Large Seven-Segment Clock Build Takes Time To Perfect

[Kevin Rye] built a discrete TTL based seven-segment clock, and he wasn’t too happy with the ugly insides compared to the nice enclosure he built for it. He embarked on creating another large seven-segment clock to put inside that enclosure.

Clocks, and specifically seven-segment based ones, aren’t anything new to write about. This particular project, which is still work in progress, is interesting. [Kevin] is an experienced hacker, but the problems he encountered and resolved along the way could prove useful to a fellow hacker someday.

To start with, he tried rectifying his old build. But in his own words “You can polish a turd, but it’s still a turd.” Five years later, he’d had enough. He’s built a lot of other clocks, but rather than repurposing them, he decided to start from scratch. He quickly breadboarded an Arduino, some displays and drove them using the Multiplex7seg library. That library supports only four characters, so he was back to the drawing board. With a fresh start, his design is now moving along nicely. For now, he’s designed three boards for the display, two boards for the colons between digits, the main Arduino-clone controller board and a 3D printed front frame to hold the displays. It will be nice to finally see that enclosure receive some fitting occupants and bring this build to closure.

24 thoughts on “Large Seven-Segment Clock Build Takes Time To Perfect

  1. People still use these things? And hackaday still writes articles on them?

    Just go to the store and buy a big clock. Problem solved. Stop ripping hair out over something someone else has done all the work on.

    1. If I was being executed by firing squad, I hope it’s you holding the rifle. You couldn’t have missed the point any more if you tried.

      I can’t see anything wrong with wanting to design a quality 7-Segment clock, after all 99.999% of the off-the-shelf clocks are all just lumps of cheap junk. Just because you can buy it off the shelf doesn’t mean it’s not a project worth doing and even building something as simple as a clock is a great accomplishment, especially when it’s designed to both be functional and look good.

      1. While I do in fact get the point of the site, it seems a bit harsh to make an analogy about a firing squad. I didn’t say anything atrocious about this project other than the fact people are still building 7 seg clocks. The fact hackaday wrote an article on it. And that there are good clocks sitting on a shelf at a store that could save you some time. No pun intended.

        There’s your rebuttal bullet.

        1. I am really getting fed up with the way people come around here and just bash on other peoples work. If it was constructive criticism on how something could have been improved or done more efficiently, etc then that’s great! But just bashing some one’s project because YOU think it’s crap or a waste of time or done a million times before is just plain rude. There is a lot to be learned by building things like clocks, or you may come up with a novel way of doing something and want to try it out. Where would the world be if people didn’t replicate things, improve them, do them differently. Where would we be if William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain were told to forget working on that “Transistor” thing, we got perfectly good valves that work just fine!

          1. [RobHeffo] Kevin does really exceptional work. In fact showcasing his work and talents is more worthy then this clock.

            The issue [mcncugget] might have is driving it with a ATMEGA328 / Arduino and using the mutiplex7seg library.

            http://kevinrye.net/files/finishing_the_word_clock_display.php

            His wordclock is masterful.

            NOW, IF he used a ATtiny85/Digispark to drive the posted project THAT would be SUPER worthy of posting.

            OR if his clock could get the time via VHF with http://www.csgnetwork.com/marinefreqtable.html and http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/synoptic/time.htm THAT would be amazing.

      2. Remember that scene in Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader admires Luke’s light saber build? “I see you have constructed a new lightsaber. Your skills are complete.” The dark lord of the Sith thinks it’s cool, that tells you everything you need to know about how badass it is to build it yourself.

  2. FYI, the DP dots on the 7segs are designed to be able to be part of the colon separating HH:MM:ss Rotate one 7seg 180 degrees and jam it up against the one next to it. Boom, colon.

      1. It works well because it has the same slant angle as the 7segs themselves so you have everything at an equal angle versus straight up and down colon and angled digits.

      1. *shrug* Depends on the 7seg, the ones in the rendering above has the DPs above the top of the top seg so it would be a really wide colon. But I’ve done it many times in the past and it looked exactly as intended.

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