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Japanese Word Clock

- planning phase -
just another word clock - except it's in japanese and can show time and date!

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[currently planning]
a word clock with japanese characters, lit by Neopixels/ws2812 LEDs, controlled by an Arduino with WiFi module.
[updates soon]

Main features will be:

  • show time and/or date
  • push/touch buttons for time setup and visual options
  • automatic time setting via WiFi
  • look nice (hopefully)

  • - Planning phase -

    mechatroNick5 days ago 0 comments

    I've always been fascinated by encoding information in the most different ways (from symbols and color codes to cryptography, programming and stuff). And since I've casually been learning some japanese recently, I liked the idea of a japanese style clock as a design object and a way to practice the characters.

    And as I love flashy LED gimmicks, it was just logical to create a fancy clock inspired by some other awesome projects here.


    For planning the layout, I gathered all the characters I needed to display time. I know that Japanese also often use latin numbers, but I thought an exclusive kanji/kana style would be more nerdy :D - I mean classic... I also included optional characters for "half" and "noon" and a basic sentence structure ("it is .... right now") typical for word clocks.

    With at least two times a full set of numbers from 1 to >20, I thought of a way to optionally show the date. With the idea of showing the date in sequence, I was also able to optionally display the current year without a third set of numbers and by just adding one character 年 for year.

    As Japanese can be written left-to-right or top-to-bottom, I know it may be a bit confusing to read but I decided to stick with the western L-to-R reading I grew up with.

    Planning characters and layout
    Planning characters and layout - different layouts, fonts, color schemes

    Some characters like 四 (4) and ニ (2) had to come up three or more times, so I tried my best to distribute them evenly between the other symbols by also keeping the symbol groups in the right order. Additionally there are some characters representing a word in combination, so I didn't want to split them up, e.g. 午前 (forenoon) and 午後 (afternoon). This results in having "noon" twice in the layout although not needed shown at the same time...

    this still bugs me...

    maybe I will rethink this decision...

    current layout (work in progress)
    Current layout (work in progress) - showing 'it is 4:50 now' - damn... i'm up for waaay too long now

    I'm currently plannig the manufacturing process. I think I will buy an empty picture frame, cut the layout into a sticky foil, 3D-print some space holders and throw some electronics in there.

    [will be updated soon]

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Ken Yap wrote 5 days ago point

You also have the basis for a Chinese word clock there.

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Mike Szczys wrote 5 days ago point

That is a great way to practice reading the Japanese characters. Makes me think smart watches should have clock options that tell fuzzy time in different languages.

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