Over-engineered clock finds purpose as RSS reader

[Bob Alexander] admits that he over-engineered his clock, giving it eight control buttons, eight twelve-segment alpha-numeric display digits, a GPS module as a time source, and a beefy microcontroller to boot. But he’s found a way to get more for his money out of the device by adding RSS and weather features to it.

Since he’s using the PIC 18F4550 it’s a snap to add USB connectivity. From there he wrote a fantastic PC-side application for communicating with the display. Now he has the option of displaying time, RSS feeds, or weather by scrolling through the options with one of the buttons. Perhaps the best feature is the option to launch a browser on the PC and view the current story just by pressing a button on the display. Check out the two demos after the break; one shows the clock features and the other demonstrates the C# software.

Clock  features

Software features

14 thoughts on “Over-engineered clock finds purpose as RSS reader

  1. I think this is great. The gps as a source of time is awesome. And since he’s done it all round ott he has plenty of room for features! Love this kind of stuff

  2. Yeah, I thought maybe he was using that Altair in the background to do this clock, now that would be over engineering.

    I do like the GPS module as a time source though, quick and simple compared to receiving the radio signals and decoding them. (well, different radio signals anyway)

  3. Although I’m wondering about the use of the other 4 buttons or so, I like this hack. It might not give that much of extra value to your desk but it’s nice to see that this CAN be done.
    The implementations are endless: email, remember the milk, twitter, facebook, new HaD article.. I like it, despite it being a total overflow of buttons :p

  4. BadWolf, I did plan it that way from the beginning. When I designed the clock’s display board, I put in traces for a USB connector and the buttons, even though neither was used by the clock.

    As for overdoing and overpricing: you’re right that it’s a very bad thing to do when you plan to manufacture a product. But this is a hobby project. The goal isn’t to produce an economical clock or an economical LED display; the goal is to have fun. And overdesign can be fun! :-)

  5. @bob I 2nd that. I was going to say the same thing.
    I have noticed there are a lot of nay sayers in this here site. A bit more than i would think for the type of site it is to.

    That clock is sweet. I love to over do things. that extra not so necessary feature makes it that much more fun.

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