Persistence of Vision Clock on a Propeller

If you have a spare DC motor, a PIC16F84A microcontroller, and a lot of patience, then [Jon] has a great guide for building a persistence of vision clock that is sure to brighten up any room. For those who are unfamiliar with this type of clock, the principle is simple: a “propeller” with LEDs spins, and at just the right moment the LEDs turn on and display the time.

We’ve featured persistence of vision projects before (many times), and have even featured [Jon]’s older clocks, but the thing that makes this POV clock different is the detail of the project log. [Jon] wasn’t satisfied with the documentation of existing projects, and went through great pains to write up absolutely everything about his clock. The project log goes through four major versions of the hardware and goes into great depth about the software as well, making it easy for anyone to recreate this robust clock.

As for the clock itself, the final revision of the hardware has a PCB for all of the components, and uses a PC fan motor to spin the propeller. Power delivery eliminates slip rings or brushes in favor of wireless power transfer, which is an impressive feat on its own. Indeed, the quality of the clock is only surpassed by the extreme level of detail!



[Kyle] wanted to try something new. A Persistence of Vision Clock using a CD-ROM drive.

We have covered lots of POV Clocks that make use of hard drives, but we think this is the first time we have seen a CD-ROM drive used instead. [Kyle] points out that CD-ROM drives are typically much quieter than hard drives, which is the main reason he chose the CD-ROM route.

At the heart of this project is a good old ATMEGA168 and an RGB LED strip for the lights. To measure and maintain the rotational speed of the clock [Kyle] used an IR photodiode that detects a reference mark on the disc. An elegant build of a classic POV Clock, with a new twist!

The cool thing about this project is he did not actually use the CD-ROM drive like you think he would — he chucked the spindle motor and instead is spinning the disk using the tray ejection motor! He did this so he could control the motor by PWM straight off the microcontroller, whereas the spindle motor would require an IC and a varying control signal with specific voltage amplitudes.

He also experimented with different backgrounds and background lighting, which you can see in the video after the break!

Continue reading “CD-ROM POV Clock”