An Oscilloscope On Your Wrist


Calculator watches were the Geek cred of the 80’s. Today everyone is getting smart watches. How can the hip Geek stay ahead? [Gabriel Anzziani] to the rescue with his Oscilloscope Watch! [Gabriel] has made a cottage industry with his micro test tools. We’ve featured his Xprotolab and Xminilab on here on Hack a Day more than once. The Oscilloscope Watch basically takes all the features of the Xprotolab and squeezes them down into a wrist watch.

The Oscilloscope Watch includes an oscilloscope, a logic analyzer, an arbitrary waveform generator, and of course it tells time.  The Oscilloscope Watch’s processor is the AVR XMega128.  [Gabriel] has even included a link to the schematics (PDF) on his Kickstarter page. We really like that 3D printed case, and hope [Gabriel] opens up his CAD designs for us to work with.

Like its predecessors, the Oscilloscope watch won’t be replacing your Tektronix scope, or even your Rigol. Much like a Swiss army knife or Leatherman tool, the Oscilloscope Watch packs a bunch of tools into a small package. None of them are as good as a full-sized tool, but in a pinch they will get the job done. If you are wondering where the probes connect. [Gabriel] states on the Kickstarter page that he will design a custom 9 pin .100 connector to BNC adapter to allow the use of standard probes.

The screen is the same series of Sharp Memory LCD’s used in the Pebble watch. [Gabriel] chose to go with the FPC version of the Sharp LCD rather than the zebra connector.  We’ve learned the hard way that those flex circuits snap at the LCD glass after only a few flexes. Hopefully this won’t impact the hackability of the watch.

36 thoughts on “An Oscilloscope On Your Wrist

  1. HAHAhaa! YESSSsss! This has been on my todo list since first seeing the xprotolab, and it’s so completely awesome to see that someone else not only had the same idea (hey, ideas are cheap) but executed it, and did such a fantastic job with it.

    I’m sure there are all sorts of regulatory and safety reasons why it might be hard to sell such a product, but I’d buy the heck out of a kit.

    1. I am actually about to update the design, I will use a bigger micro to increase the buffer size to 4K per channel. About the bandwidth, maybe it’s not too bad for a watch? You can still measure frequencies up to 16MHz with the frequency counter.

      1. Why not use an ARM Cortex MCU such as the STM32F4 (5-6MSPS)?

        As one of those who bought an xprotolab from the first production batch a couple of years ago (more?), I don’t really see the value of paying more than twice the price for a device that essentially has the same features of the xprotolab (which I still use, BTW)

        1. The STM32F4 with it’s 3×2.4 MSPS converter looks like a great choice, but I don’t think they offer a low pin count package. Also, I have spent years optimizing down to the assembly level many functions on the Xprotolab, like the triggering and the acquisition. The XMEGA although being an 8bit processor, it is very deterministic and easy to work with. I am about to change the micro to the ATXMEGA256A3U, so the buffer memory will be 4K per channel, and I will have more program memory for more features…

          1. I know you’ve been using XMegas for years now and know them very well. If I’m not mistaken, I’m one of the buyers of the first xprotolab production batch :) And I still use it!

            The STM32F405/STM32F415 comes in LQFP64 at 10x10mm, pretty small. Runs at 168MHz, is 32bit, and being a M4 integrates FPU/DSP functionality (plus 1MB flash and 192KB RAM). Between all those, the performance difference is easily an order of magnitude higher than the XMega and you can brute force your way to 6MSPS and still have plenty of CPU to spare for things like realtime FFT.

            On the cost side, they’re pretty cheap. You can get a STM32F405 from Ghi Electronics to experiment with quite cheaply (Fez Cerb40). it comes with the .NET MF, but you can flash it with anything you like.

            While at it, also have a look at Nordic’s nRF51822. Its a BT-LE chip that integrates a Cortex-M0 with 128/256K flash and 16K RAM. Pair it with an ADC if needed and you have a smartwatch oscilloscope that can connect to a smartphone and send data there or receive notifications!

            The nRF8001 might also be of interest in that regard.

    2. A lot less than a toy actually since more powerful and usable gadgets as the DSO Nano are still regarded as toys. This gimmick has no purpose other than make non technical people say “Ooooh!”. Not sure if it will help with girls though:)

  2. So if I want to commit suicide that looks like an accident, I’d buy two of these toys, one for each arm, and start some measurements on high voltage stuff (like my trusty old EIZO 22″ CRT and ground them on different points inside the circuit)

  3. Possibly the coolest hack HaD has ever covered…. Good work, it may not replace a real oscilloscope but the craftsmanship of getting something like that down to be wristwatch sized took some skill.

    Build in a radiation detector and give the Pip Boy a run for its money =)

  4. toy or not – very cool. IMHO same argument applies here as with phone cameras. The best oscilloscope is always the one you have around / on you. screw calculator watches, give me that thing!

  5. haha its nice and im sure it has its uses for some people

    i would want one but i would want to reflash it to show 2 sine waves … triggering on 1 that has 1khz per hour and the other wave being the first wave + 1hz per minute and use the drift and frequency as a fun way to tell time XP

    would be simulated tho!

      1. RealTek part feature:
        7-bit ADC for RF signals level measurement
        USB 2.0 Interface : Supports USB Full/High speed

        So an ARM chip with USB OTG should be able to control that and pull the RF
        signal level for a Spectrum plot. Open Source SDR already do that.

  6. Gabo’s stuff is pretty good, especially considering the price. Some years ago I got some of his xprotolabs for $35 each. Wonderful little devices which can work as (dual) voltmeters (e.g., as part of another device) and all. I ended-up making a altoids can oscilloscope (the photo is in the gabo webpage, or was). Gabo is also very nice. I asked him to reflash the devices with the newest firmware and he did at no charge (other than the shipment). Even better, while reflashing one of the units got damaged (but the fault was mine, since I had chopped off part of the terminals) and Gabo sent me a replacement for free (and the newer units, with native USB). He is always improving the circuits too (as you could see from the case above). Yes, it is a limited device in terms of bandwidth, but for the cost you can’t beat that. The day you can get a 50 GHz oscilloscope for $100 is very far in the future, eh?

  7. If I had a scope on my wrist then I’d want the probes to be my fingers!
    Think: thimble with a needle
    (Shouldn’t be too hard: use something like a plastic thimble to isolate the actual probe which is little more than a pointed pin stuck to the end and then it’s only missing a ground point which are normally fly-leads anyway)

    C’mon [Gabriel], how about having some similalry ‘mobile’ probes to go with such an ultra-mobile scope? :-)

  8. First of all, WTF, He didn’t build this, he took someone else’s product and glued plastic around it… NOT A HACK!

    Now, on to what’s important:

    ANALOG BANDWIDTH: 200kHz. (Borderline useless)

    The UART/I2C/SPI claim is not valid unless you’re looking at a slow one… Even then, your sample memory will kill any usefulness.

    The scope/logic analyzer on this Xprotolab are essentially useless, unless you want to look at some audio signals for your audio hobby group at school. Even then, the bandwidth is slow enough that you would just be better off with something bigger… physically and “digitally”.

    My 500MHz scope is becoming useless as I can’t see high frequency transients on it (For instance, looking for ringing on the LX pin of a DC-DC)…. So what the heck would you use this thing for?

    A+ for plastic cutting and gluing. Other than that… Narf.

    1. First of all your “First of all, WTF, He didn’t build this, he took someone else’s product and glued plastic around it… NOT A HACK!” is completely wrong. He did build it from scratch from one of his earlier devices. You are so pedantic and full of it that you can’t even do 1 minute of research before posting this non-sense. Sure, it is not a 500 MHz oscilloscope and I honestly doubt it you even have one (“becoming useless”). We have plenty of 20 MHz oscilloscopes and they are VERY USEFUL. As usual, it depends on what you want it for and how much you are willing to pay. So take your BS and keep it to yourself.

      1. 20MHz scopes… Yes, useful for very low frequency circuits. Welcome to the new millenium, where your average 5-dollar gadget has a clock speed that is 20MHz or greater.

        I am completely aware that this is a glue job which adds someone else’s project to a watch frame – It’s called XProtolab, and it is what I would call a “novelty” scope, as it is useful for little more than basic audio signals and DC measurements/has a screen that requires good eyesight to resolve/etc.

        I am an experienced engineer offering criticism – You learn from criticism, NOT warm-fuzzy pats on the back (welcome to the real world). Everything I know I have learned from criticism from someone more experienced than I – If everyone along the way had instead praised everything I did, I would have learned nothing, and had no reason to try harder next time. If you want to learn something, listen to me. If I offer real praise of a project, then it is GOOD. If you don’t like that idea, well, go play WoW in your parents’ basement or something, I don’t particularly care ;)

        Also, I must say – This is a disease of our younger generation (I assume you are one of them) – You demand praise for everything you do, no matter how good or bad it is. When you don’t get the praise that you defectively believe that you deserve, you throw a tantrum. Very sad. Please stop.

        1. Okay, listen up, you self-absorbed old fart. Notice the name of the man who’s making this thing, instead of throwing a fit about kids these days? His name is Gabriel Anzziani. Now take a look at the man behind Gabotronics, the company that sells the XProtolab. Guess what? It’s Gabriel Anzziani. So yes, he did make it. And yes, it is a hack. And even if he didn’t make the original product, that would still be a hack. Now stop blaming your problems on people younger than you.

        2. An experienced engineer? Me too, and what a sad example of our profession you are. I’m fortunate enough to work with a dozen engineers who are are experts in their field, and I learn from them often. I can guarantee that none of them would ever “criticize” my work, but when they do offer advice or guidance, it does start off with “WTF”. Sorry to inform you, but you don’t represent the real world. With an attitude like yours, you would last long among other professionals – you’d be shown door quickly.

          1. Funny, I work with some incredibly intelligent engineers who are well known in their industry… I showed a few of them this Xprotolab scope while we were eating lunch the other day, and their reaction was exactly as mine – It is a NOVELTY… And that is fine!

            Sounds like you’re looking for some warm-fuzzy backpats too… Sorry! Not going to happen!!! My statements still stand. There is NO practical use for these items in the EE industry. Now, if you want to make the probes wireless, and give the thing a respectful sampling rate and bandwidth – You might have something then!

        3. This type of scope is not useful if you want BW, and is already mentioned early in the post. It is useful to see DC when doing troubleshooting and repair. Many time when DC is not DC, it is not a good sign. Everything(lmost) starts from a good DC rail. You can use the multimeter, but AC Volt reading of a digital voltage meter not as good as the needle Analog multimeter. On the field, and most troubleshooting job, detail probing needing high BW gears are a luxury. There are R&D needs, there are non R&D needs (troubleshooting, repair, operation checks, etc)

        4. You make so many unsubstantiated assumptions (e.g. “you must be a younger generation”, I wish I were, alas not; second: that Gabo just borrowed something from someone else, again not… as he created the xprotolab from scratch—but this seems too hard for you to acknowledge, perhaps it is true one needs good eyesight, you have none, can’t read evidenty) that the more you post the more pedantic and ignorant you appear. Enough said, I *and many others* find a low BW oscilloscope useful for some tasks. You have a problem with that? Why exactly? Anyway, you are a troll that just want to get some space in the limelight and your non-sense post ended up commandeering the discussion (by everyone else saying how nonsensical you are). Respond again if you wish (this is my last response to you), you are only digging yourself a deeper hole the more you write. Believe it or not, nobody else cares about you or about what you think. Go and do a hack, publish it and then criticize.

          1. Wow, you make some fascinating statements and assumptions.
            -You disagree with me, but then discredit yourself by accusing me of having poor vision.
            -You make the statement that you and others find useful, but I wasn’t talking about ‘you and others’, I was talking about the EE industry in general – Why don’t you try to walk in to ANY EE company and try to sell this Xprotolab scope, and see what reaction you get! Haha!
            -You accuse me of being “a troll” who wants to “get some space in the limelight”… What limelight are you talking about here? Are you aware that you’re conversing in the comments section for a write up about a write up? We are pretty far into obscurity here – You might want to do a reality check!
            -I’m not sure who “everyone else” is. Do you hear voices in your head?
            -I’m fully aware that nobody cares about the comments section below a write-up about a write-up. Were you under the impression that someone did care, at some point in your life?

            I hope this comment is enlightening for you. You’re an odd duck, to say the least. No offense intended.

        5. #1 – The guy who built this watch is the same guy who built the Xprotolab.

          #2 – Sure this isn’t in the same ballpark (city…country…) as a Tektronix scope, but considering the fact that a lot of the people on here are still interested in hacking around in the land of 8-bit microcontrollers (such as Arduinos), this watch hack can still find its uses.

          #3 – The cheapest Tektronix mixed signal/domain oscilloscope starts around $2,200, so considering this gives you an analog channel or two and eight logic probes in a watch for a tiny fraction of the price, I wouldn’t complain too much. Even then, that entry-level Tektronix MSO only has 70MHz of analog bandwidth, so I guess it is also “useless” as far as you are concerned.

          I don’t think having the Xprotolab in the form of a watch for >3x the price would be worth it to me, since I don’t generally carry my Arduino projects around with me, but I can see people buying this if they have a bunch of little 8-bit MCU projects littered around in a bunch of different places or to have as a conversation piece. Since I can’t afford a “real” oscilloscope (or even anything approaching real) I might just get an Xprotolab to help with some of my Arduino projects.

  9. Regarding senior engineers and novelty items – I was delighted to buy a Hewlett-Packard Model One Digital Wrist Instrument in 1979 for much of a week’s pay. No, I didn’t *need* it and everything it did, my then-new HP-41C did better. But it was still quite an engineering design feat. Considering that used ones go for US$1000 (often +3dB above that), it seems there is a small but devoted market for those who appreciate that.

    Same here – very few *need* this but I’m sure there are quite a few enthusiasts who *want* it. Kudos to Gabriel for actually doing everything to make it real and to Hackaday for noting it.

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