Hacklet 18 – Tick Tock, it’s Time for Clocks

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In three words, Hackers love clocks. Not only do we think that digital watches are still a pretty neat idea, we love all manner of timepieces. This episode of The Hacklet focuses on the clock projects we’ve found over on Hackaday.io.

xkcdHardwareWe start with [rawe] and [tabascoeye], who both put the famous XKCD “now” clock into hardware. [tabascoeye] used a stepper motor in his xkcd world clock. [rawe] didn’t have any steppers handy, so he grabbed a cheap wall clock from Ikea for his xkcd.com/now clock in hardware. The now clock needs a 24 hour movement. Ikea only sells 12 hour movements, so [rawe] hacked in a 555 and some logic to divide the clock’s crystal by two. He’s currently using an EEVblog uCurrent to verify his modified clockwork consumes about half a milliwatt.

touchscreenclockNext up is [Craig Bonsignore] and his Touchscreen Alarm Clock. [Craig] got sick of store-bought alarm clocks, so he built his own. Then he modified it, added a few features, and kept building! The current incarnation of the clock has a pretty novel interface: a touchscreen over a bicolor LED matrix. The rest of the clock consists of an Arduino, an Adafruit Wave shield, and a Macetech Chronodot. [Craig] is currently mashing up these open source designs and building a single Arduino shield for his clock.

irisledclock[Warren Janssens] took the minimalist route with The Iris Clock. Iris is a ring of WS2812 RGB LEDs. The LEDs are mounted behind a wall colored piece of wood in such a way that you can only see their glow on the clock frame and the wall beyond it. This helps a with the eye searing effect WS2812s can have when viewed directly – even when dimmed with PWM. The code is mainly C with some AVR assembly thrown in to control the LEDs. [Warren] has given Iris 8 different time modes, from hour/minute/second to percentage of day with sunrise and sunset markers. With so many modes, the only hard part is knowing how to read the time Iris is displaying!

stargate[David Hopkins] also built a ring clock. His Stargate LED Clock not only tells time, but is a great replica of the Stargate from the TV series. [David] used four Adafruit WS2812 Neopixel segments to build a full 60 RGB LED ring. The Stargate runs on an Arduino nano with a real-time clock chip to keep accurate time. A photoresistor allows the Stargate to automatically dim at night. With some slick programming [David] added everything from a visual hourly “chime” to a smooth fade from LED to LED.

bendulum[dehne1] gives us something completely different with The Bendulum Clock. A bendulum is [dehne1's] own creation consisting of an inverted pendulum built without a pivot. The inverted pendulum swings by bending along its length. In [dehne1's] design, the bendulum is made out of a spring steel strip rescued from a car windshield wiper. The Bendulum doesn’t have a mechanical escapement, but an electromagnet sensed and driven by an Arduino. The amazing part of this project is that  [dehne1] isn’t using a real-time clock chip. The standard 8MHz Arduino resonator is calibrated over various temperatures, then used to calibrate the bendulum itself. The result is a clock that can be accurate within 1 minute each day. [dehne1] mounted his clock inside a custom wood case. We think it looks great, and want one for Hackaday HQ!

We’ve used enough clock ticks for this episode of The Hacklet. As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!

Still want more? Check out our Timepiece List!

Wristwatch measures your perception of time; also tells time

This wristwatch is hiding a lot of features in its hardware and its software. It’s called the TicTocTrac and it’s a Senior project for a pair of students at Cornell University. Judging from the sheer volume and quality of the project documentation we wonder if someone has a science writing career ahead of them? Be we digress… It’s a clock and we love it!

First off, this does more than just tell the time. In fact, that’s almost an ancillary function in this case. The wristwatch is more of a metering device to record your own time-based behaviors. Find yourself checking your watch frequently as the lunch break approaches? This watch records that activity and you can later graph the data. This allows you to analyze how you percieve the passage of time. The more often you check the time, the slower you feel time progressing. The documentation does a much better job of describing this than we have time for, so check it out.

On the hardware side of things we’re quite impressed. The housing is 3D printed. It hides two half-circle PCBs below the full-circle PCB face plate. The half-boards leave space for a tiny rechargeable battery, and host a vibrating motor and RTC chip. Instead of using buttons, there’s a piezo sensor which detects when you tap on the top of the watch.

The Lunchtime clock gives you 12 extra minutes

The Lunchtime clock is a hacked clock that pulls a sneaky little trick to get you a longer lunch. In this instructible, [Randofo] shows us how he uses an Atmega168 and a realtime clock kit from Adafruit to slow the clock down 20% starting at 11:00 and then speed it back up at 11:45, gaining you an extra 12 minutes of sweet delicious lunch. Not really sure how noticeable this would be? Check out the video after the break. This is pretty hilarious and we can actually think of a few offices where this might work. However, many offices rely on their main network server for actual time keeping leaving this as just an amusing novelty. Still, those with luddite bosses can rejoice in your new-found extended lunch.

[via Gizmodo]

[Read more...]

Time’s poll hacked

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Though Time won’t admit it, their poll on the most influential person was hacked. Moot, the founder of 4chan is rated #1. Not only that, but if you read the first letters of the poll results, you get “Marblecake also the game”. This refers to the IRC Chanel where many 4channers congregate as well as “the game” an internet meme. This article is very interesting as it delves into the details of the attack. Focusing mainly on what happened when the autovoting software was shut down due to reCaptcha.  you’ve probably seen reCaptcha before. It presents you with two words, made difficult to read by strange kearning, warping, and squiggles. If you can read it, you’re most likely a human. Anon, a common name for 4channers, first tried to hack reCaptcha.

Their attempt at hacking reCaptcha relies on the process reCaptcha uses to identify words. It presents you with two words, one of which it already knows. The other is compared to a database of common responses to that word. Anon decided that if they entered “penis” enough times, they could flood the database allowing their autovoter to function again. This, though clever, was unsuccessful. They eventually settled on manual voting. This was taking too much time, they feared they would never reach their goals. To help with this, they built a simple interface that would preload several reCaptchas and cue up votes. This streamlining allowed them to squeak in the votes they needed to accomplish this.

It’s also worth noting that Time didn’t close the vote entries when the poll closed. They removed the poll from their site, but the streamlined vote software was still working. Anon is a powerful force of nature. If only we could harness it to cure cancer or HIV.

TIME’s Best Inventions of 2008

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Attempting to put our past behind us as quickly as possible, TIME has released what they feel are the best inventions of 2008. While there’s some pretty wishy-washy lab-only stuff on the list, we’re glad to see a lot of cool hardware made the cut. Some of our favorites are: The Tesla roadster proving electric cars can be fun. IBM breaking the petaflop barrier with LANL’s Roadrunner. The Large Hadron Collider for getting everyone scared about physics all over again. Have a look at the list for many other tech highlights from this year.

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