Fix a dead Misfit Shine or Flash activity tracker

Fitness trackers – easy to lose and unreliable?

A Misfit Shine fitness activity tracker with five of its twelve LEDs shining.
A Misfit Shine fitness activity tracker with five of its twelve LEDs shining.

For the past couple of years I have had to work fairly hard at getting my weight down and to improve my overall fitness – doctor’s orders! This goal quite neatly coincided with the recent rise of the wearable fitness activity tracker. Thanks to an exceptionally good deal on eBay I invested in a Misfit Shine for myself, while my wife and one of my daughters started using Xiaomi Mi Bands. We have had some back luck, though. Unbeknown to her, my daughter’s Mi Band popped out of its strap, never to be seen again and the same almost happened to my wife’s. I already knew from online reports that there must be thousands of Misfit Shines hiding in bushes, down drains, under carpets and other unfathomable places, parted from their owners for ever. But that hasn’t happened to mine – yet! Instead I had to overcome a different problem. One day, soon after replacing its button cell battery, the thing completely died. Fortunately, I discovered a fix to revive my dead Misfit and it also applies to the Shine’s stablemate, the Misfit Flash.

I intend to write a review of the Misfit Shine later, so I won’t go into too much detail. Its core functionality is similar to other wearable activity trackers, detecting body motion and converting collected motion data into an estimate of the quantity of activity you are exerting. In turn this can be represented as calories burned, distance moved and how restful your sleep was. It’s also water resistant enough for use when swimming. One thing that caught my attention with the Shine’s design is the capability of being worn on your wrist or, when the strap is swapped for a clasp, you can attach it to different positions on your clothing and even your shoe.  The latter is ideal for cycling, for example, and the companion Misfit smart device app can adjust the data interpretation according to how you wear your Shine.

The insides of a Misfit Shine fitness activity tracker.
The insides of a Misfit Shine fitness activity tracker. On the right is the detached base of the unit containing the relatively large CR2032 lithium button cell battery. To the left is the top half that houses the circuitry and the LED lights. At the 11 o’clock position is the positive battery terminal and it’s this that I and others have found problematic.

The design of the Shine is aesthetically appealing. It’s a slim alloy disc, not much larger than a CR2032 lithium button cell battery, which powers it. The top face of the disc is bounded by a circular arrangement of white LED dots that are only visible when they light up. The way these points of light are illuminated inform you of your progress and indicate mode changes, usually in response to several taps of a finger to the face.

My dead Misfit Shine had a terminal problem

The case splits into two parts for battery access. Misfit say the battery only needs to be changed up to every six months. It has to be said that I think this is optimistic as mine needed changing after just 3 months. Soon after changing the battery the lights refused to illuminate, despite vigorous tapping. Needless to say, the device refused to communicate via Bluetooth with my smartphone. I had a dead Misfit Shine. This was rather depressing as I had become quite fixated with frequent activity status checks.

I feared that the water sealing might have been compromised as although I hadn’t yet tried swimming with it, being doused under the shower was a daily occurrence. But there was no sign of any water ingress. Surprisingly, I found few online anecdotes of similar problems. I was about to give up when I noticed a YouTube video, posted by Timothy Osten, that matched the description of my Shine’s problem, but this was a video about the Misfit Flash. Essentially a cheaper plastic-cased, lower cost, version of the Shine, the Misfit Flash is very similar to a Shine internally. The YouTube video demonstrated that the side contact battery terminal has a tendency to be pushed out of position, weakening its contact with the side of the button cell battery.

This is the YouTube video that enabled me to revive my dead Misfit Shine:

Battery terminal

The positive battery terminal of a Misfit Shine fitness activity tracker.
The positive battery terminal of a Misfit Shine fitness activity tracker.

By gentle and carefully, using a fine point like the end of an unfolded wire paper clip or a watchmakers screwdriver, push the battery terminal over towards where the battery lives. You then replace the battery and close the two halves of the device and with luck you should see all the LEDs light up for a second or two, indicating your once dead Misfit Shine (or Flash) is back in the land of the living. This worked for me, although I have had to do the same procedure a second time. Clearly this is an aspect of the internal design of both the Shine and Flash devices that needs attention.