This Breadboard Wristwatch Is Delightfully Geeky

Binary watches are played out these days, which is why Inge took a different approach to geek fashion and built a breadboard wristwatch.

Wristwatch use today is more about making a fashion statement then any real need to tell the time, considering we’re surrounded by clocks and everyone has a smartphone on their person at all times. Mobsters and car salesmen make that statement with gold Rolexes, Ivy League types prefer diving watches made by unpronounceable Swiss brands, and hipsters like to wear old Casio watches ironically. Geeks, however, prefer LEDs and display readouts that are indecipherable to anyone who doesn’t understand binary. Unfortunately, binary wristwatches are a bit played out these days, which is why Inge took a different approach to geek fashion and built a breadboard wristwatch.

A breadboard, in case you’re a journalist from GQ or Vogue looking for a scoop on geek chic fashion, exists solely to facilitate connections between electronic components during the prototyping phase. A breadboard isn’t intended to be a permanent solution; it just makes it easy to connect wires between components temporarily as you test your circuit. That’s why this watch is cool — it’s putting the breadboard proudly on display to demonstrate the wearer’s geek street cred. To further illustrate that point, the watch displays the time on the kind of bubble LED display that was most often found on vintage calculators like the Texas Instruments TI-57.

The watch is controlled by a Microchip ATtiny84 microcontroller in a 14-pin DIP package. A 32678Hz crystal is used to keep time through the internal RTC. The display used here is a QDSP-6064 seven-segment bubble LED display that requires very little power — about 5 micro-amps per segment at full brightness. Inge states that the watch’s total current draw is approximately 24mA when the display is on. Power is provided by a small LiPo battery through an STMicro STNS01 power management chip, which handles charging via USB. The battery is set into a 3D-printed mount that the wristband attaches to, and the breadboard sits on top of that.

We’re going to go ahead and assume that this watch isn’t appropriate for diving, but it is certainly suitable for meetings with angel investors and meetups at the local hackerspace.

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