The Nitty-Gritty Of Making A Brass Clock

Among all the timepieces that we feature here at Hackaday, surprisingly we bring you relatively few clocks. That might seem an incomprehensible statement given the plethora of, well, clocks, that appear here, but it’s one that hinges upon the type of clock. Electronic clocks of extreme skill, complexity, and beauty, yes, but traditional mechanical clocks? Not so many.

So [Thonemeister]’s wall-mounted brass alarm clock was a welcome sight on our tips line, and his write-up is a fascinating exposition of the path taken by a novice clockmaker on their first build. He starts by describing his workshop, then steps methodically through each of the constituent parts of the clock.

We see the frame, escapement mechanism, gears, and movement taking shape, and we learn something about clockmaker’s tools from the pitfalls he encountered. He was a complete lathe novice at the start of this build, and it’s fun to follow along with his learning curve. As we see thed finished clock taking shape, we even get to see the little touches like forming the hooks for the weights. He bought the bell for the clock off-the-shelf, not wishing to expend the considerable piece of brass stock it would have taken to machine it himself. But for the most part, this is an engaging scratch build you won’t want to miss.

Many of us will never make a traditional clock. But that need not stop us finding the work that goes into one an extremely fascinating read. We have more for you if this has whetted your appetite: you’ll be interested in the escapement mechanism, and if brass is a bit much, how about wood?

This Clock is Hard: No Arduino Needed

You always hear that people talk about the weather. But it seems to us we see more clocks than we do weather stations. A case in point is [frank_scholl’s] clock made from an old hard drive. We found it interesting that the clock has no microcontroller at all. The custom PCB is all digital and uses the line frequency to drive counters which, in turn, drive the motors.

The one catch is that you have to have a hard drive that uses a very particular motor scheme for this to work. The platter rotation shows the hour and the head’s track position counts off the minutes from 0 to 59. Two buttons can speed up either rotation for the purpose of setting the clock. You can see it all in the video below.

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A BCD Wristwatch You’d Want To Wear

Timepieces are a staple of Hackaday, we have featured so many of them over the years that for us to become really excited by a fresh one it must be particularly special. The days when simply breaking out the Nixies was enough are long past.

So this binary wristwatch project by [Sverd Industries] definitely caught our eye. Not for being particularly novel, after all binary LED clocks are not in themselves hard, but for the exceptionally high quality of its construction. It’s a simple enough design, with a real-time clock chip and an ATmega328 in its most power-sipping mode on a circular PCB with an array of LEDs as the display, and all contained within a 3D-printed shell.

This design has real quality, the discrete components are tucked underneath the board leaving the  ICs on the top with only the LEDs for company. The glass front is glued into place, and the shell is professionally 3D-printed. Power comes from a single CR2032, and to save battery life the LEDs are only activated by the press of a concealed button. We would wear this watch. For that matter, you would wear this watch. Take a look at the video below the break, and we’re sure you’ll agree. Looks like a few are even available over on Tindie.

This isn’t the first binary watch we’ve featured, so it’s tough to pick a comparison. This very low BoM example might lack some of the polish of the one presented here, but it has the same ability to catch our eye.

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Morphing Digital Clock Will Show You A Good Time

A few weeks ago, [HariFun] set out to emulate a 7-segment display with an LED matrix. Seems easy enough, right? Right. He also wanted to come up with a new way to transition between digits, which is a much harder task. But he did it, and it’s really cool. At a viewer’s suggestion, [Hari] used the transition as the basis for a mesmerizing clock that brings the smooth sweep of an analog second-hand into the digital age.

This is the coolest way to watch the time pass since the hourglass. You can almost hear the light move as one digit slides into the next. Each transition is totally unique, so depending on the digit this involves one or more vertical segments sliding from right to left, or multiple segments moving in a counter-clockwise circle.

You too can watch time glide by with little more than a 64×32 RGB LED matrix, a NodeMCU, and [Hari]’s digit transition code. It only costs about $25 to build, and you really can’t beat the quality of instruction he’s put together. Take a second or two and check it out after the break.

If you prefer OLEDs and vertical transitions, there’s a clock for that, too.

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Driftwood Binary Clock Is No Hollow Achievement

It’s about time we had another awesome clock post around here. [Mattaw] has liked binary clocks since he was 0 and decided to make one in stunning fashion by using driftwood, nature’s drillable, fillable enclosure.

That beautiful wiring job on the RGB LEDs was done in 18g copper. To keep the LEDs aligned during soldering, he drilled a a grid of holes just deep enough to hold ’em face down. There’s an IR remote to set the time, the color, and choice of alarm file, which is currently set to modem_sound.mp3.

Under the wood, there are a pair of Arduino Nanos, an mp3 decoder board, and an RTC module. Why two Nanos, you ask? Well, the IR interrupts kept, uh, interrupting the LED timing. The remote feature was non-negotiable, so [mattaw] dedicated one Nano to receive remote commands, which it streams serially to the other. Here’s another nice touch: there’s an LDR in one of the nooks or crannies that monitors ambient light so the LEDs are never too bright. Don’t wait another second to check it out—we’ve got 10 videos of it after the break.

Believe it or not, this isn’t the first binary clock we’ve seen.  This honey of a clock uses RGB LEDs to tell the time analog style.

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Gyrotourbillion Blesses The Eyes, Hard to Say

Clock movements are beautifully complex things. Made up of gears and springs, they’re designed to tick away and keep accurate time. Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of the universe, various sources of error tend to creep in – things like temperature changes, mechanical shocks, and so on. In the quest for ever better timekeeping, watchmakers decided to try and rotate the entire escapement and balance wheel to counteract the changing effect of gravity as the watch changed position in regular use.

They’re mechanical works of art, to be sure, and until recently, reserved for only the finest and most luxurious timepieces. As always, times change, and tourbillions are coming down in price thanks to efforts by Chinese manufacturers entering the market with lower-cost devices. But hey – you can always just make one at home.

That’s right – it’s a 3D printed gyrotourbillion! Complete with a 3D printed watch spring, it’s an amazing piece of engineering that would look truly impressive astride any desk. All that’s required to produce it is a capable 3D printer and some off-the-shelf bearings and you’ve got a horological work of art.

It’s not the first 3D-printed tourbillion we’ve seen, but we always find such intricate builds to be highly impressive. We can’t wait to see what comes next – if you’re building one on Stone Henge scale for Burning Man, be sure to let us know. Video after the break.

[Thanks to Keith for the tip!]

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Clock Plays a Game of Pong with Itself to Pass the Time

Would you play a game of Pong where each set lasts exactly one minute and the right player is guaranteed to win 60 times more than the left player? Of course not, but if you were designing a clock that displays the time using a Pong motif, then perhaps it would make sense.

There are some neat design tips in [oliverb]’s Pong Clock that are worth taking a look at. Foremost is the case, which is a retasked jewelry box with a glass lid, procured on the cheap from eBay. It’s a good size for a clock meant to be seen from across the room, and already finished to fit into modern decor. The case holds all the goodies, from the 24×16 green LED matrix display to the Uno that runs the show, as well as an RTC module, a sound chip, a temperature sensor, and a PIR module to turn the display off when the room is unoccupied. To prevent disrupting the sleek lines of the case, all the controls are mounted in a remote panel, itself a clean and modern-looking device thanks to the chrome-plated duplex outlet cover used to house it. The clock has several display modes, from normal time and temperature to a word clock, as well as the Pong mode, where the machine plays itself and the score shows the time. It’s fascinating to watch, and we like everything about it, although we think the tick-tock would drive us nuts pretty quickly.

We recently covered the life and times of [Ted Dabney], one of Pong’s fathers and co-founder of Atari. We tend to think he’d like the design of this clock, both as a nod to his game and for its simple but functional design.

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