Celebrate Display Diversity For A Circuit Circus Clock

There’s a lot to be said for nice, tidy projects where everything lines up and looks pretty. Seeing straight lines and pleasing proportions speaks to our obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and tends to soothe the mind and calm the spirit. But disorder is not without its charm, and mixing it up a little from time to time, such as with this mixed-media digital clock, can be a good idea.

Now, we know what you’re thinking — yet another Nixie clock. True, but that’s only half the story — or more accurately, one-sixth. There’s but a single Nixie in [Fuselage]’s circus-punk themed clock, used for the least significant digit in the hours part of the display. The other digits are displayed with four seven-segment devices — a Numitron, a vacuum fluorescent display, and an LED dot display — plus a real oddball, an old electromechanical display with individual slides for each character and a rear-screen projector. The RTC part of the project is standard Arduino fare, but as you can imagine the power supply needed for such a diversity of displays is pretty complex and has to provide everything from +5 to -270 volts. Each display needs its own driver, too, making this more of a zoo than a circus. The mixed up look just works with the circus theme, too. We’d really like more information on the projector display, though.

Looking for a real statement for your next clock build? Check out the rare as hens’ teeth NIMO tube.

12 thoughts on “Celebrate Display Diversity For A Circuit Circus Clock

  1. Has anyone tried making one of these with a chip’s onboard RTC and external 32.768KHz crystal? Do you get good enough accuracy for a clock, if you don’t account for temperature variations and stuff like that?

    Those DS3231 chips are nice but expensive, like $4 even at kilounit quantity.

    1. I made one a long time ago like that. Horrific accuracy. I didn’t have a ground plane under the crystal like you’re supposed to so that likely contributed to it. Maybe not the best crystal either.

      With the cost of a single project an 8$ chip isn’t that much of the total cost if your already paying for a custom PCB. I’ll happily pay 8$ so that accuracy is never a concern.

    2. “account for temperature variations and stuff like that?”
      I’m sure there is some circuit in there, that gives off sufficient heat to stabilize the crystal. They just need to be thermally connected.

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