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 Time in Range and A1C improve – or if they are already pretty good, it takes less effort to maintain that control

When experienced Loopers are asked why they Loop, the top response is better sleep/fewer alarms at night.

The “Hard” Costs: Money

Required Expenses:

Extremely Helpful Expenses:

  • Eros and Medtronic Loopers should get a spare radio-link, in case yours gets dropped, washed, goes swimming, etc.
  • A computer:
    • Those using the Browser Build can use a Mac, PC, Tablet, or even their phone but it’s easier with a bigger screen
    • Those using the Mac Build will need an Mac computer capable of being brought up-to-date with a newer operating system and plenty of disk space
  • An Apple Watch, if you want to be able to see your current data and to bolus from your wrist.  Newer apple watches are also capable of reading CGM data directly from the Dexcom G7.  This does not make these watches capable of Looping, but it’s a feature that you may want to consider when buying an Apple watch.

The “Soft” Costs: Time

Time Spent 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, if you need one, purchasing a radio-link

Time Spent Building or Acquiring a Nightscout site

  • Nightscout is a website that captures your blood glucose, carbohydrate, and insulin delivery history.
  • It is not required.  We’ll cover the costs here; you can decide later whether Nightscout is right for you. Hint: if you’re the parent of a Looper, you’re going to want Nightscout for remote monitoring and to use Loop’s remote commands. 
  • There are both DIY and Software as a Service (SaaS) Nightscout options, but the easiest way to break down your options is by cost, considering both your money and time:
Free (or almost free) Not free, but $5 or less per month More than $5 per month
DIY (Build and Maintain yourself)

Google Cloud

Northflank

Heroku Eco tier

Railway

Heroku Basic tier
SaaS (Someone else does almost all of the work)

Nightscout Pro

NS10be

T1Pal

Serendipity Bio

  • More options are available.  We’ve just listed a few of the more popular options in each category.
  • DIY Nightscout 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
  • The functionality of each of these options is nearly identical, with the exception of T1Pal and Serendipity Bio.  Loop 3’s remote commands will only work with T1Pal if you pay an additional monthly fee.  Loop 3’s remote commands will not work with Serendipity Bio.

Time Spent 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

Time Spent Updating Loop Software

  • Loop is not ‘set it and forget it’
  • Browser Builders must rebuild every 90-days and Mac Builders must rebuild once per year
  • 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 four times per year, regardless of build method
    • For those who use the Browser Build method, an update takes about 5 minutes to start and then is ready to install from TestFlight in about an hour
    • For those who use the Mac Build method, an update 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 Virtual Machine which also needs to be updated

Time Spent Troubleshooting

  • 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 resource 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 Spent Keeping up with Loop

What should I buy first?

Apple Developer License

It can take a few days to enroll in the paid Apple Developer’s program. You do that at https://developer.apple.com/programs/enroll.

If you choose to use a free Apple Developer account:

  • You must use the Mac-Xcode build method, which can only be done on a newer Mac or using a Virtual Mac
  • You must plug your phone into your Mac (or Virtual Mac) and rebuild Loop at about the same time every 7-days
  • 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 of your settings into Loop again and, if using Omnipod, start a new pod

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.

More on the Developer program is available on the LoopDocs Apple Developer Program page.

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