The Noisiest Seven-Segment Display Ever

Few mechanical clocks are silent, and many find the sounds they make pleasant. But the stately ticking of an old grandfather clock or the soothing sound of a wind-up alarm clock on the nightstand are nothing compared to the clattering cacophony that awaits [ProtoG] when he finishes the clock that this electromechanical decimal to binary to hex converter and display will be part of.

Undertaken as proof of concept before committing to a full six digit clock build, we’d say [ProtoG] is hitting the mark. Yes, it’s loud, but the sound is glorious. The video below shows the display being put through its paces, and when the clock rate ramps up, the rhythmic pulsations of the relays driving the seven-segment flip displays is hypnotizing. The relays, one per segment of the Alfa Zeta flip displays, have DPDT contacts wired to flip a segment by reversing polarity. As a work in progress, [ProtoG] hasn’t shared many more details yet, but he promises to keep us up to date on the converter aspect of the circuit. Right now it just seems like a simple but noisy driver. We’ll be following this one with interest.

If you prefer your clocks quieter but still like funky displays, check out this mixed media circus-themed clock.

30 thoughts on “The Noisiest Seven-Segment Display Ever

  1. Regarding the sound/noise of a clock: I can not have any mechanical clock on my bedside table. The ticking noise hinders e from falling asleep. Probably because I used nearly exclusively digital clocks during my life. When I have been at my grandma’s place as a child, I used to put. her mechanical alarm clock out of the room.
    From the standpoint of reading the time, I see a digital watch much more convenient and faster. “Time is a number, not an angle.” :-)

    1. Not really. Time is analogue even if you measure it with the oscillation of a caesium atom this only represents a digital snapshot of analogue time. Put that way time is closer to an angle than to a number.

      1. If you deconstruct it that way, there’s nothing digital in the world. Everything’s just a snapshot of an analogue system, using arbitrary bounds to separate it into digital date.

    2. As a younger child (single digit years) I had a wind up alarm clock by my bed, designed for kids with a picture and some ‘animated feature’ instead of a second hand. So I guess it’s by the same reasoning that I find the ticking of a clock really quite soothing, comforting, especially when falling sleep (although admittedly I’ve never found that hard anyway). While I’d love a clock with the display featured here, it’d probably be a tick too far for even my bedside, but would look awesome in my office!

      1. Hmm, wonder if there’s an anti-alarm clock that ticks imperceptibly slower and slower to help you sleep. Not quite sure how it gets to catch up – maybe in the morning a ramp-up of the ticking speed will subconsciously prepare you to awake…

  2. @ProtoG42 That’s pretty great. It reminds me of the time I spent in a nuclear power plant control room. . . where one could hear a faint clattering of relays. I asked our guide about it and he replied “Oh, that’s from the relay banks.” Of course, I was like “Relay banks!?!” and demanded to see them. Upon opening the door, we stepped into a sweet cacophony of 10’s of thousands relays clattering away.

    It was music to my ears.

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