Why would anyone put as much effort into resurrecting a 1970s split-flap clock as [mitxela] did when he built this custom PLL frequency converter? We’re not sure, but we do like the results.
The clock is a recreation of the prop from the classic 1993 film, Groundhog Day, rigged to play nothing but “I Got You Babe” using the usual sound boards and such. But the interesting part was getting the clock mechanism keeping decent time. Sourced from the US, the clock wanted 120 VAC at 60 Hz rather than the 240 VAC, 50 Hz UK standard. The voltage difference could be easily handled, but the frequency mismatch left the clock running unacceptably slow.
That’s when [mitxela] went all in and designed a custom circuit to convert the 50 Hz mains to 60 Hz. What’s more, he decided to lock his synthesized waveform to the supply current, to take advantage of the long-term frequency control power producers are known for. The write-up goes into great detail about the design of the phase-locked loop (PLL), which uses an ATtiny85 to monitor the rising edge of the mains supply and generate the PWM signal that results in six cycles out for every five cycles in. The result is that the clock keeps decent time now, and he learned a little something too.
If the name [mitxela] seems familiar, it’s probably because we’ve featured many of his awesome builds before. From ludicrous-scale soldering to a thermal printer Polaroid to a Morse-to-USB keyboard, he’s always got something cool going on.
When we recently discussed the skills that we might wish to impart upon a youngster, one of those discussed was the ability to speak more than one language. If any demonstration were required as to why that might be the case, it comes today in [Byfeel]’s Notif’Heure, an ESP8266-powered clock and display (French-language, Google Translate link). If we only watch for English-language projects, we miss much of the picture.
The project began life in April 2018 (Google Translate link) and has since speedily progressed through many software versions to the current v3.2. In hardware terms it’s pretty simple: an ESP8266 development board drives a set of LED matrix displays. In the software though it has the primary function of an NTP-synchronised clock, there is also support for notification display and integration with the Jeedom home automation package.
We’ve featured innumerable ESP8266 clocks over the years, but surprisingly this is the first one with Jeedom integration. With so many to choose from it’s difficult to pick examples to show you, so perhaps it’s time to go to the truly ridiculous with this twelve-ESP monster.
Merci beaucoup au [Erwin] pour le tip!
Digital clocks are extremely useful and generally considered pretty easy to read. However, they can sometimes have rather arcane interfaces for setting the time and alarms. For [Michael Wessel], he noted that in the 1980s he had to routinely help his grandparents set their clocks for this very reason. That inspired his most recent project – a digital clock that’s intuitive to use.
Many digital clocks work in the same way, in which a digit of the time is set, before another button is pressed to cycle to the next digit. This can get confusing, so [Michael] went a different way. Instead, each digit can be cycled through using its own button, which can make things easier. It’s not readily apparent how one chooses to set the time, date, or alarm, but it’s an interesting take on how to create such an interface.
The clock relies on an Arduino Mega to run the show, with an RTC for timekeeping and a temperature sensor to boot. There’s also a sound sensor, which allows the alarms to be shut off with the clap of a hand or by shouting “STOP” at the alarm. Overall, it’s a tidy build with that hacker-favourite seven-segment aesthetic. Of course, you can take that very concept to its extremes, too. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Making A Digital Clock A Little More Intuitive”
There are a great many display technologies available if you wish to make a digital clock. Many hackers seem to have a penchant for the glowier fare from the Eastern side of the Berlin Wall. [ChristineNZ] is one such hacker, and managed to secure some proper Soviet kit for an alarm clock build.
The clock employs an IV-27M vacuum fluorescent display, manufactured in the now-defunct USSR. Featuring 13 seven-segment digits, it’s got that charming blue glow that you just don’t get with other technologies. A MAX6921AWI chip is used to drive the VFD, and an Arduino Mega is the brains of the operation. There’s also an HD44780-compliant LCD that can display further alphanumeric information, and a 4×4 keypad for controlling the device.
The best part of the build though is the enclosure. The VFD is encased in a glass tube, and supported at either end by 90-degree copper pipe couplers. These hold the VFD aloft, and also act as a conduit for the wires coming off each end of the tube. It’s all built on top of a wooden base that holds the rest of the electronics.
It’s an attractive build, and we love the floating look created by the glass tube construction. It’s not the first time we’ve seen old Russian VFDs, and we doubt it will be the last. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Stylish Alarm Clock Rocks A VFD”
We have had no shortage of clock projects over the years, and this one is entertaining because it spells the time out using Tetris-style blocks. The project looks good and is adaptable to different displays. The code is on GitHub and it relies on a Tetris library that has been updated to handle different displays and even ASCII text.
[Brian] wanted to use an ESP8266 development board for the clock, but the library has a bug that prevents it from working, so he used an ESP32 board instead. The board, a TinyPICO, has a breakout board that works well with the display.
Continue reading “A Tetris Clock”
The Casio F-91W is probably the most popular wristwatch ever made. It’s been in production forever, it’s been worn by presidents, and according to US Army intelligence it is “the sign of al-Qaeda”. There’s a lot of history in this classic watch. That said, there is exactly one problem with this watch: it’s barely water resistant. [David] thought he had a solution to this problem, and it looks like he may have succeeded. This classic watch is now waterproof, down to 700 meters of depth. If you’re ever 700 meters underwater, you have bigger problems than a watch that isn’t waterproof.
The basic idea of this hack is to replace the air inside the watch with a liquid. This serves two purposes: first, the front glass won’t fog up. Second, liquids are generally incompressible, or at least only slightly compressible. By replacing the air in the watch with mineral oil, the watch is significantly more water resistant.
Filling a watch with mineral oil is done simply by disassembling the watch, submerging it in a dish of mineral oil, and carefully reassembling the watch. Does it work? Don’t know about this watch, but this was done to another classic Casio watch and tested to 1200 psi. That’s a kilometer underwater, and the watch still worked afterward. We’ll take that as a success, although again if you’re ever a kilometer underwater, you have bigger problems than a broken watch.
The concept of a time lock is an old one, and here you can see an example of the clockwork and gears version that kept vaults sealed against unauthorized openings. Even if the correct combination was known, these devices prevented opening until a pre-arranged amount of time had passed. The fine folks at [Industrial Alchemy] got a copy of a Yale Triple L mechanical time lock, and like other devices of its kind it required manual winding to function. Since the device as a whole was sealed against tampering, winding and setting was done with a key via the small holes in the front.
These devices were mounted on the inside of a vault door, and worked by mechanically interfacing with the lock mechanism in a variety of different ways depending on make and model. While the time lock was engaged, opening the door was prevented even if the correct combination was used. You may notice the multiple movements; this was for redundancy. The movements were interfaced in a mechanical OR arrangement, meaning that the first one to count down to zero would disengage the time lock. In the case of a malfunction, the backup movements would be responsible for preventing a total lockout — a condition as inconvenient and embarrassing as it would be costly.
Embedded below is a video that focuses on swapping movements in a time lock, but happens to also do a good job of showing off the mechanical design and components. Clockwork was the high technology of its time, and interest in it has seen something of a resurgence now that 3D printing is commonplace.
Continue reading “Gaze Upon This Intricate Victorian-Era Time Lock”