Heathkit Clock Updated with a PIC32 and GPS

heathkit-clock

One of [Bob’s] most treasured possessions is a Heathkit alarm clock he put together as a kid. Over the years he’s noticed a few problems with his clock. There isn’t a battery backup, so it resets when the power goes out. Setting the time and alarm is also a forward only affair – so stepping the clock back an hour for daylight savings time means holding down the buttons while the clock scrolls through 23 hours. [Bob] decided to modify his clock with a few modern parts. While the easiest method may have been to gut the clock, that wouldn’t preserve all those classic Heathkit parts. What [Bob] did in essence is to add a PIC32 co-processor to the system.

Like many clocks in the 70’s and 80’s, the Heathkit alarm clock was based upon the National Semiconductor MM5316 Digital Alarm Clock chip. The MM5316 operates at 8 – 22 volts, so it couldn’t directly interface with the 3.3V (5V tolerant)  PIC32 I/O pins. On PIC’s the input side, [Bob] used a couple of analog multiplexer chips. The PIC can scan the individual elements of the clock’s display. On the PIC’s output side, he used a couple of analog switches to control the ‘Fast’, ‘Slow’, and ‘Display Alarm/Time’ buttons.

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An Overly-Complicated Logic Chip Clock

Clock

When a normal alarm clock just won’t do, the only option is to build your own, entirely out of discrete logic chips. [jvok] built this alarm clock for last year’s 7400 Logic Competition. In a desire to go against the grain a little bit, [jvok] decided to use 4000-series logic chips. It was allowed under the rules, and the result is a wonderful example of what can be done without a microcontroller.

Most clock projects we’ve seen use a single button to increase each digit. [jvok] wanted to do something unique, so he is able to set his clock with a ‘mode’ button that allows him to independently set the hours, minutes, and seconds. He’s only ever seen this method of setting a clock’s time used with microcontroller-based projects, and translating even that simple code into pure circuitry is quite impressive.

This clock also includes an alarm function, set by a bunch of DIP switches in binary coded decimal. It’s a great piece of work, and deserving of much more attention than it received during the Open Logic Competition.

MSP430 alarm clock project

msp430-bedside-alarm-clock

[Markus] turn his breadboard LED matrix tinkering into an alarm clock which wakes him each morning.

Don’t be fooled by how clean his assembly work is. That’s not a fabbed PCB, it’s a hunk of green protoboard which a lot of point-to-point soldering on the back side. It’s driven by the MSP430 G2452 which is oriented vertically in this image. The two horizonal ICs are 595 shift registers which drive the LED modules.

We already mentioned the cleanliness of his assembly, but there’s one other really cool design element. On the back of the unit is what looks like a battery holder for two AA cells. He’s using just one Lithium Iron Phosphate battery (3.2V) which is in the upper of the two cavities. This let him cut the lower part of the holder at an angle to act as a stand for the clock.

Don’t miss the video which walks us through the user interface. It has what you’d expect from an alarm clock. But there is a really bright white LED which mimics a sunrise clock and it does more than just buzz one note when the thing goes off.

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Alarm clock uses Raspberry Pi to poll Google Calendar

rpi-google-calendar-alarm-clock

We know a lot of people love using their smart phone as a bedside alarm clock. The problem is that a mobile phone is mobile by nature and eventually you’ll forget to put it in the bedroom one night. That’s why we like the solution that [Devon Bray] has chosen. He set up his Raspberry Pi as an alarm clock that is set using Google Calendar.

The setup which he shows off in his video is quite simple. The Raspberry Pi is connected to a set of powered computer speakers. It plays a song whenever an appointment called “wake” comes up on his Google Calendar. This is accomplished by using the Google Data APIs Python Client Library (isn’t that a mouthful?).

This only scratches the surface of what is possible. With this in place you could easily add LEDs to the room for a sunrise alarm. But if you’d prefer a more bare-bones hardware side of things that’s possible too.

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Sunrise alarm clock uses DCF77 for perfect time

sunrise-alarm-clock-dcf77

Here’s a sunrise alarm clock that keeps perfect time. It was designed and built by [Renaud Schleck] who also published a post detailing the process.

As you can see, a series of white LEDs inside of the transparent case which provide the simulated sunrise. As the days get short and the nights longer we do see the benefit of having your clock brighten the room before it jolts you out of your slumber. Speaking of, that alarm sound seems to be the weak link in his design. He’s using a square wave smoothed with capacitors to drive a speaker at either end of the case. We didn’t hear an example but we imagine this not the most gentle of sounds.

The rest of the design is quite well done. He’s using a 4×20 Character LCD display and adjusts the backlight using PWM. A DCF77 radio feeds data from an atomic clock signal to the MSP430 chip which runs the clock. There’s even a battery backup in case the power goes out.

We just saw a project yesterday that aims to improve signal quality with a DCF77 radio.

[via Reddit]

Minecraft clock radio puts a creeper head next to your bed

minecraft-alarm-clock

This clock radio plays tunes from Minecraft and it’s decorated to look just like a creeper head. In the game mob heads are available as decoration and [Young_Maker] liked to spice up his virtual bedside table with a creeper head. But we think it looks just as good in its physical form.

The main part of the clock is an Arduino with a character LCD screen. A DS1307 real-time clock makes sure the device is accurate. We called this a clock radio in the title of the post, but it’s more of a clock MP3 player. The uMp3 board is used to play random music from the game. We would categorize the soundtrack as minimalism, which is a reasonable way to gently wake in the morning. But if time runs out the boom of an exploding creeper is played to make sure you’re not late for work.

We’ve embedded [Young_Maker’s] demo video after the jump.

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A TTL timer project of yore

[Viktor] just pulled out another one of his decades-old projects. This time around it’s a timer he built using 7400 logic chips. It was a great way for him to learn about electronics, and ended up serving as his alarm clock every morning.

Two pieces of copper clad board were cut to the same size. One of them was etched to act as the circuit board. The other was outfitted as a face plate. The same type of transfer sheets used to mask the traces of the circuit were also used to apply labels to the face plate. It was then coated with acrylic spray to protect it and stave off corrosion. The clock keeps time based on a half-wave rectified signal. The source is from a transformer which steps mains voltage down to a safe level for the 7805 regulator that supplies the clock’s power bus.

We’re glad [Viktor] has been showing off these old projects. We’ve also enjoyed seeing a TV sleep timer he built. If you’ve got something neat for yester-year why not dust it off, post the details, and send us a tip about it?