Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tracking workout data, using Zapier, MapMyFitness, and Google Sheets

A few months ago, I joined the Zapier team, and embarked on the mission of making computers perform more work (and thus, reduce the monotony inflicted on us humans).

I'm a huge fitness-data geek, and love all of the stats I can get from apps like MapMyFitness. When I finish a workout, I manually type in the info/stats from that workout over in my daily journal (currently, Evernote), which is time-consuming, and usually error-prone.

Seems like something that a computer could easily perform - and now that's entirely possible!

Using, it's pretty easy to connect up things so that your workout data from MapMyFitness can be fed into Everenote, Google Sheets, or hundreds of other possibilities.

Here's an example that connects things with Google Sheets, which makes it easy to see your workouts in a spreadsheet view.

If you don't already have an account over at Zapier, you can set one up (for free!). Once you're in, you can set up a Zap, which connects data from one source (like MapMyFitness) to a destination (like Google Sheets - which assumes you already have a Google/Gmail account. If not, it's probably time to give up the e-mail address you're using).

Let's set up a Google Sheet (spreadsheet) which will receive the workout data from MapMyFitness.

Go to and create a brand new Google Sheet:

In that sheet, setup some column headings, which indicate the fields/data that you will eventually connect up:

At the Zapier web site, go ahead and create a new Zap!

For the Trigger (data source), select MapMyFitness:

For the Action (data destination), select Google Sheets (again - this assumes that you have a Google/Gmail account, and have setup a spreadsheet like the one described earlier in this article):

Step #1 of your Zap should look something like this:

Zap Step #2: Connect your MapMyFitness account:

It will redirect you to the web site for MapMyFitness, where you have to grant access for Zapier to read your Workout data. This does not store any passwords - instead, MapMyFitness returns an "access token" that is used to access your workout information.

Zap Step #3: Connect your Google Sheets account. Same thing as the previous step - we don't store any passwords, just an "access token" provided on your behalf.

Zap Step #4: Filtering.
If you'd like to filter out things (like certain types of workouts), you can select the criteria here. Otherwise, just ignore this and continue to the next step.

Zap Setup #5: Mapping fields

This is the most important step - this is where you select your Google Spreadsheet, and Worksheet within that spreadsheet (since a spreadsheet may contain many worksheets)

Then, you'll need to select the incoming fields from MapMyFitness, and deposit the data into the correct columns.  For each field, use the button "Insert Fields", and select the correct entry. Like this:

Step #6:  Test it out! Go ahead and "Test Zap with this Sample". This will confirm that Zapier is able to receive Workout data from MapMyFitness. If you already have workout data present, you'll see the three most recent workout entries appear like this:

Step #7: Name the Zap, use something that will help you remember what it's doing, like "Track my workouts"

Go ahead and turn on the Zap, and then go for a walk/run/ride/swim or whatever you do with MapMyFitness. As you complete new workouts, they will accumulate within that spread sheet. Like this:

From there, the possibilities are endless - such as functions to display your total mileage for this year!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

It's a bomb^H^H^H^H clock!

A month ago, there was a huge amount of discussion over a clock that a kid brought to school, which had him arrested and suspended. I have a clock obsession, but only for really weird/geeky clocks. My current favorite is the Tix Clock available at ThinkGeek.

Since I'm usually a month (or more) behind on my blogging, here's my story.

Back in 1998, my dad happened to have a bunch of dual-color LEDs, consisting of Green and Red (and thus, Yellow when both colors were illuminated) that he no longer needed. When I counted them out, there were just over 60 LEDs present - which made me wonder if I could build a clock?

I had spent too much time building all kinds of fun things using various forms of the 8051 microcontroller, and since I had the EEPROM burner and UV eraser in my home lab, it was the best fit for the project.  (These days, I'd much rather use an Arduino or something).

Since a clock would require 60 individually addressable LEDs, along with two individually addressable colors, that equates to a lot more pins than what's available on the 8051.

Multiplexing to the rescue!

I'm a huge fan of multiplexers (and serial shift registers). In this case, I took the 60 LEDs and divided them into four quadrants. I could use two pins to select a quadrant, and then use four pins to select 16 different possible LEDs within that quadrant, using the 74154 4x16 demultiplexor. Throw in the two pins needed for the color selection, and I could drive all of the necessary data signals with eight little bits!

Since I had a few extra data pins available, I hooked up a few push buttons. Two are to set the minutes forward/backward, and two are to set the hours forward/backward. There's a fifth button, but I don't remember what it does.  Maybe some day I'll find the old assembler code I wrote for this project, and see if there's any mention of its purpose.


Any true hacker's project rarely comes in a "polished/presentable" case. So the next question was what kind of packaging to use for housing this project? I needed something round, and a large enough size to house a custom circuit board that I made. I thought of a frisbee, but they weren't deep enough for all of the wiring (done by hand - ugh!).  The next best candidate was an ol' fashioned pie tin!  After stuffing everything inside it, I used a piece of wire mesh to hold everything inside it.

Final result

Here's the "internal view".  The 8051 is the big 40-pin beast in the middle (with electrical tape covering the UV-EEPROM window). The push-buttons are just above the CPU. The 74154 is in the top-right corner. There's a bunch of 7407 inverters spread around the perimeter, which are used to drive the LEDs (common cathode/ground), along with a pair of transistors that supply the red/green anodes on the LEDs. Yes, I used to have a lot of spare time back then.

Action shot: The clock displaying the time 3:01:36 o'clock.

Semi-useless video clip:

I'm really thankful I never brought it into school for "show and tell". What's your favorite geeky clock? Leave a comment below!