Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I'm a watch DIYer, having serviced two watches myself, partially using tools of my own making. One thing I've been working on over the last few months is my own PC based timing machine. I've finally got something working reliably, and thought I'd preview it here. My plan is to eventually write up a detailed article on my web site describing how to build the hardware, and providing a download for the software. I may also produce a "pro" version of the software with more features, to be sold for a reasonable fee.

 

Here's the hardware, all home made of course:

 

post-140-0-26666800-1404692988_thumb.jpg

 

The next picture shows the timing trace from my "Black Lagoon", a modified Invicta 8926OB with a Seiko NH35A movement (yes, the amplitude is quite low and tends to fluctuate, topping out around 220 degrees - apparently this is par for the course for Seiko movements):

 

post-140-0-18039200-1404693024_thumb.jpg

 

In this picture, the software is in scope mode, showing directly the ticks and tocks. Notice how with this movement, they alternate in loudness. Since the scope mode was run after the timing mode, the scope also shows the threshold that was used by the timing mode to detect the start of each tick.

 

post-140-0-90022000-1404693014_thumb.jpg

 

And this is the settings window:

 

post-140-0-71980600-1404693245_thumb.jpg

 

Here's a brief list of features so far (I have to resist creeping featuritis):

  • Numerical display of daily rate error, balance amplitude, and beat error.
  • Horizontal "paper tape" mode with sub-pixel vertical resolution that can show fluctuations that are too small to see on a typical stand-alone timing machine.
  • User selectable averaging period.
  • Rate determination using linear least squares, which gives a more meaningful reading than just naively averaging the rate.
  • Automatic signal and noise level determination. There's nothing to adjust.
  • Aggressive noise filtering in the software to keep the hardware simple.
  • Automatic rate detection for common rates.
  • Simple, uncluttered, fixed-size display (1024x600).
  • Scope mode to aid in diagnosis of various watch faults.
Edited by svorkoetter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I just spend good money in a timegrapher machine!

 

Excellent work! Keep it up!.

 

I've heard of some software that can be downloaded (for a price) that converts the pc into a timegrapher. What you are doing is certainly friendlier than what I saw. I'll try and find a link so you can "compare notes". Good to have more of this in development, I hope someday prices can be more accessible with competition...plus the flexibility of common place home hardware: a pc.

 

By the way, are you referring to the Seiko class by Nick Hacko?

 

Robert

Edited by bobm12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi svorkoetter, that's excellent work you've been doing of late. I really appreciate what you have done, but the computing technicalities are way over my head. Have you done a comparative test with a professional timegrapher? It would be interesting to see how the results compare. I look forward to further reports on the development.

Now I know why you've not been on the forum for a while!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's no kit as of yet, but I may consider it if there's enough interest. But I'm not sure if it will be economically viable. It's the sort of thing you can build for well under $50 yourself by scrounging parts, but a low volume kit might end up costing as much as a Chinese timing machine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's the sort of thing you can build for well under $50 yourself by scrounging parts, but a low volume kit might end up costing as much as a Chinese timing machine.

That's just what I was thinking Stefan, fine tuning for production and setting up costs would be very expensive and end up costing more than a Chinese one.

Edited by Geo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd pay for both a kit (to be constructed at home, rather than prebuilt, we all like to say how we made it!) & I'd pay for the software. I have a timing machine, but if this could be supplied cheap enough it would be worth having for the cool factor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is excellent work.

 

I use Graham Baxter's software at the moment and it is very comprehensive, works with co-axials which is mainly why I purchased it. Graham will convert most old timing machine microphones for use with the software. What annoyed me before purchasing the software is that there was no alternatives to consider - and so I wish you luck in your development efforts.

 

If you haven't seen it yet then check it out and maybe you can glean some ideas: http://www.delphelectronics.co.uk/products.html

 

Also - feel free to send me a copy to compare against the timegrapher and Grahams software if you want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Construction of the preamplifier is simple enough that anyone with a few electronics assembly skills and tools could build it from scratch. I built it on stripboard ("Veroboard") so there's not even a circuit board to etch. A kit might be overkill.

 

The microphone is just simple woodworking, and it can be simplified even further by using a Korg clip-on piezo mic instead of building a mic stand.

 

I've tried Graham's software (in demo mode only, where it can only read a pre-recorded file) and it's quite impressive and full featured. I wanted to make something a little simpler to use though.

 

WRT, I'd be glad to send you a copy of the software as it is so far, since I'd like to get some feedback (and testing). If you already have a working mic, it should just work "out of the box". I just have a few loose ends to finish up (such as printing and PNG export support). Send me a message and we'll work out how to get you a copy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is an exciting project. Couple of ideas for you:

 

Simple is good. It would be nice if you do not need to use a mouse (or have the choice not to have to use a mouse) - all functions controllable via keyboard shortcuts. That is one thing that annoys me about Grahams software, there are some keyboard shortcuts but the most basic of them has been omitted - the ability to start and stop timing with a keypress (like the space bar or something). Even better would be to enable the shortcuts to be configurable.

 

It sounds like a picky thing but really - messing with a mouse at your workbench is annoying :)

 

If you are programming this in C++ then I would recommend QT as this is multi-platform and you could compile it for PC, Mac or Linux as long as you don'y statically link the QT libs then you can redistribute without license.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, keyboard shortcuts were already on my to-do list. I don't want to bother with a configuration screen for them, so they'll probably be fixed. I like the idea of the Space bar for start/pause/resume. Perhaps Backspace for stop, Enter for settings, and the more-or-less standard Ctrl+P for printing?

 

It's written in Delphi for Windoze, but I could look into switching to Lazarus to get cross-platform portability. The problem is no matter what I use, the audio API will not be portable between platforms, so I'll still have to develop that separately for each (so it may never happen). Another possibility is Java, which does have a cross-platform audio interface (but that also probably isn't going to happen unless I find more pressing reasons to learn Java).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

svorkoetter, any possibility to integrate the audio using a java interface (like an external call, I don't know Delphi but maybe it can be done) and open source that part to get help inside that community (only for the audio)? That would make it portable and probably you won't have to worry about coding the audio itself. It's been a long time I used any programming language including java, so correct me if I'm wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I was posting when you were Mark. I don't like java either but the practicality of just this interface may be worth looking into. I do believe that using java to process the audio might probably slow down the whole thing. (?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, it will simplify matters and java won't be an issue. In any case, good luck with the project and let us know of the outcome. I'll be a customer too when -- and if -- you say the word.

 

Robert

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last night, I finished servicing my Poljot 3133-powered Sturmanskie chronograph, and had a chance to use my timing system "for real" for the first time:

 

post-140-0-98134400-1404913355_thumb.png

 

Note that the annotations you see on the screenshot were added by hand, although I plan to add a feature to do that automatically.

 

I first used it to test the performance in four different positions, then used it while adjusting the watch, and then tested once more. Until now, I'd been recording the watch and then measuring ticks by hand in Audacity (an audio editing program). It was really nice to be able to have the performance displayed in real time.

 

This is the watch:

 

post-140-0-38727500-1404913562_thumb.jpg

Edited by svorkoetter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I doubt I'd sell a lot either way, since one still has to build the preamp and microphone (the built in mics just aren't good enough for this sort of thing). I'm not sure how many people would be willing to do that, even though I think that anyone with the skills to need a timing machine would be able to put together a simple circuit.

Edited by svorkoetter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting works. I've paid 10$ for a software, named Kello on iPhone. It has similar principle however it takes long time to get the tick tock signal due to limited iPhone sound amplification.

Here is the result of my watches

desagany.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Topics

  • Posts

    • UPDATE:  I know it's been a while, but I wanted to give an update to what I've done so far (which isn't much), what I'm seeing, and how I plan to proceed. I also had an oiling question. So as Nucejoe recommended, I started by running the movement and seeing how long it took for the power reserve to run it's course which was actually just over 48 hours. That's absolutely within spec, so that ended up not being an issue. The second hand was still stopping at 3 seconds after 12. Unfortunately I had a rookie moment, and neglected to pull the crown out to the setting position (3rd) when removing the movement to run the next test. So without pulling the crown all the way out, it's impossible to properly reinsert it! So with that, I was forced to remove the hands, dial, date mechanism, and half the keyless works in order to get the stem back in. In that process, I found out that the stem is bent. I purchased this used, and when I received it the crown barely had the threads to screw down. Thinking a bent stem was related to that and not wanting that to happen again, I purchased a new Omega stem. After that I was able to run another test and this time the second hand did not stop in the same place it usually did. Huzzah! I ran that test three more times and the second stopped at a different place every time! Success....except, because I had to skip a few tests (e.g. with dial on, dial off, date off and so forth) I don't know EXACTLY what that issue is, but I at least have an idea.  Next up, the balance. On my inspection, I could not find any obvious faults. The cap stones did not look out of place, unless its very very slight. Wasn't sure how visible a shifted cap stone would look. I have observed that it does not stop its motion in what I would consider a natural way. It stops rather suddenly. I did purchase (in all my many purchases for this project) an etachron key, as well as learned what its for and how to use it. I carefully opened up the regulator pins on the etachron system and removed the stud (I learned this from another video) and removed the balance complete. My initial inspection at 15x did not show any obvious bends or anything like that in the pivots. So I just ordered a USB microscope and will take a closer look. Hopefully the pivots just need to be thoroughly cleaned, but if not, I already have a balance complete I can use (I don't have the skills nor tools to replace a balance staff). I'm hoping it won't come to that.  Once I removed the balance, and the pallet fork, I ran the gear train to see how that looked. Again, what I'm seeing is that it doesn't release power in a smooth natural way. It gets choppy at the end of the run where it will stop-go-stop-go and then finally stop. If you shake it a little bit it will go just a little bit more. When I received this watch a few years ago, I was told it was serviced and was given a service record, but on my inspection, the parts are not nearly as clean as I would like them. I have found residue on the bridges and rotor, and the gears do not look as clean as I would hope. So I don't know exactly what was done, but I'm not confident that all my pivots are as clean as they need to be. Or that it was properly oiled.  So that's it...that's where I'm at right now. I plan to disassemble bit by bit, and inspect everything (endshake, sideshake and close microscope inspection) so I can hopefully fault find. I'm sorry this was so long, thank you for reading if you got all the way through. One question I did have concerns oiling. I've watched Marc's video on servicing the Omega 2500 (which from what I understand is exactly like the 1120, but with the co-axil) and I've noticed that he oils the winding pinion, sliding pinion, and stem with Moebius 9501 (cause it's blue) and not the recommended HP-1300 (which is red) from the technical sheets. I do not have the 9501, I purchased 9504 instead cause that was a change that was made on the technical sheets. So which should I use? Is there a reason that the HP-1300 is not used? Ok, again thank you so much for your input. I didn't add pics, cause I didn't think there was anything to really show just yet. It looks like what you'd expect.
    • Thank-you JDM, very helpful.  I will contact them.  The screws I need are very tiny but not as tiny as those for mov'ts. 
    • what ever gets the job done.
    • Another Setback. I thought I would try securing the balance by restating it, but I left the roller table on and thought it would hold up to the pounding. I thought wrong. The roller table is made of brass and simply crushed. Ahhhhhh, should have taken it off prior to re-riveting the balance. Now I need another roller table or simply call this a scrap movement. Good news is I got it for free. “Should have simply JB Welded the balance back on” and I know, not normally acceptable. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    • Hello all. I just received a Bulova Marine Star watch for a work anniversary gift, and I’m trying to remove links. The problem is the flathead slots on the tiny screws are extremely shallow, and none of my my small screwdrivers will turn them. I know I could take it to a jeweler, but I’m sure there must be a way I can do it myself. Any ideas? Thanks very much 
×
×
  • Create New...