Watch Life Tick Away, One LED Segment At A Time

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

Cakeday Countdown Clock Is A Sweet Little Scroller

If you want strangers to give you well wishes on your birthday out in the real world, you have call attention to the occasion by wearing a pointy hat or a button that says ‘today is my birthday, gimme presents’. But on your reddit cakeday, aka the day you joined, you’re automatically singled out with the addition of a slice of 8-bit cake next to your username. The great thing about your cakeday is that you’re almost guaranteed to get some karma for once, especially if you make something cakeday related like [ScottyD]’s cakeday countdown clock. But plenty of people forget what their cakeday is and miss out on the fun.

This countdown clock works like you might expect — every day that isn’t your cakeday, a message scrolls by with the number of days remaining until your next one. When the big day comes, the message becomes TODAY IS YOUR CAKE DAY. Both messages are bookended by cute little pixelated cake slices that we would apply liberally to the day-of message if we made one of these.

This simple but fun project shouldn’t put too big of a dent in your parts box, since it’s essentially an Arduino, a real-time clock module, and a 32×8 LED matrix to display the text. We love the uni-body design of the enclosure because it creates a shelf for the Arduino and gives easy access for gluing in the display from the rear. If for some reason you don’t reddit, then make one anyway and use it to count down to your IRL birthday or something. We’ve got the build video cut and plated for you to consume after the break.

We would understand if 2020 is supplying you with enough existential crises, but if not, consider building a clock that counts down the rest of your life expectancy.

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Nixie Timer Is Easy To Read Across The Kitchen

Nixie clocks. Nixie power meters. Nixie thermometers, speedometers, and even Nixies for personal adornment. Is there anything that hasn’t been Nixie-fied? How about a Nixie kitchen timer? Beyond the Nixie tube, this is a great build. Check out the video below the break.

As so often happens with Nixie aficionados, [Kouichi Kuroi] started with tubes and searched for a project to use them on. A wonky kitchen timer provided the thinly veiled excuse for the build – after all, anyone can drop a couple of yen on a commercial replacement, right? The timer features four IN-12 tubes and a large numeric keypad up front on a laser-cut acrylic case. For those who quibble with the keypad’s aesthetics and the wisdom of a Nixie project in the kitchen environment, [Ko] points out that an IP65 keypad would have more than doubled the price of the build, and a little common sense goes a long way to keeping the high-voltage side from meeting anything wet. In addition to countdown capability, the timer can also act as a stopwatch and display the time of day, and the Nixie tubes provide great visibility compared to seven-segment LCD timers.

As for the aforementioned Nixie projects, here’s a clock, power meter, thermometer, speedometer and necklace that we’ve featured before. What’s next for Nixies? We don’t know, but we’re keen to see what you come up with.

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Cute Countdown Timer Reminds You Of Impending Doom

As things get busy, whether it be an upcoming product launch, a pregnancy, or even the release of your favorite game (or movie!) sometimes it’s nice to have a little countdown timer. Not an app on your phone, but a tangible, physical timer to set on your desk. Which is why SevenSeg is such a cute idea.

[Mohit] wanted to design something that was simple, but aesthetically pleasing — he’d seen free-form electronic projects before and wanted to give it a shot. What he came up with is pretty elegant! A seven segment display is connected via 1/32″ brass rods to the controller, a Particle Photon — which is kind of like a Teensy with WiFi for the internet of things. After putting a few resistors in line with the display, and a bit of frustrating bending of wire later, and SevenSeg was complete.

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Nice Looking Countdown Timer For The Home Game Show Enthusiast

Every couple of weeks, [Roo’s] place of employment, TMW Unlimited, has a contest. This contest takes place in the form of a game show and the contestants have 30 seconds to pitch their current project to the group. A panel of judges vote on the best pitches. Winners receive cupcakes and drinks. Originally, stopwatches were used to keep track of the elapsed time, however, a stopwatch is not very game showy. [Roo] set out to make a countdown timer to add some authenticity to the bi-weekly event.

The main enclosure is a plastic fence post. Fifteen holes and 15 large LEDs are covered up by large plastic translucent spheres. End caps were designed and 3D printed to not only make the rig look good but also to serve as a speaker mount. Inside resides an Arduino that does the counting and turns off the row of lights, one every 2 seconds, as the countdown continues. A speaker not only ticks and tocks its way down with the lights, it also buzzes when time is up. Starting and resetting the timer is as easy as pushing a single button mounted on the case.

If you’ve already built a game show timer, you may want to check out this DIY game buzzer system!

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New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock Included SMS Interactivity

We remember several years back, when text messaging was first becoming popular, we went to a bar which had a huge television that would display text messages sent to a particular number. This sounds like a novelty, but in a large group of folks who know one another it’s the sandbox of social games. Wanting to tap in on that fun for his New Year’s Eve party, [James] built this countdown timer that includes an element of SMS interactivity (link dead, try the Internet Archive version).

The rig is projector based. A computer using Processing does the majority of the work but [James] needed a way to accepts text messages (the locale of the party had no Internet connection so this was the best bet). He grabbed a GSM shield and his Arduino Leonardo. The bulk of the evening the display showed the last few messages received, with a small countdown timer in the lower corner. As the countdown approached zero the time was given prominence as in the image above. We guess he was lucky to find a prepaid SIM card that allowed free incoming text messages. Our cell provider charges us 20¢ for each.

You might give this one a whirl next year. If it’s not quite your thing take a look around. We’ve seen a lot of fun setups like this mini ball drop.

Counting Down To The New Year

[Rod] is in a position to provide a community service on New Year’s Eve. He spends the evening at a relative’s house next to the beach. There are fireworks at midnight, but the crowd has no communal way to count down to the deadline. This year, he build his own count-down display so that everyone can join in during the last few seconds.

This is a temporary build so each digit is housed in a cardboard box. [Rod] first drew the outline of the seven segment digit on the front, then added holes for three LEDs in each segment. He’s feeding the segments with 12V and therefore is able to run the LEDs in series, along with a resistor, switching each segment with one transistor. He chose an Arduino to drive the display, and since he had two sitting around, used both instead of grabbing a shift register as port expander.

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, we really like the digit displays designed for this scoreboard. But you’re going to have to etch the boards yourself if you want them done in time for the festivities.