Fubarino Contest: A Dutch Word Clock


[Gerben] started on his adventure into the world of electronics about a year ago. His first big project is this magnificent word clock. It’s Dutch, if you’re wondering.

As a web developer, the first thing [Gerben] did was build a web-based mockup of this clock. After that, he went crazy with power tools crafting the wooden frame. Perhaps too crazy, as he forgot the space for the electronics. This oversight was solved by making his own PCBs, first using peroxide and vinegar, then giving up and moving to peroxide and HCl.

The easter egg for this word clock is a scrolling URL when the time is 13:37. A clever egg that is really completely original.

From the looks of the video, the fit and finish of this word clock is beyond anything we’ve seen before. The entire front of the clock is glass, with capacitive touch buttons down by the four-LED ‘minute’ display.

Video below, Pics over here, and all the code and board files are here.

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!

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Hackaday Links: October 13, 2013


This week’s post on core rope ROM was pretty popular. [Joey] wrote in with a book recommendation for those that found the project interesting. Digital Apollo discusses the technology which NASA built into the guidance computer. That was also the subject of a recent Retrotechtacular.

A few members of the Vancouver Hack Space came up with their own take on the Word Clock. It uses an old monitor, a laser-cut bezel, and Javascript to light up the correct characters.

When we last looked in on [Vincent's] plywood stool project he had branched out into plywood folding chairs as well. Here’s two updates on his progress.

This one’s just silly. To keep up with his wife on exercise goals, this guy cheated using a reciprocating saw to spoof his exercise. Tape the FitBit to the saw blade, clamp the saw to the workbench, and then let her rip! [via Reddit]

[Harrison] wrote into share the Arduino button library he developed. It is designed to allow detection of multiple types of button events without blocking other operations. He came up with the project to use with his motorcycle hacking.

It looks like [Bertho] has kitted up his Executive Decision Maker. We first saw this as a perfboard project a couple of years ago.

And finally, [Bob Alexander] makes your hard drive clock look puny. His uses the platter from a 40-year-old mainframe hard drive.

Incredible fabrication process makes this Word Clock stand out

From the look of it his is just another Word Clock, right? From the outside maybe. But if you take a look at the build photos this a good example of extreme fabrication.The design uses a five-layer lamination of glass bezel, vinyl lettering, diffuser, mounting plate, and back panel. The mounting and lettering layers were labor intensive, but are also the reason for the gorgeous finished look.

The bezel consists of black adhesive foil applied to the back of the glass faceplate. The letters were cut out using a vinyl cutter, and the lamination process happened in a pool of water. This technique helps to ensure that no fine particles end up between the glass and the foil.

The wooden mounting bracket was ordered from a local kitchen cabinet fabricator. It’s MDF that is 17.7″ and has been edge wrapped in glossy white PVC. Once it arrived, [Muris] started drilling the 248 holes and their counter sinks. This is on the front side of the layer and when sprayed with silver paint the countsinks act as reflectors. On the back side he milled groves to accept PCB strips to host the LEDs as well as the breakout boards that hold the MAX7219 drivers.

Don’t miss the video clip after the break that shows off the final product.

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Wide word-clock takes a modular approach

[Ishan Karve] took on the challenge of building his own word clock. This is a timepiece that displays the current time in the same syntax you would use if someone asked you what time it was. You’ll find a lot of these projects around, with one of our favorites using etched copper clad as a bezel. But [Ishan] departed for the ordinary by building a clock that is rectangular rather than square. To do so he uses a 16×8 LED matrix that is made up of small modules.

He designed a board that holds a 4×4 LED matrix and includes pin headers on each edge. This way he can arrange these 16-pixel blocks into arrays to make a larger grid. For the clock he used eight boards. These are driven by two MAX7219 chips, with an ATmega168 as the main controller and a DS1307 to keep time. Each LED is isolated by a thick layer of acrylic which as one hole for each pixel. This prevents light from bleeding over into letters that should not be illuminated. Check out the result in the clip after the break.

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Building a word clock with genetic algorithms

Maybe it was a language barrier he ran into, or possibly an inclination to do things the hard and smart way, but we really like [Alessio]‘s take on building the display for his word clock. Instead of relying on a pre-designed word layout, he made his own word pattern with a genetic algorithm.

While looking at other word clock builds on the Internet, [Alessio] noticed all the DIY copies used the same pattern of letters as the original QLOCKTWO word clock. There are obvious reasons for this, laziness chief among them, but [Alessio] decided to do one better. Armed with JGAP, he made a 10×10 German language word clock and a 11×11 English language word clock.

[Alessio]‘s algorithm takes a list of regular expressions – ‘five past four’ and ‘four five’ are both valid expressions for 4:05 – and combines solutions together for a hopefully optimal solution. One added bonus of [Alessio]‘s method is the ability to generate non-square word clocks. On his project page, [Alessio] put up examples for round, triangular, and diamond-shaped word clocks.

[Alessio] ended up building a 10×10 square German language word clock with an Arduino Nano, DS1307 real-time clock, RGB LEDs, and a few shift registers. Very nice work for a custom-designed word clock.

Interesting substrate used to position LEDs of this Word Clock

[Ivan] decided to build a Word Clock as holiday gift for his parents. He pulled it off, but as you can see above, it meant a lot of point-to-point soldering. One small piece of proto-board is used to host the power supply and a few integrated circuits, with the rest of the device mounted on an interesting choice of material.

The substrate that holds the LED array for the display is a plastic mesh. You’ll find the stuff in any craft store, it’s meant for use in yarn work. It comes rated in several different sizes designated by holes-per-linear-inch. This is fantastic because it makes precision spacing a snap. The face plate itself looks great, especially when you consider that all of the letters were cut out from a piece of black foam board by hand. This bezel was then put in a picture frame, with a bit of tissue paper as a diffuser.

They tell us that the code was written in assembly for an ATtiny2313 microcontroller. It uses a DS1305 RTC chip to keep time and you might be interested to see how the communication protocol was implemented in assembly. The project is based on [Doug's] Word Clock which we covered in this links post.

What has 114 LEDs and is always running?

The answer, of course, is a word clock. This is actually [Eric's] second version of a word clock. Like the first one, it uses 114 LEDs to back light the words on the display.

In his first iteration he used an Arduino to drive a Charlieplex array of lights. It was an 11 by 10 grid, plus four LEDs to display the in-between minutes as dots at each corner of the clock face. This time around he’s still using an Arduino, but the lights have seen a huge upgrade. In one of his build pictures you can see the reel of RGB led modules which have two RGB LEDs and an HL1606 driver on each segment. These are SPI controlled, making them easy to hook up, using just a few data and power bus rails. Check out the test video after the break that shows what this grid is capable of.

In case you can’t figure out what time is displayed above, you might check out an English version of a Word Clock face to help in your own build.

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