DIY clock replica is better than the real thing


After seeing the TIX clock for the first time, [Gweedo Steevens] really wanted one, but wasn’t interested in paying the seemingly high asking price over at ThinkGeek. He figured it wouldn’t be too incredibly hard to build his own, so he decided to give it a shot.

The clock relies on 27 LEDs to display the time, which were multiplexed to make the most of his ATMega16 microcontroller’s available IO pins. Once he was happy with how things functioned on breadboard, he migrated the LEDs to a piece of perf board, and etched his own PCB for the controller circuit.

He used an office overhead lighting grate to separate the LEDs, providing nice uniform light segments. He put a piece of clear perspex on the front to cover the LEDs, but later switched it out for a much darker piece, for better daylight viewing.

The finished product is fantastic, and in our opinion looks even better than the retail version – awesome job!

[via HackedGadgets]


  1. steve says:

    I think scotty wants his warp core back.

  2. Kelly says:

    Ts $40 really such a high price for a device someone took the time to design, build/have built, and market? I’m all for DIY, but whining that the original is “too expensive” seems pretty lame. God forbid the original designer/maker be paid anything resembling a living wage for their time.

  3. steve says:

    @kelly of course it’s too much to ask. if you can’t produce a product at a price people are willing to pay then you can’t produce a product, sorry to say. in any case this guy built his own to save money and it worked nicely.

  4. Nick says:

    If you went to the actual page its says “When I first saw them I had to have one, but the price was a bit too high. And besides, it’s much cooler and more fun to say “I made that!”

    Which to me means, yes it is a bit pricey, and who wouldn’t love to say I made that!

  5. Chris says:

    I wouldn’t want to use this as an actual clock.

    But it does look cool, and is a nice set of blinkenlights.

    While it’s a matter of taste, I agree this looks far better than the original. The wood, and the featureless front panel (where the lights are not clearly delineated from each other) are classy.

  6. Greycode says:

    I don’t think $40 is too high of a price for the ThinkGeek clock, it is not too much to ask for what they are giving. And there is no problem if the guy saw the clock for $.01 and said, that is too damn high I can make it with what I have here. I think that the fact that he actually did it is the main point here, the details of why is just filler fluff.

  7. Andr0id says:

    Too much..? I agree that is not the argument. “Hey I made this!” is the way to go. After all, if it took more than an hour to make, you are over budget and losing money.

  8. Aaron says:

    Better style than the template, but it shares the problem of conveying less information than it pretends — blinkenlights only count when they’re saying something; having a bunch of random LEDs flickering for no reason just makes you look sad. An excellent reimplementation of a rather crap idea.

  9. sanchezsucio says:

    @Aaron, I don’t quite see your point. Yes they are blinkenlights, but they tell the time. I don’t think it is “conveying less information than it pretends” – it is a clock…that tells time…with LEDs. What else do you want it to do, cook you breakfast?

    I bought one of these from ThinkGeek, and I love it. It tells the time in a more novel fashion than a simple clock face, and people always ask about it.

    Why the hate? If everything was simple and utilitarian, nothing would be fun.

  10. Hirudinea says:

    I’m just amazed he got such a nice looking, working clock in at under $40!

  11. Alex Parting says:

    Kelly if that’s your attitude you’re in the wrong place…

  12. poisonfist says:

    the general attitude around here is for ‘make it of you can’t afford it’ but as my wife who is an economics professor would say, time is money. how much would you say you are worth for an hourly work? if you spend more than what you would like to be paid + the materials fee, it is generally at your loss. of course, nothing can replace the boasting rights of the diy spirit though, and hence, i am always losing money building shit.

  13. Nutrino says:


    Sure, you’re time is worth money (income), but learning something is worth money too (expense). If someone can build a clock and gain knowledge, then wasn’t it worth their time? Projects for yourself are worth entertainment/education time more than they’re worth “how much would i have made at a job” time. I usually end up spending more after I’ve made something, and I’m usually worth more because of it. Or you could just go to thinkgeek. Same thing, right?

  14. Taz says:

    No RTC = bad

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