Steampunk Water Thief Clock Steals Attention, Too

The funny thing about clocks is that the more intriguing they are to look at, the more precious time is wasted. This steampunk clepsydra is no exception. A clepsydra, or water thief clock is an ancient design that takes many forms. Any clock that uses the inflow or outflow of water to measure time could be considered a clepsydra, even if it uses electronics like this steampunk version.

[DickB1]’s sticky-fingered timepiece works by siphoning water from the lower chamber into the upper chamber on a one-minute cycle. An MSP430 and a MOSFET control the 12 V diaphragm pump. As the water level rises in the upper chamber, a float in the siphon pushes a lever that moves a ratchet and pawl that’s connected to the minute hand. The hour hand is driven by gears. A hidden magnet and Hall effect sensor help keep the clock clicking at one-minute intervals.

Although [DickB1] doesn’t tell you exactly how to replicate this clock, he offers enough information to get started in designing your own. Take a second to check it out after the break.

Most of the thieving around here is done for the joules, so here’s a joule thief running a clock.

7 thoughts on “Steampunk Water Thief Clock Steals Attention, Too

  1. Oddly, it may be more consistant over time and temperature than a 555.

    Close. But opposite.
    > works by siphoning water from the lower chamber into the upper chamber on a one-minute cycle.
    vs.
    > A steady stream of water fills a chamber, and a siphon periodically drains it.

    Auto-siphons are rather interesting. The siphon kicks in when the water level is high enough. They’re used some with aquariums, for high-volume low-noise drains, for emergency kick-in drains, or they can be the mechanism that provides surge flow to a tank (you can even use an air-lift water pump to fill the reservoir…). They can even be used for a water-level triggered high-flow overflow for small dams.

    1. Also Soxhlet extractors for liquid separation of a chemical of interest from (usually plant material) solid material, and arguably a toilet bowl is a partial autosiphon that includes a trap function.

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