Picture of Solid Wood Digital Clock
How to build a wooden digital clock powered by an atmega168 (arduino) with a built-in alarm and games.

I first thought about making this when I saw an LED clock covered by a wood veneer . I liked it when I saw it, until I saw the price. This is when I decided to build my own, I wanted it to build it for much less, from solid wood and play games!

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need
- 4, 18" x 4" x 1" wood planks (I went with Maple)
- 85 Red LEDs
- 85 Green LEDs (Optional)
- 1 4 to 16 pin Demiltiplexer
- 15 NPN transistors (such a 2N3904)
- 1 ATMEGA168 Microcontroller (or Arduino)
- 1 20 MHz Crystal
- 1 5 Volt Regulator
- 2 220uF Capacitors (for power spike leveling)
- 1 Old Pocket Radio
- 2 1/8" Audio Jacks
- 1 5-9V DC wall adapter
- 1 (or more) Old Game Controller(s)
- 4 3-1/2" Wood Screws
- Solid Core Wire (easier to work with)
- Solder
- Hot Glue Sticks
- White Glue
- Sand paper

For the game controller I use an Atari 2600 joystick (or even paddle if you re-program), but it is also compatible with with a Sega Master System Controllers, Atari 7800 joysticks (theoretically) or even Sega Genesis Controllers.

- Drill press
- Flat End Hobby Tool Bit
- Soldering Iron
- Hot Glue Gun
- Miter Saw
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wb8nbs6 months ago

Drilling holes in the front panel... I had a similar problem making magnetic blocks for the granddaughter http://www.flickr.com/photos/wb8nbs/7376982060/ these magnets have to be less than 1/16" from the surface to be effective. My technique was to drill halfway with a 3/8" brad point bit, then chuck up a 3/8" keyhole router bit like http://www.rockler.com/hanging-slot-router-bits-router-bits in the drill press to finish. The keyhole bit makes a perfectly flat bottomed hole.

bailey4021 year ago
Great Project!
What was the total cost?
yaly4 years ago
This laptop is IBM thinkpad R50 right?
Mine is IBM thinkpad R50E. Yay I always thought I'm the only one in the world that owns that laptop.
jwilliamsen4 years ago
I think a great way to do this would be to drill the holes all the way through, and then glue veneer over the face - that way you don't have to stress so much about drilling to an exact depth. Call me lazy :) Cool idea, though! - I'm thinking about making one
rick62134 years ago
why you drill out if you can saw it out it takes less time i think
but it is i nice idea to use less tools for a project
i really gonna build this clock
this looks so nice I gonna make a "mini" version of it for my desk :)
I think I'll use 3mm RGB leds...
oh noz 3mm RGB LEDs doesn't exist :o
mattccc5 years ago
vxir5 years ago
Very cool project!  BTW, If you don't want to deal with all the electronics you could perhaps use the Lightuino (makersmarket.com/products/67-lightuino-led-driver), which controls 70 channels of LEDs.  Each channel could be 3 LEDs.  Since it is not doing a LED "matrix" the LEDs are on all the time instead of being flashed rapidly.  This means that they will be a lot brighter which might be pretty important for a project where the LEDs are hidden behind wood.
estebu6 years ago

First of all congratulations for that cool project! I just have one basic question. Attached here there is an example of two LEDs that I might want to switch on. They are inside a green oval.
From what I understand, for switching on those two leds, I might have to activate the Pin1 to select green, and Pin11, Pin12 to select those two rows. In order to make the current flow, I guess I might activate the 00 and 01 inputs of the demux by choosing the corresponding pin2to5.

But the problem is, how do I avoid that the leds in red ovals do switch on?

junniver7 years ago
I was just wondering,what if you don't have an atari controller?How do you set the time?
J_Hodgie (author)  junniver7 years ago
It is possible to install a few buttons if you wanted, but I like the controller.
can that alternative be done with a joystick such as this tactile one from lambind switches?

Can you upload some schematics?and btw I live in Philippines do you think that this part will be available here:ATMEGA168 Microcontroller?
Sorry for the double post,but the idea of using a PS1 controller came to me moments after posting.Would it be possible?
its ok this is not a fourm and its not considered double post
you can post behind of an other of yor comments because there is no edit!
J_Hodgie (author)  junniver7 years ago
IT isn't too hard to find a schematic of the controller on-line (like here). The PlayStation controller is very different. The Atari controller just uses buttons to connect pins together, while the PlayStation controller uses a form of serial communication.

The ATMEGA168 should be available there. If not, you could probably order it online from overseas.
Thanks J_Hodgie.
cyberspyder6 years ago
What if I just wan the clock---no alarm and games? What components can I edit out?
J_Hodgie (author)  cyberspyder6 years ago
There isn't much, just a few LEDs. but even then the titles "Clock" and "Alarm" would have holes when switching modes. Apart from that there isn't anything I can think of.
I got TinyCad. I got it working pretty good with an external HD. I find that when I do a lot of deleting and I don't save file enough, the program tends to crash. It has not done this for a long time now. Very nicely done project you got there. Dr. Bill KB1LZL
Dr.Bill6 years ago
Very professional looking. What are you using for a CAD program?
J_Hodgie (author)  Dr.Bill6 years ago
The software I used was Solidworks, but I am currently using unigraphics NX 5. I don't really have a preference between the two.
GnomeMaster6 years ago
ooohhhh I so want to make this...but sadly....I'm no good with electronics.....*crys*
Kactapuss7 years ago
agent Kactapuss6 years ago
lol 100 euros and not a SINGLE game!
sotsirh1947 years ago
I am looking into getting a Arduino and I don't want to have to bring the board in every robot. Is it possible to change out the chips and put them into other things without much extra components like a basic stamp? I have a basic stamp but to get a new chip is fifty dollars way too much to put in smaller projects.
J_Hodgie (author)  sotsirh1947 years ago
It is possible with minimal components. All you need shouldn't be too hard to find on the arduino website. And as a bonus each chip is only $5.
If you are going to switch out chips I also suggest you get an AVR ISP mk II to burn a bootloader to the new chips.
Is this a seperate device or just a program. I didn't understand what the wabsite was saying?
J_Hodgie (author)  sotsirh1947 years ago
The AVR ISP mkII is a separate device that can attach to the arduino to burn a bootloader (a piece of software that allows programs to be quickly loaded over USB)
OK, I see now thanks for all your help. I really appreciate it.
lego1877 years ago
It would have been cool to use one solid block of would instead of 4 layers. Or possibly made it look like a solid block by making the face layer over lap the other 3 layers, cut 45 degree angles on the edges of the face and boxing the other 5 sides in with 5 pieces of wood, also with 45 degree angled edges. So you end up with a box around the whole thing with no visible joining edges. I just wish i had some electronic knowledge because i would be making one of these right now. really nice end product!! it looks pro
guyzyl7 years ago
That looks so cool! But I think it's too hard for me to make (I wish I had one of those)
cr0ybot7 years ago
Added to Arduino Group! ;D
jephrandall7 years ago
What a wonderful instructable! I'm fairly new to electronics, but for the most part I can follow it. (that's a feat in itself!)

On the page discussing electronics setup.. why is it that when you show the solderless breadboard, I don't see any transistors, but they're on the soldered board? If I understand correctly, the set of 15 transistors are only necessary if I want to have two different color LED's on the clock. So this means that the pictured breadboard config will run the clock with just one color?

It'd be soo helpful to get a more detailed shot of the breadboard + Arduino setup.. pretty much because I only 50% understand all of the electronics lingo at this point. :-)

Again - amazing job on this thing!
Agree and I would be pleased to get a schematic.
J_Hodgie (author)  Ssly7 years ago
The schematic for the clock is now up in step 9, Let me know if it is unclear.
J_Hodgie (author)  jephrandall7 years ago
Thanks for the comment! There are no transistors on the solderless breadboard because I took the photo mid-process of designing the electronics. You are also correct that the transistors are not needed with just one colour of LEDs. However, I would recommend adding one transistor to each anode row to boost the signal from the microcontroller, which makes the LEDs brighter. I'll see what I can do about getting a better shot of the soldered breadboard, but at this point it is difficult to do. I am also currently making the schematic.
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