Oh Brother, Would You Look At This Cistercian Clock

We were beginning to think we’d seen it all when it comes to RGB clocks, but [andrei.erdei] found a fast path back into our hearts and minds. This clock is a digital representation of an ancient numeral system used by 13th century Cistercian monks before the Indo-Arabic system that we know and love today took over. It’s a compact system (at least for numbers 1-9,999) that produces numerals which sort of look like 16-segment displays gone crazy.

Image via Wikipedia

Every numeral has a line down the middle, and the system uses the four quadrants of space around it to display the ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands positions starting in the upper right corner.

[andrei] adapted the system to show time by assigning tens of hours to the thousands quadrant in the bottom left, hours to the hundreds quadrant in the bottom right, tens of minutes in the upper left, and minutes in the top right. The tricky part is that the system has no zero, but [andrei] just darkens the appropriate quadrant to represent zero.

The timekeeping is done with an ESP-01, and there are a total of 31 RGB LEDs including the middle bit, which blinks like a proper digital clock and doubles as a second hand. As usual, [andrei] has provided everything you’d need to build one of these for yourself. We admit that the system would take a little time to learn, but even if you never bothered to learn, this would make a nice conversation piece or focal point for sitting and staring. Take a minute to check it out in action after the break.

We love a good clock build no matter how it works. Sink your teeth into this clock that’s driven by a tuning fork.

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Beautiful And Bouncy RGB LED Skirt Reacts To Movement

Is there any garment so freeing to wear as a skirt, assuming it isn’t skin tight? (Well, unless that’s your thing — we won’t judge.) Skirts and dresses are pretty darn freeing compared to pants, so it’s too bad that most of them come without pockets. And it’s really too bad that pretty much all skirts and dresses come without RGB LEDs that can react to movement. Maybe someday.

Until then, we’ll just have to design our own LED skirt like [makeTVee] and his girlfriend did, and hope that it looks half as good. This skirt has six RGB LED strips running down the front for a total of 120 LEDs. The strips are held in place with hook and loop tape and all the electronics — an Adafruit QT Py, a 6-DOF IMU, and a USB power bank — are tucked into the waistband and can be easily removed when it’s time to wash the skirt. Continuing with the practicality theme, there are no LEDs on the back, though they could easily be added in for getting down on the dance floor.

We really love the fabric choices here. The overlay fabric looks good on its own, but it also does a great job of showing and diffusing the light, while at the same time hiding the LED strips themselves. It’s clear that they took comfort and practicality into consideration and made a wearable that’s truly wearable. [makeTVee] calls this a work in progress, but has already got a few nice animations going, which you can see in the video after the break.

If you don’t care whether your wearables are practical, try this fiber optic jellyfish skirt on for size.

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Transmit Your Gaze To This Fiber Optic LED Lamp

Call us easily amused, but we think it’s pretty amazing what can be done with a microcontroller, some RGB LEDs, and a little bit of plastic. Case in point is [andrei.erdei]’s beautiful and quite approachable fiber optic LED lamp. It’s a desktop-friendly version of a similar piece [andrei] made that is roughly nine times the size of this one and hangs on the wall. The build may be simple, but the product is intricately lovely.

We really like the visual density of this lamp — it’s just the right amount of tubes and strikes a balance between being too sparse and too chaotic. As you might expect, there’s an Arduino and some RGB LED strips involved. But the key to this build is in the 16 pieces of side-glow plastic fiber optic tubing. Side-glow is designed to let light escape along the length of the tube as opposed to end-glow, which is made to minimize light loss from one end to the other like a data pipe. This allows for all sorts of fun effects, and you can watch [andrei.erdei] go slowly and soothingly through the different colors and modes in the demo video after the break. Make sure you watch long enough to see the tubes move like the old Windows 3D pipes screensaver

Already have too many knickknacks and wall hangings? You’re missing out on prime real estate — the ceiling. Check out this fiber optic ceiling installation that reacts to music.

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LED Hourglass Moves Like The Real Thing

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.

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Ambience Lamp Ripples Like Water

After the year humanity has endured, we could all use a little more relaxation in our lives. This atmosphere lamp is just the thing to set a relaxing ambience for work, studying, or hanging out. Just touch the surface and the light ripples to life, resembling the concentric circles that form on the surface of still water when it is touched. When the light settles, it looks like an inviting pool that’s ready for a nighttime swim.

There aren’t really any surprises inside — the lamp is operated via capsense by touching the center of the top. Three NeoPixel rings and an RGB LED strip provide the lighting, and an Arduino UNO runs the show. [Qttting_F] used an inexpensive ceramic bowl with a piece of acrylic for a lid, but this could just as easily be printed in white PLA or something. Check it out in action after the break.

Ambience is nice, but sometimes you need something more functional. Those types of lamps can be printed, too.

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Giant Clock Made In The Nick Of Time

When [tnjyoung] was asked to build a huge lighted clock for a high school theater’s production of Cinderella with only two weeks before opening night, he probably wished for a fairy godmother of his own to show up and do it for him. But he and his team pulled it off, and it looks amazing. That medallion in the middle? It was laid out painstakingly by hand, using electrical tape.

This thing is 12 feet wide and weighs more than 500 pounds. Even so, it isn’t a permanent set piece, so it has to move up and down throughout the show on airplane cables. Now for the minutiae: there’s an Arduino Uno with built-in Wi-Fi that receives UDP commands from a phone to raise and lower the clock at the appropriate times. The ‘duino is also controlling two stepper motors, one for the hour hand and one for the minute hand.

Time is almost a minor character in the story of Cinderella, since she has to get back by midnight. Because of this, [tnjyoung] programmed a dozen or so time cues that move the steppers at various speeds to achieve different effects, like time flying by as she dances the night away with the Prince. Hour you still just sitting there? Sweep past the break to watch the build process fly by in a matter of minutes.

Got all the time in the world? Make a clock out of clocks. Clocks all the way down.

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Gravity-Defying Water Droplet Fountain Gets An Upgrade

When we last saw [isaac879]’s levitating RGB time fountain, it was made of wood which meant that it would absorb water and didn’t really show off the effect very well. His new version solves this problem with an acrylic case, new PCB and an updated circuit.

Like the original, this project drops water past strobing RGB LEDs creating an illusion of levitating, undulating colored water droplets. The pump at the top creates the droplets, but the timing has a tendency to drift over time. He thus implemented a PID controller to manage the pump’s drip rate, which was done by having the droplets pass by an infrared diode connected to an ATTiny85. The ’85 used the diode and PWM to control the pump motor speed and communicated to the Arduino over I2C.

The video shown below shows the whole process of designing and building the new time fountain. Everything from circuit and PCB design to 3D printing to assembly is shown along with narration describing what’s going on in case you want to build one yourself. If you do, all the files and components required are listed in the info section of the video.

There’s more that [isaac879] wants to do to improve the time fountain, but V2 looks great. It’s sleeker and smaller than the original and solves some of the design issues of the first. For more inspiration, check out some of the other levitating water fountain projects that have been posted over the years.

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