Huge RGB Ring Light Clock


After several months of work, [Greg] has completed one of the most polished LED clocks we’ve ever seen. It’s based on the WS2812 RGB LEDs, with an interesting PCB that allowed [Greg] to make a huge board without spending a lot of money.

The board is made of five interlocking segments, held together with the connections for power and data. Four of these boards contain only LEDs, but the fifth controller board is loaded up with an MSP430 microcontroller, a few capsense pads for a 1-D touch controller, and programming headers.

Finishing up the soldering, [Greg] had a beautiful LED ring light capable of being programmed as a clock, but no enclosure. A normal plastic case simply wouldn’t do, so [Greg] decided to try something he’d never done before: casting the PCB inside a block of resin.

A circular mold was made out of a piece of MDF and a router, and after some problems with clear resin that just wouldn’t cure, his ring light was embedded in a hard, transparent enclosure.  Conveniently stuck in the mold, of course. The MDF had absorbed a little bit of the resin, forcing [Greg] to mill the resin ring free from the wood, with a lot of finish sanding to make the clock pretty.

It’s a clock that demonstrates [Greg]‘s copious manufacturing skills, and also his ability to troubleshoot the problems that arose. While he probably won’t be casting things inside an MDF mold anymore, with the right tools [Greg] could easily scale this up for some small-scale manufacturing.


Handmade Acrylic Skeleton Clock Is an Impressive Feat of Scroll Sawing

Handmade Acrylic Skeleton Clock

For one of his mechanical engineering school projects, [Ben Murton] decided to design and build a clock from scratch — and while it may look like it was laser cut… He cut it out all by hand.

It’s a cross between the mechanical workings of an old Grandfather clock and a Skeleton clock — the goal was to have all movements visible to see how the clock operates. He designed it using Autodesk Inventor, and has provided the files online for anyone to use — He notes it would be especially easy to make if you have a laser cutter or CNC router!

Anyway, the clock is made out of 3mm thick acrylic, 5mm brass shafts, nylon string, some heavy weights (lead), and some nuts and screws. After printing out his CAD templates, [Ben] carefully used a scroll saw to cut out every gear and linkage — We’re impressed.

[Read more...]

An Etch-A-Sketch to Fetch the Time

For someone who has never used stepper motors, real-time clocks, or built anything from scratch, [Dodgey99] has done a great job of bending them to his will while building his Etch-A-Sketch clock.

He used two 5V stepper motors with ULN2003 drivers. These motors are mounted on the back and rotate the knobs via pulleys. They are kind of slow; it takes about 2 1/2 minutes to draw the time, but the point of the hack is to watch the Etch-A-Sketch. [Dodgey99] is working to replace these steppers with Nema 17 motors which are much faster. [Dodgey99] used an EasyDriver for Arduino to drive them. He’s got an Arduino chip kit in this clock to save on the BOM, but you could use a regular Arduino. He left out the 5V regulator because the EasyDriver has one.

[Dodgey99] has published three sketches for the clock: one to set up the RTC so that the correct time is displayed once the Etch-A-Sketch is finished, some code to test the hardware and sample the look of the digits, and the main code to replace the test code.

The icing on this timekeeping cake is the acrylic base and mounting he’s fashioned. During his mounting trials, he learned a valuable lesson about drilling holes into an Etch-A-Sketch. You can’t shake an Etch-A-Sketch programmatically, so he rotates it with a Nema 17. Check it out after the jump.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll realize we just saw the exact opposite of this project a few hours ago: a CNC tool (laser cutter) controlled by turning Etch-A-Sketch knobs.

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Build Your Own Radio Clock Transmitter


Deep in the Colorado foothills, there are two radio transmitters that control the time on millions of clocks all across North America. It’s WWVB, the NIST time signal radio station that sends the time from several atomic clocks over the airwaves to radio controlled clocks across the continent. You might think replicating a 70 kW, multi-million dollar radio transmitter to set your own clock might be out of reach, but with a single ATtiny45, just about everything is possible.

Even though WWVB has enough power to set clocks in LA, New York, and the far reaches of Canada, even a pitifully underpowered transmitter – such as a microcontroller with a long wire attached to a pin PWMing at 60kHz – will be more than enough to overpower the official signal and set a custom time on a WWVB-controlled clock. This signal must be modulated, of course, and the most common radio controlled clocks use an extremely simple amplitude modulation that can be easily replicated by changing the duty cycle of the carrier. After that, it’s a simple matter of encoding the time signal.

The end result of this build is an extremely small one-chip device that can change the time of any remote-controlled clock. We can guess this would be useful if your radio controlled clock isn’t receiving a signal for some reason, but the fact that April 1st is just a few days away gives us a much, much better idea.

Vintage Vertical Nixie Clock


There’s no shortage of Nixie-related projects online, but this vertical wall clock is a solid build and looks pretty sleek. [andreas] actually sourced the wood from an old handrail, into which he drilled six holes for the tubes with 30mm bits, then treated it with some woodworm poison after noticing holes his drill wasn’t responsible for.

The schematic is what you’d expect for a Nixie clock, designed with 123D circuits. [andreas] provides both top and bottom layers in a high-res PDF if you’d prefer to etch your own boards at home rather than order a PCB from the man. He took the finished board and soldered all the components in place, using tape to prevent some short circuit possibilities and mounting the result onto a pair of black plastic rails. The entire assembly mounts to the wooden case and is rounded off with glued-on end caps and a back cover. As always, be aware of the danger presented by the high voltage requirements of Nixie Tubes, and don’t go licking the components.

FLUX 1440: A Highly Impractical but Awesome Clock


One our tipsters just sent us this great project — it’s a unique style of clock that we haven’t seen before. It was completed as part of what we think was a post-graduate program by [Felix Vorreiter]. This is FLUX 1440 (translated).

It uses 1200 meters of marked rope that is fed into the clock and strung between various pulleys and gears. Every second, the rope is moved 1.3cm. Every 57 seconds, the time is readable across the strands of rope — but only for 3 seconds. After that everything goes “back into the river”, a metaphor for chaos.

The explanation behind it is in German, but we’ve tried to piece together a general statement about the meaning behind it. Of course, we’d love if one of our German readers could provide a better translation!

FLUX 1440 displays time as a spatial dimension and counts the length of a day using a long segmented rope. The length of each minute is felt physically, as the viewer must wait as the shapes change until the current time reveals itself from the chaos of the markings.

Stick around for an extremely well produced video demonstrating it — it’s also in German, but we think you’ll be able to piece together the meaning.

[Read more...]

Weather Clock Puts OLPC to Work


A clock to tell the weather? [Andrew] has created a device to do that and more. Inspired by [Sean's] weather clock, [Andrew's]clock displays the current weather conditions, temperature, moon phase, and of course the time. The whole project started years ago with a broken keyboard. [Andrew] wanted to try to use the keyboard controller PCB as a bidirectional computer interface. Data to the computer would go in via the key matrix. Output data would be read via the status LEDs. Cheap simple microcontroller boards like the Arduino sidelined the project for a few years, but he never completely left it behind.

With an unused OLPC XO-1 in hand, [Andrew] pulled out his old keyboard controller and started hacking. His first task was getting meaningful data out of the keyboard LEDs. He coded up his own keyboard led control library in python. On the hardware side an op amp took on the roll of a comparator to ensure proper logic levels were present. [Andrew] then hooked two LEDs up as clock and data lines to standard 74 series shift registers (most likely 74HC/HCT595). He found that his data was completely garbled due to bounce. A second shift register buffering the clock cleaned things up. [Andrew] was left with a stable 40 bits per second serial link to his shift registers. With all this done, the next step was the clock itself. [Andrew] bought a RUSCH Wall clock from IKEA, and converted the clockwork to a gear reduction for a DC motor he pulled from an old answering machine. He could now move the hands at will, but had no way to determine their position. IR break beam sensors from old printers came to the rescue.

After connecting the motor drive, [Andrew] still had a number of outputs available. A few LEDs were in his parts box, so into the project they went. 12 LEDs around the outside of the clock to display the current time. 3 LEDs hide behind the weather icons as status indicators. [Andrew's] python software really ties this together. His OLPC grabs data from the internet and displays it on the clock. A web interface allows the user to perform manual updates on the clock and to set alarms. The alarms even incorporate speech output via eSpeak. We love the reuse and recycling of parts in this hack. The end result is a clock any hacker would be proud to display on their wall.

[Read more...]


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