194 Transistor Clock will blow your mind

It’s nice to have tip put on our desks that we think everyone, yes everyone can enjoy. The Transistor Clock is just as its name implies, A clock that doesn’t rely on ICs. 194 Transistors, 400 resistors, 566 diodes, and 87 capacitors are all that makes this clock tick – no programing, and most importantly no Arduino. The clock is offered as a kit, but there is a complete parts list and manual (including debugging help) so anyone can build (and fix) their own. The Transistor Clock might even beat out the VFD Clock and the Word Clock on the ‘pure awesome’ scale, tell us your favorite in the comments.

[Thanks Hoopstar]

Comments

  1. Hackineer says:

    Wouldn’t it be easier to use an Arduino?

  2. jeicrash says:

    I was almost getting tired of all the CES stuff, this is a nice break from it. How accurate do you think something like this would be? Definitely a project for a cold winter.

  3. eric says:

    A work of art!

  4. Jess says:

    That is one expensive clock. Cool idea though!

  5. jeff-o says:

    Impressive? Sure. But I wouldn’t want that hanging on my wall.

  6. Peter says:

    I’d be interested in a kit if they wernt so obscenely priced. $100US just for the circuit board alone? Come on.

  7. Bébèrt says:

    Would be nice to add each transistor a led to see the electricity flow.

  8. Gene says:

    @jeicrash
    Probably pretty accurate, since it uses your utility for the timebase (the AC frequency.) Of course that’s only so long as you don’t take it somewhere with a different frequency ;)

    @Peter
    A PCB that size in low quantities is not cheap. $100 doesn’t seem so crazy to me considering that.

  9. Steve says:

    I also wonder how they have the timing set to be precise without fluctuation. I guess I should read the theory behind it.

  10. Paul says:

    jeicrash:

    Following up on what Gene said, utilities periodically adjust their frequency to keep the average daily value at 60 (or 50) hertz.

    From wikipedia article “Utility Frequency”:

    “Over the course of a day, the average frequency is maintained at the nominal value within a few hundred parts per million.”

    This became common when electric (not electronic) clocks started using synchronous AC motors.

    Also, there is a 50hz mod on the website.

  11. Anthony says:

    I think a RC time constant clock is awesome. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough money to complete mine. :(

    With that many resistors, capacitors, and diodes they could do a little better presentation on the board. It looks too clean. Maybe make a symbol or something made out of the components.

    Sweet project!

  12. Josh says:

    A surface mount version of this would be a crazy awesome test for calibrating pick and place machines.

    This clock beats the VFD and word clock because of it immeasurable epic-ness.

  13. Paul says:

    Humbling. Truly humbling to think that all of that can be replaced by one teenie-weenie PIC, smaller than your thumbnail.

    Now we need to take it up a notch and implement it with /relays/.

  14. Jason says:

    I like their calendar more to be honest.

  15. khani3s says:

    I was planning a CMOS only clock… but this is a OVERKILL!

    Much more epic! And expensive…

  16. Pidgeon500 says:

    Now make it with valves!

  17. VEC7OR says:

    Brutal and elegant at the same time.
    2700 solder joints are probably fun to solder tho…

  18. Abbott says:

    @Pidgeon500

    You, Sir, should be shot… though one has to admit, that would be a very fun project, and produce a huge amount of heat. Would make for a cool table lamp, too. Perhaps use nixie tubes for the outputs… Hrmm… I’m getting that itch…

  19. Brian says:

    Seems overkill to me if you wanted to build a clock without ICs, the simplest thing to do would be to use the mains AC. If you want to do battery, then a motor plus either quartz or RC oscillator…

  20. heh says:

    /me takes one to Boston Logan Intl.

  21. The Steven says:

    I wonder how many transisters you’d have to add to give it a “date” function.

  22. jeditalian says:

    KITT could synthesize this in less than 2 seconds, given the proper ingredients, except i don’t remember ever hearing kitt ask for atomized toner cartridges, but if you want to build a proper KITT, thats the part you start with, the atomic printer /”Molecular Synthesizer” interfaced with the supercomputer because then KITT can build itself from that (the KITT starter-kit). now Pidgeon are you talking more ‘mercury powered valve clock’ -or a pneumatic valve clock.. nuclear powered steam-valved conduit ?
    lol what i mean is what is subbing in for electrons. at, a scale like, steam-liquid water or atomic like H or Hg.
    what if the valves are powered by solenoids.. that thing would be so noisy and inefficient. it already has valves, in its current state, and attempts steampunk it as i believe pidgeon500 is hinting at, would be best carried out with nukulur-enerjii
    it took me am hour to write this confusingly stuupid c0mment

  23. The Steven says:

    @Paul

    I’d love to see it with relays too, but could you imagine the noise?

  24. Dan says:

    A quick check of the website showed a few other clocks, including a relay based clock, and a nixie tube version of the transistor clock.

  25. Shy says:

    That’s nice.

    Now make a computer.

  26. jeditalian says:

    actually you can build your own microsolenoid type things.. but then its so fragile using wires and magnets to make resonator kinda thing. oscillator is the word for it, what it does when i wrap a magnet in a coil of wire and feed it juice. if you could completely macgyver-hack it, handcrafting every component with formulas, wire lengths, coils, cores of different compositions.. substitute every microcomponent into a macro-electromechanical, or electromagnetic like building transformers and solenoids.. then once your mind is set to work with magnetic circuits, thats when you discover the flux capacitor. (of course you first conceived the idea when you banged your head on the sink because you fell off the toilet while attempting to hang the clock on the wall)
    Superconductors.

  27. Tom says:

    There are multiple valve clocks on the internet, when I’m at home, ill post some URLs. Also very amazing pieces of work.

  28. Freax says:
  29. Orv says:

    My experience with line-referenced clocks is that short-term accuracy is not so hot (within a few seconds a day) but long-term accuracy is very good. They always eventually come back to correct time, unlike a quartz clock which will keep gradually diverging.

  30. Bill says:

    I built one a while ago:

    http://www.azog.org/?p=169

  31. mess_maker says:

    This clock was featured in Nuts&Volts back in July of last year. I like the idea, though it is rather expensive for me.

    Cool project, though :)

  32. mess_maker says:

    @Bill, we love you :)

    http://www.azog.org/?p=608

  33. Michiel says:

    Jee.., and no Arduino. :P

  34. charliex says:

    squiloko mocomhey a tont gabbing foh woffer

  35. _matt says:

    mind = blown

    This would make a great presentation item about why ICs are so revolutionary.

  36. Dysp says:

    I bought and built one of these, the guy who makes them is really a great guy and very cool to talk to.

  37. Neil says:

    Valves? Ha! How about building one with gears? . . . Oh wait, that’s a normal clock.

  38. mowcius says:

    Hehe, yeah I like it but arduino any day for me!

    Mowcius

  39. Fred says:

    @The Steven, Yeah, I thought of making a clock like this from relays about 3 years ago until I started drawing the schematic and realized my skill at the time wasn’t that good. Then I just priced the relays from digikey. That stopped me dead in my tracks.

  40. watts says:

    damn! I couldn’t resist that one. I guess I’m unemployed for another week.

  41. Eric says:

    Put a high voltage power supply on there, swap out the 7 segment LEDs for Numitron tubes (basically 7 segment incandescent display tubes), and no screen printing or green solder mask would make this thing an instant buy. As it is, this thing is absolutely amazing already, but a few tweaks could send it over the edge.

  42. Leros says:

    i’ve just jizzed in my pants!! :D

  43. jay vaughan says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a beautiful hack (another quality Hackaday article, w00t!), but this whole thing is not something I’d build.

    I’d much rather design it than build it. And .. as a kit, its quite ‘meh’, to be honest. Not enough blinking lights, sound, and so on. Where is the little birdy? Alarm clock version!? Time-Zones?!!

    You get the point. Still, very, very cute project.

  44. jme says:

    lol i like that he also has a TTL clock which you could read as TIME TO LIVE instead of transistor-transistor logic!

  45. TheDudeFromMiamiVice says:

    Whoa, thats pretty darn impressive. I’m going to go peruse the guys site for a while.

  46. zoidberg says:

    Freakin pwsome! WANT!

  47. Paul says:

    about to buy, buy it costs 391$ before shipping…

    are they out of their minds?

  48. Paul says:

    oops, make that $214, they do want $391 for a different clock though…

  49. Concino says:

    What? No vacuum tubes? Dang it.

  50. Patch says:

    @Peter

    The kit price looks reasonable to me. The PC board is huge and the kit comes with over 1k components!

    I think what’s more remarkable is the amount of time it would take to assemble and troubleshoot it.

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