Picture of Make a Talking Clock
This clock announces the time using your own voice! 

I put it together as a tribute to the old Popcorn service in Northern California.  You could dial POPCORN from any phone, and a recording would tell you the time of day. 

Originally, I wanted to use Joanne Daniels' voice (she was the voice of Popcorn), but I couldn't get enough samples of her saying all the numbers.  Pat Fleet (the lady that says "A, T, and T") actually offers recordings, but you have to pay for them.  So I settled on using my voice, and it's easy to substitute your own.

First, a little demo, then flip to the next page and I'll show you how to make it on a breadboard.

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Step 1: FAQ

Picture of FAQ
Q: How does it work?
Audio samples are stored on an SD card.  The time is tracked with the DS1307 RTC.  The microcontroller polls the RTC every second to update the display and watches the big red 'announce' button.  Once you hit the button, the microcontroller plays the appropriate samples based on the current time. 

Q: How do I use my voice?
You just record your voice and copy to the SD card.  I'll show you how in a bit, but it's easy.

Q: Can I make it do x?
Probably.  You can download the code on the next step - you can poke through it and change things fairly easily.

Q: What are the technical details?
It's a Parallax Propeller running at 80Mhz connected to a DS1307 Real-time clock and an HD44780 8x2 Character LCD (4-bit interface).  The Propeller manages everything including audio playback using rayman's excellent wav playback objects.  16kHz mono or stereo wav playback is supported. 

Here's a walkthrough of how it works.  Note that I'm using an LCD UI module and Propeller Platform SD, but this instructable will show you how to build it with a breadboard.
bluebear883 years ago
Wonderful n helpful info~

How would I make the talking clock to alarm and talk for every 2 hours?
Do I need a timer ? What components that I should add on ?

Really need your guide very much :D
Thank you =)
iamuke3 years ago
Nice instructable!

I was wondering if the propeller can play sounds polyphonically? I'm thinking of building a drum module, and weighing different microcontrollers.  if the prop plays polyphonically then I'm good to go.

DonEduardo3 years ago
Oh yeah, gonna build this over the weekend. Exactly what I was looking for. Have all the parts at home waiting to be soldered. My father is blind and although he has plenty of talking clocks, this one will have his own voice.

Nicely done. Thank you for sharing.
barunicorn4 years ago
 hey please help me on this how did you connect the propeller to the usb port. What is that u have used
Gadget Gangster (author)  barunicorn4 years ago
You can use a Prop Plug or a USBthumb - something to convert USB to RS232 
i hit f7 and it said that a propell chip has found then what how can i fire up the code in to the chip?
nikolas104 years ago
hi, thanks for all the information. What component is the super cap and what type of diode did you use? Also what happens when you push the button before it finish the time announce ?
tbone1214 years ago
could you make me one. ill pay you
barunicorn4 years ago
 can a microsd card be used instead of sd card
Gadget Gangster (author)  barunicorn4 years ago
Sure - that's what I was using.  The newest fsrw libraries let the prop use SD, uSD, and SDHC.
Azayles4 years ago
If you could calculate in real time how long the message would take to play (or make it a set time for each message) then you could have the *beeeep* coincide with the precise time change :D
Gadget Gangster (author)  Azayles4 years ago
Yeah, right now I grab the current time, then start playing the audio, i.e., 

If you push the button at 11:10:55, the audio will start playing immediately and announce 11:10:55, but the tone won't sound until something like 11:11:05. 

Having it be correct wouldn't be hard, but it would take a bit more work.

 it wouldn't be exact seeing as there are longer sounds than others but you could just change the time by a few seconds but then i suppose the display would be off oh well. :) cool instructable!
leprasmurf4 years ago
Looks sweet!  Though I think an IR motion sensor or something more broad would improve the design.  That way, you could just wave your hand in the general direction to get the time.  Thanks for sharing.
 The best feature is the beeeep tone :)

That is great! I'm going to get my Polish girlfriend to do the samples, she loves the sound of her own voice!
A great idea!

Foxtrot704 years ago
What is the total cost of this project that we can not live without?
Gadget Gangster (author)  Foxtrot704 years ago
Doing it on a breadboard is probably about $40 in parts.  You'll also need a Prop plug, which is $25.    With an LCD UI & Prop Platform SD, it's $75, but you don't need a Prop Plug. 

Either way, you'll also need a microSD card, a power adapter and an old pair of headphones.
macgeek4 years ago
in NYC you dialed NERVOUS for the time!


Nicely done! Somehow I can see some spy stuff in here that when you press at the right time the person gets a secret message :p
Gadget Gangster (author)  MichelMoermans4 years ago
Ha!  I found a recording of Jane Barbe saying, "At the tone Pacific Standard Time will be Party Time!", but I wasn't sure when it should play.  It's on Pat Fleet's site, though.
lemonie4 years ago
I could have some fun with that.