Making a Custom Dr. Who Inspired LED Clock

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Introduction: Making a Custom Dr. Who Inspired LED Clock

About: In 2013 I decided to try paper cutting as a hobby because it was inexpensive and I could easily do it in an apartment. As we bought a house, I started acquiring woodworking tools to create more projects. Later…

For a long time, I've been wanting to create a LED clock design for my shop. Johnson Plastics provided the LED components that I needed for the project and I purchased the standoff components so that I could create something unique. I decided to use one of the most intricate designs that I have which is my Dr. Who inspired design.

I felt that this would be the perfect design to use with the blue lighting. I decided to use standoffs for the 3, 6, 9, and 12 positions and blend lines into the design for the remaining numbers. Check out the full video for how to make your own!

GET THE DESIGN FILE

Supplies

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TOOLS USED IN THIS PROJECT (May contain affiliate links)

LASER MACHINE SETTINGS

  • Laser specs: 60 watt Epilog Fusion M2 40
  • Engraving: 60% speed, 40% power
  • Vector Cutting: 4% speed, 100% power, 2500 frequency (100%)
  • Engraving time: ~54 minutes

Step 1: Prepare the Design File

Download Design File and prepare it for your laser. The design can be scaled to a smaller size if desired. I made this clock 24" in diameter, but a smaller one can be made from the design.

Step 2: Cut Out the Clock Backer

Cut a 24" circular backer out of 3/4" black melamine. Apply edge banding if desired. I used a 24" circle jig and a trim router to get a perfect circle shape.

Step 3: Cut the Acrylic

Laser cut the 1/4" clear cast acrylic with the masking on. The laser cut layer should be indicated in the design file. For the LED standoffs I am using, it is recommended to have acrylic that is at least 1/4" thick. Make sure that you cut the holes for the standoffs as well as the clock mechanism.

Hole sizes:

  • Clock mechanism hole: 5/16"
  • LED Standoff Holes: 13/16"

Step 4: Engrave the Design

Peel off the paper masking and laser engrave the design onto the acrylic. When doing this, I leave the paper backer on the backside of the acrylic. It is recommended to engrave the front of the acrylic to get the best results for lighting. Once the engraving is done, it can be easily cleaned by using a dry shop towel to wipe it clean.

Step 5: Mark and Drill Out Holes in the Backer

Once the acrylic piece is made, lay it on top of the black melamine backer and mark the hole locations using the hole template from the file.

Once all of the holes are marked, drill them out.

  • Larger center hole for the standoff, use a 5/16" bit
  • Smaller wire hole, use a 1/8" bit
  • For the clock mechanism hole, use a 5/16" bit

Step 6: Trace and Cutout the Access Hole for the Clock Mechanism

After holes are marked, put the clock mechanism into the backer and trace the profile of the clock mechanism. Once traced, cut this shape out. The easiest way to do this is to put the clock mechanism spindle through the hole drilled in the previous step. This will make sure that the clock mechanism is perfectly centered.

Step 7: Add the Z-Clip Hanger

After the backer has all of the necessary holes and cutouts, attach the X-clip to the back of the backer and assemble all standoffs to the backer using 5/16"-18 fasteners.

Step 8: Attach the Standoffs and Clock Mechanism

Once the hanger has been added, attach the standoffs to the backer. Assemble the clock mechanism to the acrylic piece and lay it on top of the standoffs. It's best to install the clock mechanism before the LED standoffs for ease of access and being able to tighten it properly.

Step 9: Assemble LED Light Boards and Standoffs

Take the LED light boards and feed the wires through each of the standoffs and pull the wires through until the LED light board sits flush on the face of the standoff. Secure the acrylic pieces using the standoff caps and threaded hardware.

Step 10: Wire the Standoffs

Flip the entire assembly over and begin to secure all of the wiring. Solder all of the gray wires together and connect to the power supply lead wire. I used the black wire. Then solder all of the white wires together and connect to the red wire. Test the power supply connection and make sure that all of the LED light boards light up.

Step 11: Light It Up and Enjoy!

Enjoy your brand new clock! The best part about this setup is you can change out the acrylic design if desired in the future without having to rewire any of the LEDs.

I hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did. If you want to see more from me, feel free to follow me on other social media:

If you are inspired by this project to make your own LED clock, please share it here. I love seeing other people's completed projects. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask in the comments below!

Step 12: Check Out the Full Video!

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