Pipman GPS Watch

The Pipman is a propeller driven watch that has GPS, a compass and temperature sensors.

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The Pipman is a GPS average intelligence (not dumb, but not quit smart like pebble) watch that runs on the propeller platform. It boasts:

1 Gb internal memory (for saving calendar info and saving GPS coordinates)
GPS (with time syncing abilities, can get local time anywhere in the world)
Tilt Compensated Compass
Temperature reader
Color Screen
USB support (for importing calendar events and exporting saved GPS markers)


The project is finally completed! A lot about the design has changed (helps to actually know how to create a schematic). I hope to have this page updated (as well as a full write up on my blog) in the coming days.

I am not a hardware guy by trade, so I had to learn everything here as I went along (programming in spin, learning how to use I2C, proper wiring (not having pull up resistors set me back a while), and how to use eagle. I still have to finish the pcb and practice a lot more with surface mount soldering before the project is finished.

I first came up with this idea about 2 years ago because my wrist watch was falling apart and I couldn't find any replacements that did all the things I wanted (such as self setting time, compass, solar powered (though that proved to be infeasible given the power requirements for my parts)). I figured that it would be a fun thing to try and build myself, and so far it has, though it has taken my a lot longer than I expected to get this far.

Originally I was going to use radio to sync the time, but those parts were getting harder to find and I already had a spare GPS. At the time I also planned on building a GPS device that would save coordinates from interesting places I had been to (I didn't own a smart phone at the time). It made sense to combine these two project ideas since the watch was going to have a GPS anyway.

The journey from then has been both exciting and maddening. Overall the device works very well and all that really remains is making it fit a watch form factor. Luckily I the propeller comes in a QFP and I have found a smaller GPS unit (about the size of a penny). It may take me 5 or 6 PCBs to get it put together properly (as I've never designed one before) but I look forward to being able to show off the final product.

  • 1 × A 4d systems oled-128-G1 ( the G2 should work too
  • 1 × Any NEMA Gps
  • 1 × The Honeywell hmc6343 ( retired but can be found else where. If you know how to tweak I2C code it wouldn't be hard to get any compass moduel to work
  • 1 × 5 way switch for navigation (
  • 1 × Propeller micro controller

  • PCB work started

    Christian08/21/2014 at 03:41 0 comments

    I have started the PCB design work.  WIth the schematic out of the way I hope to have the PCB completed fairly soon (though since I have no idea what I'm doing, it could take a bit).  Next steps until completion:

    * PCB designed and printed

    * Solder all the things!

    * design and print case.

  • Band plans

    Christian08/21/2014 at 03:35 0 comments

    When I started this project, I did not know how to surface mount solder.  This greatly limited the form factor of the watch itself.  The only way I could think of mounting a 40 pin MC was to do something like this:

    Now however that I know how to surface mount solder, and parallax makes the propeller as a QFP (, this is no longer a limitation.  The current plans are as follows:

    I do like the look of the leather band, so I decieded to keep it.  The watch may be a little thicker than I'd like, but I think I will be able to fit everything inside the case once its completed.  I also hope to get a circuit pattern etched into the band with a leather burning tool once the project is complete.

  • Case Plans

    Christian08/21/2014 at 02:46 0 comments

    One of the first things I realized when building this project was that a solid case would need to be created to protect my new watch.  I had two options I could think of: 

    * learn carpentry and make a wood case

    * Hire a blacksmith to forge a case.

    Over time I had gotten more interested in 3D printing.  I realized that not only could I create a case for this project if I purchased a print, but create parts for every project I would ever do down the road.  With this in mind, I purchased a Replicator 2.

    In learning how to use the printer, I've made all sorts of things (but that is another topic).  The next step as far the case is concerned to learn how to make my own 3D objects.  I can make basic things in sketchup, but I want to make something that looks good. So I got this:

    Once I have an idea what the PCB will look like, I can start with this.

  • Schematic Done

    Christian08/21/2014 at 02:33 0 comments

    Finally finshed the project schematic tonight.  Added parts are the 5-way directional switch (for menu navigation) and the eeprom (these parts were not present on the image posted before).  Next step, creating the PCB.  This is my first time with Eagle cad, so this may end up taking multiple revsions to get right.

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