7 Segment Display Using Neopixel Rings

There’s something about clocks — sooner or later, every hacker wants to build one. And we end up seeing all kinds of display techniques being used to show time. For the simplest of builds, 7-segment display modules usually get dug up from the parts bin. If you have a bunch of “smart” LED’s (WS2812’s, APA102’s), then building your own custom 7-segment modules isn’t too difficult either. [rhoalt] had neither, but he did have several 8 LED Neopixel rings lying around. So he thought of experimenting with those, and built a ‘Binoctular’ LED clock which uses the Neopixel rings as 7 segment displays.

figure-eight-segment-displaysEach digit is made using one pair of Neopixel rings, stacked to form a figure of eight. All the digits are composed of arcs, so readability isn’t the best but it’s not hard either. [rhoalt] does mention that the display is easier to read via blurred camera images rather than visually, which isn’t surprising. We’re long used to seeing numbers composed of straight line segments, so arc segmented digits do look weird. But we wouldn’t have known this if [rhoalt] hadn’t shown us, right ? Maybe a thicker diffuser with separator baffles may improve the readability.

The rest of the build is pretty plain vanilla — an Arduino Nano clone, a DS3231 RTC, a Lithium battery, and some buttons, all housed together in a laser cut enclosure which follows the figure of eight design brief. And as usual, once you’ve built one, it’s time to improve and make a better version.

13 thoughts on “7 Segment Display Using Neopixel Rings

  1. isn’t it funny what these guys just ‘happen’ to have lying around, oh just 50$ worth of neopixel rings no big deal, bought them on a whim with another order just to get free shipping or something. just to try them out you know, I bought EIGHT of them. bs. I buy useless stupid shit all the time but I don’t buy 8 of them.

      1. I’ve got a couple of the rings. I bought one to play with, but it got lost in the post so they sent another. Then my idiot neighbour turned out to have picked the first one up “for” me. Even though we share the same mailbox.

        So I suppose he got me a free few quid’s worth of brand-named smart LEDs. Doesn’t make up for the rest though.

    1. The article says he had “a” neopixel ring lying around. Not sure where the HaD writer got several. Also, these rings are $2.70 per pair on Aliexpress, meaning 8 could be as little as $10.80 with free shipping. I am someone who orders 10 of a thing when they are that cheap, to build up my parts bins. And even if I hadn’t bought them for my parts bins, I happen to have multiples of several sizes of led rings left over from a pinball project. Just because you do a thing a certain way doesn’t mean the rest of the world does too.

    2. I buy stuff like that all the time just to toss in my “junk box” (which isn’t really a box ;-) So that whenever I’m bored and want something to play with I always have lots of stuff on-hand to inspire myself with. I also use them in projects with my kids to get them thinking about things and learning electronics and “hacking the world”.

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