Domino Clock Uses An Electromechanical Display

This clock concept uses big dominos with changing faces to display the time. As far as we can tell they haven’t made it through to a finished product yet, but we loved the explaination of the engineering that went into the prototype. After the break you can watch [Eric] explain how he accomplished the design requirements of a slowly changing digit that uses no power to keep its state, which also uses low-power when changing state. To accomplish this he designed a flipping circle that stays put in both the white and black positions once set. When it’s time to change the digits, a coil is energized to push against a magnet in what he calls a single poled motor. Whatever the name, we want to build oneĀ ourselves!


[Thanks Alan]

19 thoughts on “Domino Clock Uses An Electromechanical Display

  1. I don’t know how innovative this is as it sounds just like some road side construction signs you see. Bright green circles alternate with black ones to produce text. Placing it into a small clock package with good design is nice, and definitely a cool hack of an existing idea.

    Granted this one is much more power efficient. Not hating the post, just pointing out similarities.

  2. I don’t think that something needs to be the dictionary definition of a hack to be of interest to the hacking community, and I don’t object to this being a commercial product.

    The design team decided to open up a little bit of their development process. I see that as a positive thing, and honestly this mechanism represents some clever engineering – certainly more so then blinking arduino-controlled lights!

  3. This is going to be VERY susceptible to vibration, knocks and bumps, but I love it.
    They actually did the work and designed the ‘motor’ by doing the maths, rather than using an off the shelf gearbox or something and they prioritised low energy consumption.

    @tim Don’t be so obtuse, that’s a render.

  4. @tim
    no actually it uses microwaves sent from a satellite in space to power it
    each kit comes with a satellite and a launch pad but rocket fuel is not included (thats how they get yah)

    oh and its CLEARLY a rendered 3D model

  5. This is similar in principle to some flip-digit 7 segment displays that were popular in industry from 1985 to a few years ago. Same principle, the digit could flip to reflective or dark and would stay in either position, with a brief properly polarized push from a solenoid.

    They were quite finicky in practice. Dirt would gum up the flip mechanism and strong magnetic fields would make them totally flaky. We learned not to put them in any place like a junkyard that might be using big electromagnets to move stuff like cars around, those would flip display digits from 30 meters away.

    Now that high intensity LED’s are available that can actually be read in sunlight most of the original manufacturers don’t even make them any more.

  6. Wow, I think I’m going to build one of these. This is cool stuff.

    I disagree with using wireless technology to make them communicate. I think it should be done through IR sensors on the side of the Dominos. This way there is less wireless pollution in the house. Have one master Domino which would keep the time, then daisy chain them on from their with IR.

    Not sure how to do the dots yet. Their idea is nice but it would require some 3d printing, which I no longer have access to. Could use LEDs but that would ruin the effect. Maybe that color changing paint would work that was posted on HackaDay earlier.

  7. @sunjester: Flip-dot technology that consumes zero power while static is not new. However, these guys did a rather silent version apparently, which the classic technology is definitely not. :)

  8. Looks ok but the idea is far from new.

    In 1981, I was lucky enough to get my first job, programming the electronic scoreboards for the cricket and rugby grounds in Headingly, Leeds, UK. Both scoreboards used displays made up from modules that had discs that were yellow on one side and black on the other. They were rotated with magnetic coils and were driven by a huge control unit. I wrote the software for the HP85, an incredible computer at the time.

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