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Topic: [Help Wanted] The ArduWatch - A Simple, Low Cost, Take Anywhere Platform (Read 29247 times) previous topic - next topic


May 25, 2013, 06:10 am Last Edit: May 26, 2013, 02:02 am by SilentDemon555 Reason: 1
I had a great idea the other day and wanted to know the forum's thoughts.

I was sitting in a parking lot with my smart phone and got a great idea for a simple programming project, but alas i didn't have a pc or a bulky MCU.
I had to wait till I got home to start the project, and by then I had forgotten half of what I was going to do.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a piece of tech we were comfortable using, always had on us, and could be programmed with ease.

That's where my (hopefully) original idea came into play. I had a femtoduino laying around, throw in a power switch, one or two of these http://www.powerstream.com/ultra-light.htm ultra light batteries, and then implement a super cool breadboard pin system: thus creating the arduwatch(name suggestions also appreciated)

The watch would come in 3 versions.
The standard, barebones, self powered system.
A USB version including a FTDI board wired to the femtoduino for serial communication and sketch uploading
And a bluetooth (or some type of wireless protocol) version. Able to be controlled and have sketches uploaded wireless from either a laptop, or a smartphone app

I think it would be cool for each watch to have two of these micro batteries, with a amp/volt switch. (No idea how to do this) you could switch them from being wired in parallel for amperage dependent applications, or series for voltage dependent applications.

I would love help if this turns out to be a viable project, and also some guidance or partnership.
If there is truly nothing like it out there I would like to start a kickstarter because I'm pretty broke, and want to get away from using a femtoduino and possibly find a way to print my own custom boards.

I'm pretty novice when it comes to these things, but I had an idea, wanted help, and thought "hey, why not"

Heres a super basic sketchup on my idea, the MCU is blue, the PSU is green etc.
I personally would LOVE one of these, I could see using it constantly, imagine the possibilities

The black dots would be inputs wired to each pin on the arduino. Breadboard wire could be attached to any pin to connect to a simple (or complex) project.
These pin inputs are open to suggestions or modification

Imagine interfacing with electronic equipment in the field, imagine a real life Mass Effect Omni-tool
Throw a 1inch screen on the top for data readout
A serial cable for interface with standard devices
Wireless programming of your wearable items
Control and monitoring of other devices

The model I drew up took me half an hour maybe, it's rough, needs a ton of work, and I need help and suggestions from any other people who want to get in on the possible groundbreaking piece of tech. Lets all be Jack Shepherd and get our own ArduWatch!
"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers."


Day 2

I would love feedback on the watch, I'm going to begin fabricating the watch base (All one piece of ABS, with a clear Lexan Cover plate) really soon
There is a 3mm channel in the handle for wiring of the pins. I'd put 14 square square holes (28 total pins on Femtoduino) around the solid bracelet (Design change, had no idea how to do the chain design) in the square holes i'd put the female ends of a M/F breadboard cable. Each hole will be engraved with it's pin and function(IE --- PIN 13 with a LED Icon)

According to really rough calculations, the 50Mah LIPO battery should power the femtoduino and ftdi for around 175 hours. This is just on, no functions or programs running, nothing else connected. Now when I got 175 hours my jaw dropped. Someone suggested the arduino draws .2ma, and the 3.7v LIPO has a 50mah rating. I would imagine this is waaay off. Possibly a decimal was off, 17.5 hours might sound correct...

The FTDI will be included in the first prototype, it's the red board in the picture (It's actually a microftx board)

The only thing I am ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY unsure of, is how to charge the battery and how that wiring will work. If someone could look at the list of batteries in my first post, maybe someone can recommend one of those, space vs battery life is a huge issue. The battery HAS to be that small to fit in the compartment correctly. I think i also need to somehow fit a charging circuit in it... ugh...

I also included my day 2 sketch. I haven't modeled the pins, and the bracelet has to be that thick (13mm) in order to house the pins and wires correctly... but at the end of the day it's just a prototype.

Still looking for help, for now I'm calling it the ArduWatch.
And we need to make this thing stylish and good looking, help me in any way you can, even a "Hey, cool" or "Your idea is going nowhere" would be appreciated. (Although the latter of the two would make me feel sad)
"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers."


Day 3

I finished touch-ups and added the usb icon and the logo. I've had no help thus far, so I did the best I could. I added pin mounts and channels to run wires... Still havent figured out if i want to cover those, or just hot glue seal everything

I thought the logo was kind of cool, despite the fact it isn't actually a time-telling watch...

The beauty of it though, is that it could be a watch, maybe add an LCD display, a solar panel charger, etc.
I'm just going to post here after every update. I didn't have anywhere else to write.

Fabrication of the band should happen within the next 10 days. I'll order the internals at the same time.
We should be able to see a working prototype in that 10 days

"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers."


End of Day 3

I finished my Prototype model. The quote on fabrication is $60 (ouch) I have to refine it to make it cheaper, and I'm really nervous about it printing correctly
"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers."


Day 5?

Anyway, realized sadly that the design is too bulky, a complete redesign was necessary. I also added a little more functionality to the model with a mini (super micro) 4 row breadboard, Just to see if it works and as a test for future 3d printed breadboards. I don't think I'm making the 10 day deadline anytime soon. Here is the redesigned base. I also have to see if the battery still fits ( it probably won't )
"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers."


I just noticed your idea. You should definitely take this over to kickstarter.
Fabrication of the case/etc parts, and getting the pcb assembled, will be
nontrivial, and will require professional services, I think.

Also, you need to think MUCH more about how to make this thing truly
"functional", so people will have a good idea what it will actually be able to
do, rather than being just a $60 "watch".


Thanks for the reply, I'm pretty sure I've explained it's function through and through in the above posts....

Anyway day... I've lost count...

I'm never going to get a model protoed if I keep making all these changes, a friend reviewed my designs and remarked on the bulkiness, so I scrapped my design and started again. I made it round this time, smaller and sleeker. I don't know if three rows of breadboard space is enough to do anything (Maybe a PING sensor or something) but it's mainly just a test for the Printer.

Hopefully sometime soon  I can get a model printed, but in the mean time I'm still modifying.

I would love help with the design, Ideas for a band, solid or hinged etc.

Oh and as of now, no battery, just a Micro USB
"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers."


Why not have the band act as the breadboard.  Each link is a small breadboard.  BTW, you don't need to make the breadboard as thick as the real ones.. If someone is too lazy to cut their jumper pins a little shorter than you could make a short pin jumper (and possibly make a little money off those too).

Now that I'm thinking of utilizing the band, why not have each band some kind of sensor? Light sensor, piezo, you know the small ones.. Or, you could make the band a breadboard and have specialized sensors that plug in to the small breadboards.. 

Also if you're going to make it round, you could make the pinout for the chip go around the case.  Not just in one spot.  This would make it easier to design as well..  As for the power, you could design a coin cell battery case that plugs in to a power port..

DISCLAIMER - Sorry, I started thinking and couldn't stop!



DISCLAIMER - Sorry, I started thinking and couldn't stop!

No, thank you, any input is appreciated.

Are my pictures being posted? I can see them.

The new design is round. In order for this to be something you could wear on a day to day basis, it has to have every millimeter shaved off. It also helps keep costs down

The problem with breadboard rows in the wrist is that of structural integrity and size. I have found 4 millimeters of thickness to be the thickest I want to go, but standing tall breadboard rows are 10mm and bread board pins are about 6mm. I could create another, shorter breadboard, but don't really want to reinvent the wheel. The reason I'm making it spec size is so i can fit the metal tabs from the original breadboards inside, i have yet to find an alternative.

I just need a better way to stick pins in it and have hit a wall. The case is easy to design, but a one piece, form fitting, strong, light, and functional band is proving next to impossible to design

Pin out around the case really intruiged me, again not wanting to reinvent the wheel, i am using 14mm long female header pins that can't be cut, and they would be difficult to engineer into the design (40 mm max case, 28 mm min for 2 pins, leaves me 12mm to fit anything inside)

A coin cell would be a good idea as well, but i was originally hoping for a rechargeable, high output, Li-poly. The lipoly would be soldered to a charging circuit, and then attached to the 5v rail on the microftx board

Anyway, thank you for your ideas
"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers."


You say you don't want to reinvent the wheel, but you are doing so by making an Arduino that can fit inside a watch..  If you are going to make this design work, you have to start thinking outside the box. 

And yes, I can see your pics, that's why my ideas were based on a round design.

And if you wonder why members don't speak up about their ideas in this thread, it's because you shoot the ideas down before you even think about them.

good luck..


Maybe that term wasn't correct, I'm not shooting any ideas down purposely, I'm explaining my thought process behind the troubles in each idea. Every idea has a drawback or problem that needs to be overcome. I would love to implement every one of everyone's ideas, but by "reinvent the wheel" I mean "to go to extreme and elaborate lengths to do something not entirely and absolutely necessary."

I am a single person who is doing design, prefab, fabrication, procuring of resources, time management, redesign, editing, and brainstorming, construction, etc.... Yes I realize it's a "welcome to the real world thing"

Anyway, I'll keep working ahead.
"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers."


Any reason for a 5V rail instead of 3.3? Wouldn't the smaller voltage mean you could use a single-cell LiPo?


3.3v is what it looks like everything is coming down too, the case I am working on will most likely not have enough room, but the battery is now a non-essential and future revision. Now is 3.3v going to limit the usability of the device? many sensors (such as the parallax PING sensor) require 5v, and a ping sensor would be very handy on this watch...

Anyway, again revisions are made. The jumper solution hit me square in the face today... The breadboard I want to test... IS THE JUMPER LOCATION. Make the board bigger, house 26 pins in that small rectangular space and BAM! everything is solved.

I spent this past day working on the band, nothing special, but sturdy. It's 4mm thin, and 40mm wide. This is the smallest, lightest, and cheapest ($20 to fab) version yet. I still need to get a model fabricated to see what my true limits are, for all I know the band can be 1mm thin.

Again another picture of the revision, this thread is nowhere near dead...

"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers."


Oh, sidenote:

If there is anyone out there saying "Man, I really wish there was something I could do to help this poor, overworked man out, I would love to design a custom PCB for them,"
then I would love the assistance
Currently I want to combine the Micro-Ftx board (files here: http://jim.sh/ftx/#click-design-files

as well as combine the femtoduino files somewhere in all of this mess here: http://www.varesano.net/projects/hardware/Femtoduino#comment-22744
into a pcb that will fit snugly into the attached picture.

I can do the final editing, but it would be an immense help if someone could connect the needed traces, add any needed parts, and size out the pcb for surface mounting.
"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers."


So you've designed the band is that right? And the enclosure for the PCB? You just need someone to actually design the processor circuit that's going to go inside it?

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