Every once in a while, the Hack a Day tip line gets a submission that is cool, but screams to be built in a few hours, possibly while consuming adult beverages. When [Shay] and [Ben] sent in their Manifold Clock Kickstarter, I knew what I had to do. To make a long story short, there’s a manifold clock hanging on my wall right now. Check out my manifold clock how-to guide after the break.
As designed by [Shay] and [Ben] at Studio Ve, the Manifold Clock tells time in three dimensions and is based on the log z Riemann surface. Here’s the video the guys put up on their Kickstarter campaign:
As you can see, it’s not a terribly complicated build. There are three basic components for this build. First, the clock drive: these can be had for about $5 from any arts and crafts store. Secondly, the clock hands: not many clock drives come with a six-inch long minute hand, but I can make something work. Lastly, the webbing that goes between the hands. The official version of the Manifold Clock uses Tyvek for its tear resistance, but I came up with something just as cool.
To create the long clock hands, I repurposed the clock hands that came with the clock drive. By cutting of the largest part of the hour and minute hand, I was left with a small sliver of brass that can be attached to the hub of the clock. I bought a few pieces of brass tubing while I was in the hobby shop, as well. The hands of the clock were extended by soldering on brass tubing with 0.1″ or 2.5mm OD brass tubing:
Pardon the terrible picture. If anyone would like to donate a macro lens for a D40, I would graciously accept.
After cutting the clock hands to length, everything’s gravy. Now onto building the webbing that goes in between the clock hands.
The next two paragraphs are rather boring. Fair warning.
If you’d like to create your own manifold, just fire up your favorite CAD package and get to work. For my manifold, I first drew a circle with the same radius as the minute hand, and two more for the hour hand and center. I used a circle with a diameter of half and inch for the center – just enough to clear the hub of the clock drive. Inscribe a 12-gon in the hour hand’s circle, and draw the hour hand. I drew mine at 5 o’ clock, although this is just a rough guesstimate from watching the video for the Manifold Clock
The next step may be a little difficult if you don’t know your drawing package very well, but luckily it can be done very easily with a compass and straight-edge construction. I’ll let you Euclid that one out for yourself. Bisect the hour and minute hands, then draw a circle with a radius that is the average of the minute and hour hands. Draw an arc from the tip of the minute hand through the intersection of the bisection and circle you just drew, ending at the tip of the hour hand. Erase a few lines, put some tabs on for gluing, and you’re done.
To save everyone from having to replicate my work, I’ve created a PDF file of the template for my clock’s membrane. This template is sized for a minute hand that is 5.5 inches long and an hour hand that is 3 inches long. Do with it what you will.
The Manifold Clock uses a piece of Tyvek for the web between the hour and minute hands. Tyvek can be had for free if you care enough to drive around to a new development and dumpster-dive for a piece of housewrap, but I wanted to make my clock a little classier. My webbing is made out of mylar (from an “emergency camping blanket” or alternatively a mylar balloon) with a layer of Kapton tape stuck to one side. The Kapton tape was originally purchased for the heated bed and hot end of my RepRap, but once I realized the gold foil on the Apollo LEM were a lamination of mylar and Kapton, I had to try this out. The result is a fairly tear-resistant film in a wonderful silver and gold:
Oh yeah, you also have to bend the minute hand higher than the hour hand.
After cutting my gold and silver film according to the template, the only thing left to do is assemble the clock. Wrap the tabs on the web around the hands of the clock, making sure the hands can rotate freely around the foil. Assemble the hands onto the clock mechanism according to the directions and mount it in some sort of enclosure. I used a fifty-cent round clock face:
So far the clock has been up on my wall for 38 hours and it’s still keeping the right time. I’m going to call this a success. Here’s a time-lapse of the clock in action:
The expenses for this build were a clock mechanism for $5.99, a small brass tube for $2.99, and an unfinished clock face for $0.50, totaling $9.49. Of course I haven’t figured in the cost of the mylar, Kapton, solder, paint, and soldering iron, but you get the point.
Sadly my clock doesn’t have a second hand and doesn’t tick very loudly so a Vetinari Clock is out of the question. If anyone is brave enough to build a Manifold Clock with a second hand, send it in. We’ll put it up.