Major updates - A much better enclosure for this clock has been designed - check out


Last month I wanted to build a special gift for my beautiful wife, Megan.  She has a teaching background in English, so what better present to make for her than a clock that uses language to tell the time for her desk at work. 


The original project that I created used a Microchip PIC microcontroller (16F877), because that's what I had in the garage.  Since I published it (, quite a few people, including my next door neighbor (Thanks Mikal) have asked me why I didn't use an Arduino.  Having never used one, my automatic reaction to Mikal was 'Whats a one of those??"  So, I did some research and found out what an Arduino was.  Wow - they are so cool - so simple to develop for, and the barrier to entry is so low!.  I ordered one from eBay, and re-designed the clock to use the Arduino Duemilanove as the controller.

I have to admit right from the start that the Arduino is a beautifully engineered piece of work - While I am used to the PICs, because I have been playing with them for years, I do admit that there is a certain level of 'unreachability' for the beginner because of the requirement that specialised programmers be purchased or built.  The Arduino is equally powerful, comes on it's own little self contained board, and best of all is self programmable using a USB cable.


I have also listened to people who have constructed the original clock, and done away with the need to run off AC power. This clock simply uses a DC supply of 12 Volts, so you can run it off a wall wart, or off a set of batteries.  If you are using batteries, may I suggest 'D' cells, as they run forever, or a couple of 6V 'Lantern' batteries. 


Finally, I have designed the controller board so that you can construct the project with your Arduino Duemilanove board just by plugging it in.  But, if you want to recover your Arduino for something else, you can install the optional support components along with an appropriately programmed ATMega168 and a handful of support components and your project will still operate.  People on eBay will sell you a ATMega168 with a boot loader that you can simply pop back into your Arduino board.

So, here it is - The word clock - constructed using an Arduino!

I am now able to sell all sorts of components, ranging from complete clocks, through to kits, through to individual modules and components.  Please visit my web site for further information.

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Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you..


Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you..


Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you..


Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you..


Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you..


Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you..


Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you..


Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you..


Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you..


hi, could i maybe get the eagle file?

it would be awesome :)

thank you,


ruiz80980235 months ago

Hello good sir! I am doing this project for my capstone at highschool and I gotta ask: what is the schematic for the control board? I'm temporarily housing a bread board with the IC chips and other components, but I would love to know what the actual schematic for the control board is so I know what connects to what. Thanks and keep us the good work!

drj113 (author)  ruiz80980234 months ago

Hi, Sorry for missing this comment - If it isn't too late, I can email you a schematic as well as the board layout so you can etch one yourself.


gizemacrf6 months ago

I cannot do programming . Can you help me ,please ?

drj113 (author)  gizemacrf6 months ago
Of course I can. I can send you a pre-programmed chip if you like, or even a complete kit.

My website is

I-robostein6 months ago

SO COOL!!!! Better than an ordinary clock :)

rloco1 made it!8 months ago

thank you so much for your instructions. my wife has seen the qlocktwo in a store, and fel in love with it, but it was waaay out of our budget. after learning how to work wit an arduino and electronics it was an interesting learning project. with as result a beautifull clock (in dutch) and a happy wife :-) .

ste8610 months ago
I see that you are using the atmega 328 and the Arduino so I think that the sketch should be 2 but in 'instructable you put in one ....: (..... or the sketch goes well on both? ... Excuse the spelling .. but I use google translator, I am Italian ....; p
squishyjoss11 months ago
nice one
gazoutg1 year ago
First of all thanks for the tutorial
I got no problem with the programming part but im a complete newb about electronic/circuits and i have a question:
since there is 19 I/O pins on the arduino and not all pins can be high at the same time why not just put the hours directly on output 1 to 4 in rows of 3 connected to transistor activated by output 5,6 and 7 ?
(like this guy did:
Woulnt you be able to controll all Leds directly from the arduino without any other modules?
drj113 (author)  gazoutg1 year ago
Ahh - That aproach works well with single LEDs, but remember that each word of this clock is made from somewhere between 2 and 7 LEDs, and I decided to use 12V powered LED strips.

Also - the clocks that I make have both hours and minutes.

Another way of doing it is to multiples a big array of LEDs, 13 x 13, which allows you to have any word order that you want.

drj113 (author)  gazoutg1 year ago
I used the shift register approach, as I wanted 24 words, and using the shift registers meant that I didn't have to do multiplexing.

Simple as that!
ogarza1 year ago
For a version of this clock I need 5 drivers since it comes to 31 words, is there a kit with support for more display outputs than 24?
drj113 (author)  ogarza1 year ago

The board that I have designed had 3 driver chips to provide 24 outputs - I do not have any other boards. You could make your own using Veroboard?
I am fairly new to Instructables so I will have to take a look at putting it together. I definitely want to get a video up. I'll let you know when I get either up. (I tried replying but the captcha thing seems messed up)
RuiSantos1 year ago
This project is so awesome ! I'll do something like this probably in the next year...
thanks for sharing all the detailed informations about this
gunnarain1 year ago
Is it possible to alter a PIC word clock to use the Arduino? I fancy playing with one, and have a love of word clocks since I built a version of your first one.

Also, loving your new website, got some really nice clocks on the go!
drj113 (author)  gunnarain1 year ago
It certainly is- The Arduino clocks were an extension of the original PIC project. Have you seen the PIC version?

I had to use shift registers and driver chips to replace the output transistors, as the Arduino didn't have enough outputs to drive all of the words.

JensonBut1 year ago
Probably much more harder to make this device thatn all the other ones from here....
drj113 (author)  JensonBut1 year ago
This is a complex project, but many, many people have successfully made it so far :-)

I do offer kits from my personal website if you like
i am using arduino deumilanovae, the ATmega328 version, for bootloader i used Arduino IDE, Bootloader, Driver 1.0, I've noticed that one of the red led light is blinking while the other one is not lighting up.
Hello Doug,

I'm facing the same problems.. please help.!! Anyone knows how to troubleshoot.

I am using ATmega328.
1)the display board is continuing to blink as shown in the starter gif. and not showing any particular time.
2)the push buttons are not bringing about any changes in the blinking sequence,
drj113 (author)  Johnerich08091 year ago
That is almost certainly because of a software change. Can you tell me what software you are using and which board you have. The V2 boards used buttons that were connected between the button input and +5v, while the v3 boards used buttons that went between the input and gnd (using the internal pullups).

Lets double check what you have, and get you the correct software
stalag1 year ago
hi doug,
could you tell me the size of the v3 board?
drj113 (author)  stalag1 year ago
Yep - It is 75mm x 74mm
stalag drj1131 year ago
thanks for the info, i appreciate it.
Hello Doug,

Its an awesome project , i loved it ..moreover, it was an arduous task to even replicate it , with such a limited time in hand for submission at college(about 5 days) , i could just make the project as it is instructed here , and just copy paste the code to the arduino board,

i am facing certain problems:-
1)the display board is continuing to blink as shown in the starter gif. and not showing any particular time.
2)the push buttons are not bringing about any changes in the blinking sequence,

Kindly help,
i am using arduino deumilanovae, the ATmega328 version.
please excuse any naiveity on my part and kindly help sir :)

Hoping for an eager reply(on account of the little time i m left with ie just 2 days)

Loved ur work :)
drj113 (author)  Piyush Bhatia1 year ago
Wow. thanks for your email. i am in a party at the moment so i don't have access ti my pc. i will post a detailed message in about 5 hours.

Don't panic
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