Huge RGB Ring Light Clock

After several months of work, [Greg] has completed one of the most polished LED clocks we’ve ever seen. It’s based on the WS2812 RGB LEDs, with an interesting PCB that allowed [Greg] to make a huge board without spending a lot of money.

The board is made of five interlocking segments, held together with the connections for power and data. Four of these boards contain only LEDs, but the fifth controller board is loaded up with an MSP430 microcontroller, a few capsense pads for a 1-D touch controller, and programming headers.

Finishing up the soldering, [Greg] had a beautiful LED ring light capable of being programmed as a clock, but no enclosure. A normal plastic case simply wouldn’t do, so [Greg] decided to try something he’d never done before: casting the PCB inside a block of resin.

A circular mold was made out of a piece of MDF and a router, and after some problems with clear resin that just wouldn’t cure, his ring light was embedded in a hard, transparent enclosure.  Conveniently stuck in the mold, of course. The MDF had absorbed a little bit of the resin, forcing [Greg] to mill the resin ring free from the wood, with a lot of finish sanding to make the clock pretty.

It’s a clock that demonstrates [Greg]’s copious manufacturing skills, and also his ability to troubleshoot the problems that arose. While he probably won’t be casting things inside an MDF mold anymore, with the right tools [Greg] could easily scale this up for some small-scale manufacturing.


16 thoughts on “Huge RGB Ring Light Clock

  1. I have been watching this project for a while with a plan of making my own. Until now I have not realized that the LEDs are meant to stay towards the wall, not the viewer. With that in mind, what is the purpose of the two LED circles? One would be sufficient to create the same effect.

    1. I mention this in the write up. But somehow the resin damaged one if the internal ring LEDs, possibly the leg of the LED wasn’t soldered, and the resin got between it and the PCB.
      This is why it now faces towards a wall and why I only use the outer ring.

    2. To create different markers that lie on the same (not sure of the term here) radii. For example, on can conceivably have a clock on the outer ring and a calendar on the inner ring. Or two clocks for different time zones.

  2. Nicely done, even with the setbacks. But that’s how you (and we) learn. Thanks! I wanna make one now!

    I’d have to play with the resin a bit before committing to casting my PCB in it. But that suggests a related method. 3D LED cubes suspend LEDs in space on wires. Consider building a ring clock with LEDs cast in resin connected by wire – no PCB! Needs a jig to position the LEDs as they are being cast.

    Save RAM: Rather than save RGB values (3 bytes) for every pixel, save a color index (4 bits). The index looks into a table that contains the RGB values. Very easy to implement BLACK + 15 colors, only requires 4 bits/pixel plus 48 bytes for the table.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

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