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Alt.CES: Ti eZ430 – Chronos Development kit unboxing

Alt.CES: Ti eZ430 – Chronos Development kit unboxing

I received my Texas Instrument eZ430 – Chronos dev kit in the mail yesterday, so I decided to take a few shots of all the included goodies, and post them on Make: Online. You might be wondering what makes this watch different? Well this one is apparently ‘hackable’! Texas Instruments even includes the hardware and software to do it!

The eZ430-Chronos is a highly integrated, wearable wireless development system based for the CC430 in a sports watch. It may be used as a reference platform for watch systems, a personal display for personal area networks, or as a wireless sensor node for remote data collection.


Not a bad looking watch, right? Although I wish the giant Ti logo wasn’t there! Also, I am a bit concerned about scratches. Then again, this will most likely end up being ripped apart and integrated into some kind of project. Did I mention it retails for $49. I picked mine up for $25 during the pre-order. Not bad for a watch with a 97 segment LCD, 3-axis accelerometer, pressure sensor, temperature sensor, and built in wireless!


The kit comes with everything you need to program the watch. It even includes a screwdriver and extra screws! I’m not sure how much you can actually hack it, but you can send and receive data from the watch, and that should make it useful for a lot of different projects.

What’s Included

  • 2 spare screws
  • CC1111 USB RF access point
  • CD containing documentation and development software
  • Mini Phillips screwdriver
  • eZ430 USB programming and debugging interface
  • eZ430-Chronos wireless watch

I wonder how hard it will be to get the accelerometer data from the watch into a program like Processing? I’ll let you know as soon as I get some time to check it all out.


Here is some more information from the eZ430-Chronos Wireless Watch Development Tool website:


  • Fully functional sports watch based on the CC430F6137, MSP430 with integrated <1GHz wireless transceiver
  • Watch reprogrammable for custom wireless applications
  • Highly integrated watch includes on-board 3-axis accelerometer, pressure sensor, temperature sensor, battery voltage sensor
  • 96-Segment LCD display driven directly by CC430
  • Can be paired wirelessly with heart rate monitors, pedometers or other devices based RF transceivers like the CC1101 or SoCs such as the CC430 or CC111x
  • Includes an eZ430 USB emulator that connects the Chronos to a PC for real-time, in-system programming and debugging
  • Includes IAR Kickstart and Code Composer Studio integrated development environments which includes an assembler, linker, simulator, source-level debugger, and code limited C-compiler

You can check out the rest of my pictures here.

So what do you all think? Is this the future of electronics? Will other companies follow, offering developmental tools for their products? Let us know your thought in the comments. Thanks!

62 thoughts on “Alt.CES: Ti eZ430 – Chronos Development kit unboxing

  1. uhze says:

    From what i read a month ago on their website I’d love to buy one (have to recheck the availability in EU). Hopefully the device will be as hackable as it sounds.
    It is the future of electronics? I don’t think so :
    I think there are too many too lazy people who don’t want to hack around and try stuff. I hope to see more stuff like this, but i think we won’t see such products from bigger companies because they don’t see a market.

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      It’s true, the market would be limited. However, how much extra work is it to publish some schematics or code? Or at least stop sealing cases closed, and using proprietary security screws? That would be cool!

    2. says:

      Willingness to tinker doesn’t make one holier than an average user, who just wants things to work. That isn’t too much to ask for, and limiting oneself in that way doesn’t automatically mean one is lazy. At some point tinkering/hacking becomes an end in and of itself, which is fine if that is what the specific individual wants to do, but some of us do have other lives that we have to live with a limited supply of time.

      Having said that, I just got my EZ430, and it is quite awesome. I could just use it as a consumer device (though it isn’t sold as such at present), for which it seems to function quite well so far — you know, telling the time, date, hear rate etc. I have the comparable Garmin Forerunner 50, which was quite a bit more expensive, and not any more functional. In fact the latter is far more shoddy in construction, and has a totally closed software. Unfortunately until this TI watch came along, there wasn’t really an alternative to the Forerunner. I am definitely looking forward to tinkering with its innards, and writing an app or two.

  2. John says:

    looks fantastic for 50 bucks. but why not post about the pre-order deal on this blog? I really, really hate what Make has become.

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      It was…..

      ” I really, really hate what Make has become.”

      Please email me directly, I would love to hear more about what you don’t like about us? We love feedback, good or bad. It can only make things better.

    2. Phillip Torrone says:

      @John – that’s a mean thing to say, this watch is awesome, i ordered one too. you “hate” make because there wasn’t a post about a pre-order deal? really, hate? hate is a big deal, hating…

  3. Edward says:

    I just ordered one and their credit card processing is broken. When you phone in the order they wave the shipping fee.

    I didn’t notice the discount code in the image until after I placed the order, anyone know if it will work?

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      Free shipping, nice!

      That code is for a heart-rate monitor accessory.

  4. chemicaloliver says:

    I just received mine too, under windows the usb wireless receiver can act as as a normal serial port so essentially the system is completely hack-able, Linux drivers for the wireless usb thingy are however still in the works…more info here;

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      Awesome! I was hoping it was a standard serial port. Arduino, here I come! :)

      If only there was an OSX driver.

  5. Joel says:

    When did you order yours?

    I ordered mine right around Christmas and I’m not sure if the order went through or when the next shipping time is.

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      I ordered mine in early December.

  6. Alan Parekh says:

    What a great looking platform. They are obviously loosing money on these since it’s not like they are going to sell a few million of these dev watches. What is the intended purpose? Is it to get developers playing with and starting to design with TI hardware or are they planning a move into this micro portable area?

    Who will be the first to interface it to a Wii, I think Wii bowling would be lots of fun with the watch as an interface!

  7. waterman says:

    … is it waterproof ?

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      More water-resistant, than proof!

  8. Dirk says:

    I tried to get it working on the mac with virtualbox. But the USB receiver doesn’t work in OSX and virtualbox can’t access it. It seems that I really need a windows box for it. :-(

    1. chemicaloliver says:

      The usb receiver works in a virtualbox xp machine running inside ubuntu, are you sure the user running virtualbox has the correct permissions to let it use usb?

  9. Mike says:

    By the way, you didn’t plug the watch to the programmer properly in that picture. The 5 pins should plug into the 5 holes of the watch’s pregramming header.

    Oh yeah… The watch is awesome. I just got mine 2 days ago and just can’t stop playing with it. As a matter of fact, I’m wearing it right now :)

  10. zamroed says:

    This is wonderful, his voice so full of soul.

  11. Pete says:

    I gathered from comments on the TI site that you can’t really modify the functionality without buying a non-free version of the tool chain?


  12. Hans says:


    got it running on my Mac.

    Get pyserial (

    take the python sample sand replace to:
    ser = serial.Serial(“/dev/tty.usbmodem001”,115200,timeout=1)


    #Get acceleration data from Chronos watch.
    #Taken from info posted at:
    #x, y, and z values may not be "in order". The first three bytes from the packet
    #of data sent from the watch seemed to be different than what was listed
    #on the page, though the datatype byte was in the correct place. So YMMV.
    #Written by Sean Brewer (seabre)

    import serial
    import array

    def startAccessPoint():
    return array.array('B', [0xFF, 0x07, 0x03]).tostring()

    def accDataRequest():
    return array.array('B', [0xFF, 0x08, 0x07, 0x00, 0x00, 0x00, 0x00]).tostring()

    #Open COM port 6 (check your system info to see which port
    #yours is actually on.)
    #argments are 5 (COM6), 115200 (bit rate), and timeout is set so
    #the serial read function won't loop forever.
    #ser = serial.Serial(5,115200,timeout=1)
    #ser = serial.Serial("/dev/ttyACM0",115200,timeout=1)
    ser = serial.Serial("/dev/tty.usbmodem001",115200,timeout=1)

    #Start access point

    while True:
    #Send request for acceleration data
    accel =

    if len(accel) != 7 or (ord(accel[0]) == 0 and ord(accel[1]) == 0 and ord(accel[2]) == 0):
    print "x: " + str(ord(accel[2])) + " y: " + str(ord(accel[1])) + " z: " + str(ord(accel[0]))
    print "Datatype: " + str(ord(accel[3]))


    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      This is awesome! I’m going to have to try it out.

  13. chemicaloliver says:

    Today I’ve posted some example code on my blog of how to interface the chronos with processing

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      That looks great. I’m adding it to my list of things to do! There are a bunch of us at MAKE that have been tinkering with these watches, I’ll be passing this link on. Nice work, thanks for sharing!

  14. liuk says:

    just ordered mine… waiting for the postman!
    i was thinking how straight it is to get accelerometer data from max/msp…
    i imagine i just need to read the serial port incoming data and to parse it…
    did anyone try?

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      I haven’t tried mine out yet….too many other projects to work on first! I know a few people at MAKE that picked one up, so hopefully we will have some projects ready to share soon!

  15. liuk says:

    thanks! looking forward for that! ^_^

  16. Dick Campbell says:

    Hi All,

    I drove over the USB dongle with my heavy wheelchair.
    It’s the access point CC1111 (the stick with the ceramic antenna).

    I can’t penetrate the TI phone system and Digikey does not have this as a separate item.

    Anyone have a Chronos kit they are not using? I can buy another kit but I still will have one CC1111 for two kits. Not good.

    Thanks — cheers — Dick

  17. Anonymous says:

    I bought this kit and haven’t been able to figure out how to set up the tools.

    It installed a “Control Center”, “SdConfigEx”, “Blackhawk Control Panel” and “Code Composer” on my Windows machine but I haven’t got a clue how to set it up to simply re-compile and flash the code in the watch.

    Is there a project folder somewhere with the watch firmware in it?  If so, where is it and what do I open it with?

  18. Anonymous says:

    I bought this kit and haven’t been able to figure out how to set up the tools.

    It installed a “Control Center”, “SdConfigEx”, “Blackhawk Control Panel” and “Code Composer” on my Windows machine but I haven’t got a clue how to set it up to simply re-compile and flash the code in the watch.

    Is there a project folder somewhere with the watch firmware in it?  If so, where is it and what do I open it with?

  19. Neil Hendrick says:

    Unboxed and set up in a few minutes. I RTFM and have the watch synching to my laptop system time with little bother. A few minutes later, I’m using my watch to control a powerpoint presentation. 
    Off the bat, the system is easy to set up, the watch interface is intuitive, the control center works, though it is a little blocky looking, it does communicate with the watch. The demo software that comes of the watch is perfectly serviceable. The watch itself is fat and featureless, it has nerd appeal galore.
     I got mine 1/2 price for $24.50, and at that price it’s perfectly decent as a watch that can sync to my laptop system time, control power points, and has lots of the normal watch features. The fact that you can program it to wirelessly communicate with all kinds of things, that opens up a world of possibilities. There are a lot of example projects on the Chronos website, so I am looking forward to experimenting.

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