Word clock: tell the time with words


[drj113]  posts his cool word clock. After seeing a similar clock on an industrial design website, he set out to make his own version. He made custom pcbs with the toner-etch method. The front is a solid piece of copper clad board and the light shines through the etched areas. It’s powered by a PIC microcontroller and uses approximately 120 ultra bright LEDs. [drj113] has all of the circuit board diagrams, silkscreens, etch negatives, and code on the intructable so you can build your own.


  1. alex says:


    that is the qlocktwo. it was recently featured on engadget and many design blogs. i wanted to make one but never got around to it. nice job, drj, for acting so quickly.

  2. Great idea! This needs to be repurposed now!

  3. I was just thinking of two sweet features that would be so cool. One making a makeshift round clock with hands on the face of this using the letters a number places and strings of letters as the “hands” of the clock. Also make it so it just says random phrases for each individual time of the day. Eventually (and with some fun) you will know which phrase means which time.

  4. Hirudinea says:

    I’ed like to see someone use this concept on a wristwatch, you’ed just need good eyes.

  5. Kabadisha says:

    Nice work – I want one!

    In the middle it says: MEGAN WOZ. I was half expecting to see ‘ERE’ underneath…

  6. David S says:

    Anyone know what kind of PCB material he’s using? I’ve never seen a copper clad board with a clear base. Any links?

  7. Rachel says:

    It looks like a regular board, but they’re usually translucent enough with bright lights behind them. I often shine lights through circuit boards to see the traces on both sides at once. It works surprisingly well.

    This project could be made much simpler by using a double sided board, and mounting SMD LEDs facing into the board. Depending how big it is, you could get away with PWMing them instead of using drive transistors.

  8. Groar says:

    Kabadisha, I saw MEGAN WOZ DOUG.

    Assumed sex change..

  9. tantris says:


    that “megan” looks intentional. i wonder who would need a clock, that can say “five minutes past megan” – unless of course your girlfriend is megan.

    there is of course also an eve, but also doug, alf, hal, and an ian (down)

    – or is it:
    “megan woz four, i ve eve do twelve”

    whatever that means.

  10. Doug Jackson says:

    The Megan was intentional – She is the person who I made the clock for

    Doug – Thats me. No sex change (Looks down…. Yep)

    Woz – That was also intentional – Apple designer. eve, alf, hal, and Ian are all artifacts that I didnt realise were there.

    The megan will sometimes light up to make her feel special. The doug only lights up during the power on self test.

    The PCB material – Standard fiberglass. Single sided boards – thats all I can fabricate at home.

    I had a lot of trouble getting even illumination, hence the 30mm standoff distane between the LEDs and the stencil. The Blue LEDS that I used are insanely bright, but also only have about a 26 degree viewing angle.

    I am very happy that people like it. :-)

  11. Ben Ryves says:

    Sanding the top of the LEDs may help with the narrow viewing angle. Nice project!

  12. Rawr says:

    Glad to see you’ve got a bit of history (Woz) in your work, he was a brilliant circuit designer.

  13. strider_mt2k says:

    Oh that’s so cool!

    It would have been cool without the extra words and names, but the person’s name who it’s built for lighting up occasionally, and the maker’s when it boots?

    -Those just seal the deal. -IT’S AWESOME!

  14. Arjan says:

    Very cool indeed. I just might go and work out a dutch version of the faceplate.

  15. PocketBrain says:

    You could build a little grid shield into the back to help separate the individual segments or phrases to reduce light bleeding into adjacent segments. Might crisp it up a bit.

  16. Busted Keys says:

    creative stuff!

  17. SelfSilent says:

    It would be fairly easy to cut the design from vinyl using a craftrobo or similar and then stick it over an acrylic sheet, the back of the sheet could have a diffuser layer stuck on it. Side mounting the LEDs would make the project thinner and would reduce spotting that you normally get with LEDs.

    All in all I am very impressed with this project.

  18. Holy Crap. Here I am Drunk at a bar, I see this picture, and all I can think of is Kryptos, the puzzle sculpture. Selective light. Why did I not think of this before. Thans for the inspiration.

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  20. notexactly says:


  21. Doug says:

    Ok – I’ll bite….. What does that comment mean?

  22. @Doug
    It took me a second, but they are all the words and letters that have nothing to do with telling time. I also like the fact that it can be “Twenty Minutes till Doug” or “Half past Megan”. Haha.

  23. Bank Bully says:

    I adore this product! Will there be anything else in the line coming out soon?

  24. KanchoBlindside says:

    I see where it can say “eighty”, is this Y2K compliant?

    /dated date joke

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