Introduction: VHS Cassette Clock

Picture of VHS Cassette Clock

How to recycle and old video tape, quartz clock and an LED.

VHS is dead in the UK, the bottom-end of the market is struggling to shift VHS cassettes for pence. I have several, and found a new use for one.

I had an old quartz clock movement, the rest of the clock having fallen apart years ago.

And I have a lot of other electrical bits from broken TVs, videos, stereos etc.

Step 1: Materials / Parts List

Picture of Materials / Parts List

One ordinary VHS video cassette.
One ordinary (analogue) quartz clock movement.
A battery box.
A switch.
Some wire.
Epoxy glue.

Craft knife.
Dremel-a-like 12V tool.
A nasty cheap soldering iron with a manky-tip, and some solder.

Step 2: Disassembly

Picture of Disassembly

The VHS cassette is held together by screws, which are easily removed with a small screwdriver. Everything loose inside the cassette was removed.
I wanted to put the quartz movement where one of the tape reels was, and to put 2 AA cells in there somewhere to power the LED.
The metal spring (image) was only held in place by two small plastic 'melts', and was easily removed by cutting the plastic with a knife.
Similarly, the clear plastic tops of the tape reels were only held onto the white sections by six 'melt' fastenings in the centre. Careful cutting with a sharp knife separated the two sections

Step 3: The Clock Face Concept

Picture of The Clock Face Concept

I had experimented with etching the transparent top to a tape reel, and found that an LED illuminated the disk well. The prototype disk can be seen in the first image, all that was needed was the Dremel-a-like to widen the central hole and etch the surface.

As the disc rotates clockwise the hours roll into view from the left and out of view to the right. Because the face is moving rather than hands, the numbering needs to be anticlockwise.

Step 4: Creating the Face

Picture of Creating the Face

(You might want to skip this bit as it isn't very interesting and I found it rather tedious.)

The white tape-reel part has a set of notches on it, which normally lock the reel in position when it's not in a VCR in order to stop the tape un-spooling. It has ninety notches, I counted them. Using the white notches as a guide, I marked-out divisions on the transparent disk.

Having marked the disk with 'permanent' ink, I used the Dremel-a-like to cut shallow grooves in the rim, as you can see in the images. These notches catch the LED light.

The hours were free-hand etched with the Dremel-a-like running a small burr. Penning the hours on the disk in the first place didn't help. Excess ink was fairly easily removed with Fairy Liquid and water.

Step 5: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Having got all the parts, it was time to put them together.

Parts of the black cassette body were trimmed using the Dremel-a-like's cutting wheel (as pictured in the previous step, but removed from the wood).
The internal components were fitted, re-fitted and tweaked until everything was just right then glued into place using some Wilkinson two-part epoxy (good stuff) left over from a previous job.

With everything glued in place all that was needed was a bit of cutting on the inside of the front half of the cassette and a screwing back together.

See images and their notes

Step 6: The Finished Clock

Picture of The Finished Clock

I added a chopped-down minute hand, but I think I may take it off (not glued)

I've had this running for a couple of hours no problem. The LED is bright as the image shows.

No parts or materials were bought for this project, everything was recycled, otherwise redundant or left over from previous projects



ifox1 (author)2009-03-17

That is so cool my parents own a video shop so we have tonnes of old cassettes

lemonie (author)ifox12009-03-18

I'm still tying to think of a use for the magnetic tape...? L

ArcticNemo (author)lemonie2011-10-15

Very slim shrink wrap?

lemonie (author)ArcticNemo2011-10-15

I don't believe that it shrinks too well.


NachoMahma (author)lemonie2009-03-18

. I've heard (but never seen it done) that it make good audio tape. But cutting to the right width sounds like a royal PITA to me.

lemonie (author)NachoMahma2009-03-18

Yes but I have a similar number of redundant audio tapes. I did think about making an 8-track machine, but that would be very difficult for little or no use to me. L

sheru1982 (author)2011-08-05

Excellent Idea!!! (:

Quest for Questions (author)2010-05-28

 Where can I buy a quartz clock other then at a store ?

Cheap quartz movements can be bought off the internet, they're not really shop things.
BUT, if you can find a used clock really-cheap, like junk - you can get the movement out of that.


Quest for Questions (author)2010-05-27

 I did one without an LED but it had minutes

Any pictures of it?


 Yep . here they are , I'm working on the minutes, this one is new

Quest for Questions (author)2010-05-27

 p.s. this project rocks

porcupinemamma (author)2009-08-07


Hudson Hill (author)2009-07-10

Recycle its a beautiful thing

lemonie (author)Hudson Hill2009-07-10

Have you got any other ideas for a stack of redundant VHS cassettes? L

Uni Spin (author)2009-05-01

this is relly neet. great job.

Emsaid (author)2009-04-19

I really like this!

sharlston (author)2009-04-12


iectyx3c (author)2009-04-07

This is epic (or perhaps I should say epoch) - 5 stars and my vote for the Epilog contest. I am subscribing to your 'ible channel and looking forward to more great stuff from you !

lemonie (author)iectyx3c2009-04-07

Thanks! L (I would have expected a comment on my toaster first?)

EEvil (author)2009-04-05

I'll make mine...
But, tell me...
Doesn't the presence of the LED reduce the current that gets to the "quartz clock movement" and cause it to get late fast?

lemonie (author)EEvil2009-04-05

Hi, the LED is connected to a separate power supply, have a look at step 5 again. L

TheGoodLife (author)2009-03-23

Thank you for visiting my instructable.

So often.

Lance Mt. (author)TheGoodLife2009-03-29

? ? ? Arrrre you trolling???

lemonie (author)TheGoodLife2009-03-23

Still can't get the thing to load...
You would have been better off posting the comment on one of the comments I had posted there (it is out of context here).


DGCYS (author)2009-03-26

I don't know if you did this, but if you solder 2 wires from the contacts of 1 of the batteries in the holder and solder to the clock bat. tabs you can eliminate the battery in clock. Watch the polarity (+ / -) and voltage (1.5v)

lemonie (author)DGCYS2009-03-27

I could do that, but it was obviously easier not to, I appreciate the comment.


shamca (author)2009-03-26

Cool project - great creativity.

lisabe (author)2009-03-26

So cool!

agis68 (author)2009-03-22

Excellent project, brilliant idea well executed.....5/5 for good!!! ps....all ready i build my own.....

lemonie (author)agis682009-03-22

Yeah, I like the look of your clock - did your mum like it? L

LinuxH4x0r (author)2009-03-20

Awesome! how did I miss this?

lemonie (author)LinuxH4x0r2009-03-20

There's a lot of stuff comes through here, I am finding things popping-up out of chronological order. L

Re-design (author)2009-03-13

This is pretty good! You could put a second clock in the bottom and attach it to the min. armature and get a min. readout.

lemonie (author)Re-design2009-03-16

That is a good idea, might have to be done at some point.



crazycommanche=US= (author)2009-03-15

poor simpsons u dont desecrate them

It was going in the bin otherwise... L

well in that case the simpsons must be honored

Well I suppose so.I've still got the magnetic tape in there, preserved until (whenever) so I guess it's going to last longer than the rest of my videotape. L

omnibot (author)2009-03-08

Cool! I luv it.

imthatguy1125 (author)2009-03-07

where can i get a quartz clock movement and wont the led burn out without a resistor

lemonie (author)imthatguy11252009-03-07

These quartz movements are easily found in cheap clocks and easily bought e.g. Maplin
The LED seems fine, I did try putting 560K in the way but it was too dim.


NachoMahma (author)2009-03-06

. Excellent!

Doldrum (author)2009-03-06

That is really cool! I love clocks and am always trying to think of something interesting to turn into something that ticks, but I never would have thought of that :)

macobt (author)2009-03-06

good job

gmjhowe (author)2009-03-06

Yes! great work! Personally, i would have made the hand white. Maybe make it a custom sticker? the simpsons one draws the eye away from the rest of it.

lemonie (author)gmjhowe2009-03-06

I might print some stickers next week, but I'm removed from that option at the moment. I'm still thinking about the minute hand: I have an idea to fit another LED to it, but maybe not. L

gmjhowe (author)lemonie2009-03-06

if the hand was White, and you had a uv led. that would look pretty sweet.

lemonie (author)gmjhowe2009-03-06

Hmm, but I don't. I did think about going out to buy stuff like that, but I wanted to this to be a zero-cost make from stuff I had. L

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an experimentalist, a scientist and I have a tendency to do things just for the sake of doing them, or to find out ... More »
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