3D Printed Berlin Uhr Is An Attractive Germanic Clock

As much as Big Ben steals the spotlight when it comes to big public clocks, the Berlin Uhr is a much beloved digital communal timepiece. [RuudK5] developed their own 3D printed replica of this 1980s German icon.

The revision we see today is the [RuddK5]’s third attempt at replicating the Berlin Uhr. The clock features a design with four linear elements with a round light on top. The top light is responsible for blinking the seconds. The lowest line has four lights, each indicating one minute, while the next line has eleven lights, marking out five-minute intervals. Above that, the top two lines represent one hour and five hour blocks respectively. It’s a display unlike most other clocks out there, but when you learn it, it’s easy enough to use.

[RuddK5]’s replica relies on addressable LED strips to serve as the individual lighting elements. The strips are placed inside a 3D printed housing that is a scale replica of the real thing. Running the show is an ESP32 microcontroller, which is charged with getting accurate time updates from an NTP server.

Great design really does shine through, and this clock looks just as appealing at the small scale as it does lofted on a pole over the city of Berlin. If you prefer to read out the time in a simpler fashion though, we’ve featured plenty of clocks like that, as well!

23 thoughts on “3D Printed Berlin Uhr Is An Attractive Germanic Clock

  1. It’s kinda like the DMY/MDY problem. When you read that clock, you have to decipher it linearly and then re-order the numbers to make sense. Ten, four, 35, 1. That’s thirty six past two PM. Or is it 22:36? I can’t quite make out from the description because it’s ambiguous on the exact order of the lights.

    Maybe it works better in German.

    1. Funny enough, the alternative name for the device is the “Set Theory Clock” (Mengenlehreuhr) – set theory being the stuff they started teaching in the 60’s as “New Math”, which instead of teaching kids basic arithmetic went straight to the deep abstract end. I guess the clock makes sense in that context.

      1. Naaaa, not so much Set Theorie. It is just a display based on 5.

        let Hours = 1.row * 5 + 2.row;
        let Minutes = 3.row * 5 + 4.row;

        Mengenlehreuhr is/was a good marketing idea, because everyone and his mother went ballistic when hearing that word. It was a big fail when introduced in Germany’s primary school around 1972. Because, parents were all “woot is that? we have never done it that way. How to buy a pound[1] of Gehacktes with that?” and didn’t understand the concept.

        zu 1: Yes, pound. Half a kilo. An out-of-date mass measuring unit that is still in use here. Because a pound of Gehacktes, onions and some rolls are a perfect meal. Fire fighters jam.

        1. New math was a resolute failure elsewhere as well. It was criticized for producing students who knew what “conjunction” means, but couldn’t do their multiplication tables or long division because there was no time left after drilling set theory to teach anything actually useful.

          1. I’m having flashbacks to grade school, nuns, punishment, and those 2 huge confusing words Let and Set. Me never having seen a ruler with a 0 at the beginning or a clock with 0 next to 1. The telephone dial stripped of order as well as the TV dial not even having 1.

            My dad only had 6 years of school but would crank numbers professionally tried to help me with homework. He sensed what enormous change to doing this simple stuff they were pushing and he gave up.

            They seem to do this every generation or so to keep parents from simply helping their kids along a familiar path. Their approach to problem solving shows and the student is discredited. Ya gadda do it this way!

          2. About the only useful place for set theory that I have found is statistics and probability analysis, since the logical statements or propositions are more easily translated to sets and analyzed as such.

      2. “Mengenlehre” as it was seen by the children of the times (including my wife) in Germany:

        “Eine Menge Schweine und eine Menge Hunde ergibt in der Schnittmenge eine Schweinehund.”
        “The intersection of a set of pigs and set of dogs is a bastard.”

        As an American, I was exposed to set theory in the second grade. It wasn’t difficult, it just didn’t seem to have any point. “Normal” math was at least obviously useful to a little kid. “If I earn 50 cents for mowing a lawn, then I’m going to have to mow six lawns to buy a 30 watt soldering iron for $2.99 at Radio Shack and then another three lawns for a small roll of solder at $1.29.”

        (Prices from a 1978 Radio Shack catalog I found online.)

    2. Top round light blinks seconds, top bar is 5 hours/light, next is 1 hrs/light, 5 mins/light and bottom is 1 min/light. Top two rows tell the hours 5+5+4 = 14, and bottom rows tell the minutes 7×5 = 35, 1 x 1 = 1. 14:36.

          1. It is totally easy, entirely logic and very very useful.

            The last word, the hour, says what will be next. It will be THREE! Because, why would I want to know what was? It was TWO, who cares? It saves you a total complicated calculation (complicated because of Mengenlehre).

            The first words say how much already has been completed to reach that goal. Half- Half way. Easy.

            Another simple example shows the beauty: “drei viertel sechs”. Isn’t it genius? We see at the first glance: “sechs” is the next hour. And we instantly know that “drei viertel” already went by. So it is totally trivial to see that “one viertel” is still missing.

            And Viertels are totally rooted into Germans genetics. Hinterviertel is a piece of meat. Stadtviertel is a part (not really a quarter, can be any size) of a town, very specific Viertel is a Stadtviertel in Bremen. A Viertel are 25 pieces, so if you buy “drei Viertel Matjes” you will get 75 soused herring. Useful in everyday shopping!

            “Das akademisches Viertel” is still a thing here to confuse foreign students.

            So. /me not startet anything.

    1. IKR?

      Germanic
      (linguistics) The early, undocumented ancestral language
      (linguistics) The group of Indo-European languages that developed from (Ur-)Germanic.

      HaD, just say German ;)

  2. I was at a hotel in Germany (Hilton Garden Inn, Darmstadt) which had a binary clock in the breakfast area. Six vertical rows of LEDs, read left to right. At first, I thought it was some kind of art piece, but the incrementing seconds gave it away.

  3. Berlin-Uhr is the first public clock in the world that tells the time by means of illuminated, coloured fields, for which it entered the Guinness Book of Records upon its installation on 17 June 1975

    You can see the clock in it’s current location at Budapester Str. 45, 10787 Berlin, Germany

    The Clock was invented by Dieter Binninger (1938 – March 5th 1991 in Döhren, Oebisfelde-Weferlingen) was a German inventor from Berlin.

    Dieter Binninger (1938-1991)

    read more here:

    https://ironmanrecords.net/projects/dieter-binninger/

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