Making a clock with a common microcontroller like an Arduino isn’t very difficult. However, if you’ve tried it, you probably discovered that keeping track of wall time is difficult without some external hardware. [Barzok] has a very minimal clock build. It takes a handful of LED arrays with an integrated driver, an Arduino Nano, a real-time clock module, and a voltage regulator.
The software uses a custom 6×9 font and handles addressing the LEDs as one single display. Because the real time clock module is so accurate, there’s no provision for setting the time. [Barzok] says that twice a year he just hooks the Arduino up and reflashes the program with a new start time and that seems to be sufficient.
It wouldn’t be too hard, though, to add a few buttons to allow for setting the time or accepting other user input. Then again, this is a minimal build. It would be a good starter project for someone looking to get into building microcontroller projects.
If you want really minimal, you could go with a 4 LED clock (but you better know the resistor color code). Of course, an ESP8266 can serve as a simple clock and it gets set via NTP which is even better.