HDD-Driven Chime Clock Is Quite Striking

It seems that the more hectic life gets, the harder it is to consciously slow down and enjoy the experience. There’s always another bill to worry about, and a new deadline around the corner. The last thing we need are ultra-precise digital clocks everywhere we look. When it’s time to relax, there’s more than enough room for a passive type of clock that gives the time on time’s terms.

[Scoops]’ beautiful chime-only clock seems perfect for its location — an intimate event space inside an old house in Taiwan. Having only a vague sense of passing time helps us relax responsibly at social events. There’s no need to pull out your phone or glance at your watch when notifications about the passage of time softly permeate the air.

Here’s how it works: a NodeMCU controls four hard drive actuators through a ULN2003. The actuators each have a small extension and a clapper fitted on the end, which strikes the aluminium tubes that make up the chimes. There’s a web interface where [Scoops] can set the chimes to sound as frequently or infrequently as desired, or schedule a quiet period during the overnight hours. In emergencies, the clock can also be muted directly with the push of a button.

Take a little time to check out the short videos after the break, because this thing does a mean Westminster Chimes. But don’t stay too long, because time is running out! You have until Friday, January 24th to enter our Tell Time Contest over on IO.

Time can be relaxing or suffocating, depending on the way you look at it. If it’s visual relaxation you need, watch this bubble clock and float away from reality for a while.


20 thoughts on “HDD-Driven Chime Clock Is Quite Striking

  1. Not getting the usual deja vu from this, like HaD posted it last week/month/year but recalling someone did this with MFM drive mechanicals in the 99-01 timeframe, well by “this” I mean the actuators to hammer the chimes part, forgot entirely what his control system was. Given the era might have been PIC or BasicStamp, or maybe ran off a PC parallel port.

  2. Just a bit of a music critique, isn’t Westminster Chimes a bit over done on clocks? How about Oranges and Lemons or something by Gwar? (On second thought just Oranges and Lemons).

    1. A funny thing is here in Taiwan they use Westminster chimes in some schools to indicate the end of class. But they almost never ring on the hour; they ring at 10 after or whenever :(

      1. When I was in Japan I noticed that many offices use them at the end of the day, as well as most schools. Also, many towns have an emergency broadcast system alarm that is tested daily—the goji no chaimu (five o’clock bell). Most of the towns I visited used the Westminster chimes for this test.

    2. https://www.free-scores.com/download-sheet-music.php?pdf=16178#

      If you live near a church with a bell tower another hit is Lourdes Ave Maria. I’ve seen a control system made in the ’80 that used some elecromechanical parts and a TTL board for control. the tuse were programmed putting brass pins in a disc that rotated when the music had to play and closed contacts underside. The same was for the different bell patterns for funerals, weddings, sunday mass and so on.
      A master disc was used to program the differen events for the day and week.

  3. I collect old clocks. Decades ago I wrote a little bash shell script to play quarter hour chimes, and chime out on the hour. Many of my friends took copies of it. Stupid simple and functional. A few years ago I got into making chimes and wind chimes. I have 2 full chromatic octaves of chimes hanging off my porch railing in fact. You play them with an old fire iron. One project I have been thinking about for a long time now has been a bigger set of chimes in a clock that is outdoors. The big sticking point has been how to hammer the chimes without the hammer sitting on the chime for any length of time. My current thought is to have a stepper with a cam that sticks out and engages a nub sticking out on the inside of a circle. The circle would have the hammer attached to it, the stepper can bring the hammer up and as soon as the hammer gets past the top of it’s arc it can freewheel down, striking the chime, and perhaps have a magnet to stop it at the bottom of it’s swing to keep it from swinging back and hitting the chime again. The stepper would eventually engage the hammer again and keep it parked someplace near the top of it’s arc, ready to be pushed over the top again. These would be pretty substantial hammers as I want to use large chimes. Ideally the whole thing would be solar powered.

    1. I have been collecting LPG bottles to turn into bells for a similar programmable set of chimes. The concave end of a 9kg bottle was found to have a fundamental around 765Hz, and the remainder of the bottle was in the mid 400s, IIRC. Some systematic cutting and trimming will be necessary for tuning a full scale.

      I was thinking of winding solenoids on soft iron cores with spring returns to actuate the strikers.

      At a minimum, I think a pentatonic scale would be necessary for a decent doorbell.

      Immersion of the empty bottle in water, allowing it it fill up with water, prior to cutting, negates any risk if explosion or ignition from methyl mercaptan or residual gas condensates while cutting with a hacksaw.

      1. Interesting idea on the LPG bottles. I had pondered a doorbell like striker as well, but I want to have big chimes and I want to whap them hard. I also like the idea of the guts of the thing having somewhat of a clockworks in it.

    2. Why not do it the way most doorbells work? Use an elastic spring, so the hammer swings farther than it it’s static and position and hits the chime and swings back. Then you do not need fancy steppers, but just a solenoid.

      1. Or like my current doorbell: The hammer does not sit at the end of a lever but is attached to the plunger type core of the solenoid. In it’s resting position it also does not touch the chime-plate. If the solenoid gets a pulse of power, it throws the hammer at the chime plate, it rebounds immediately and the spring pulls it back to it’s resting position. In my case the length of the pulse depends on the person depressing the bell button. But you can time this electronically.

  4. Lovely idea; the HDD actuators aren’t moving me… i’d rather use those magnets elsewhere. It gets me thinking about how linear actuation might work a bowed string, tho.

    As to chimes: See Knuth. Even moreso than usual, “see Knuth”. I can say no more because my words cannot do his passion and clarity justice.

  5. 2nd tube from right sounds a bit flat.
    A bit tough to tell from camera angle, but it sort of looks like the striker is “hanging” the note and damping the chime.
    I can imagine getting the hammer rods set up with the ideal geometry so as to give the tone you want yet not drag the edge of the tube or cause a flexy lag in the stroke, etc..
    If not that, then perhaps check the mount for the tube?

    1. Right now the tubes are hung with plastic coated wire through holes. One problem is the tubes can swing a bit and if they move, things get wonky. I plan to try putting another pair of holes about a cm away (still at the hanging point) and running 2 wires. I hope that sitting on 2 wires will hold the tube better, but still allow a good sustain.

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