Introduction: The Binary Clock - the City Clock

Picture of The Binary Clock - the City Clock

This is a special clock I made. It's called "The City Clock".

It is a binary clock hidden inside a typical Parisian building. My idea was to create an object that does not look like a clock until you know how to read it. It is also a metaphor of time passing by as people live their lives in their apartments :) Disclosure : I made a Kickstarter from this idea. The clock is available here :

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1050329560/th...

This tutorial is for those who don't want to pay - want to build their own - want to learn the story of this clock :)

Step 1: Here Is the Video of the City Clock

Step 2: How to Calculate Time

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Each row of the clock (floor of the building) is a power of 2 : 1, 2, 4, 8.

You simply add up the dots in each column to get the corresponding digit of time.

Step 3: Circuit

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My circuit is based on an Arduino which is ideal as I have 13 leds to control and Arduinos generally have 14 Digital I/O Pins.

I basically made a "hat" in which I plug an Arduino nano.

Step 4: Circuit

Picture of Circuit

The Kickstarter circuit is a printed board but I'm going to show you how to solder one manually.

Step 5: Circuit Layout

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This is the circuit of the clock. You can add an optional RTC module which I'll explain later.

Step 6: Holes for LEDS

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To make the soldering process easier, I drilled 5mm (as I used 5mm LEDS) holes in a thin sheet of plywood. The pattern of the holes should match the position of the 13 windows.

Step 7: LEDS

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This helped me to hold the LEDS in place while I solder everything.

Step 8: Bend the Cathodes

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Then I bent all the cathodes. The goal is to solder them together to make a GND grid and spare some cables.

Step 9: Solder All the Cathodes

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To solder all the cathodes together I made some perpendicular "combs".

Step 10: Cathodes Are Joined Now

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All the cathodes are joined now.

Next step : solder a 220 Ohm resistor to each anode.

Step 11: Arduino to Circuit

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Take a random point of the GND grid and link it to the Arduino GND.

Step 12: Link Anodes to Corresponding I/O Port of the Arduino.

Picture of Link Anodes to Corresponding I/O Port of the Arduino.

Then link all the anodes to the corresponding I/O port of the Arduino. Check the image above with the number to know which port each led should match. If you don't make exactly the same circuit, you'll have to modify the Arduino code to match your connections.

Step 13: Circuit Done

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Tadam, the inside of the city clock !

Step 14: Code

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Here is the code to use without the RTC module :
https://github.com/LucasBerbesson/binary-clock/blob/master/binary_clock.ino

You just have to check that the LED matrix matches your layout and then upload it to the Arduino.

Step 15: Operational Circuit

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Optional : to get a more accurate time (the Arduino is not very accurate and loses 1 minute each day) I decided to add a DS3231 to my circuit.

The DS3231 is a low-cost, highly accurate Real Time Clock (RTC) which can maintain hours, minutes and seconds. When associated with a coin cell battery it also keeps track of time even if the circuit is off. SCL should be linked to A4 and SDA to A5 of the Arduino Nano. Here is another program if you decide to use the module : https://github.com/LucasBerbesson/binary-clock/blob/master/binary_clock_rtc_raw.ino Above is the typical operational circuit.

Step 16: Wood

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The building is made out of thin wood (2mm).

I used a scroll saw and a band saw to cut out the windows and the details (also very time consuming but fun).

Step 17: Design

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It is inspired on Parisian buildings but maybe you should make it match your city design ! (and send me a picture :) : lucas.berbesson@fabdev.fr )

Step 18: Making Some "mansardes"

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Making some "mansardes"

Step 19: Size

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Size is approximately 15x15x25 cm.

Step 20: Prototypes

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Here is a quick overview of all my trials :)
I liked the plastic one but unfortunately we couldn't really see the engravings on it.

I've finally opted for a laser cut version with two layers glued on top of each other to give relief to the building.

Step 21: Stand

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The stand is a block with notches to fit facades and a hole for the USB cable.

The clock needs a 5V power supply (USB) to run.

Step 22: End !

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Et voilà !

If you have any suggestions I'll be happy to hear them. If you like the clock or the Youtube channel check out the Kickstarter. It's a real one, made by real people, intended to deliver on time to its beloved backers <3 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1050329560/the-city-clock-paris-design?ref=imgur

Comments

harmil78 made it! (author)2017-10-13

Hello! My name is Haris Mylonas and I'm from Greece. I found your project fantastic and I decide to make a Binary Clock. Mine is inspired from the stone houses with roof tiles here in Greece. Thanks a lot for the idea!!

Izayla (author)2017-08-07

This is beautiful! Both the project and the presentation itself. Congrats:)

rafununu (author)2017-06-09

I do like the idea of using a building, but I don't like binary clocks ! They're useless.

random_builder (author)rafununu2017-06-09

No they are not. You can tell time on them, and they make a nice conversation piece. I also like the puzzle of figuring out the time on them.

rafununu (author)random_builder2017-06-15

Reading time on a conventional clock is already solving a puzzle.

Sofus ØrnstrupP (author)2017-06-12

the arduino software comes with this error:

Arduino: 1.8.0 (Mac OS X), Board: "Arduino/Genuino Uno"

In function 'void loop()':

sketch_jun12a:61: error: 'minuteTens' was not declared in this scope

minuteTens = (int)(minute/10);

^

sketch_jun12a:62: error: 'hourTens' was not declared in this scope

hourTens = (int)(hour/10);

^

exit status 1

'minuteTens' was not declared in this scope

This report would have more information with

"Show verbose output during compilation"

option enabled in File -> Preferences.

ps: i am very new to coding and arduino

Kiteman (author)2017-06-12

I'll have to add my voice to the call for files...

regist4 (author)2017-06-12

j'adore le contraste du vieil atelier et établi dans lequel tu réalise tes projets high tech ;)

love contrast between old workshop in wich you realize high tech projects.

StephenJs1 (author)2017-06-10

love the idea and the entire construction
would you post the laser cut files by any change?

nqtronix (author)2017-06-09

+1 for actually offering instructions to build the thing you're selling!

davebodnar (author)2017-06-09

Nice project! Do you have the code and laser cutter plans available?

thanks!

dave

joshavanier (author)2017-06-08

This is amazing. Well done!

ravijag (author)2017-06-08

I myself had done couple of binary clocks but giving a real life front end to the clock is simply genius!. Loved your creation!

Random-Guy (author)2017-06-08

It's beautiful!

ernter (author)2017-06-08

This is a fantastic idea! It reminds me of the toy train buildings of my dads. have to build him one of those!

Alexisgm97 (author)2017-06-08

Amazing! The idea is perfect and the Parisian house enclosure is even better! Such detail, much wow!

Favourited!

random_builder (author)2017-06-08

Awesome! You need to put this in the invention contest. I am sure it would win! :)

rminemier (author)2017-06-08

Agreed. Amazingly​ simple and yet still geeky. It should make a nice mantle/shelf clock for the geek at heart.....maybe a color difference between night/daytime??

Nice job.

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