Atomic Pinball Clock

[Mark Gibson] sent us a load of details on his build, a WWVB atomic clock using a pinball machine marquee (PDF). This is the upright portion of an old machine that used electromechanical displays instead of digital electronics. It’s big, noisy, and seeing it running might make you a bit giddy. Luckily he included video that shows it working on both the outside and the inside.

It took a bit of probing to discover the connections for relays that control the display. From there he used optoisolation to drive them with an Arduino. With this hurdle behind him, [Mark] set out to add atomic clock accuracy. He picked up a WWVB module and added it to the mix.

Check out his build log in PDF form linked above. He went out of his way to explain how the original parts work, and the processes he used during prototyping. For more of those juicy details we’ve added a photo gallery and his video after the break.

Didn’t get enough pinball goodness from this project? Check out the this digital gas plasma display pulled and reused from a much more modern pinball machine. Oh, and there’s always Bill Paxton Pinball.


14 thoughts on “Atomic Pinball Clock

  1. LOL… The thing I love about the internet is that every time I think I’m the only one with a wierd idea, I find I’m not alone.

    I’ve got a couple of old EM pins and actually built a similar clock years ago, though mine was housed in a smaller case with photoshopped artwork rather than the original backboard. I also used the solenoid chimes to strike the hour.

    In any event, yours is a cool project done very well… congrats.

  2. Wow. Thanks everyone for the comments. I really appreciate them.

    I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that I came up with this all on my own. I can’t really pinpoint how my ideas evolved, but I have to credit two sites I had seen sometime earlier: Crow River Trading’s clock and this WWVB receiver hack

    /Mark Gibson

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