DIY TiX Clock





Introduction: DIY TiX Clock

About: self proclaimed geek with more ideas than money

Here's my instructable for a DIY TiX clock.  It is powered by an AVR microcontroller.  The display is made up using a piece of reflector grid you find covering office lights, some smoked perspex, a diffuser and a bunch of LED's.  The Idea came from the Tix clocks you can buy at various places on the web, but nothing beats making it yourself.  It is a talking point in the lounge and once you are used to reading it, you can tell the time in a jiffy.

Step 1: The Electronics

The first prototype was made using Vero strip board.  The layout on strip board is fairly straight forward.  The Transistors in the top left are row drivers and the IC's on the right are  transistor arrays that are the column drivers (see circuit diagram at the end of instructable for more info).  This allows me to get a bit more current to the LEDs to make them brighter.  The Transistor array IC's can be replaced with transistors if you like.  You will find circuit diagrams and software at the end of this instructable with which I have included an Eagle PCB layout design as well for a single sided board that combines the controller and display board into one.

Note that if you etch your own PCB the LED's are mounted as normal thru hole components but the IC's, links and other components are placed on the copper side of the board.  The LED's and links will need to be mounted first as the AVR covers some of the LED solder points.  Details in the pictures.

Step 2: The Display

The display is made up of a sandwich of the display Board, The square reflector, a diffuser and a smoked perspex window.  You can place a sheet of tinfoil under the LED's to give more reflection, just make sure you cut a hole in tinfoil around a legs of each LED so it doesn't short things out.  I also sanded the lens of each led to distribute the light more.

The first three photos show the strip board version, the remainder the etched PCB version.

Step 3: The Case

For the case, you can use pretty much anything.  I used Rimu, a native timber to New Zealand.  I used a mill to cut out tracks and recesses for the "Sandwich" of the board, reflector, diffuser and window to sit in and the whole assembly slides in from the bottom.  There is also a thin recess for the rear of the clock to sit in, this is made from a thin sheet of plastic.  Buttons to press the switches were turned up on a lathe.

Step 4: The Final Product and Files

here's a video of the clock in action and a zip file containing the Bascom AVR basic code, schematic and PCB. If you click on the schematic you can view it full size.

Here is a link to the Bascom code in HTML format and

Here is a link to the compiled HEX file of that (right click - save as). You should be able to program an AVR Mega16 with that using a programmer of your choice. Note, you'll need to set the fuse bits for 8MHz internal Clock.

Note:- You will need to turn of JTAG debugging on the AVR other wise you will have issues with the first column on the clock not working. Do this using the Fuse Bits as well.

Parts List:
Q1-Q3 BC548
LED1-LED3 5mm High Intensity Blue LED
LED4-LED12 5mm High Intensity Red LED
LED13-LED18 5mm High Intensity Orange LED
LED19-LED27 5mm High Intensity Green LED
R1-R4 100k 1/4w Resistor
Q4 32.768 kHz Crystal
C1 4.7uF 10V Electrolytic Capacitor
C2,C3 10pF Ceramic Capacitor
IC1 ATMEGA16 AVR Microcontroller
IC2,IC3 TD62304 Darlington Transistor Arrays (these could be replaced with standard transistors)
S1-S3 Momentary Push Buttons

Enjoy! and vote for me!

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82 Discussions

Is the jp2/isp the usbasp programmer?

you are a true winner!

Compact version. When making the led grid, miss the square separating the digits if you want it smaller.

Hmmm, maybe I got the JTAG fuse bit around the other way. Change the JTAG fuse bit, reprogram and see what you get.

5 replies

one last thing is id love for it to be 3 second instead of 5 :/ :)

Hi Rob? 3 seconds instead of five for the change time? is that what you mean?

hiya gweeds if you ever get the time please could you do the 3 second change time tweak and upload the hex? many thanks. Also if you had a variable resistor pot on the positive feeding the 3 bc transistors would this be able to dim the leds? and could you even incorporate a photocell to this and have it done automatically.

Yes gweeds i thought that 3 seconds would be about the optimum time for changing the leds in time. one and five seconds is still a good option so if you could just add three seconds as an option it would be awesome. When you have time of course no rush :) (if you even want to do it that is haha). Btw i deleted a lot of posts that won't help future people as i kind of spammed here whilst being a noob :).

i was just looking at different leds and found a type called straw hat leds that spread the light evenly like a lightbulb instead of in a beam, wish i had known of these before i might even redo them with this type in the future when i get bored as my less are very close to the acrylic and you can see the brightness in the middle even with them lightly sanded :)

3 replies

yes they use them for LED christmas and party lighting. you might end up with a darker circle in the middle, as in the opposite of what you have now.

tweeds just a thought but how hard would it be to incorporate a dimming feature either automatic or manual?

I've gone for just diffused standard leds this time, see how they work out i shouldn't have to sand them and they are not high intensity so shouldn't be to bright i hope they are bright enough though. oh and i fixed the 3 dim orange less it was either a solder issue or faulty leds as i replaced them and seems fine now.

Hmm yes I did see that, and no sorry mine doesn't do that, I wouldn't have put up with it. I would check your wiring and soldering, it could be the smallest of solder bridges that can cause that sort of effect.

Added a few finishing touches today which included blu tak (a form of putty/plasticine) around all the inside grid rows to stop light leakage. Very pleasing to see the squares so crisp now. Also painted the grid black so you can't see it under the smoked acrylic. Added some push buttons on the back by drilling the back piece of acrylic and securing them with lock nuts then soldered onto the main board (my vero board is a mess with jumper wires everywhere and no doubt cold solder joints everywhere and it was 3rd time lucky as I'm no good at soldering). Officially finished and very pleased with it.

2 replies

oh and i used white baking paper to diffuse in place of the thick tracing paper gweeds suggested and it works very well.

baking paper, now why didn't I think of that. That's what I like about instructables, you see so many different uses for different products! :)

Oh don't give up hope, it does work I have one here that works fine. I also have someone else who built one and has it working.

1 reply

About the need to disable jtag I understand, but what is necessary to change the pin 4 to pin 25 have Mr. gweeds, thank him for that, it works out ok

many many thanks i might be speaking to soon but i think i solved it, on that extreme burner program i was not clicking write tick box when programming so the jtag must not have been programmed off!!!! i feel such an idiot! ill post back when i rewire the breadboard again as im only testing that pin atm thanks again gweeds your awesome!