Modular Display Clock

Using custom bricks in conjunction with Neopixels, Microbit and RTC to make modular seven segment display clock.

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Four "Modular Display Elements" are required to create the clock display and these are held together with baseplate strips which were cut from a larger baseplate.

The baseplate strips measure 32(W) x 144(L) mm or 4 x 18 stubs and each one over laps two MDE's attaching to the stubs on the MDE. However, for added strength four M2 x 8mm screws are fitted close to the corners which pass through the baseplate and into the MDE.

The schematic shows the components that are used to control the MDE's which contain 56 Neopixels.

The control components consist of a Microbit, RTC, Breakout Board, Switch and protection circuit.

The majority of the soldering is focused on the Neopixels whereas the control componets are mainly connected with jumpers.

The seven segment form lends itself to dynamic and static forms and as a result it seemed to be perfect for an illuminated seven segment display.

The illuminated seven segment display can be used in a number of different ways by simply adding more display units.

The segments are thin enough to allow light to pass through and the light would be provided by Neopixel LED's

Each segment would have 2 x Neopixels for a total of 14 per display with each LED lining up with the outer tubes on the brick.

The standard assembly baseplate on to which the tile attaches have no holes to allow the light to pass through, this therefore necessitates that holes are made in the baseplate.

White tiles are the most versitle with respect to lighting as they are suitable for any colour LED whilst diffusing the light.

However, coloured tiles can be added to highlight a specific colour or to suit a particular situation. Either way the tiles can be easily rearrange as they simply clip in place.


Schematic diagram

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) - 158.75 kB - 11/23/2022 at 23:29


  • 1 × Microbit microcontroller
  • 1 × DS3231 Clock and Timer ICs / Real-Time Clocks
  • 1 × Connector Breakout
  • 1 × SPST Switch Switches
  • 56 × WS2812 Neopixels

  • 1

    Once the parts are printed assembly is required.

    Place the Neopixel support board against the baseplate with the flat surfaces facing each other.

    Using four M2 x 6mm screws one in each of the 2mm holes in the corners secure the two boards together.

    A commercially available baseplate could be used but would require cutting to the required size and holes drilled to allow the parts to fit together and light from the LED's to pass through.

  • 2

    The Neopixels need to be mounted to enable a seven segment display to be realised.

    This is achieved using 14 Button LED's with 2 per segment all wired in series.

    Each LED is connected together using 21 AWG enamelled copper wire these are cut to the required length, stripped and tinned prior to soldering to the solder pads

    With the castellations of the Neopixel support board uppermost, place an LED with the PCB uppermost into the pocket.

    Orientate the LED's to enable direct connection to 5V, 0V and DO to DI.

    Make the connections to each LED in turn (refer to diagram), 2 LED's per segment.

    Some melting of the plastic will occur during soldering of the wires and this will hold the completed assembly in place.

    However, a little hot glue at the back of the LED's will help if required to hold things in place.

    Soider 3 wires to the input LED to enable connection to Edge Connector Breakout and connect to 5V, 0V and P0 by the CR circuit on the stripboard.

    Connect a total of four MDE's in series to form the display.

  • 3
    Back Panel

    The components are attached to a baseplate (95(W) x 128(L) mm), which is fitted to the back of the MDE's with M3 X 25mm bolts and 10mm standoffs.

    Four bolts are fitted through the holes in the Neopixel support board and the standoffs fitted to attach the baseplate at the corners, 3mm holes are made in the baseplate to align with the bolts.

    Position and drill holes for the Edge connector Breakout (2 x 3mm), the RTC (2 x 2mm), and the switch ensuring to leave space (20 x 40mm), to mount the right angle brackets which act as feet.

    Connections to the RTC are made with 4 Junior jumpers F/F and the RTC is secured with 2 x M2 bolts.

    Connections to the switch are made with 2 Junior jumpers F/M and the switch is fitted through a 5mm hole.

    Connections to the CR protection circuit for the Neopixels is made with 3 Jumpers F/F and from this to the Neopixels with 3 jumpers F/M, this is attached to the board with a cable tie fed through one of the holes in the board.

    Fit the angle bracket feet to the baseplate with 4 bolts. (The lower corner M3 bolts for attaching the baseplate can be used to hold the feet in place with a 2nd bolt in the lower hole of the bracket.

    To prevent scratching the surface on which the clock will sit, attach stick on pads or a couple turns of tape.

    The baseplate can now be fitted on to the corner support bolts and secured with nuts.

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