An elegant timepiece from paper and a fistful of servos


Segments rise from a sheer white surface to reveal the time in this papercraft digital / analog clock build by [Jacky Mok].

New York-based designer [Alvin Aronson] is responsible for the original, titled “D/A Clock,” which he built as a student at RISD using Corian instead of paper. [Aronson]‘s design is also massive in comparison. It measures one meter wide by a half meter tall. Without access to either a 3D printer or to a laser cutter, [Jacky] instead reduces the scale of his interpretation and relies on cardstock as the primary construction material. His experience with papercraft typography leads to a design that anyone with an Exacto knife and a slice of patience should find manageable. [Jacky] ignores the Exacto option, however, and cuts his pieces with a tool we saw earlier this year: the Silhouette Portrait.

The clock’s electronics include an Arduino Uno, a servo motor controller, twenty-eight servos and an RTC breakout board that handles timekeeping. Each servo drives its own segment by sliding a paperclip forward or backward inside a small, hollow aluminum rod. Though we’re still holding out for a video of the finished papercraft build, you can watch a video of Aronson’s original clock after the break and see what inspired [Jacky's] design.

Need another clock to envy? Last month’s build by [ebrithil] uses twenty-two servos to individually spin the segments. If you prefer that your clocks light up, [Aaron's] o-scope transformation has you covered.


  1. Adam says:

    I feel like with some clever hacking we could reduce the number of servos

  2. captain obvious says:

    Why not linear actuators? When would you need a half extended digit…

  3. Tyler Cox says:

    I would love to see a seconds spot on this clock. It is crazy how the paper fades with the rest of the paper and boom you got some new digits.

  4. Michael says:

    What about solenoids or hacked relays?

  5. ITman496 says:

    I feel like they should have used solenoids or something, but then I remembered that HXT-900 servos cost $2.69 and you get so much more control over them / don’t need to build any power circuitry. I think it would be difficult to find relays and make drivers for them for that price and have the ability to do slow changeovers / easily adjustable travel.

  6. polossatik says:

    I like the fading that’s possible with the servo’s…

  7. Justin says:

    The paper clock could have some accent lighting in one (or more) of the corners to add color and increase shadow contrast

  8. Galane says:

    Clocks. the “Hello World” of hardware hacking. ;-)

  9. n0th1n6 says:

    Can be done with four servo, same fading effect.

  10. SUPERS0UL says:

    This principle could be usefull for 3D Projection Mapping. Being able to raise and lower various paterns on the wall could make for some interesting effects using a similar method to this:

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