Using The Moiré Effect For Unique Clock Face

If you’ve ever seen artifacts on a digital picture of a computer monitor, or noticed an unsettling shifting pattern on a TV displaying someone’s clothes which have stripes, you’ve seen what’s called a Moiré pattern where slight differences in striping of two layers create an emergent pattern. They’re not always minor annoyances though; in fact they can be put to use in all kinds of areas from art to anti-counterfeiting measures. [Moritz] decided to put a few together to build one of the more unique clock displays we’ve seen.

The clock itself is made of four separate Moiré patterns. The first displays the hours with a stretching pattern, the second and third display the minutes with a circular pattern, and the seconds are displayed with a a spiral type. The “hands” for the clock are 3D printed with being driven by separate stepper motors with hall effect sensors for calibration so that the precise orientation of the patterns can be made. A pair of Arduinos control the clock with the high-accuracy DS3231 module keeping track of time, and [Moritz] built a light box to house the electronics and provide diffuse illumination to the display.

Moiré patterns can be used for a number of other interesting use cases we’ve seen throughout the years as well. A while back we saw one that helps ships navigate without active animations or moving parts and on a much smaller scale they can also be used for extremely precise calipers.

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Pi Pico Helps Restring Badminton Rackets

Stringing a badminton racquet is a somewhat complicated job. It needs to be done well if the racquet is to perform well and the player is to succeed. To that end, [kuokuo] built a machine of their own to do that very task. Even better, they’ve made it open source so other hobbyists can benefit from their work.

The build is named PicoBETH, which stands for Pico Badminton Electronic Tension Head. It’s based around the Raspberry Pi Pico, as you might imagine. The Pico is charged with controlling the stringing procedure via a stepper motor and lead screw, while using a load cell to measure string tension during the process. A small two-line character LCD serves as the user interface, along with some buttons, LEDs and a buzzer for feedback. The electronic stringing gear is mounted on to a traditional manual drop-weight stringing machine to execute the process faster and more accurately, at least in theory.

Files are on Github for those that wish to explore the build further. It’s not the first stringing machine we’ve featured here, either! Video after the break.
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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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A 3D-printed clock that uses flaps for the digits that get rotated.

Non-Split-Flap Clock Does It With Fewer Flaps

As cool as split-flap clocks and displays are, they do have a few disadvantages. The mechanism sticks out on the side, and the whole thing relies on gravity. Some people don’t care for the visual split in the middle of each digit that comes as a result. And their cousins, the Numechron clocks? Those wheels, especially the hours wheel, are really big compared to the size of what they display, so the clock housings are huge by comparison.

[shiura] decided to re-invent the digital display and came up with this extremely cool spinning flap mechanism that uses a lip to flip each flap after it is shown. Thanks to this design, only half the number of flaps are needed. Not only is the face of the clock able to be much larger compared to the overall size of the thing, the whole unit is quite shallow. Plus, [shiura] tilted the display 15° for better visibility.

If you want to build one of these for yourself, [shiura] has all the STLs available and some pretty great instructions. Besides the printed parts, you don’t need much more than the microcontroller of your choice and a stepper motor. Check out the demo/build video after the break, and stick around for the assembly video.

Don’t mind the visual split in the numbers? Check out this split-flap clock that uses a bunch of magnets.

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Designing A Quality Camera Slider Can Be Remarkably Satisfying

Camera sliders are great creative tools, letting you get smooth controlled shots that can class up any production. [Anthony Kouttron] decided to build one for an engineering class, and he ended up mighty satisfied with what he and his team accomplished.

As an engineering class project, this wasn’t a build done on a whim. Instead, [Anthony] and his fellow students spent plenty of time hashing out what they needed this thing to do, and how it should be built. An Arduino was selected as the brains of the operation, as a capable and accessible microcontroller platform. Stepper motors and a toothed belt drive were used to move the slider in a controllable fashion. The slider’s control interface was an HD44780-based character LCD, along with a thumbstick and two pushbuttons. The slider relied on steel tubes for a frame, which was heavy, but cost-effective and easy to fabricate. Much of the parts were salvaged from legendary e-waste bins on the university grounds.

The final product was stout and practical. It may not have been light, but the steel frame and strong stepper motor meant the slider could easily handle even heavy DSLR cameras. That’s something that lighter builds can struggle with.

Ultimately, it was an excellent learning experience for [Anthony] and his team. As a bonus, he got some great timelapses out of it, too. Video after the break.

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A DIY split-flap clock in red, black, and white.

Split-Flap Clock Uses Magnets Everywhere

While split-flap alarm clocks once adorned heavy wood nightstands in strong numbers, today the displays are most commonly found in train stations and airports. Hey, at least they’re still around, right? Like many of us, [The Wrench] has always wanted to make one for themselves, but they actually got around to doing it.

A DIY split-flap clock and its magnetic base.This doesn’t seem like a beginner-friendly project, but [The Wrench] says they were a novice in 3D design and so used Tinkercad to design all the parts. After so many failures, they settled on a design for each unit that uses a spool to attach the flaps, which is turned by a stepper motor.

A small neodymium magnet embedded in the primary gear and a Hall effect sensor determine where the stepper motor is, and in turn, which number is displayed. Everything is handled by an Arduino Nano on a custom PCB.

Aside from the sleek, minimalist look, our favorite part is that [The Wrench] used even more magnets to connect each display segment to the base. You may have noticed that there are only three segments, because the hours are handled by a single display that has flaps for 10, 11, and 12. This makes things simpler and gives the clock an interesting look. Be sure to check out the build video after the break.

Want to build a more complicated clock? Try suspending sand digits in the air with persistence of vision.

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Roboticizing An Etch-a-Sketch

The Etch-a-Sketch was a popular toy, but a polarizing one. You were either one of those kids that had the knack, or one of the kids that didn’t. [Micah] was pretty firmly in the latter group, so decided to roboticize the Etch-a-Sketch so a computer could draw for him instead.

The build uses a pair of stepper motors attached to the Etch-a-Sketch’s knobs via 3D-printed adapters. It took [Micah] a few revisions to get the right design and the right motors for the job, but it all came together. A Raspberry Pi is charged with driving the motors to draw the desired picture.

Beyond the mechanics, [Micah] also does a great job of explaining the challenges around drawing and the drive software. Namely, the Etch-a-Sketch has a major limitation in that there’s no way to move the stylus without drawing a line. He accounts for this in his code for converting and drawing images.

The robot draws slowly but surely. The final result is incredibly impressive, and far exceeds what most of us could achieve on by hand. We’ve seen some similar builds in the past, too. Video after the break.

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