I admit it: I'm a total geek. I love electronics, programming, 3D art, vintage Apple hardware, and whisky. I'm always juggling half a dozen projects. I also enjoy documenting it all: my successes, my failures, my experiences... and everything geeky along the way.

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Another Clock Stand | Kevin Rye.net - Main

Kevin Rye

Geek Extraordinaire. Yeh, I said it.

Another Clock Stand

When I was a kid, my Dad showed me his nixie tube clock that he made back in the ‘70s using 7490 TTL chips. It’s awesome. (I had him send me a picture!)

dadsnixie

Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated with clocks. I’ve always wanted to build a nixie clock. About 12 years ago I set out to build a clock of my own.

I figured I’d start out small with a few prototypes. I made a few boards, experimenting with different sections for the seconds, minutes, and hours. (Sorry about the lousy pics, but they were taken in 2001 with a 1996 EPSON 1MB PhotoPC digital camera. It captured mages at 640x480. Hey, what do you want for $500?)

Digital Clock 1.0

When I was happy with the results, I made a full sized clock incorporating all that I had learned.

clock1topdetail2

Although it wasn’t a nixie clock, and the project box I used was huge, I was happy with the results. I chose to use 7-segment displays since I was a little weary about messing around with the high voltage required for nixies.

100_2692

During my research, I found that no one was really using 7490s anymore. Counting cycles was old-school. I guess that was the only way to do it “back in the day”. It was crude, but effective. People nowadays were using micro controllers. I found a ton of schematics for clocks running off a single chip. Even the clocks around the house that I had, when cracked open, revealed that they too only used one chip. How do they do it?

As I researched more, I found out what was involved. I’d need a chip burner if I was to make one of my own. This was years before the advent of Arduino, so chip burners were expensive. You could build your own, but the cost was prohibitive. I didn’t even know if I could get one to work. Also, I knew nothing of programming and didn’t even know where to start. Looking at the programs written in C seemed so foreign to me and I just couldn’t get my head around it.

I quickly became discouraged and never pursued it any further.

Back in 2007, I broke my iPod. I wanted to buy a new 5G Video, but I didn’t have the money. I though of maybe picking up an iPod Shuffle in the interim. I also considered building my own mp3 player. I’ve always been fascinated with the ability to encode/decode audio through a chip and save it to a hard drive or a solid state chip. I wondered what it would take to make one of my own. I’d seen a few people online do it, but again, all done with those confusing microcontrollers. People were now using these new-fangled open-source Arduino boards. I couldn’t figure it out. Again, I was discouraged.

I bought an iPod Shuffle.

Fast forward 5 years.

Now that I’m an avid iOS developer, I have a few years of programming under my belt. I looked back into embedded electronics and rediscovered Arduino. Seeing some sketches written in C I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I grabbed an Arduino board and got right to it. It took me a day to get my feet wet. A few days later, I had a fully operational clock prototype.

With Christmas around the corner, I thought that the first clock based on a microcontroller that I built would make an excellent present for my Dad, since he’s the one that inspired my interest in electronics. I finished up the clock just in time. All I needed to do was build a stand for it.

I made a stand and was very happy with the way it came out. I gave the clock to my Dad for Christmas. He loved it.

christmasClock

I took some time off after the holidays. Once everyone had retuned home, I had some free time to work on some projects. I got to work on making myself a stand for my clock.

I rummaged through my bag of wooden scraps to look for something suitable.

clockStandThree_0001

I found this little box left over from when I made my own iPod dock back in 2006.

clockStandThree_0002

The lid looks to be the perfect size.

clockStandThree_0003

I laid the clock PCB on top and it is a good fit. However, the screws wont’t go all the way to the bottom. I won’t be able to screw nuts onto the backs of the screws. I can just hot glue them in.

clockStandThree_0004

I used my handy-dandy new Dremel Workstation to cut out enough space for the screws.

clockStandThree_0006

I also had to route out a little portion in the middle so that the DC jack would fit. It’s not pretty, but you won’t see any of it once the clock is glued in.

clockStandThree_0007

I sat the clock on top once again. It’s a perfect fit.

clockStandThree_0011

I then screwed some L brackets to the back so that I can attached it to the base.

clockStandThree_0015

I picked out a piece of wood, marked it off, and cut it to size.

clockStandThree_0028

I then drilled some holes through it for the L brackets.

clockStandThree_0029

I screwed some board stands to the bottom.

clockStandThree_0034

It gives the clock just enough lift so that the display sits at an angle from the viewer. It also helps it from tipping forward.

clockStandThree_0038

I then drilled a hole in the back large enough to snake the power cord through.

clockStandThree_0039

I then cut up some coat hangers to serve as makeshift painting stands.

clockStandThree_0041

I taped them to a box and took them outside to be painted.

clockStandThree_0044

I gave them a few coats of primer….

clockStandThree_0075

…followed by some white.

clockstand3paintedwhite

All that was left to do was glue the clock in with my hot glue gun and it was good to go. I like the way this one came out.

final-clockstand3.jpg

See this project from start to finish:
We Have a Clock
Setting the Clock
Clock Code is Complete
Clock Design Decisions
New DS1307 Kit
ChronoDot Breakout Board
Arduino LCD Clock PCB Complete
Making the LCD Clock Stand - Take 1
Arduino LCD Clock PCBs Arrived!
Arduino LCD Clock Assembly
Making the LCD Clock Stand - Take 2
Another Clock Stand
Arduino LCD Clock: New GUI
Laser Cut LCD Clock Enclosure: Take 1
Laser Cut LCD Clock Enclosure: Take 2