Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Word Clock

A while back, Lauren told me about a clock made of words. It sounded interesting so I looked into them to see about what they would cost, and was surprised when it was in the $1000 range. Well, being the Computer Scientist that I am I thought to myself, "You can make that". It also just so happened that I was given an Arduino for Christmas in 2011. For those of you who don't know what an Arduino is, it is a small microcontroller that is capable of doing things like this clock.

I got started with the coding, and after a few revisions I finally got it to work, and count up the seconds correctly.

Unfortunately, that was the easy part. Next came the prototyping on the hardware. First I used a single light for each of the words (all I had was red and green).

Next It was time to design the case. I used a shadow box from hobby lobby, and it has been perfect (except for me running out of room). It had a 12" x 12" piece of glass on which we put a piece of vinyl cut out by a Silhouette. Thanks to my sister Tarin for designing the clock face for us! She's definitely more creative than me!

I used cardboard to hold the LEDs and punched them through the back to hook in the transistors. Then I wired all (-) ends together, and all the (+) ends of each word together. It turned into a wired mess!

That's it! Now it's sitting hooked up to our wall on our end table and running like a champ! There's still a few kinks to work out such as:
  1. The time isn't totally accurate. I think I need to work on making it keep track of time better, but we're going to watch it over the next few days to see how it behaves.
  2. It doesn't all fit! I have a few ideas to fix this, but in the meantime, I kinda think seeing the innards of the clock is interesting. But I doubt Lauren does.
This has been a fun project! If you want to give it a try, let me know. I'd be happy to share the details!


Here's a rough rundown of the costs (Most parts come in packs of more than needed, so here's the estimate for the actual parts):
  1. Arduino - $25 (there are much cheaper versions)
  2. Shadow Box - $15
  3. Shift Register Chips x 3 - $7.50 ($2.50 ea)
  4. LED's and Resistors x 65 - $7.50 ($0.11 ea)
  5. Wires - $10
  6. Vinyl - $2.50
So, all in all it was about $65 to put this whole thing together. It sure beats $1000

***EDIT 2***

Lauren got 3 cuts, and we both got burned by the soldering iron :)


Danny and Tarin said...

Pretty much the coolest clock (and sister) ever!

Heather said...

Oh my heck! You did it. That is totally awesome!

Kathie said...

That clock is awesome! Richie and Lauren you rock. Way to used your Silhouette!

sNick said...

NERD! Just kidding. That is very impressive.