‘Round’ Word Clock (in Dutch & English!)




Introduction: ‘Round’ Word Clock (in Dutch & English!)

About: I am a student in the Netherlands who likes to make stuff!

A few years ago I have first seen a Word Clock on the internet. Since then, I always wanted to make one by myself. There are a lot of Instructables available, but I wanted to make something original.

I don't know much about electronics, so I used another instructable to copy all of the components. All the credits go out to BasWage! See his instructable here.

This is my first instructable, so I will try my best to explain every step well!

Step 1: Materials and Equipment

You will need some supplies to build one of your own. I have included some links so you can find the parts easily.



  • Arduino NANO: The brain of the Word Clock will be an Arduino NANO. I recommend to save some money and buy a clone.
  • Arduino NANO shield: To make it easy to connect the Arduino NANO to the components, use a terminal adapter. They are very cheap and make your life a lot easier.
  • Real Time Clock: An RTC will be used to keep the time, even when the power is shut off.
  • Power Supply: To power the LED-strip, you will need a 5V and (minimal) 2A power supply.
  • LED-strip: I used a 1 meter (60 LED/meter) LED-strip for this project. Make sure it can be powered by a 5V power supply. (Test it with the attached code before using!)
  • Resistor: A resistor of 470 Ohm.
  • Capacitor: A capacitor of 1000 uF.
  • Protoboard: A protoboard for the power supply and capacitor.
  • Jumper set: Some jumper wires to make easy connections (male-male, male-female & female-female).
  • Wire nuts: Two wire nuts to easily connect the positive and negative wires.
  • Insulating tape: You need to insulate some wires to make it as safe as possible, I did this with some insulating tape.


  • A wooden strip, I used some 12 mm Birch Plywood that I had laying around.
  • Some MDF wood, I used 4 mm.
  • Scrap (thin) wood.
  • Plexiglass for the face of the clock.
  • The cutout for the face. I had mine laser cut at a local laser-shop.
  • A few sheets of A4 paper.
  • A sheet of tracing paper for diffusing the light.


  • Soldering iron + fine solder (and a lot of patience ;) )
  • Table saw (any kind of saw will work).
  • Wood glue.
  • Pencil.
  • A few screws.
  • Cordless drill.
  • Printer for A4 paper.
  • Flathead screwdriver.
  • Hot glue gun.

Step 2: Making the Casing

Now that we have ordered all of the materials, it is time to make the casing for the clock. The clock is basically a hexagon made of 12 mm plywood. The exact measurements can be found in the pdf-file attached (Round Word Clock - Measurements). I made the clock 55 mm deep, with the height of the electronics in mind.

Next, it is time to cut the plexiglass to size. You can do this with a few different tools, but keep in mind that plexiglass is a sensitive material for cracks! So be careful when cutting and screwing it in place, keep the protective film in place to prevent scratches. I have a scroll saw at home, so I used this. The table saw or a hand saw will work too, but you have to use a fine blade to prevent cracks. When the plexiglass is cut, you can fix it on the hexagon with a few screws.

We need something to attach the LED-strip to. Saw two MDF panels to size for the inside. You can paste the template (attached as pdf) on one of the boards, this will make your life a lot easier in the following steps. The template is available in Dutch and English.

When the MDF panel is done, it is time to add a lot of small wooden strips (mine are 13 mm in height). This will prevent the light from 'leaking' to another word / number. This is when the template comes in handy.

Finally, screw a few wooden strips to the bottom of the MDF for the back. This ensures that the back can be screwed on.

Now the casing for your Word Clock is complete! Let's move on to the next step.

Step 3: LED-strip

The next step is to cut the LED-strip to size and soldering it together in the correct order.

I drilled some holes in the MDF panel for all of the wires to pass through. I have added a pdf showing the order of soldering the individual strips. Pay attention to the direction of the LED-strip! It only works in one direction, which is indicated by arrows.

When you are done soldering, test the LED-strip to make sure all of the connections are well soldered. I have attached some code for the Arduino to do this. Remember that the counting of individual LED's starts with 0.

Step 4: Electronics

Now finally time for the electronics!

We will stick the components (Arduino NANO, RTC and wire nuts) to the back of the MDF board. I used double-sided tape to fix the components.

Attach the LED-strip 5V and GND to the wire nuts. The DATE-wire goes to the NANO in port D6, make sure to add the resistor in between! Insulate the connection with some insulating tape.

The power supply can be soldered to the protoboard, make a connection with the capacitor and connect the positive & negative to the wire nuts.

All connections can be found in the attached photos.

Step 5: The Face of the Clock

There are a few ways to make the face of the clock. I made my design in AutoCAD and sent it to a local laser-cutting shop. They cut it from 1 mm black cardboard, this turned out great!

Have contact with your local printer-shop and ask for the options.

I have attached a .dwg (AutoCAD) file in Dutch and English if you want to use that. Just be creative and let me know what you came up with!

Step 6: Final Steps

When all the electronic components are soldered and connected, it is time for the final steps!

Sand the sides and finish this project to your own taste. I painted the outside so that it is protected against any water.

When finishing is done, unscrew the plexiglass and remove the protective layer. Cut a sheet of tracing paper to size, a bit smaller than the face. Then screw the plexiglass back in place with the tracing paper and clock face underneath. The tracing paper will help to diffuse the light.

Step 7: Programming

It's finally time for the last step in making your own Round Word Clock! Programming!

The first step is to set the time in the RTC. I have attached 'setTime', you can use this code to easily set the time. To do this, you need to connect the Arduino in the same way you connect it in the final version of the Round Word Clock. If you have a battery in the RTC, you don't need to set the time again.

My code is based on the code in the Word Clock from BasWage, so all the credits go out to him! I am definitely not a master in coding, so there are probably a few unnecessary things. Feel free to use this code and modify it! If you have any questions, just leave a comment and I will try to answer them.

You can download 'Arduino_file' and 'DS3231' and upload it on your Arduino NANO.

Step 8: Finished!

The Round Word Clock is now finished! That was not difficult right? ;)

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions / recommendations. I will try my best to answer them!

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    1 year ago

    Your project is very cool!
    But, in the wooden divisions for the numbers and letters, if you painted it black, wouldn't that be better to absorb more light from the LED? Or do you not think this necessary?

    Elaina M
    Elaina M

    2 years ago

    Cool to see your inspired project - and thanks for posting your process and sharing it with the instrcutables community! If you want to learn more about electronics, there are a few free classes you can take at https://www.instructables.com/classes/tagged/electronics/ that might help you level up your skill. You should definitely let the other author know you made a version of their project in the "I made it" section of their instructable. I'm sure they'd love to see this and hear your feedback if you did anything different :)


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks for the tips! This will definetly help.