Simple clock uses RTC chip and character display

[Giorgos Lazaridis] just finished building a simple clock on a breadboard. It uses a common real time clock chip, the DS1307. This is less expensive that its full-featured older brother, the DS3232. The difference between the two is that the 1307 requires an external 32.768 kHz crystal and it is not temperature compensated. This means it will not be quite as accurate over the long-haul (it may wander as much as one minute per month), but it still blows the accuracy of using a microcontroller as an RTC out of the water and includes a backup battery which will keep time when the rest of the circuit is switched off.

This design uses a PIC 16F1937 to display the time and date on a 16×2 character LCD screen. Six buttons are dedicated to incrementing one specific chunk of data (ie: one button changes the year, another the day, etc.). A seventh button can be held down when using the other six in order to decrement the setting. We’re always interested in how the button code is written. [Giorgos] did share his code, but he wrote it in assembly so it’s of little use to us as we tend to stick to C code.

See the walk through video after the break.

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Warm Tube Clock, take 2

warm_nixie_v2

[Mure] wrote in to let us know he has put the finishing touches on the second iteration of his Warm Tube Nixie clock. We featured his original creation here last year, and while many things remain the same, he has still found a few things that he was able to improve on.

The first notable feature is the new real time clock. Instead of using a discrete crystal to keep time and a temperature sensor for compensation, he has opted to use a DS3231 RTC IC. It is far more accurate than the crystal, and it features a built-in temperature sensor as well. The alarm functionality has been simplified too, moving the controls into firmware rather than having to use a sliding switch to do so.

With the mainboard redesign, it would have been easy to leave behind the nixie “shields” he created for his first clock, but with a focus on interoperability, he chose to make this clock fully compatible with version one’s shields and vice versa.

While the changes aren’t groundbreaking, it’s nice to see a project like this undergo continued refinements. If you want to build a clone of this clock, [Mure] has made sure that all of the schematics and source code are available on his site.

Continue reading to see a brief video demo of the clock in action.

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Building your own real time clock

diy_rtc

Like many electronics hobbyists, [Pete] found that he had an overwhelming desire to build a clock for himself. He didn’t want to stick a discrete real time clock IC into a box and call it a day, so he opted to construct his own around a microcontroller instead.

After researching the specs on a few RTC ICs, he defined some accuracy requirements for his clock, and got to building. He started out using a 32,768 Hz watch crystal, but found that the accuracy was off by about 46 ppm after only 24 hours of use. That fell well beyond his self-imposed +/- 3 ppm tolerance goal, so he purchased an oscillator with about 500 times the resolution of his previous crystal.

After writing a handful of code to ensure that the clock remains stable, he calculated that his accuracy should be about 0.18 ppm – well within his acceptable tolerance range.

[Pete] says that this is just the first part of his clock construction, and that future revisions should include plenty of additional functionality, so keep an eye out for updates.

15-digit Nixie clock contains mostly non-useful information

[Jarek Lupinski] is at it again, this time building a clock using 15 Nixie tubes. Just look at the time…. wait, how do you read this now? It’s not seconds since the epoch, but an homage to a very expensive New York City art piece. [Jarek] took his inspiration from the Metronome art installation in Union Square.

We hadn’t heard of it before and were shocked to learn that this art was commissioned at $4.2 million. It belches steam and confuses passersby with its cryptic fifteen digits. It seems that the eight digits on the left mark the current time – two digits for hours, two for minutes, two for seconds, and the final digit for hundreths of a second. The seven remaining digits count down the time left in the day. So when you watch it, you see the significant digits of the display increasing, and the insignificant half decreasing.

The Nixie version rests snuggly on a 15″x4″ PCB. We’re sure it doesn’t number in the millions, but that couldn’t have been cheap to have manufactured. Each tube has its own driver chip, removing the need for multiplexing. An ATmega168 controls the clock (along with some shift registers to expand the I/O count), reading time from a DS1307 RTC chip. It looks fancy, but where’s the belching smoke on this version?

How to build a ping-pong ball display

If you’ve been lusting after your own glowing display we’re here to help by sharing some simple building techniques that will result in an interesting project like the one you see above. This is a super-accurate clock That uses ping-pong balls as diffusers for LEDs, but with a little know-how you can turn this into a full marquee display. Join me after break where I’ll share the details of the project and give you everything you need to know to build your own.

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Xbee controlled, granite-wrapped clock travels into future

From the looks of it this clock is a couple of months ahead of its time. [Oscar] built the clock (translated) taking time to add a lot of goodies into the mix. First up, the parts you see include six large 7-segment displays for hours, minutes, and seconds as well as an LED marquee which can scroll messages. Inside there’s a temperature and humidity sensor for environmental feedback, and an Xbee module which allows for wireless computer control. Time is kept by a DS1307 real-time clock, which is read by an Arduino Uno, then pushed to the display by the pair of I2C addressable SAA1064 drivers. The whole thing was enclosed in four sheets of granite for the box, and a pane of glass for the front. We sure hope it’s well anchored to that wall. You can see it ticking away after the break.

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Keep your kids in line with a time clock

When the cat’s away the mice will play, but a least you’ll know when they came home if you use this time clock. It’s called the Kid-e-log and [John Boxall] developed it to help a friend who wanted to keep track of their teenage children’s after school activities while they were still at work. He figured having them punch a time clock would at least let you know if they came straight home as they were supposed to. An RFID tag was issued to each (no, they didn’t implant the tags) and used to record the time. To keep fraud to a minimum the hardware has a battery back-up for its real-time clock, and the tag read events are stored to EEPROM for retention between power cycles. This doesn’t prevent common tricks like taking the reader with you, or sending your tag with a sibling, but it’s a start. See it in action after the break.

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