Roger that? Roger.

I’ve had a long day today. So I’m going to unwind by introducing my Roger Pen to you!

So far, I’ve had Phonak’s Roger Pen for a little over a month. In the time leading up to it, I (maybe a little obsessively) trawled through Phonak’s (not very helpful) website, stumbled upon (the comparatively more helpful) Phonak Pro site, digested blog posts and had my eyes glaze over on audiologyonline.com – a really good resource for the more technical bits of how things work, but it does take some patience, I think. All until I could get my hands on it.

I still don’t yet have the DSLR photos with me, but I’ll put my phone pictures up in the meantime before adding the rest in later.

I got my Pen one Friday afternoon from my audiologist, then carefully unboxed everything that night. Here’s everything that came in the box.

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Above, some of the more important things: the Pen, of course, an invaluable user guide, charging dock, audio cable with a micro-USB plug at one end and a standard 3.5mm audio plug at the other (for listening to stuff on a computer). The charging plug is also adapted for use in the UK/EU/US. You just switch the plug plates out if you have to.

I thought the TV cable one was really cool, though I haven’t had the chance to use it…yet!

On to assembling the charging kit! The charging wire links up the electrical plug and charging dock. There’s a USB plug on one end and a micro-USB plug on the other. The pen slots into the charging dock via another micro-USB plug. Because micro-USB cables are so common, charging it is a pinch even if you don’t have the dock with you. Here’s looking at you, Apple.

But the USB plug doesn’t fit in fully into the slot. It won’t. It wobbles around if you try. That’s one thing I hate about it.

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Two ways of charging the pen:

  1. With the charging dock –

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And 2. With just a micro-USB cable –

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Thoughts so far: I came from the Phonak SmartLink and inspiro, and before that, a clunkier version of both, with wires and manual switching of channels (quite fun!) which I can’t seem to find online. Online, the pen looked like it had a casing made of solid metal or aluminum. Given all these, I was expecting it to have some heft to it. It’s not – it’s surprisingly light! The casing is really plastic, so no big surprise there – but it’s still way lighter than what I’m used to. Plus or minus? We’ll see how well the casing holds up. So far, no one’s dropped it…yet. Or I will probably chicken out and sew a cover for it.

We ordered integrated FM receivers to go with the pen, since my old ones won’t work with it.

I have a Phonak Bolero V. My old faithful Naida UP III dAZ went bananas and conked out on me. I slightly regret the Bolero purchase, especially since we got the Naida repaired later on and everything looks and hears great again. Like brand spanking new. But the Bolero is alright too. Here’s it with the receiver on.

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The putting on of the thing is somewhat finicky – you have to poke the screws out of the original with a slim wand gadget they enclose with the receiver, then remove the door and stick the receiver on, then poke the screws back through. It’s my first time using an integrated receiver! Up till now, I’ve always used an audio shoe and connected the receiver to the pin jack in the shoe.

Here’s my CI FM receiver. It’s definitely lighter than my other receiver, which can be a pro/con depending on how you look at it. The rubber grip of my other one feels more sturdy, but lends the receiver more weight too. In contrast, this one is plastic.

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There’s a notch at the top of the FM receiver so the flap on the CI (above, centre photo) slots right in, comfy-like. That design feature’s been around for awhile – I had it on my old FM receiver, too.

I’m using the Pen for school, so I dug out the neckloop to try and figure out how it works. It’s considerably shorter than the other loops I’ve used, but is a very nice length – I’d say ~8 inches or so from the mouth.

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The photo below shows how you adjust for length.

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Just pull the loop through and stick it in place in the hole to the left. It should hold. No one has yet needed to adjust for length, so I can’t tell you whether it actually holds or not. The other end of the rubber grip consists of a set of two magnets which you pull apart to hang around your neck because of the short loop, like so:

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Things I like about the pen so far:

  • Bluetooth. So cool! It definitely makes phone calls wayyyy easier. I usually use Bluetooth for phone calls. I switch between using Bluetooth and the audio cable when I’m listening to music/lecture videos. I have T-Coil earphones but rarely use them…I should really!
  • It’s light. And not obtrusive.
  • Works fairly well – there’s less interference than I’m used to.
  • Charges really quickly – I think less than an hour. I’m afraid of it running out of battery on me, so I haven’t tried to push its limits yet.

Things I can’t stand:

  • Bluetooth is hit-and-miss. I have to fiddle around with it fairly often, switching it on and off again both here and on my computer. So far, it’s worked quite reliably with my phone.

These past 20 days…

…I haven’t been updating this bloggy space because I’ve started university!

Yes, I did get the opportunity to study overseas, and no, I didn’t go because my family would rather I stay home )-: I’m still sore about that. Not as bitter as I thought I would be, but still…sigh. Sighhhhh.

Why didn’t I say no? I did. I begged and I promised and reasoned and talked to people. But I also know my dad struggled with the decision, and in a way, the fact that my parents at least seriously considered the option, and weighed the pros and cons of that decision the best way they could – is enough for me. I still don’t agree with it, though.

Anyway! On to the second-best thing: staying on campus! I’m now 99% settled into my room and felt at home right away. I thought it would take a longer while and I would feel more homesick, but thanks to the HDB-like feel of campus accommodation and regularly bumping into friends, everything is a-okay.

So I’m tentatively feeling my way through things. I really want to learn and grow and get out, out, out of my comfort zone and do all the things! Well, maybe not all. But you get the idea.

Sewing Machines in Singapore

After, oh, about four months of sewing, I decided to hunt around for my first sewing machine. I learnt on a Singer 8280, a Singer 2259 and a very temperamental Sakura machine (Model 9302). These were the machines I sewed on in class and at my grandma’s place. My grandma’s main guy is one of these old Singer machines that everyone used to use in those days, a Singer 15K80. Most of the decals have kept their glossy gold finish, so it’s still a very pretty machine 🙂 I searched up the serial number – it was made in Clydebank, Scotland! That’s such a Iong way away. I sewed a little on it, but couldn’t get the hang of it. I’ll try again another day!

I Googled around a lot for tips on picking out a sewing machine, sewing machine reviews (I leaned heavily on Erin Says Sew and The Sweet Home in particular even though both are US-based sites if I’m not wrong), the different models and Singapore-based locations. Many of the things I learnt are relatively easy to find on the internet, so I’ll focus on the Singapore-based stuff, since that’s the part I had the most trouble with.

Sewing machine retailers/shops in Singapore include:

  • Courts
  • Ban Soon Sewing Machine
  • Guan Lee Long Sewing Machine
  • Sing Mui Heng Pte Ltd
  • Spotlight Singapore
  • Freddy Elect Sewing Machine Service (I didn’t check this one out personally) – it sells a mixture of secondhand and new machines

Courts carries mostly Singer and Brother machines, but also stocks Husqvarna Viking E20 machines. There are a couple overlocker machines too. At the Toa Payoh branch, you can test drive Singer machines, but not the Brother ones. I suppose it’s because they only have the Singer promoter there? I’m not sure if they have a promoter there every day, and even so, there may be different people on different days. The auntie I went to is there every Sunday. I wanted to test drive out the Brother machines, but they told me I’d have to go down to the Courts Tampines branch instead. I didn’t go in the end – call ahead if you’re planning to make the trip down!

Ban Soon Sewing Machine carries a wider variety of machines – embroidery machines are represented. It carries the Janome HD3000 too! It also stocks a cool range of sewing machine feet and other accessories. They sell treadle machines with the attached desk too, as does Guan Lee Long. Guan Lee Long Sewing Machine carries more Janome machines, but I didn’t see the HD3000 when I was there around a month ago. It also carries the Juki HZL-K65.

But if you’re looking for a Singer or Brother, you might have better luck elsewhere. Sing Mui Heng’s Chinatown branch stocks mostly Brother machines, though it also sells the Juki HZL-K65 (the lady I spoke to said they don’t have ready stock, but they will order it in if I’m buying) and a Toyota machine – I think it’s the Toyota Super Jeans.

Spotlight stocks more embroidery machines and Semco sewing machines. IMO, the selection is rather poor and overpriced. And the Brother promoter there was super pushy 😡

Distributors (the ones I researched and/or went down to):

  • Singer – I have two different addresses here, so I’ll just put both of ’em down. If you have the Kaki Bukit Road address, that’s the old one. I didn’t go down personally, but I have the sales promoters’ namecards & enquired about the machines via text.
  1. Regnis (S) Pte Ltd, Lorong Tai Seng, Leong Huat Building
  2. Regnis (S) Pte Ltd, 6 Harper Road #06-04, Leong Huat Building, Singapore (369674)
  • Juki – 20 Bendemeer Road, BS Bendemeer Centre, #04-12

Getting the machines via Singer directly is cheaper: the Singer 2259 retails at around $379 but it’s $299 if you get it directly from the promoter. The Singer 4423 is only slightly less costly: it retails at ~$499 and is sold for $465-$470 from the distributor.

Juki Singapore is more of a warehouse-type area than a shopfront (duh). They don’t sell domestic sewing machines to individual customers directly. They handle industrial machine orders more, I think, but I’m not sure if they will sell industrial machines directly to individuals, or if you have to go through a third party or order in bulk, or something. But they gave me the contact details of the guy who does sell/distribute domestic Juki machines. He’s Mr Mui, tel. 9633 4545. I didn’t look at any more Juki machines, so I didn’t use the contact details they gave me. If anyone reading this does call, let me know how it goes and what the selection’s like! I was really hoping to get my hands on a Juki HZL-35Z, but didn’t see any around.

Other than Singer and Juki, I know there’s a Brother service centre somewhere in Singapore. The address for the Janome distributor and a Bernina shop in Singapore is floating elsewhere in the internet. I didn’t check those out.

Other handy finds:

  • Carousell
  • Gumtree
  • Lazada/Qoo10, etc, what have you – but generally I would prefer to see the machine in person before I purchase one!

Similar to Freddy Elect (mentioned above), Carousell and Gumtree are great for perusing (read: obsessively browsing) secondhand finds. To be honest, I thought the listings were sorta meh, but that also really depends on your needs. If you sift through them carefully you’ll find a gem once in a while.

My shortlisted options, in order of price:

  1. Singer 2259 ($299 from the Singer distributor, $299 during a Courts sale at the time)
  2. Brother FS101 ($399 – can’t remember where I got the price from…a Brother sale?)
  3. Juki HZL-K65 ($450 – at either Sing Mui Heng or Guan Lee Long. I think GLL?)
  4. Singer 4423 ($465-470 from Singer, $480 at Ban Soon, $499 at Courts)

Other options I had:

  • Singer 7256 Fashion-Mate, sold in Singapore as Model 6810 ($599 at Ban Soon)
  • Janome HD1000 ($588 from a listing on Freddy Elect’s Facebook page. Retailers generally don’t stock the HD1000 any more since the HD3000 has come out)
  • Juki HZL-27Z ($239 on Carousell from an old listing. Not sure if still valid…hmm)
  • Janome HD3000 ($661 at Ban Soon, I think the Carousell listing going at $600 has already been snapped up, but whaddya know, I found two listings for the HD3000 the last time I checked. There may still be one more up!)
  • Janome 525S ($799 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Brother LX27NT ($228 at Sing Mui Heng)
  • Brother AS2730 ($198 at Ban Soon; $228 at Sing Mui Heng)
  • Janome 1008 ($450 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Janome 380 ($590 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Janome NS7388 ($550 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Brother GS2500 ($198 at Courts)
  • Brother CS6000i (I estimate $425-ish…but haven’t seen this one anywhere, although I think they are available here. Maybe??)

Most of the machines should have a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. As an aside, if you’re looking to get a sewing machine table for a treadle machine, here are the prices from Guan Lee Long: Original (原装): $228; Malaysian-made: $180. The one from Ban Soon is around $250-$280. $280 if I remember correctly. The shop guy will deliver the table to your home for you. For both shops, there’s no extra delivery charge. Technically, for Ban Soon, I think the delivery charge is already included in the price.

Of all the shops I went to, I like Ban Soon the best. The selection isn’t as extensive as I’d have liked (then I wouldn’t have to go running around everywhere), but let’s face it, the machine shops everywhere else here aren’t known for their wide variety and choice either. The staff at Ban Soon listened to what I wanted for the machine, asked questions and recommended me a couple machines. They answered my noob questions patiently and weren’t pushy.

One last note: Smaller shops usually have to charge an extra credit card fee (1-3%), but bigger merchants can absorb the cost of the fee.

I eventually went with a Singer 4423 because I wanted something mid-range heavy duty that wasn’t a computerised machine (too fiddly, and not worth the extra money, for me). Something portable, a free-arm machine with seam allowance markings on the throat plate. I checked that the basic stitches I needed/wanted on hand just in case were there. Bonus points for having a drop-in bobbin, one-step buttonhole, drop feed capability with a good feed dog system and adjustable thread tension (I like having the option). My only beef with it is that the manual has zilch on maintenance and troubleshooting 😡

Okay, I think that’s it!