Puncher tracks your freelancing hours, time spent in TSA patdowns


[Raphael Abrams] does a lot of freelance work, but he has trouble accurately keeping track of the hours he has put in for his clients. After trying various applications and methods of logging his time, he finally decided to build a device that worked just the way he liked.

He calls his device the “Freelance Puncher”, though it already has been nicknamed the detonator, as it looks like something you would find in the hands of a [James Bond] villain. The device uses a PIC16LF1827 to track the time, saving his logged hours to the built-in EEPROM when powered off. A pair of 7-segment displays are used to display the accumulated hours upon power-on, and a set of seven SMT LEDs separated into two banks keep track of quarter and hundreds of hours worked.

[Raphael] has made his code and schematics available on Github, so you can easily replicate his work if you are looking for a better way to track your time. We think it looks great, though it could be the sort of thing that traveling freelancers might want to keep in their checked luggage, unless they want to spend some quality time with the TSA! Be sure to stick around to see a short video where [Raphael] shows off and explains how his Freelance Puncher works.


  1. wtfhackaday says:

    yeah great, the TSA totally isn’t going to think this is a bomb

  2. arfink says:

    I needs one of these.

  3. welovejeff says:

    It would be really cool if you could flip it like an hour glass to stop and save times.

  4. Jeremy Cook says:

    Nice hack! I’ve often wondered what my hourly rate is for stuff that I do on a per-job basis. I get the feeling it’s good to have a full-time job as well!

  5. Alex says:

    haha, title is awesome

  6. vonskippy says:

    There’s only a bazillion time tracker apps out there for smart phones. Why would anyone want to carry yet another clunky device with them?

    • HAD says:

      Came here to post this as well. Software only would work just as well if not better for this application.

    • nikescar says:

      I think what you two are looking for is called App-a-Day. This is Hack-a-Day, a place where people come to appreciate things that people make and stuff, so ya.

    • HackTheGibson says:

      I would prefer this over an app. There are several projects that I like to sketch out or write down. I dont always have my phone, but I do have a general area I always work in that this would stay. For me this would work better.

    • John Bokma says:

      Believe it or not but there are actually people who *don’t* want to use an app for everything. I still keep track of my time in an old fashioned notebook (as in paper and a writing device called a pen), which I also use *gasp* to take notes.

      I’ve been thinking about a similar hardware device. Might give this one a try.

  7. nes says:

    I have thought about making something exactly like this every time I need to invoice a client since about 1995. The trouble is, I immediately start thinking how I could make it look cool on my bench (a tiny vector CRT for example) and then I find I just can’t be bothered to spend any time building it, seeing as it’s “for work”.

    Very well done though. It looks great! I’ve taken much dodgier looking prototypes through airports without any special treatment. (Probably jinxed it for myself now.)

  8. RussWill says:

    Isn’t this just a super simple stopwatch?

  9. N0LKK says:

    I’m not sure how remembering to click this device on/off is any easier than remembering to use any other method of keeping track of time. Different strokes, for Different folks, we are all free to discover what works best for use, and what the customer is good with. I do think the “plunger” needs to be guarded against accidental operation. One could be force between choosing between boiler rooming the time, or working for free, if not free for greatly reduced payable hours.Looks a different device would be need for each project, and this looks to be a bit large to be carrying multiple of around, the work is spread across multiple locations.

    • Haku says:

      Heres a thought, what about an accelermoeter instead of a push button to activate/deactivate the clock, that way you treat it similar to an egg timer, turn it upside down to actiave the timer (and have the display automatically invert to compensate)

      • Max says:

        Have you considered how prone it would be to false activations?
        Convenient, yes, but if it’s going to mis-record a session every time I ride an upside-down roller coaster or flip my car onto its roof for an action movie stunt, I would rather go with the manual control.

      • That is pretty good idea for further development! You can make sure it’s working if the display is correctly oriented. Meant for at your workstation rather than roller coasters lol.

  10. Skeltorr says:

    It should count cash like a taxi meter.

  11. Billy Zaig says:

    Very well done though. It looks great! I’ve taken much dodgier looking prototypes through airports without any special treatment.

  12. E says:

    Maybe he should make it look like an ipod shuffle… or something similar (i mean if he is worried about tsa pat downs). Cuz the old ipod shuffles already have that form factor.. Just an idea :D

  13. henry22 says:

    buy a $5 stopwatch??

  14. Malikaii says:

    Speak up! I can’t hear you over all the woop-woop woop-woop!

  15. Cool Job.. I will definitely modify it on AVR with multiply project and a LCD display and a Numeric Keyboard.

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