Tiny PIC Clock Is Not A Tiny Bomb

It’s been a few weeks since the incident where Ahmed Mohamed, a student, had one of his inventions mistaken for a bomb by his school and the police, despite the device clearly being a clock. We asked for submissions of all of your clock builds to show our support for Ahmed, and the latest one is the tiniest yet but still has all of the features of a full-sized clock (none of which is explosions).

[Markus]’s tiny clock uses a PIC24 which is a small yet powerful chip. The timekeeping is done on an RTCC peripheral, and the clock’s seven segment displays are temporarily lit when the user presses a button. Since the LEDs aren’t on all the time, and the PIC only consumes a few microamps on standby, the clock can go for years on a single charge of the small lithium-ion battery in the back. There’s also a phototransistor which dims the display in the dark, and a white LED which could be used as a small flashlight in a pinch. If these features and the build technique look familiar it’s because of [Markus’] tiny MSP430 clock which he was showing around last year.

Both of his tiny clocks are quite impressive for their size, features, and power consumption. Some of the other clocks we’ve featured recently include robot clocks, clocks for social good, and clocks that are not just clocks (but still won’t explode). We’re suckers for a good clock project here, so keep sending them in!

100 thoughts on “Tiny PIC Clock Is Not A Tiny Bomb

        1. If the monkey keeper observes a monkey being anti-social, reprimands the monkey, and the monkey does not change it’s behavior, the monkey might be pulled aside to give it some time to calm down, or to protect the other monkeys’.

      1. If this is REALLY true then the clock would REQUIRE 110v AC power to run. They claim it was in his backpack and the alarm went off during class. How the hell did a 110v AC powered clock sound its alarm without being plugged in? I’m thinking the device in the photos isn’t the actual device. The claim that the alarm went off while it was in his backpack clearly debunks the theory that his clock was an old AC powered alarm clock in a different case.

        Whatever it WAS, it HAD to be battery powered.

        1. “Whatever it WAS, it HAD to be battery powered.”

          The clock was most likely running off the battery – that Radio Shack clock had a battery-backed design that allowed it to keep time AND SOUND THE ALARM during a power outage.

          the clock, if it has a 9v battery attached, keeps time and sounds it’s alarm without wall power. When not on wall power, the time is not displayed.

          So yes, it was battery-powered, and no, Ahmed didn’t ‘invent’ a way to run a table clock off a battery – that feature was part of the design from Radio Shack.

    1. Hackaday wants to keep stoking the infinite clicks that topic can generate from the political/maker group intersection.

      When was the last time one of their stories collected nearly 500 comments?

      1. ” We asked for submissions of all of your clock builds to show our support for Ahmed, and the latest one is the tiniest yet but still has all of the features of a full-sized clock (none of which is explosions).:

        This is part of the original hype.

      1. One clock story, two clock stories, three … OK, i’ve understood the message of “poor Mohamed whose clock is not a bomb but a real clock”, thank you. I’m only reading technical sites like this one to avoid the brainwashing we have anywhere else.

    1. Specifically, hide it inside the case so it’s perfectly useless as a clock, it and make it beep during english class.

      Reminder:

      1) The school/teachers didn’t believe it was a bomb for a moment. Otherwise they would have called the bomb squad. They were concerned that Ahmed would be trying to pull off a -bomb hoax- with the device, similiar to what his older sister had done two years prior by calling a bomb threat on the school. Bomb hoaxes are a criminal offense under Texas law so the teachers -had- to detain him.

      It had absolutely nothing to do with omg-islamophobia-brown-people-are-scary or the idea that our teachers are too dumb to understand technology. The teachers actually had reasonable cause for concern and a duty to act by law because:

      2) A stripped down alarm clock with a battery backup is effectively a functional detonation timer, and it’s just the addition of a bomb away from being an actual bomb, or an incendiary device. The difference in this case between a functioning “movie prop” and a real IED is actually just the inclusion of a blasting cap wired to the alarm buzzer, so it is NOT “obvious” that this wasn’t a bomb, and other parties could and would be fooled.

      3) Any reasonable adult who found a teenager with such a concealed battery powered timer would be wise to send them to the school counselor because finding one is like finding an almost-finished zip gun in a student’s possession. It raises concern about the ultimate purpose of such devices even when the student claims they’re just building one for shits and giggles.

      Ultimately, the circumstances and the conduct of the people involved points strongly towards the whole story being a deliberate media stunt. The teachers did nothing wrong, the school did what was reasonable, and it’s just by deliberately omitting these facts that you can spin it into a tale of bigotry and racism.

      1. Blasting caps in very typical use and that are the most accessible outside of the military today are time fuse type, these need the other end to be triggered by a fuse ignitor that takes significant amperage to heat up the nichrome wire quickly to ignite the fuse. Electrical trigger blasting caps are not common outside of military due to their cost and the loss of safety. Having time fuses in place that makes it a LOT easier to set up one fuse to trigger others in a perfectly timed set of explosions. watch any high speed footage of a detonation and you can watch the burning of the fuse travel.

        Please before you go off on an imaginary tirade, get educated in the subject first.

        1. @timgray1

          What are you talking about? The only mention of blasting caps in any post at this point is yours. Did you mean to post your comment to some other thread? If no then you owe Dax an apology as its already been proven that this kids clock stunt is at best questionable and that’s by a very almost immeasurable slim margin, but more likely a deliberate stunt.

        2. It doesn’t take much amperage to make a thin nichrome wire or thin magnet wire glow and ignite things.

          I have made blasting caps myself, with nichrome wire and copper wire, and they’re both sensitive enough to be set off by the battery in an alarm clock. Tested, confirmed, plausible. If the buzzer circuit doesn’t give enough power, you add a single transistor and wire it to the battery.

          It would be unlikely that a kid would have access to proper industrial blasting caps anyways, but it’s entirely trivial to make your own bomb out of firecrackers, gunpowder, stump remover and diesel, etc. other easily accessible items. After all, it doesn’t really need to be a big explosion to ruin someone’s day or set someone’s house or car on fire.

          1. “It would be unlikely that a kid would have access to proper industrial blasting caps anyways, but it’s entirely trivial to make your own bomb out of firecrackers, gunpowder, stump remover and diesel, etc. other easily accessible items. After all, it doesn’t really need to be a big explosion to ruin someone’s day or set someone’s house or car on fire.”

            I think the easiest ignition source would be a model rocket engine ignitor:

            http://makezine.com/projects/model-rocket-igniters/

            Ken >

          2. Herein lies the problem with all the ‘OMG ban ammonium nitrate, gunpowder, fire, etc. ‘ folks. Anyone with the time and proper knowledge can make explosives out of household chemicals that everyone uses.

      2. >> similiar to what his older sister had done two years prior by calling a bomb threat on the school.

        Woah woah woah there, WTF have I only just heard about this now? Got source for that?

        1. That’s kinda under-reported, isnt it!
          And good that the teacher dealt strictly with it instead of pretending it was childhood fun. Had he done this elsewhere he might have been shot first before asking questions.

        2. I hadn’t heard about it before either. You haven’t heard about it before because it seems to be poorly sourced horse shit rattling around on political blogs.

          If you read the article cited, the sister says that when she was in sixth grade, someone accused her of “saying I wanted to blow up the school, something I had nothing to do with.”

          If someone has an article that has any credible information or more details about the alleged phone call, I’d love to see it.

      3. I got to “it’s just the addition of a bomb away from being an actual bomb” at which point I burst out laughing. My cup of tea is just the addition of a bomb away from being a bomb. This bunch of flowers is just the addition of a nuclear bomb away from being a weapon of mass destruction. This cheese sandwich cut into the shape of a gun is protected under the second amendment.

        1. “This cheese sandwich cut into the shape of a gun is protected under the second amendment.”

          Maybe, but if it was a pop-tart the student possessing such a dangerous pastry would be suspended from school – just like Ahmed the Clock Maker.

          You know that kid’s mom is STILL fighting to get her son’s suspension for possessing an ‘L-shaped’ pastry in school removed from his record, the school district is still defending that decision.

          1. Both Ahmed and the pop-tart kid were suspended for causing disruptions, not for the weapon-look-alikes they had in school.

            Ahmed set the clock to go off during class after being told not to – the pop-tart kid was running around causing a disturbance after having been warned about similar.

            Clock kid is a hoax. An actual top-down propaganda hoax with only the disruption-in-class part being fact based. The pop-tart kid is just a class clown\disruption.

          2. Agree to a point.

            Pop Tart Kid: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/examiner-recommends-school-board-uphold-pop-tart-suspension/

            His ultimate suspension was for disruption, but I somehow doubt that if he had said “I made a duck” or “I made a car” out of his pop tart and still disrupted the class he would have incurred the same punishment, so I believe the decision to ‘make a gun’ exacerbated the situation.

            Therefore the ‘gun’ shape of the pastry is an aggravating factor in determining his punishment, not a detail to be over-looked.

            >

          1. “Stop pretending to be stupid.”

            You are being too kind, I don’t think he was ‘pretending’ to be stupid… Unless, of course, his cup of tea has a built-in timer mechanism and the ability to ‘trigger’ an explosive charge…

            An alarm clock is 1/3rd of a bomb, the other thirds are the ignition source and the explosive charge.

            Ahmed brought 1/3rd of a bomb to school, a tea cup is 0/3rds of a bomb. One-third of a bomb can cause panic in certain contexts, zero-thirds of a bomb can’t cause a panic anywhere but one place – but don’t try and carry your cup of tea through the TSA checkpoint at the airport!

            >

      4. “The school/teachers didn’t believe it was a bomb for a moment. Otherwise they would have called the bomb squad. They were concerned that Ahmed would be trying to pull off a -bomb hoax- with the device, ”

        Wait a minute. The teachers didn’t want him to pull a bomb hoax, so they treated him like he was carrying a real bomb, in front of everyone? Don’t you see the contradiction?

        Moreover, following your logic, since any kitchen timer is an “almost-finished” bomb, every kitchen should be raided by SWAT squads.

        1. No, they didn’t treat him like he had a real bomb – no evacuation, no bomb squad. The if the teacher thought it was a bomb, why would she walk it down to the office?

          If the principal thought it was a bomb, he would have evacuated the school.

          If the cops thought it was (or even *might* be) a bomb, they would have called in the bomb squad & fire department/EMTs.

          Every action of everyone involved is correct for a potential bomb HOAX.

          It’s only the clock-dissecter’s family that said everyone thought it was a bomb – instead everyone thought Ahmed wanted them to think it was a bomb.

          1. “Every action of everyone involved is correct for a potential bomb HOAX.”

            Not really.You really want to live in a world where you can be arrested because someone else made the assumption that you were going to commit a non-violent crime with nothing other than circumstantial evidence? Honestly, imaging being arrested at the 7/11 because the shop-keep thinks you look like a thief? Or maybe they just arrest you at Best Buy when you buy a DVD burner, since you’re obviously going to use that to copy movies? They had no evidence other than suspicion that it was meant to be a bomb hoax instead of just a dumb kid showing off to his shop teacher. If the teacher thought it was inappropriate to have at school he should have just been sent home with it.The story upsets me because he was arrested. I don’t even care if he was going to try a hoax, it’s down right un-American to arrest someone before they’ve done anything wrong.

          2. There is a rich back-story to this family, and this particular student which the school is bound not to discuss…

            Ahmed fabricated his ‘invention’ process, he (at least early on) claimed he went out and sourced the parts of this clock individually and assembled it ‘in his workshop’… (See his interview with Chris Hayes for his fabricated claim) Why would he lie about what he did, and if he’s willing to lie about WHAT he did, is it really such a stretch to think he might also be lilting about WHY he did it?

            Ahmed was never charged with a crime, he was suspended by the school for attempting to cause a panic in the school with his ‘invention’.

            I’m no fan of zero tolerance rules in schools, administrators need leeway to tailor their response to the particulars of a given situation, but this child actively, repeatedly, undertook actions that disrupted classes and the school grew weary of wagging it’s finger and telling him ‘don’t do it again’.

            One example of his prior ‘inventions’ was to ‘build’ a remote that turned off the projector during class.

            >

          3. -“You really want to live in a world where you can be arrested because someone else made the assumption that you were going to commit a non-violent crime with nothing other than circumstantial evidence? ”

            A bomb hoax is just as serious as shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater. It’s not an innocent prank with no consequences – it’s an actual criminal offense in the state of Texas. Just the attempt is considered criminal under US common law, and therefore you can be arrested if there is reasonable suspicion of ill intent:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attempt

            And yes – I do want to live in a world where people who attempt to terrorise others by fake bombs, and real bombs, get arrested before they can pull off their stunts. Getting arrested by mistake because you’re carrying a suspicious wire tangle “clock” in public is a small inconvenience at worst.

            And the kid was NOT arrested. He was merely detained by the school and questioned because he refused to cooperate and explain the purpose of his “clock” until the media arrived.

        1. And if Ahmed took a cellphone apart, arranged the pieces inside a miniature suitcase with a jumble of colored wires and took it to school to ‘show his teachers his invention’ – a personal communications device, it would be reasonable to question either his intelligence or his motives… He doesn’t seem to have limited intelligence, so we question his motives.

          >

          1. Every one of the 7.2 billion people on the world already had this discussion and shared his or her view several weeks ago.
            And it’s generally one of 4 main options.

            But what proximity sensor doe s a BUK missile actually use to tell it’s near a target? Now there’s the current question.

      5. By your #2 logic (pun not initially intended, but quite appropriate) a battery is a functional detonation timer. The only difference is how far away you are when detonation occurs…

        I see teenagers with cleverly concealed batteries all the time…should we detaining all of them?

      6. I don’t get your point about a lack of discretion on the part of school official and police officers because bomb hoaxes are a “criminal offense.” The Texas statue I’m looking at says that bomb hoaxes are a Class A misdemeanor:

        (a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to:
        (1) make another believe that the hoax bomb is an explosive or incendiary device; or
        (2) cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.
        (b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

        Where’s the evidence of intent? Cuz, that’s like the thing that separates a bomb hoax from a clock.

        1. And now you understand why he wasn’t arrested. Being suspended has a much lower legal threshold to meet than a criminal case.

          Schools call the police over misdemeanors all the time – think drug possession, minor theft, some assaults on other students, etc.

          >

  1. If that kid had made something looking like this, then he would have a bright future ahead. Instead he took someone else’s clock and made it up to look like a countdown timer for a bomb. He did this in a school that, like all schools, is bound by a zero tolerance policy and reacts by the book. Why did this grow into a national issue? Really, why? A kid ate a poptart into the shape of a gun and got suspended for it, and clock boy gets to meet the President? And Hack a Day has to inject politics into every clock build from now on?

    I come here for build ideas and to see what cool stuff other people are making and teardowns of products. I’m here to see how people use slight modifications of existing hardware to make it do things the designers themselves never dreamed possible. I’m here to see the new hotness in hardware, new companies serving the hacker market with new products.

    This is a really good looking clock, nice clean layout, lots of thought into the power usage. The political talking points distract from the build itself. If HaD just becomes yet another politics website, my eyeballs will be elsewhere.

    1. Got you to comment at least. That’s at least two reloads of the page, with ads on it.

      The jeopardy answer is: “What is clickbait?”

      The more they troll, the more people click, the more they get ad revenue.

      1. Not hardly. Since the first adservers were hacked to serve up malware and other ill “presents”, I’ve been blocking ads since the beginning.

        To me, it was another vector in which my computers (and users) could be harmed. Now, I’m OK with a static banner, as those don’t have naughty js attached to them usually.

        1. It doesn’t matter that you use adblock. Many others don’t, and in the end it doesn’t necessarily matter if you see the ads because they more visits per day they get, the more exposure they can claim and the higher the prices for an ad-spot.

          So it’s basically just trolling to get you to reload the page more.

      1. Your imagination is fertile. I was intimating that I’d be on another website that does what HaD used to do before they decided they were really about politics instead of hacking. Heck, if HaD would rather be “social justice” warriors, I’ll set up a competing website myself. But rather than just doing that, I’m giving hackaday a heads-up to knock it off already.

  2. > had one of his inventions

    He invented taking the insides of a working clock out and sticking them in a case to generate all sorts of white guilt and butthurts on the the interwebs?

    1. Everyone agrees he built a lovely moron detector. On one hand the claim is that anyone who sends him free toys is a moron – and yet the other hand claims anyone who thinks his suitcase-bomb looks like a suit-case bomb is a moron.

      The entire discussion is outside of any realistic or logical narrative arc given what his device looks like and his lies about his development process or goals.

      1. “Everyone agrees he built a lovely moron detector. On one hand the claim is that anyone who sends him free toys is a moron – and yet the other hand claims anyone who thinks his suitcase-bomb looks like a suit-case bomb is a moron.”

        You left out the third possibility, the one that played out in the classroom – those who knew it was not a bomb, but instead what a 14 year-old might hope his teacher would think was a bomb.

        No one in the school thought it was a bomb, once you understand that, their actions are exactly correct.

        People don’t pick up suspected bombs and carry them to the office, choose not to evacuate the school OR only roll one police cruiser (no fire trucks, no ambulances/EMTs, and no bomb squad crews)…

        Ahmed wanted the teacher to think it was a bomb, the teacher didn’t.

        Ahmed’s father wanted the world to believe the teacher, principal, and police thought it was a bomb – Ahmed’s father was very successful in this, based on the number of otherwise informed people who, despite all evidence to the contrary, simultaneously believe that everyone involved thought it was a bomb, yet no one involved acted like they thought it was a bomb.

        >

  3. A PIC24 in a clock? You’re crazy! With that much of MIPS you can fly to the moon (or Mun) and back!

    And to those still talking about that clock/bomb: be so kind and go somewhere else. Like, to hell maybe.

    1. I don’t think you’re joking but you can never been sure online… But I agree
      A pic24 is reckless over kill for a project like this.

      Microchips excellent samples program means I have access to chips like this which aren’t good candidates for other projects and they end up being wawted in projects like this.

      1. This chip has 32Mhz internal clock with 4xPLL, 16MIPS, 64k of program space, 8k of RAM, and 16-bit wide parallel port. With that, just add 64k (or more with paging) of external SRAM, glue some logic to control it and with some good programming you will have a 16-bit computer with build-in BASIC interpreter/compiler.

        I have “use smallest sufficient part” approach to programming.

          1. (Meh, I can’t do direct reply)

            You’re crazy! PIC16F628? What an overkill! Years ago I made clock with PIC16F54, And I believe it is still way too powerful chip, some 4-bitter (something like those Toshiba MCUs used in microwave ovens) would do the job too ;-)

            Jokes aside, I’m pretty sure that author of the original clock isn’t really crazy and could do the cost reduction if needed, but sticking to a few known chips is not a bad idea too. For hobby purposes, a lot of people use almighty Atmega328, because it’s good enough for many jobs and always handy. Then, there is no reason to use lower-spec chip, unless you happen to have one in drawer.
            When it comes to mass production – it is completely different story. And even there is not always desirable to use lower spec chip.

          2. I could do it probably with something as small as 10F206 and some shift registers.

            I like playing with new microcontrollers tailored to my needs. It’s quite educational, especially when minimalistic approach explodes in your face. I designed recently a multitouch keyboard with PIC16F1513. I’m still working on program. This caused a problem though: I have 64 4-bit nibbles that hold capacitance configuration for all touch pads after calibration and no internal EEPROM to store them. Problem solved by learning, how to rewrite program flash. It also freed 32 bytes of RAM to play with.

          3. 10F206 would not make it easier, because of shiftregisters. My 16F54 clock was not more complicated that the aforementioned with PIC24. On the other hand, that PIC10F would be perhaps the lower pin-count MCU you can find. That’s another case of minimization.
            Though I love those brain-teaser tasks too, and I like how you are trying to use as much as resources as available, sometimes it is just needed to put the thing together. This is different case of minimization – time/effort minimization.

            By the way, PIC16F1512 has 128 bytes of high-endurance Flash. I’m using it in one of my projects too.

      1. Yes, I know. And did you know, that he was mentioned only for advertising, so some bored losers can comment, how that kid made or didn’t make a clock, a fake bomb or a publicity stunt? Should I expect that every new clock project will have [Ahmed] mentioned just to get more comments from people who don’t know, when topic is dead already and should be buried?
        If so, then here is something for those people, a truly bomb-looking clock everyone can make:
        https://sklep.avt.pl/avt3128.html

          1. Just count, how many posts are about this clock, and how many are about some kid. Forming an opinion and paying attention after a month, while no one gives a flying f**k anymore, is my definition of being a bored loser.

          2. The article IS about the kid.. Pay attention.

            The article openly mocks those who correctly identified this as some sort of media-narrative PR company driven propaganda campaign.

            The story told and the obvious and apparent facts do not match up. Deny reality all you want. I do it to in ‘real life’. Here on the internet we are free to say when we notice clear facts dont line up with a heavily promoted narrative.

            The specific story in question is just one example of the type of narrative steering the media does. If understanding the world around you is not something you care for, then move on. Criticizing people for wanting to understand the media, perceptions, etc (you know, the panopticon. our reality. our political life. etc) is small minded and cowardly.

            Good day.

  4. Oh har-dee-harr-harr HaD.
    “Not a tiny bomb”…
    C’mon… Too soon. smh.. I’m sure the kids that had to suffer while that kid brandished his prop-bomb are still in shock. How about a little empathy for the victims of that dreadful day. They already had to relive it for that one day it was in the news.

    1. At least they can enjoy the pictures of their former classmate’s visit with the President for his ‘accomplishment’ from this past weekend…

      This is an example of President Obama ‘putting science back in it’s rightful place’ I guess…

  5. All the people going on about how “He just took the insides out of an existing clock” need to get down off their fucking high horses.

    When I was a kid, I was constantly liberating electronics from their enclosures – in fact, I still have a toolbox filled with radio and clock innards.

    Anyone who DIDN’T take the insides out of clocks when they were kids are not real hackers, and should just fuck off.

    1. You are right that we all took the components out of their cases — that why we know that ISN’T “inventing”.

      At best, he had an art project. The question is, what was his art supposed to be?

    2. Your right we all did that, however we didn’t all put them in a small metal case to make it look like a cartoon bomb. We didn’t plug it in in English too make the alarm go off and our sister’s were not suspended just a year or two before for bomb hoaxing. He made something that he thought his teacher would think looked like a bomb.

    3. “When I was a kid, I was constantly liberating electronics from their enclosures – in fact, I still have a toolbox filled with radio and clock innards.”

      Yes, but did you take them to school? Did you have a documented history of disrupting class with your ‘liberated’ electronics? Did you claim your teacher was racist and an islamophobe for punishing you when your projects interrupted class? Did you claim to have ‘invented’ the clock whose electronics you ‘liberated’?

      I suspect not.

      >

  6. FFS! Even Hackaday is riding the coat tails of sensationalism now! Doesn’t anyone realize that as long as stupid people doing stupid things are elevated to stardom for their shenanigans that it’s only going to inspire other morons to do even more moronic things to get their 5 minutes of fame?!?!?!? Give it a rest already. That garbage pollutes every other form of media imaginable. Keep it off my beloved HaD! This is my refuge from the circus of idiotic talking heads and it’s ever-more-frequently publishing crap that smells more and more like political garbage.

  7. @Bryan Cockfield & Hack-A-Day

    At this point its clear that this was a stunt. There’s no need to feel ashamed about having bought into this con because most of the media did as did most of us. That said, if you don’t want to admit you were wrong about this that’s fine even if it is somewhat unprofessional but stop trying to perpetuate this myth, it just makes HAD look like as if its a tool for something/someone else.

        1. It’s quite simple really, He knew in advance his genius if believed by everyone would stop production of all new products I mean why would people buy your product anymore? They would all just wait till Ahmed released his version.

          I heard he is going to be an honorary head of the Open Source Alliance, Since the clock he built was closed hardware and by him taking it out the plastic case and putting it in a case has voided all warranties & more importantly all patents, Thus forcing the product into open source.

          Also Open Source will be changing it’s name to Open Case.

    1. I wouldn’t say “He has more talent then most people on here”
      but I might say “He has more talent then some people on here”

      It seems like some people aren’t very skilled at reading subtext? A smug smile tends to betray subtext ;-)

  8. Personally, I scale my expectations when it comes to “innovation” and “invention” based on the age and experience of the individual. If an adult came to me and did what Ahmed did, the words “innovative” or “inventive” probably wouldn’t be the first things out of my mouth. But if a kid did it, maybe. I’d ask the kid, “what were you trying to accomplish?” Maybe the kid is just a budding packaging designer and has some cool ideas. Or maybe it’s more mundane– but to a 14 year-old kid’s imagination, it’s something great. That’s fine too– when I was 14 years old, the reality of my silly electronic hacks (often just weird repackaging of circuits gleaned from Forrest Mimms’s books at Radio Shack) didn’t quite meet the amazing capabilities that I imagined they had. But in my case, I had teachers and adults who saw what I was trying to do and guided me into more structured learning.

    Oh, and regarding Ahmed’s claim to have built a CPU with a soldering iron: When I was 14, I did the same thing… and you can too. Look online and you’ll find a variety of single-bit adder circuits with a carry output implemented in transistors. I remember reading an article in Popular Electronics about such a circuit (around 12 transistors and a few resistors, IIRC) and excitedly jumped on my bicycle to Radio Shack for the parts. When it finally put it together, I had two switches, two LEDs, and it correctly added them. To me as a 14 year-old kid, this was a CPU. At that age, it was just a matter of scale and determination and I would soon have “Colossus: The Forbin Project” in my bedroom. I remember bringing my CPU to school and showing it to a teacher. He could have shot it down by pointing out a real CPU does a bit more than add two bits together, but he didn’t. He said it was cool and suggested next time I use perf board instead of cardboard. He pointed me into a local Explorers group where I eventually found I was more interested in software than hardware.

    All I’m saying is that before you shoot down Ahmed, taking everything he says as a kid and judging it as an adult, remember where you were when you were a kid. Maybe you were ahead of Ahmed or maybe you were behind, but at some point you were at his level and you also probably exaggerated your “inventions”. The reality of what you came up with didn’t match your dreams, but if you’re reading this, those dreams are what led you to where you are today.

    1. “All I’m saying is that before you shoot down Ahmed, taking everything he says as a kid and judging it as an adult, remember where you were when you were a kid.”

      He’s a 14 year-old boy, yet you talk about him like he is a 8/9 year-old. Fourteen year-olds are quite sophisticated – he’s almost old enough to drive with a learner’s permit.

      He himself referred to this as an ‘invention’, he claimed (falsely) to have collected the parts to assemble it from various sources, and held off describing his intentions until the press arrived.

      Everything this ‘child’ did was done to maximize publicity for his contrived plight as a victim of islamophobic/racist school officials.

      Trust me, the negative grief this ‘child’ is suffering is more than out-weighed by the stoopid laurels being laid at his feet. The real victims in this case are the school administrators who are getting death threats for doing nothing more than disciplining a disruptive student.

      Sent from my iPad

      >

  9. Wow Hackaday, you guys are really living up to your rep as hacks. Promoting a prankster who took apart a mass produced clock as some sort of misunderstood genius on par with Bob Noyce or Ray Noorda.

    There are plenty of other legit hackers who deserve a bit of publicity but not Ahmed. Really why don’t talk about all the doors that have been opened for him that aren’t opened for the rest of us.

    He gets to visit the president – that is after traveling through the Middle-East on a all expenses paid vacation. A paid internship with Twitter, a visit with the brains at Google. A massive load of free goods from Microsoft. Praise from MIT and probably a scholarship in the not to distant future.

    Why don’t you talk about the principal at his school who has been getting death threats.

  10. I get the feeling it would have been wise not to mention the kid and the bomb in the article, it isn’t needed. I also get the feeling it was done on purpose, to draw hits and searches to what’s otherwise a fairly ordinary clock.

    Really this click-baiting doesn’t become HAD. And since the article’s not even about Ahmed, anyone searching is going to be pissed off for a couple of seconds before going back to Google.

    Next week: “These s3xy co-eds have miracle diet pills you won’t believe, and know a secret tip to seduce all women. But meanwhile on HAD we’ve got a new kind of capacitor”

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