Instructables
Picture of Laser cut gear clock - with ChronoDot!
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This summer, my hackerspace LVL1 (in Louisville, Ky) got an awesome laser cutter http://fslaser.com/40w-deluxe-hobby-laser-engraver-and-cutter.  LVL1 is an awesome community of creative folks that like to build stuff.  You can always check out what we are up to at http://www.lvl1.org.  If you like instructables and making stuff, you should see if there is a hackerspace in your area.  Anyway...

I decided to build a gear clock after seeing something like what I made in a friends office and after playing with the gear renderer in Inkscape.  This instructable hopefully will show you how to make what I made and also teach you a little about the design process involved when working with a laser cutter.
 
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Step 1: Gather your materials.

Picture of Gather your materials.
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For this instructable I needed...
You will also need a computer to program your Arduino and also for designing in Inkscape.

billgeo9 months ago

AWESOME PROJECT!!!

(and a very nice hackerspace)

I will try and make something similar to this with my CNC router.

Maybe make the rings from clear acrylic and light in on the edge somehow with RGB leds.

Maybe have the mcu control the color, say in relation to the time (blue backlight for daytime and yellow for nighttime)

But I guess that the first challenge will be to see if my router can cut nice gears...

bpwagner (author)  billgeo9 months ago

I like your idea of a color changing backlight. Thanks for the nice message. Brian

jlbrenner1 year ago
I have never worked with arduino before and this is my first project ( and I love it), but when I use your code I get errors like sketch_mar11a:27: error: 'time_t' does not name a type. Am I supposed to do anything to alter the code?
bpwagner (author)  jlbrenner1 year ago
I think you need to install the time library http://playground.arduino.cc/Code/Time Then the include Time.h will work and all will be defined. Here is a guide on installing libraries: http://arduino.cc/en/Guide/Libraries If you have trouble, let me know, I am happy to help. Good luck!
Okay, So I'm basically remaking this project for a class, but incorporating different methods. I have the arduino uno board, and I have yet to purchase a stepper motor. The thing is that I don't need to make this clock accurate, but I do need to make the ring turn slowly. I've got the arduino library and program downloaded, is there any way I can just hook up the motor directly to the arduino? Also I keep getting errors about the 'void loop' and the 'void setup' is there a better way to go about this?
bpwagner (author) 1 year ago
if you get a time_t error then you need to download and install the Arduino time library here http://playground.arduino.cc/Code/Time
ok, i love this, in fact i have something similar but instead of a wood ring its a series of chains with numbers on them. my problem is i tried to use a cheapo clock movement from the hobby store to turn the chains, but there too heavy and it wont turn them. i then went to find a way to use stepper motors(i have a ton of them) but every circuit i find needs a dam ardunio and thats just not in the cards. now my question is; how can i build a cheap circiut to drive a stepper motor for use in a clock. it doesnt matter if is battery powered or run off the main. i have some circuitry skills so im good there. any help would be awsome, and then ill make an instructable on it cause i have looked everywhere and cant find anything.
bpwagner (author)  golddigger15592 years ago
You probably are not going to find a chip that just drives a stepper easily. Steppers take timing and sequencing that is really easy with a microprocessor but requires quite a bit of logic and a state machine if done in discrete components. Plus you would have to build a timing circuit to count minutes/seconds/ etc. By the time you have done all that, you may as well put a microprocessor in it. Arduinos are cheap, but you can go even cheaper. It is possible to drive a stepper with an ATtiny45 microprocessor and a couple components, but setting it up and programming that is much, much harder than an Arduino. My suggestion... get an Arduino or a clone and try playing with it. I think opening up the world of embedded programming is worth the price of the Arduino!

Good luck.
Brian
ok i guess ill look into an arduino. i guess ive been a little intimidated by the concept
There certainly USED to be single chip stepper drivers - the SAA1024 springs to mind AFAIR, but there don't seem to be many left these days.

Steve
jacob56803 years ago
Excellent!

The darken edges really add to the look. They define edges very well.

Love it. :)
rgeelen3 years ago
very nicely done but is it just me or is the laser just a bit too hot for the type of wood you are working with
if you use some thin ductape or plastic sheet to cover it maybe it would reduce the burning. but who am i to be talking ITS AWESOME
I think the burning gives it great character. Makes the clock have a rusty look to it or a bit of a Victorian look.
bpwagner (author)  Spiltmidi3 years ago
I would agree, I kind of like the old gradated burned look of the laser cutter on the wood. Working with the laser cutter takes some trial and error to find out what works well. If you have access to a laser cutter, try working with 1/8" plywood. You will find it works quite will.
maxjus3 years ago
Excellent! One tip I found to lessen the "ghosting" (where the wood turns darker around the cut) is to lower the power and increase number of passes. With birch plywood I usually use two passes at 45% power and 100% speed (30W Zing) if I'm trying to make it look good cosmetically.
pawelski3 years ago
Very nice. Great concept and great writeup. You got my vote! I can think of at least five cool ways to go from here. Can't wait till my new CNC router gets here. Mods of your clock are going to be some of the first things I do. I'm thinking acrylic cover on the outer ring with the numbers etched on the back side. Maybe an edge light at the top to make the number for the current hour glow.
mkanoap3 years ago
Great! Why is this not an entry in the clock challenge?
bpwagner (author)  mkanoap3 years ago
I am waiting for it to be approved. Please vote for it when it gets approved. Thanks!
Done!
mikeasaurus3 years ago
Comprehensive writeup, great documentation and code included! Awesome!