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.
We’ve all seen LED clocks where RGB LEDs are used to display time. It seems like the simpler the interface, the more likely you’d need to do math to figure out the time. This Octal Clock by [Alex Kurrasch] proves the point by using only four LEDs: the top two show hours and minutes, and the bottom two LEDs are multipliers.
Using octal numbering, [Alex] translates the data using a Venn diagram of color mixing. The mapping uses 1 as red, 2 as green, followed by yellow, blue, magenta, and cyan. It ends with 7 as white (all on) and 0 as black (all off).
As the time changes, a fading algorithm changes the display to match. He offers the time of 7:38pm as an example in the grid shown here. Base-8 math is provided; don’t worry, you’ll get really good at this if you make your own wristwatch version… people will learn to never ask you about the time.
The clock uses a ATMega64 running assembly language firmware with a DS1306E+ RTC chip keeping track of time. The enclosure is cool too; [Alex] milled the case out of mahogany and the front and back plates are anodized aluminum. The unique looking diffusers on the LEDs are actually paraffin, a trick that [Elliot Williams] mentioned in his recent article on diffuser materials.
Esoteric clocks are something of a staple among hardware hacker projects. If it can be made to tell the time correctly, even if only twice a day, the chances are someone’s made a clock from it. And if the only person who can read that clock is its creator, so much the better. Universal accessibility is not always a virtue in the world of unusual timepieces.
[Setvir] writes to us with details of his One LED Clock. It’s an Arduino Pro Micro with an RTC module and an LED. That’s all, time is communicated to the world through LED flashes. You might expect therefore that it would use Morse Code, but he’s come up with his own timing communication scheme which does have some merit. Long flashes cover a quarter of the clock face, while short flashes cover individual hours or five-minute segments. He goes into detail on the project page and we can see that once you are used to the scheme it has an elegance to it, but it certainly ticks the essential unreadable-to-the-uninitiated box for an esoteric clock.
We like it though for its simplicity and for the flashing scheme, which once explained is both efficient and easy to read. If you would like to have a go yourself he’s published his code, so go forth and cover the world with baffling single-LED timepieces!
He built the enclosure completely out of walnut, which gives it a very refined and polished look; we’re quite impressed with his woodworking skills. The cool thing about this digital clock is that he used individual LEDs to create both the digital 7-segment displays, and a ring of LEDs around it to denote the hour.
On the back are three buttons. One to change the hour, the minute, and a temperature button. By holding down the temperature button, the display will display the current room temperature — he added this because the RTC device (a DS3231) has a built-in thermometer — so why not?
Choosing a favorite LED clock on Hackaday is like picking a favorite child — we love them all — but this Star Gate themed clock from a few years ago is great — check it out!