Retro Time Tech: [Fran] and Pocket Watches

[Fran] on setting and regulating pocket watchesWhether you own a pocket watch, want to own one, or just plain think they’re cool, [Fran's] video on setting and regulating pocket watches provides a comprehensive overview on these beautiful works of mechanical art. After addressing the advantages and disadvantages between stem, lever, and key set watches, [Fran] cracks open her 1928 Illinois to reveal the internals and to demonstrate how to adjust the regulator.

Though she doesn’t dive into a full teardown, there’s plenty of identification and explanation of parts along the way. To slow her watch down a tad, [Fran] needed to turn a very tiny set screw about a quarter of a turn counterclockwise, slowing down the period: an adjustment that requires a fine jewelers screwdriver, a delicate touch, and a lot of patience. Results aren’t immediately discernible, either. It takes a day or two to observe whether the watch now keeps accurate time.

Stick around for the video after the jump, which also includes an in-depth look at a 1904 Elgin watch, its regulator and other key components.

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Go Vintage! Learn to Repair and Restore Mechanical Pocket and Wrist Watches.

pw tear down 1

Until recently, watches have been entirely mechanical where each wheel, gear, and mechanism representing a milestone in our understanding of precision manufacturing and timekeeping.

One of the very first watches, created by a locksmith.

One of the very first watches, created by a locksmith.

Today it is nearly impossible to find watchmakers to service or repair vintage mechanical pocket and wristwatches, so we have to do it ourselves. Learn to repair vintage mechanical watches. You can do this and we’ll show you how.

They tick, mechanical watches have a pulse. First created in the 16th century by locksmiths, these early watches could only resolve time down to the hour and for this reason displayed time with only one hour hand.

By the 18th century fusee technology enabled watches to achieve accuracies to within seconds.

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LED Pocket Watch

LED Pocket Watch

[Frank] wanted a classy way of telling the time, so he built up a LED Pocket Watch. The watch features 132 LEDs for displaying the time, two buttons to activate and change modes, a vibration motor, and a buzzer.

It’s controlled by a picoPower ATmega645P, which has enough pins to drive the array of LEDs, an internal real time clock, and low power consumption. The device is housed behind laser cut acrylic face, and sits in a 3D printed case.

To power the device, [Frank] used a rechargeable lithium coin cell battery. The charging circuitry is based on a MCP73831, which is an easy to integrate charge control IC. A USB connector is used to provide power to the board.

One of the bigger challenges of the design is driving the large array of LEDs. [Frank] uses Charlieplexing to group the LEDs and reduce the number of pins required. Another trick he used was offsetting the ISP header pins. This allows for programming the AVR without soldering a connector to the board.

[Frank]‘s Instructables write-up is very detailed, and includes explanations of the schematic, PCB layout, software design, and case design. It’s a good read that details his design decisions.

After the break, watch [Frank]‘s video overview of the project.

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Unique Li-Ion battery tester

battery

[moris_zen] found himself with a hand full of Li-Ion batteries and no good way to see what their capacities were. He built a this unique tester really quick to get the job done. He’s using off the shelf components and a cheap pocket watch which he bought in Taiwan for $1. You hook the circuit up to your battery, click the button and the watch starts working. When it stops, you multiply that number by .38 to get your amp/hour results. Sure, he could have just used a counter, but this is an interesting approach. All he needs to do now is make a nice container to hide all of the circuitry. How could he change the circuit to make the end multiplication unnecessary?

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