[Build Some Stuff] created an unusual spiral clock that’s almost entirely made from laser-cut wood, even the curved and bendy parts.
The clock works by using a stepper motor and gear to rotate the clock’s face, which consists of a large dial with a spiral structure. Upon this spiral ramp rolls a ball, whose position relative to the printed numbers indicates the time. Each number is an hour, so if the ball is halfway between six and seven, it’s 6:30. At the center of the spiral is a hole, which drops the ball back down to the twelve at the beginning of the spiral so the cycle can repeat.
The video (embedded below) demonstrates the design elements and construction of the clock in greater detail, and of particular interest is how the curved wall of the spiral structure consists of a big living hinge, a way to allow mostly rigid materials to flex far beyond what they are used to. Laser cutting is well-suited to creating living hinges, but it’s a technique applicable to 3D printing, as well.
Fibonacci numbers are seen in the natural structures of various plants, such as the florets in sunflower heads, areoles on cacti stems, and scales in pine cones. [HackerBox] has developed a Fibonacci Spiral LED Badge to bring this natural phenomenon to your electronics.
To position each of the 64 addressable LEDs within the PCB layout, [HackerBox] computed the polar (r,θ) coordinates in a spreadsheet according to the Vogel model and then converted them to rectangular (x,y) coordinates. A little more math translates the points “off origin” into the center of the PCB space and scale them out to keep the first two 5 mm LEDs from overlapping. Finally, the LED coordinates were pasted into the KiCad PCB design file.
An RP2040 microcontroller controls the show, and a switch on the badge selects power between USB and three AA batteries and a DC/DC boost converter. The PCB also features two capacitive touch pads. [HackerBox] has published the KiCad files for the badge, and the CircuitPython firmware is shared with the project. If C/C++ is more your preference, the RP2040 MCU can also be programmed using the Arduino IDE.
Whether you’re a fan of compelling Tool songs, or merely appreciate mathematical beauty, you might be into the spirals defined by the Fibonacci sequence. [RuddK5] used the Fibonacci curve as the inspiration for this fun clock build.
The intention of the clock is not to display the exact time, but to give a more organic feel of time, via a rough representation of minutes and hours. A strip of addressable LEDs is charged with display duty. The description is vague, but it appears that the 24 LEDs light up over time to show the amount of the day that has already passed by. The LEDs are wound up in the shape of a Fibonacci spiral with the help of a 3D printed case, and is run via a Wemos D1 microcontroller board.
It’s a fun build, and one that we can imagine would scale beautifully into a larger wall-hanging clock design if so desired. It at once could display the time, without making it immediately obvious, gradually shifting the lighting display as the day goes on.
Say what you will about [Thomas Edison], but it’s hard to deny the genius of his self-proclaimed personal favorite invention: the phonograph. Capturing sound as physical patterns on a malleable medium was truly revolutionary, and the basic technology that served as the primary medium of recorded sound for more than a century and built several major industries is still alive and kicking today.
With so much technological history behind it, what’s the aspiring inventor to do when the urge to spin your own phonograph records strikes? Easy — cut them from wood with a CNC router. At least that’s how [alnwlsn] rolled after the “one-percent inspiration” hit him while cutting a PCB with his router. Reasoning that the tracks on the copper were probably about as fine as the groove on a record, he came up with some math to describe a fine-pitch spiral groove and overlay data from a sound file, and turn the whole thing into G-code.
For a suitable medium, he turned to the MDF spoil board used to ship PCB stencils, which after about three hours of milling resulted in a rather hairy-looking 78-RPM record. Surprisingly, the record worked fairly well on a wind-up Victrola. The spring-powered motor was a little weak for the heavy wooden record and needed a manual assist, but you can more or less clearly hear the 40-second recording. Even more surprising was how much better the recording sounded when the steel needle was replaced with a chunk of toothpick. You can check out the whole thing in the video below, and you’ll find the G-code generation scripts over on GitHub.
If there’s one thing that woodworkers have always been good at, it’s coming up with clever jigs and work-holding solutions. Most jigs, however, are considerably simpler and more static than this CNC-controlled scroll saw add-on that makes cool wooden spirals a snap.
As interesting as the products of this setup are, what we like about this is the obvious care and craftsmanship [rschoenm] put into making what amounts to a hybrid between a scroll saw and a lathe. Scroll saws are normally used to make narrow-kerf cuts in thin, delicate materials, often with complicated designs using very tight radius turns. In this case, though, stock is held between centers on the lathe-like carriage. The jig uses a linear slide driven by a stepper and a lead screw to translate the workpiece perpendicular to the scroll saw blade while a geared headstock rotates it. Starting with the blade inserted into a through-hole, the saw slowly cuts a beautiful nested spiral down the length of the workpiece. An Uno, a GRBL shield, and some stepper drivers let a little G-code control the two axes of the jig.
The video below shows it in action; things do get a bit wobbly as the cut progresses, but in general the jig works wonderfully and results in some lovely pieces. At first we thought these would purely be objets d’art, but then we thought about this compression screw grinder for DIY injection molding machines and realized these wooden screws look pretty similar.
We’ve often said that one of the best applications of desktop 3D printing is the production of custom enclosures. A bespoke case adds a touch of professionalism to any project, and considering the materials needed to print one will cost less than even the cheapest generic project box, it’s a no-brainer. There’s only one problem: it can take hours to print even a simple case.
As you might expect, there are some trade-offs here. For one, the walls of the box can’t be very thick since the printer is only making one pass. The nozzle on most printers is 0.4 mm, but in his experiments, [Electrobob] has found he’s able to reliably double that to a wall thickness of 0.8 mm by adjusting the extrusion rate.
You also need to approach the design a bit differently during the CAD phase. Printing holes in the side of the enclosure, which would be easy enough to do normally, doesn’t really work when running in spiral mode. For those situations, [Electrobob] recommends designing a “pocket” into the side that you can come back and cut out with a knife. It will add a little time to the post-processing stage, but the time saved during the print will more than make up for it.
So how much faster are we talking about? In the example [Electrobob] shows in his write-up, the print time went from nearly two hours to just 18 minutes. The resulting enclosure obviously looks a bit different than the traditionally printed version, and isn’t as strong, but the concept still clearly holds promise for some applications. If you’re building a sensor network that needs a bunch of enclosures, those time savings will really add up.