Useless machines are a fun class of devices which typically turn themselves off once they are switched on, hence their name. Even though there’s no real point, they’re fun to build and to operate nonetheless. [Burke] has followed this idea in spirit by putting an old clock he had to use with his take on a useless machine of sorts. But instead of simply powering itself off when turned on, this useless machine dislodges itself from its wall mount and falls to the ground anytime anyone looks at it.
It’s difficult to tell if this clock was originally broken when he started this project, or if many rounds of checking the time have caused the clock to damage itself, but either way this project is an instant classic. Powered by a small battery driving a Raspberry Pi, the single-board computer runs OpenCV and is programmed to recognize any face pointed in its general direction. When it does, it activates a small servo which knocks it off of its wall, rendering it unarguably useless.
[Burke] doesn’t really know why he had this idea, but it’s goofy and fun. The duct tape that holds everything together is the ultimate finishing touch as well, and we can’t really justify spending too much on fit and finish for a project that tosses itself around one’s room. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more refined useless machine, we have seen some that have an impressive level of intricacy.
Thanks to [alchemyx] for the tip!
Continue reading “Useless Machine Is A Clock”
It is a rite of passage for hackers to make a clock out of traditionally not-clock items. Whether it be blinking LEDs or servos to move the hands, we have all crafted our own ways of knowing when it currently is. [SIrawit] takes a new approach to this, by using ammeters to tell the time.
The clock is built using mostly CMOS ICs. A CD4060 generates the 1HZ clock signal, which is then passed to parallel counters to keep track of the hours, minutes, and seconds. [SIrawit] decided to keep the ammeters functioning as intended, rather than replacing the internals and just keeping the needle and face. To convert the digital signal to a varying current, he used a series of MOSFETs connected in parallel to the low side of the ammeters, with different sizes of current-limiting resistors. By sizing these resistors properly, precise movement of the needle could be achieved by turning on or off the MOSFETs. You can see the schematics and learn more about how this is achieved on the project’s GitHub page (at the time of writing, the most recent commits are in the ‘pcb’ branch).
In addition to the custom PCB that holds all the electronics, PCBs help make up the case as well. While the main body of the case is made out of a repurposed junction box, [SIrawit] had a PCB on an aluminum substrate manufactured for the front panel. While the board has no actual traces or electrical significance, this makes for a cheap and easy way to get a precisely cut piece of aluminum for your projects, with a sharp-looking white solder mask to boot.
We love to see cool and unique ways to tell the time, such as using Nixie Tubes to spell out the time in binary!
Continue reading “IC Clock Uses Ammeters For A Unique Time-Telling Display”
We’re not here to talk about another clock. Okay, we are, but the focus isn’t about whether or not it can tell time, it’s about taking a simple idea to an elegant conclusion. In all those ways, [Marcin Saj] produced a beautiful project. Most of the nixie clocks we see are base-ten, but this uses base-two for lots of warm glow from more than a dozen replaceable units.
There are three rows for hours, minutes, and seconds. The top and bottom rows are labeled with an “H” and “S” respectively displayed on IN-15B tubes, while the middle row shows an “M” from an IN-15A tube. The pluses and minuses light up on IN-12 models so you’ll need eighteen of them for the full light show, but you could skimp and use sixteen in twelve-hour mode since you don’t need to count to twenty-four. We won’t explain how to read time in binary, since you know, you’re here and all. The laser-cut acrylic is gorgeous with clear plastic next to those shiny nixies, but you have to recreate the files or buy the cut parts as we couldn’t find vector files amongst the code and schematics.
Silly rabbit, nixies aren’t just for clocks. You can roll your own, but they’re not child’s play.
Continue reading “Binary Clock Lets The Nixies Glow”
There are a few words in the electrical engineering lexicon that will perk any hardware hacker’s ears. The first of course is “Nixie tubes” with their warm cold war era ambiance and nostalgia inducing aura. A close second is “relay logic”. Between their place in computing and telecom history and the way a symphony of click and clatter can make a geek’s heart go pitter patter, most of us just love a good relay hack. And then there’s the classic hacker project: A unique timepiece to adorn our lair and remind us when we’ve been working on our project just a little too long, if such a thing even exists.
With those things in mind, you can forgive us if we swooned ever so slightly when [Jon Stanley]’s Relay Logic Nixie Tube Clock came to us via the Tip Line. Adorned with its plethora of clicking relays and set aglow by four Nixie tubes, the Relay Logic Nixie Tube Clock checks all our boxes.
[Jon] started the build with relay modules that mimic CD4000 series CMOS logic chips. When the prototype stage was complete, the circuit was recreated on a new board that mounts all 55 Omron relays on the same PCB. The result? A glorious Nixie tube clock that will strike envy into even the purest hacker’s heart. Make sure to watch the video after the break!
[Jon] has graciously documented the entire build and even makes various relay logic boards available for purchase if you’d like to embark on your own relay logic exploits . His site overflows with unique clock projects as well, so you can be sure we’ll be checking those out.
If you feel inspired to build your own relay logic project, make sure you source genuine Omron relays, especially if your Relay Computer Masterpiece takes six years to build.
Thanks to [Daniel] for sending this our way. Got a cool project you’d like to share? Be sure to send it in via the Tip Line.
Continue reading “Relay Logic Nixie Tube Clock Checks All The Boxes”
Ah, the 5mm LED. Once a popular choice, they’ve been supplanted in modernity by smaller SMD components and/or more capable RGB parts in recent years. However, they’re still able to do the job and are a great way to give your project that proper homebrew look. [Ian Dunn] chose those very parts to produce his 4017 Decade Binary Clock.
The clock uses only digital logic ICs to tell the time – there are no microcontrollers here! After four or five iterations over almost a whole year, [Ian] was finally able to coax the circuit into reliable operation. As you’d expect, it relies on a 32.768 kHz crystal to provide a stable clock. Fed into a 4060 binary ripple counter, that clock is divided down 14 times to deliver a 2Hz square wave. This then goes through a 4027 flip flop to get the desired 1Hz signal. From there, a bunch of extra logic handles counting the seconds, minutes, and hours, and resetting the counters as appropriate.
The PCB that houses the project is printed on directly by a flatbed inkjet printer, which [Ian] purchased when inspired by our previous article on how to get your PCBs made at the mall. He didn’t actually use it to make the PCB in this case, but the flatbed printer does a great job of putting graphics on the board.
The result is quite an attractive look that might surprise a few electronics enthusiasts who haven’t seen a graphic printed board before. It’s a technique we think could be used to great effect on conference badges, too. If you’ve experimented with similar techniques, be sure to drop us a line!
We’ve been seeing a lot of metaclocks lately — a digital clock whose display is formed by the sweeping hands of an array of individual analog clocks. They can look fantastic, and we’ve certainly seen some great examples.
But in this time of supply pinches, it’s not always possible to gather the parts one needs for a full-scale build. Happily, that didn’t stop [Erich Styger] from executing this circular multi-metaclock with only thirteen of his custom dual-shaft stepper analog movements. Normally, his clocks use double that number of movements, which he arranges in a matrix so that the hands can be positioned to form virtual seven-segment displays. By arranging the movements in a circle, the light-pipe hands can mimic an analog clock face, or perform any of [Erich]’s signature “intermezzo” animations, each of which is graceful and engaging to watch. Check out a little of what this charmingly recursive clock has to offer in the video below.
[Erich] could easily have gotten stuck on the original design — he’s been at this metaclock game for a while, after all. The fact that the reduced part count forced him to get creative on the display is the best part of this build, at least to us.
Continue reading “Parts Shortage Forces Creativity For This Recursive Clock Of Clocks”
We’re always a fan of an interesting or unique clock build around here, which often use intricate pieces of technology to keep time such as weights and gears, crystal oscillators, or even a global network of satellites in the case of GPS. While these are all interesting methods of timekeeping, the original method of tracking the sun is often forgotten. With this clock, the sun is the main method of keeping track of time, but unlike traditional sundials it has a number of advancements that let it keep surprisingly accurate time. (Google Translate from German)
While most sundials can only show hours, this one from [leon andré], a retired physicist, has a method for displaying minutes as well. It uses pinholes instead of shadows to keep track of the position of the sun, with the pinhole casting a bright spot of sunlight onto a diagram below. The diagram keeps track of the minutes, and consists of curved lines which help account for the sun’s changing path throughout a typical year. The dial keeps track of local solar time, as any sundial would, but by rotating it along its vertical axis it can be calibrated for the timezone that it’s in regardless of its position.
As far as clock builds go, one that is completely passive like this semi-digital sundial is fairly unique, especially for its accuracy. And, when set to local solar time, it will be the most reliable method of keeping time long-term than possibly any other clock we’ve seen before, as long as it’s not too cloudy outside. On the other hand, it is possible to augment a sundial with some modern technology as well.
Thanks to [Adrian] for the tip!