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Step 11: Whats been hapening these last few months....

Update:

As an update, I have redesigned the Arduino clock controller board - I decided that in reality all I needed was the ATMega Chip itself, and that placing an entire module was a waste of PCB space.

I have further updated it to version 3 - supporting a RTC chip, and reducing the size of the PCB.

Here is a photo of the v2 and v3 boards, and an assembly manual, (which I have been sending out with my kits) - That should make assembly easier for anybody who wants to make one themselves.

The new PCB

The new PCB that I designed has larger tracks, and larger pads, making assembly easier.  When you look at the PDF, you will see that there are large copper masses 'directly over' existing tracks.  Please don't worry - that is normal - it is a ground plane, and the track that it is over is the ground track.  All of my boards try to use ground planes so that I have to etch less copper from the board.


Programming the new board:

One Idea I got from EvilMadScience.com, was to use one of their programming cables, instead of using an entire Duemilanove module.  It is really cool - you pay $20, and you can use the cable for many many projects - all you have to do is include a trivial programming header on the PCB.  The cable is available from: evilmadscience.com/partsmenu/130-usbttl


A New Display PCB

I have been designing a new display PCB - I can etch it on 2 6x6 inch pieces of single sided PCB stock - the neat thing about the new display, is that it gets cut into a set of "LED Strips", with each strip being used to illuminate a word.   the spacing between LEDs is about 23mm, so I can use these strips to make BIG WORDS (Much larger than the 6 inch displays i have been making).  The clock size that I am making currently will be about 240mm x 240mm for the word plane, set into a total display that is about 320x320, making a really nice wall clock - It will take a couple of weeks, but as soon as I have something more tangible to display, I will put it up here.  

I etched the PCB over the Easter weekend, and am looking forward to making a bigger display.

Another side effect of the LED strips, is that you are not limited to English words - we can modify the software for any language, and you can use whatever size strips you need behind words to make the clock work!!!

Updated Software to allow the brightness to be reduced at night

I have modified the software to allow the brightness of the clock to be automatically adjusted based on the time - At 7pm, it will reduce the brightness, and at 7am, it will increase it again - This was to allow the clock to be less intrusive in my daughters bedroom.

Attached is the software that allows that to happen, and Matt Sparks DS1302 library.  It is in the file Wordclock-reduced-brightness.zip attached to this step.



Would this work for both the ribbon cable and the header? I could cut the male end off and solder it to all of the LEDs and connect the header to the board and attach it to the circuit?<br>https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00OERE7PE/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1472234973&amp;sr=8-1&amp;pi=SY200_QL40&amp;keywords=26+way+header&amp;dpPl=1&amp;dpID=41U2yt7tUyL&amp;ref=plSrch
Whoops I meant female end
<p>Hi Doug.</p><p>I am thinking of building this clock. I have an Arduino Uno with an ATMega328 chip onboard.</p><p>Can u advise if this is compatable or can the 328 be used in place of the 168.</p><p>Cheers Terry</p>
<p>meh but 3 stars</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>I'm having trouble getting my word clock to work. Might the problem be that I have used ULN2003 drivers instead of ULN2003A drivers. I'm new with this stuff so I really have no clue what I'm doing wrong.</p><p>Thanks!</p>
<p>Hmm- that's odd - it should not worry about that.</p><p>One of the best ways of debugging this, is to unplug the 4094 chips, and using a jumper wire between +5v and each ULN2003 input, verify that the led lights.</p>
<p>hello sir , </p><p>Could you please send me an Eagle file of the pcb? Thanks in Advance !!</p><p>The project is just awesome!! I am trying to explore projects and would appreciate if you could suggest some more projects . Thank You !!</p><p>- Lay</p>
Hi Lay,<br><br>Thanks so much for your message. <br><br>My project is not for use commercially, so I have not provided Gerbers or source files that could be used. Having said that, I completely support people learning and am very happy to send you a commercially made PCB that I use in my clocks if you would like to make it and are unable to use Toner Transfer.<br><br>Just by the way, I use KiCad, as it is open source. Eagle CAD is commercial, and not available for free to hobbyists.. Any use over a very small size requires a commercial licence. You may enjoy experimenting with KiCad.<br><br>Kindest regards,<br><br>Doug <br><br>
<p>I would certainly try KiCad . Can you ship your PCB all the way to India?</p>
<p>It's work</p>
<p>Hi Doug,</p><p>I've been trying to debug this for a couple months now. I might be really silly about this but is it possible to get rid of the ATMega if just using an Arduino Uno? I'm just a college student and having my first run at electronics projects. Thanks so much for all the help</p>
<p>Hi Doug,</p><p>For the PCB board: can I use a simple copper plate or do I need a special plate?</p><p>Sorry for my English </p><p>Thanks in advance!</p>
<p>Hi Doug,<br>I think your clock is great and I have been working on a similar project, inspired by yours, but then I made a thermometer (so I used a temperature sensor). Now, I have the problem that as soon as I plug in the 12V wall adapter, all my LEDs start to give light, however I uploaded a program to my arduino which should turn of certain LEDs. Do you have any idea what the problem might be here?<br>Thanks in advance! :)</p>
Hi,<br><br>Its great to hear that you are making a thermometer project.<br><br>The first thing to check is whether your software is actually driving the pins of the microprocessor in the way that you are expecting. Are you able to share the circuit diagram with me and I will see what I can identify.<br><br>Doug<br>
<p>Hi Doug,<br><br>Thanks for your reply! I think I found the problem, I might have mounted my drivers (uln2003a) in the opposite direction (so the input is where the output should be and vice versa). A really stupid mistake you could miss easily when checking the system. I will try and find out whether this was the problem, and let you know.<br>Mo</p>
<p>Made it an year back! sharing the photos now...Yay!</p><p>thanks Doug! Nice instructable</p>
<p>Coolest clock I have ever seen, Thanks for sharing!</p>
Why not a 34 bit constant current serial driver M5450?...
<p>Something worth trying....</p><p>Really Very Innovative....</p><p>Looking forward to make one.....!!!</p>
Wat an awesome project can't wait to make it
<p>cool on the rev 3 version of the circuit you connected the ULN2003A common lines to the connector so I can be tied to the supply line and protect the ULN2003A if it is used to drive inductive loads.</p>
<p>based on the layout of the words five of the LEDs are not connected. Since they are behind the mask why would you populate them?</p>
<p>If you use the board as a relay driver you should connect the common on the UL2003A to ground to provide a fly back diode as relays are an inductive load and you can damage the ULN2003A if the the diode is not included.</p>
<p>hello Doug and thanks for your awesome project. I have made the clock but cant figure out how to stop the test funksjon and make the clock show the actual time, do i need to edit the code ?</p>
The test function is entered when the controller believes that the buttons have been held down during startup.<br><br>Make sure that the buttons are not shorted.<br><br>There was a hardware change at one stage, with the original hardware connecting the buttons to +5V, and the current hardware connecting them to ground - If you are using the updated firmware, then there is a $define early in the code to allow the use of old hardware. simply remove the comment and it will work.
<p>Good day sir ., i would like to ask what if i use Arduino uno, i would like to know the schematic of it., i'm doing this college project hope you could help me with this., </p>
The Arduino UNO should just work - Exactly the same as the duemilanove.
thanks a lot sir., i did it well :) <br>
it will work.<br>
<p>Beauty :)</p>
<p>This is amazing. it should be in the shops.</p>
Thanks for that - I have actually made a small business that sells these.<br><br>www.dougswordclocks.com It is fairly successful :-)<br>
<p>Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you.. </p><p>Shyam</p>
<p>Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you.. </p><p>Shyam</p>
<p>Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you.. </p><p>Shyam</p>
<p>Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you.. </p><p>Shyam</p>
<p>Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you.. </p><p>Shyam</p>
<p>Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you.. </p><p>Shyam</p>
<p>Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you.. </p><p>Shyam</p>
<p>Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you.. </p><p>Shyam</p>
<p>Great Project just Love it. .. Thank you.. </p><p>Shyam</p>
<p>hi, could i maybe get the eagle file? </p><p>it would be awesome :)</p><p>thank you,</p><p>max</p>
<p>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!</p>
<p>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.</p><p>Doug</p>
<p>I cannot do programming . Can you help me ,please ?</p>
Of course I can. I can send you a pre-programmed chip if you like, or even a complete kit.<br><br>My website is www.dougswordclocks.com<br><br>Doug<br>
<p>SO COOL!!!! Better than an ordinary clock :)</p>

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Bio: I have a background in digital electronics, and am very interested in computers. I love things that blink, and am in awe of the physics ... More »
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