Robot Arms Nudge the Hands of Time in the Strangest Clock

We see a lot of clocks here at Hackaday. Digital clocks, retro clocks, lots of Nixie clocks, binary clocks, and clocks that appear to be designed specifically to be unreadable. But this dual-servo kinematic clock is something we haven’t seen yet, and it’s certainly worth a mention.

[mircemk]’s idea is simple and hearkens back to grammar school days when [Teacher] put a large cardboard clock dial on the blackboard and went through the “big hand, little hand” drill. In this case, the static cardboard clock has been replaced by a 3D-printed dial and hands, while a pair of servos linked together by two arms takes the place of the teacher. The video below shows it in action; the joint in the linkage between the two servos has a screw sticking out that can be maneuvered across the clock face to reposition the hands. It’s a little jittery, though; [mircemk] might want to tune the servo loops up a bit or tighten the linkage joints to make things a little smoother.

Even with the shakes, we find it wonderfully weird and hard to stop watching. It reminds us a bit of this luminous plotting clock from a while back – same linkage, different display.

8 thoughts on “Robot Arms Nudge the Hands of Time in the Strangest Clock

  1. The “stuttering” movement makes it look EXACTLY like stop-motion animation. Just as stop-motion doesn’t look real, this video at first glance doesn’t look like live video–but it really is!

  2. It’s slightly useful, so it doesn’t count as a useless machine.
    It’s not complicated enough to count as a Rube Goldberg machine.
    It feels related to those though, possessing a similarly beautiful absurdity.

  3. I love it!
    I would not be surprized if a small cartoonish finger/hand instead of screw touching the “big and little hand” was to be added in the future. The jerky motion actually adds to the appeal. Though from a technical point of view I can understand why the maker want to “fix” that, but it really looks cool the way it is now.

  4. That routine with pushing both hands at once and then correcting the outer hand is clever. It’s the solution to a problem that I wouldn’t think of until actually trying to implement this thing.

    And it makes me think that you could do all sorts of cool arm-juggling tricks for extra razzle-dazzle.

  5. Cool!

    Future mod: the mechanism strikes a bell, gong, chime to sound the hour. Mechanical cuckoos clocks are also incredibly neat, so maybe it could manipulate small doors, a bird and a bellows to make it squak.

    My favorite is the clock where the guy was trapped inside for an entire day, and once each minute he would wipe away the clock hands and redraw them at the new position. It was a “human clockwork”. I want to build one but could never figure out how to properly motivate the person locked in the clock.

    I also love the clocks where a mechanism draws the clock hands.

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