Introduction: Three Part Clock

Picture of Three Part Clock

A normal analog clock is an efficient way of piling three different bits of information on top of each other. The hours, minutes, and seconds can all be read with just one dial.

I like this system, but after a while I thought that each hand should get its own space. So for this I made the three part clock. Each hand has its own dial and reading the clock is just a matter of moving from left to right.

Step 1: Get Clock Parts

Picture of Get Clock Parts

You can order clock movements and hands fairly cheaply online or, if you have an Ikea store nearby, you can buy three clocks for just $3 each.

Also needed, and not pictured, is a piece in which to put all the clocks. We had a scrap piece of wood 28"x10.5" so I just grabbed that. It's warped so this is just a prototype, but for a final version just get a better material and check the thickness so that the clock movements can stick through it.

Step 2: Mark Your Centers

Picture of Mark Your Centers

The original clock faces were 7.5" wide so I planned to space them equally across the piece of wood and give a little extra margin on the left and right.

To prep for this, just find the right height and use your calculations from the last step to see how far left and right you need to mark the board.

Step 3: Drill!

Picture of Drill!

Drill what? Drill the holes! On the dots!

Step 4: Glue in the Movements

Picture of Glue in the Movements

A little bit of hot glue and the three movements are good and stuck to the board with their stems sticking out the front.

Step 5: Add the Hands

Picture of Add the Hands

The first movement gets an hour hand. The second and third get the minute and second hands, respectively.

Below you can see the clock at 12:00, 3:30, and 10:08.

Step 6: Decorate the Clock

Picture of Decorate the Clock

Add in the tick marks so it's easier to read the clock. These were done with two stencils. The same stencil was used for the minute and second hands.

Now add some varnish if you want or just put it up somewhere and wait for people to come by and try to see what it means.


plategahn (author)2014-09-21

you can build a very acurate clock with a GPS-Reciever, it's far better than a normal radio-controlled one.

matbh (author)2011-09-01

the right way to make the circuit.
note: if u use a high wuality batts, its not necessary to use 3 batts

wobbler (author)matbh2011-09-02

This circuit is correct, but putting batteries in parallel is not good. They will self discarge through each other. You should only use one battery, but use a larger battery if necessary.

wobbler (author)2010-12-16

This won't necessarily work, unfortunately. Depending on the circuits, you'll find they may only pass current when they are moving the motor and will not pass hardly anything at other times. hence the clocks will interact and not work properly. The correct way to do this is to wire the clocks in parallel to one battery. Connect all the clock positives together to the battery positive and all the clock negatives to the battery negative. This of course means any battery will only last a third of the time, but that's exactly the same as changing three batteries which last three times longer. The advantage is you don't get clocks failing indiscriminately. You could always use a bigger C or D type battery of course to compensate.

I like this idea though, I wonder if it's possible to move the mechanisms around in order to get one mechanism driving three separated dials?

russ_hensel (author)wobbler2011-09-01

You need not bother with 3 batteries, just use a C or D cell, clocks in parallel.

matbh (author)russ_hensel2011-09-01

i didn't test with this kind of batts... thank you for the advice

jacetheace (author)2009-07-23

love it really wast to make one when i can find some clocks cheap enuf

CybergothiChe (author)jacetheace2010-05-21

 IKEA apparently...

a8875624 (author)2009-12-27

 do you have the stencils you used? or do you know where i could get some?

comodore (author)2009-02-28

That looks great, I love that you used wood! I agree with Kiteman, when the batteries start to lose the power each one will bet slower and they won't show the correct time... I looks like one of those boards that contain 3 scales, one that shows the moisture of the air, the other pressure and the third temperature, was that the inspiration for you? All in all a great project for the afternoon! I really love it and I think I am going to make one of these... rate:*****

Dr.Bill (author)comodore2009-03-03

we got all this high tech in our clocks now, when have you ever seen ANY 2 clocks reading the same time

NastySpill (author)Dr.Bill2009-03-12

I have. Probably wont surprise you that it was in Tokyo. I very carefully set my new digital watch to an atomic clock. A few weeks later I found myself in Tokyo and held my watch up against a clock on a train station. They were within a fraction of a second, which is as good as you can measure moving your eye between two clocks. I was impressed yet again with the Japanese way.

flio191 (author)NastySpill2009-03-16

hell yeah man, my grandmother sent me an atomic, solar powered casio watch from japan, and it is always on time. when i visited japan, every clock was the same as mine. :D i can sooo back you up on that.

Dr.Bill (author)flio1912009-03-17

O.K. I would like to see someone post some kind of clock made with da kine clock parts that listens to WWV the atomic clock in Boulder, Co. Those clocks re-adjust themselves. They have a shortwave receiver in them. Lets see a 3 part clokc made with da kine!!!

flio191 (author)Dr.Bill2009-03-17

lol i have no idea what you just said but sure. :D

comodore (author)flio1912009-03-19

I asked you if you want to give me 1 000 000 000 ... and you said sure.... You can send the money directly to my home address... xD xD

flio191 (author)comodore2009-03-19

sure! send that along with your social security, credit card number, home and cell phone numbers, closest relatives full names and birth certificates, the closest relative that has a dog (yes, send them full, in express mail), your closest relative that owns a cat (them too), and your computer motherboard. just the motherboard. :D

comodore (author)flio1912009-03-19

I don't think that is necessary for this transaction... I will just give you the address... :D

Dr.Bill (author)comodore2009-03-20

Wow. What a crowd!

comodore (author)Dr.Bill2009-03-21


Lance Mt. (author)comodore2009-08-04

Pit the cat against the dog and you have yourself a deal!

comodore (author)Dr.Bill2009-03-18

LOL!!! Why don't you make one of those??? ;D

Dr.Bill (author)comodore2009-03-20

Too much bother.

comodore (author)flio1912009-03-18

Can you post some pictures of your watch please.... I really want to see how it looks! Thanks! :D

flio191 (author)comodore2009-03-18

It's right here! It's only sold in Japan i think, though.

comodore (author)flio1912009-03-19


Dr.Bill (author)NastySpill2009-03-14

I was so impressed by the Nippon way I married one.

comodore (author)Dr.Bill2009-03-15


comodore (author)NastySpill2009-03-15

For some reason I love Japanese people and food and... They beleive that they were given hands to work, make, create...

comodore (author)Dr.Bill2009-03-03

ah... Never

Dr.Bill (author)comodore2009-03-03

Yeah. Still it looks real good.

comodore (author)Dr.Bill2009-03-04


ChrisakaKurisu (author)comodore2009-03-01

Do you think there's a way you would wire all three sections into a plug? Sounds like a lot of work but also possible if you used 3 clock motors that use plugs. Just a thought to solve the low battery power problem. Nice though, I think I'm going to make one. Two thumbs up.

comodore (author)ChrisakaKurisu2009-03-02

Why should you use a plug when you can wire them all to a one sorse of power....

ChrisakaKurisu (author)comodore2009-07-19

That's what I meant, wire them all to one plug. Running them off of a battery isn't a good idea when it comes to clocks because as the battery runs low so does the time on the clock.

comodore (author)ChrisakaKurisu2009-07-23

Than your right! :P

fungus amungus (author)comodore2009-02-28

The wood was scrap and is unfortunately warped so this is a prototype. Not sure what the final piece will look like yet. As for the inspiration, I was just looking at a clock and thinking about how the three different parts are stacked on top of each other and what it would be like if they were arranged like a digital clock. It also happened that I had three of those cheap clocks in my office from another project and it all came together pretty quickly.

comodore (author)fungus amungus2009-03-01

I really love the idea, and desine... You can use some lack to make the wood shiny and sparcling... I was thinking and what came to my mind to solve the problem of the clocks slowing down in different rates... You can power all in with one battery pack... Connecting the clocks in serial and if they use 2 AA batteries, take a 6 AA battery holder and attach it on the back... So when the batteries are low they all slow down at the same rate...

Slight correction you would want to connect them up in parallel not series. Since the clocks are designed to run on 1.5~0.3 volts they would probably run a little bit fast if you tried to run them on 4.5 volts. Personally I'd just shove paper clips in at the ends of the battery holders in the clocks, and then connect them up in parallel(+to+/-to-).

well, I am not really shore... I'd just shove paper clips in at the ends of the battery holders in the clocks, and then connect them up in parallel(+to+/-to-). That is a very clever idea!

Now the real question is why bother making the clock behave like a normal clock when the batteries die? Your just going to end up replacing them anyways. Now if we must fidget with the way the clock behaves with dieing batteries why not make it use full and put completely new batteries in the hours and minuets clocks and some slightly used batteries from the same package in the seconds clock? Then we will be warned that the batteries need replacing by the seconds hand falling out of sync with the minuets and hours hands, before the other 2 clocks lose the time.

maruawe (author)comodore2009-03-01

Very good! Comodore

comodore (author)maruawe2009-03-01

Thank you! Maruawe

maruawe (author)fungus amungus2009-03-01

Would it not be possible to hook them up together on a 110 circuit off a regulator of some kind..... come on I know you can do it

"when the batteries start to lose the power each one will bet slower" Really? I thought the idea behind the quartz driven clocks is that the quartz vibrates at a certain frequency independent of drive voltage - only the amplitude is voltage dependent. My battery clocks seem to just "poop -out" and can't move the motor but the period seems unaffected.

Depends, he used 3 chinese cheep clocks...

comodore (author)2009-03-26

OK... That's a great plan...

matbh (author)comodore2009-06-05

i was wrong. check the right circuit... thank u

matbh (author)2009-06-05

i'm sorry guys, but my previous post is wrong! this week i made my own three clock... and the circuit mentioned here by me doesn't work! the circuit must be im parallel. not in serie like in the image... ALL NEGATIVES to negative side os batt, and ALL POSITIVES to positive side os battery.

matbh (author)matbh2009-06-05

i forgot the new images... i used to this project: computer font cover (burned font) 3 cheap clock (made in china) a baterry holder (with 4 slots) hot glue some wires (from the same burned font) 2 normal batteries (when we use a parallel circuit, u increase the current not the voltage. so if we use more batteries our clock will work for more time. but be carreful, i think (im not sure) if u use more than 3 batteries ur clock can run faster (anyone can check this information?)) my clock is working fine with 2 batteries without desynchronize for 3 days. i'm sorry again for my error.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
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