There’s no shortage of smartwatches on the market, but if you can’t find one with exactly the features you’re looking for, you might want to try building your own from scratch.
OK, probably not. But that’s what electrical engineer Samson March did. He designed his own watch case, circuit board, and software and printed and assembled most of the parts himself (although he did outsource the creation of the circuit board to a PCB manufacturer).
The end result is a watch that gets a week of battery life, pairs with an iPhone via Bluetooth, and shows notifications on his wrist.
March outlined the entire process in an Imgur post featuring a series of images, short videos, and descriptions, and you can find all the files needed to make your own.
Of course, you probably won’t actually do that because it takes a lot of work, not to mention some specialized equipment… and a lot of patience.
The watch casing 3D printed using a woodfill PLA material that’s about 70 percent plastic, 30 percent saw dust, and which looks and acts like wood (meaning you can sand it down to get a smoother finish).
March opted fro a 1.3 inch, 240 x 240 pixel LCD display and equipped the watch with a Dialog Semiconductor DA14683 microcontroller chip with built-in Bluetooth support, a vibration motor, an accelerometer, 128Mb of flash memory, and a coin-cell, 3.7V lithium-ion battery.
There’s also a charging dock with a micro USB port and contacts that charge the watch’s battery when it’s placed in the dock.
He also designed custom software for the watch so that it displays color-coded notifications from his iPhone, including calendar appointments, emails, and text messages. It can also support alternate watch faces, and he says it should be possible to use the watch to control playback of music on his phone.
The DIY smartwatch doesn’t have a touchscreen, so you can control it by lifting your hand to view the time or touching the sides of the watch to navigate.
It’s also not waterproof, but March says he’s experimenting with ways to protect it from water.
Even with the schematics, circuit board files, STL files for a 3D printer, code, and bill of materials March has posted to Github, this would be a pretty ambitious project for anyone to recreate. It was obviously an even more ambitious project for him to design and build from scratch.
But March says if there’s enough interest, he might make some kits for folks that want to assemble their own without doing everything from scratch.