A Word Clock, The Hard Way

We’ve all seen word clocks, and they’re great, but there are only so many ways to show the time in words. This word clock with 114 servos is the hard way to do it.

We’re not sure what [Moritz v. Sivers] was aiming for with this projection clock, but he certainly got it right. The basic idea is to project the characters needed to compose the time messages onto a translucent PVC screen, which could certainly have been accomplished with just a simple character mask and some LEDs. But for extra effect, [Moritz] mounted each character to a letterbox mounted over a Neopixel. The letterboxes are attached to a rack and pinion driven by a micro servo. The closer they get to the screen, the sharper the focus and the smaller the size of the character. Add in a little color changing and the time appears to float out from a jumbled, unfocused background. It’s quite eye-catching, and worth the 200+ hours of printing time it took to make all the parts. Complete build instructions are available, and a demo video is after the break.

We like pretty much any word clock – big, small, or even widescreen. This one really pushes all our buttons, though.

19 thoughts on “A Word Clock, The Hard Way

  1. That’s breathtaking!

    I kept expecting Nate Shapiro to tell me “Remember the clue…. it has to be a match that fits this clue” before the words started appearing.

  2. Wow. This is a fun approach for making a word clock. The effect is very nice to look at. I wonder if the sound of the servo’s enhance this effect as the video did not combine those two. So I guess that that isn’t a problem. Cool project!

    1. This should be the video linked in the article. The presentation one is nice, but could be mistaken for an art presentation. Which is a compliment to both the builder and videographer, but could easily be dismissed by an average greybeard simply because it looks slightly artsy-fartsy.

  3. I love how such a simple idea as a word clock can be made so much more interesting with a complex mechanical twist! Great job sticking through what must have been a very tedious project to arrive at a stunning end result.

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