What would a HAL9000 look like if it eye were yellow and sat atop a front panel inspired by an Altair 8800? You’d have today’s feature, [Stephan]’s BerlinUhr, a gorgeous little take on a Berlin Clock.
At Hackaday, we have a soft spot for clock builds. They’ve graced our pages from early times. When we saw this ultra cool Berlin Clock, we couldn’t resist the urge to share it with all of our readers. For those of you not familiar with a Berlin Clock, it’s a clock that consists of 24 lights, and was the first of its kind back in 1975.
[Stephan]’s build is notable because not only is it a beautiful design, but the work that went into the design and build. At several inches tall, the BerlinUhr is supported solely by a USB-C connection, although it can also be hung on a wall. The RTC is backed up by a CR1216, and an ATtiny167 provides the brains for the operation.
A neat part of the build comes with the KPS-3227 light sensor, used to adjust the LED brightness according to ambient lighting. Rather than being a straightforward part to insert into the PCB, KiCad’s footprint had some pins reversed, causing [Stephan] to learn how to correct it and contribute the fix to KiCad. Well done!
It seems there will never be an end to the number of ways to show the time. The latest is the LumiClock from [UK4dshouse], and it uses the seldom-seen approach of a sheet of luminous paper excited by a strip of UV LEDs that pass over it guided by a lead screw.
At its heart is a micro:bit, which generates the time in dot-matrix digital form as the LEDs are moved across the sheet. It in turn has a real-time-clock module to keep it on time, and it drives a little DC motor via a robotics driver board. The appearance of the whole devices is similar to an X-Y plotter without the Y axis, as a 3D-printed carrier is moved by the lead screw and slides along a pair of stainless steel tubes. The result is an unusual and eye-catching timepiece, whose retro dot-matrix numerals fade away and are refreshed with the new time.
If you’re a clock aficionado and have ever visited Berlin, you’re probably familiar with the Berlin Clock on Budapester Straße: a minimalist design of yellow and orange lights that displays the time in a base-5 number system. This clock has been telling the time to the few that can read it since 1975, and is but one of several unusual clocks that can be found in the city.
Berlin resident [jjoeff] decided to make a miniature replica, appropriately called the Berlin Uhr Nano, in order to watch the unusual display at any time of day. Built around a Wemos D1 Mini, it connects to WiFi in order to synchronize its internal clock to an NTP time server. It then drives a custom PCB that holds 39 WS2812 LEDs to display the time in its proper format. Unlike the original though, it also includes a full counter to tell the number of seconds; the bigger clock just flashes a single lamp to show the seconds passing.
While it is hard to tell with a photo, this robot looks more like a model of an old- fashioned clock than anything resembling a Nixie tube. It’s the kind of project that could have been created by anyone with a little bit of Arduino tinkering experience. In this case, the 3D printer used by the Nixie clock project is a Prusa i3 (which is the same printer used to make the original Nixie tubes).
The Nixie clock project was started by a couple of students from the University of Washington who were bored one day and decided to have a go at creating their own timepiece. After a few prototypes and tinkering around with the code , they came up with a design for the clock that was more functional than ornate.
The result is a great example of how one can create a functional and aesthetically pleasing project with a little bit of free time.
Confused yet? You should be.
If you’ve read this far then you’re probably scratching your head and wondering what has come over Hackaday. Should you not have already guessed, the paragraphs above were generated by an AI — in this case Transformer — while the header image came by the popular DALL-E Mini, now rebranded as Craiyon. Both of them were given the most Hackaday title we could think of, “A 3D-Printed Nixie Clock Powered By An Arduino Runs This Robot“, and told to get on with it. This exercise was sparked by curiosity following the viral success of AI generators, which posed the question of whether an AI could make a passable stab at a Hackaday piece. Transformer runs on a prompt model in which the operator is given a choice of several sentence fragments so the text reflects those choices, but the act of choosing could equally have followed any of the options.
The text is both reassuring as a Hackaday writer because it doesn’t manage to convey anything useful, and also slightly shocking because from just that single prompt it’s created meaningful and clear sentences which on another day might have flowed from a Hackaday keyboard as part of a real article. It’s likely that we’ve found our way into whatever corpus trained its model and it’s also likely that subject matter so Hackaday-targeted would cause it to zero in on that part of its source material, but despite that it’s unnerving to realise that a computer somewhere might just have your number. For now though, Hackaday remains safe at the keyboards of a group of meatbags.
The build relies on a small Waveshare e-paper module which only requires power when the display is actually changing. When static, the display needs no electricity, and this helps save a great amount of power compared to OLED or LCD-based clocks.
An Atmega328p is the heart of the build, running off a 32.768 KHz clock crystal for a combination of precise timekeeping and low power draw. Time is ensured to be both precise and accurate thanks to a GPS module which allows the clock to sync to satellite time when powered up. It’s a common way to sync clocks to a high-quality time source. Most of the time, though, the GPS is kept powered down to save the 30-100 mA that the module typically draws when in use.
Other features include a temperature, humidity, and pressure sensor, with ambient pressure graphed over time. There’s also notification of sunrise and sunset times, along with the current phase of the moon. It’s all wrapped up in a case tastefully manufactured using 3D printed parts and some wooden CNC-cut panels for a nice rustic look.
With the e-paper display and the microcontroller configured for low-power operation, the clock will run for around 6 months on four AAA cells. Overall, it’s a nifty little clock that will provide the time, date, and other information without the need for an Internet connection. Video after the break.
When [Morley Kert] laid eyes on a working time card-punching clock, he knew he had to have it for a still-secret upcoming project. The clock seemed to work fine, except that after a dozen or so test punches, the ink was rapidly fading away into illegibility. After a brief teardown and inspection, [Morley] determined that the ribbon simply wasn’t advancing as it should.
This clock uses a ribbon cassette akin to a modern typewriter, except that instead of a feed spool and a take-up spool, it has a short length of ribbon that goes around and around, getting re-inked once per revolution.
When a card is inserted, a number of things happen: a new hole is punched on the left side, and an arm pushes the card against the ribbon, which is in turn pushed against the mechanical digit dials of the clock to stamp the card.
Finally, the ribbon gets advanced. Or it’s supposed to, anyway. [Morley] could easily see the shadow of a piece that was no longer there, a round piece with teeth with a protrusion on both faces for engaging both the time clock itself and the ribbon cassette. A simple little gear.
After emailing the company, it turns out they want $95 + tax to replace the part. [Morley] just laughed and fired up Fusion 360, having only caliper measurements and three seconds of a teardown video showing the missing part to go on. But he pulled it off, and pretty quickly, too. Version one had its problems, but 2.0 was a perfect fit, and the clock is punching evenly again. Be sure to check it out after the break.
Okay, so maybe you don’t have a time card clock to fix. But surely you’ve had to throw out an otherwise perfectly good coat because the zipper broke?
The basic concept of the Tetris clock is that falling bricks stick together in the shape of numbers to display the time. In this case, the clock is based on the version created by [Brian Lough] which we featured previously. It relies on an RGB LED matrix as a display.
However, the build has had a few upgrades courtesy of [The Electronic Engineer]. With the help of an I2S audio breakout board, the clock can play sounds at various times of day. It’s currently set up with clips from various cartoons announcing lunch and coffee break times. There’s also a web interface added in for configuration purposes, and some text tickers too.