A Tiny Clock with a Retro Display

After having ported Contiki to his TI Launchpad platform, [Marcus] was eager to do something with it. He therefore built a simple clock with a vintage HPDL-1414 “smart four-character 16-segment alphanumeric display” and a msp430g2553.

The result that you can see above is powered over USB, includes a 3.3V LDO linear voltage regulator as well as a button, a LED, a crystal, and several passive components. Fortunately enough, the 5V-powered HPDL-1414 display accepts 3.3V logic at its inputs, avoiding the need for level translators.

The clock program is running on the ported Contiki 2.6 that you can find on his Github repository. [Marcus] is considering using a vibration motor to buzz every 20 minutes during work hours as a reminder for the 20-20-20 rule to battle eye fatigue: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. A video of the system in action is embedded after the break.

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Fubarino Contest: Oscilloscope Clock

fubarino-contest-oscilloscope-clock

Before hearing about the Fubarino Contest [Joseph] never considered adding an Easter Egg to one of his own projects. But after seeing so many contest entries we think this is just the kind of fun extra that needs to make its way into every design!

The subject of his entry is an oscilloscope clock which displays our URL instead of the numbers usually found on a clock face. He’s using a SparkFun board to generate the clock — a piece of hardware we saw about 18 months ago hidden inside of a vintage scope. The feature is unlocked only when displaying roman numerals in combination with a special serial command.

Replacing the numerals with the URL isn’t entirely straight-forward. Since an oscilloscope is a vector display [Joseph] actually had to build his own array of start and end coordinates for each character. Luckily he did a fantastic job of documenting this which will allow you to make it say anything you wish.


This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

VFD And Nixie Clock Twofer

Clocks

Sometimes the stars align and we get two somewhat similar builds hitting the Hackaday tip line at the same time. Recently, the build of note was clocks using some sort of display tube, so here we go.

First up is [Pyrofer]‘s VFD network time clock (pic, above). The build started as a vacuum flourescent display tube he salvaged from an old fruit machine – whatever that is. The VFD was a 16 character, 14 segment display, all controlled via serial input.

The main control board is, of course, an Arduino with a WizNet 5100 Ethernet board. The clock connects to the Internet via DHCP so there’s no need to set an IP address. Once connected, the clock sets itself via network time and displays the current date, time, and temperature provided by a Dallas 1-wire temperature probe.

Next up is [Andrew]‘s beautiful Nixie clock with enough LEDs to satiate the desires of even the most discerning technophile. The board is based on a PIC microcontroller with two switching power supplies – one for the 170VDC for the Nixies, and 5V for the rest of the board.

A battery backed DS1307 is the real-time clock for this board, and two MCP23017 I/O expanders are used to run the old-school Nixie drivers

All this is pretty standard for a Nixie clock build, if a little excessive. It wasn’t enough for [Andrew], though: he used the USB support on his PIC to throw a USB port on his board and wrote an awesome bit of software for his PC to set the time, upload new firmware, and set the color fade and speed. With this many LEDs, it’s not something you want in your bedroom with all the lights on full blast, so he implemented a ‘sleep’ mode to turn off most of the lights and all the Nixie tubes. It’s a great piece of work that could easily be successfully funded on Kickstarter.

DCF77 Powered Clock is a Work of Art

[Brett] just completed his DCF77 Master Bracket Clock, intended to be a backup to an old logic controlled clock he made. For our readers that don’t know, DCF77 is a German longwave time signal whose transmitter is located near Frankfurt (Germany). Every minute, the current date and time are sent on the 77.5kHz carrier signal.

The result, which you can see above, is made using an Ikea lantern, a skeleton clock, an ATmega328 (for Arduino compatibility), a voice recording playback IC (ISD1730), a cheap 20×4 LCD display, a DCF77 receiver module, and many LEDs. We’re pretty sure that it must have taken [Brett] quite a while to get such a nice looking clock. In case the clock loses power from the power supply, 3 AA cells provide battery backup. On the firmware side, making the platform Arduino-compatible allowed [Brett] to use its libraries so the coding was quickly done. Embedded after a break is a video of the final result.

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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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The Greenest Wall-Powered Clock

clock

Some of the most inefficient appliances in the home are AC mains-powered clocks. You can’t exactly turn them off and they use a whole lot of energy considering how often they’re looked at. [t3andy] came up with a great low power AC Mains clock that is only on 3% of the time. As a neat bonus, it also looks really, really cool.

[t3andy] is using a Teensy 3 as the brains of this clock, and the serial interface on the board provides a relatively easy means of setting the time without having to use buttons or tact switches. The clock face consists of 13 neopixels, with two red pixels showing the hour and a single green pixel showing the minutes. The time is measured with a DS3232 I2C real time clock with a battery backup.

The design is remarkably efficient since the LEDs are off 97% of the time, only being lit at the top of the minute. There are provisions for IR control and a PIR sensor to display the time whenever it’s needed, but that would obviously mean a hit to the energy efficiency.

A cable box becomes a network time display

DVR

In 2011 [Erkki]‘s DVB box gave up the ghost. It had been a fixture of his media center for quite a while, decoding cable and recording shows faithfully for years. A flaky power supply will bring down the mightiest machine, though. and the Topfield box eventually found itself in disuse. One thing [Erkki] liked about this cable box is its wonderful green LED clock – even after the box had been declared dead, he still used it as a clock. Not wanting to keep a faulty machine on life support, [Erkki] decided to strip the guts and replace them with a networked Arduino that receives time over a network

[Erkki] originally used an Arduino and an ENC28J60 Ethernet module to receive time from an NTP server and spit it out onto the LCD display. A full Arduino for this kind of job, especially one that’s a more or less complete project, is a bit overkill so [Erkki] designed a PCB to put his ‘duino to better use.

One interesting bit about this build is that [Erkki] found it completely broken one day. Figuring this was a problem with the microcontroller, he first fried the ATMega with 9 volts – the reasons escape us, however – and started work on programming a new chip. After looking at different ports on his NTP server with a microcontroller, [Erkki] realized he had reset his network switch recently, meaning the previous microcontroller was working perfectly.

In the future, [Erkki] hopes to add some new features to this 8×4 seven-segment display sitting in a large box; something like reading off the temperature, checking IRC and his physical mailbox, and notifying him when someone is at the front door.