Problems with Timesquare watch

by AK_Eric on Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:17 am

Got the Timesquare watch kit for my 13 year old boy for his birthday. He soldered it up last night, as much as I could tell all seemed well (I helped him through the process, he's soldered stuff up before). Here's the problems we're having:
* When you put the battery in, it seems to take several minutes to 'turn on'. At first we thought it was broken since it just didn't do anything for quite a while.
* The time seems to constantly reset: Even in the middle of setting the time, sometimes the watch will just 'turn off'.
* We set the time last night, when he work up in the morning, it was still the exact same time: The time hadn't advanced, but at least it hadn't reset. After a few minutes of fiddling with it though, the time reset again.
* The battery indicator says it's constantly on 'one bar'. I checked the battery, looks like it's putting out around 2.94v.

Any thoughts? Much appreciated.
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by Chuckz on Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:30 am

I built the watch.

I have experienced the watch resetting itself while setting the watch. You basically have to finish setting the watch or it does that. Pressing the button on the left also can cause the user to have to set the watch. The video shows how to set the watch and helps give comprehension in addition to reading the instructions.

You may have another problem though. When I soldered my watch, I tried to solder both sides of the circuit board wherever possible because I knew that it was a watch and that anything on my wrist had to be rugged. I'm not saying you have to do this but this is what I did.

The others may ask you to post a picture of the visible soldering work.
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by AK_Eric on Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:01 pm

Thanks for the feedback. The "watch resetting while setting it" is infrequent, but I wanted to list is as an issue since it's been happening. In general, I can get the time set... but then all the other issues show up.
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by adafruit_support_bill on Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:32 pm

It sounds consistent with an intermittent solder joint. It could also be due to a low battery. It is interesting that your watch reports 1 bar and your meter reads 2.94v. You might want to check your meter against a reliable reference & make sure it has fresh batteries. Even a tenth of a volt makes a big difference with these batteries.

If you post photos we will check over the soldering too.
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by Chuckz on Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:48 pm

I'm thinking if it is a solder joint which can't be seen due to construction, maybe adding solder to the side of the board which can be seen may help compensate as a last resort if it comes to that. I use a minimalist approach by adding small amounts of solder. This might help the contacts that can't be seen.

Taking apart the watch might be too difficult at this stage which is why I suggested what I said, if it comes to that.
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by AK_Eric on Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:14 pm

I got a new battery from the store. Reads around 3.2v. Watch immediately came to life when inserted, and battery display now reads full power. So the battery that shipped with it was nearly dead, and a spare one I had was nearly dead.

Since that, the time hasn't 'auto-reset'. However, the time still isn't advancing. It's stuck on the time I set it. Ironically, I remember when the watch first turned on (just after solder completion), and remembering seeing the time read 12:03.. 12:04... until I tried setting it.
If I set the watch to binary mode, I can watch the seconds change... but it only advances every 5 seconds. So 5 seconds of realtime = 1 second of watch binary time. And even though the seconds change, the minutes and hours never do.

See pic of the back of the watch.
timesquare_back.jpg
Back of timesquare watch
timesquare_back.jpg (118.77 KiB) Viewed 632 times


Thoughts?
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by Chuckz on Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:14 pm

It is a little hard for me to tell from the picture. I kind of question the two resistors on the right. And two of the resistors are touching but I think them touching are probably not the cause unless the current travels so I would try to shove a thin piece of paper between them to see if it operates any differently. I would need another picture angle because the picture doesn't show the other side of the chip. Maybe a horizontal closeup between the matrix and the board too to see what it reveals? I know it is hard to get good quality pictures of stuff that small but pictures in the daytime probably provide the best possible light.

Adafruit posted this soldering guide:

http://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-guid ... n-problems

Can you identify any soldering problems from the guide?

If someone was desperate, I could offer to solder one for free with lead free solder, test it and make sure it works if someone was to send me one. I found my Panavise Jr and I can possibly post a picture of my work.
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by adafruit_support_bill on Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:11 am

Hard to see much from the component side of the board. Unfortunately, the display covers the solder-side. Judging from the looks of the soldering on the display pins, your son's solder technique looks pretty good. Some of the resistor joints look like they could be a little solder-starved or cold. You might try re-flowing those from the top-side and adding a little solder to a couple of them. Also look closely at the pins on the chips and touch up any that look suspicious.
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by AK_Eric on Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:00 pm

Thanks for the feedback: I'll try re-soldering from the top... before I attempt to desolder the matrix and see the backside.... :? I went back though and made sure none of the components (like the resistors mentioned) were touching, but it didn't have any effect on performance. I can report that a day later the time hasn't reset (although nor has it advanced...), so my guess is that issue was based on the low battery.
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by AK_Eric on Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:18 pm

Success: Since there seemed to be an issue with it keeping time, I re-soldered the backside of the RTC chip: Plugged the battery back in, and now it's keeping time successfully. Thanks for the help from you both.
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by AK_Eric on Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:41 pm

So... never-mind: It still doesn't work: I got three minutes in before the time locked up again. When I first put the battery in, I switched it to binary mode, and could see the seconds ticking away properly. But now it's being back to super slow again.
And, I remember this: When I first soldered the thing up, and put the battery in for the very first time, I remember seeing the time advance from 12:00 to 12:03. Same thing seemed to just happen: I seems to count time for 3 minutes after I set it, and then just 'lock up'.
So I took the battery out, put it back in: It's just continually 'slow' counting seconds in binary mode... time still won't advance.

I know this is fairly obscure... but any other thoughts?
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by adafruit_support_bill on Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:54 am

I seems to count time for 3 minutes after I set it, and then just 'lock up'.

Hmmm. Is it exactly 3 minutes every time? I could understand it stopping if the crystal were to stop oscillating, but 'd expect it to be more random than that.

Do you have access to an oscilloscope to look at the crystal output?
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by AK_Eric on Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:35 am

No oscilloscope for me... that's one tool I haven't quite had a need for yet... until now... :wink:
I was hoping to reproduce the "only advance time for three minutes" issue by taking out and replacing the battery again... but doing that (like mentioned above) doesn't have the desired effect: Time is immediately 'locked'. Binary mode seconds are back to 1 binary second per 5 real-world seconds, and the minutes never change.
I'm thinking this is leaning towards user error on assembly or some sort of component failure. :(
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by Zener on Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:23 pm

Those watch crystals are notoriously fragile. However, they don't run slow. If they are bad then they just don't do anything. I imagine some nice person would offer to fix it for you. I would, but I have never built one of those so I don't know what I would be getting into! But if you get desperate you can send it to me and I can probably get it fixed for you, as long as there is a schematic.
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Re: Problems with Timesquare watch

by adafruit_support_bill on Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:02 pm

We are not sure what is going on with that one. If you contact support@adafruit.com with a link to this thread, we can send you a replacement kit.
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