Clock Mixes Analog, Digital, Retrograde Displays

Unique clocks are a mainstay around here, and while plenty are “human readable” without any instruction, there are a few that take a bit of practice before someone can glean the current time from them. Word clocks are perhaps on the easier side of non-traditional displays but at the other end are binary clocks or even things like QR code clocks. To get the best of both worlds, though, multiple clock faces can be combined into one large display like this clock build from [imitche3].

The clock is actually three clocks in one. The first was inspired by a binary clock originally found in a kit, which has separate binary “digits” for hour, minute, and second and retains the MAX 7219 LED controller driving the display. A standard analog clock rests at the top, and a third clock called a retrograde clock sits at the bottom with three voltmeters that read out the time in steps. Everything is controlled by an Arduino Nano with the reliable DS3231 keeping track of time. The case can be laser-cut or 3D printed and [imitche3] has provided schematics for both options.

As far as clocks builds go, we always appreciate something which can be used to tell the time without needing any legends, codes, or specialized knowledge. Of course, if you want to take a more complex or difficult clock face some of the ones we’re partial to are this QR code clock which needs a piece of hardware to tell the time that probably already has its own clock on it.

6 thoughts on “Clock Mixes Analog, Digital, Retrograde Displays

  1. Alas, I’ve never learnt to read “standard” dial clocks (as in, I know how to decipher them but I can’t read the time “at a glance”) so all three clock faces are equally difficult to read for me.

    1. Can I ask how/why? There are many times it is a very useful thing to do. In 2024 maybe not an irreplaceable skill but still useful. Like late at night on train platform when you don’t want to flash your $1000 cellphone to all the pickpockets. Or do you always have a digital watch on? Or if you want to make me super jealous, you live a life where the exact time isn’t all that important? not trying to be judgy or anything- just really curious how this came to be. Best.

      1. My parents never had an analog clock in the house, I think I had a digital watch when I was 8 or so and I still have a digital watch.
        And my cellphone was only €270 when new.
        I can read the minutes easily, so a guestimate on a train platform is ok. My problem is with the hours, especially at say 9:40 or later, the hour hand starts approaching 10 and I think it’s 10:40. But that’s because I think digital, so in my mind it’s 9:55 and not “5 minutes to 10”.

        1. Huh, imagine that. I always liked an analog watch even after owning digital clocks partly because when you can’t see well enough to read, you might be able to see what angle two thin lines make. (Sometimes you have a bad angle, don’t want to need much light, or have blurry vision.) I suppose most people just make the digital one more visible if needed.

          Another thing I liked was the sundial-watch-compass relationship, or I guess the fact time on the clock actually had a relationship with the earth and sun rather than being imaginary. Of course, I’ve an actual compass built in now, but I suppose that would let me estimate longitude so hey. The hour hand contains all the information in the clock, just like a sundial’s shadow – the other hands just make it possible to read precisely.

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