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Description: The SparkFun BigTime watch kit is a geekishly stylish digital watch with a NATO style watch-band and a slick acrylic enclosure. If it seems familiar, that’s because it’s essentially our open-source branch from the SpikenzieLabs' Solder:Time kit. The heart of the kit is the much venerated ATMega328 using a 32kHz clock-source to keep time. To check the time, just press the button on the side of the watch and it pops up on a 4-digit 7-segment LED display. Thanks to some low-level hackery, the ATMega is running at super low power and should get an estimated 2 years of run time on a single CR2032 coin cell!

The BigTime is a through-hole kit with a low parts-count, so it makes a great project for beginning solderers. After you’ve finished soldering together the PCB, simply stack the acrylic pieces around it and screw them together with the included screws. Once that’s done, pop in the coin-cell battery and go show off your nerd bling!

Did we mention that the watch kit is super hackable? An FTDI header is broken out to the side of the board and the watch-firmware is running on top of a bootloader! This means that all you need to do to add your own code is to open up Arduino or Wiring and select “Arduino Pro or Pro Mini 3.3V/8MHz w/ ATmega328” as your board.

This version of the watch uses brass inserts for a more secure enclosure. It also uses a new NATO style strap.

Note: Due to the requirements of shipping the battery in this kit, orders may take longer to process and therefore do not qualify for same-day shipping. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Kit Includes:

Features:

  • Very hackable ATMega328-based kit with Arduino bootloader
  • All through-hole components
  • Estimated 2-year battery life
  • Laser-cut acrylic enclosure
  • Large, easy-to-read display
  • Adjustable NATO style watch-band

Documents:

Replaces:KIT-11178

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Customer Comments

  • I just finished building the Big Time Watch with my granddaughter and the Simon game with my grandson (11 and 9, respectively). My approach to the soldering part was to show them how by soldering one joint, then watching as they soldered all the rest. The girl is now proficient with soldering, and the boy is nearly as proficient. Both projects worked immediately on completion, and now two grandsons want the watch! Thank you for a couple of excellent through-hole soldering kits. We may soon try reprogramming the Simon. The boy has a fiendish idea for Simon reprogramming.

  • I may not have this kit, but i can say that it has inspired me to try and make own mobile electronic timepiece. Al tough instead of a simple 7 segment display i went the geekier route and designed a pocket watch variation that displayed in BCD like the binary clocks one can find on gadget stores(if you gonna go techy you might as well go all the way!). Got a design ready and sent to a batch PCB fabrication (bring on the purple!). Next stop a case and perfecting the code.

    Its exciting when you see a existing something like this and think of a way to make one of your very own yet unique in its own way. Thank you very much for the inspiration!

  • I have one of these, and just realized it is the perfect portable platform for sensors, with its battery and LED display. Could you please, please break out one or two of those unused analog pins in the next version?

  • How big is the watch? What are the dimensions?

    • The strap will go around your wrist, probably even your ankle- it’s nice and long but can easily be trimmed shorter. The face itself is about 2 inches (50cm) across, and it’s about ½" (12mm) thick.

  • I’m a little bit of a noob at GitHub, and when I go into the Firmware folder for BigTime, there’s a bunch of different sketches. I’d like to modify my BigTime based on the sketch that’s already running on it, but which one of the sketches is it actually running? Thanks for your support!

    • Great question! Apologies that isn’t more clear in the repo- I’ll get that fixed. The sketch that comes pre-loaded is here.

  • Great kit for teaching kids to solder. I picked one up and the Denver Maker Faire and taught my 10 year old to solder with it. My daughter is up next. In the net rev, rotate the band 90 deg so you can see the signature box and so the top it turned the right direction.

    Thanks for putting this kit together!

  • Is this kit available in Red 7-Segment Display?

    • Sadly, no. You could hack in a red display but I’d recommend against it, as the low forward voltage of the LEDs would cause excessive current drain and kill the battery superfast.

      • I’ve put red displays into these with good results. The code has options to increase the blanking interval between scans for different color displays. Because there aren’t true resistors on the LEDs you’ll be overdriving a red display, but the blanking improves the battery life.

  • Help, please! Having problems with reprogramming using “FTDI basic”. Arduino IDE compiles the code and starts uploading, but fails after a couple of seconds with:

    avrdude: stk500_paged_load(): (a) protocol error, expect=0x10, resp=0x88

    What am I doing wrong? (I have one of the older versions of the kit, but it’s Atmega328p as well. I don’t remove the battery for reprogramming… should I? )

    • What board do you have selected in the Arduino IDE? You should have the “Pro/Pro Mini 3.3V w/Atmega328” option selected.

      Also, you definitely need the battery connected. The power supply from the FTDI connection isn’t connected on the board, to avoid accidentally shorting the battery to the USB supply.

      • Thanks for the reply, actually it did reprogram despite the error message. As I tried the original firmware I didn’t notice that. (I was testing the FTDI adapter.) And yet it gives me an error message each time I click “Upload”…

  • Went together with no problem. Looking at ways to re-program.

  • Fun kit I assembled at the NoCo maker faire. However I think the acrylic is a bit large, it would make for a better geeky watch if the casing was the same shape as the board I feel.

  • Very nice, easy to build. However the acrylic parts, especially the one with the cut for the “push-button” presser, is extremely weak. It lasted … 1 day ! Too weak in a place were it broke down easily. No particular stress. Everything is nice now but there is no anymore the possibility to press the pushbutton. I’m trying to glue it but I really think will not work. Two questions .. there is a way to have that part in another material stronger ? Like aluminum for example ? Or at least is possible to order a replacement ?

  • Oooooo. The band looks really nice now. Which, besides a few little things with the acrylic, is probably the only thing that bothered me with the previous versions. Thanks again all you smart people over in Colorado!

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5

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Now 3 for 3!

A year or so ago, I bought 2 Simon kits and a Big Time Watch kit for a couple of grandkids. The watch was a hit for the 12 year old. The 9 year olds liked Simon, but this year a 10 year old and a 7 year old asked for the Watch. So last week we built them. I’m happy to report that everything worked the first time. The 7 year old now has a watch that’s almost as big as her hand! No hacking yet, but they know it’s possible. Now they’re busy with their dad building an underwater robot…. Watch out Aqua-Man!


My son had a great time soldering!

My son likes watches and he gained much satisfaction from soldering this small kit together. We weren’t able to program the chip after soldering on a 6-pin header and attempting to upload the TV-B-Gone code with the Adafruit 3.3V FTDI cable. Also we probably have to drill a hold in the face in order to fit the 5mm IR LED. Need debugging help!


Amazing watch

Me being an 8 grader, this was a piece of cake to do. Only issue I ever encountered was when I thought I lost the “clicker” because it was so small, and when the AtMega leads and the 8-segment display leads were too tall and required trimming. Also, while soldering, I was careless enough to fill the FTDI header with solder globs. Only complaints there, but most of them were my problem.


The best way to start!!!

I had a lot of fun doing it, and also I wear it daily, actually I would like to have much more choices of this gradually increasing the complexity, to start a serious project from my own, great idea, I love it!!!