Digital Clock

Posted on Feb 5, 2014

This is a chronological account of a project I am working on: to design and build my own digital clock. I was inspired by the KABtronics Transisitor Clock. That one is made completely from discrete components, but I wanted to do something less ambitious. I also enjoy the process of figuring things out myself, not just putting something together.

Digital Clock
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

My clock will be based on the Arduino open source architecture, using the ATMEGA8 microcontroller. This is an 8-bit, 16MHz computer on a chip, with integrated digital and analog inputs and outputs, 4K of program flash memory, and 1K of RAM. These wonderful chips cost less than US$5 each, and the Arduino software allows you to program them in C+. If you want to build your own clock, I hope this page gives you some ideas. There are also a lot of other clock projects out there. I tried adding another transformer to the circuit above to serve as the power supply as well as the clock signal, but the two transformers are getting awfully hot. It seems dangerous, so it looks like I need to try something else for a power supply. But the good news is that I have finished building the low-order LED display digit. Tonight I printed out a copy of my LED mask (the same one seen glued to the board in the photo above) onto card stock. I chose a pastel blue color, but I glued it to another piece of card stock that is red, which will block a lot of the light from the green LEDs. I am experimenting with using an exacto knife to slice out the hexagonal holes. In hindsight, it is obvious to me now that the result will be very delicate, because there are two squares of paper each hanging by four thin tentrils of paper inside each numeral. I am going to try taping both sides of the result with clear plastic tape to reinforce this mask, and to...

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