Nostalgia aside, there are a few things an analog scope can still do better than a digital, with oscilloscope art being a prime example. The blue-green glow of phosphors in a real CRT just add something special to such builds, and as a practitioner of this craft, [Aaron] decided to paint a New Year’s affirmation on his oscilloscope screen, in Japanese calligraphy of all things.
When used in X-Y mode, analog oscilloscopes lend themselves nicely to vector-based graphics, which is the approach [Aaron] has taken with previous “Oscilloclock” builds, like the Metropolis Clock. The current work, however, doesn’t use vector graphics, opting instead to turn the scope into the business end of a VGA display. He had previously developed the hardware needed to convert a VGA signal into X- and Y-axis analog outputs, so the bulk of the work was rendering the calligraphy, first in ink and then scanning and processing the results into a file. In keeping with the Japanese theme, [Aaron] chose a rare scope from Nihon Tsushinki Co., Ltd., from 1963. It’s a beautiful piece of equipment and obviously lovingly restored, and with the VGA adapter temporarily connected, the four Japanese characters scroll gracefully up the screen, delivering the uplifting message: “Steady progress, day by day.”
There are multiple reasons why we like [iSax]’s rebuild of a Bodet flip clock from the early 1980s. First there’s the retro charm of the timepiece itself, then the electronics used to drive it, its electromechanical month length and leap year system, and finally because here is a maker lucky enough to have a beautiful tabby cat to share the workbench with.
For those of you unfamiliar with a flip clock, these devices have their digits as a series of hinged cards on a central rotor, with each one being exposed in turn as the rotor turns. This one is part of a distributed clock system in which the clients receive a 1 Hz pulse from a central time server to drive their motors, something easily replicated with an Arduino and an H-bridge. Particularly fascinating though is the month length mechanism, part of the calendar rotor system, it has a small DC motor that is engaged to advance the days automatically by whichever number as part of the month transition. Originally this was powered by a couple of AA batteries, which have now been replaced with a small DC to DC converter. You can see it in action in the video below the break.
Some projects are a rite of passage within their respected fields. For computer science, building one’s own computer from scratch is certainly among those projects. Of course, we’re not talking about buying components online and snapping together a modern x86 machine. We mean building something closer to a fully-programmable 8-bit computer from the ground up, like this one from [Federico] based on 74LS logic chips.
The computer was designed and built from scratch which is impressive enough, but [Federico] completed this project in about a month as well. It can be programmed manually through DIP switches or via a USB connection to another computer, and also includes an adjustable clock which can perform steps anywhere from 1 Hz to 32 kHz. Complete with a 1024 byte memory, a capable ALU, four seven-segment LEDs and (in the second version of the computer) a 2×16 LCD disply, this 8-bit computer has it all.
Not only is this a capable machine designed by someone who clearly knows his way around a logic chip, but [Federico] has also made the code and schematics available on his GitHub page. It’s worth a read even without building your own, but if you want to go that route without printing an enormous PCB you can always follow the breadboard route.
In the grand scheme of things, a single human lifetime is a drop in the bucket. Even if we don’t like to acknowledge it, we all know the meter is running so to speak. Yet you’re still squandering your precious time on this Earth by reading Hackaday instead of doing something constructive. Of course nobody is burning up more time on this site than those of us who are writing it all, so don’t feel too bad.
To remind us that life is fleeting, [Dries Depoorter] has designed the Shortlife: a device that counts down until your expected departure date. Before you get too excited, it can’t predict the future. The gadget is programmed with the vital statistics for the individual user, and data provided by the World Health Organization is used to calculate how much of your estimated life expectancy has already elapsed. Some would find this information depressing, while others will no doubt look at it as a source of inspiration. Us? We just think its a slick piece of gear.
The Shortlife is made up of a custom PCB mounted to a marbled block of recycled plastic. On the board there’s an ATmega328 microcontroller, a MAX7219 LED driver, and of course the red LED segment displays. Three of them are the classic seven count, while the rightmost display sports fourteen segments for a bit of added accuracy. All the user has to do if they want to watch their remaining time slip away is plug the device into a USB power source and set the current time.
We’ve seen similar mortal countdown clocks in the past, but the Shortlife certainly brings a certain level of elegance to the idea. Plus we also like the fact that you’re just a line of code or two away from having the display tick down to some other date in the future when that whole existential crisis kicks in
If binary digits are bits, are quinary digits “quits”? Perhaps, but whatever you call them, you’re going to have to wrap your head around some new concepts in order to make sense of this quinary display clock.
Why quinary? [Spike Snell] wanted to minimize the number of LEDs, and 52 is enough to cover all 24 hours. Binary clocks may have geek chic, but there are only so many ways to display ones and zeros.
[Spike]’s clock is unique because it shows each quit using a single WS2812 Neopixel. The values zero through four are each represented by a different color, meaning the user needs to memorize which color goes with which value, which we suspect is the hardest part of learning this clock. The clock’s software is fairly simple and runs on an ESP8266, and uses NTP to keep on track. The clock self-adjusts for Daylight Savings time, and it has a nice feature that dims the display in the evening to make living with it easier.
Even for those not up on their base-five arithmetic, [Spike]’s clock is still a nice, slowly evolving abstract art piece. And for those who grok the quinary clock, perhaps a career awaits you in an alternate future where bi-quinary relay computers caught on.
It seems there are as many ways to display the time as there are ways to measure it in the first place. [Kothe] saw a fancy designer domino clock, and wanted a piece of the action without the high price tag. Thus, the natural solution was to go the DIY route.
An Arduino Nano is the heart of the build, paired with a DS1307 RTC for accurate timekeeping. The case of the clock consists of a 3D printed housing, fitted with layers of lasercut acrylic. Behind this, a smattering of WS2812B addressable LEDs are fitted, which shine through the translucent grey plastic of the front panel. This enables each LED to light up a dot of the domino, while remaining hidden when switched off. Reading the time is as simple as counting the dots on the dominoes. The first domino represents hours, from 1 to 12, while the second and third dominoes represent the minutes.
As a timepiece, the domino clock serves well as a stylish decor piece, and could also be a fun way to teach kids about electronics and telling the time. Makers do love a good timepiece, and our clock tag is always overflowing with fresh hacks on a regular basis. If you’ve got your own fancy build coming together at home, you know who to call!
The clock is a testament to [Ivan]’s design skills in the 3D printed space. Taking advantage of his large format printer, each segment consists of a front panel, large single-piece diffuser, LED carrier, and backing plate. There are plenty of nice touches, from the interlocking ridges between each digit, to integral printed arrows on the inside that guide installation of the LED strips. Fit and finish approaches the level of a commercial product, a reward for [Ivan]’s years of practice in the field.
Electronically, an ESP8266 runs the show, synchronizing the time over its in-built WiFi connection. Each segment contains 9 WS2812B LEDs, wired up in a single long strip that’s addressed by the microcontroller. This means that the segments can be lit up to any color of the rainbow, though [Ivan] is a man who best appreciates the look of classic red.