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7 Segment Flip Display Clock

A clock that uses electro mechanical flip displays

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This project walks you though the design and production of a professional quality clock that uses flip displays for there artistic value.

This is a flip dot inspired clock. Using vintage 7 segment flip dot modules I plan to create a stylish clock. However flips dots have unique challenges when it comes to driving them. Some features of the clock will also require serious thought. To maintain the look of the clock I want to keep the top free of buttons. However I still need a way to shut off the alarm in the morning. To do this I will have to use capacitive sensing. The wood working it's self presents a modest challenge.

Hopefully this will be a quick, well polished project. Stay tuned for updates! Thanks for looking, comment below if you have any questions. 

Basic Flip Clock v1.1.dip

The PCB design files. It opens in diptrace

dip - 460.58 kB - 08/17/2017 at 03:13

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Basic Flip Clock v1.1.dch

The schematic Design Files. Opens in diptrace

dch - 501.52 kB - 08/17/2017 at 03:13

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Basic Flip Clock v1.1 BOM.xlsx

Bill of materials

sheet - 15.09 kB - 08/17/2017 at 03:13

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Flip Clock PCB V1.1.zip

The gerber files I sent to OSH part.

x-zip-compressed - 22.67 kB - 08/17/2017 at 03:13

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Basic Flip Clock V1.1 Schematic.pdf

A set of labeled schematic sheets for the circuit used

Adobe Portable Document Format - 302.29 kB - 08/17/2017 at 03:11

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  • PCB Woes and a lesson in patience

    Spencer3 days ago 0 comments

    Well I have good news and bad news in this update. The good news is the PCB is in and tested. The bad news is I had to make adjustments and send off version 1.1. Bellow is a very telling picture. 


    All 4 of those parts should line up with the pads. They do but the large black switches get in the way of nearby parts. This shifts the whole row. The large screw terminal to the right also has the pattern rotated 90 degrees by mistake. I have tight space constrains in the clock so no possibility of a bodge or hack to make it work.

    Since I had a PCB I decided to test what I could. I soldered on the buzzer, 12V power converter and part of the display drivers. The ATMega 48A was put on as well.


    On testing the 12V supply worked fine. It floated at around 13.3V, a little high with load but for my uses it's good enough.  Buzzer had no issues thankfully. However my driver circuit had a minor error in it. Swapped a pad around in CAD and now the PNP MOSFETS will do what there supposed to. 

    I added a few minor things I forgot as well. Just a few debug test points. SDA, SCL and the like.  

    In case your curious here's version 1.1. You can see the new test points and different switches to get around the size issue.

    There's two lessons to be learned here. Test fit the big parts first on a print out of the PCB. Additionally don't expect to get it right on the first try. Nothing wrong with needing a second version for most projects if you have too.

    That about wraps up this update. I've posted the new PCB Cad files and a PDF schematic. 

  • Mechanical Design

    Spencer08/06/2017 at 20:40 0 comments

    With the PCB out of the way it's time to put serious thought to the mechanical portion. If I can I'd like to try and avoid glue. I want it to come apart easily for work and display. I can't glue the PCB down like I might have done in the past.

    I decided to have the displays all sit on a sub frame in the clock. This will hold them together and provide wire routing. The first order of business was to get the sub frame sitting right and use the right spacing for the displays. I don't have a data sheet so there was some guess work. I used fusion 360 to create the models you see below. 


    The parts aren't too complex. All the hard work went into the close fit. My first print didn't fit right but I mostly nailed it on the second try.


    The indicator window on the right doesn't quite line up but it's an easy fix. One thing I did notice was the printer was printing about 10 thou over. Not a huge issue but I have to be mindful. In the final design only the  sub frame will be 3D printed. The outer parts will be wood. 

    The design for the clock took me a while of just staring at the displays in the sub frame. Eventually I came up with one I liked. After fiddling around with CAD for a while hear it is!

    Sorta of a modern art-deco look I think. I put a ruler at the bottom for scale. It's not massive but it's a good size. 8.5 inches wide. 4.5 inches tall and 3 in deep. I need to work on the hole in the back for the buttons next and try to find a really long 1/16 end mill. PCB should come in this week so that'll likely be the next update.

  • PCB creation

    Spencer08/05/2017 at 01:16 0 comments

    With the schematic complete the next obvious step is PCB creation and you will not be disappointed. (Don't be disappointed)

    The PCB was fun to work on. The limiting factor was the size of all the switches and buttons on the back. I only have 6 inches to work with and it came out to about 5.4 inches. They also take up most of the space on the PCB. Fitting the driver circuit in was tight. Not as tight as my BCD decoder but it was "interesting"  

    On the lower left you have the 12v module to generate the power to drive the displays. On the lower right you have the coin cell and the RTC. The RTC is under the coin cell. With such a large ground plane it's the perfect location. In the lower middle you have the driver circuitry happily taking up both sides of the board. 

    The buttons take up the top portion. I could have used SMD buttons but I trust though hole more for that. The end total is 8.6 square inches and 321 connections. 

    Here's the board in glorious 3D

    I think I'll use OSH parks fast service. It's pricey but i REALLY want this done before school starts. I think this is one of my largest PCB's to date. Let's hope I don't need a version 1.1.

  • Starting the flip clock

    Spencer08/03/2017 at 14:39 0 comments

    I wanted a simple project to finish off the summer. Thus my flip clock was born. 

    Here we have the star of the build a 7 segment flip display. It works in the same way that flip dots do. A current though the coil will produce a magnetic field that will flip the digit. You have to be careful a pulse too long can burn the coils out.

    I'm using an AVR ATMega 48A for the micro controller. It's very similar to the 328p used on the Arduino. There's a basic circuit for driving the buzzer and LED's for the day light alarm. The real time clock chip is a very accurate variant, DS3231. All the switches are connected to a I2C GPIO expander. Nothing special going on here. I plan to use USB to power it. The power filtering is nothing special. 

    This is the real star of the show, the driving circuits for the display. The section on the bottom supply's 12v and selects the segment. The upper portion allows you to select the direction and the segment to flip. This was more complex than I first expected. It might be difficult to fit this on the board...

    Next I want to work on the PCB and start the mechanical portion. There will be a lot of effort going into the form. I want this to look elegant and professional if I can.  Tune in next week for the next installment of CAN WE BUILD IT? 

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