The Interstellar Clock

[Alexander Avtanski] has put together a nice clock to meet all your interstellar travel needs. Besides being another PIC based timer, this is a neat little project because it incorporates pretty much every feature you could think of when building a clock for our solar sytem.  For example, it has 16 independent timers and alarms, it can  simultaneously give the time for multiple planets, as well as keep track of other stellar events like the eye of Jupiter or the phases of the moon. To get this project off the ground [Alex] reverse engineered an old dial up modem to serve as an enclosure and power supply and then added in a rechargeable battery so that his  his interstellar clock wasn’t tied to a wall.

[via make]

21 thoughts on “The Interstellar Clock

  1. You couldn’t even get that on a plane, much less a space-ship :P

    Most clocks posted here are pretty boring compared to this one. The only thing I don’t like too well is the display device (although it was made specifically to use one he had on hand, so that’s okay; plus it gets the job done).

    @glagnar: I don’t think /you/ know what it means. Either that or you didn’t read the actual write-up, because that’s clearly what he did.

  2. Nice Hack!

    RE: Interstellar clock as a concept.

    Two major “reasons” get nailed spot on by 1337 and MrTaco.

    The best SF description was IIRC authored by F.M. Busby- Having a personal clock to keep track of your “Two Ages” on ships that approached C or even exceed it gets useful. General Relativity is still held to be local, last I heard.

    And we *JUST* got some exploration sat data back that will let us confirm if a few planets do have an atmosphere indicating “life” on them. Which may be amusing to carry a clock showing time for Planet P. As it’s being discussed about doing SETI@Home type work on that data. @home’s a worthy Hack.

  3. Yeah, I agree that “Repurpose modem box” != “Reverse Engineer”. I see that he tapped into the power supply, but I guess I still don’t feel like that counts.

    And @Oren Beck – we got data indicating life? Or data indicating the *possibility* of life? There is an enormous distinction between the two. If we had data indicating life, I’m sure it would be *everywhere* in the news.

    Anyway, I’m just being grumpy. I like this hack though, its neat.

    Reminds me of a special on the Mars rovers I saw. When the Engineers are assigned to work on it, they have to work by Martian Days, which are something like 45 minutes different than earth, so they’re close, but always slowly shifting. That means that they have to go to sleep and get up 45 minutes later every day, which seriously conflicts with Earth schedules. One couple of engineers had kids in school, who obviously went on Earth time. So sometimes, as far as the parents were concerned, they had to pick up their kids from school at 2am Mars time. I can imagine that was draining.

    I also found out recently that Venus only rotates about its axis about once per year. But since its also orbiting the sun, there is one more “day” added per year. So Venus gets 1.9 days per year. Crazy.

  4. Interesting read! The author/designer’s writing style is smart and entertaining.

    “That’s not reverse engineering”, I thought at first. But then I read the article and found he used the existing power supply and speaker circuits on the modem board, which surely did require some actual reverse engineering. Nice job.

    Favorite quote from the article:
    “If I try to take it with me on a trip they will evacuate the airport, for sure!”

  5. @ Taylor Alexander:

    I worded it by intent as “will let us confirm if a few planets do have an atmosphere indicating “life” on them”

    I am not anywhere near qualified to evaluate all the data and, the data’s going to be debated for decades whatever it initially “shows” about those planets. But- it will confirm an indication of “life” insofar as one can do so by multispectral etc means.

    Showing a dramatic spectral signature that either bespeaks a biology as causative- or not? That indeed will be an event with Reality Altering potential. Hacking our Worldview with hard science by viewing other worlds is something I’d almost abandoned hope of.

    No, it’s not a Plaque or “Record”on a probe, so far. I’ve wondered if Drake’s math gets skewed by transitions to Coax Cables and Fiber Optics instead of huge- or *any* “broadcast” technology deployments. All it takes is a few tech Hacks done differently. Where we’d have gone from Don Ameche inventing the Telephone, to FiOS with no Marconi in between- and we’d have had precious little deep space RF signature for this world.

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