As you probably know, we love our clocks here at Hackaday. Odd display technologies are always interesting to see, as are unusual encoding techniques such as binary, ternary or higher-radix number systems. Still, clocks are typically meant to be human-readable, even if their encoding might be a little eccentric.
[Kitchi] however built an LED-based clock that is not human-readable, at least not without quite a bit of training. This is because it displays the time by generating a QR code, which only becomes readable to most humans through the use of a smartphone app. Of course, this negates the need for a clock since your smartphone will already have one anyway — but whoever said a clock needs to be useful?
To be fair, the display could conceivably be read by a determined human, since the QR format used is the tiny Micro QR M2 version that measures only 13×13 pixels. It’s capable of storing ten decimal digits, just enough to hold the date and time in mmddhhmmss format. The fixed part of the QR code is made of paper, while the variable part is formed through a grid of 90 white LEDs. The LEDs are mounted on a piece of prototype board along with a PIC 16F1504 microcontroller, two TM1637 LED drivers and a DS1307 real-time clock with battery backup.
If decoding QR codes is not your thing, or you simply haven’t got your smartphone on you, then the QR clock can also be set to a more human-readable format by adding a jumper. The time will then scroll across the LED screen in ordinary decimal format.
The video in the link is in Japanese, with no automatic translation available, but the build process is clearly shown and should be understandable even if you can’t follow the cheerful robotic narrator. We’ve seen a couple of QR-code based clocks before, some with an LCD screen and some with retro styling, but all of those use the larger standard QR code which definitely no human can decode visually. Or can you? Let us know in the comments!
Thanks for the tip, [J. Peterson]!
It’s true; hackers like clocks. And hackers like useless machines. But would they like an intersection of the two? We’re thinking yes, probably, though we would argue that this QR clock was at no point fully useless. Yes, a QR clock as in, whip out your phone and, ignoring the conveniently-available phone time, open the bar code reader so you can check the time on this thing. So, it’s semi-useless. But at least it doesn’t detect cameras and then hide the QR code. That would be evil.
This project started life as a display piece for the hex wall down at [megardi]’s hackerspace, but, state of the world being what it is, [megardi] hasn’t made it down there yet. And meanwhile this little guy was looking cuter and cuter, so [megardi] decided to make him more useful and freestanding. The ESP32 inside gets the official time from NIST and displays it on the 1.5″ OLED screen. It also has a single alarm now, along with some other non-QR code clock faces that display the time in various ways.
We really like the look of this clock. Honestly, with those uniform tics around the edge, it sort of reminds us of the doomsday clock — you know, the ‘minutes to midnight’ quarter clock face that shows the current perceived threat level of how close we are to destroying the world with the technologies we’ve created. That clock is kind of cute, too, which is a little bit weird considering what it represents.
Speaking of our delicate planet, here’s a gorgeous little Earth clock that casts a shadow on whatever slice of the planet is currently shrouded in darkness.
It’s been a long time since we’ve logged into a UNIX mainframe (other than our laptop) but one of our fond memories is the daily fortune: small, quirky, sometimes cryptic sayings that would pop up on the login screen if your system administrator had any sense of humor.
Apparently, we’re not alone. [Alastair] made his own fortune clock which gives you a new “fortune” every second instead of every login. There’s a catch, of course. It’s a QR clock — the fortune is encoded in a QR code instead of being displayed in human-readable form. You have to take a picture of the tiny OLED screen to know what it says. (Watch it sending him Shakespeare sonnets in the video below.)
You probably know QR codes are good for conveying URLs, but their use as general-purpose text containers is underappreciated in our book, so we’re glad to see this example. Now, we’ve seen QR clocks before (here, and here), and this version does have the disadvantage that you can actually tell what time it is. But we’re grateful for the trip down memory lane.
Continue reading “E Pluribus Unix, QR-Style” →
Here’s a new take on the QR clock concept that uses an LCD display. The concept comes from the work [ch00f] put into his two versions of a QR clock (both of which used LED arrays). The time of day is encoded using the Quick Response Code standard. This version generates a new code each second which encapsulates date, hour, minute, and second information. If you look at the image on the left you’ll notice the code is not centered. Take a look at the video after the break and you’ll see that’s because it’s bouncing around the LCD like a screensaver. Watch a little longer and you’ll see the psychedelic effects shown in the image on the right.
A PIC32 is driving the display. It’s connected to a DCF77 radio module which feeds the system atomic clock data. The color plasma effects are used to show when the device has locked onto the radio signal.
Continue reading “LCD-based QR Clock” →
With the massive response and blog cred from his QR Code clock, [ch00f] felt it was time to step up his game and update his design to a proper commercial product. His new QR clock is bigger, brighter, cheaper, and in every way better than the old version, but these improvements came at a cost.
The LED matrices [ch00f] used in his earlier, smaller version weren’t very aesthetically pleasing. He wanted the lights to shine a brilliant white, and also be somewhat attractive when not illuminated. The 8×8 LED arrays [ch00f] picked up from Futurlec had a disgusting yellow coating on each LED that turned light emitted by the blue LEDs inside to a brilliant white. This simply wouldn’t do for a commercial product with [ch00f]’s name on it, so he turned to the one place in the universe where everything was for sale: alibaba.com.
After some trials and tribulations with component manufacturers in China, [ch00f] had the perfect LED matrix; not too expensive, very good quality control, and something that looked really good when both unpowered and illuminated.
Now that his boards are being spun up, [ch00f] hopes to sell his QR clock on Tindie. Each 24×24 LED matrix should cost less than $100, a pretty good deal if you ask us. He’d like to know if anyone out there has any feature requests, to which we can only say he should get rid of the PCB border. Tiling a few of these displays and controlling them via serial would be much cooler than a QR Code clock.