A Tuning Fork Clock, With Discrete Logic

[Willem Koopman aka Secretbatcave] was looking at a master clock he has in his collection which was quite a noisy device, but wanted to use the matching solenoid slave clock mechanism he had to hand. Willem is a fan of old-school ‘sector’ clocks, so proceeded to build his ideal time piece — Vibrmatic — exactly the way he wanted. Now, since most time keeping devices utilise a crystal oscillator — which is little more than a lump of vibrating quartz — why not scale it up a bit and use the same principle, except with a metal tuning fork? (some profanity, just to warn you!)

Shock-mounted tuning force oscillator

A crystal oscillator operates in a simple manner; you put some electrical energy in, it resonates at its natural frequency, you sense that resonance, and feed it back into it to keep it sustaining. With a tuning fork oscillator, the vibration forcing and the feedback are both done via induction, coils act as the bridge between the electronic and mechanical worlds.

By mounting the tuning fork onto a shock mounting, the 257 Hz drone was kept from leaking out into the case and disturbing the household. This fork was specified to be 256 Hz, but [Willem] reckons the drag of the electromagnets pushed it off frequency a bit. Which make sense, since its a mechanical system, that has extra forces acting upon it.

The sector face was CNC cut from aluminium, the graphics engraved, then polished up a bit. Finally after a spot of paint, it looks pretty smart. Some nice chunks of upcycled wood taken from some building work spoils formed the exposed enclosure. On the electronics side, after totally ignoring the frequency error, and then tripping over a bunch of problems such as harmonics in the oscillation, and an incorrectly set-up divider, a solution which seemed to work was found, but like always, there are quite a few more details to the story to be found in the build log.

We’ve seen a tuning fork clock recently, like this 440 Hz device by [Kris Slyka] that the project above references, and whilst we’re talking about tuning forks, here’s a project log showing the insides of those ubiquitous 32.768 kHz crystal units.

Astronomical clock

An Astronomical Mechanical Clock, In More Ways Than One

If the workings of a mechanical timepiece give you a thrill, prepare to be blown away by this over-the-top astronomical clock.

The horological masterpiece, which was designed by [Mark Frank] as his “dream clock”, is a riot of brass, bronze, and steel — 1,200 pounds (544 kg) of it, in fact, at least in the raw materials pile. Work on the timepiece began in 2006, with a full-scale mockup executed in wood by Buchannan of Chelmsford, the Australian fabricator that [Mark] commissioned to make his design a reality. We have a hard time explaining the design, which has just about every horological trick incorporated into it.

[Mark] describes the clock as “a four train, quarter striking movement with the fourth train driving the astronomical systems,” which sounds far simpler than the finished product is. It includes 52 “complications,” including a 400-year perpetual calendar, tide clock, solar and lunar eclipse prediction, a planisphere to show the constellations, and even a thermometer. And, as if those weren’t enough, the clock sports both a tellurion to keep track of the Sun-Earth-Moon system and a full orrery out to the orbit of Saturn, including all the major moons. The video below shows the only recently finished masterpiece in operation.

[Mark]’s dream clock has been under construction for the better part of two decades, and we applaud not just his design but his patience. The skeletonized construction reminds us of the Clickspring clock from a few years back; now seems like a great time to go back and binge-watch that whole series again.

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Rows of nixie tubes in clear acrylic

Binary Clock Lets The Nixies Glow

We’re not here to talk about another clock. Okay, we are, but the focus isn’t about whether or not it can tell time, it’s about taking a simple idea to an elegant conclusion. In all those ways, [Marcin Saj] produced a beautiful project. Most of the nixie clocks we see are base-ten, but this uses base-two for lots of warm glow from more than a dozen replaceable units.

There are three rows for hours, minutes, and seconds. The top and bottom rows are labeled with an “H” and “S” respectively displayed on IN-15B tubes, while the middle row shows an “M” from an IN-15A tube. The pluses and minuses light up on IN-12 models so you’ll need eighteen of them for the full light show, but you could skimp and use sixteen in twelve-hour mode since you don’t need to count to twenty-four. We won’t explain how to read time in binary, since you know, you’re here and all. The laser-cut acrylic is gorgeous with clear plastic next to those shiny nixies, but you have to recreate the files or buy the cut parts as we couldn’t find vector files amongst the code and schematics.

Silly rabbit, nixies aren’t just for clocks. You can roll your own, but they’re not child’s play.

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Watch Winder Keeps Your Timepieces Ticking

Mechanical watches are triumphs of engineering on a tiny scale. Capable of keeping time by capturing the energy of the user’s own movements, they never need batteries changed. Unfortunately, they quickly lose time when not worn for a few days. To solve that problem, [sblantipodi] built a smart watch winder.

The overall build consists of six individual winder units. Each one has an ESP8266EX D1 Mini microcontroller, hooked up to a 28BYJ48 stepper motor with a ULN2003 motor driver. There’s also an OLED screen for status information. When commanded, the stepper motor turns, rotating a watch case to wind the timepieces. Control is via voice command, thanks to a Google Home Mini and a Raspberry Pi running Home Assistant. Watches can be wound individually, or all together, depending on the command given.

It’s a device that would serve any collector well, and could come in handy for watchmakers to wind customer watches waiting for pickup. Other similar builds have used special silent drives to ensure the device doesn’t disturb sleep when used on a bedside table. Video after the break.

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New Contest: Tell Time

Clocks. You love ’em, we certainly love ’em. So you hardly need a reason to take on a new clock build, but it makes it much sweeter when you know there’s a horde of people waiting to fawn over your creation. Hackaday’s Tell Time Contest is a celebration of interesting timepieces. Show off a clever way to mark the passage of time and gain the adoration of your peers, and maybe even score a prize!

The Rotating Moon Clock is an interesting take on a timepiece

From now until January 24th, you can enter your Hackaday.io project by using the “Submit project to…” menu on the left sidebar of your project page. There is only one main constraint: it needs to somehow represent time. Microseconds or millennia, minutes until the next bus arrival or centuries until Pluto completes its next orbit, we don’t care as long as you find it interesting.

Document your timepiece with pictures, a description, and all of the technical details. Three outstanding entries will each receive a $100 cash prize, based on craftsmanship, function, and creativity.

Tick-tock… don’t delay. Time’s slipping away to have your quirky clock immortalized on Hackaday.

Follow The Bouncing Needles Of This Analog Meter Clock

Our community never seems to tire of clock builds. There are seemingly infinite ways to mark the passage of time, and finding unique ways to display it is endlessly fascinating.

There’s something about this analog voltmeter clock that really seems to have caught on with the Redditors who commented on the r/DIY thread where we first spotted this. [ElegantAlchemist]’s design is very simple – just a trio of moving coil meters with nice industrial-looking bezels. The meters were wired for 300 volts AC, so the rectifier and smoothing cap were removed and the series resistance was substituted for one more appropriate for the 0-5VDC range needed for the project. New dial faces showing hours, minutes and seconds were whipped up in Corel Draw, and everything was put into a sturdy and colorful aluminum “stomp box” normally used for effects pedals. An Arduino Nano and an RTC drive the meters with a nice, bouncy action. Simple, cheap to build, and a real crowd pleaser.

The observant reader will note a similarity to a clock we covered a while back. That one chose 3D-printed cases for an airplane instrument cluster look. We like the spare case design in [ElegantAlchemist]’s build, but wonder how this clock would look in a fine wood case.

Analog Meters Become A Clock For Father’s Day

Around Father’s Day each year, we usually see a small spate of dad-oriented projects. Some are projects by dads or granddads for the kids, while others are gifts for the big guy. This analog meter clock fits the latter category, with the extra bonus of recognizing and honoring the influence [Micheal Teeuw]’s father had on him with all things technological.

[Michael] had been mulling over a voltmeter clock, where hours, minutes and seconds are displayed on moving coil meters, for a while.  A trio of analog meters from Ali Express would lend just the right look to the project, but being 200-volt AC meters, they required a little modification. [Michael] removed the rectifying diode and filtering capacitor inside the movement, and replaced the current-limiting resistor with a smaller value to get 5 volts full-range deflection on the meters. Adobe Illustrator helped with replacing the original scales with time scales, and LEDs were added to the meters for backlighting. A TinyRTC keeps time and generates the three PWM signals to drive the meters. Each meter is mounted in its own 3D-printed case, the three of which are linked together into one sleek console. We love the look, which reminds us of an instrument cluster in an airplane cockpit.

Bravo to [Michael’s Dad] for getting his son into the tinkering arts, and cheers to [Michael] on the nice build. We like seeing new uses for old meters, like these server performance monitoring meters.

[via r/DIY]