[Fearless Night]’s slick dual hourglass doesn’t just simulate sand with LEDs, it also emulates the effects of gravity on those simulated particles and offers a few different mode options.
The unit uses an Arduino (with ATMEGA328P) and an MPU-6050 accelerometer breakout board to sense orientation and movement, and the rest is just a matter of software. Both the Arduino and the MPU-6050 board are readily available and not particularly expensive, and the LED matrix displays are just 8×8 arrays of red/green LEDs, each driven by a HT16K33 LED controller IC.
The enclosure and stand are both 3D-printed, and a PCB not only mounts the components but also serves as a top cover, with the silkscreen layer of the PCB making for some handy labels. It’s a clever way to make the PCB pull double-duty, which is a technique [Fearless Night] also used on their earlier optical theremin design.
Those looking to make one of their own will find all the design files and source code handily available from the project page. It might not be able to tell time in the classical sense, but seeing the hourglass displays react to the device’s orientation is a really neat effect.
If you want to waste time in a meaningful way, get yourself an hourglass. It’s simultaneously mesmerizing and terrifying to sit there and watch the seconds slip through the threshold that separates possibility from missed opportunity.
[Ty and Gig]’s LED hourglass is equally beautiful to watch. It doesn’t actually tell time, but that’s perfectly fine by us. What it does do is animate the LEDs to approximate grains of sand in gravity, no matter how the hourglass is tilted.
In either vertical orientation, the sand falls as long as there is some in the top. When the hourglass is horizontal, the LEDs settle just like real sand does. [Ty and Gig] achieved this with a whole lot of code that breaks the animation frames into structure arrays.
By contrast, the hardware part of this build is fairly simple: all that’s needed to replicate this build is some RGB LEDs a beefy power supply to drive them, an accelerometer, and a microcontroller.
[Ty and Gig] were planning to use an ESP8266, but misplaced it and went with an Arduino Mega instead. (You know what they say — buy a replacement and the one you lost will turn up almost immediately.) The beautiful frame is made from leftover purpleheart, a hardwood that turns purple with exposure to air. Check out the build video after the break.
Too lazy to reset your hourglass every hour? Here’s one that flips itself.
Continue reading “LED Hourglass Moves Like The Real Thing”
[Dr.Duino] recently completed the latest piece of what he calls “Interactive Furniture” – the GoonieBox. It took over 800 hours of design and assembly work and the result is fascinating. Part clock and part puzzle box, it’s loaded with symbols, moving parts, lights, riddles, sounds, switches, and locked compartments. It practically begs visitors to take a closer look.
The concept of Interactive Furniture led [Dr.Duino] to want to create a unique piece of decor that visitors could interact with. That alone wasn’t enough — he wanted something that wouldn’t require any explanation of how it worked; something that intrinsically invited attention, inspection, and exploration. This quest led to creating The GoonieBox, named for its twin inspirations of the 1985 film The Goonies as well as puzzles from the game “The Room“.
Embedded below are two short videos: the first demonstrates the functions of the box, and the second covers the build process. There’s laser-cut wood, plenty of 3D printed parts, and a whole lot of careful planning and testing.
Continue reading “It’s A Clock! It’s A Puzzle! It’s The GoonieBox!”
Once upon a time, [Mike] bought an hourglass for his sister. He intended to build it into a clock and give it to her as a gift, but life and other projects got in the way. Fast forward a couple of decades to the point when it all came together and [Mike] had everything he needed on hand to build a beautiful wooden clock that automatically flips the hourglass over.
Every 60 minutes, the bulb, which is situated inside a handcrafted maple ring, rotates 180 degrees to restart the flow of sand. Whatever number is at the top of the outer wheel denotes the current hour. The digit for the next hour is always at the five o’clock position relative to the current hour. This works out because the pockets on the outside of the bulb’s ring share a 5:6 ratio with the gear teeth on the outer ring. Confused? Watch the time-lapse video from [Mike]’s that shows it in action.
[Mike] was determined to build this clock using only things he already had on hand, like a cheap digital watch to keep time and a car window motor to rotate the hourglass. He hacked a USB port into the watch so he could use the hourly chime function to trigger the motor through a quad op-amp. The motor runs until it is triggered to shut off optically—a pair of slits cut into the gear that moves the hourglass pass over a sensor. [Mike] built a beautiful box to hold the guts from a nice piece of walnut and spared no detail in the design.
There are a ton of build pictures on the projects site and an in-depth video tour of the clock, which is embedded after the break. Whether they are designed to amaze or confuse, we love a good clock build around here. If you’re into hourglasses, we featured a digital version not too long ago.
Continue reading “This Hourglass Flips Itself”
French robot-artist [Lyes Hammadouche] tipped us off to one of his latest works: a collaboration with [Ianis Lallemand] called Texel. A “texel” is apparently a time-pixel, and the piece consists of eight servo-controlled hourglasses that can tip themselves over in response to viewers walking in front of them. Besides making graceful wavelike patterns when people walk by, they also roughly record the amount of time that people have spent looking at the piece — the hourglasses sit straight up when nobody’s around, resulting in a discrete spatial representation of people’s attentions to the piece: texels.
We get jealous when we see artists playing around with toys like these. Texel uses LIDAR scanners, Kalman-filtered naturally, to track the viewers. openFrameworks, OpenCV, and ROS. In short, everything you’d need to build a complex, human-interactive piece like this using completely open-source tools from beginning to end. Respect!
Continue reading “Texel: Art Tracks You, Tracks Time”
We’ve seen a glut of time-keeping projects lately. We guess time was the original motivator for technology so we’re okay with it (but we’re not calling ourselves Clockaday quite yet). This clock, or more appropriately this timer, is a homemade hourglass that [Andrei] put together. The finished look is simple but he put some real time into its production.
The glass portion is a combination of two wine glasses. He removed the stems, ground the bottoms flat, then drilled holes to allow the sand to pass. He used plumbers putty around the top of the upturned reservoir to create a temporary bowl of water which cooled the glass during drilling. This prevented cracking by keeping the friction generated heat at bay. Working with the glass took a total of around five hours.
To assemble, he epoxied the two wine glasses together, routed out a ring in the wood bases for the lips, and used dowels to connect the two ends. [Andrei] concluded that the gentle slope at the bottom of the wine glasses is not the ideal shape as some sand can get stuck in them. Perhaps champagne flutes for his next build? At any rate, we think it’s a unique, non-automated hourglass build.
[Peter] thought of a creative, way to generate random entropy for under $100.
The USB Hourglass combines a sand timer with a rotating mechanism and an optical beam through the center of the timer to observe the falling sand. The amount of light reaching a detector is digitized at frequent intervals and processed by a microcontroller to determine when to rotate the hourglass. The digitized light levels are also sent by USB to a host PC where they can be used as a source of random entropy. Power is supplied over the USB cable.
With the USB Hourglass, the user can look at the sand falling through the center of the hourglass and monitor the randomness in the USB output data. And one can read the code line-by-line, compile it, and upload it to the microcontroller using only open-source and widely supported tools.