Award clock put to good use as a bench meter

award-clock-turned-voltage-meter

The motivation industry turns out these type of award trinkets by the millions. Here’s a way to actually put the thing to use. Instead of displaying time, the clock dial serves as the readout of a voltage meter.

When we first saw this post we assumed that the hack used some type of coil injection to drive the hands. But it turns out that this is mechanically driven. The image above shows the stepper motor which is mounted behind the clock. Its drive shaft is coupled with the adjustment knob on the back of the clock. The precision of the motor lets the PICAXE set the clock dial based on the number of motor steps. The hour hand shows the tens value with the minutes serving as ones (base 10, not base 60). This means the top measurable voltage is 12V — when the hour hand is at 12 the measurement is 0 volts plus tenths of a volt from the minute hand. With the dial taken care of the rest of the project focuses on measuring the voltage using the ADC, which has an upper limit of just 5V. This is overcome with a simple voltage divider.

After the break you can see the accuracy of the rig as it performs measurements next to a digital voltmeter.

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Learn the geometry to draw an analog clock on a graphic LCD screen

Does the image of the clock above make you shutter with fear because of the math you’d need to use to recreate your own version of the project? We certainly understand that High School geometry is becoming a very distant memory, but it’s really not as hard as you think. [Janw] built this analog clock using a graphic LCD and he’s done a great job of explaining the concepts behind it.

The hardware he’s using is pretty standard for an electronic hobby clock; an ATmega16, graphic LCD, DS1307 real-time clock, and supporting hardware like a potentiometer, resistors, and buttons. The code is written in Bascom, but like we said, [Janw] explains the concepts behind drawing the hands on the clock so you can recreate this with any microcontroller or software language you prefer. We  recommend grabbing a calculator and some blank paper. It took us a few tries to brush the cobwebs out and really grasp what he’s doing with each equation.

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