Synesthetic Clock Doesn’t Require Synesthesia

We often think of synesthetes as those people who associate say, colors with numbers. But the phenomenon can occur with any of the senses. Simply put, when one sense is activated, synesthesia causes one to experience an unrelated, activated sense. Sounds trippy, no?

Thankfully, [Markus Opitz]’s synesthetic clock doesn’t require one to have synesthesia. It’s actually quite easy to read, we think. Can you tell what time it is in the image above? The only real requirement seems to be knowing the AM color from the PM color. The minute display cycles through blue, green, yellow, and red as the hour progresses.

Behind that pair of GC9a01 round displays lies an ESP32 and a real-time clock module. [Markus] couldn’t find a fillArc function, so instead he is drawing triangles whose ends lie outside the visible area. To calculate the size of the triangle, [Markus] is using the angle function tangent, so each minute has an angle of 6°.

[Markus] created a simple but attractive oak housing for the clock, but suggests anything from cardboard and plastic to a book. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever used for an enclosure? Let us know in the comments.

Do you appreciate a good analog clock when you see one? Here’s a clock that uses analog meters for its display.

Space Mirrors: Dreams Of Turning The Night Into Day Around The Clock

Recently, a company by former SpaceX employee Ben Nowack – called Reflect Orbital – announced that it is now ready to put gigantic mirrors in space to reflect sunshine at ground-based solar farms. This is an idea that’s been around for a hundred years already, both for purposes of defeating the night through reflecting sunshine onto the surface, as well as to reject the same sunshine and reduce the surface temperature. The central question here is perhaps what the effect would be of adding or subtracting (or both) of solar irradiation on such a large scale as suggested?

We know the effect of light pollution from e.g. cities and street lighting already, which suggests that light pollution is a strongly negative factor for the survival of many species. Meanwhile a reduction in sunshine is already a part of the seasons of Autumn and Winter. Undeniable is that the Sun’s rays are essential to life on Earth, while the day-night cycle (as well as the seasons) created by the Earth’s rotation form an integral part of everything from sleep- and hibernation cycles, to the reproduction of countless species of plants, insects, mammals and everyone’s favorite feathered theropods.

With these effects and the gigantic financial investments required in mind, is there any point to space-based mirrors?

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Video Killed The Radio Alarm Clock

For decades now, MTV has been on a bizarre trajectory given its original name was an acronym for Music Television. In the original days in the 80s and 90s it kept mostly true to its name, but starting around two decades ago they expanded into reality and other non-musical television programming and have now left it largely behind. Plenty of those who grew up in its heyday have an understandable amount of nostalgia for the channel as a cultural touchstone, and [Derf] used MTV archival footage to build a video alarm clock which helps him keep in tune with the past.

To keep the appropriate 80s aesthetic, the build uses a portable TV from the late 80s with its original CRT. The video files are hosted on more modern technology though, in this case a Raspberry Pi. The Pi is set up to run a python script which launches the VLC media player with a playlist loaded with video files, in this case a long list of MTV shows. Some configuration needs to be done to get it to output to the old CRT properly which depends on the hardware used, but once that’s in place it’s ready to be used as an alarm. [Derf] is using a smart outlet to power the TV at the appropriate time, and a cron job which starts the video player simultaneously at a somewhat random point in the playlist.

As far as retro TVs go, having one as an alarm clock is certainly a novel idea. We have seen a few others in the past, though, one to play the golden age of The Simpsons, and another that recreates the nostalgia of 90s cable television complete with a preview channel and era-appropriate commercials.

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Saving A Clock Radio With An LM8562

Smart phones have taken the place of a lot of different devices especially as they get more and more powerful. GPS, music and video player, email, and of course a phone are all functions tied up in these general-purpose devices. Another casualty of the smart phone revolution is the humble bedside alarm clock as its radio, alarm, and timekeeping functionalities are also provided by modern devices. [zst123] has a sentimental attachment to the one he used in the 00s, though, and set about restoring it to its former glory.

Most of the issue with the clock involved drift with the timekeeping circuitry. Since it wasn’t accurately keeping the time anymore, losing around 10 minutes a day, the goal to save it was to use NTP to get the current time and a microcontroller to make the correction automatically. Rather than replace everything in the clock except the display, [zst123] is using the existing circuit board and adding an ESP8266 to grab the time from the Internet. A custom driver board reads the current time displayed on the clock directly from the display itself and then the ESP8266 can adjust it by using the existing buttons through a relay wired in parallel.

Using the existing circuitry was certainly a challenge especially since the display was multiplexed, but the LM8562 that came with these clock radios is a common and well-documented chip for driving displays like this, giving [zst123] a leg up over something unlabeled or proprietary. Using NTP is certainly a reliable and straightforward way of getting the current time too but there are a few other options for projects like these like using GPS or even a radio signal.

Simple NTP Clock Uses Custom RGB 7-Segment Displays

A great majority of hackers build a clock at some point. It’s a great way to get familiar with electronics and (often) microcontrollers, and you get to express some creativity along the way. Plus, you get something useful when you’re done! [Tadas Ustinavičius] recently trod this well-worn path and built a neat little NTP clock of their own.

The build uses an ESP 12F as the core of the operation. It’s charged with querying an NTP time server via its WiFi connection in order to maintain accurate timekeeping around the clock. For display, it drives a series of custom 7-segment displays that [Tadas] built using 3D-printed housings. They use WS2812B addressable LEDs and thus can display a rainbow of colors.

For initial configuration, the phone creates its own WiFi hotspot with a web interface for changing settings. Once configured, it connects to the Internet over WiFi to query an NTP server at regular intervals.

It’s a simple build that does a simple job well. Projects like these can be very valuable, as they teach you all kinds of useful skills. If you’ve been working on your own clock design, don’t hesitate to let us know. You can use a microcontroller, relays, or even a ball.

Educational Arduino Clock Uses Analog Meters For Display

When it comes to educational electronic projects, it’s hard to go past building a clock. You learn tons about everything from circuit concepts and assembly skills to insights about the very nature of time itself. And you get a clock at the end of it! [hamblin.joe] wanted to do a simple project for kids along these lines, so whipped up a neat design using analog meters to display the time.

The build relies on that old stalwart, the Arduino Uno, to run the show. It’s hooked up to a DS3231 real-time clock module so it can keep accurate time for long periods, as is befitting a clock. Displaying the time is done via the use of two analog meters, each fitted with a custom backing card. One displays hours, the other, minutes. The analog meters are simply driven by the PWM outputs of the Arduino.

It’s not a hugely complex project, but it teaches so much. It provides an opportunity to educate the builders about real-time clocks, microcontroller programming, and even the concepts behind pulse width modulation. To say nothing of the physical skills, like learning to solder or how to assemble the laser-cut enclosure. Ultimately, it looks like a really great way for [hamblin.joe] and his students to dive into the world of modern electronics.

A Clock Made Out Of Electromechanical Relays

Electromechanical circuits using relays are mostly a lost art these days, but sometimes you get people like [Aart] who can’t resist to turn a stack of clackity-clack relays into a functional design, like in this case a clock (article in Dutch, Google Translate).

It was made using components that [Aart] had come in possession of over the years, with each salvaged part requiring the usual removal of old solder, before being mounted on prototype boards. The resulting design uses the 1 Hz time signal from a Hörz DCF77 master clock which he set up to drive a clock network in his house, as he describes in a forum post at Circuits Online (also in Dutch).

The digital pulses from this time signal are used by the relay network to create the minutes and hours count, which are read out via a resistor ladder made using 0.1% resistors that drive two analog meters, one for the minutes and the other for the hours.

Sadly, [Aart] did not draw up a schematic yet, and there are a few issues he would like to resolve regarding the meter indicators that will be put in front of the analog dials. These currently have weird transitions between sections on the hour side, and the 59 – 00 transition on the minute dial happens in the middle of the scale. But as [Aart] says, this gives the meter its own character, which is an assessment that is hard to argue with.

Thanks to [Lucas] for the tip.