An electronic wall clock whose circuit interior is visible as a flying structure without a circuit board.

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For some time, this idea has been buzzing through my mind ...: I had the idea of an electronic wall clock whose circuit interior is visible. A most aesthetic flying structure without a circuit board should be the result.

A good resource for my thoughts served me the wonderful side of Christian Aschoff ( on word clocks. I redraed the circuit in KiCad and modified it for my needs. For me, the exciting thing about the project is neither the circuit nor the software, but the mechanical structure.

The CPU is an Atmega 8 with Arduino boot loader to make programming easy. Connected to it are an RTC chip and shift registers for controlling the LED matrix. A purchased DCF77 receiver module is connected via J1. J3 is used to program the board.

4 dot matrix displays with 5x7 pixel resolution are used to display the time. These are controlled via the above-mentioned shift registers U1 ... U4. To increase the  output current, the signals for the columns of the matrix are amplified with drivers.

To make the whole structure look more like a clock and to have a bit more "action" on the display, a ring of LEDs is mounted on the outer edge, which will display the seconds. One LED is provided for every second.

The soldering work is still ongoing...
I managed to setup the communication between PC and the ATMEL (which took way too long this time...) The displays are connected, but there is a wiring fault I haven't found so far.  

In the meantime I found out that I burnt 2 of the 74HC595 Shift-Registers....
I'm very sad about it because I don't get spares before the mid of the week (after the end of the contest)

  • Mechanical construction

    Christian01/03/2019 at 23:31 0 comments

    I glued the base plate together from scraps and then brought it into a circular shape with the router.

    At the edge I drilled two rows of holes into which the LEDs for the seconds display are inserted later.

    When wiring I try to use only right angles for optical reasons.  The circuit is wired with 0.6mm silver plated copper wire.
    The wiring is a real challenge ... as you can guess on the following picture. I built three main components separately : CPU, display with shift registers and LED ring. 

    Before the display wiring will be mounted on the board, I double checked the wiring again and found some bugs.

    The mechanical construction is nearly done. There are still missing connections in the LED ring and the connections between the 3 components. But after building up the display I'm not worried about it.

    At the moment I'm trying to upload the software. This seems more difficult than expected. But I keep on trying... :-)

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Christian wrote 01/03/2019 at 23:17 point

Thank you for the advice but I'm not sure if I'm able to finish it in that time...

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Dan Maloney wrote 01/03/2019 at 16:19 point

Nice job. Make sure you enter it in the Circuit Sculpture Contest. Only a few days left to enter.

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