AMS Spring 2023

A Retrofuturist Apple II Wristwatch is 3D Printed

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FPGTODII63EWJS6.MEDIUMInstructables user Aleator777 is a Californian who makes “electronic whatsits, 3D printed thingamabobs, and laser-cut kajiggers for the Instructables design team,” and his latest is a wondrous piece of what he refers to as “retrofuturism.”

The 24-year-old has built an ironic answer to the hypetastic Apple watch. It’s a wearable Apple watch as well, but with a spectacular twist: he built a watch based on the nearly forty year old throwback, Apple II.

Aleator777

Aleator777

And it does actually have the look and feel of a device created during the happening, technocool ’80s. Its rectangular shape and off-white plastic case, ancient rainbow Apple logo, and massive “winding knob” all serve to sell the package in a way that puts the upcoming version to shame.

The watch is driven by a Teensy 3.1, it boasts a massive, 1.8″ TFT LCD display screen and includes a SOMO II sound module and speaker, because, Audio.

While it does tell time, adding personalized functionality will be up to you.

“When I set out to design the Apple II watch, I originally planned to create a faithful, tiny replica of the classic machine in a wrist-sized form factor,” Aleator says. “While researching the design I began to ask if I really just wanted to make a miniature, or something altogether new? I settled on the latter. The design would be a ‘working’ device, heavily inspired by the form factor of the full size computer, but it would also be an imaginative exploration of a wearable tech world that began long before we had the technology to do so in a meaningful way. Calculator watches are already, by definition, a wrist-worn computer, and are pretty neat, but there’s just something so appealing about the idea a tiny wrist-worn CRT. I also wanted to push my new 3D modeling skills as well, so building a reasonable complicated enclosure was a fun challenge.”

The MCU for the device runs at 72 MHz, and this version does keep and display the real time and date, but Aleator says the rest of the UI “is mostly for fun.”

apaHe says he spent about three weeks working on the case design and basic circuitry, and then put in another week or so building out the graphics and software.

As for functioning hardware, the watch boasts a Teensy 3.1 ARM processor, the 1.8″ TFT LCD 160×128 pixel display, the SOMO II MP3, a LiPo charger and boost converter, a push button power switch and a momentary push button, an 8 ohm 2W speaker and an 800 mAh LiPo battery which provides about a 3-hour operating time. There’s also a 2GB microSD card included for your pleasure.

“There is quite a lot packed into this tiny package,” he says. “Since I had so little space, the entire circuit uses point to point wiring using stranded wire. Ultimately this proved to cause a few headaches, so I settled on solid core wire, despite it being a bid harder to compress into the case. The electronics are ultimately wrapped in electrical tape in order to prevent shorting when squished together.”app2

The designer says the main program is a simple Arduino sketch.

And to add just a touch more awesome. The Apple II wristwatch boasts a “boot sequence” which faithfully mimics the start-up process of a real Apple II computer.

The watch was printed on an Objet Connex printer, and Aleator777’s project on Instructables includes all the necessary .stl files for anyone who wants to print their own Apple II Wristwatch.

What do you think about this retrofuturist Apple II wristwatch? Let us know in the Apple II Wristwatch forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out the video of this awesome little gadget below:

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