Saving A Clock Radio With An LM8562

Smart phones have taken the place of a lot of different devices especially as they get more and more powerful. GPS, music and video player, email, and of course a phone are all functions tied up in these general-purpose devices. Another casualty of the smart phone revolution is the humble bedside alarm clock as its radio, alarm, and timekeeping functionalities are also provided by modern devices. [zst123] has a sentimental attachment to the one he used in the 00s, though, and set about restoring it to its former glory.

Most of the issue with the clock involved drift with the timekeeping circuitry. Since it wasn’t accurately keeping the time anymore, losing around 10 minutes a day, the goal to save it was to use NTP to get the current time and a microcontroller to make the correction automatically. Rather than replace everything in the clock except the display, [zst123] is using the existing circuit board and adding an ESP8266 to grab the time from the Internet. A custom driver board reads the current time displayed on the clock directly from the display itself and then the ESP8266 can adjust it by using the existing buttons through a relay wired in parallel.

Using the existing circuitry was certainly a challenge especially since the display was multiplexed, but the LM8562 that came with these clock radios is a common and well-documented chip for driving displays like this, giving [zst123] a leg up over something unlabeled or proprietary. Using NTP is certainly a reliable and straightforward way of getting the current time too but there are a few other options for projects like these like using GPS or even a radio signal.

How Many Time Zones Are There Anyway?

Nowadays, it’s an even bet that your newest project somehow connects to the Internet and, thus, to the world. Even if it doesn’t, if you share your plans, someone might reproduce your creation in some far distant locale. If your design uses time, you might need to think about time zones. Easy, right? That’s what [Zain Rizvi] thought until he tried to deploy something that converted between timezones. You can learn from his misconceptions thanks to a detailed post he provides.

You might think, “What’s the big deal?” After all, there’s UTC, and then there are 12 time zones ahead of UTC and 12 time zones later. But that’s not even close to true.

As [Zain] found out, there are 27 hours in a full-day cycle if you count UTC as one hour. Why? Because some islands in the Pacific wanted to be on the wrong side of the International Date Line. So there are a few extra zones to accommodate them.

You can’t even count on time zones being offset by an hour from the previous zone. Several zones have a half-hour offset from UTC (for example, India’s standard time is 5.5 hours from UTC). But surely the offset is always either a whole number or a number where the fractional part is 0.5, right?

Um, no. Nepal wants the sun to be directly over the mountain at noon, so it offsets by 45 minutes! [Zain] wonders — as we do — what would happen if the mountain shifted over time? Until 1940, Amsterdam used a 20-minute offset. Some cities are split with one half in one time zone and another in the other.

Of course, there are the usual problems with multiple names for each zone, both because many countries want their own zone and because the exact same zone is different in different languages. Having your own zone is not just for vanity, though. Daylight savings time rules will vary by zone and even, in some cases, only in certain parts of a zone. For example, in the United States, Arizona doesn’t change to daylight savings time. Oh, except for the Navajo Nation in Arizona, which does! Some areas observe daylight savings time that starts and ends multiple times during the year. Even if you observe daylight savings time, there are cases where the time shift isn’t an entire hour.

Besides multiple names, common names for zones often overlap. For example, in the United States, the Eastern Standard Time zone differs from Australia’s. Confused? You should be.

Maybe we should have more respect for multiple time zone clock projects. We’ve noticed these problems before when we felt sorry for the people who maintain the official time zone database.

Kinetic Clock Is A Clean Modern Way To Tell Time

Hackers and makers aren’t usually too interested in basic round analog clocks. They tend to prefer building altogether more arcane and complicated contraptions to display numbers for the telling of time. [alstroemeria] did just that with this nifty kinetic clock build.

The basic concept of the kinetic clock is to have a flat plate, which individual segments raise out of to create a physical (instead of illuminated) 7-segment display. This is achieved with servos which push the segments in and out using a small rack mechanism. It’s not a sophisticated build; it simply uses 30 servos to handle all the segments needed to tell time. Thus, the Arduino Mega was the perfect tool for the job. With a sensor shield added on, it has an abundance of IO, driving a ton of servos is a cinch. There’s also a DS3231 real time clock to help it keep accurate time.

Incidentally, it’s a hefty thing to print, according to YouTuber [Lukas Deem] who replicated the project. It took around 85 hours to print, and a total of 655 grams of filament – not counting mistakes and trashed parts.

And if you think you’re having deja-vu, you might well be. We’ve seen a take on this exquisite design before. We liked it then, and we like it now.

Overall, it’s a stylish build that looks as good as your 3D printer’s output will allow. A resin printer would be a massive boon in this regard. Video after the break.

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Simulating A Time-Keeping Radio Signal

As far as timekeeping goes, there’s nothing more accurate and precise than an atomic clock. Unfortunately, we can’t all have blocks of cesium in our basements, so various agencies around the world have maintained radio stations which, combined with an on-site atomic clock, send out timekeeping signals over the air. In the United States, this is the WWVB station located in Colorado which is generally receivable anywhere in the US but can be hard to hear on the East Coast. That’s why [JonMackey], who lives in northern New Hampshire, built this WWVB simulator.

Normally, clocks built to synchronize with the WWVB station include a small radio antenna to receive the 60 kHz signal and the 1-bit-per-second data transmission which is then decoded and used to update the time shown on the clock. Most of these clocks have internal (but much less precise) timekeeping circuitry to keep themselves going if they lose this signal, but [JonMackey] can go several days without his clocks hearing it. To make up for that he built a small transmitter that generates the proper timekeeping code for his clocks. The system is based on an STM32 which receives its time from GPS and broadcasts it on the correct frequency so that these clocks can get updates.

The small radio transmitter is built using one of the pins on the STM32 using PWM to get its frequency exactly at 60 kHz, which then can have the data modulated onto it. The radiating area is much less than a meter, so this isn’t likely to upset any neighbors, NIST, or the FCC, and the clocks need to be right beside it to update. Part of the reason why range is so limited is that very low frequency (VLF) radios typically require enormous antennas to be useful, so if you want to listen to more than timekeeping standards you’ll need a little bit of gear.

A wooden digital clock with a metal knob on one end

Hackaday Prize 2023: Stretch Your Day With This 29-Hour Clock

Modern life can be stressful. Many of us struggle to balance work, family, exercise, and an ever-growing list of hacking projects, all of which claim our attention during the day. If you sometimes feel that those 24 hours just don’t cut it, you might be in luck: [HIGEDARUMA] has built a clock that can stretch your day by up to five hours.

Sadly, [HIGEDARUMA] hasn’t invented time travel (yet). What his clock does instead is slow down its own pace in the evening to push back the midnight hour. When it finally does reach 12:00 a.m., the clock’s pace is accelerated to ensure it’s back in sync with the rest of the world by six in the morning. It might seem silly, but there is a certain logic to it: [HIGEDARUMA] explains that evenings felt much longer when he was a child and that he would like to try and experience that again. Our sense of time may change over our lifetime, even if the actual passage of time doesn’t.

Timescales aside, the 29-hour clock is a neat piece of work from a hardware point of view. The case is made from 4 mm laser-cut MDF with wood-grain foil on the outside. Inside, there’s an ESP32 to run the show, along with an RTC module and three four-digit seven-segment LED displays. A chunky “volume” knob on the front lets you choose how much you’d like your day to be stretched.

We’ve seen clocks with non-linear dials before, as well as extremely linear ones, but this might be the first one with a non-constant pace. It makes us wonder what the passage of time feels like for those frozen in ice for 46,000 years.

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A white, house-shaped clock with the words "TEMPUS NECTIT" written in faux Roman script in black on a strip of silver at the base of the "roof." a white power cord extends from the left of the enclosure, and the center of the clock is a 22 pin knitting machine wheel with one pin covered in silver metalic. A white plastic peg extends from the bottom right of the enclosure to hold the feedstock yarn.

Tempus Nectit, A DIY Knitting Clock With Instructions

We’re no strangers to unusual clocks here at Hackaday, and some of our favorites make time a little more tangible like [Kyle Rankin]’s knitting clock.

Inspired by our coverage of [Siren Elise Wilhelmsen]’s knitting clock, [Rankin] decided to build one of his own. Since details on the build from the original artist were sparse, he had to reverse engineer how the device worked. He identified that a knitting clock is essentially a knitting machine with a stepper motor replacing the hand crank.

Using a Raspberry Pi with an Adafruit motor hat connected to a stepper motor and a 3D printed motor adapter, [Rankin] was able to drive the knitting machine to do a complete round of knitting every twelve hours. By marking one of the knitting pegs as an hour hand, the clock works as a traditional clock in addition to its year-long knitting task. [Rankin] says he still has some fine tuning to work on, but that he’s happy to have had the chance to combine so many of his interests into a single project.

If you’re looking for more knitting hacks, check out this knitted keyboard instrument or a knitted circuit board.

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A white clock with a house profile sits on a variegated grey background. A yellow skein of yarn sits on the top left side of the clock feeding into a circular loom that takes up the bulk of the center. A yellow scarf extends out the back of the clock and out of frame below the image.

Knitting Clock Makes You A Scarf For Next Year

Time got a little wibbly wobbly during these pandemic years. Perhaps we would’ve had a more tangible connection to it if [Siren Elise Wilhelmsen]’s knitting clock had been in our living rooms.

Over the course of a year, [Wilhelmsen]’s clock can stitch a two meter scarf by performing a stitch every half hour. She says, “Time is an ever forward-moving force and I wanted to make a clock based on times true nature, more than the numbers we have attached to it.” Making the invisible visible isn’t always an easy feat, but seeing a clock grow a scarf is reminiscent of cartoon characters growing a beard to organically communicate the passage of time.

We’d love some more details about the knitting machine itself, but that seems like it wasn’t the focus of the project. A very small run of these along with a couple prototypes were built, with a knitting grandfather clock now occupying the lobby of The Thief hotel in Oslo.

If you’re looking for more knitting machines, checkout this Knitting Machine Rebuild or Knitting 3D Models Into Stuffies.

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