Starting Loop: Costs
You may be asking:
- What does Loop cost?
- What should I buy first?
What do you gain by investing in Loop?
Once you get Loop built and your settings fine-tuned, you may find:
- You spend less time thinking about diabetes (Loop does it for you)
- You have fewer low blood-glucose events and the severity of the ones you still have are reduced
- You have fewer high blood-glucose events and the severity of the ones you still have are reduced
- Your A1C and Time in Range improve – or if they are already pretty good, it takes less time to achieve that control
When experienced Loopers are asked, “Why do you Loop?,” the top response is better sleep/fewer alarms at night.
What do I have to buy – the “Hard” Costs
- An Apple Developer License $99/year (you can get around this by using a free Apple Developer account, but this will require you to rebuild every 7 days)
- A radio-link device to allow the phone and pump to communicate; these are typically $150. A radio-link is not required for DASH pod users.
- A compatible CGM
- A compatible Pump
- A compatible iPhone or iPod
- A spare radio-link, in case yours gets dropped, washed, goes swimming, etc.
- A computer,
- Those using the Mac Build will need an Apple computer
- Should be capable of using Monterey 12.5 or higher
- Should have enough space to be able to load Xcode (up to 50-60GB is required to install, even though the app itself is around 12GB)
- Those using the Browser Build can use a Mac, PC, Tablet, or even their phone
- There is a third way to build Loop that requires you to build a “Virtual Machine” on Windows-based computer with an Intel chip, but this method is more difficult than the two methods listed above.
- An Apple Watch, if you want to be able to see your current data and bolus from your wrist
What are the “Soft” Costs
The soft costs are about time.
Time learning about Loop
- You will spend time reading documents like this one, watching videos, and reviewing the questions asked in forums
- Expect to spend many hours reading and trying to understand concepts and tasks to be done before ever “pulling the trigger” by signing-up for the Apple Developer account and purchasing a radio-link
Time building a Nightscout site
- To be a successful Looper, you need to be able to fine-tune your settings and a free Nightscout site is the best way to do this
- Nightscout captures your blood glucose, carbohydrate and insulin delivery history
- It takes most people a couple of hours to set up
- About once a quarter, you need to spend about a half hour updating the software on the Nightscout site
- Alternative – there is a Software as a Service option, you can pay T1Pal.com a monthly fee. They will create your Nightscout site and maintain it for you. Some people believe it’s harder to build your own Nightscout site than to build your own Loop app.
Time learning to Loop
- You need to learn how to fine-tune your settings to work with Loop, and keep fine-tuning them as your physiology changes
- In the beginning, you can easily spend a half hour a day:
- Looking at what Loop is doing
- Understanding how your settings are affecting the algorithm
- Making changes to those settings and documenting them
- As time goes on, most people probably spend an hour or so a month looking at their graphs to see if they need to make a change
- Some people input their settings once and forget it; these people are likely not looping for a teen with growth spurts!
Time updating Loop software
- In theory, you should be able to load Loop on your phone, run it for a year and forget about it
- You will be more successful if you keep up on the software changes and periodically update Loop, either when there is a new feature you want, or when a bug is fixed that might affect your use
- The most successful people probably update their Loop two to four times a year
- This can take anywhere from an hour to a full day, depending upon whether iOS, MacOS, and Xcode versions have changed, and more time if you’re using a VM and your VMWare version also needs to be updated
- You should probably expect to spend about 8 hours a year doing this, but it could be more or it could be less
- As with all technology, there will be issues from time to time
- You need to be able to follow basic troubleshooting steps and know where to look for answers
- This Troubleshooting page provides a map to the many available troubleshooting pages
- It varies, but initially, you can expect to spend a few minutes to an hour a week troubleshooting for the first few months until you get more familiar with the system
Time Keeping up with Loop
- You need to budget an hour a week to looking at a source of information (see the Support page)
What should I buy first?
You can order RileyLink, OrangeLink, or EmaLink. As other radio-links become available, we’ll add them to the list. The costs are similar, but shipping may be a consideration. Riley and Orange are made in the US, EmaLink is made is Europe.
The RileyLink and OrangeLink are available from the https://getrileylink.org/.
- For RileyLink, you’ll need to choose whether you want the Medtronic or OmniPod version
- RileyLink has a wireless charging option that has a water-resistant case; the traditional case is not water resistent
- You will need a charging cable or wireless charger for RileyLink
- The cable needed is a USB 2.0 Charger Cable – A-Male to Mini-B Cord (available on Amazon.com and other retailers)
- You should charge it once per day (the charge lasts about 36 hours) and there is not a battery level indicator
- OrangeLink works with either Medtronic and Omnipod, is reported to have a longer range and matches the form-factor of Apple Airpods
- The OrangeLink uses two AAA batteries and lasts approximately 30 days on alkaline batteries (fewer days on lithium), instead of requiring a recharge every day
More information about EmaLink can be found here.
You will eventually want a spare, but you can start with just one.
Apple Developer Program
It can take a few days to enroll in the Apple Developer’s program. You do that at https://developer.apple.com/programs/enroll.
If you choose to use a free account:
- You must plug your phone into your computer and rebuild Loop at about the same time every single week
- When you decide that’s not worth the trouble and spring for the $99 per year fee, you will be building with a new user ID
- A new user ID means you have to enter all your settings into Loop again and start a new pod (for Omnipod)
If the address on the Apple account does not exactly match the address on your credit card account, you might get into a situation with Apple in which they will never actually approve your account. The best thing to do in this case is to pick a new email address that is not at all associated with anything Apple and use it for just the developer account. When entering all the info, make sure it exactly matches the credit card. Using an Apple credit card seems to speed things through, if you have one.
There is more on the Developer program in the LoopDocs Apple Developer Program page.