That phrase could be Bill Hammack’s tagline. This week, it’s the piezoelectric crystal oscillator in a $9.99 digital watch from Target, a device so ubiquitous that it has become “ephemeralized,” as Bucky Fuller put it: Almost any device that runs on electricity is expected to include one. I knew how they worked, in a general way, before watching this video. But here’s one of the many things I did not know: The quartz crystal in the oscillator is only 3mm long and less than 1mm across, yet each one is individually tuned at the factory. Wanna know how they do it? Click away. [Thanks, Bill!]


Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

  • Maker Dino

    I always wondered what was inside one of those tiny cylinders. Simply amazing. :)

  • SKR

    wouldn’t it be great if objects had signs that read,”look inside it’s amazing” instead of “warranty void if opened”?

    • Shadyman

      Or “Warranty void if opened, but look inside anyways because it’s amazing”

  • Simon

    Tim Hunkin also did a longer piece on quartz watches:

    I prefer the slower, British approach to the rather hurried Yank version :) But I didn’t know how they tune whose things so that bit was most interesting.