24 August 2012

Project "Solder : Time II™ watch kit, by SpikenzieLabs" (1/2)

this was a DIY watch kit i bought a few weeks ago that finally arrived here yesterday. it is basically a microprocessor programmed and designed to function as a watch. it is completely 'hackable' which means that you can create and flash your own programs to the microprocessor and make it do whatever your creativity allows you to do.

its very easy to assemble and all i needed was a soldering iron, solder, and a pair of wire cutters. SpikenzieLabs have very clear and easy to understand instructions on their website here:


i wanted to buy the kit from their shop but they did not reply my mails regarding shipping price after many days so i bought it from adafruit instead:


it cost $59.95 USD for the kit, and if you want to upload your own sketches to the microprocessor you will need an FTDI cable. since i didn't have one around i bought one from adafruit as well here:

https://www.adafruit.com/products/284 ($14.75 USD)

it's no rolex obviously...but it is a great introduction to C++ microprocessor programming! 

you only need to install the battery holder, buzzer, two push buttons and four LED arrays and you're ready to go.

UNFORTUNATELY for me, the acrylic top plate of my watch was cracked on two of the four supports holding the plate together. the plate is still held together but i'm afraid any sort of pressure would snap it easily. i sent out an email to adafruit in hopes that they will send me a replacement or something but i don't know what is their policy on this. the other pieces of acrylic are fine but the top piece is the thinnest and might have cracked during packaging or in transit. i will update this post accordingly if they get back to me with a replacement.

*UPDATE* they got back to me really quick! and they've agreed to send me a new replacement plastics kit! 

*UPDATE 2* i have received the replacement kit today! 10 days after they said they'd ship another to me. i won't be removing the issue about the cracked acrylic because i want everyone to know what great customer support Spikenzielabs have given me! I have plans to add an additional I2C device to the watch in the coming weeks and would probably make my own casing for the watch but I will definitely be reusing the front plate for my next project.

that aside, the watch worked fine when i put the battery in. the latest sketch was already pre-installed into the watch. i followed the instructions on SpikenzieLab's website and got the Arduino IDE on my laptop and spent some time reading and understanding the codes. if you have done any sort of microcontroller programming before it should be easy for you to understand how the program works. i have never touched any sort of Arduino before but it is all pretty straightforwards.

the programming (FTDI) port is located on the back of the watch and to upload your own sketch you just need to stick the pins of the FTDI Friend (for my case) into the port. make sure the correct pins go into the correct ports! the FTDI Friend needs some basic setting up on your computer as well but again, the instructions can be found online and is easy to follow:


the LEDs on the FTDI Friend will blink if the sketch is being uploaded. the pins do not click snugly into the programming port and the website suggests using a light diagonal force to ensure they make contact with the connectors and this is what i did in the picture above.

for a quick demonstration i just changed the scrolling text message to "Hello World" and set a slower scroll speed than the default one. i uploaded the sketch and sure enough the scrolling text showed the change:

this watch is HUGE and honestly hard to match with any outfit unless you're going to an electronics themed club or party. but as i mentioned before it is a very interesting way to dabble with simple programming and you get a cool watch out of it all!

(link to page 2/2)