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Word clocks normally use an array of lights to show the time, and although this project does use lights, how it works is much different than others. 

LEDs for the device are hidden behind a thin layer of PVC, while 114 tiny SG90 servos move the lights and their 3D-printed frames back and forth. The result is a stunning display where the time is spelled out by the appropriate letters. These progressively come into focus, setting them apart from inactive letters which appear to fade into the background.

An Arduino Nano drives the assembly, along with an infrared controller setup and an RTC module for accurate timekeeping. A demo can be seen in the first video below, and the very involved build process is highlighted in the second clip. 

What has 114 LEDs and is always running? As you may know the answer is a word clock. What has 114 LEDs + 114 servos and is always moving? The answer is this servo controlled word clock.

For this project I teamed up with a friend of mine which turned out to be a must because of the large effort of this build. In addition, my electronic and his mechanical skillset complemented each other quite well. The idea for this adaptation of the popular word clock came to us while we were making a regular one as Christmas gift. There, we noticed that it is also possible to project the letters from the back onto a white sheet of paper. At the time this was only a workaround solution to hide our crappy craftsmanship since we ended up with a lot of bubbles while attaching a vinyl sticker with the letters to the back of a glass plate. We then noticed that one can achieve interesting effects when bending the sheet of paper since the letters change size and become blurred. This made us come up with the idea to make a word clock where the letters are projected from the back onto a screen and can be moved back and forth to change the size of the projected image. At first we were a bit reluctant to build this project because of the costs and effort it takes when you want to move each of the 114 letters individually. So we tossed with the idea to make a version where just every word that is used to display the time can be moved back and forth. However, after seeing that the Epilog contest was coming up on Instructables asking for epic projects, and also after finding relatively cheap servo motors, we decided to go all the way and make a proper version where each letter is individually controlled by a servo

When it comes to telling time, Makers like to go beyond simply reading moving hands or looking at a digital display. In Imgur user Grahamvinyl’s case, that’s a slick word clock comprised of a walnut veneer, clear epoxy, LEDs, letters, and Arduino.

Grahamvinyl cut the clock from the back of an acoustic guitar and sides, and then strung together individually addressable RGB strips. A matrix of letters in Art Deco font spell out the time horizontally. Pieces of spraypainted 1/4-inch MDF act as dividers (so the color doesn’t bleed from one letter to the next), and a sheet of wax paper diffuses the light.

I haven’t seen another word clock designed the same way: clear epoxy holds the interior of the letters in place, so I didn’t need to use a stencil font.

The display changes every five minutes, and counts two minutes before and after the actual time (e.g. 10:13 and 10:17). Meanwhile, numbers that take longer to spell out such as “fifteen” are shown as “quarter past.”

The Arduino Uno-controlled clock also has a button on its side that allows it to show the numerical time—from far away, you’ll notice the illuminated letters actually create the shapes of numbers. The hours show up dimmer, the minutes brighter. Another push reveals the numerical date in the same fashion. You can even program it to flash a special message on your birthday.

Grahamvinyl notes that there are three buttons in total, each wired to an input on the Arduino. Right now, however, only the top one is functional. The idea is to eventually have the bottom two cycle through colors or set the time. Beyond that, the Maker hooked up a USB connection to the clock so that it would be easily programmable.

Interested in building your own word clock? Check out more images on Imgur, and find the code on GitHub.


Teaching the Word Clock Some New Tricks

3d printed, arduino, arduino hacks, Arduino Yún, clock hacks, LED, lpd8806, neopixel, RGB LED, word clock Commenti disabilitati su Teaching the Word Clock Some New Tricks 


[Joakim] has built a clock that spells out the time in words. Wait a second – word clock, what is this, 2009? Word clocks are one of those projects that have become timeless. When we see a build that stands out, we make sure to write it up. [Joakim's] clock is special for a number of reasons. The time is spelled out in Norwegian, and since the clock is a birthday gift for [Daniel], [Joakim] added the his full name to the clock’s repertoire.

One of the hard parts of word clock design is controlling light spill. [Joakim] used a simple 3D printed frame to box each LED in. This keeps the spill under control and makes everything easier to read. The RGB LED’s [Joakim] used are also a bit different from the norm. Rather than the WS2812 Neopixel, [Joakim] used LPD8806 LED strips. On the controller side [Joakim] may have gone a bit overboard in his choice of an Arduino Yun, but he does put the ATmega328 and Embedded Linux machine to good use.

The real magic happens at boot. [Daniel's] name lights up in red, with various letters going green as each step completes. A green ‘D’ indicates an IP address was obtained from the router’s DHCP server. ‘N’ switches to green when four NTP servers have been contacted, and the Linux processor is reasonably sure it has the correct time. The last letter to change will be the ‘E’, which reports ambient light.

[Joakim] added a web interface to trigger his new features, such as a rainbow color palette, or the ability to show minutes by changing the color of the letters K,L,O,K. The final result is a slick package, which definitely brings a 2009 era design up to 2014 standards!

Filed under: Arduino Hacks, clock hacks

DIY laser cut word clock.

What is a word clock? A word clock is a clock that displays the time typographically that is also an interactive piece of art. Rather than buy one for $1500, [Buckeyeguy89] decided to build one as a present for his older brother. A very nice present indeed!

There are many different things that come into play when designing a word clock. The front panel is made from a laser cut piece of birch using the service from Ponoko. Additionally, white translucent pieces of acrylic were needed to keep each word’s light from bleeding into the neighboring letters. The hardware uses two Arduinos to control the LEDs and a DS3231 RTC for keeping accurate time. The results are very impressive, but it would sure make assembly easier if a custom PCB was used in the final version. For a one-off project, this makes a great birthday present.

The craftsmanship of this word clock is great, making it well suited for any home. What projects have you built that involve more than just electronics? Sometimes, quality aesthetics make all the difference.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks, clock hacks

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