For years I've wanted to find ways of artistically expressing data that I check every day. Most of my job is spent on the computer or phone - and yes, there is an app or webpage that can do all of this and more. But I'm fatigued collecting my data from screens. Here's an interesting, artistic and refreshing way to view data in new ways. This electro-mechanical device can display current and historical weather, forecast, moon phase, solar weather, snow pack, stock-market, timers, (and of course the time) in a well laid-out system complete with Amazon Echo (Alexa) voice control! What we've developed is part-mechanical, part-arduino, part-LED, part-internet, part-stepper motor, part-wood, part-metal, and part-fun!

The principle of the clock is as follows. The inner ring is the mode ring and the outer ring has a "peep-hole" that corresponds to the inner ring's mode. So in the pictures above you will notice that it is currently in the moon mode. Color coordinated LED's will then display the AGE of the moon, the RISE time, the SET time, and the PHASE.

12 modes in all including Weather, Historic Temperature, Forecast, Ski Mountain Conditions, River Flow and few modes custom to my own personal needs.

All this data is collected from the internet via a cloud-connected particle core arduino microcontroller. The voice activated Amazon Alexa is used to change modes. Extra cool!

Due to the complexity of the clock, this will be a principle and inspiration based instructable rather than a detailed step-by-step. Source files and code will be attached!

Materials we need:

  1. (480) WS8212b LED modules. You can buy them from digikey or find them surplus on ebay.
  2. 1/4, 3/16, 1/2 and 3/4 MDF sheet material
  3. (5) 1.5" 1/4 -20 bolts and nuts (or comparable)
  4. Paricle photon here.
  5. Low profile (pancake style) stepper motor. Surplus one's here.
  6. Stepper motor driver. This one works well
  7. Skateboard bearings. (8mm inside diameter 22mm outside diameter)
  8. Bare wire and some connecting wire
  9. Soldering patience!


  1. CNC Machine
  2. Solder iron and solder
  3. Drill, screwdrivers and misc hand tools

Step 1: Use Cad Files and CAM Files to Cut Out Pieces

As can be seen in the pictures, the clock is composed of 4 main plates, two large internal gears, 3 small internal gears and some miscellaneous structural components. The clock utilizes the WS2812b pixel tape (144 units/meter indexing) oriented radially so that the pixel shines into a cavity and reflects up through a hole displaying the light.

I've attached the CAD files in both Rhino *3ds as well as the more universal *dxf files as well as the actual CAM files I created using VCarve (the post-processor I used was for Mach3).

The first step is to use the CAD files to create your own toolpaths and cut out he pieces you need. Theoretically you could use the CAM files in the ZIP folder but best practice suggests you use the CAD files and create your own (the attached files are for reference).

Any type of MDF can be used but for the face show pieces, it's nice to use painted MDF so that your lettering comes out sharp and crisp. I chose chalkboard material readily available at Home Depot as it is inexpensive and works great!

  1. Bottom Plate (Plate 3) - 1/2 MDF
  2. Middle Plate (Plate 2) - 3/16 Black MDF
  3. Top Gear Plate (Plate 2) - 3/16 Black MDF

For the letter I used a 30 degree vcarve bit, for most other work I used a 1/16 endmill.

<p>Any update on this?</p>
<p>Are the 3D cad files Solidworks, MasterCam, or an Autodesk file?</p>
Great project. Please could you show / share how the wiring was done? There is a photo of a daughter board. Where did you get it? How do the leds connect to the Particle Photon?
<p>I will post a wiring diagram when I return from my trip. The daughter board is a cheap stepper motor driver to drive the motor. The LED's connect through a single pin on the arduino (this is the beauty of the WS2812 pixeltape)!</p>
<p>How can I purchase one already made?</p>
<p>Well, since this is the only one in the world, it's for sale for $200,000 ;-) Would love to see someone take the idea and work it into a production model.</p>
<p>What bit did you use to cut the mdf? </p>
<p>All machining was done with either 1/8&quot; endmills or v-bits (for engraving). The CAM software I used was V-carve pro.</p>
Awesome really ! Just wondering about why choosing mdf and not plywood for instance ? Mdf would wear out very fast I would expect with friction of the gears.
<p>Great comment and your probably right about the gears wearing down over time. My ultimate goal is to make one of these out of anodized aluminum. Like any project the first one is always a prototype. MDF machines amazing and is easy on tooling and cheap so that's the reason for the choice!</p>
<p>This is waaaay beyond me, but totally awesome!! Thanx for sharing.</p>
<p>This is so cool!</p><p>Impressed :)</p>
<p>What's the cost of this project?</p>
<p>There is probably $30 in MDF plus 4 strips of the WS2812 LED's + Motor and driver and power supply. All together probably close to $200?</p>
<p>This pleases me! Would love to do something like this to track our website, sales and physical visitor stats. I have some steppers and a stepper with leadscrew I could maybe use for a linear sliding dial.</p>
Awesome! Do it. Would love to see more projects like this. Super fun.
<p>Verry sweet! it is things like this that make me want to get a CNC</p>
<p>I'm not sure how I'd get information off of it, but it looks amazing!</p>
<p>This is really creative! It is like clockwork.</p>
<p>That looks really impressive. It would be awesome if you could create a video to show it in action.</p>
A video would be nice<br>
Thanks for the suggestion and feedback. I'll be travelling the next two weeks and I wanted to get this posted before I left. I'll try to get one posted when I have availability!

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