Color Changing Clock Uses PCB Digits

There’s an old saying, that you should do everything at least twice. Once to learn how to do it, and then a second time to do it right. Perhaps [Zweben] would agree, since he wasn’t satisfied with his first Neopixel clock and proceeded to build another one. One lesson learned: soldering 180 tiny solder joints isn’t much fun. This time, [Zweben] set out to make a printed circuit board and redesign the clock to make it easier to assemble.

The clock uses multiple copies of a single circuit board. The board holds Neopixel strips in a 7-segment arrangement. Each board can also hold all of the electronics needed to drive the clock. Only the first board gets the microcontroller and other circuits.

This allowed [Zweben] to design a single PCB which he did with EasyEDA. The hardware itself was similar enough to his original clock, that the software didn’t require changes.

Speaking of hardware, the clock is a pretty standard mashup of an Arduino Pro Mini clone and a DS3231 I2C clock. The Neopixel strips are 60-per-meter WS2812B LEDs with two LEDs per digit segment. That’s a total of 14 on each digit and 58 individually-addressable lights on the entire clock.

This reminded us of a similar clock from [decino] where he also got tired of soldering connections. We also liked the clock that used Neopixel rings instead of strips.

6 thoughts on “Color Changing Clock Uses PCB Digits

  1. It’s interesting that clocks seem to be a common project and with lots of variety in their design.

    It’s an area I can relate to. I’ve wanted a bedside clock for some time and have made do with a cheap nasty digital clock radio while I try and work out what would make an ideal bedside timepiece to suit my tastes. I haven’t come up with anything yet.

  2. Why do all the clock kit suppliers on Ebay and Banggood use ST microcontrollers and DS1231’s when an ESP8266/ESP32 could be used? You would never have to set the clock again once the timezone and DST info is entered. I’m surprised there are no clock kits available using these parts. I’m pretty sure that they would be popular. I’d do the schematic and PCB, but I suck at making nice enclosures.

    My theories: I think most of the suppliers may avoid the Wifi solution as it is difficult for a user to set up, and they want to have control of the firmware to prevent copying.

    1. This wasn’t a kit, it was a custom job, but personally I used the Arduino over a ESP32 because more libraries support it. An auto-setting ESP-based clock with a decent interface sounds like a fun project, though, maybe I’ll do one of those eventually.

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