Instructables

The Sprintronic - Clock with Laser Cut Case

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Picture of The Sprintronic - Clock with Laser Cut Case

If you have read Sky Mall magazine on a plane, then you have seen the inspiration for the Sprintronic clock.

This is a very easy, inexpensive, and quick project. The clock's movement is a standard battery powered quartz movement from an arts and crafts store. Its case is made of inexpensive 5 mm (0.2 inch) plywood. The face lens is a small piece of Plexiglas.

The case and lens patterns were cut on a laser cutter, however neither are too complicated to fabricate using a scroll saw and drill. The face lettering can be transferred using the toner transfer method when cut with a scroll saw.

A complete kit for this clock is now available at http://www.dougparadis.com/products-page/clock-kits/sprintronic-clock-kit/
 
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
IMG_5363.JPG
Materials:
     1  -   Battery Powered Quartz Clock Movement. I have used movements
              sold under the labels "The Clock Shoppe" and "ArtMinds". The
              movement shaft should be sized for either 1/4 or 3/8 inch face thickness
              (you may need to adjust spacing slightly with washers).

     2  -  11 inch by 12 inch pieces of 5 mm (0.2 inch) plywood
     1  -  3 inch by 4 inch piece of Plexiglas or clear plastic
                   (I used 1/8 inch thick Plexiglas)
     2  -  Popsicle craft sticks
     1  -  Sheet of 110 weight (lb) card stock.

     1  -  #4 - 1/2 inch (3 mm x 12 mm) screw
     2  -  #4 washers
     1  -  #4 lock washer
     1  -  #4 nut

     1  -  Credit card size cold laminating pouch


TOOLS:
     Scissors
     Ruler
     Craft knife
     Glue (wood and super)
     2 small Clamps
     Sand paper
     Block of wood
     Access to laser cutter or scroll saw and drill

     Optional:
      3/32 and 3/16 inch hole punches
      Stain
      Finish (varnish or other)
      Mallet

Doug Paradis (author) 2 years ago

I have added a clock face dial set that assumes the minute dial is made of a transparent material to step 4.

With this new dial set you could have the minute dial on the outside ring and the hour dial on the inside ring.

The hour dial should still be made on card stock. Both dials will be the same diameter.

I have updated step 4 to explain this option and attached the .pdf file for the altered clock dials.

My one concern is shadows. We'll just have to see how it goes.

Thank you to the many people who suggested this idea both here and on Hack-a-Day.
Alcyon1 year ago
Well blow me down, nice clock.
I made one with a old key from a typewriter to use also the seconds.
klok.jpg
Doug Paradis (author)  Alcyon1 year ago
Cool clock!  You have added the second hand in a very inventive way that doesn't distract from the overall design. The brass outline of the old typewriter key finishes it off nicely.
jmitch772 years ago
I created a clock like this concept last year and thought I came up with such an original idea! Noooo!! Ha ha!
I like the customization you did on the dials and box! Nice job! Well, I guess I won't enter mine in the contest since it's so close to yours, and you did a much nicer job!
My idea was to read the time from the left side with the numbers in line with the "pointer" as the time (8:45 in the picture).
Great job!
P1010442.JPG
Like it ! bit of a steam punk look too.   It seems 
A surplus  ,used Bike gear would work too.  Or most any gear over 12 teeth
Doug Paradis (author)  jmitch772 years ago
Thanks for the kind words.
laserline2 years ago
I just added it to my favorites. I guess that definitely means it deserves (and got) my vote.
Doug Paradis (author)  laserline2 years ago
Thank you!
pahosler2 years ago
making the mins on the outside should be fairly easy... make a clear plastic disk with the mins on the edge, the hours will be on a disk behind them showing through the gap.

couldn't you reverse the movement by rotating the clock movement 180 degrees (put it in upside down) instead of trying to disassemble the thing and flipping the stator motor?
Doug Paradis (author)  pahosler2 years ago
Flipping the stator is extremely easy (a few screws and keeping track of the parts). Rotating the clock 180 degrees will not change the direction.

The clear plastic disk idea would work. I am going to give that a try to see how it looks on my next copy.

Keep the ideas coming...
doh! you are right, not sure wtf I was thinking!
You were thinking correctly, just not on the right axis. :) If the movement is mounted to the front of the clock ("backwards", not "upside-down" - 180 degrees on vertical axis), then you're right, it will reverse the apparent rotation direction.

The disadvantage is the amount of space between the front of the housing and the dials is larger. Nothing one can't design around, though.... and then you could put a time adjustment knob right on the front!
With a bit of finagling you could manage to put the movement in backwards (requiring larger dials) to reverse direction.
Have you ever thought about putting a small lightbulb on the bottom of the arc so that the face can be read at night?
Doug Paradis (author)  javajunkie19762 years ago
Good idea. Since it is battery powered, I would use a LED and button switch.

If you wanted to be really clever you could use a eBay PIR switch without the Frenel lens (to keep the look simple).

This would complicate things, but might be worth it. There is room in the case for sure.
simplebeep2 years ago
This is really cool, especially the fact that you can build it with a standard clock motor.

It'd be interesting to figure out a way to have the minutes dial show on the outer ring, rather than the inner, in order to make the clock more precise. It would also be interesting to reverse the direction, as per this instructable, to make it seem like the hand in the display window was moving forward rather than backward.

Anyhow, just a thought. This is pretty damn sweet as it is!
Doug Paradis (author)  simplebeep2 years ago
I considered changing the direction of the movement and dial faces. I may still do that on one of these clocks to see if I like it better. It is easy to do with these movements. You just pull the stator of the motor, reverse, and re-insert it. Which direction the movement should move was a subject of debate with friends before building the clock. I chose the simpler way and left the direction unchanged, which by the way, is the same direction as the original watch.

Moving the minute dial to the outside ring is more problematic. I haven't found a movement setup that way. I believe that you would have to craft something to get that effect. I have not looked into the gearing of the movement and do not know what is possible.

The preciseness of the minute dial is very good due to the thin line on the lens. It does take a little interpretation to tell time at the hour, however I am not sure exchanging the rings the hour / minute dials were on would help much with this. 

Thank you for your very thoughtful comment and kind words.
How about using overhead transparency sheets for the minute dial. Then it could overlap the hour dial all the way to the edge.

Oops! sorry, I hadn't read your comment before I posted mine above.
Doug Paradis (author)  jelmore12 years ago
WOW!
That is an excellent idea! Thanks for sharing.
Indeed. My thoughts were a "maybe someday" sort of musing. I've worked with these clock motors and I understand how difficult it would be to get the minutes on the outside ring. Unless you used a transparency sheet...
Moving the minutes to the outside of the wheel next to the hour would be easy but make it much more difficult to read the time. You wouldn't use the current minutes disc at all, but just use the disc that is mounted to the hour shaft. You would just have to make 60 little lines or dots between each hour and you'd probably want to mark the 5 minute increments to be less confusing. The size would make it very hard to read anyway, unless you made the entire clock much bigger. Then you would have a wall clock instead of a desk clock.
dimtick2 years ago
I really like the idea of this but not really the final outcome. I think there is a freedom and power that a laser cutter gives you. it would be cool to see something that really took advantage of the advantages the laser has over convential methods.
I've attached an image of a cardboard chair just to illustrate what i'm talking about. that is "out of the box" thinking. can you image trying to create that using conventional tools?
Cardboard-chair-2.jpg
That chair would be quite easy to make with a scroll saw.
I think my post came out harsher than I intended.
I've done my share of scroll saw work and cringe, thinking about what it would take to cut about 50 identical pieces with those curves. It would take forever and I'd go batty before I got halfway. a laser cutter doesn't care if it's cutting a curve or a straight line or if it's on piece 1 or 50.
the chair photo is simply one example of looking at a problem differently and thinking about the oppertunities that a laser cutter brings.
debefree2 years ago
Thank You for such a fine project and clear instructions

I "saw" the "dashtronic" influence at once.

This is going on my clock to do list..
stienut2 years ago
do you have parts and pieces for sale? I'm all over this!

Jim
So cool man, I have a steel watch made by Stauer that looks just like this... in fact, I'm sure you know that Stauer uses that signature fancy "S" that you have in the middle of your clock face.
RedBinary2 years ago
Having the end grains showing on front is a bit of a downer, but otherwise that enclosure is damn sexie!
Doug Paradis (author)  RedBinary2 years ago
Actually if the pieces are laser cut, the edges are charred to a interesting dark brown/black edge that hides the ply boundaries.
Doug Paradis (author)  Doug Paradis2 years ago
If you are using a scroll saw to cut the pieces, I would imitate this effect (black edge) by sanding and painting the edges with a thick black epoxy paint. The effect can also be accomplished by sanding the edge, using some filler on the edge, sanding flush, and painting with regular black paint, but that is a little more work.
I was basing my comment on the pictures, though I think I might like the black epoxy, too! I will *definitely* have to try that on a bent-wood project that I am working on about now.
biloyp2 years ago
Very nice job! Gonna have to try this one.
Exocetid2 years ago
Very nice design.
Excellent project. Nicely documented. Thank you for sharing.
Very classy look. I've always been in love with the design ever since I saw a similar wrist watch in a National Geographic magazine.
fleirvik2 years ago
Love it! I have had a similar idea to this for long and combined with the need of a clock at work, I now seem to have found what I was looking for! Thanks a lot!
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