The purpose of a clock is to show the time, obviously. But if you’ve followed Hackaday for some time, you’ll know there are about a million different ways of achieving this. [illusionmanager] added yet another method in his Pingo Color Clock, which, as the name suggests, uses color as the main indicator.
The clock’s face is divided into three concentric circular zones. The zone at the center shows the hours, while the outer ring indicates the minutes. Both change their color such that they match the zone in between, which always shows a complete rainbow, at the desired location. In the picture above for example, the magenta inner circle matches the rainbow at the 10 o’clock position, while the yellow outer circle matches it at 10 minutes past the hour, meaning it’s currently 10:10.
The rainbow ring is also moving however, and by adjusting its rotation through time you can get some interesting effects. [illusionmanager] programmed it in such a way that the outer ring is always yellow during the day, purple at night, and red at sunrise and sunset. The overall brightness is also adjusted to a day/night schedule.
As complex as the clock’s appearance may be, inside it’s quite a simple design. Nine concentric circular LED strips are driven by an ESP8266, which retrieves the time and sunrise information through its WiFi connection. A piece of translucent white acrylic acts as a diffuser, while a 3D-printed enclosure holds everything together.
Encoding the time using different colors of light has been done before in various different ways, and while we haven’t seen Pingo in real life, we believe it should be somewhat easier to read than most of those examples. It might actually form a nice complement to a recent analog LED ring clock.
LEDs have become so ubiquitous in our projects that just hearing that term probably conjures images of tiny illuminated domes in an array of single-spectrum colors. It’s easy to forget that these efficient sources of light come in a variety of form factors, including the retro-tacular filaments that [bitborked] used to make his beautiful analog LED wall clock.
Aside from its aesthetics, this timepiece features some great design. A custom PCB acts as a hub for all the LED filament spokes. The onboard brains come in the form of an ESP32, which means it can keep extremely accurate time via NTP. WS2811 LED controllers, which we’re so accustomed to seeing alongside RGB LEDs that they almost feel strange to see here, provide the 12 volts required for each filament and make individual addressing a breeze.
[bitborked] takes advantage of that addressability to display other animations in addition to the standard clock face. They also plan to implement MQTT for eventual alerts from other home automation devices. When it comes to just telling time, you can discern the individual “hands” by differences in their brightness, which sadly does not show up as well in video as it does in real life.
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.
Roman numerals are, by modern standards, a bit unusual. By virtue of using designations for both 5 and 10, and not scaling well to higher numbers, they’ve fallen out of favor outside of some specific uses. One of those is in time keeping, in which many clocks use the classical numerals instead of the more popular Arabic replacements. [Nicola]’s clock does too, albeit in a rather unusual way.
The build begins with a faux-neon palm tree LED decoration, which is gutted and refitted with a WS2812B LED strip, run by an Arduino Nano. An RTC is used to keep accurate time, and the time is set by running a one-off program to initialise the clock.
To tell the time, the LEDs are color coded. However, instead of using a binary representation that many can find unfamiliar, colors are chosen instead to correspond to Roman numerals. Blue, green, red and yellow are chosen to represent 1, 5, 10, and 50, or I, V, X, and L respectively. The Github has more details for the curious. The clock uses 24 hour time, and we think we’ve figured out how the display works – with hours on the left and minutes on the right.
We see so many clocks here at Hackaday, and among those we see our fair share of binary clocks. But to see one that at first sight looks as though it might be a commercial product when it is in fact a one-off project is something special. That’s just what [Tobi4sDE] has done though, with his desktop BCD binary LED clock.
The front panel is a black PCB on which sit the LEDs that form the binary display, and its back holds an ATMega328P microcontroller and DS3231 real-time clock. A smart desktop case is 3D-printed, and while the clock is USB-powered it features a CR2032 coin cell as a backup to hold the time while the USB is disconnected.
Unexpectedly he’s used a mini USB socket rather than the expected micro USB, but the rest of the clock is one we’d probably all have on our desks given the chance. We’d even go so far as to say we’d have this one as a kit if it were available.
Of course, regular readers will notice that this isn’t the only high-standard BCD timepiece you’ll have seen recently, though the other one was a wristwatch.
At a glance, little Mr. Rise and Shine can see if it’s time to spread cheer, or if he has to stay in his room and play a bit longer. At 6:00AM, the light powers on and glows red. At 6:50, it turns yellow for 10 minutes. At the first reasonable hour of the day, 7:00AM, it finally turns green. In reading the code, we noticed that it also goes red at 8:00PM for 45 minutes, which tells us it also functions as a go-to-sleep indicator.
In an era when you might get chastised if your mobile phone is more than two years old, it’s easy to forget that hardware was not always meant to be a temporary commodity. We acknowledge a few standout examples of classic hardware still surviving into the modern era, such as vintage computers, but they’re usually considered to be more of a novelty than an engineering goal. In a disposable society, many have forgotten that quality components and a well thought out design should give you a service life measured in decades, not months.
Cracking open the case shows a unique and highly functional construction style. Notches cut into the side panels of the case accept individual protoboards in a “blade” type configuration, with the blades connected by a handful of individual wires. No digging through the parts bin for a “worthless” old IDE cable to tear up back in the 1970’s.