more internal memory to increase the free internal space to its maximum above 600 MB.

    Review of this smartphone  Among many phones.
    A better review of this smartphone  From a disabled person's perspective.

    By comparison, Galaxy Tablet running Android 12 - many apps when installed require permissions to be changed for them to work.  There are no issues other issues unlike the Doro smartphone regularly required to just make it function.  Of course, you still need to delete old photos and use your desktop to remove old emails use Facebook for example.  A system, still Android 12, updated in October 2023, improved the running of these apps on this tablet. 

    The basic type of phone; Doro 610 purchased in 2011.  The battery after 10 years of use is worn out but will only charge if it is run down first and lasts only a day.  All Batteries stock the battery for this phone. They are a well-established UK company.  This phone does not have a hearing aid setting but connects easily by Bluetooth to the hearing aid "R-NHS hearing aid".

    The Prestigio Tablet runs Android 4.2.x purchased in about 2014 and used it until 2023.  It does not need a driver or an app but connects to the hearing aids via Bluetooth, You may be offered three devices but you need to connect to just the "R-NHS hearing aid".  

    Blue-tooth sound does not connect necessarily to the Tablet after the first time it is used.  If it has not connected, go to settings and turn off Blue-tooth, Turn off the left hearing aid, then turn both on and the hearing aids connect usually.

    The sound volume was very low and only worked with earphones on this tablet.  Adding a volume boost app. resolved this issue and I then removed that app which did not cause the sound volume to reduce.  The app permanently corrected an original setting even after fully erasing everything reset so I never needed to install it again. 

    Avoid doing a reset or factory reset on an old smart device that is out of support because the features and updates for it may not be available.  You may find some of them on the web, which is risky anyway, you can restore some functions.  There may be no other option, many old versions of apps are available they may or may not be safe to use but you need to turn off the protection against installing unknown applications.  I installed and am using an old version of the Dropbox app for example.
    Where a program is not running instead of reinstalling it - clear the cache of any application that is not running properly.  

    I found that an unused Sony smartphone would not connect to Wi-Fi so it was not possible or going to be difficult to get it updated enough to get going without finding the firmware update for it and loading it manually using a desktop PC.  I chose to not pursue this further.

    This tablet works straightforwardly with virtually no issues.  Sadly there does not seem to be a way of changing the operating system to extend the tablet's life any more.  For example, there is a Debian application layer that does not look like it would do much?  This make, does not seem to be available for sale in the UK any more.


    At the hospital auditory clinic;

    The doctor took time to test and explain to me about my health, mental health and tinnitus as well as checking things.  On the second visit similarly tested and finally completed the calibration of my hearing aids ordered for me.

    Aftercare - You will need to visit the hospital after two years and within three years to have the hearing aids checked.  But if you leave it longer you will need to ask your GP to make a referral for you. 

    New Batteries and other maintenance - You can do these yourself or go to one of the volunteers who visit a public building monthly to get more batteries and help with other maintenance and basic support.

    The hearing aids accidentally get very wet;

    Inadvertently putting the hearing aids through the washing machine that was, fortunately, switched off; 

    • Take the desiccator out, dry it by microwaving it for 30 seconds, squeeze it, turn it over, microwave it for another 30 seconds and squeeze it again.  More time if it is a larger desiccator.
    • Take the batteries out put the hearing aids into a small jar with dry dedicators, a good sealing lid and leave them for 24 hours. 
    • If the desiccator is small repeat the drying of it, then put the hearing aids and desiccator back in the jar and leave them for another 24 hours.

    Desiccators can be found in with sealed-packed items, it is worth drying and keeping some in a sealed glass jar for this sort of situation. 

    Phonak App. 
    This works with Android 12 Tablet and is claimed to work with at least Android 6.
    • It needed a data connection such as Wi-Fi after the hearing aids were paired.
    • Gives volume control.
    • Gives you additional settings for the type of sound;
      • Preset choice of automatic, speech, music, and others.
      • Also has a Custom setting that you can name and lets you set the compander to reduce the highest volume sound.
    • There is a notification setting but you can not set a reminder to contact the NHS after 2 and before 3 years required.  There is a cleaning reminder that has not been required. 
    • I found the hearing aids of no use in a cinema though I have been told this app can improve the sound through using the app on my tablet in a theatre would not have been practical. 
    The hearing aids are set up for you very well anyway without using this app. 

    In case of Emergency;

    I have not set up the emergency button on a Doro phone but it is easy and good, you can turn it off.  The ICE button on the phone should not be programmed to the emergency numbers 999 or 112, apparently. 

    Mum also had a lifeline24 panic button for years but would not use it when she fell, I understand that this is not an uncommon attitude.  The lifeline24 button which is not connected to the phone was only used by Mum to get someone else to also nag me to visit and this is the only thing she used it for.  She argued against using 999, she just wanted someone to help her up, so mum argued with the ambulance crew who wanted to take her to the hospital every time except the last time when she knew it really was her end of life.  Mum later smiled and waved goodbye.  As far as I know, Lifeline24 does not support the connection of the Doro ICE button to their service. 

    You can store health and contact a friend type information in the phone's ICE tool.  But the phone should not have the password screen lock set up in that case.

    Other devices that can be connected and other points;

    • Other makes of smart devices work without any of the interventions that Doro requires. 
    • This smartphone might run for 16 hours with very little use and 30% of the power remained.  But it may only run for 5 hours if it's running slowly and you will need to spend a lot of time trying to do anything much with it.
    • At 30% The phone gives you the option to switch to a power save mode.  There were other percentage options.  The Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and many smart features were then turned off automatically.  Consequently dialling the phone did not connect to my hearing aids until the battery was recharged or the Blue-tooth turned on.  This feature did not work subsequently.
      • After charging the phone you need to turn the features on again.
      • This battery-saving option did not work subsequently and the phone just ran down without turning the extra features off next time.  This was resolved by removing more apps and so leaving more spare memory resulting in the feature working repeatedly. 
    • A smartphone is very much a toy and takes days or can take continual fiddling to optimize its settings and find good apps. for it without having too many that cause it to slow up, use the battery faster and stop working properly.  Adding memory such as by adding an SD card or bigger internal memory should reduce power consumption.  They are no good for social media for example Facebook only works properly, though still flawed, on a desktop
    The pocket battery pack and charger, above right, can be recharged from a PC USB port and the red light will flash until it is fully charged or it will charge a phone from its micro USB connector.  It is charged up or will charge a device but it won't work daisy chained PC - battery pack - phone, which would be silly anyway because using two USB ports will double the power.  There is a button on the top used to start charging, the red light goes out when charged, disconnected or run down.  In any case, carry a charger or at least a USB lead to keep the smartphone charged and its battery life good.  The battery does not need to be cycled that just shortens its life but the phone does need to have the battery cycled very occasionally to re-calibrate the state of the charge indicator.

    I use the tablet because it is big enough to use as a map to find where I am.  I do not have an active phone SIM in it.  Still, carry a paper map or drawing with me because although I have a good map loaded before I go out it may not display because it needs to be updated when I am out away from Wi-Fi.  A paper map is more readable in sunlight.  I also have a basic phone with me. 

    Walking and cycling and everyday use;

    There is almost no point saying be careful because the hearing aids will come off when you take a face mask off, they might come off taking a cycling helmet off and they usually stay on when you take your spectacles off.  They also fall out if you put them in the wrong ears.  But try your best to take care of the hearing aids watching out for where they might drop.  They otherwise stay in place reliably. 

    Walking, cycling and smart-phone apps;
    The mobile phones' alarm warnings and rings are quite loud when linked by Bluetooth.  You may not be able to do much about it but an app may have options to turn the sound off.
    Kassa Cafe, St. Leonard-on-Sea, East Sussex

    Standard rail tickets allow you to split the return trip but the Google 
    Maps app. could not deal with this break in my planned trip home.   

    Some good apps. for travelling and navigation;
    • Google Maps - is very good but can not be relied on.  If you are planning a bus ride, say, pick a bus route whilst you are online and a bus going at about the right time, the app will switch even if it is off-line to the bus you get on provided it is on the same route.  It will not switch to the train or bus you get on if it goes to a different final destination even if part of its route matches your plan or if it is a different mode such as, you use a train instead of a bus.  You need to plan the route again which is difficult when you are on the move and not possible if you have no data connection. 
        • The app. or the train operators have changed things so that the app. probably won't synchronize to the train you are on already anyway.  You need to follow the information on the train and ask the conductor if necessary rather than rely on this or any other navigation app.
        • When offline the app does not reliably show or speak directions.  When it does though it is fairly good and will work via the Blue-tooth connection to your hearing aids and you can adjust the volume on your smart device separately from the hearing aids' own volume control.  It stops giving spoken directions after a while though.  If it does not work you still have the map and your location on it that you can look at.
        • It won't necessarily show you the best route that you would use if you know the area.
        • Depending on the sensors in the smart device the map may be able to turn to show you the direction you are going, by clicking the arrow or the compass symbol on the right.  If a magnetic sensor is not present then the direction you are moving in won't be shown correctly or be consistent.
        • Generally, if there is a problem with a Google app or service and you report it, Google replies promptly.  I reported that Southborough's library is shown in the wrong location but exceptionally this has not been corrected and maps still guided people to the old boarded-up building for long after I had done that. 
      • OS maps -  More detailed than Google Maps.  Suggests bike rides and walks from the parameters selected.  The simple version is free, this app did not interest me. 
        • This app will tell you the distance you travelled but unlike other apps does not record the route.
      • National rail app - It is good but it now only activates if you are online.  It now does not show the train stops on the way.  You still need to use the train information on the trains and stations if it is available which varies by region you travel in. 
        • This app has changed and is now just a look-up timetable and does not follow the journey you are on, any more (it did not use to do that properly anyway).
        • Many if not all Train Operating Companies have an app  There were a few difficulties I found with the Southeastern but you can report a problem and have it answered. 
        • Other train apps.  I am held up by people struggling with their smartphones at the station barrier - but paper tickets and plastic cards by comparison go through the barriers very quickly. 

      Walking and cycling logging apps.
      • Pedometer ITO - walking app simply records walking distance and the number of steps when moving.  It presents a graph of steps by time.  Use the power save mode or it will run the battery down.
        • Set the power save and the auto-start options.  Then Start and observe the walking man icon appear.  Either leave the app. started it will still be started if you turn the smart device off and then on,  Or use the timer setting so that it automatically shuts off during your bedtime setting. 
        • If you have used the bed time turn off feature the app will now not start up when you turn the smart device off then on.  Unistall Pedometer and then reinstall Pedometer and then provided you do not used the bed-time swtich feature, when you first turn the app on it will stay turned on and you can use automatically power saving, automatically stop features.
        • It is simple, accurate and the most reliable of this type of app.  I recommend this app.

      Apps that log speeds a map and may or may not analyse the data;
      Don't pause any app before getting on a bus, train or other but finish the exercise then start again when you get off the bus, train or other.
      • Google Fit - Looks like a very simple pedometer, bicycle and other exercise monitor and log speeds and altitude with graphs and a map recording the exercises.  It is automatic you don't need to start or stop it.  It may ask if a journey was by bicycle or a car sometimes.  It works particularly well without data turned on by catching up when Wi-Fi is connected later which is when you can view your log of exercise called Journal.  
        • For the past year, this app. only partially works,  Sometimes it only displays calories used; other times it displays a map, mileage, step rate or speeds, and hills climbed with graphs.  Which of those works also varies between an Android 5 and an Android 12 device and versions.
        • When it works the automatic mode does everything, auto-stop and start work much better than other apps.  The manual mode is a bit pointless except when other parts of the app are not working in that particular update.  BUT MOSTLY MOST OF IT DOES NOT WORK.
        • I do not recommend this app.
      • Bikeometer Fitzeee Fitness - Free is a good speedometer that works without fuss, summarises statistics and can save history.   It is accurate when compared to my bicycle speedometer using a sensor and magnet on the wheel. 
        • Is now called; Bike computer cycling tool.
      • Bicycle Computer & Sport Tracker - Simply logs a map and statistics but does not have an auto-stop feature.
      • Bike Computer, Bike Computer Co. -  Displays speed, distance, elevation and calories but the free mode excludes the map and entering your personal statistics.  Simple start/stop but no auto-pause feature.
      • Cyclers did not complete login but the smartphone got slow.  I have not evaluated this a second time. 
      • Google FitBit is not the same as Google Fit although they look similar.  It requires a higher Android than 5 and seems to require to be started manually but tends to not record any activity.  I only ran this briefly on a tablet then removed it in February 2024.
        • I had been recommended to this app. Evidently, this like others varies with different smart devices.
      • Relive, Records activity simply but with no auto-stop. 
      • Running App - GPS Tracker
      • Sports Tracker - did not work well with Android 12 recording silly high maximum speed and straight lines for the map logged.
        • This app. was recommended to me but once again did not work well on my smart device.

      • Speedometer - Respire -  This type of app is also useful if you are curious about a train ride but you can use it to measure exercise and see route distance, speed and maximum speed (fewer of those features in the free version).   You need to try different apps till you find one that works on your smart device.  Compared to other apps the map plotted was smooth and accurate without high battery usage but the app does not automatically pause. 
      • Speedometer - NixGame - The free version works well, the speedometer is scaled 0-35MPH but once you hit maximum speed it rescales 0-70MPH.  It will record a few things such as the average and maximum speed of a journey.
          • These and many other speedometers work inside vehicles and travel through tunnels well. 
          • These speedometers do not work well at walking speeds.
          • I recommend this app.

        More detailed logging with analysis and auto stop;
        • Caynix - seems simple and very good. Records average, maximum speed moving time and log map.  I have only been using it for a few days.
          • This app. uses GPS and simply records movement and then calculates other statistics from it but does not differentiate between walking, cycling, or powered movement.  It also differentiates being stationary and moving.
          • You can set the type of exercise you are going to start using the cog icon next to the play icon.
          • The App. appears to filter spikes in the GPS data and removes them so moving near or into buildings does not leave spikes on the map logged.  But I did get one instance of a silly 5.5mph< walking speed.  This app. did plot a straight line for two mile part of where I cycled then recorded the rout correctly on one ocasion otherwise what it records has been acurate.
          • This app uses your Google Drive to log data but there is no connected website but if you have other devices you can see all exercises logged. 
          • When you first start with an Android 12 device it will guide you through the system settings required to get it to work.  This may be an aspect that explains why other apps don't always work.

        Everything plus route planning;
        • Strava -  Maximum and average moving speeds can be saved and looked at in detail from their website.  The free version does not include route planning and does not have adverts.  There is a linked website that allows access to saved ride maps.  The app has different map viewing modes 2D, 3D, and satellite overlay which impresses at first but does not improve the app. 
            • Strava and Rides with GPS bicycle and walking apps. does not work if kept running when inside a building.  They need to be paused or stopped.  Similarly, they won't measure moving speed inside a vehicle properly. 
            • This app is not available for Android 5 any more.
          • Cyclers - For walking and cycling - the free version randomly posts adverts but these don't intrude in a way that stops anything working.  Records speed, top speed and the route taken, it can plan your bike route but simply tell it where you want to travel between.  You can also use the website to plan a route but it does not load the route to your smart-phone automatically you can download a copy to your smart-phone (I did not manage to do this) or use a phone QR reader to move the plan to your phone app. this works easily.
            • The paid-for version also allows you to edit the map it creates for you - I read.
            • This app is a little more cluttered. 
            • There is no data connection between the app and website.
          • Ride with GPS - combines cycle maps and speedometer plus route planning that you can guide away a little from the calculated plan.  Basic is free and can connect to the makers of the app website dashboard for your use and plan rides is very good but it won't let you push the route down a footpath near me I found.  There are no adverts but the app tells you what is not available unless you choose to pay, there are enough free features for it to be useful anyway. 
            • One or two of the features possibly saving a profile picture of my bike on the website caused the app to crash.  Removing those resolved the issue but the smart device had low memory which may been the problem. 
            • Even so, it was helpful to be able to reinstall, log in and thereby reload some of my settings.
            • Ride with GPS tells me that they can not update the app further and that it would work with Android 10 but will work more slowly with 6 but my Doro only runs Android 5.  Consequently, there will only be limited function.
            • The free version lets me create one route plan.  This is a good-sized area and is adequate.  Not all the statistics about the journey you recorded are displayed until the journey is saved online.  So that is when you can see the maximum speed of say a train, bike, or walk. 
              • With the free version, you need to delete some previous records to make space to add new ones.
            • Does not work well in faster vehicles such as a train particularly going through a tunnel and can give a ridiculously high top speed in these cases.  This also occurs when walking into a building so it is best to pause or stop the app. rather than try to rely on auto pause before stopping to go shopping. 
            • This app is the best of this type of app.  Its good features are well thought out making it less complicated than it might have been.  There is no unnecessary clutter it is as plain and simple as such a full-useful feature app could be. 
          Some of these apps work on some Android devices but not on others.  Google apps probably work on any Android device but vary on how useful or oddly they work, that is they look easier than they turn out to be.  Android 12 on my Galaxy has settings such as allowing location information you must allow those for these apps to work.  Battery saver can stop some apps from working properly you probably need to turn that off. 

          More cycling apps.

          A bicycle dynamo would charge a regular phone if not running the lights but would not charge a smartphone but could slow down the rate that its battery runs down.  Some of the design ideas will take and deliver more of the available power from a bicycle dynamo than is normally taken.  A similar electronic device may not be available already but would be expensive to develop?

          These apps have nothing to do with health and hearing but I have been able to more accurately tell which of my bikes is better than the other They are not they are different.  Particularly give speed comparison as well as what I perceive road holding, feel and comfort.