Introduction: How to Identify, and Deal With, a Design Flaw

Picture of How to Identify, and Deal With, a Design Flaw

The Triax watch from Nike is super handy for running, but it has a tragic flaw. This instructable is about how I decided to analyze the flaw and figure out a way to make a workaround for myself.

I've long been a fan of the Triax watches. The designers behind it, ASTRO, even got a Design of the Decade award for it. The big numbers and the tilted face make it a dream to use while running. And yet I never had one until I got one as a Christmas present last year.

While all of the standard features work great with the easy-to-read digits and the lap times, there was one feature that was included that has caused plenty of problems. For the life of me, I have no idea why it's on there.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

Picture of Identify the Problem

This situation has happened to me dozens of times. I'll look down at my watch and see that the time is 12:00 am. The watch is stuck in Alarm Set mode because the Alarm Set button was pressed.

Why anyone would use their watch, especially one designed for running, as an alarm system is beyond me. There are clocks everywhere! Alarm clocks, clocks on the walls, clocks on poles, clocks on your computer monitor, a clock on your cell phone. Most of these have the ability to make an awful noise at a set time if you want them to.

In the past year, I've used the alarm function once and that was only as the third alarm that was set because I was so exhausted I figured that I could use every back-up system available. One use per year should hardly make this button so important, but it is.

I'll show you how.

Step 2: Analyzing, Part 1

Picture of Analyzing, Part 1

Here are some reasons that the Alarm Set button is the dominant button:

- It's on the front. The other four buttons are off to the side and unlikely to be hit accidentally. Not so for the Alarm Set button.
- It sticks out twice as far. More than twice as far, even. It sticks out .079" as opposed to .034" for the other buttons.
- It's cylindrical. While the other buttons are shaped so that the edges are nearly flush with the surface, the Alarm Set button has corners and straight sides, making it easier to catch on the edge of a pocket.

So what is the importance of this button then?

Step 3: Analyzing, Part 2

Picture of Analyzing, Part 2

Here's my breakdown of the five buttons on the watch in terms of ease of use. As you can see, the Alarm Set button is #1. The other four buttons are positioned brilliantly as they are exactly in the order I would be needing to use them.

All of this just reinforces the idea that the Alarm Set button is some horrible plastic pimple that was likely crammed onto the watch at the last second.

"We've designed this beautiful watch for runners and have placed all the buttons in the most harmonious places. I could besoil myself with joy right now!"
"But how about the alarm function?"
"You know, for the on-the-go types who need reminders?"
"This is for running with lap times and easy to read numbers."
"Just put the alarm button on. I like buttons and I need to prove that I did something on this project."
"I pay your salary."
"OK, yes."

Step 4: Make a Workaround

Picture of Make a Workaround

Another problem with the setting of alarms is that there are not one but two alarms that can be set. So you'll need to hit the Alarm Set button once or twice to get to see the time. If you're in a hurry you might push it once too many and have to hit it a couple more times. Don't laugh, this is one of the stupid things I do often. I'm not proud of it.

So I decided to set the alarm times once and for all. The first alarm is set for 2 am and the second is set for 1 am. Each alarm time tells me how many more times I need to hit the stupid Alarm Set button the next time I'm trying to catch the train and don't want to think about it.

Note: I could've physically altered the watch, but I didn't want to ruin the look of it and didn't want to risk the integrity of its ability to keep water out.

Fine, Nike, you win, I've learned to accept this horrible button. Next time, please take it out and burn it and put the video on YouTube.

Step 5: Send a Letter to the Company

You don't need to take lots of pictures and share your frustration with a button (a freakin' button!) with the world. You can simply find a customer service e-mail address and send some virtual bile that way as well.

Oh, sure, I could get another watch, but most of the time it's awesome. It really is! I only do all this because I care. And because I hate this miserable Alarm Set button.

Thank you.


ilpug (author)2011-08-23

put a tiny blob of black Sugru over the button and smooth it to blend in. this will render the button unpressable and will match the watch, although it will leave a little black nubbin on the side of your otherwise perfect watch.

fungus amungus (author)ilpug2011-08-24

That would make the whole thing bigger. Not my choice, but an option.

Then again, it doesn't matter. The watch fell apart after about a year. Both wristband connections broke. Fixed them with some gorilla glue, and then broke again.

kid007la (author)2010-01-22

I have this same watch and have never had this problem...maybe its just me

cameron20020 (author)2009-05-24

you could possibly melt, or trim the button so its sits flush with the surface of the wristwatch, meaning more effort required to press it, though unconventional, would stop the alarm set button being pressed so easily

barry_allen7 (author)2009-05-20

Fantastic instructable! I wanted a watch like that. Maybe if I buy one now, I'll make sure it has no alarm. ;) Thanks!

mettaurlover (author)2009-01-06

you can sand the button down so that it's a reasonable distance out and make the edges round :) it wouldn't affect the performance negatively; in fact, you could sand it all the way down to the casing and it wouldn't affect the water resistance. the buttons, as i have seen, are actually over rubber seals covering the circuit boards. or at least on the watch that my dad broke trying to change the battery...

Lithium Rain (author)2008-11-15

:D This instructable really did make me LOL! 5 stars for making me laugh.

SamuraiGoose (author)2008-11-13

I have a nike watch like this one and i could really use it but the issue is the thin strap got rotten and broke. The problem is that I can't buy a new strap cause it's one piece whit the frame of the clock, unlike common watches. design flaw u said? anyway :'(

Yeah, the same thing happened to me! I was getting out of a pool and the band snapped off of the watch, leaving the white plastic part sticking out. Getting this repair done is about the same cost as a new watch. I used gorilla glue to reattach it and after a few weeks it's been holding steady.

Gjdj3 (author)2008-02-28

Nice instructable! It's helpful for all of the design flaws that seem to pop up in products.

HAL 9000 (author)2008-01-21

Dremel the button off, or at least so it is shorter.

andresm (author)2007-12-15

i have the same watch... and ill liked it a lot! for a month. the glass covering the numbers is sticking out as well so it scratches really easily, there was a point i couldnt tell the difference from an 4 and an 8... as well i have skinny wrists so i had the watch on the last hole. and this caused the strap to fall off.. i glued it on various times and it keept falling off. apart from that, i play american football as well as do backflips and that for fun, and if i hite myself of the watch it resets to 12 00 am of january 1 not because the alarm button but it resets... and the last problem is the alarm button (but i think it was there because in previuse models it was the backlight button) thx, o and my watch broke aboute 2 weeks ago.. and i dont use it anymore :(

Patrik (author)andresm2007-12-19

Mail the broken watch to fungus - so he can take it apart and figure out how to disable that button! :-)

Patrik (author)2007-12-12

Heh - you angling for a design job with Nike? :-) They could do worse, methinks...

Let us know if you hear anything back from them!

Personally, I'd be tempted to just file the button down a bit. Maybe even file it flush, so you need a pencil or paperclip to push the button. Might not stop accidental contacts completely, and it'd be more annoying if and when it did happen, but that would make it a much more rare event at least. With a button that small, it seems highly unlikely they would bother to make it hollow, so you should be safe regarding creating a hole to let water in.

Then again, I didn't pay for the watch...

maker12 (author)Patrik2007-12-19

agree! :-)

fungus amungus (author)Patrik2007-12-12

No, thanks. I don't hate on Nike, but nor am I interested.

maker12 (author)2007-12-18

"You can simply find a customer service e-mail address and send some virtual bile that way as well. "love it!
you can make "virtual bile" about business. HEAR!!! ;-)

Trans_Am (author)2007-12-12

Could you not just use a little dot of clear glue, and glue the alarm button in place so it wouldn't do anything? Or file/drill/whatever the buttong flush with the watch? I was expecting something more creative out of you, fungus.

fungus amungus (author)Trans_Am2007-12-12

Good point. I forgot to add why I didn't do that. I didn't want to put glue on it because I don't want to have glue looking like crap on top of it. I also didn't want to file it down because I don't know what the internal design of the watch is and whether or not that would create a hole that would let water in and ruin the internal workings.

zachninme (author)fungus amungus2007-12-12

What if you completely remove the button, and fill in the hole with epoxy or something?

fungus amungus (author)zachninme2007-12-12

Another concern is that the button would accidentally get hit and get stuck in the down position, making it impossible to undo.

"Impossible to undo"? Impossible!

OK, how about really annoying and not worth the time?

Okay, that I can agree with ;)

oberpriller (author)2007-12-13

I have a similar watch. On my watch, button number 1 doesn't give me any problems. My problem is with button number 2 which controls the chime on my watch. I constantly press it when I bend my wrist.

That's a tricky area for a button as well. My last watch did that all the time.

randofo (author)2007-12-12

There are no design flaws.... only unexpected and/or impractical features.

fungus amungus (author)randofo2007-12-12

So true.

anotherkill (author)2007-12-12

I have the same exact watch on my left wrist right now, and I love it! I use it every year for cross country. It is a great convince to be able to see your lap times as you complete a lap in full screen, and show your current lap and total time at the same time. I use it for time now that the season is over, and I too find it frusterating to look at my alarm set screen. I fully agree with your concept, I guess the instructable is good...

GorillazMiko (author)2007-12-12

thats a good watch you have there

zer0vector (author)2007-12-12

If you are as opposed to the alarm button as you sound, couldn't you just disassemble the watch and disable the button from the inside? I removed the speaker from a watch for my g/f that she needed to use during a "no audible alarm" test. I will commend you on the clever alarm setting. I would have never thought of that.

The way the watch is designed with its molded rubber arms makes it more of an iffy proposition.

Also, the reason I have this watch is because I disassembled my last watch and I couldn't get the molded rubber arms back on.

Weissensteinburg (author)2007-12-12

..plenty of people use the alarms during travel, to remind them to take medicine, to remind them of things that should be done at a certain time (like when cooking) etc.

Sure, but my problem is the button.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
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