Posts with «clocks» label

Wake up to this unique VFD alarm clock!

If you’re a fan of novel timepieces, then you’ll want to check out Christine Thompson’s VFD Alarm Clock.

The device features a USSR-manufactured IV-27V 7-segment tube, capable of displaying 13 numbers or letters via a 24V supply, though the MAX6921 chip used here means that only 10 grids are used.

10 characters, however, are plenty to show time, date, humidity, temperature, and pressure, plus the text “WAKE UP!” when an audible alarm sounds.

The clock runs on an Arduino Mega, along with an RTC module, a keypad, and secondary LCD screen on the back to assist with setting it up.

Geometric Nixie tube clock and environmental display

Creators keep coming up with new clock designs, and while you might think that every new possibility has been exhausted, Christine Thompson has proved this assumption wrong once again with her “VFD Trilateral Clock.

This Arduino Uno-powered device employs a stepper motor to rotate a triangular prism shape with scales for hours and minutes on one side, temperature in Celsius and Fahrenheit on the other, and humidity and pressure on the third surface.

The geometric scale travels in 120-degree steps, causing each face to line up with a pair of IN-13 Nixie tubes on either side. These linear tubes are then used to indicate time and environmental conditions in a beautiful bell jar display, as seen at around 3:30 in the video below.

While waiting for the delivery of parts for another project I decided to push ahead with this project. At its heart is two IN-13M Nixie tubes. These tubes are designed to provide a linear scale between maximum and minimum points using an illuminated column. The project uses two of these IN-13M, three wire Nixie tubes to show, time (Hours and Minutes), temperature (Celsius and Fahrenheit), Humidity (percentage), and Pressure (millibars).

At this point I would like to thank Dr. Scott M. Baker for his great web site, which provided me with all the information I needed to get these Nixie tubes to work. In particular the Current Regulator as displayed and detailed on his web site.

The project uses a BME280 sensor to determine the temperature, pressure and humidity and RTC clock to monitor time. As the system needs to display six different values it was necessary to construct a rotating central display which showed these values against six scales. In order to achieve this an equilateral triangle of wood was fashioned, each side showing two sets of values. A stepper motor was mounted under the top platform and this motor rotates through 120 degrees in time for the next set of values to be displayed on the two Nixie tubes.

Build a fully functional binary clock with your Uno

If you want to show everyone your computer prowess—or perhaps get a little practice—binary clocks are a great way to do so. These clocks express time in 1s and 0s instead of 0 through 9, and while the concept is pretty simple, actually creating one is less than straightforward… or used to be.

The Binary Clock Shield, now on Crowd Supply, aims to make this type of clock build extremely easy. This board plugs into an Arduino Uno and features 17 RGB LEDs to act as binary digits, along with an RTC module and backup battery socket. 

The device also includes a piezo speaker for sound output, plus three user buttons, great for setting the time or whatever other unique application you have in mind!

Gorgeous Nixie clock features three types of tubes

Nixie tubes require electricity in the range of 180VDC, making them challenging to work with. Maker Christine Thompson, however, decided to take Nixie art to a new level, creating a clock with three different types of tubes! 

This clock, or perhaps more accurately “info display,” shows the time and date with six IN-18 tubes mounted on the top. In the front, six IN-12A and two IN-15A tubes are also available to show time, date, pressure, temperature, and humidity.

A pair of Arduino Mega boards are used to control this retro-inspired contraption, along with an array of wiring, perf board, and other components, stuffed inside a very nice wooden enclosure. 

This is my first Nixie styled clock I have constructed. The clock actually consists of two clocks, the first being a 6 x IN-18 tube clock which is mounted on the clock’s top and displays both time and date. The second clock, this time based on 6 x IN-12A and 2 x IN-15A nixie tubes displays at the front of the clock and can display, time, date, pressure (with units and trend), temperature (both Centigrade and Fahrenheit) and, humidity (with units and trend). The time and date are separated with two single neon lamp-based separators, while only one of these lamps is displayed, to represent a decimal point, when the pressure, humidity or temperature is displayed. Both these clocks use “Direct/Static Drive” to power the displays and are based on two Arduino Mega 2560 boards. The fourteen tubes are driven by 12V to 170V DC to DC boost power supplies and 14 x K155 IC chips. The clock also powers two sets of Neon Lamps which switch off while the clock goes through its cathode cleaning cycle which happens at 19, 39 and 55 minutes past each hour. This cathode cleaning cycle consists of all six tubes displaying the digits 0 through 9 in sequence 6 times.

In addition the clock will sound a chime at 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes. At the 60 minute chime the hour chime is also sounded. The chimes are standard MP3 files using a simple MP3 player controlled by the Arduino mega. In order to save on tube life all tubes are switched off automatically when the light level in the room dims to a predefined level, this is achieved using a LRD resistor located at the back of the clock. To help dissipate any heat build up both Arduino Mega ICs have copper heat fins attached and a 5V fan draws air out of the clock, cool air entering through a hole in the bottom plate.

The user can adjust the time, date, chimes, and chimes volume using one of two 16×2 LCD displays, located at the back of the clock. The BME280 temperature, humidity, and pressure sensor is mounted on the back of the clock so as to not be affected by the clock’s internal temperature.

A demo is seen in the video below, while more info and Arduino code can be found in the project’s write-up.

A brilliant clock made out of 128 LED-lit ping pong balls

Ping pong balls have long been known as excellent LED diffusers, but few have taken this technique as far as Thomas Jensma. His colorful clock features 128 LEDs, arranged in an alternating pattern, and housed in a stretched-out hexagonal wood frame. 

For control, the device uses an Arduino Nano, along with a RTC module for accurate timekeeping. Demos of the clock can be seen below, cycling through numbers and testing out the FastLED library.

Code for the build is available in Jensma’s write-up. This also includes tips on using table tennis balls as diffusers, as well as how to create an orderly array out of these spheres—useful in a wide range of projects.

Telling the Time with Robots, Lasers, and Phosphorescence

What's cooler than a clock that draws the time with a marker? One that does it with a laser of course! Build your own.

Read more on MAKE

The post Telling the Time with Robots, Lasers, and Phosphorescence appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

Telling the Time with Robots, Lasers, and Phosphorescence

What's cooler than a clock that draws the time with a marker? One that does it with a laser of course! Build your own.

Read more on MAKE

The post Telling the Time with Robots, Lasers, and Phosphorescence appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

New Project: 3D Print a Supersized Seven-Segment Clock

Building your own clock is practically a rite of passage as a Maker. 3D-print this Arduino-based desktop clock with a jumbo seven-segment LED display that glows from within.

Read more on MAKE

The post 3D Print a Supersized Seven-Segment Clock appeared first on Make: DIY Projects, How-Tos, Electronics, Crafts and Ideas for Makers.

What time is it? Explore Galileo board’s real time clock tutorial

In the past weeks we explored how to make a gsm-controlled star light, a touch-screen controlled marionette, and how to learn more about Linux on Intel Galileo Gen 2.

In today’s tutorial  you’ll learn how to create a “Wake up clock” which will turn on and illuminate the room slowly, simulating a morning sunrise. And hopefully, it will make waking up on Mondays a bit easier!

This is the bill of materials:

Intel® Galileo Gen 2 power supply
Arduino Protoshield
LED power supply
1 High power white LED(3v 700mA)
1 1000 ?F Capacitor
1 2.1 mm DC jack-to-screw terminal adaptor
1 10k potentiometer

1 1.8Ohm 2w resistor
1 LM317t voltage regulator
2 10kOhm resistor
1 2n7000 transistor
1 Coin battery holder
Jumper wires
Colored wire
Pin header
1 8 mm magnet
Stiff wire (that is attracted to magnets)
Wood glue
Hot glue sticks
4 mm MDF components – lasercut according to drawing
Plexiglas components – lasercut according to drawing
Nuts and bolts

Download the files and learn how to assemble electronics at this link

Various 1 Hz Oscillator Methods


During the fun and enjoyment of experimenting with electronics there will come a time when you need a nice 1 Hz oscillator to generate a square-wave signal to drive something in the circuit. On… off… on… off… for all sorts of things. Perhaps a metronome, to drive a TTL clock, blink some LEDs, or for more nefarious purposes. No matter what you need that magic 1 Hz for – there’s a variety of methods to generate it – some more expensive than others – and some more accurate than others.

A few of you may be thinking “pull out the Arduino” and yes, you could knock out a reasonable 1 Hz – however that’s fine for the bench, but wild overkill for embedding a project as a single purpose. So in this article we’ll run through three oscillator methods that can generate a 1 Hz signal (and other frequencies) using methods that vary in cost, accuracy and difficulty – and don’t rely on mains AC. That will be a topic for another day.

Using a 555 timer IC

You can solve this problem quite well for under a dollar with the 555, however the accuracy is going to heavily rely on having the correct values for the passive components. We’ll use the 555 in astable mode, and from a previous article here’s the circuit:

 And with a 5V power supply, here’s the result:

As you can see the cycle time isn’t the best, which can be attributed to the tolerance of the resistors and capacitor C1. A method to increase the accuracy would be to add small trimpots in series with the resistors (and reduce their value accordingly by the trimpot value) – then measure the output with a frequency counter (etc). whilst adjusting the trimpots. If you’re curious about not using C2, the result of doing so introduces some noise on the rising edge, for example:

So if you’ve no other option, or have the right values for the passives – the 555 can do the job. Or get yourself a 555 and experiment with it, there’s lots of fun to be had with it.

Using a GPS receiver module

A variety of GPS modules have a one pulse per second output (PPS) and this includes my well-worn EM406A module (as used in the Arduino tutorials):

With a little work you can turn that PPS output into a usable and incredibly accurate source of 1 Hz. As long as your GPS can receive a signal. In fact, this has been demonstrated in the April 2013 edition of Silicon Chip magazine, in their frequency counter timebase project. But I digress.

If you have an EM406A you most likely have the cable and if not, get one to save your sanity as the connector is quite non-standard. If you’re experimenting a breakout board will also be quite convenient, however you can make your own by just chopping off one end of the cable and soldering the required pins – for example:

You will need access to pins 6, 5, 2 and 1. Looking at the socket on the GPS module, they are numbered 6 to 1 from left to right. Pin 6 is the PPS output, 5 is GND, 2 is for 5V and 1 is GND. Both the GNDs need to be connected together.

Before moving forward you’re probably curious about the pulse, and want to see it. Good idea! However the PPS signal is incredibly quick and has an amplitude of about 2.85 V. If you put a DSO on the PPS and GND output, you can see the pulses as shown below:

 To find the length of the pulse, we had to really zoom in to a 2 uS timebase:

 Wow, that’s small. So a little external circuitry is required to convert that minuscule pulse into something more useful and friendly. We’ll increase the pulse length by using a “pulse stretcher”. To do this we make a monostable timer (“one shot”) with a 555. For around a half-second pulse we’ll use 47k0 for R1 and 10uF for C1. However this triggers on a low signal, so we first pass the PPS signal through a 74HC14 Schmitt inverter – a handy part which turns irregular signals into more sharply defined ones – and also inverts it which can then be used to trigger the monostable. Our circuit:

 and here’s the result – the PPS signal is shown with the matching “stretched” signal on the DSO:

So if you’re a stickley for accuracy, or just want something different for portable or battery-powered applications, using the GPS is a relatively simple solution.

Using a Maxim DS1307/DS3232 real-time clock IC

Those of you with a microcontroller bent may have a Maxim DS1307 or DS3232. Apart from being pretty easy to use as a real-time clock, both of them have a programmable square wave output. Connection via your MCU’s I2C bus is quite easy, for example with the DS1307:

Using a DS3232 is equally as simple. We use a pre-built module with a similar schematic. Once you have either of them connected, the code is quite simple. For the DS1307 (bus address 0x68), write 0x07 then 0x11 to the I2C bus – or for the DS3232 (bus address is also 0x68) write 0x0E then 0x00. Finally, let’s see the 1 Hz on the DSO:

Certainly not the cheapest method, however it gives you an excellent level of accuracy without the GPS.


By no means is this list exhaustive, however hopefully it was interesting and useful. If there’s any other methods you’d like to see demonstrated, leave a comment below and we’ll see what’s possible. And if you made it this far – check out my new book “Arduino Workshop” from No Starch Press.

In the meanwhile have fun and keep checking into Why not follow things on twitterGoogle+, subscribe  for email updates or RSS using the links on the right-hand column? And join our friendly Google Group – dedicated to the projects and related items on this website. Sign up – it’s free, helpful to each other –  and we can all learn something.

The post Various 1 Hz Oscillator Methods appeared first on tronixstuff.

Tronixstuff 31 Jul 14:07
1 hz  555  74hc14  astable  clock  clocks  digital  ds1307  ds3232  em406a  gps  logic  pps  timebase  tronixstuff  ttl  tutorial