Customizable Bird Clock Sings The Hours By

For those looking to build their own clocks, one of the easiest ways to get started is with a pre-built module that uses a simple quartz oscillator and drives a set of hands. This generally doesn’t allow for much design of the clock besides the face, and since [core weaver] was building a clock that plays bird songs, a much more hackable clock driver was needed to interface with the rest of the electronics needed to build this project.

The clock hands for this build are driven by a double stepper motor which controls an hour and minute hand coaxially but independently. Originally an H-bridge circuit was designed for driving each of the hands but they draw so little current in this configuration that they could be driven by the microcontroller directly. A DS3231 clock is used for timekeeping connected to an ATMega128a which controls everything else. At the start of each hour the clock plays a corresponding bird song by communicating with an mp3 module, and a remote control can also be used to play the songs on demand.

Bird clocks are not an uncommon thing to find off the shelf, but this one adds a number of customizations that let it fly above those offerings, including customizing the sounds that play on the hour and adding remote control capabilities, a lithium battery charging circuit, and a number of other creature comforts. If you’re looking for even more unique bird clock designs this binary bird clock might fit the bill.

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Synesthetic Clock Doesn’t Require Synesthesia

We often think of synesthetes as those people who associate say, colors with numbers. But the phenomenon can occur with any of the senses. Simply put, when one sense is activated, synesthesia causes one to experience an unrelated, activated sense. Sounds trippy, no?

Thankfully, [Markus Opitz]’s synesthetic clock doesn’t require one to have synesthesia. It’s actually quite easy to read, we think. Can you tell what time it is in the image above? The only real requirement seems to be knowing the AM color from the PM color. The minute display cycles through blue, green, yellow, and red as the hour progresses.

Behind that pair of GC9a01 round displays lies an ESP32 and a real-time clock module. [Markus] couldn’t find a fillArc function, so instead he is drawing triangles whose ends lie outside the visible area. To calculate the size of the triangle, [Markus] is using the angle function tangent, so each minute has an angle of 6°.

[Markus] created a simple but attractive oak housing for the clock, but suggests anything from cardboard and plastic to a book. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever used for an enclosure? Let us know in the comments.

Do you appreciate a good analog clock when you see one? Here’s a clock that uses analog meters for its display.

A DIY E-Ink Tank Watch

[Augusto Marinucci] liked the classic Cartier Tank series of dress watches aesthetic, but wanted something a bit more techy, with a decent runtime on a single battery. E-Ink displays are often used in such applications, but finding one to fit a custom case design, is a tall order. When ordering one off the shelf is not easy, the solution is to make one from scratch.

Building a programming jig is a great idea for small-scale production

The article doesn’t have much information on the E-Ink side of things, which is a bit of a shame. But from what we can glean, the segment shapes — in this case, based on the famous Apollo DSKY — are formed in the top copper of a four-layer PCB, using filled and capped vias to connect invisibly from below.

A donor E-Ink display is cut to size with scissors (we don’t know much more than this!) and glued in place around the edge to make the common electrode connection. The display PCB attaches to the control PCB, at the rear using low-profile board-to-board connectors. This board hosts a PIC16 micro, as well as an RV-3028-C7 RTC which keeps time whilst consuming a paltry 45 nA.

Five volts are provided via a MAX1722 low-power boost converter which is fed power from the CR1616 cell via a couple of logic-controllable load switches. With a low-power design such as this, it’s critical to get this correct. Any mistakes here can easily result in a very low runtime. It is easy to over-stress small button cells and kill them prematurely.

The case looks like it’s printed in a translucent resin, with the PCB stack sealed inside with a UV-cured resin pour. It’s not immediately obvious if the rear panel can be removed to access the battery and programming port. There are what appear to be screw holes, so maybe that’s possible, or maybe they’re the rear side of the PCB mounting posts. Who can tell?

If DIY hardware is but too much effort for you, then there’s the option of hacking new firmware onto an existing watch, or perhaps meeting in the middle and making something out of all those junk E-ink tags you can get from time to time?

Thanks to [JohnU] for the tip!

Low-Power Challenge: Making An Analog Clock Into A Calendar With A 50-Year Life

You have to be pretty ambitious to modify a clock to run for 50 years on a single battery. You also should probably be pretty young if you think you’re going to verify your power estimates, at least in person. According to [Josh EJ], this modified quartz analog clock, which ticks off the date rather than the time, is one of those “The March of Time” projects that’s intended to terrify incentivize you by showing how much of the year is left.

Making a regular clock movement slow down so that what normally takes an hour takes a month without making any mechanical changes requires some clever hacks. [Josh] decided to use an Arduino to send digital pulses to the quartz movement to advance the minute hand, rather than let it run free. Two pulses a day would be perfect for making a 30-day month fit into a 60-minute hour, but that only works for four months out of the year. [Josh]’s solution was to mark the first 28 even-numbered minutes, cram 29, 30, and 31 into the last four minutes of the hour, and sort the details out in code.

As for the low-power mods, there’s some cool wizardry involved with that, like flashing the Arduino Pro Mini with a new bootloader that reduces the clock speed to 1 MHz. This allows the microcontroller and RTC module to run from the clock movement’s 1.5 V AA battery. [Josh] estimates a current draw of about 6 μA per day, which works out to about 50 years from a single cell. That’s to be taken with a huge grain of salt, of course, but we expect the battery will last a long, long time.

[Josh] built this clock as part of the Low-Power Challenge contest, which wrapped up this week. We’re looking forward to the results of the contest — good luck to all the entrants!

Displaying The Time Is Elemental With This Periodic Table Clock

We see a lot of clocks here at Hackaday, so many now that it’s hard to surprise us. After all, there are only so many ways to divide the day into intervals, as well as a finite supply of geeky and quirky ways to display the results, right?

That’s why this periodic table clock really caught our eye. [gocivici]’s idea is a simple one: light up three different elements with three different colors for hours, minutes, and seconds, and read off the time using the atomic number of the elements. So, if it’s 13:03:23, that would light up aluminum in blue, lithium in green, and vanadium in red. The periodic table was designed in Adobe Illustrator and UV printed on a sheet of translucent plastic by an advertising company that specializes in such things, but we’d imagine other methods could be used. The display is backed by light guides and a baseplate to hold the WS2812D addressable LEDs, and a DS1307 RTC module gives the Arduino Nano a sense of time. The 3D printed frame of the clock has buttons for setting the time and controlling the clock; the brief video below shows it going through its paces.

We really like the attention to detail [gocivici] showed here; that UV printing really gave some great results. And what’s not to like about the geekiness of this clock? Sure, it may not be as action-packed as a game of periodic table Battleship, but it would make a great conversation starter.

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Morse Code Clock For Training Hams

It might seem antiquated, but Morse code still has a number of advantages compared to other modes of communication, especially over radio waves. It’s low bandwidth compared to voice or even text, and can be discerned against background noise even at extremely low signal strengths. Not every regulatory agency requires amateur operators to learn Morse any more, but for those that do it can be a challenge, so [Cristiano Monteiro] built this clock to help get some practice.

The project is based around his favorite microcontroller, the PIC16F1827, and uses a DS1307 to keep track of time. A single RGB LED at the top of the project enclosure flashes the codes for hours in blue and minutes in red at the beginning of every minute, and in between flashes green for each second.

Another design goal of this build was to have it operate with as little power as possible, so with a TP4056 control board, single lithium 18650 battery, and some code optimization, [Cristiano] believes he can get around 60 days of operation between charges.

For a project to help an aspiring radio operator learn Morse, a simple build like this can go a long way. For anyone else looking to build something similar we’d note that the DS1307 has a tendency to drift fairly quickly, and something like a DS3231 or even this similar Morse code clock which uses NTP would go a long way to keeping more accurate time.

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Swap The Clock Chip On The Mac SE/30 With An ATTiny85

As [Phil Greenland] explains in the first part of his excellent write-up, the lithium battery used to keep the real-time clock (RTC) going on the Macintosh SE/30 has a nasty habit of exploding and leaking its corrosive innards all over the board. Looking to both repair the damage on a system that’s already had a battery popped and avoid the issue altogether on pristine boards, he started researching how he could replace the battery with something a bit more modern.

Damage from a ruptured RTC battery.

It turns out, the ATtiny85 is pin-compatible with the Mac’s original RTC chip, and indeed, [Andrew Makousky] had already written some code that would allow the microcontroller to emulate it. This is actually a bit more complex than you might realize, as the original RTC chip was doing double-duty: it also held 256 bytes of parameter random access memory (PRAM), which is where the machine stored assorted bits of info like which drive to boot from and the mouse cursor speed.

But after getting the mod installed, the computer refused to start. It turns out the project targeted earlier machines like the Macintosh Plus and SE, and not his higher-performance SE/30. Thanks to community resources like this KiCad recreation of the SE/30’s motherboard, contemporary technical documents, and his trusty logic analyzer, [Phil] was able to figure out that the timing was off — the code was simply struggling to respond to the faster machine. Continue reading “Swap The Clock Chip On The Mac SE/30 With An ATTiny85”