We Didn’t Know the Sun Could Do Digital

You don’t get much more old school than a sundial, and more new school than 3D printing. So, it is nice to see these two combined in this impressive project: the 3D printed digital sundial. We have seen a few sundial projects before, ranging from LED variants to 3D printed ones, but this one from [Julldozer] takes it to a new level.

In the video, he carefully explains how he designed the sundial. Rather than simply create it as a static 3D model, he used OpenSCAD to build it algorithmically, using the program to create the matrix for each of the numbers he wanted the sundial to show, then to combine these at the appropriate angle into a single, 3D printable model. He has open-sourced the project, releasing the OpenSCAD script for anyone who wants to tinker or build their own. It is an extremely impressive project, and there is more to come: this is the first in a new podcast series called Mojoptix from [Julldozer] that will cover similar projects. We will definitely be keeping an eye on this series.

56 thoughts on “We Didn’t Know the Sun Could Do Digital

      1. no, that is the point of sundials: they don’t exist during the night, and if during the day they are always ahead/behind they can end up never being accurate.
        that statement implies an analog clock..in the classical sense. But that is also not always true: take a clock that runs at the perfect speed and set it to the wrong time. It will never be correct.

  1. I tried doing something similar with my Ultimaker and had very limited success.
    The guy certainly had the right idea to make an algorithm to do it, trying to get the slits correct manually is far harder then it would seem.

  2. You can do a more accurate version of the digital sundial idea using 3D laser etched crystal methods, the difference being that you have clear paths for the pixels for each minute of the day and every other voxel is a diffuser. You still need the tilting and rotating features to account for your distance from the equator, month of year and time-zone adjustments.

    Once the synthetic crystal is fabricated the actual etch time for the dial should be much faster than 3D printing, therefore the “Dandial” is more likely to be massed produced in China than the 3D printed method.

  3. Having slept on it I find myself wondering if you can make it tell the date. The digital time doesn’t really add any more information but holes placed to tell the date would. I realise you will have two days possible for each matching hole but even I (old forgetful git) can remember whether it is spring or autumn (fall).

    1. The date can only bee shown as a position between the summer and winter solstices for the midday sun, and it has to be site specific as the range changes depending on your distance from the equator.

      1. That can’t be right. The position at any time of day us unique. If it were just a hole then that is true but with a correctly placed arc on the top of the blade then you should be able to have an active dot all day drawing a line throughout the day that specifies the date. The end of the rod specifies the date on any sundial but will be hard to draw a scale for but a specific dot would mean a scale is easy to draw.

        1. Demonstrate how you can tell the difference between either of the equinoxes so that you can determine the date, if the sun is at the midpoint between the winter low and the height of summer, on both dates.

          1. As I said in the first post you can’t. Any date is possibly two dates and on two very specific dates those two dates happen to be the same day. << That's complicated. :)

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