The Casio Smartwatch You Never Had

In a way, you have to feel a bit sorry for the engineers at Casio. They can produce the most advanced digital watches ever to grace the wrist, but their work will forever be associated with one of their more lowly creations. The Casio F91 is the archetypal digital watch — it’s affordable, it’s been in production since the Ark, it does the job so well that it’s become a design classic, and it remains a very tough act to follow.

If it has a flaw though, it’s that the functions of a watch from 1989 are very basic. Wouldn’t it be nice if a Casio F91 could be a modern smartwatch! Well thanks to [Pegor] it can, with a complete re-engineering of the classic watch’s internals. Now the simple classic timepiece is fully up-to-date!

All the Casio internals are removed, and a new movement holder supports a fresh PCB with an OLED display mounted via a flexible sub-PCB. The brains comes courtesy of a Texas Instruments CC2640 BLE microcontroller. This gives it a 15-day battery life, which is nothing like what the original watch would have but compares favorably to smartwatches. He admits that the software needs some work, but with hardware this well-executed we hope that others can contribute some improvements.

This is probably the most impressive F91 hack we’ve seen, but it’s by no means the first revamped Casio we’ve shown you.

Remoticon 2021 // Joey Castillo Teaches Old LCDs New Tricks

Segmented liquid crystal displays are considered quite an old and archaic display technology these days. They’re perhaps most familiar to us from their use in calculators and watches, where they still find regular application. [Joey Castillo] decided that he could get more out of these displays with a little tinkering, and rocked up to Remoticon 2021 to share his findings.

[Joey’s] talk is a great way to learn the skills needed to reverse engineer a typical segment LCD.
[Joey] got his start hacking on these displays via his Sensor Watch project –  a board swap for the venerable Casio F-91W wristwatch, with the project now available on CrowdSupply. It kits out the 33-year-old watch design with a modern, low-power ARM Cortex M0+ microcontroller running at 32 MHz that completely revolutionizes what the watch can do. Most importantly, however, it repurposes the watches original segmented monochrome LCD.

Segment LCDs are usually small monochrome devices made out of glass, that have the benefit of using very little power in their operation. They come with a fixed layout, which cannot be changed – so they’re often designed specifically for a given purpose. A calculator will have segments laid out to display numbers, often in the usual 7-segment fashion, while a watch may add dedicated segments for displaying things like “AM,” “PM,” or “ALARM.” Continue reading “Remoticon 2021 // Joey Castillo Teaches Old LCDs New Tricks”

Just How Water Resistant Is The Casio F91W?

Water resistance is an important feature of a modern watch. It makes wearing the watch far more practical in this modern world of sudden rainstorms and urban water balloon ambushes. The Casio F91W, one of the company’s most popular watches, is claimed to be water resistant to “30 meters”, which in ISO parlance, means it is suitable for splashes and rain resistance only. [Rostislav Persion] wanted to get a better idea of what this really meant, so set about investigating for himself.

The first step was to simply immerse the watch under 5.5″ of cold tap water while pressing the buttons and observing for any signs of water ingress. Already, the watch proved it is far more than just rain resistant, so [Rotislav] decided to disassemble the watch and learn how it achieved this.

Disassembly revealed that the watch’s case was entirely sealed, except for three buttons. The buttons, however, are specially designed in order to seal with the plastic case of the watch. Each button consists of a stainless steel pin, machined to be larger on the outside-facing side than the inside. The buttons also have a rubber O-ring seal to allow them to move in the case without allowing water to leak inside. [Rotislav] then compares the simple design to buttons used on watches with higher water resistance ratings, which boast multiple O-ring seals and more complex designs.

Given [Rotislav’s] results, we’d be far more confident getting our affordable Casio watches a little wet. Obviously, we wouldn’t expect to make a warranty claim if damage occurred from use outside the specs, but it’s clear the watch is far more capable than standards might suggest. If that’s not enough though, you can always set about modifying the watch to improve its water resistance even further.