What time is it? For that matter, what is the date? This clock can tell you both of those things, if only you could read it. The inspiration for this Binary Epoch kit came after a friend of [Maniaclal Labs] built an eight-bit binary clock. That’s a pretty common project that gets riffed on for things like mains-timed logic-driven clocks. They figured why not make it bigger? But even then you can make some sense out of the display after studying it for just a bit, you won’t be much closer to answering those two questions.

The problem is that this is unreadable in a couple of different ways. First off, how long did it take you to figure out in your head the decimal equivalent of the binary number displayed above? We gave up. But pounding the number into Google (search for: 0b01010010000010000001001010010011 in decimal) gives us 1376260755. meaningful? Again, not to a human. This is Unix time, which is the number of seconds elapsed since the Epoch: 8/11/13-22:39:15.

Check out the video below that shows how to set the clock, which uses a menu system for human-friendly input. But since it’s Arduino compatible you can also connect an FTDI cable and program it from a computer. Oh, and since this is Open Source Hardware (note the icon in the lower right) you can get all the info to build (or breadboard) your own from their Github repo.

Here’s another complicated clock that uses Nixie tubes to display time and date info which is actually of use.

1. a says:

“since the Epoch: 8/22/13-22:39:15”

Unix time, or POSIX time, is a system for describing instants in time, defined as the number of seconds that have elapsed since 00:00:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), Thursday, 1 January 1970, not counting leap seconds.

1. This should be in a “useless machine” category.

2. Ran_D says:

It looks like 5:20 on August 12, 2013

8-bit chunks is groups of 4.
0101 0010 0000 1000 0001 0010 1001 0011
5 2 0 8 1 2 1 3

That’s without Googling it. I might be wrong, but if it’s a clock and calendar, that’s what I get out of it.

1. Ran_D says:

Well, I just watched YouTube video and found I’m wrong. haha

2. I like your take on how you thought it was read. I like the idea, would make it *slightly* more readable by taking out the number of seconds since 1/1/1970 thing :) Might have to add that in a future firmware revision.

1. Jon says:

Except how would you take into account months consisting of 2 digits (Oct, Nov, Dec)?

1. Jon says:

Actually I’m retarded. You can take into account numbers up to 15 with a nibble. But what I just noticed is that Ran_D’s comment thinks the second-to-last nibble is 1 when it should be 9.

3. I get “Sun, 11 Aug 2013 22:39:15 GMT” not “8/22/13-22:39:15”

How the heck did you get the year 13 instead of 2013 anyway!?

1. You would be correct :) Sounds about right for the time I took that picture. I had JUST set it during the video that they linked to above.

2. You’re right. I must have used the hours as the day when I was typing it in. Fixed.

4. RandyKC says:

Ok, I’ll be the ass.
Straight from wiki guys: Unix time, or POSIX time, is a system for describing instants in time, defined as the number of seconds that have elapsed since 00:00:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), Thursday, 1 January 1970, not counting leap seconds.
Not 8/22/2013.

1. Whatnot says:

Would have to be in negative too since date is in the future O_o

5. vonskippy says:

Sooooooooo very stupid. A clock by it’s very nature is to TELL THE TIME. If you can’t figure out what time the clock is displaying (and do so in a very short period – before the time has changed), then the clock has FAILED.

1. might want to read the definition again. it fits

2. Can you read the mayan calendar stone without a reference? Probably not – but it was useful to them. This is a geek’s geekiest clock for geeky geeks. Just because it isn’t cheerfully singing the date and time in a familiar dialect at a comfortable volume doesn’t make it a failure. Not indicating if it’s big-endian or little-endian does though. ;-)

1. MSB is the one on the left (it’s unsigned in this case) and if you use the silkscreen as the “memory address” the left LED is D32 therefore highest address and most significant, so it’s little-endian. In general though it was just built to show the value as we would write a binary value, that being MSB on left and LSB on right.

1. Whatnot says:

Now I’m confused, you say the MSB is on the left then say it was designed to have the MSB on the right..

2. That’s what I assumed as well as it’s pretty much the dominant standard unless you’re writing for old Macintosh OS’s (and maybe some others?). Personally I think this has the same cool potential as a bit of sci-fi set / cock-pit blinking light niceness. Two flipped end to end would make an interesting display.

3. HomelyPoet says:

Time, though, is relative.

4. And cue vonskippy with his useless trashing comments. Now waiting on fartface to chime in….

1. Vonskippy says:

And cue the whiny bitch society to chime in and lecture how everyone should join their circle jerk crowd and “ooh and ah” at how wonderful every little freaking thing posted on HAD is.

Try having an original thought – don’t be scared – you might find you’re not as stupid as you sound.

1. Greenaum says:

No, they don’t make positive comments. They just bitch about negative ones. The irony! [faints]

5. dave says:

I agree. What it should be measuring is the total time wasted by himself creating it, hackaday for the write-up, the thousands of visitors all having to look at it.. and us in the comments. That might be a reasonable amount of time, a success? lol.

6. Blue Footed Booby says:

The say the *hack* is stupid, yet here you are claiming nothing that isn’t useful is worth making.

6. Brian says:

This must be art. Nobody really understands it or understands why it was made and it’s pretty useless.
I don’t like art.

7. Gdogg says:

You spelled Epoch wrong in the link in the body.

1. Ren says:

Oh, I thought Mike was just trying to write “epic”. B^)

8. Ren says:

And the title is brought to you by the “Department of Redundancy Department”

9. Hirudinea says:

Ok so it’s a kit for a useless clock that tells time in an arcane (to the average person) system and displays it in binary in such a way that by the time you figure out what the time actually is it won’t be that time any more? I have just one question, can the kit be converted into a watch?

1. More accurately it’s a simple binary counter at 1sec intervals. It just happens to have been pre-started to epoch.

10. Evocube says:

Taco time?

11. John Doe says:

The time now is @312.beats

12. Ian says:

Now we need a binary clock that counts in Planck time starting at the beginning of the universe.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.