There’s a Maker Faire in three weeks, and your group wants to design and build a binary watch to give to attendees. You don’t have much time, and your budget is $3 per watch. What do you do? If you are [Parker@Macrofab] you come up with a plan, buy some parts, and start prototyping.
[Parker] selected the PIC16F527 because it had enough I/O and was inexpensive. A cheap crystal and some miscellaneous discrete parts rounded out the bill of materials. Some cheap ESD straps would serve for a band. He did the prototype with a PICDEM board and immediately ran into the bane of PIC programmers: the analog comparators were overriding the digital I/O pins. With that hurdle clear, [Parker] got the rest of the design prototyped and laid a board out in Eagle.
Continue reading “The Three Week Three Dollar Binary Watch”
[Brett] was looking for a way to improve on an old binary clock project from 1996. His original clock used green LEDs to denote between a one or a zero. If the LED was lit up, that indicated a one. The problem was that the LEDs were too dim to be able to read them accurately from afar. He’s been wanting to improve on his project using seven segment displays, but until recently it has been cost prohibitive.
[Brett] wanted his new project to use 24 seven segment displays. Three rows of eight displays. To build something like this from basic components would require the ability to switch many different LEDs for each of the seven segment displays. [Brett] instead decided to make things easier by using seven segment display modules available from Tindie. These modules each contain eight displays and are controllable via a single serial line.
The clock’s brain is an ATmega328 running Arduino. The controller keeps accurate time using a DCF77 receiver module and a DCF77 Arduino library. The clock comes with three display modes. [Brett] didn’t want and physical buttons on his beautiful new clock, so he opted to use remote control instead. The Arduino is connected to a 433MHz receiver, which came paired with a small remote. Now [Brett] can change display modes using a remote control.
A secondary monochrome LCD display is used to display debugging information. It displays the time and date in a more easily readable format, as well as time sync information, signal quality, and other useful information. The whole thing is housed in a sleek black case, giving it a professional look.
[Aaron] has been wanting to build his own binary desk clock for a while now. This was his first clock project, so he decided to keep it simple and have it simply display the time. No alarms, bells, or whistles.
The electronics are relatively simple. [Aaron] decided to use on of the ATMega328 chips he had lying around that already had the Arduino boot loader burned into them. He first built his own Arduino board on a breadboard and then re-built it on a piece of protoboard as a more permanent solution. The Arduino gets the time from a real-time clock (RTC) module and then displays it using an array of blue and green LED’s. The whole thing is powered using a spare 9V wall wort power supply.
[Aaron] chose to use the DS1307 RTC module to keep time. This will ensure that the time is kept accurately over along period of time. The RTC module has its own built-in battery, which means that if [Aaron’s] clock should ever lose power the clock will still remember the time. The RTC battery can theoretically last for up to ten years.
[Aaron] got creative for his clock enclosure, upcycling an old hard drive. All of the hard drive guts were removed and replaced with his own electronics. The front cover had 13 holes drilled out for the LED’s. There are six green LED’s to display the hour, and seven blue LED’s for the minute. The LED’s were wired up as common cathode. Since the hard drive cover is conductive, [Aaron] covered both sides of his circuit board with electrical tape and hot glue to prevent any short circuits. The end result is an elegant binary clock that any geek would be proud of.
Based on his username, [Horatius.Steam], it’s not a surprise that he calls this project a “SteamPunk” style binary clock. But we think using neon glow lamps in this binary clock is more of mid-century modern proposition. Either way, the finished look is sure to make it a conversation piece for your home.
He doesn’t give all that much information on the bulbs themselves. They seem to be neon glow lamps along the lines of a Nixie tubes. It sounds like they just need mains power (based on the image annotations for the relay board). The high voltage is switched by that collection of solid state relays. The controller board includes a DCF radio whose antennae is seen just below the controller. This picks up an atomic clock signal from Frankfurt, Germany. We think it’s a nice touch that he included a mechanical relay to simulate a ticking sound. That and the bulbs themselves can be turned off using the two switches in the base of the clock.
This seems like a good time to direct your attention to an artistic take on a Nixie clock.
Hobby electronics from 1982
[Lennart] came across one of his projects from several decades ago. It’s a twinkling star which blinks LEDs at different rates using some 7400 logic chips and RC timers.
Solder fume extractor
We’re still blowing the solder fumes away from us using our mouth, but this might inspire us to do otherwise. It’s a large PC fan mounted on a lamp goose neck. It clamps to the bench and is quite easy to position.
Ultrasonic liquid level measurement
Wanting a way to measure the liquid in these tanks without submerging a sensor, [JO3RI] turned to an Arduino and an ultrasonic rangefinder. His method even allows the level to be graphed as shown in his Instructible about the project.
Adding an ‘On’ light to save batteries
Dumpster diving yielded this electronic drum machine for [MS3FGX’s] daughter to play with. The problem is that pushing any of the buttons turns it on, it doesn’t have an auto-off, and there’s no way to know when it’s on. This is unacceptable since it runs on 5 AA batteries. His quick fix adds this green On LED. We wonder if he’ll improve upon this and add an auto-off feature?
CMOS Binary Clock
This is a portion of the guts of [Dennis’] CMOS Binary Clock project from the early 2000’s. He even built a nice case with a window for the LEDs which you can see are mounted perpendicular to the protoboard.
As part of a class at University, [Emacheen22] and his teammates turned an old Connect 4 game into a binary clock. This image shows the device nearing completion, but the final build includes the game tokens which diffuse the LED light. We enjoy the concept, but think there are a few ways to improve on it for the next iteration. If you’re interested in making your own we’d bet you can find Connect 4 at the thrift store.
Instead of using the free-standing game frame the team decided to use the box to host the LEDs and hide away the electronics. Since they’re using a breadboard and an Arduino this is a pretty good option. But it means that the game frame needs to be on its side as the tokens won’t stay in place without the plastic base attached. They used a panel mount bracket for each LED and chose super glue to hold all of the parts together.
We think this would be a lot of fun if the frame was upright. The LEDs could be free-floating by hot glueing the leads to either side of the opening. Using a small box under the base, all of the electronics can be hidden from view. After all, if you solder directly and use just a bare AVR chip there won’t be all that much to hide. Or you could get fancy and go with logic chips instead of a uC.
Hackaday’s very own [Mike Szczys] just shared an awesome binary clock he’s been working on. Unlike a normal binary clock that is only readable by self-admitted geeks and nerds, [Mike]’s clock is nearly comprehensible by the general population.
There are 12 lines of three LEDs around the face of [Mike]’s clock. These LEDs represent the time in minutes in binary – the inner LED is 1, the middle LED is 2, and the outer LED is 4. Adding up each of the LEDs around the clock face gives the number of minutes passed since the top of the hour.
To display the hour, [Mike] used a red/blue bi-color LED in the center of each line of LEDs. For example, at 1:03 the one ‘o clock hand will have a blue LED in the first position and a purple LED in the second position. A minute later at 1:04, this changes to blue, red, blue.
If that is a little confusing, there’s a wonderful video demonstrating the pattern of LEDs throughout the hour.
For such an interesting clock, the build is fairly simple – just an ATtiny44 with an STP16CP05 LED driver. Time is kept with a battery-backed MCP7940 real-time clock, and power is provided by a simple USB port.
[Mike] had enough boards manufactured for several dozen clocks, but only had enough parts (and patience) to solder up four clocks. You can check out the time-lapse of him going to town with a soldering iron on one of these boards after the break. As with all good builds, the code and schematics are provided on GitHub if you’d like to make your own.
Continue reading “A novel binary clock from Hackaday’s own”