It's been 9 months since last project update. I know it is long time, but I'm not abandoning this project just yet!
It's true I didn't do much work since The Sci-Fi Contest, but I hope it will change soon.
The clock generally works, but not without problems. I was working day and night to finish this project on time, so I made errors, and quite a lots of them actually...
There are 4 main issues with current electronics:
- no LED lights for AM/PM markings and the colon between hours and minutes - never managed to make that board work,
- if two loud speakers are connected at the same time to the amplifier, the main circuit won't boot and will keep resetting,
- handmade circuits, especially those on perfboards suffer from cold solder joints and other contact issues, sometimes you have to poke it a bit to start it :)
- each row of displays takes a lot of different PCBs, which require a lot of wiring make it a big mess.
That doesn't mean it's over. I still want my cool Back to the Future clock!
Ideas for BTTF clock v2
I need to redesign what I have and I want to add some new features as doing the same thing again would simply be boring.
The only way I can think of to fix those issues is to redesign the PCBs as follows:
- each row gets a single PCB,
- redesign and fix lots of little bugs on the main board,
- let go of THT components to fit everything on smaller PCBs
- order the PCBs, hand making them is really a pain, especially two sided...
This should cleanup most of the mess, display rows as single PCB will simplify the case design and hopefully everything will work this time.
Probably the biggest change is my idea to replace the main arduino compatible board with an Olimex iMX233-OLinuXino-MICRO running a plain linux distro. This is because of the numerous pins it breaks out, especially the audio lines. If I manage to confirm it, I can actually feed it with the sound from the FM board and output it passing through ALSA or OSS, I will be able to do lots of cool stuff, like internet radio client, play some sounds from the movie, make an alarm clock or more.
It is true this board lacks network connectivity, but that single USB port seems perfect for a small WiFi dongle!
New board design software
Currently all schematics and PCB designs are made in Eagle CAD. Unfortunately it's free and low cost versions are too restrictive in terms of board size.
The only other open source / free solution I know is KiCad. It seems quite powerful, however it's component library is really poor compared to Eagle.
The third choice I was really hoping on was the Circuit Maker as it announced by Hackaday back in September last year. The announcement made it sound awesome, all free with no limits and big company made me hope for big component library. Sadly it wasn't made available to general public since then.
In the end I started working in KiCad, but I lack motivation to continue with it. I'll wait a bit more for Circuit Maker, hopefully it will be ready someday soon.
I want to make some additional sound sources from mechanical switches of different size as feedback for user actions.
Maybe a flux capacitor on the top of the case?
Next update will come when Circuit Maker is made public or I learn to love KiCad.