Revision 5 Hardware!

A project log for Custom Smartwatch

An ESP32 Based Open-Source Smartwatch

Matthew James BellafaireMatthew James Bellafaire 08/06/2020 at 01:232 Comments

Funny story, When I started this project back in October it was because the wrist strap on a $20 digital watch broke. While this was one of those projects I always wanted to do, the actual spark was that watch breaking. To think now, 10 months later, that a $20 digital watch would be the prompt for a project that spanned 6 board revisions and countless hours of writing firmware is kind of insane. With that said this is by far the most challenging personal project I've ever taken on and I have gained invaluable knowledge every step of the way. With all that said it's time to jump into the meat of the matter, the Rev 5 board is now complete. 

Since Rev 4.1 is still going strong, now almost 2 months after I originally assembled it (and it's been my daily watch for that time), there's not a lot of changes that needed to be made for Rev 5. There were some minor improvements thrown in with this revision so let’s cover those first.

The power management circuitry has been cleaned up a bit, having two separate LDO's for the watch is entirely redundant. In Rev 5 components are enabled/disabled with MOSFETS which are each connected to pins which can be controlled by the ULP module aboard the ESP32. This way it's possible to have the RTC control whether these pins are on and off. Pulldown resistors are also present on each of the MOSFETS to ensure the default state is off. The pulldowns can be left unpopulated if I choose to use the ULP to control these functions, for the moment I don't have any plans to do so. The accelerometer, LCD Logic, and LCD Backlight each have their own enable signals for controlling the FETs. 

Another minor change was the addition of a thermistor to the MAX17260. Using a 10K NTC thermistor should increase the accuracy of the battery readings. However, the datasheet also specifies that this isn't a required component of the application circuit, so I left it as optional by adding a jumper. 

Here are the same changes applied to the LCD, I also rearranged the schematic symbol for readability since the last one was kind of a disaster. 

In the category of "I should have done this anyway to start with" is the addition of some ESD protection on the USB connector. For this I chose the ESDZV5-1BF4 TVS diode, which should shunt any static discharge or inductive spike from the USB cable safely. 

Other than those minor changes (and some pin reassignments for the purposes of layout) the schematic is the same as the last revision. Where this revision makes a radical departure from the last is in board size. 

Shrinking the board down was somewhat difficult and necessitated going to a double sided load since the ESP32 is only slightly smaller than the new board itself. Before the layout got started I picked out a new battery to fit with the design ( which mostly set the board dimensions I could get away with. The LCD is about 47mm x 34mm, meaning that both the board and this battery needs to fit within that footprint. This left me with 34mm x 24mm for laying out the board (with some of that space unusable due to the ESP32's antenna).  I ended up doing the layout twice, I wasn't very happy with the first attempt, so I started from scratch. With all that said, here's the final render of the PCB: 

It's worth noting also that with this reduction in overall volume the battery capacity has decreased. I haven't talked about battery life so far with the current iteration of the smartwatch since I had no intention of keeping the current 600mAh battery. For a normal day of regular use, the watch only uses about 15%-30% of its capacity, this is with the device also polling the smartphone every minute to update its notification data. Switching down to the 270mAh battery linked above should leave the watch with 30% - 60% at the end of the day which can be further improved by reducing the polling rate when in sleep mode (I'm planning some software changes that replace).

Either way that's all for the electrical updates for Rev 5, next log will go over the new form-factor and case design. See you in the next log!


Jeff Cooper wrote 08/06/2020 at 14:58 point

Cool! I'm curious why you needed to add the thermistor to the MAX17260. Were the readings you were getting without it not accurate, or was this more of a "why not?" attempt to get more accuracy?

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Matthew James Bellafaire wrote 08/06/2020 at 15:55 point

It really falls into the "why not?" category of features, I'm not sure how much of a part the temperature plays in the battery calculations. Since the battery is no longer in direct contact with the board, I also can't rely on the die temperature reading of the MAX17260. It's mostly there just as an option in case it turns out the temperature does affect the output significantly. I'll probably not populate it at first and see how the watch performs since there's some software configuration required with the 17260 to use the external thermistor properly. 

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