Atomic pinball clock

[Mark Gibson] sent us a load of details on his build, a WWVB atomic clock using a pinball machine marquee (PDF). This is the upright portion of an old machine that used electromechanical displays instead of digital electronics. It’s big, noisy, and seeing it running might make you a bit giddy. Luckily he included video that shows it working on both the outside and the inside.

It took a bit of probing to discover the connections for relays that control the display. From there he used optoisolation to drive them with an Arduino. With this hurdle behind him, [Mark] set out to add atomic clock accuracy. He picked up a WWVB module and added it to the mix.

Check out his build log in PDF form linked above. He went out of his way to explain how the original parts work, and the processes he used during prototyping. For more of those juicy details we’ve added a photo gallery and his video after the break.

Didn’t get enough pinball goodness from this project? Check out the this digital gas plasma display pulled and reused from a much more modern pinball machine. Oh, and there’s always Bill Paxton Pinball.

Comments

  1. Josh says:

    This is really cool, these types of things are why I come to HaD. Keep up the good work guys.

    Oh btw… FIRST

  2. strider_mt2k says:

    SOOOOO COOL!
    Seriously well done!

  3. vonskippy says:

    Neat.

  4. KBDisneyFan says:

    Outstanding. I wish I would have kept the old machine I had. Way Cool!

  5. Jac Goudsmit says:

    The PDF starts with “I’m not much of a hacker, I’m more of a hacker wannabe”. Sir, I take my hat off to you and and take a deep bow. You are too modest.

  6. Hirudinea says:

    I think I just got a boner!

  7. tulcod says:

    though technically this is not an atomic clock, it just receives time via radio signals…

  8. bluewraith says:

    Very nicely done. I’m still searching for my “big project” to work on, but in the meantime I’ve been keeping myself busy with small things.

  9. prem says:

    wow, that was truely badass.

    amazing work and a highly detailed build log.
    im still going through it now..

    these are the types of posts we need to see more of.
    bad. ass.

  10. MS3FGX says:

    Outstanding. I agree with the other commenters, this is the kind of post we want to see more of.

  11. Agent420 says:

    LOL… The thing I love about the internet is that every time I think I’m the only one with a wierd idea, I find I’m not alone.

    I’ve got a couple of old EM pins and actually built a similar clock years ago, though mine was housed in a smaller case with photoshopped artwork rather than the original backboard. I also used the solenoid chimes to strike the hour.

    In any event, yours is a cool project done very well… congrats.

  12. Agent420 says:

    Btw… 2 things I can never get enough of – strange clocks and unique display devices.

  13. Mark Gibson says:

    Wow. Thanks everyone for the comments. I really appreciate them.

    I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that I came up with this all on my own. I can’t really pinpoint how my ideas evolved, but I have to credit two sites I had seen sometime earlier: Crow River Trading’s clock http://www.crowriver.com/clock/index.htm and this WWVB receiver hack http://hackaday.com/2008/07/15/scavenging-a-wwvb-module-from-an-rc-clock/.

    /Mark Gibson

  14. Marks says:

    This pinball is also known as Miss-O.

    “The original name for this game was ‘Miss Q’ (a play on the billiards term ‘mis-cue’) but Williams learned the French translation of that was sexually derogatory, so they had to quickly alter the name. It is believed this change occurred before production started.”

    http://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?gid=611

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